Midwinter Holidays

Sol Invictus, Lord of Light, Reborn!

I am hoping your midwinter holidays were as beautiful as ours were. Life is so full lately it’s hard to keep up with my blogging, but I do try to take lots of pictures still. This was the sun on December 24, Sol Invictus, Lord of Light reborn!

Christmas Eve sushi

We enjoyed our traditional Christmas Eve sushi dinner with Ian’s father, Glen, and his love, Miriam. We go to a tiny little restaurant that serves Japanese and Korean foods. It’s never full on Christmas Eve, and we get to enjoy a lingering meal, complete with gift-opening. It’s a brief oasis in the midst of the busyness of the days of Christmas and we cherish it every year.

Merry Christmas! Here we go!

I am very grateful to spend my Christmases with this beautiful man. I love him completely.

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The pregnant moment, the Before, when all is quiet and the children are in bed. Everything is ready and the anticipation in the air is palpable. I try to catch this magical moment each year.

Astonished that Santa brought a tablet for our family

Christmas morning dawned beautifully—and EARLY. We have a rule. No presents before Mom and Dad get their coffee.

Oh, the bounty! Santa Claus was amazingly generous. He brought Asher a robot lizard that walks and follows you around. (He and Ian got to build it together too.) Santa brought Lucas a small stereo system for his bedroom, which has a much-needed alarm clock. And he brought our family a Kindle Fire tablet, our first device of this nature. 

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My parents came over in the morning for a brief brunch. They blew Lucas’s mind by giving him a PC computer. He’s going to need it for high school next year, and is learning how to use it. (And what NOT to click online—thanks to an early virus infection. Honestly, I couldn’t be more pleased about that because it scared the daylights out of him. We were able to return it to factory settings.)

My daddy and mama

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Asher really got into the spirit of things. He had spent the three days before Christmas making things and going through his belongings and wrapping up gifts for people. By the time he was finished, there was something under the tree for everyone, with tags written on binder paper.

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I found some stylish clothes for my boys. This hoodie for Asher, who loves to make a splash, and a dark and brooding/lurking long hoodie for Lucas, who rather likes to fade mysteriously into the background. They each got books and art supplies, a Death Note tee for Lucas, a Gryffindor tee for Asher. My folks delivered two indoor RC helicopters, which have seriously improved over early models. I’m hoping Asher will break out the spirograph set we got him soon because I really want to play with it.

My only regret is that we didn’t get to see my brother and his family on Christmas. It’s just impossible to be in two places at the same time. At least, so far.

We spent the afternoon at Ian’s mom and stepfather’s home, celebrating with family. Little cousin Jack is 3 now, and getting big.

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And then we rushed home to our crazy house to fill it with beloveds for what is either the 20th or 21sth year in a row (some debate about that). I typically fail at snapping any photos during this party, which is a shame, really, because my friends are all so beautiful to me. We poured drinks and talked, shared food and friendship. It’s everything I want for Christmas night, every year. I really cannot say it enough: Thank you, darlings, for sharing your Christmas with us. It means the world to me. 

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I know it is nuts to be writing about Christmas on January 28. I have so much I want to blog about, and this post has been blocking my flow, so to speak. I frequently write on Facebook, but that stuff gets lost in the stream of time. I’m going to try to write more here because I miss it and I need it. I need to clear the blocks.

So, I’ll end by saying Happy New Year to all.

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Invoking the Light

Happy Solstice!

6500365891_3247aaf429Yule Fires: A Carol

(Sung to the tune of “Greensleeves”)

In ancient days the folk of old
When chilled with fright by winter’s cold
Did kindle up a great Yule fire
With leaping flames in its great pyre;

So to entice the waning sun
To rise again and wider run;
It’s fiery course across the sky,
To warm them so they would not die. (Chorus)

Chorus: Yule Fires light up the night!
Yule fires give us delight!
Yule Fires call back the Sun,
And keep our hearts ever burning!

So we, whose minds now sense a chill
Of anger in the evil will,
The human conflict, hate, and strife,
Which hold a menace over life;

Would kindle up a flame of love
That we within our hearts may move,
In Yuletide joy, with love embrace
And thus abide in peace and grace. (Chorus)

John G. MacKinnon

Sunshine

Well, it seems some are celebrating the Solstice today/tonight and some are celebrating tomorrow/tomorrow night. The solstices and equinoxes can be a bit tricky. Astronomers and meteorologists calculate it down to the minute, but frankly, I just pick whatever is most convenient for our busy lives.

We’ve been getting ready, little by little, for the holidays. There is so much going on at this time of year, and it seems our home transforms more at this time of year than any other. 

This year's wreath ... unless I add more stuff to it

To fit in the Christmas tree, we have to move furniture and dust under things. It’s quite a production. And yet, as our home becomes more and more festive, more and more filled with light, it gets cozier and cozier.

Smells divine and full of happiness

All the better to snuggle in and then welcome our guests.

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I find I cherish sunbeams anywhere I find them.

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And chase after December rainbows … even barefoot.

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Our winter storms are knocking all the pretty leaves to the ground. We have been having a dark and rainy day today, which only means we can better appreciate the warmth and light that comes with the rebirth of the sun.

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We’ve been enjoying holiday parties and friends and family. Last weekend was Grinchmas, the annual reading of The Grinch Who Stole Christmas at our friends’ beautiful home. We recently went to our first gingerbread house decorating party. I’ve never seen so much candy outside a candy shop in my life!

Gingerbread house party!

Tonight we go to a Solstice party, and tomorrow night, on the 22nd, we’ll hold our usual quiet family celebration here. I’ve got a newish solstice dessert idea and my son has requested a vegetarian yellow curry. Sounds perfect to me. I’m thinking potatoes, garbanzos, corn, peas, leeks and chard.

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We’re also celebrating that golden fellow above, Solstice Dog, who came to us four years ago. He is a bright, shining light in our lives, working devotedly to keep our spirits up and our blood pressures down. We love him so!

Good people all this happy tide,
Consider well and bear in mind,
All that strong love for us can do
When we remember our promise true.

Now love itself stands in this place
With glorious beauty and pleasant grace;
To welcome us with open heart
And raise up welcome in every hearth.

Whatever life on us bestows,
Love’s mantle round our shoulders goes
Remembering this day’s delight,
To bring us help and mercy bright.

When darkest winter draweth near,
The light is kindled without fear;
Love sparks at Midwinter so deep,
This blessed time in our hearts keep.

When coldest winter draweth near,
Turn we to joy and make good cheer;
Remembering our vows so strong,
We raise our voices in this song.

Drive darkest want and need away,
Remember we this happy day.
Call love to witness, everyone,
And dance beneath the winter sun.
—Caitlin Matthews

 

And now it’s time to go, so I’ll sign off and thank you for reading. May your Solstice be bright and blessed, full of the tinkling laughter of loved ones and sparkling lights shining in the winter darkness. Blessed Be!

2015 Michaelmas

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It’s almost too late to write about Michaelmas, since it was a month ago. Honestly, I’m being pulled in so many directions these days, sometimes it’s all I can do to keep my feet underneath me and pointed forward.

This Michaelmas season brought with it many challenges and opportunities to exercise our courage and grow into our new selves. We got to go deep; we got to fall apart and pick ourselves up again. We got to learn more about our own fears, strengths, compassion, intuition, and capacity for love and forgiveness. We got to shed our old dragon skins and reemerge, shining and tender, into life. And the world keeps on turning …

IMG_8014 These photos are from our sons’ school Michaelmas festival, which I delight in writing about year after year.IMG_8004

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This year, Asher’s class played the role of the happy villagers of the land, who joyfully dance until the terrifying dragon arrives, disrupting their festivities and scattering them in fear.

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The dragon was fearsome and surprisingly quirky—this year’s dragon had a baby dragon with it! IMG_8118

As you maybe can see, it was a mighty hot day. My little Asher and his third-grade classmates danced beautifully, and their lovely and talented class teacher danced with them.

IMG_8034IMG_8093 With courage, pure hearts, strength in community, and Michael’s aid, the dragon was subdued. And the people rejoiced. IMG_8099 Lucas’s teacher was the town crier. She gave a dramatic performance and brought her considerable gravitas to the role. IMG_8110 IMG_8107 IMG_8124 The sixth graders create and man the dragon each year. It is a massive undertaking. The whole school turns out for this festival. It’s unifying and inspiring every time.IMG_8129 IMG_8143

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The eighth grade class is pretty busy this year with their schoolwork. They had a minor roll in the festival, which was just fine with them.

And with this we ushered in autumn, with all its beauty and contradiction. We faced our fears with renewed vigor and confidence, and we are stronger for it.

Welcoming Autumn

Signs

It’s still hot where we live, even though autumn has arrived. Today is cooler; tomorrow it will be 96 degrees for our Michaelmas festival at school. But there are little signs that the season is turning, and frankly it’s a relief.

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We had a low-key celebration for the equinox last night at home. We ate outside, in the cooling twilight. We had pizza topped in halves, salad, and a bit of apple pie. I let the grocery store prepare most of the meal. Sometimes, the best thing one can do is to take the available shortcuts that make life easier. It is often helpful and occasionally necessary. No guilt. We all have a lot on our plates.

Happy Equinox to all! Mosaic by Ian Wilson

(mosaic by Ian)

So, here we are. Poised on the edge. A season passes, another season begins. New opportunities arise and they bring new challenges and new gifts. We walk toward the light, knowing the darkness lies in the corners; we walk toward the dark, carrying with us the light of our hearts.

“what is joy without sorrow? what is success without failure? what is a win without a loss? what is health without illness? you have to experience each if you are to appreciate the other. there is always going to be suffering. it’s how you look at your suffering, how you deal with it, that will define you.” —Mark Twain

These are just some of my sophomoric thoughts at this moment of turning. I strive to open my heart through it all.

First Day of School

First day of 8th and 3rd grades

It’s the first day of school! This morning we cast aside our lazy summer routine and got up early to get to class at 8:10 a.m. This is my handsome eighth-grader and my charming-but-not-the-least-bit-enthusiastic third-grader. They have had 94 days off for summer and it’s time to go back to school!

Let’s just say that again, shall we?

94 days off.

94.

Ninety-four.

Ninety-four is so many days off I don’t even know how to spell ninety.

NINETY-FOUR.

94.

Days off.

In a row.

Holy moly and goddamn! I’d have to be disabled in some freakishly horrible accident to get that many days off—in a bloody row.

But. I have tried very. very. very hard NOT to complain this summer about … summer.

You might have noticed how I said very little. Because I was definitely not complaining.

I’ve been very quiet in this space over the summer, compared to other summers.

It’s partly because I have a young teen who is now quite sensitive about what I post, who wants to control his own online image. I respect his wishes, though it is hard for me to have to check with him about ever damn photo. I have had a gag rule imposed upon me by this amazing boy who has always taught me so much—about him, about the world, about myself. Who has been the source of so many invaluable lessons. Who has been my initiator into so many new experiences over the last 13 years. For years, writing about my life as a mother (as Lucas’s mother) has allowed me the opportunity to think, reflect, and process a whole maelstrom of feelings that at times have threatened to engulf me completely. Writing this blog has been at times a link to sanity, to the knowing voice that whispers deep and quietly within my soul.

But he gets to say. Because I love him. And I respect him.

And oh, my! There are so many amazing things about him that I’ve not said.

Gag. Rule.

And another thing: Sometimes you just have to curl up and form a chrysalis for a while. Go deep, rest and heal, in the hopes that something whole and amazing will emerge. I’m still waiting, quietly. Won’t say much about that. But, you know, I’m still here. Drop me a line?

Doesn't want to go back to school.

Asher, well … Let’s just say that Asher has had a wonderful summer full of lots of his favorite people, and lots of his favorite self-directed activities. And, in a nutshell, he isn’t all that keen to spend his days being directed by, you know, teachers and such, who have their own plan for his time.

Now, to be fair, these rather mopey pictures were taken at 7:35 this morning. Few of us are at our strongest best at 7:35 a.m., in my opinion. This afternoon, at 12:35, I received the report that the day went well for both of them. There are new teachers and it was a pretty good day.

So.

Just so. For the first day of school.

Puppy Love

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In early July we brought this little fellow home with us to foster. It was a trial run, to see how bad my allergies would be around him. My boys were so patient about this idea—that it might not work out for us to have him in our home. After three weeks we decided to keep him. Then we argued over his name for another solid week.

Pippin, is what we finally settled on, short for Peregrin Took. He was found wandering alone beside a busy street in Sacramento, near a field and a park, on a 100+ degree day on June 25. The 12-year-old son of our dear friends found him and they brought him home to nurse him back to health. We’re so glad he was rescued.

Pippin is sweet and cuddly, feisty and playful. He’s brought Solstice into more youthful play each day. They get along well, although Solstice misses being the only dog, I think. He is a little jealous of Pippin. But he’s also getting more treats than ever before, as we try to train Pippin.

Pippin’s learning to go potty outside, which is getting better but we still have accidents. He sits beautifully on command. We’re now working on come. I would like to teach him not to jump at me and bite or claw at my skirts. I would like him to learn to sit patiently while I’m preparing his three meals a day. I would love for him to do all his business outside.

The boys are really smitten with him. As am I.

Welcome to the family, Pippin!

 

Summertime Inspiration

Painting Suns

Summertime is here! For many families summer is a sweet time of lazy days and icy juice pops, swimming and reading and sleeping in. My boys have a few summer camp adventures this summer, and we have a couple of camping trips planned. It’s shaping up to be a lovely time.

Right now, my coauthor, Eileen Straiton of Little Acorn Learning, and I are offering a sale on our Midsummer Festival E-Book. From now through June 30, if you buy the Midsummer Festival E-Book at the sale price of $19.99, you’ll also get the Summer Festivals Cookbook! Together these two e-books provide wonderful ideas for filling summertime with festivities, food, and delightful Waldorf-inspired crafts, songs, poems, and more. Please tell a friend!

Midsummer Festival E-Book Is Now ON SALE!

Our labor of love will bring the magic of summer into your home and help you keep celebrating throughout the season!  It is packed full of Waldorf songs, stories, verses, crafting tutorials and much more to help you celebrate Midsummer and the Summer Solstice with the children in your home, classroom, or childcare environment.

  • Read stories and fairy tales filled with sunshine to the children
  • Enjoy verses, songs, poems and fingerplays that celebrate the coming of summer
  • Learn about the history, background and symbolism of the Summer Solstice
  • Get ideas for how to create your own meaning for this special festival
  • Enjoy a Solstice feast
  • Play Solstice games
  • Make a Midsummer bonfire
  • Create simple beeswax suns with the children
  • Make a Solstice wreath for the birds
  • Design Midsummer string art sunbursts
  • Read a story of The Sun Child and create a Sun Child necklace
  • Craft a shiny garden suncatcher
  • Use a rock garden sundial to tell time in your garden
  • Make a “Catch the Sun” throw toy for your child
  • Create a paper Solstice Sun
  • Create daytime and nighttime Midsummer magic
  • Hang summer Solstice flags indoors or outdoors this season
  • Plant a Midsummer indoor herb garden
  • Craft a sun mosaic birdbath
  • Make a sunshine fairy out of wool roving and felt
  • Sew and stuff herbal dream pillows for St. John’s Eve
  • Needle-felt a summer sun wall hanging
  • Create sweet Pocket Sun Sprites for the children
  • Bake sun bread with the children
  • Go on a sun hunt
  • Make a sun mask
  • Design a sunshine banner
  • Crochet sun medallion necklaces

Here are some teaser pics from the e-book. We hope they ignite your interest and inspire you to fill your days with sweet sunshine!

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Wishing you delicious, sweet moments all summer long!

Time in My Garden

Rain. Blessed rain.

It rained last night! For a good long time.

I woke to a beautiful day of perfect temperature, and enjoyed a delicious soak in the hot tub while we watched the trees continue to drip.

Everything around me was so lovely. It got me to thinking about all the joy and travel, heartache and courage, striving and learning I see my friends and family doing all the time. My heart kind of burst with the beauty of it all in that perfect moment. Never fear, my thoughtful friends. There is so much juicy LIVING going on all around us. I am thick in it, reveling and diving deep, and so are you. I am inspired by you every day. Carry on with your boldness, your beautiful, wild selves. It will not only be all right, it is and will be glorious!

We spent some time doing fix-it things today. Ian fixed our leaky bathtub faucet, which is a huge weight off my shoulders. I’ve been putting buckets under the leak to save and use the water, but it was a major stress. I will now sleep better at night. He also installed a water-saving shower head in the boys’ bathroom. Voila! Good work.

The boys played almost all day with the neighborhood boys. They played D&D and basketball. And used a huge box of chalk and drew on most of my driveway.

Major chalk art is happening here!

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I got to spend some time in my garden, too. I planted some (old, old) seeds, just in case they’ll come up. (Love in a mist, scarlet morning glories, marigolds.) I planted some scarlet verbena and separated out some day lilies. (I just love it when my plants can be multiplied.) I amended the soil in the worst section of my yard, in the hopes that something can actually grow there someday. I trimmed tree branches a bit. And put two yellow bell peppers in our veg bed. I dug and moved soil from one section of my yard to another. I unearthed a whole mess of ants and their nursery. I’ve ruined my nails and got some sun on my face. And I’m not one bit sorry.

I have some spectacular irises blooming right now.

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This one’s called Obi-Wan Kenobi.

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And these poppies drive me mad, they’re so pretty. Tomorrow I’ll plant some nasturtium seeds and some others. My hubby loves nasturtiums.

I pulled out some mint that’s going crazy—like they say it does. The ground is soft from the rain, so pulling out mint was easy …

Then Ian made me a mojito and the most amazing shrimp jambalaya ever!

And now, I’m going to finish my wonderful day with some Deep Space Nine. Goodnight.

Earth Day 2015

Happy Earth Day.  May we all make the world a better place with our amazing cleverness, cooperation, and compassion. Sending love and blessings to all.

Happy Earth Day!

Our little patch of Earth is presently covered in flowers. All of my beautiful plants are laughing uproariously in color. It makes me happy.

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No filter Aurora, I think

California is experiencing a very serious drought. And I’m conflicted about having a garden at all. I’ve been building and growing and tending this little oasis of ours for 16 years now. I think often about taking out my lawn, but then I watch my children playing in our yard and feel so grateful that we have a place to play! I am withholding water from these plants. I’m taking Navy showers (brrr!) and saving every drop of rainwater I can capture whenever water does come from the sky.

I promise to bathe my children rarely. I promise to make them wear the same pajamas several nights in a row. I promise to save shower water. I promise to let the yellow mellow at night. I promise to eat less meat. I promise to plant only drought-tolerant plants. I promise I will only drink coffee and champagne from now on if I can keep my garden alive this summer!

Foxgloves are coming

So far, the yard is doing pretty well on water rations, but the temperatures are still cool.

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Last week Asher asked if we could make a cactus garden. I bought him three little cactuses and brought a few more from my kitchen window out so he could make this. He painted the vine wreath with green and red paint, and then we buried it into the little garden so it looks like an arch now.

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We also planted a tiny vegetable garden. I debated about this, but figured it was a good cause, especially since the drip watering system will be watering this box anyway. We planted 2 sungold tomatoes, 1 rainbow tomato (that might be the name), two types of cucumber (one is a lemon cucumber), 1 summer squash, 1 Japanese eggplant, 2 purple basil, 2 sweet basil. (We like to make pesto.)

Today, after school, I’m going to see if I can get the boys to plant some seeds with me and do some art for Earth Day.

And now poetry:

The Robin’s Song

God bless the field and bless the furrow,
Stream and branch and rabbit burrow,
Hill and stone and flower and tree,
From Bristol town to Wetherby –
Bless the sun and bless the sleet,
Bless the land and bless the street,
Bless the night and bless the day,
From Somerset and all the way
To the meadows of Cathay;
Bless the minnow, bless the whale,
Bless the rainbow and the hail,
Bless the nest and bless the leaf,
Bless the righteous and the thief,
Bless the wing and bless the fin,
Bless the air I travel in,
Bless the mill and bless the mouse,
Bless the miller’s bricken house,
Bless the earth and bless the sea,
God bless you and God bless me!
—Old English Rhyme

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Canticle to the Sun

Praised be God for brother Sun,
Who shines with splendid glow,
He brings the golden day to us,
Thy glory does he show!
Praised be God for sister Moon
And every twinkling star;
They shine in heaven most bright and clear,
All glorious they are.
Praised be God for brother Wind
That storms across the skies,
And then grows still, and silent moves
And sweetly sings and sighs.
Praised be God for Water pure,
Her usefulness we tell,
So humble, precious, clean and good,
She works for us so well.
Praised be God for brother Fire
Friendly and wild and tame,
Tender and warm, mighty and strong,
A flashing, flaring flame.
Praised be to God for mother Earth,
Who keeps us safe and well,
Whose mother heart all warm with love,
Dark in her depths doth dwell.
—St. Francis of Assisi

Here are a few links I’ve enjoyed this week, and thought you might like them too:

Plantable gift wrapping paper

Plantable paper earths with seeds

Crochet earth ball pattern. I wish I could make this but I can’t crochet!

Recycle your Crayola markers

Green gifts from National Resources Defense Council

Elemental play book

Finally, our Late Spring Festivals E-Book is on sale for 50% off at Little Acorn Learning. It’s only $12.50 until 4/24/15.

OK. This was a rambling post. It’s what I get for trying to cram weeks of living into one blog. So, back to the message:

Happy Earth Day to all beings near and far, finned and furry, scaly and feathered, mossy and green. May we humans all make the world a better place with our amazing cleverness, cooperation, and compassion. Sending love and blessings to all. ~~~~

Wishing You a Blessed Spring

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We had a lovely Easter, celebrating with family both here in our home and at grandma and grandpa’s house. We enjoyed dyeing and hunting for eggs, did some easy crafts, and ate some delicious food together. My kids took advantage of the rare glut of available candy. We played with cousins on both sides of the family. And Grandma makes amazing ribs! It rained just a little bit, which was a gift. I wish it would rain lots more, but we are nevertheless enjoying the flowers and sunny days we are having during this spring vacation.

My children have another week off from school. Today is a slow day for my workwise, so we’re heading out for a while.

Many blessings of renewal and abundance to you and yours this spring.

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  • About Sara

    Thanks for visiting! I'm Sara, editor and writer, wife to Ian, and mother of two precious boys. I am living each day to the fullest and with as much grace, creativity, and patience as I can muster. This is where I write about living, loving, and engaging fully in family life and the world around me. I let my hair down here. I learn new skills here. I strive to be a better human being here. And I tell the truth.

    Our children attend Waldorf school and we are enriching our home and family life with plenty of Waldorf-inspired festivals, crafts, and stories.

    © 2003–2017 Please do not use my photographs or text without my permission.

    "Love doesn't just sit there like a stone; it has to be made, like bread, remade all the time, made new." —Ursula K. LeGuinn

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