Springtime Whirlwind

Spring came and went quickly this year. I wish I had done a better job of capturing all the moments of joy and learning here. I can’t beat myself up about not blogging, though. That’s not really healthy. I’ve continued to take tons of photos. Sometimes I find myself at a loss for words, or maybe energy for words. The photos I take are sustaining to me. I so enjoy having them.

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In February something fairly significant happened. Our 60-foot deodora cedar tree from our side yard fell over in a big, long rainstorm (not quite a whirlwind, but close). It landed on the front corner of our home. Since then, we’ve had to learn a lot about homeowners insurance claims, hiring contractors, etc.

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I’m really missing this tree, but it has opened some doors for us. I’m grateful to this tree; even in its demise it helped us out.

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I’d love to say that the damage was repaired rapidly, but it’s been slow. In the intervening months since the tree fell, we have paid to have the tree removed, hired a public adjuster, put plastic up on our roof to keep the weather out of our home, signed contracts, looked at roofing, chosen new masonry for the front of our house and chimney (the impact of the tree on the house caused the masonry to peel away from the building). The damage could have been much worse and far more inconvenient. We’re just taking things one step at a time and being patient as best we can.

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This is Nick. He removed the much-despised lava rock from my house. I have wanted someone like Nick to do this for 18 years. Thanks, Nick!

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Terrible old roof had to come down. Carpentry repairs and new masonry had to go up, one stone at a time.

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We’ve made significant progress, especially since the beginning of July. It’s been very noisy at home lately, with carpenters, roofers, masons, etc., working as early as 6:30 a.m. (The July heat has been truly unkind, with many days up to 105-110 degrees!) Theoretically, the roofers were finishing up today, which means when I get home from work there will be a NEW ROOF! Probably. The stonemasons finished on Sunday and the place has a whole new look, with beautiful Red Rock ledge stone.

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Bit by bit, the work is being done. We’re hoping to put in more insulation in our attic, and maybe have the ductwork under the house inspected and fixed. We’re planning to paint the whole place. The list is a mile long. We won’t get to do everything, but it’s going to be sound and safe again soon. It is home.

Gonna Try to Post More

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It’s not like nothing is happening. Life is busy, rich, full of intense logistical and emotional challenges—lots of striving and attempts at recovery before more striving begins. It seems like with all that’s going on, it’s hard to find the moments and energy to write.

I’d like to change that, because I have a sense that time is slipping away. I have guilt that I’m somehow shortchanging us all by not chronicling our days here in this virtual space.

I’ve also found that when my life is challenging or I have thoughts and feelings that are, say, less than charitable, I clam up. Who wants to air their dirty laundry on the Internet? Not me. Now that sounds really dramatic, and like I have a huge beef with someone. I don’t. I just don’t always know how or whether to acknowledge the uncomfortable stuff. In a way, the culture of “positive thinking,” or whatever bullshit they’re calling it these days, has poisoned us, making us unable to tell our truths for fear of appearing a failure. I mean, if you’re blessed (by God), you’re successful—if you’re unsuccessful in any way, you must therefore not be blessed. See the problem? I don’t believe that; I think it’s totally toxic.

So, a tiny picture of what’s going on now:

We’ve just shipped Lucas off to Camp Winthers for his second week of work as a counselor in training (CIT). He worked the week of July 3, too, and unfortunately had a really tough time because of one extremely ill-behaved camper. From what Lucas described, this boy was recalcitrant, obstinate, and rude. He whined, threw rocks, ran away, and generally was as disruptive and uncooperative as he could be the entire time. Counselors and program managers talked to this kid, but they stopped short of booting him home, which is what I think they should have done. Unfortunately, Lucas was charged with dealing with this monster while the other counselors and instructors led the rest of the group and carried on with the art summer camp adgenda. Lucas is a great guy, and he did his very best, but it was extremely frustrating and stressful and more than he was trained to handle. He came home on 7/7 wiped out and angry.

In the intervening ten days, he has been home recovering, and taking a great week-long course in forensics at CSU Sacramento. He seems to have enjoyed it and learned a lot. The class got to analyze a crime scene, isolate DNA, do paternity tests—cool stuff like that. I think it was worthwhile and worth the cost. The program is Summer Academies and it’s just for high school kids.

I’m hoping that this week is wonderful and easier and that he comes home tired but happy and relieved.

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Asher is doing his second week at Effie Yeaw Nature Center this week. The camp is wonderful, but as he has done the same program the last two summers, he’s feeling kind of bored. This is especially so because he doesn’t have his posse with him. (I swear, I tried!) Fortunately for him, camp is only in the mornings. Tomorrow is the big, exciting day of rafting on the American River. (That’s really why we signed him up!)

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Asher’s 10!

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Well. This post is almost six months late. In late January, my baby son turned 10! We had a lovely celebration at home and then we took some of his best buddies to the movies. He chose to see Moana.

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After the movie we went to Leatherby’s for food and ice cream. It was a lively meal. Some of these guys have known each other since preschool.

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In January, we started Asher with viola lessons with Ms. S. She is such a wonderful music teacher. In just a couple of weeks she turned Asher’s experience of viola around from tears of frustration and embarrassment to accomplished playing. He stopped asking if he could stay home from school on orchestra days.

There are only a hundred million things I should have been writing about these last few months. I can only say that I guess I didn’t have it in me. Life is full and joyful and sometimes hard. This little boy is a delight almost every moment. Ten has been pretty great so far!

Confronting Language and Swears

Tonight we had a really good dinnertime conversation about language, swears, and insults. We discussed class, race, intimacy, and the concepts of manhood and what kinds of things are sometimes said to unman someone, degrade him, and make him feel less than. We talked about how sometimes we can say things in jest with close friends that are clearly not acceptable to say to a stranger, because personal history matters, what you’ve been through together matters: “We have heard the chimes at midnight, Master Shallow” (Henry IV, Part 2, Act 3, Scene 2). We talked about words that are said in multiracial high schools by teens who are finding their way to friendships despite differences in background, skills, socioeconomic status, race, and gender, and then we contrasted that with what can and cannot be said in a private elementary school that is far less diverse, because context matters. My 10-year-old surprised me by busting out “fucktard” as a funny insult. Our teen insisted, “Just say the word,” and I totally agree. If you’re having a conversation about language you have to use it. We talked about how “fag” is used much less now (compared to when I was younger) than “cuck” (these days) to insult a man. And about what it feels like to hear these words of denigration. We talked about how “bitch” compares men to women unfavorably, as though the worse thing a man can be is like a woman, and how that might make women feel to know that’s what is meant.

And in case you think such talk is inappropriate for the dinner table, or for a family whose youngest member is 10, I would have to disagree. For how much time do we have to cover these important issues? For how many years are children receptive to their parents’ opinions on these topics? Less time that you might think! And we do far more good by confronting difficult topics with our kids, expressing our thoughts and feelings about them–even our fear and uncertaintly–than by pretending that the world isn’t sometimes cruel, or pretending that our beloved children will never be faced with a choice to use cruel words, or pretending they will never hear these words levied at themselves. Language isn’t the problem, but problems can be confronted by and improved by an examination of language.

I Stand with Planned Parenthood

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Last week I attended a Planned Parenthood “Pink out” rally at the California State Capitol during my lunch hour. I’d estimate there were about 400 people there in the middle of the day on a Tuesday. California lawmakers wore pink scarves and blazers and pink boxing gloves.

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Athena, the goddess of wisdom and strategic warfare, presided over the rally at the west steps of the Capitol, just as she stands on seal of the state of California. (May she be with us these next four years because we need both wisdom and strategic resistance in the face of Trump’s attack on our democracy.)

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I’ve been a supporter of Planned Parenthood for years, however yesterday I initiated a monthly donation. I’m proud of this. I support every woman’s right to choose. And firmly believe that women’s rights are human rights—Thank you, Hillary Rodham Clinton for saying this in 1995 in your speech at the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing. Clinton took this idea to a global stage as First Lady, and it is now prominent in feminist discourse and was everywhere at the Women’s March on the 21st of this month.

The First Lady Hillary Clinton during her speech in Beijing, China.
By Sharon Farmer/White House Photograph Office – National Archives and Records Administration, Public Domain, Link

With the ACA under attack, women, men and teens will need Planned Parenthood more than ever for basic health care screenings and all sorts of essential services. I am happy to help.

Thankful for Some Downtime

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Over Thanksgiving vacation, we escaped town for a little family vacation in Guerneville, CA. Ian found us a cute little flat via Airbnb that was just big enough for the four of us and our two little dogs.

Happy Thanksgiving from a cozy flat in the redwoods with puppies and boys and board games and Murphy beds and head colds and knitting and a fake fireplace and pumpkin pie. So much to be grateful for. Sending out our love to all people everywhere.

The weather was rainy and we all caught a cold, so our adventuring was circumscribed. Nevertheless, we had a lovely, low-key time. We read, played board games, and watched movies, while we sniffled and coughed and sneezed together. I know it’s kinda weird to be grateful for some slow, easy sick time, but it was nice not to have to worry about missing school or work, and just allowing ourselves time to rest and recouperate.

I’m not a huge fan of board games, but we played Pandemic for the first time and I really liked it. It’s a cooperative game in which all players must work together to save the world from diseases.

We did not save humanity from the Pandemic, but we have a strategy for next time.

We took a few walks around the neighborhood, visited the local roadhouse on Thanksgiving Day and had a lovely nontraditional meal. Asher picked fried chicken and waffles, which I think he’s never ordered before. I had a nice butternut squash pizza. The beer and cider were delish and it meant that we didn’t have to stress about trying to cook a “proper” holiday meal in a foreign kitchen.

Garden Mandala No. 84 Thankful #autumn #mandala #mandalaart #leaves #landart #gardenart #gardenartflowers #found #travel #thanksgiving #prayers #camellias #gratitude #redwoodsorrel #redwood #maple

Here’s the Thanksgiving mandala I made by gathering items from the ground and the verge in the redwood neighborhood of our little flat. This is mandala number 84.

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We packed ourselves, our dogs, and several boxes of tissues in the car and drove out to the beach at Jenner on Friday. We didn’t stay long; nobody was feeling great. But this walk on the beach was soothing and fun. Even though most of our vacation was cuddly, cozy time, this excursion was a highlight.

Goat Rock Beach

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Such a pretty beach! I wish I could visit the ocean every month.

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This one guy I know doesn’t much care to be photographed these days.

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This guy acts surprised and delighted every time he’s included on an adventure.

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Armstrong Woods, Guerneville

On our final day off, after checking out of our flat, the rain let up and the sun came out. We stopped at Armstrong Woods for a little walk before driving home. Asher is very fond of forests, you see.

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So it wasn’t exactly the vacation we had envisioned, but it was lovely nonetheless. And now it’s a whole month later. They boys are dragging through the last couple of days of school before Winter Break. We’ll make it. And come Boxing Day, all will be cuddly cozy again.

Good Saint Nicholas Visited

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My boys put out their shoes last night in the hopes that St. Nicholas would visit on his feast day of December 6. In the morning we woke to this: shoes full of simple treasures. They each received a small pot of honey, rock candy lollies in Christmas colors, a chocolate in the shape of a Swiss army knife, and a small, bejeweled magnifying glass.

I admit it’s a challenge to continue to put in the effort involved in celebrating festivals at home. Life just seems to get busier and busier, and we’re always adapting. I find it’s also difficult to keep the festivals alive for younger children when their older siblings age out of them. However, Lucas obligingly threw his Converse sneakers down by the door at 10 p.m. last night, after some prodding on my part. Asher was all in at the first mention of St. Nicholas visiting.

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How do you jolly your olders along to keep the magic alive for your youngers? I’d love to hear ideas! I’m grateful that my older son is still a pretty good sport, most of the time.

Discovering goodies at 0-dark-thirty is always a thrill, is it not?

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The good saint visited the Waldorf school today, too, with his helper Rupert. Here is a photo of him in the Kindergarten (Thank you, Michelle!). Our kids are so blessed. Our beautiful school happily receives St. Nicholas and Rupert every year. They bring small treats to all the students in every grade in the school. Asher reports that he brought an orange and tiny chocolates to everyone in fourth grade. Nicholas prepares the way for the Sun child, who’s coming soon in the deepest part of winter.

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Kind old man Saint Nicholas, dear,
Come into our house this year.
Here’s some straw and here’s some hay
For your little donkey gray.

Pray put something into my shoe;
I’ve been good the whole year through.
Kind old man Saint Nicholas dear,
Come into our house this year.

I’ve written about this simple festival for many years now. Feel free to search in the Archives window at the right for “Nicholas” and you’ll find the posts. Moreover, the St. Nicholas Center online has a gazillion pages of stories and info about this interesting patron saint of children, sailors, scholars, orphans, paupers, marriageable maidens, students, and victims of judicial mistakes. He’s a busy guy.

Advent & Saint Nichoals Festival E-Book

The Advent and Saint Nicholas Festival E-Book that I wrote with my dear Eileen is available here, at Little Acorn Learning. It contains loads of fun ideas.

I left for work today at 7:30. It’s been a long, tiring day of editing a high-speed train document, commuting, helping Asher with homework, managing a difficult but productive viola practice session, searching for a missing spelling list, asthma testing and meds, stories, emails, and now this little missive. I feel often like I’ve got so many juggling balls in the air right now, and keep adding more. But with each new one another ball drops. I’ve realized I need to refocus a bit more on providing supports for Asher. Although he’s quite good at doing a lot of stuff on his own, he needs more practice with spelling words and math, more practice with viola (he feeling really lost and left behind in strings class), and more assistance making sure his homework gets done. I’ve put reminders in my phone to help me help him. And no matter how tired I am in the evening, we need to attend to these things to establish a good rhythm. And all of this is part of a bigger effort to deal with Asher’s anxiety. The more prepared he is, the less he’ll feel anxiousI hope.

Motherhood. It ain’t for the faint of heart.

 

Halloween Fun

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“Don’t torture yourself, Gomez. That’s my job.”

What can I say? We LOVE Halloween! And I know we’ve just had Thanksgiving and I am behind as usual, but these pics are just too cute not to post. In a moment of last minute inspiration, Ian and I decided to dress as Gomez and Morticia Addams.

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Morticia: When we first met years ago, it was an evening much like this. Magic in the air. A boy.
Gomez: A girl.
Morticia: An open grave. It was my first funeral.
Gomez: You were so beautiful. Pale and mysterious. No one even looked at the corpse.

We went to a party hosted by the family of one of Asher’s best friends. There was ghoulish fun for the kids, including an impromptu toilet paper fight (after the mummy making, of course), and good wine and conversation for the grown-ups.

I love Halloween

Gomez: Cara mia.
Morticia: Mon sauvage.

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Asher went as a king in shining armor. We bought a costume modeled on a character from a video game that none of us knew anything about. For him, it was all about the boss costume. We shopped for it online because time was short, and Asher said, “Mom, are you sure you want to spend that much money on me?” Oh, yes, my little Love. Yes, I do.

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#halloween #king

The sword with the lion head on it sealed the deal. And of course, he needed a bloody wound. This so perfectly shows how he’s in-between: kind of a big kid, kind of not.

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Lucas wasn’t feeling especially inspired this year as he has been many years in the past. However, he pulled out a creepy zombie getup with ease.

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Asher got to play with some of his buddies from school at the party. (Thanks to Melissa for the photo!)

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Most wonderful time of the year!

Halloween itself was on a rainy Monday evening, and we happily joined friends for a bit of trick-or-treating in East Sacramento. This year, the Halloween Fairy was not invoked, nor did she trade gifts for our boys’ candy (for her wee sugar babies to eat). The kids ate some, and the rest, well … it disappears relatively quickly.

Falconry Redux

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On October 1 of this year, we were able to fulfill a vow that I secretly made three years ago. Here’s the backstory.

In 2013, Ian, Lady K, Tate, and Lucas and I went to West Coast Falconry to learning about the sport of falconry and experience first-hand the beautiful raptors used in the sport. It was a spectacular day and I wrote about it here at Love in the Suburbs.

At that time, Asher was 6too young to come with us, according to the policy of the establishment. We left him with my parents and had our adventure. And when we were done, I quietly vowed that we would be back, so that Asher could have the same AMAZING experience.

Well, last month, we four went all together back to the countryside near Marysville, bright and early. We left home at 6 and got there by our 8 a.m. class.

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And we got to see and touch and admire these gorgeous Harris hawks.

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We worked with a female Harris hawk named Avalon. And I got to see my little boy call her to him, hold her on his glove, and marvel at how gorgeous, how light and fierce, and how efficient a flyer she is.

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In my post from three years ago, I wrote a bit about these birds, their hunting techniques, and a little about the history of falconry, if you’re curious to learn more.

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And it was a huge delight to see Lucas with a hawk again.

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Sorry you had to wait, dear Asher.

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We all came away feeling like we need to do a Hawk Walk or other falconry excursion. West Coast Falconry offers a number of wonderful opportunities to see these birds in actionactually hunting and bringing down preywith their devoted human companions. Asher was particularly fired up. That this is a sport one can get into is kind of miraculous. We all daydreamed a bit about becoming falconers. How cool is that?!

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Our experience was over all too soon. We then went a-rambling through the hills, eventually ending up in Nevada City for lunch and shopping.

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It was a gorgeous Saturday and I’m so grateful we were able to fulfill this wish.

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I love family adventures, and I LOVE my family.

Family Trip for Fourth of July

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Over the last several months I have worked on this post here and there. I had a whole write-up about this beautiful weekend in Tahoe that we enjoyed over the Fourth of July. Somehow along the way, in between my new job and everything else, I lost that post. Lost all the words. It was discouraging.

But then this unfinished thing just sat here in my blog waiting for me to get back to it, to rewrite everything I had written before, if I could remember it. And now it’s almost Halloween and I realize this unfinished post has been completely clogging up my writing flow–I’ve been unable to get past it. And that’s just plain silly. There’s so much love and life happening all the time and to not revel in it and get it down is a shame.

So, I’ve decided that I will no longer let this guilt-ridden thing from July clog up the works. I will give you only these wonderful summery pictures celebrating a moment in our lives and hope that the pipe will now flow free for more writing. It is good enough.

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Garden Mandala No. 69 #summer #flowers #gardening #landart #gardenartflowers #gardenart #mandalaart #ephemeralart #ephemeral #mandala #mountains #wildflowers #aspen #mulesear #tahoe #flax

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Garden Mandala No. 71 Happy Independence Day! #waldorfhome #mandala #gardening #gardenart #flowers #flowerstagram #landart #gardenartflowers #mandalaart #4thofjuly #independenceday #redwhiteandblue #sixpointedstar #summer #oleander #roses #morningglory #

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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.

    © 2003–2018 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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