Start of the 2017 School Year

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Our dear Lucas started tenth grade this year, in the last couple of days of August. He’s taking Spanish 1, Math 2, Chemistry, World History, English (focusing on literature), and PE. I’m thrilled with the literature curriculum: The Odyssey, Of Mice and Men, The Tragedy of Macbeth, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, A Raisin in the Sun, Lord of the Flies, and Fahrenheit 51. How fun is that!?

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Lucas really seems to like high school, though he hasn’t always loved all of his classes and teachers. He’s strong, confidant, and has many friends. He’s committed to his schoolwork, and we’re trying to find the right balance between giving him his independence and supporting his efforts. (Parenting in a nutshell.) He is really enjoying riding his bike home from school some days, which is a 10-mile ride that takes an hour. Lucas is a wonderful guy and I’m super proud of him.

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Our sweet Asher has started fifth grade. This year is quite different in that he has a new class teacher for the first time in four years. His beloved former teacher got the opportunity to take a class at the Waldorf school in her city, after four solid years of commuting an hour each way to work at Sacramento Waldorf School. We were sorry to see her go. Asher and she had a good bond. We wish her luck with her new class!

The new class teacher has a lot of energy and an upbeat personality. We don’t know her very well yet, but we’re hoping for a good year. Except in the weeks leading up to the start of school, Asher was feeling very nervous and sad that he can’t just stay home all the time, with all of his family and his fluffy dogs. Instead of feeling excited for new opportunities, he feels anxiety and dread. On the last day of summer break, he was beside himself with nervousness and sadness, so our strategy for the last few days before school started was to provide distractions galore.

If there’s a softer, more loving school for him anywhere, I don’t know where it could be.

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On the first day, all of his buddies looked happier than he did.

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Fortunately, we have a lot of friends there who love him very much. Neva always props him up and takes good care of him. I’m forever grateful.
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We have a handful of new students in grade five, and they have a few new teachers (math, strings class) to get used to. These kids are a lively bunch!

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That first morning handshake. Hello, Ms. Thorman!

In the almost two weeks since this first day, we have seen Asher relax a bit. He’s getting used to the new routine; knowing the rhythm, knowing what’s going to happen in a day makes all the difference. Asher still isn’t exactly comfortable yet, but I’m hoping this will come with time. He’s such a lovely, sensitive person, and I hope we can find a way to support him through this stuff.

Asher has decided to switch from strings class, where he was playing viola, to winds class. He has taken up the flute. This move was largely influenced by the fact that a number of his good friends switched instruments and classes this year. Although I really hoped he would stay with viola (because this is one of very few schools in California that teach strings and have orchestra), he’s pretty sure about his decision. (I think he would like to play the “jazz machine,” which is what he calls the saxophone. We have my old flute for now, though.) I think it helped him to have a choice in some part of his school day. So be it.

And there we are. Getting up earlier has been a bit tough. Both Lucas and I are not morning people. But we’re muddling through, feeling a bit tired from all the adjustments, and I think we’re all looking forward to the weekend!

Here’s to a great year! Blessed be!

Love Is …

Love is …

  • Friends who host a teen traveling solo for the first time and show him around one of the greatest cities in the world
  • Going to the funeral of my dad’s best friend, even though I never met the man, to support my dad
  • Parents who gamely resume and add to their volunteer kid taxiing to and from school
  • Friends who admit they are struggling and ask for assistance; if we don’t know, we can’t help
  • Boundary setting that comes from experience and maturity; “no I do not want to work over the weekend”
  • Long snuggles spent comforting a distraught little boy who is trying to work through a lot of big feelings
  • Ending a year-long commitment that is no longer right for our family; saying no (or no, thank you) is sometimes the most right thing
  • Speaking out for justice on behalf of others more vulnerable than yourself
  • Getting involved in politics, even when it’s well out of your comfort zone to do so
  • Reading a novel aloud to my son, who was a reluctant listener at first but then turned into a please-just-a-few-more-pages listener by the end of the book
  • Beautiful, delicious meals prepared nightly by my dedicated husband, who works all day and then cooks for us
  • Rededication to schoolwork and routine, and facing into new challenges
  • Company matching for employee disaster relief donations (Harvey, in this case)
  • Buying tickets to Hawaii for a family vacation in January, and grandparents who help fund it
  • Sheltering in place at home, cool and comfortable, while California roasts
  • Fluffy dogs who love and worship you no matter how many mistakes you made today
  • Working with dedication and through exhaustion for months and month because that’s what’s required for your clients, your partners, and your family (I love you, Ian)
  • Our magnificent Village that offers to help in some way nearly every day
  • Going through beloved belongings and realizing it’s time to let some go so that other children can play with them
  • Exploring Old Sacramento with our boys during Gold Rush Days, which was surprisingly charming because cars were banished from the old timey streets
  • Delicious end-of-summer lounging by the pool

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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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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.

Silly Pippin

This guy acts surprises 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.

 

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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Love Is …

Fragments of my heart

Love is …
• A friend who hauls your Country Mouse ass downtown and back every day with a smile and unflappable traffic savvy.
• A takeout sushi dinner to celebrate ch-ch-cha-cha-changes on the evening of the first day of a new job.
• Clever people who correct broken AC units (both at work and at home) and stop the sweltering; thanks for taking care of that, Ian.
• A teen who willingly goes on evening walks with his mama: “We can catch Pokémon, Mom!”
• BBQ at Papa and Grandma’s house, with swimming and all the foods.
• Chicago Fire Pizza.
• Getting to be a tourist in your home town.
• Lunchtime exercise walking at the Capitol, along with all the state workers, lawyers, and tourists.
• Hoping my feet don’t smell after my lunchtime walks.
• Finishing the third Pippi Longstocking book with Asher, who is sad there aren’t more Pippi books to enjoy.
• Discovering a neat little gizmo from the library called a Playaway, a single-audio-book device on a lanyard that runs on a AAA battery—perfect for little people who don’t have iPods or tablets to carry around everywhere.
• Getting a text that says, “When will you be home; I’ll have dinner ready.”
• My Village of helpers—Angels!—who cheerfully cart my boys hither and thither and care for them after their daily activities or even when no camp activity is available; they are amazing and wonderful.

California Capitol. Half mast. #summer #nicefrance  #thoughtsandprayersarentenough #loveinthesuburbs #lovewins #enoughisenough #wearenotafraid

Stanley Mosk Library and Courts Building,  1928

Summer Daze

Natural obstacle course #summer #boys #wild #California #sacramento #summersolstice #waldorfhome #showyourslow #movement #learning

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Our summer is shaping up nicely! Asher has spent a week and a half doing his favorite day camp—Junior Rangers at Effie Yeaw Nature Center—with some of his best school chums, all of whom are 9. Today they are rafting down the American River!

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Nimble 9! #summer #boys #wild #California #sacramento #summersolstice #waldorfhome #showyourslow

Day camp poetry

Lucas started his volunteer job at the Sac State Aquatic Center on Monday as an IT (instructor trainee), assisting, herding children, kayaking, paddle boarding, and wind surfing. He’s healing from sunburns and having a good time. I’m proud of him for taking this on. I think he’s rockin’ the lifeguard look! (But you’ll have to trust me on that until I can get him to allow me to snap and publish a photo.)

Garden Mandala No. 67 Happy Summer Solstice! (I used Lucas's graduation flowers, which were on their last legs.) #summer #flowers #mandala #flowerstagram #landart #gardenartflowers #gardenart #mandalaart #ephemeral #ephemeralart #waldorfhome #sunflower #g

The summer solstice has come, and with it a beautiful full moon, a rare conjunction that saw me gathering with my women for an evening of fire magic and ritual. It’s always nourishing to make time for that, and I love those friends completely. I made this garden mandala (No. 67) on the solstice as a sun prayer, a little altar in honor of the season.

These last few months have been a whirlwind of special events, birthdays, school plays, trips, parties, graduation, and plenty of work projects. I’m not sure when or if I’ll ever catch my breath from all that enough to write about any of it. It seems time is speeding up in a way. But it’s summer now. And that means breathing out, right?

Happy Summertime, my friends! May your beverages be icy and your sunscreen effective, may you find a way to slow down a bit and plunge into your version of rest and relaxation, may you breath out and enjoy these joyful, verdant days.

Leap Day Adventure!

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This 2016 year is a Leap Year! And last month in February (goodness, more than a month almost two three months ago already!) we started a new family tradition of Leap Day = Adventure Day. We surprised our boys by NOT taking them to school and going on a day trip to San Francisco instead.

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Lucas was a little put out when we first told him we were skipping school. “But I have physics today.” He got into the spirit of our adventure, though. Many thanks to Miranda for making this happen for us!

Skulls

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Personally, I’m extremely fond of the Steinhart Aquarium. I love the gorgeous fishes and especially the jellies. I know—everyone loves the jellies.

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Living roof

And the living rooftop is just plain rad.

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May 24, 2016
OK. Truth is, I give up. I’ve been trying to write this post FOREVER. I think I’m just going to let it stand as it is. My pictures can tell you how wonderful this day way, and once I hit “publish” this day will not longer be blocking up my ability to write about other things. So, my loves. Here you have it. Life is beautiful and full of both exquisite, exceptional moments — like Leap Day — and lots of ordinary time in between. And isn’t that grand?

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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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