Advent Is Here, St. Nick Is Coming

St. Nicholas #waldorf #waldorfhome #festivals #holiday #needlefelting

I am sometimes a late bloomer, or adopter, or whatever. Advent has arrived, but half of us were sick, so, we’re … um … easing into it. We will catch up. We will slowly begin to set up for Christmas.

Do you ever find your energy for festivals and family celebrations waning? I do, sometimes. This time of year can be so overwhelming. I try to remember that my To-Do list only exists in my mind—no one else can see it. No one’s judging me when I don’t get to things I intend to do. No one knows but me. So I try to set my intentions, make my priorities clear to myself, and then let the rest go. If it happens, great! If it doesn’t, that’s OK too. As important as rhythm is, balance and sanity are just as necessary in family life. We’re only human.

One of the things that I find to be a little difficult these days is preserving the festivals for my younger son, while my older son ages past them. Not that Lucas is done with Christmas or Halloween, or really anything with treats, but he’s getting a little blasé about the stories and myths surrounding our holidays. We work hard to infuse beauty and joy and wonder into our home and family life. And keeping the magic alive for Asher is important to me. But children grow—out of some things and into others—and that’s as it should be. As a tween, Lucas is sometimes a bit lukewarm about things, and that attitude can affect my ebullient, sanguine 7-year-old, who is living into these festivals with his whole self.

There we are.

St. Nicholas’s Day is upon us (tomorrow, Saturday, December 6). We talked about St. Nicholas at breakfast this morning. Asher had lots to say because he’s been hearing stories about the Bishop of Myrna at school. He is excited for St. Nicholas to come! And he remembered that St. Nicholas brings yummy oranges. I’m sure something exciting is happening today at school. St. Nicholas and Rupert have visited the classes at school before. We’ll polish our shoes tonight, and see if any small goodies come for tomorrow morning. Simple and small is best. I’ve spiffed up my St. Nicholas nature table doll, who is a few years old now. He’s looking pretty dapper again, ready to bring goodies to the world’s children and to herald the coming of the Winter Sun King.

In honor of St. Nicholas’s Day, Eileen and I are having a one-day sale on our Advent and St. Nicholas Festival E-Book today only (December 5)! It’s available for half price ($9.99) at http://www.littleacornlearning.com.

The e-book offers poems, stories, songs, crafts, and many special ways that families, schools, or childcare professionals can celebrate a simple, peaceful month of December. We wrote this e-book with the hope we might help people create thoughtful, heartfelt holidays, with less frenzied commercialism and more togetherness time.

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This mosaic is a peek at what’s in our Advent and St. Nicholas Festival E-Book. Many thanks for reading this far, and for spreading the word to anyone who might be interested in our offering. And whatever you do this month to celebrate whichever holidays you celebrate, do it with simplicity, love, and joy. Blessings of the season on you and your loved ones!

 

Love Is …

First time in months #painting #oils #art #learning

  • Ian buying me new windshield wipers and installing them, and fixing my rear brake light because he noticed it was out.
  • Lucas making rock candy at home because he learned how in chemistry class!
  • My Daddy.
  • Friends who trust and follow you into the fire, then lead you safely out again.
  • Meal planning and thinking about all the good food to put into all the good people I love.
  • When my guys give me gratitudes to write in our gratitude journal, even though they’d rather not.
  • Heavy whipping cream in my coffee.
  • Friends who make a special point to walk together on their rare day off.
  • Painting for the first time in 9 months. I love it so! Why the hell don’t I paint more often?!
  • Forgiving myself for not painting more often.
  • Buying all-new concert dress clothes/shoes for my boy for Thursday’s fall concert, and hoping-hoping-hoping they will still fit for the spring concert—or if not then, at least for next month’s winter concert.
  • VoVo’s consistent and helpful babysitting.
  • November, ablaze with fall color, and roses blooming too!
  • My sunny boy with Shaun Cassidy hair.
  • Reading about adventuring hedgehogs with my sunny boy.
  • Parent-teacher conferences.
  • A fluffy dog who is always ready to clean your paws for you.
  • 5k Fun Run for my moody son, who benefited from it even if he didn’t think it was all that fun.
  • My grandmother and my grandaunt, who have passed away. I miss them very much right now.
  • Ian reading The Golden Compass aloud to us, after reading more than 5,000 pages of Harry Potter to us this year.
  • Lyra Belacqua herself. Because boys need girl heroes too.
  • Pulling out beloved, ancient comic books for Lucas to read.
  • Friends who cook delicious meals as a way to celebrate their birthday with guests.
  • Trusting and watching a new chapter unfold.

Elf Quest #comics #12yearold #seventhgrade #son

NEW Martinmas and Thanksgiving E-Book

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It’s been a very busy couple of weeks, and I wish I had had time to blog about Halloween sooner and our beautiful trip into the foothills last weekend, but I wasn’t able to. My writing partner, Eileen, and I were working hard to complete another festivals e-book for our series. And we made it happen just in time! I’m proud to announce the NEW Martinmas & Thanksgiving Festival E-Book.

It had been more than a year since our last festival book was released from Little Acorn Learning, and I have to say, I have really missed crafting and writing with Eileen. She is a wonderful, inspiring woman. She cares so much about her family and her community, and she is a powerhouse of inspiration and creativity. Everywhere she goes, she leads others to a more wholesome, soulful experience. She certainly has done so for me a hundred times over.

Here is a mosaic of some of the photos in our new e-book offered as a teaser:

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This volume is the SEVENTH (oh my gosh!) volume in our series of Festival E-Books designed to help you find a way into the natural and religious festivals that honor the earth and our human community. This book includes the festivals of Martinmas, or Saint Martin’s Day, and Thanksgiving. Although not everyone celebrates the North American holiday of Thanksgiving, we feel the twin themes of generosity and gratitude that weave throughout this e-book are universally recognized and cultivated, no matter where you live. We have endeavored to provide inspiration and celebration ideas that will help you create fulfilling and joyful holidays in your home or classroom.

This Martinmas & Thanksgiving Festival E-Book contains a nature-based religious perspective as well as Christian and Native American perspectives on the abundant and happy season of harvest, when we gather together to celebrate the great bounty of the earth and our beautiful human community. There is, in our opinion, some overlap of autumn symbols and traditions, and we feel they can coexist in the context of the late autumn festivals in peace.

We hope you enjoy our e-book. It can be purchased on the Little Acorn Learning website here, and if you look around on Little Acorn Learning you will find many more delightful products there.

Authors:
~ Eileen Straiton, 
Little Acorn Learning
~ Sara Wilson, Love in the Suburbs

Contents
*Beautiful Book Recommendations
*St. Martin and Martinmas Customs
*Martinmas Verses and Songs
*Christ Appears to Saint Martin Tale
*A Very Old Story About St. Martin’s Eve
*Organize a Saint Martin’s Cloak Coat Drive
*Horsehoe Cookies Recipe
*The Autumn Ball
*Autumn Simmer Pot
*Preserving Leaves with Beeswax Tutorial
*The Robin
*St. Martin Weckmann and Afternoon Tea Recipe
*Martinmas Puppet Show
*Martinmas Lanterns Tutorial
*Easy Painted Lanterns Tutorial
*Lantern Walk
*Saint Martin Chant
*Lantern Bearer Transparency Tutorial
*Caregiver Meditation: Living Peacefully
*Martinmas Mandala Tutorial
*Games for Martinmas Time
*Fall Fabric Wreath Tutorial
*Autumn Leaf Candles Tutorial
*Harvest Mother Doll Tutorial
*Thanksgiving Leaf Mobile Tutorial
*Easy Autumn Leaf Garland Tutorial
*Kindness at My Table Tutorial
*Cornhusk Placemats Tutorial
*Why all Men Love the Moon Fable
*Giving Thanks
*Games for Thanksgiving Time
*Thanksgiving Verses and Songs
*Turkey Window Transparency Tutorial
*Caregiver Meditation: Gratitude
*Family Gratitude Journal
*Welcome to the Table
*Thanksgiving Poetry and Quotations
*Involving Children in Preparing the Thanksgiving Feast:
-Homemade Cranberry Sauce Recipe
-Bold and Beautiful Carrot Dip Recipe
-Baby Butter Jar Recipe
-Thanksgiving Squash Soup and Roasted Squash Seeds Recipe
-Chip-Chop Roasted Vegetables Recipe
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Pumpkin Patch 2014

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My family obliged me with a quick evening trip to the pumpkin patch last week. The boys had already been there once with grandma, Auntie Kellie, Uncle Danny, and baby Jack. This trip wasn’t their priority; it was mine. I love pumpkining; I love rambling about to find pumpkins perfect for carving; I love golden late afternoon sunlight, shadows and harsh edges and all.

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Most of all, I love watching my boys grow and somehow these annual trips to the pumpkin patch make for really wonderful keepsake photos.

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They don’t really understand that. Mom takes photos all the time, they think. Too many photos!

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So many that it’s sometimes easiest to turn your back and not play along. I get it. I don’t much like cameras pointed at me either. And yet, these are sweet moments and I want to keep them.

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So in between the goofy shots with tongues sticking out and those of my children walking away from me, I get some gems. You see, I just can’t get enough of them. They are utterly beautiful to me.

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This guy, at 12.5 years, wants less to do with me and my camera now. He’s playing his cards a little closer to his chest these days. He’s often not in the mood for family games or silliness, or Mama’s harebrained schemes. But every once in a while he flashes me a smile and I just melt inside.

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He can take a pretty good shot now, too!

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So with a few more pumpkins than we actually needed and a good long turn on this awesome rope swing for each of them, we called it a successful trip. It’s a family tradition, after all.

Love Is …

My children have learned the value of money. They both have things they want to buy, and are seeking jobs to earn cash. Asher claims this is 600 spikey balls, worth a penny each (because I hate them littering my yard). Lucas is presently sweeping and mopp

  • Seattle with my love—three glorious days away from home.
  • Grandmas who babysit my boys for free so I can meet my deadlines.
  • Dry Cucumber Soda.
  • Great summertime piano progress!
  • Giving away our handmade (and mama-made) treasures to younger children, who might just enjoy some of them.
  • Knowing my little niece is just down the street, attending a Waldorf in-home preschool that Lucas went to when he was little.
  • Watching my 12-year-old lace up his fancy new kicks and go running in preparation for the fall cross country season.
  • Joining in with a bunch of friendly, eager people from our Class of 2020 to do yard work for some beloved grandparents, who kindly bought the work day at our school fundraising auction—especially watching these rising seventh-graders hard at work pruning, shoveling gravel, and carrying heavy things.
  • Kayaking with my loves. (We need to build two skegs!)
  • Boys who wake up in the morning and play chess.
  • Beautiful, fresh-laid eggs, even if during the summer my boys don’t want to eat them.
  • Seeing old friends embrace change with camaraderie, grace, and style even while they are sad, and wishing them every happiness.
  • Handsome boys who spent the summer learning new skills, such as emptying and loading the dishwasher, and embracing (mostly) additional chores and household responsibilities to help Daddy and me.
  • Watching my boys come to understand money in a new way, realize that to have some of the things they want they must earn money and pay for these things themselves, and then actively seek jobs to earn this money (such as picking up liquidambar “spikey balls” and washing cars). They are negotiating when to spend hard-earned money and when to save. This is valuable stuff!
  • My new clothes dryer. Hallelujah for such inventions!
  • A boy who practices math during the summer with equanimity because his mama tells him to.
  • Trying to be patient with our drought, trying to use less water, trying not to cry because of dying plants, lawn, and shrubs.
  • Friends who say yes when I text them that I must get out of the house right now! Please meet me!
  • Friends who invite my children to play. You make the long summertime fun for them and I am so grateful!
  • Friends who work tirelessly to realize a shared dream. Thank you.
  • My dad’s friend George’s gorgeous, delicious tomatoes—but even better, the friendship that he and my dad share.
  • Making new friends online who do amazing things, capture spectacular moments, and share their talent with the world. I enjoy seeing their art very much.
  • Wondering what the future will bring, being patient in not knowing all answers, and trusting.

Such progress this summer!  I'm proud of my son. #summer #boys #12yearold #seventhgrade #piano #learning

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nightmares

Library love #7yearold #firstgrade #son #mamainthepicture #mamaandbaby

Asher has been having a fair (or unfair) number of nightmares lately. I feel for the kid, honestly. I still remember the vivid, horrifying nightmares of my own childhood. These bad dreams are freaky and they result in sweats and many tears. And, of course, they result in requests to sleep with us, or requests for one of us to sleep with him.

Tonight my little love is having a hard time going to sleep. It could be the temperature warming. It could be that he’s overtired—the boy runs solidly without rest from morning to night. It could be that Daddy’s not yet home. I suppose he could also be getting sick.

Whatever it is, I’ve put him to bed now four times.

As I was lying there with him in his bed, wishing that he would sleep, he sobbed: “Mama, I’m sooo tired! And I’m sooo sorry I keep making you come back and forth! I just don’t want to be without you.”

There’s nothing quite like when my child in need notices I am short on patience to make me feel chagrined. I took a deep breath and settled into my role.

“I am always here for you, my love. You are safe and I am here.”

He whimpered a while longer. I held him close and he wrapped my arms even tighter around himself. Gradually his breathing slowed. I shifted and then he said, “Mama, it’s just like always when you are underwater and …”

 

… and he finally slept. For now. And I’m free to read my book or get ready for bed. But what I said before is true: I am always here for him. He is safe and I am here.

Pampered on Mother’s Day

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My Mothers Day began with coffee and reading in bed (heaven). Asher proudly presented me with a painted card he made at school and a gift box containing his own precious glass jewels and marbles. This boy loves to give gifts. Lucas gave me a lovely watercolor painting he made.

Then I brunched with all my guys at dog-friendly Lido in Carmichael. Strawberry french toast, eggs, sausage, and mimosas hit the spot. Afterward, we visited the best local nursery, Green Acres, in Folsom. (Oh, how I miss Capital Nursery in Citrus Heights, but spectacular Green Acres soothes the ache.) Because it’s a bit of a drive to get there, we just have to browse longer. Every time I stopped to admire a plant, Lucas suggested I get it. I love that my boys support my habit.

My family bought me several new goodies for my garden: a pretty yellow grandiflora rose, a six-pack of California poppies, salvias (the hummingbirds love these, and therefore I love them), red-orange impatiens (which I’ve never tried before), and some vibrant coleus for my shade garden.

Leather gnomes #gardening #gnome

Aren’t these gnomes at Green Acres funny?

We also visited Ian’s mom and my mama, to make Mothers Day complete.

Back at home, I did my first real check of our drip watering system and found many leaky problems. I repaired some of them, but there’s more work to do before I can confidently set it and forget it during our drought. I didn’t get anything planted, but that’s going to be fun to do this week as time allows. Ian made a gorgeous dinner of steak, artichokes, salad, and potatoes.

I felt pampered indeed. I hope you enjoyed a happy Mothers Day too!

Mothering

There are some moments when I despair. I look at these two strange beings who bicker and occupy my home, who confuse and frustrate me, and are so different from me, and I wonder if I am having any civilizing influence on them at all.

Then I get sick, like I am now, and they come to me with soft small hands, stroking my skin and hair, bringing me cool wet cloths for my forehead, and rubbing my shoulders. They hold me close, cuddle up next to me, worry about me, and whisper sweet words of comfort.

And I feel their mothering and hear my own words coming back to me. It’s a mirror, and a window to their future selves.

Happy New Year & Welcome 2014!

Happy New Year! Blessings on you and your loved ones in 2014!

Happy New Year!

For our family this past year has been good overall. We’ve all grown so much, learning joyfully and meeting our challenges with determination and sometimes with grace. We have pursued goals, developed skills, made friends, and found and made new opportunities. We have carved a place for ourselves. We have faced our fears. We have dug deep to find additional strength and resolve. We have unearthed some old psychic muck and purged some baggage that no longer serves us. We have planted seeds of joy and nourished gardens of all kinds. We have bumbled and bumped along, at times, and our experiences have polished us a little bit more. I am repeatedly humbled by our amazing good fortune, most especially in our friends and loved ones. I am constantly amazed by and inspired by the courageous people around us, who serve as our support network and as excellent examples of compassion, understanding, goodness, bravery, and arete. Our boys continue to be our raison d’etre and an endless fountain of love in our lives.

I wish for our family, and for you and yours, fourteen essential blessings in 2014:

1. love
2. good luck/opportunity
3. prosperity
4. good health and stronger bodies
5. creativity
6. learning
7. friendship
8. laughter and whimsy
9. peace in our homes
10. forgiveness of self and others
11. patience
12. perseverance
13. dreaming
14. trust

Blessed Be.

Reassuring Children

Asher and Solstice

I’ll probably get around to writing a little about our Christmas holiday soon, but for now I want to talk about reassuring little ones when fears surface.

My little almost-7-year-old son asked me last night, as we were cuddling at bedtime, “Mama, put your arms around me. I like it. It makes me feel safe.” Then he paused and said, “How do you keep me safe?”

Such a big question at the end of a full and happy day, from a brave boy who spent his time battling orcs in the woods. Such an important moment for me as a mother. How do I say the right thing—just enough and not too much, before he drops off to sleep? Accounting for context, age, and timing is so important in parenting. My sweet boy was about to slip into dreamland. I knew what he needed to hear.

I waited a beat. And then launched into my quiet answer.

“There are many things and people in your life who are working to keep you safe, sweetheart. Some things we cannot see. Our society has laws that keep our air and water safe to breathe and drink. We have safe foods to eat. We have people who keep our country safe. We have bike helmets, seat belts in the car, and speed limits on the roads.

“Our police and firefighters keep us safe from harm and crime and emergencies. We live in a safe neighborhood. There are good people all around us.

“Mama and Daddy are here to keep you safe. We made this warm, solid home for you to live in. We stay with you and make sure you’re not alone. We lock our doors at night so we are safe while we sleep. We have safety rules. Your brother looks out for you. And you have adults all around you who protect you.

“Our love and care for one another keeps us safe. We are safe together.”

He listened. He sighed. “That’s good, Mama.” And then he fell asleep.

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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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