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.

E-Book for Equinox and Michaelmas Festivals

E-Book Cover

For any new readers, I would like to humbly mention that we have a beautiful e-book for sale that is perfect for this special time of year. This one is our Autumn Equinox & Michaelmas Festival E-Book. Eileen and I are really proud of it.

Here is a mosaic of just some of the images from the projects and activities we offer in our e-book.

Taste of the Contents of Our Autumn Equinox & Michaelmas Festival E-Book

133 PAGES of verses, fingerplays, poems, song, crafts, meditations, book recommendations, circle times, recipes, and much more to guide you in celebrating the Autumn Equinox and Michaelmas
in your home or school!
  • Needle Felt a Beautiful Apple Mother Doll
  • Go on an Apple Picking Field Trip and Learn
    About Different Varieties of Apples
  • Design a Breathtaking Early Autumn Nature Table
  • Read Books with the Children Celebrating
    Autumn and Michaelmas
  • Make Your Own Apple Stamps
  • Enjoy Homemade Applesauce Together
  • Crochet an Apple for Your Nature Table or Play Kitchen
  • Create a Beautiful Autumn Candle Holder Centerpiece
  • Make an Archangel Michael Mobile
  • Harvest Natural Dye Materials from Outdoors and
    Make Capes of Light Playsilks
  • Hold a Michaelmas Family Feast
  • Create Dragons out of Nature Items
  • Bake Dragon Bread with the Children
  • Make a Dragon Tree Block Checker Set
  • Sculpt Dragons out of Modeling Material
  • Cut Out Paper Flying Dragons to Display on Your Wall
  • Make a Michaelmas Felt Play Set
  • Paint an Autumn Leaf Stencil Painting with Watercolors
  • Crochet Beautiful Autumn Leaves for Your Nature Table
  • Paint Your Own Interpretation of Michael and the Dragon
  • Look Inward and Face Your Own Dragons with our Caregiver Meditation
  • Share Verses and Songs About Autumn and Michaelmas
  • Meditate on Quotes from Steiner and Other Inspirational Individuals
  • Enjoy Pinecone Weaving
  • Share Circle Time Together
  • Make Michael Sword Napkin Holders
  • Sculpt Michaelmas Worry Beads
  • Craft an Autumn Equinox Wreath

So, if you’re wondering how to make this time of year feel magical, this e-book may be just what you need. Thanks for peeking!

Only $24.99

Authors:
~ Eileen Straiton,
Little Acorn Learning

~ Sara Wilson, Love in the Suburbs

With Guest Contribution from Jennifer Tan, Syrendell

Imperfection and Joy

There’s a lot of that going on around me and inside me. I have had so many great posts brewing in my mind lately, but have managed to get exactly none of them onto this blog, for lots of reasons. I wanted to write about Earth Day, and about our first trip to the SCA, and so many other things. I have been otherwise occupied with important things, though beyond work and family and service to others, I’m not sure I could tell you what they were.

At the moment, I’m sick, although I feel a bit better than I did yesterday afternoon, when I was feverish and achy.

Yesterday was my sweet son’s eleventh birthday, and I can tell you it did not fall neatly into “perfect” like I had hoped.

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He, too, was sick and stayed home from school for two days, including his birthday. This was disappointing because one always gets special attention on one’s birthday. I felt so bad for him, missing that opportunity. So, yeah. Imperfect. We managed to give him his gifts in the morning, and before I got ill I cooked him a special breakfast.

Ian came home from work for a while to stay with him when I went out. They finished watching “The Two Towers,” which is something they can do only when Asher is not at home, so there were a few perks to the day. But no cake and ice cream. No dinner out at the restaurant of his choice. We improvised the best we could. Ian went out for take-out Chinese food and brought home ice-cream sandwiches for the boys.

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He woke up to this—a cool new mountain bike with 24-inch tires and, like, a 100 gears or something. 21? And his collection of dragon books grew considerably.

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Grandpa gave him a nifty LEGO Darth Vader headlamp. You know, for reading under the covers late at night.

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So while this birthday didn’t meet my expectations, it was OK. It was imperfect and still joyful. Eleven is rather mature, I’ve decided. Although Lucas was sad when we took his temp and told him he couldn’t go to school, he adapted to the new plan of staying home relatively quickly. He understood when I worked a bit during the day. He understood when I napped. He understood when I collapsed on the couch at 5 p.m. and started mumbling with fever. He took it in stride. There were plenty of snuggles.

And as the day wore on, I was well mothered by my sweet children, who told me they were worried about me, and wished I was feeling well. It’s so wonderful to see how they express care and concern and empathy for me at times like this. It makes me feel like we’re doing a great job in raising them. (Thank you, Ian, for doing all the heavy lifting of the evening.)

I’m glad that Lucas is well again. He trooped off to school today, with his violin and a big box of homemade chocolate chip cookies to share with his class in celebration of his birthday. (I’m grateful that I made those on Tuesday night so they were ready to go this morning.) And I am home today, recuperating, with some opportunity to reflect.

I’m sure all of this “perfect” silliness is all in my head. I’m the one with the major expectations. I wanted to post yesterday about May Day. The fact that Lucas’s birthday is on Beltane has elevated this holiday to one of my very favorites. This is a busy, beautiful time of year. The flowers, the celebrations, the handsome, growing boy—to me they are all so life-affirming and glorious. I feel alive and in love with everything at this time of year. Normally.

But things don’t go perfectly, and the trouble with expectations as we all know is that they lead directly to disappointment. I’m learning to live with imperfection. It’s not easy for me because I. Want. Things. Just. So.  But I am learning to take pleasure in little things, year by year. It seems to be one of my great lessons in this life. And so I look. And I listen. And I learn a little more. And I find all the joy I can in all these many imperfect moments.

Happy May, my friends. I’ll be back here again soon. Until then, enjoy.

 

Another Sixth Birthday Gift: Earthbender Costume

My new baby: Janome New Home Christmas present from my mom and dad.

My parents bought me this awesome sewing machine for Christmas. It’s my third machine. I am still learning and I’m kind of hard on them. (For the record, two of my sewing machines work and one of them is a perfect learning machine. I thought I might let Lucas take it for a spin.) But this new one—this Janome New Home—is all mine. (Besides, Mom gets nervous whenever I go near her Bernina.)

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Back in December I conceived of giving Asher an Earthbender costume, inspired by one of our family’s favorite shows, Avatar the Last Airbender. Asher has always been fondest of the Earthbending skill, and when he plays at “bending,” he is always an Earthbender. Maybe it’s because green is his favorite color. At first, I thought this costume might be a Christmas gift, but then I realized it was more appropriate for his sixth birthday.

So I bought a mini gi. (Actually, I bought two. The first was too mini.) I know my limitations and I realized I could spiff-up a gi more efficiently than I could make one from scratch.

Dyed Earthbender Costume in Progress

I spent a day last week dyeing the top green and the pants and belt a taupe color. Pale yellow would have been nicer, but that wasn’t an option when buying dye.

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My mom and I carefully picked out some fancy trim, and last night I got my new sewing machine out and put it to use. I even changed the needle to a denim one, to go through all the layers of the gi edge! I read the manual and everything! Amazingly, my boys slept through my sewing.

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I cut off the sleeves and sewed on this gold and green fringe. I wanted the costume to look like a cool martial arts gi, but not exactly like a karate uniform. I have one day left before Asher’s birthday gift will be presented to him. I’m presently debating about whether to use the sleeves I cut off to make wrist bands or a headband. I hope to decorate this final item(s) with the Earthbender symbol.

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Today I spent the morning in Asher’s kindergarten class with him, to help celebrate his birthday at school. His teacher told me that yesterday she asked him what he wished for. He said he wished for infinite wishes, and for a closet full of costumes. A CLOSET FULL OF COSTUMES!

Maybe I actually have made him the right birthday gift. … Or maybe he won’t wear it at all. That’s also a possibility. If he does like it and wear it, I’ll be sure to get a photo.

Anyway, there’s just one hour left in this Circle of Moms Top 25 Creative Moms contest. Here’s the button to vote for me. My gratitude goes out to all the wonderful friends and readers who have voted for me daily over the last two weeks. Thank you for the support and for helping me get into and stay in the Top 25! Voting closes at 4 p.m. PST on 1/30.

Thanks again!

Our Second Week of Advent

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Our second week of Advent was full of plant goodness. We got our Christmas tree from a local lot—our schedules didn’t permit the usual trek up to the foothills to cut a tree at a tree farm. Rather than worry about that, we nabbed a gorgeous tree in about 10 minutes flat and had a whole afternoon to leisurely decorate it, while enjoying Christmas music, hot tea, and candy canes.

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It’s truly a beautiful tree, even if this photo isn’t.

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I love unpacking our ornaments. This year, both boys got into the spirit of hanging ornaments and they told some of the origin stories themselves.

The Wreath I Made for Our Door

With boughs from the tree lot and bay laurel from my tree, I made a fresh wreath for our door. I bought a wreath last year and had the presence of mind to save the wire frame, so making this was a breeze. It cost me $1.50 for the reindeer and the ribbon. We made the stars last year and I love them.

Mantel with Evergreen Garland

I had enough boughs leftover from the wreath project to make a whole garland for my mantel. It looks very much like last year’s mantel except for the real greenery. I adore the straw stars.

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Ian and the kids put up lights on our house and I added ornaments to some trees by our front door. It’s all rather festive!

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My garden currently features green tomato vines that I am gradually feeding to my chickens, growing cauliflower plants, and sugar snap pea shoots popping up in a pot. The tree out front is still full of golden stars. The heavenly bamboo is sporting gorgeous red bird berries.

I’m happy to have the Steiner practice of celebrating the four kingdoms during Advent to guide the schedule of some of our holiday traditions. It helps to have things spread out over the month instead of all at once, in an overwhelming tide of stuff-to-do. This week was indeed full of plants.

The truth is, I feel kind of stupid even writing about all of this because none of it matters in light of the tragic event in Connecticut. It has shaken me deeply—and I may be dwelling on it too much. What does it matter that my silly traditions go on, or happen on schedule? That we spend time beautifying our home and making it ready for the light and laughter and friendship and love that is our Christmas? It matters not at all compared to life and death and ultimate loss.

Or maybe it does matter.

Getting back to normal, participating in all the everyday acts of love and friendship, and celebrating life are the path to healing, I think. And it feels awkward and weird and yet what else is there to do? We hold our loved ones close, spend quality time, hug our friends, protect our children, and invest in love and beauty, happiness, grace, and gratitude.

I guess. It’s my strategy for now, anyway.

Love these

May we all find moments of happiness and peace in the coming weeks. May we find a way to celebrate and heal.

Santa Lucia Morning

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Santa Lucia Day Breakfast

Good morning! And happy Santa Lucia Day!

Santa Lucia Day Breakfast

We ate a lovely breakfast of eggs and Lussekatter buns. Daddy told us about winter in Sweden and Santa Lucia Day—about how he used to walk to school in the dark and he wouldn’t see the sun until lunchtime, and then would have to walk home in the dark at 3 p.m.

Lussekatter for Santa Lucia Day

The Lussekatter turned out beautifully this year. My recipe is on my post from last year. These simple celebrations are getting me ready for Solstice and Christmas, I think. There’s something exciting about baking at 10 p.m. And while I am in no way a “morning person,” I love early morning magic!

Star Boy crown

I made two star boy crowns yesterday afternoon for $2 each. They are … improvised. A wreath and a 6 foot length of very soft “florist wire,” both from the Dollar Store. I just bent the wire into three continuous stars and put a little wave in between them, then wrapped the ends around the back of the wreath and tucked them in. This design fit the small wreath perfectly.

I have everything I need to make pointy felt star boy hats like the ones Ian wore when he celebrated Santa Lucia Day at his university in Sweden in 1993, but I didn’t get the time to do it this year.

Star Boy crown for Santa Lucia Day

I think the crowns are cute, but my own stjärngossar (star boys) didn’t much want to wear them. Alas.

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It rained last night, and there are shimmering jewels on the branches, sparkling in the weak winter sun.

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Have a beautiful day!

Finished, Released, and Relieved

Winter Mosaic 10x3

This is a teaser photo mosaic that shows just a little of what my friend and I have been up to lately. For the last two months, Eileen Straiton (of Little Acorn Learning) and I have been diligently working on our latest e-book. We had so many fantastic ideas and so enjoyed inspiring each other that we kept crafting and writing right up until our self-imposed deadline. Furthermore, we created so much content that we decided to release it as TWO e-books instead of one.

Wooden Advent Wreath

One book is our Advent and Saint Nicholas Festival E-Book, which offers poems, stories, songs, crafts, and myriad special ways that families, schools, or childcare professionals can celebrate the whole month of December with children. The advantage to doing so is that you get a more thoughtful, heartfelt approach to the holidays, with less rushing commercialism and more time in each other’s company while making and giving of yourselves. A measured, calm approach to the winter holidays gives children time to dream, live into the stories of their faith and the season, and count the days of Advent. Children can savor the passing of time with peaceful, delicious anticipation and gentle, useful activity, rather than experience the holiday as a single, frenzied, blowout day that is over all too soon. A peaceful Advent full of simple pleasures and togetherness is what they’ll remember later, not the package-ripping and specific, expensive gifts.

Solstice Spheres

The other e-book we created is the Winter Festivals E-Book, and it’s full of ways to celebrate the festivals of Santa Lucia, Hanukkah, Solstice, Yule, and Christmas. Maybe now it makes sense that we have two offerings instead of one? See, the season of winter festivals is packed with beautiful symbols; messages of peace, hope, rebirth, brotherhood, generosity, and love; and so many inspiring and edifying traditions that it was tough to contemplate leaving out anything. And cold and dark days give us the opportunity to dive into the rich and various traditions that inform the winter festivals. This e-book also offers songs, ancient poems and carols, recipies, rhymes for circle time, caregiver meditations, crafts and natural decorations you can make, and a whole bunch of ideas for enjoying the many festivals of light.

We would be honored and delighted if you’d check out these e-books and spread the word a little. We have poured our hearts and souls into them.

It is our aim to provide nourishing opportunities for families and groups of children at school/daycare environments. Our content is firmly based in Waldorf instructional methods and theories of child development. We value the whole person—head, heart, and hands—both the child and the adult alike. We strive to be original, to use natural, affordable materials, and to create beautiful artwork and handwork without it being so complex that readers are intimidated. We strive to inspire and encourage frequent artistic expression and to share the joy and satisfaction of creating handmade gifts. We are Waldorf moms (and Eileen is a professional childcare provider) and we offer this work with love.

Here are a few “making of” shots from the last two months. I’d like to say thank you to my little helpers and models, Lucas and Asher, for being willing to go along with Mommy’s visions, and to Ian who tolerated my clutter of tools and supplies, my having four different holidays’ décor spread throughout our home at once for photo shoots, and my “Just a minute, I’m writing” excuses. I’m grateful for the opportunity to do this work.

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Reborn Solstice Sun Watercolor pants

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Halloween: Flygon

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This, my friends, is Flygon. Flygon is a Pokémon, a Ground and Dragon type, to be exact. Asher loves dragons, loves this chartreuse color, and loves coming up with challenging Halloween costumes. At first he was talking about being the Grim Reaper. I think he got it into his head that big kids go for scary costumes and wanted to do the same, but I drew the line. I think five-year-olds aren’t really ready for scary costumes. So when Asher picked Flygon out of an old Pokédex book, I said yes and kept my doubts private.

Last Year's Rainbow Dragon Tail with this Year's Future Flygon Tail. Hmmm... #pokemon #halloween #costume #dragon Chartreuse Beginning of costume Making Flygon Wings Flygon tail in progress Tail almost finished

This costume is more involved than anything I’ve made to date. It started with some green fabric and some red duct tape. I had no pattern, but I did have the experience of making the rainbow dragon tail last year. Figuring out how to make the stipes on the tail concentric was a bit tricky for me. I consulted with my pro costumer friend Nicole to get her advice before I did any cutting. I bought a white cotton sweatsuit from Dharma Trading Company and some chartreuse dye. That was great because I’m not much of a seamstress. But just dyeing the outfit took half a day. I worked on this costume little by little over about a week. The wings were bumble bee wings until I pulled off the yellow fabric and bent them into diamond shapes. Ian helped me recover the wing wire with fabric and hot glue; we needed several hands. Then we added the red tape to the edges. The tail piece is made of cardboard, covered in the same wing fabric, and then outlined with red tape.

This is what we were going for. Super cute, right?

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I think it turned out pretty well! I sewed the tail and stuffed it with a little wool and then some bubble wrap. There’s a coat hanger inside that made it stand up and wobble around nicely when he walked. It tied around his middle and was also supported by suspenders that he wore underneath his hoodie.

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I had just enough dark green to make the head spikes. They are stuffed with wool and hand-sewn to the hood of the shirt. He liked when they flopped over his face.

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The glasses we bought years ago for Burning Man. I think they made the costume. I really feel that I sneaked up on this costume. I pondered and plotted a lot before I did anything, and I took it on one bite at a time.

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At the last minute, Asher decided he had to have green and red makeup too. No problem. I’ve got that!

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I love the way he got into character!

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I am kind of amazed he was able to keep up with all the big kids that night. He enjoyed trick-or-treating immensely.

And now it’s time to remove the head spikes so he can wear the hoodie.

Growth and Change

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I try not to get too sentimental about my children growing up. They grow. They are made to. They strive and learn and change and discover and grow every day, with or without my consent. And I approve. Most of the time I am too busy being astounded and amazed by their leaps of intelligence, judgement, compassion, and understanding, and feats of strength and skill to be the least bit sad about their not being babies anymore.

These are pants and shorts and pajamas that my mother and I have for Asher to wear. They were sewn for him and made with love (and in my case, with mistakes and a fair amount of learning frustration). They are all too small for Asher now, and I have sent them on their merry way to another sweet boy (and his baby sister) who may get some further use out of them. They are not the first set of handmades to be passed along, and they certainly won’t be the last. Growth and change are guaranteed.

Nevertheless, I was sentimental enough to take a photo before passing them on. These clothes are loved, soft and colorful, and unique in the world. They are special not only because they once covered my sweet son’s soft skin, but because they were created with loving hands and clever tools and eyes for detail. They are special because they were made first in our hearts before they came to be objects in the world.

May they be useful in the years to come, until they are once again outgrown.

 

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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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