2015 Michaelmas

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Welcoming Autumn

Signs

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

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

Happy Equinox to all! Mosaic by Ian Wilson

(mosaic by Ian)

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

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

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

Just So

Red, white, and blue

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Fresh blueberry pie with raspberries

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Independence Day! = Friends, new puppies, antics, swimming, relaxing, meeting people, fireworks, neighbors, barbecued pork ribs, corn on the cob, cucs (a family specialty), rum and tonics, fresh blueberry pie, love, a bit of risk, and a whole lot of chill.

Blessed.

WEAVE Walk a Mile in Her Shoes

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WEAVE is an important organization in our community that benefits women and children. The name is an acronym for Women Escaping A Violent Environment.

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I liked his sign

“WEAVE is the primary provider of crisis intervention services for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault in Sacramento County.  Through its involvement in the Rescue & Restore Coalition, WEAVE also provides outreach and services for international and domestic victims of human trafficking.

“It is WEAVE’s mission to build a community that does not tolerate domestic violence and sexual assault and provides survivors with the support they need to be safe and thrive. WEAVE’s vision is a community free of violence and abuse.

“At WEAVE we believe that crisis intervention services are only part of the solution. Prevention and Education are critical in improving how our community responds to violence. WEAVE is committed to breaking the cycle of violence by educating the community to better understand the issues of domestic violence and sexual assault.”

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It’s always a challenge to know when to bring difficult topics to children. Balancing the need to educate them about problems in our society with the need to not wake children up too soon to pain and suffering and injustice is a thorny dilemma. Honestly, I think about this stuff all the time.

Our family had some good age-appropriate talks leading up to WEAVE’s Walk A Mile in Her Shoes, which took place on May 3rd. Our brother-in-law, Matt, got us involved. His family law practice, Forester Purcell, was a big sponsor of the event, and they put together a team of more than 50 men to walk in high heels as a way to raise awareness and funds to combat domestic violence and sexual assault.

My men turned up to walk it together. In heels.

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Forester Purcell team was 54 men strong

This was a crazy day for us, frankly. This two-hour WEAVE event was sandwiched between an early morning baseball game and the school’s May Day festival. The day was packed full and challenging, and totally outside normal.

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The truth is, this wasn’t my sons’ favorite event. A lot of grown-ups were being silly. (They’re pretty used to that, though.) The boys did have moments of fun, which it seems I didn’t really capture with my camera.

I’m very, very proud of them, of Ian, of my brother-in-law and step brothers for participating in this event. It’s visible. It’s meaningful. It’s important.

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And I am deeply grateful to all men who stand up and show young people how to be peaceful, respectful members of a society we are building together on the principles of equality, safety, and nonviolence. I am deeply grateful that my sons have such role models in their lives.

WEAVE says, “We had more 1,200 men pre-register and nearly 100 sign up the day of. We are still reviewing the tapes for final count of men but know at least 1,100 walked the walk. We will be submitting the final application to Guinness Book of World Records. Your efforts raised more than $352,000 to support survivors in our community. THANK YOU!”

I’ll say it, too. Thank you, Matt, Danny, Ian, Lucas, and Asher. Thank you, Sacramento.

May Day Music

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On May 3, our Waldorf school celebrated May Day. It was a perfect day. Not to hot, not overcast and cool. The community turned out to celebrate the turning seasons, schoolwork in full blossom, and the soon-to-graduate eighth-grade class. It was marvelous and inspiring, as it is every year.

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(Photo by Melissa Sam Rainsford)

This year, our second graders had a part to play. They played a song on their flutes and sang, standing all in a large ring around the may pole. They were the prelude to the eighth-grade may dancers. My sweet Asher has learned to play the pentatonic flute!

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I’ve said this before, but these children are breathtakingly beautiful to me.

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(Photo by Melissa Sam Rainsford)

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(Photo by Melissa Sam Rainsford)

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Second graders

They played and sang beautifully with movements to go with their songs. I’m so proud of them. You can tell some are very happy to be performing, and others hang back a bit, a little shy to be in the spotlight with the school community watching them. They are growing so fast.

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(Photo by Melissa Sam Rainsford)

Honestly, I cannot get enough of this gap-tastic smile Asher has right now. It slays me every time he flashes it. I kind of hope his new tooth never comes in.

My littlest love at May Day

I love a boy with flowers in his hair.

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The seventh grade played the music for the eighth-grade may dancers. Most were on soprano, alto, or tenor recorders, with one boy on tambourine and another teacher accompanying them on guitar. Lucas was fond of saying they had to play the same difficult, quick song 86 times. I try to remind Lucas that he can do all kinds of things I never learned to do. (My son plays piano, flute, recorder, and violin!) These kids are more impressive with each passing month. Next year, it will be their turn to don white clothes and flower crowns and dance! Be still my heart!

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Alas, I had a major camera failure and didn’t get any pictures of the beautiful dancers this year. Something is wrong with my Canon, either in the battery charging process or else the camera is draining the battery rapidly. I suspect that perhaps it’s not really off when I flip the switch to turn the camera off. I need to take it to a shop to be cleaned, checked, and repaired, but that will have to wait. (I daydream often about getting a new, better camera.) My trusty phone ran out of available space too, so, these are the shots I got. C’est la vie!

Much love to these musicians of all ages, to the dancers, to their parents, and the school community, who together support this amazing festival every year. It fills me up and makes me hopeful and happy every time I see it.

Time in My Garden

Rain. Blessed rain.

It rained last night! For a good long time.

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

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

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

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

Major chalk art is happening here!

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

I have some spectacular irises blooming right now.

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This one’s called Obi-Wan Kenobi.

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

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

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

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

Wishing You a Blessed Spring

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

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

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

Chinese New Year in San Diego

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Ian and I went to San Diego last month for an industry conference called Cal ABA. He got to attend presentations and meet with colleagues and strategize with his business partners. He got a bunch of CEUs taken care of too. It was a great trip and I had tons of fun. We did a little bit of sight-seeing in the evenings and we had a full day on Saturday to explore San Diego.

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It happened to be Lunar New Year and we stumbled upon this amazing celebration in the Chinese part of town. It was totally cool and it was the only time during the five days we were away that I really wished our boys were with us: They would have loved to see the lion dancers and the dragons, and all the people celebrating.

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San Diego is a beautiful town, and we explored on foot, for that’s our favorite way to see a city. We walked from the Gas Light district to the top of the hill and Balboa Park.

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We visited the Museum of Man and a traveling exhibit on Instruments of Torture, which sounded really cool at first but quickly overwhelmed me. Some history is more fascinating and palatable when it’s removed—which I suppose it always is since it’s history. But seeing the racks and saws and knuckle crushers and such up close and in person was a bit too much for my vivid imagination. I made it about two-thirds of the way through the exhibit and then left and waited for Ian outside. The purpose was to call attention to the fact that torture is not merely a thing of the past, and that the capacity of harming others is something that’s still within us. It’s up to individuals to choose not to engage in such practices, and to insist that the powers of the world do not.

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But then I got to meet C3-P0, and that made me feel better. He wasn’t very talkative, however. Balboa park is truly beautiful, and the buildings are highly ornamented. I liked this goddess wall in particular:

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And this ficus macrophylla tree, which was planted in 1915 and is 80 feet tall with a canopy width of 150 feet. Amazing!

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San Diego is gorgeous and I look forward to spending more time there someday. We had terrific meals with friends in the Gaslamp quarter and in the old town.

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Our hotel/convention center was kinda weird—like a place out of time. It seemed to have been frozen in 1964, and yet, it was more adorable than not. I wish the weather had been just slightly warmer so I could have sunbathed by one of the three pools.

A lovely trip all in all!

Santa Lucia: Bringing the Light

I know we are a little late,  but Happy Santa Lucia! Asher's class will be singing and delivering treats today to all the classes,  K to 12. Wish I could be there.  #winter #festivals #holiday #santalucia #waldorf #sacramentowaldorfschool #waldorfhome #se

I particularly enjoyed Santa Lucia this year, knowing that Asher was studying saints in second grade and that his class would be visiting each class in the school, K through 12, to sing and deliver treats. The second graders wore white shirts and white tunics. The oldest girl in the class dressed as Santa Lucia with a crown of candles and led the procession.

We had to postpone the festival day at school because of a big storm front that moved through Northern California, dumping loads of rain and accompanied by high winds. For the first time that I can remember, school was closed. Here in the Sacramento Valley we simply do not get “snow days.” The school administrators and grounds supervisors were worried that some of our older trees might come crashing down in the storm on our 50+-year-old campus, and they didn’t want to take the chance of having any students on campus that day.

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For me, this was a blessing in disguise because I had injured my neck and had zero mobility, tons of pain, and a job to go to. Baking buns was really not possible in the midst of all that. When the festival was postponed until Monday morning, it was great news. I was able to rally on Sunday and made the best Lussekatter buns I’ve ever made.

39 Lussekatter for second grade for Santa Lucia Day #waldorf #sacramentowaldorfschool #waldorfhome #secondgrade #saints #baking

We were able to enjoy a lovely breakfast that morning. I wish I had some photos of the children going class to class. (When Lucas was in second grade, I was able to be there and got some lovely shots of the children all in white, singing and processing through the school. Lucas, as youngest boy, was dressed as a little gnome.) Alas, this year I had to be at work this year on that day. I’m sure they did a marvelous job of heralding the coming of the light and bringing good cheer to the school.

And as December is always full to brimming of important moments, we had our Winter Concert on the previous Friday night. The program is such that each grade, 3 through 12, performs, and some performances are a traditional part of the program. For example, the third grade always lights the menorah and sings some songs in Hebrew. The sixth grade always performs the sword dance.

This year, our seventh grade did something new and wonderful: with the help of some African drumming teachers, they performed a dance for the jungle goddess to encourage the growth and development of the coming child. Some of the students danced, and some were drummers. Lucas opted to drum, and he was far to the left, where we couldn’t see him at all.  We did not the greatest view of the stage, but I was happy because I was in a chair with my hurt neck and not sitting on a bleacher bench. Anyway, the dance and music were beautiful and exciting. It felt nice to have the energy of the concert punched up a bit with the drums.

African dance: Kakilambe #waldorf #sacramentowaldorfschool #12yearold #seventhgrade #christmas

7th- and 8th-grade choir at the Winter Concert at #sacramentowaldorfschool  This time I could see my son! #waldorf #music #seventhgrade

The seventh and eighth grades combined in a choir to sing as well. Lucas was front and center this time, which he didn’t care to be. He seems to be in a phase where he doesn’t much want to be onstage. (Later this year they will perform an opera and he has been assigned the role of director, for which he is grateful.) There is such a rich and varied curriculum at our Waldorf school. These students get to experience so many forms of art.

As a second grader, Asher didn’t perform this year, and he wiggled and squirmed the entire way through the concert. Ian and I enjoyed it very much. (Also, my neck is now much better.)

These are some of the ways we’ve been welcoming the light.

Tree Hunting

#christmas #home #waldorfhome #traditions #yule

Our tree is beautiful this year. We drove up to fetch it from Apple Hill on a perfect weekend in early December. The tree farm was part of Boa Vista Orchards, where Christmas trees and apple trees still wearing some autumn colors were growing practically side by side.

I would follow them anywhere #family #boys #wild #california #brave

Getting our tree #christmas #family #traditions

Apple orchard

The golden leaves in the orchard and the gnarly apple trunks in late afternoon sunlight were to die for.

Could wander for hours here #apples #orchard #California

There were a few grumbles this year à la, “Why do we have to take all this time to get a tree? Can’t we just go to the local tree lot?” Because Mama wants to, that’s why.

The hot apple donuts that came with our tree purchase made up for the inconvenience, I think. They were amazing!

Coming home from the hills #California #colors #sky #sunset

And, despite our late-day start, we even got home before it was completely dark, and enjoyed this beautiful sunset as a companion on our drive down into the valley.

Merry Yuletide,  my friends.  #winter #festivals #holiday #home #yule #tree #waldorfhome

The boys and I enjoyed rediscovering our favorite ornaments while Ian cooked dinner for us. Thank goodness for Soma FM’s “Christmas Lounge” stream, which is our traditional decorating-the-tree soundtrack. I wonder how my kids will feel about this tradition when they’re older. I know I think back fondly on the tree-hunting trips to the mountains that I made with my family as a child.

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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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