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.

 

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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💖

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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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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.

Blessed Rain for Earth Day

Gift of raindrops on roses Happy Earth Day indeed! #spring #waldorfhome #earthday #earth #rain #roses #California #drought

Happy Earth Day! It’s raining! This is simply the most perfect blessing for California, and I’m so delighted. My heart is high and full of love and compassion, soaring and aching in turns along with loved ones’ hearts, and grateful to have so much abundant beauty and bounteous love and friendship in my life.

I am the beauty of the green earth
And the white moon among the stars
And the mystery of the waters
And the desire of human hearts.

Call unto your soul: Arise and come unto me
For I am the soul of nature who gives
Life to the universe.
From me all things proceed
And unto me all things must return.
—Doreen Valiente

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This is the spirit of Earth Day for me: wonder and celebration, joy and protection, and profound gratitude.

#nofilter #roses

This grand show is eternal.
It is always sunrise somewhere:
the dew is never all dried at once:
a shower is forever falling, vapor is ever rising.
Eternal sunrise, eternal sunset, eternal dawn and gloaming,
on sea and continents and islands, each in its turn,
as the round earth rolls.
—John Muir

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I do not have to go
To Sacred Places
In far-off lands.
The ground I stand on
Is holy.

Here, in this little garden
I tend
My pilgrimage ends.
The wild honeybees
The hummingbird moths
The flickering fireflies at dusk
Are a microcosm
Of the Universe.
Each seed that grows
Each spade of soil
Is full of miracles.

And I toil and sweat
And watch and wonder
And am full of love.
Living in place
In this place.
For truth and beauty
Dwell here.
—Mary de La Valette


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I just couldn’t hold it in. My love and gratitude flies out to all beings—may all of us be blessed with a perfect moment of appreciation for this precious little marble floating in space,  where we live, toil and sweat, and care for each other.

Blessed Be.

P.S. I’m going out now to poke little seeds into soil.

Late Spring Festivals E-Book

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This is just a little reminder that my charming coauthor Eileen Straiton and I wrote an e-book on the Late Spring Festivals, which can be found at the Little Acorn Learning website here. It covers Passover, Earth Day, May Day, and Mother’s Day and is chock-full of of Waldorf songs, stories, verses, crafting tutorials and much more to help you celebrate the Late Spring Festivals of Passover, Earth Day, Mother’s Day and May Day with your children!

Passover begins this Friday, April 22, and Friday is also Earth Day! Here’s some ways you can enjoy the holidays from our e-book:

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Part One: Passover

Passover Stars Ornament
Hand-painted Seder Plate
Caregiver’s Meditation: Independence

Sprout Babies

Part Two: Earth Day

Celebrating Earth Day
Earth Day Science Projects
Canticle to the Sun and Other Nature Poems
Earth-Oriented Meal Blessings and Gratitude Poems
Earth Day Verses and Fingerplays
Coffee Cup Seed Starters
Nature Bracelets
Earth Day Art Project
Moss Garden Terrarium
Strawberry Zucchini Muffins
Brownie Game
Little Sprout Babies and the Story of Mother Bean
Caregiver Meditation: Remaining Grounded


Flower Prints Art Project

Part Three: May Day

Beltane
May Day Verses and Fingerplays
May Dance Song
Watercolor May Crown
Ribbon Wristlets for May Day Dancing
The May Queen and Other May Day Poems
May Day Flower Cones
Crochet Hair Flowers
May Pole Floral Centerpiece
Dandelion Crowns
Dandelion Tea
Homemade Fruit Roll-Ups

aprons

Part Four: Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day Tea Party
Mother’s Day Verses and Fingerplays
Homemade Granola Bars
The Nest Circle Game
The White Pebble
Pressed Flower Bookmarks
Pressed Flower Candles
Flower Prints for Mother’s Day
Ideas for Simple Mother’s Day Gifts
Spring Tissue Pouches
Mother and Child Aprons
Caregiver Meditation: Nurturing

Earth Day art #earthday #8yearold #secondgrader

 

“We can never have enough of nature. We must be refreshed by the sight of the inexhaustible vigor, vast and titanic features, the sea-coast with its wrecks, the wilderness with its living and its decaying trees, the thundercloud, and the rain which lasts three weeks and produced freshets. We need to witness our own limits transgressed, and some life pasturing freely where we never wander.”

—Henry David Thoreau

Mother Earth, Mother Earth.
Take our seed and give it birth.
Father Sun, Gleam and glow,
Until the root begins to grow.
Sister Rain, Sister Rain.
Shed thy tear to swell the grain.
Brother Wind, breathe and blow,
Then the blade all green will grow.
Earth and Sun and Wind and Rain,
Turn to gold the living grain.

—Eileen Hutchins

Garden Mandalas

Garden Mandala No. 41 #spring #gardening #flowers #mandala #flowerstagram #landart #gardenartflowers #gardenart #geranium #mallow #plum #locust #azalea #cross #square #quadrants

I’ve been making mandalas from flowers and leaves since February 23. It has become my meditation, my art project. It’s how I’m dealing with stress and anxiety. I am a huge fan of land art, ephemeral artworks made of natural, found materials and installed in natural spaces. This is my own little contribution to the art form. I love flowers and used to be a florist, so it seems to fit.

Garden Mandala No. 44 #spring #gardening #flowers #mandala #flowerstagram #landart #gardenartflowers #gardenart #waldorfhome #ephemeral #roses #lavender

I am using primarily materials from my own garden and yard. Occasionally, when in a wild place or undeveloped lot, I will pick some wildflowers to use, but only if they are totally plentiful. I’ve made mandalas in my parents’ yard and in my in-laws’ yard, using their plants and flowers. I’m not buying cut flowers for this project, it’s just what I can glean.

Garden Mandala No. 38 Every day there's something new to use. #spring #gardening #flowers #mandala #flowerstagram #landart #gardenartflowers #gardenartflowers #square #cinquefoil #locust #lantana #roses #petals #leaves #catkins

It seems that every few days a new plant is blooming, making its flowers or pretty leaves available to my art. I don’t want to denude anything, of course—I grow my garden so that it’s beautiful and pleasant to be in—so I only take bits that are abundant. I carefully consider whether I can spare the flowers.

Garden Mandala No. 36 Office park landscaping and riverside wildflowers #spring #gardening #flowers #mandala #flowerstagram #landart #gardenartflowers #gardenart #star #starofdavid #thistle #wildflowers #waldorfhome #weeds

There’s a kind of sacred geometry to these, I think, as is so with all mandalas. I enjoy playing with forms. Each mandala has something wrong with it, a kind of wabi-sabi element. Somehow, this delights me. Even though I really do try to make them symmetrical and geometrical and “right.” Tiny pieces sometimes move out of place. Usually I don’t see their flaws until after I’ve taken the photo and walked away, or the wind has moved all the bits around and destroyed the pattern. Then I take a deep breath and decide to love the mandala anyway.

Garden Mandala No. 34 It's such a beautiful day! Happy Friday, friends! #spring #waldorfhome #mandala #gardening #flowers #leaves #landart #mallow #flowerstagram #azalea #periwinkle #oxialis #grass #japanesemaple #gardenart #ephemeral

Some mandalas are simple and some are complicated. I’m enjoying exploring shapes and textures, as well as colors and all their myriad combinations. Sometimes I use bare ground or my lawn as the background. Other times I’ll find a place under a tree where there’s bark or needles. I think the background contributes to the overall feeling of each mandala. So far, every one of them is unique in many ways.

Garden Mandala No. 30 #spring #gardening #flowers #mandala #triangle #flowerstagram #roses #calendula

The wind is my enemy when designing a piece. Various sun versus shadow conditions can also be tricky, I’ve learned. Time of day matters, too. If it’s too late in the evening, I find my photo isn’t as nice because of low light. If the day has bright, bright sun, I often can’t tell by looking at my viewfinder if my photo has captured it properly. After taking shots, I play with the brightness, saturation, shadows, and other elements of the photo to try to pull out the best qualities of each mandala. I’m no whiz at postproduction, but I get in there and mess about anyway.

Good morning! Garden Mandala No. 2

Even if I’m using many flowers of the same type, or many leaves from the same tree or bush, each one is different. I like that these same-element groups don’t always behave the same, or look quite the same, or have the same size, color, or texture, but when viewed as a whole, sort of cooperate and can be taken together.

I think most of all, what I like about making these is that they make me happy. They’re little earthy prayers of my own making, arising from my wild mind and creative soul though the work of my hands, arranging materials that delight me. They are quieting, when my mind is racing. My mandalas give me a moment to stop everything, take a few moments outside, and make something beautiful, even if it lasts only a little while.

Garden Mandala No. 43 Friday I'm in LOVE #spring #gardening #flowers #mandala #flowerstagram #landart #gardenartflowers #gardenart #locust #plum #daylily #heart #mandalaart #ephemeral

I also love that they make other people happy. So, dear friends, thank you for the encouragement and kind words. I think I’ll keep making my garden mandalas for a while longer.

First Class Trip

Off he goes!

My little son left this morning for his first overnight class trip! They’ll be camping at Full Belly Farm, and doing farming-type stuff, including packing up CSA boxes. Asher has a little nervous and very excited, and I know it’s going to be a wonderful trip. This weekend Ian got Asher a few items he needed, like a new water bottle. I finger-knitted a lanyard for his mini flashlight so he could hang it around his neck. He’s got warm clothes, layers, our ancient snow lion sleeping bag, and he’s packed up in Ian’s Europe backpack from 1993.

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Lucas did this trip in third grade too. Somehow, it helps little brothers to know big brothers have done the same things before them, and they had fun and everything turned out all right. Today in the car as we were driving to school, Lucas kindly said things like “Don’t worry. It’s gonna be great. You’ll be fine and you’ll have fun.” It seemed to help Asher relax a little. I can say all the same things, but somehow, it’s better coming from a big brother.

So proud of this boy!

Last night, Asher reminded me that Cindy was going to be there, and that I could call her if I wanted to talk with him. I think that was code for “I might need to talk with you, Mom.” I doubt he really will though. I mentioned this to Cindy, and I know I’ll get a text later on.

He’ll be in Farmer Steve’s group, and teachers know all about his asthma medicine (something we never had to do with Lucas), so it’s all good. Asher has plenty of camping experience under his belt.

I wrote this years ago about Lucas’s first overnight trip. All of this is still so completely true, and I wish Asher the best possible time!

“I love this Waldorf curriculum. I love that my son gets to spend a day and a night on a working farm that is using sustainable practices and raising sheep for wool. I love that he knows where his food comes from. I love that part of school for him is fresh air and sunshine, digging in the mud and planting seeds, and swimming in a pond. I love that his physical and spiritual development are carefully considered in addition to his academic aptitude and achievement; that the health and unity of the class as a whole is considered. I love that he is challenged with tasks that are a trifle scary and difficult, and supported while he faces his fears and overcomes obstacles. I feel he is being nourished every day by these qualities and so many more that I can’t even put into words.

“I’m just so full of gratitude, and hoping he has a wonderful time.”

 

Speaking of Lucas, big things are coming up for him, too! In two weeks he and his classmates will dance the maypole, and in May he’ll go on his eighth-grade trip for a week!

There are all kinds of letting-go opportunities around here. XO

 

These Two

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Pippin the puppy (officially Peregrin Took) has been with us since July 1. We figure he was born somewhere around May 5, 2015, so he’s still a baby. He has brought us all immense joy, endless cuddles, nips, and licks, and has chewed up more of our belongings than we would like. (Three pairs of my shoes!) When he gets in trouble we exclaim, “Fool of a Took!”

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Frolicking

Pippin and Asher are quite close. They play together a lot and it’s so much fun to watch. They’re always interacting and Asher can wear out Pip like nobody else. There’s really nothing like a feisty little boy playing with his feisty little dog in the spring sunshine!

Pip likes to box and cuddle with me, and cuddles sweetly with Lucas (who has a kind of disappointing relationship with Solstice). Pip tears around the house with Solstice chasing him at least three to four times a day; Solstice whups up on him, and he comes back for more immediately every time. Pip knows a few words really well, like “sit,” “outside,” and “treat.” We’re working on teaching him “come,” and I think he knows what we mean, but sometimes can’t be bothered to interrupt his explorations to do it. We should take him to a puppy behavior class, I’m sure, but there’s no time. He can scoot under our fence and sometimes we find him in the front yard; we have to find those spots and block them.

All in all it’s going pretty well. Pip is goofy and zippy and dopey and can jump really high. He rolls in the mud. He wakes me in the night with a lick on my face when he wants to go outside. He chews on Asher’s stuffed animals. And we love him anyway. We feel he must have been designed by committee because his legs are soooooo long and his head is soooooo wee. We’ve decided that his breed is Teacup Warg.

Pip #teacupwarg #dogsofinstagram #familydog #mutt #muttsofinstagram

Isn’t he fierce?

Magical Spring

My forsythia

My eyes have been joyful lately, seeing beauty everywhere. This last month has been full of blossoms and blue skies, and I grabbed as many pretty shots as I could along the way. It’s not quite spring, technically, but there’s plenty of springtime magic to behold.

We four #family #waldorfhome #spring #winterturnstospring

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See the star?

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The early spring light is sometimes warm and buttery, sometimes watery and wan.

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Trees stretch their lacy blooms skyward.

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Winter has no power over me #sacramento #California #visitsacramento #winter #mardigras

Tiny lawn flowers seem to say, “Winter has no power over me!”

Sunny, 72 degrees #sacramento #visitsacramento #California

The almonds in particular have put on quite a show, and the quince is by far the sassiest of all.

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Demure snowdrops sway quietly on the edges, like girls at a cotillion.

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My favorites, perhaps, are the plumb blossoms. They arrive in a rush; one moment the tree is bare, the next it’s enveloped in a cloud of pink. They don’t stay long, just a brief spell. Then they float down to the ground, whole flowers intact, and the earth below is transformed into fairyland.

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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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