Summer Solstice Camping

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#camping #summer #boys #nature #woods

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Playing poker #7yearold #summer #boys #games #camping

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Glamping #camping #woods #friends #summer

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We visited the Tunnel Mills campground in the Tahoe National Forest over the summer solstice weekend. A bunch of friends came and we had a wonderful group campsite all to ourselves. I never managed to have my camera with me when we were playing and rock hopping down by the gorgeous creek, so you’ll just have to take my word for it: it was a truly spectacular, magical place of huge, broad leaves, water snakes, clear, cold rushing water, warm boulders, dancing sunlight, and a million shades of green.

We had our Midsummer bonfire (which I wanted so badly), plenty of relaxation, games of Magic the Gathering and poker, reading, music and singing, shared potato chips, and friendship.

It was a little too chilly at night for my taste, but the warmth that these fine people bring to our lives makes it well worth it.

My Midsummer blessing for you is that you find the people who most uplift you, inspire you to be your best self, who understand you, encourage you, and delight you … and then hang on to them. Learn to be the very best friend you can be because love and connection, joy, trust, and forgiveness is what this one perfect life is all about. And we are all still learning.

Summer Solstice Celebrating and Feasting

Seagulls

Sunlight is flooding
The widths of space
The son of the birds echoes
Through the realms of the air
The blessing of plants sprouts
From the being of the earth
And human souls lift themselves
In feelings of thankfulness
To the Spirits of the World.

—Rudolf Steiner

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Happy Summer Solstice! Here is a little tea concoction I made and it was so yummy, we’ll definitely do this again:

  • two green tea bags
  • lemon slices, squeezed into the water
  • lemon balm leaves
  • sweetener of your choice

(Steep all day, strain, and then chill before drinking.)

We have had a marvelous day and I hope you have, too.

Forming the Giant Cookie

Summer Sun Mosaic Cookie Before Baking

We made a giant summer sun mosaic cookie together. Here it is before baking. And here is the basic giant cookie recipe from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe. This kind of thing goes over really big with my children. Lucas made the face; Asher did the eyebrows and the sun rays around the outside. Since the boys got soooo excited about putting the Reese’s candies on top, I realize now that I didn’t need to put peanut butter chips into the dough.

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We painted suns, inspired by my co-author and friend Eileen Straiton’s project in our Midsummer Festival E-Book. I think once they’re dry we’ll hang them.

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Then we had a beautiful Solstice feast of shrimp tostadas and several fresh salads. I needed lots of circles and colors and fresh veggies in this meal. We even added in some nasturtiums from our garden. We had so much gorgeous food, I wished we had guests to share it with! This is one of my favorite things: Eating amazing California food outside in summertime, when the day has been hot but the evening delta breezes pick up just in time.

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“Give me the splendid silent sun with all his beams full-dazzling.” —Walt Whitman

Solstice in a Sunbeam

Also, today marks six months since our little dog Solstice came to our family. He followed our boys home on December 21 and hasn’t left our side since then. We love him so much, and we’re all grateful to have him.

Here’s to unexpected blessings that follow you home and take up residence in your heart.

Here’s to abundance of joy, nourishment, learning, and opportunity.

Here’s to family traditions carefully conceived and simply crafted.

Here’s to courage, doing good, and generosity.

Blessed Be.

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Ways to Celebrate the Summer Solstice: Part 2

Mask

Here are a few more ideas of how to celebrate the summer solstice. Please feel free to check out the first installment here. I guess perhaps it was the very cold, very wet spring we had this year; somehow this year I’m extra motivated to bask in the sunshine. I’m so looking forward to the summer solstice. It feels right to go big this year.

Make a Sun Mask

The mask you see above is one that Lucas made in summer camp a couple of years ago. It’s very simple—just doubled paper plates painted with copper and gold metalic paints and decorated with a few sequins. It’s iconic and it speaks to me, so it’s still on display in my home office. Your sun mask could be more elaborate, if you like, but a project like this could be enjoyed by even the smallest members of your family and for little investment in materials.

Make a Sunshine Banner

Father's Day Sun Banner

For me, Father’s Day and the summer solstice are two sides of the same coin. (That’s not the case for everyone; in China and Japan, the summer solstice is when the divine feminine forces are celebrated.) I guess I always think of Mother Earth and Father Sun (or Father Sky). Anyway, here is a project that Lucas made a number of years ago with his summer camp teachers. The kids and I are going to do this again for the solstice this year, only this time, we’ll have both Lucas’s and Asher’s handprints to make our sunshine. We’ll only need some fabric, twine or ribbon, a twig or dowel, and some washable tempera paint. And soap!

Crochet Sun Medallion Necklaces

Crochet Sun Medallion

I wish I was good enough at crochet to write a proper tutorial for this, but I fear I’d get the vocabulary wrong. I’m just a beginner, you see. But I managed to work out how to create a flat circle that looks sunshiny. I think I used single and double crochet stitches and just felt my way along, endeavoring to keep the sun round. When it was approximately 2 inches in diameter, I started chaining a chain. The acrylic yarn is leftover from another project, and it’s stretchy enough to just pull over the head to make a necklace. I’ve made two of these for my boys, and promised two more to some friends. This worked up in about 30 minutes, so someone who actually knows what they’re doing with a crochet hook could probably quickly pound out these sun medallion necklaces. Wear them at your solstice party!

Find more of my solstice ideas (and tons more) in Little Acorn Learning’s June Enrichment Guide. Click the button to go there.

Ways to Celebrate the Summer Solstice: Part 1

Friendly Sun Bread

There are many ways to celebrate the summer solstice with children. Children seem to naturally exist in a state of perpetual summertime bliss if we let them. So call that summer bliss into your heart and create a celebration that is meaningful to you. Here are a couple of ideas for making this solstice celebration special. Start thinking now about how you can make a whole week of planning, working toward, and enjoying this special time of year.

Bake a Sun Bread

Kneading

Any good bread recipe will do. Knead your bread and shape it into a sun. Give it a generous, caring face, if you like, and give it sunshiny rays. Let it rise and then bake your sun bread carefully, so that it doesn’t get too brown. Serve your sun bread on the morning of the summer solstice with fresh churned butter and golden honey. There is extra magic in your sun bread if you eat it while you watch the sun rising on the solstice morning.

Go on a Sun Hunt

Sunny Flowers

How many suns or sun shapes can you find in your home? In your garden? In your town? Sun symbols are everywhere: in nature, on our buildings, on food packaging, on book covers, on logos, on statuary and public artworks. Open your eyes and you will find suns all around you. This is a good way to meditate on this glorious beginning of summer as you go about your days. Children may delight in pointing out the sun symbols they see, and most likely will spot them first!

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I’ll be posting more ways to celebrate the summer solstice in the coming week, so come on back for more fun ideas. Also, check out Little Acorn Learning’s June Enrichment Guide for lots more solstice ideas. Click the button to learn more.

Summer Solstice Celebration

Last Friday night I had a feverish dream inspired by a blog I just discovered: Twig and Toadstool (http://twigandtoadstool.blogspot.com/), where they spent a lot of time preparing for and celebrating the Summer Solstice. I was feverish because I was ill with a virus, but the inspiration worked its way into my dreams all night long. All night I wove a sun; each time I woke and fell asleep again, I slipped right back into the weaving. I could feel the yarn in my fingers, the sticks, the wool. And so, when I awoke, I knew we had to MAKE this thing I had dreamed about.

I gathered some sticks from the local schoolyard and supplies from home, and did some shopping on Monday. I fastened the center together by wrapping it with floral wire. I also wired the edges in an effort to keep the sticks from shifting during the weaving. I think it worked well.

Supplies

And then before and after our Solstice dinner outdoors, Lucas and I worked on our giant sunburst, which is a lot like a Ojo de Dios (God’s eye), but has eight rays and not four.

The Center

Lucas was a big help with weaving the center, especially. Isn’t it beautiful?

Sunny Corn Salad

We took a break to eat my yummy corn salad, spinach salad, and Daddy’s amazing tri tip.

Salad Toppings

Sunshiny squashes, organic tomatoes, and iced tea graced our table. Must be summer!

Here Comes the Sun!

Here comes the SUN! The art project took all evening, but we finished before the sun went down. Lucas held it up high in the sky so I could photograph it. Then we hung our sunburst on our house, where we can see it from the patio. We spend a lot of time there when it’s warm, and our boring beige paint looks better with some colorful art.

Detail

We used $1 ribbon spools in red and orange, a bit of mama’s thick cotton rug yarn, raffia, yellow fabric scraps (with rocket ship pattern that you can’t see) tied into a long strip, and acrylic yarns in yellows, gold, and orange. I wish I had had an excess of yellow or gold wool roving on hand to use in our sunburst, but I didn’t. We also had on hand several colors of nylon twine (including safety orange) but elected not to use them.

Melon, Mint, and Lemon Sorbet

Honeydew melon with mint and lemon sorbet served as a delicious dessert. I don’t know how that watermelon ball sneaked in there. Chef Daddy deserves the credit, I presume. He’s brilliant, as always.

Asher didn’t care for the art project much, but enjoyed snipping bits and pieces of yarn with scissors, and running around with sticks (guns/weapons/swords/knives. Can’t stop him despite my pacifist leanings!) Besides preparing dinner, Ian made a finger-woven chain to add to our sunburst, but for a while, it was “Action Inja” Asher’s headband.

So, welcome Summer! May it be full of frolicking, fun, fiestas, and good fortune. May it be full of right action, deep breathing, generosity, and abundance. May it be patient, low-stress, and l a z y -good. Blessed Be.

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.

Summertime Inspiration

Painting Suns

Summertime is here! For many families summer is a sweet time of lazy days and icy juice pops, swimming and reading and sleeping in. My boys have a few summer camp adventures this summer, and we have a couple of camping trips planned. It’s shaping up to be a lovely time.

Right now, my coauthor, Eileen Straiton of Little Acorn Learning, and I are offering a sale on our Midsummer Festival E-Book. From now through June 30, if you buy the Midsummer Festival E-Book at the sale price of $19.99, you’ll also get the Summer Festivals Cookbook! Together these two e-books provide wonderful ideas for filling summertime with festivities, food, and delightful Waldorf-inspired crafts, songs, poems, and more. Please tell a friend!

Midsummer Festival E-Book Is Now ON SALE!

Our labor of love will bring the magic of summer into your home and help you keep celebrating throughout the season!  It is packed full of Waldorf songs, stories, verses, crafting tutorials and much more to help you celebrate Midsummer and the Summer Solstice with the children in your home, classroom, or childcare environment.

  • Read stories and fairy tales filled with sunshine to the children
  • Enjoy verses, songs, poems and fingerplays that celebrate the coming of summer
  • Learn about the history, background and symbolism of the Summer Solstice
  • Get ideas for how to create your own meaning for this special festival
  • Enjoy a Solstice feast
  • Play Solstice games
  • Make a Midsummer bonfire
  • Create simple beeswax suns with the children
  • Make a Solstice wreath for the birds
  • Design Midsummer string art sunbursts
  • Read a story of The Sun Child and create a Sun Child necklace
  • Craft a shiny garden suncatcher
  • Use a rock garden sundial to tell time in your garden
  • Make a “Catch the Sun” throw toy for your child
  • Create a paper Solstice Sun
  • Create daytime and nighttime Midsummer magic
  • Hang summer Solstice flags indoors or outdoors this season
  • Plant a Midsummer indoor herb garden
  • Craft a sun mosaic birdbath
  • Make a sunshine fairy out of wool roving and felt
  • Sew and stuff herbal dream pillows for St. John’s Eve
  • Needle-felt a summer sun wall hanging
  • Create sweet Pocket Sun Sprites for the children
  • Bake sun bread with the children
  • Go on a sun hunt
  • Make a sun mask
  • Design a sunshine banner
  • Crochet sun medallion necklaces

Here are some teaser pics from the e-book. We hope they ignite your interest and inspire you to fill your days with sweet sunshine!

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Wishing you delicious, sweet moments all summer long!

Our Bright Solstice

#Solstice #celebration #latergram

I wonder if my posts will be more timely next year. It seems I’m forever playing catch-up, but this time I have a really good reason. I’ve been busy enjoying some beautiful holidays with my family, resting, painting, relaxing, eating too much, working just a tad. So here is my tardy account of our Solstice celebration.

Decorating our solstice cookie #winter #waldorfhome #waldorf#traditions #family #baking

Solstice cookie

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We made our traditional giant cookie for dessert. The boys opted for a spiral design with the Reese’s pieces candies this time. I think it looks great.

Happy Solstice! We're celebrating tonight.  #winter #festivals #holiday #home #waldorfhome #traditions #sabbat #wheeloftheyear

I found these sunny beauties in my garden.

Solstice dinner #waldorfhome #winter #festivals #holiday #traditions #wheeloftheyear #solstice #sabbat

We had a yummy dinner of chicken chili, cornbread, salad, sliced persimmons. I love those persimmons because when you cut them crosswise you can see the eight seeds arrayed as a sun, one for each sabbat, making a beautiful wheel of the year. It tickles me to pieces. We also enjoyed apple cider with a lemon slice in it, which is divine, don’t ya know.

Solstice dog's raw beef/peanut butter birthday cake. He came to us three years ago. I love him so.  #solstice #dog #bff #winter

And I got it in my head to make my furry friend a meat “cake” for his “birthday,” which is really the anniversary of his arrival into our home. Solstice dog got a raw hamburger “cake” frosted with peanut butter and decorated with summer squash shavings. He loved it and it took him a long time to eat it. I love this dog, and I thank my lucky stars every day that he came to live with us.

Birthday boy #solstice #dog #bff #winter

Our fireplace was out of commission this year for reasons of clutter—ahem—so we made do with this simple feast and some reading aloud. (We’re in the middle of The Subtle Knife, by Philip Pullman.)

I love to mark the winter solstice in this way. It helps me feel the passage of time, and to honor the changes that come with the seasons and that happen within us. It’s a special moment of winter quiet, a pregnant pause before Christmas steals the show (and all our energy). And it’s ours.

I know some families for whom the Solstice is the main winter holiday. Sometimes I wonder what that would be like, but in our family we celebrate them all.

Welcome back, Sun!

Preparing for the Solstice

Homemade decoration for #Solstice and #Yule . #stars #pentacle #vine #wreath #laurel #bay #homemade #holiday #home #waldorf

This year, the shortest day of the year comes on a Saturday, so I’m dreaming of a family celebration. Something simple. A special sunny meal. Some art perhaps. A fire in the fireplace. Although we celebrate Christmas in our home, I also have a need for a modest, private, no-fuss solstice night on our terms.

I’m thinking avgolemono soup.

I’m thinking salad with persimmons, mandarins, apples, and pomegranate seeds, with a touch of orange blossom water—but not on Asher’s portion because he thinks it’s gross.

I’m thinking a sunny, honey cake.

I’m thinking of a simple craft we can do together.

Solstice

We have a second important reason to celebrate the winter solstice. It is the second anniversary of this sweet fellow being in our lives. I realize it might be confusing: My dog is named Solstice because he came to us on the winter solstice two years ago. He was and is the best solstice present ever given to any four people ever.

#advent #solstice #Yule #sun #shadow

This week I had Asher home sick for three days. It was a sweet kind of time together, as it forced me to slow down and step away from my work. We read lots of books together (“Read me more about castles, Mama”) and did some Christmas preparations that otherwise probably wouldn’t have been done. For example, I made a long evergreen garland for the eave at my front door.

Making an evergreen garland for my front door

Improved #Yule #garland #homemade #holiday #Solstice

It’s quite long and pretty, made of fir branches, plus some box, redwood, lemon leaf, and bay accents, and features some simple homemade ornaments: wooden stars, toadstools, spirals. It’s very festive for Yule.

#stars #waldorf #Solstice #Yule #homemade #wood #crafts

We made the pretty pentacle at the top with Virginia creeper vines that Asher cut and I wove into a wreath. We accented its points with bay leaves polished with a touch of olive oil.

We made wooden star ornaments for teacher gifts and painted them “emperor gold.”

Sun

Asher played at being a Sun Warrior. He came up with this outfit on his own, and then asked me to do a photo shoot while he jumped and ran around the backyard with a sword and a “spear.” My little Apollo. We got some great action shots. (Why is it that kids are most sick at night and the morning, when it’s time to go to school, but not very sick at all in the middle of the day?)

Third week of Advent #advent #holiday #home #candles #adventwreath

We have observed Advent, and Asher has gradually added more and more stone, plant, and animal items to our Advent wreath. (He snuck a Bob the Builder doll in there too.)

Mother Mary is moving along her sky path of Advent stars #advent #countdown #mary #waldorf #stars

We’ve watched Mother Mary progress along her sky path of stars on her way to Christmas Day.

Playing with wire and thinking about the coming solstice #improvisation #wire #gold #sun #suncatcher #sculpture

I finally found a way to use some gold colored wire that I salvaged from a school fundraiser auction event several years ago. (Why do I keep this stuff for years? Oh, because occasionally I actually DO something with it.) Anyway, it’s very soft, pliable stuff and I made some sun ornaments from it. They’re not fancy, but are shiny and pretty.

So, that’s what’s going on as we enter into this holy week. Whatever holiday you observe, I hope you can gather your family together, either in body or in spirit, and take some time to reflect on what’s most important to you. This moment in our solar year is perfect for listening to your quietest, innermost voice. What is yearning to be born in this moment of stillness? What spark is born in the darkness?

“In the depth of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer.” —Albert Camus

Midsummer!

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I am the Sun—
And I bear with my might
The earth by day, the earth by night.
I hold her fast, and my gifts bestow
To everything on her, so that it may grow:
Man and stone, flower and bee,
All receive their light from me.
Open thy heart, dear child, to me,
That we together one light may be.

—Ch. Morgenstern

King Sun he climbs the summer sky
Ascending ever higher.
He mounts his gay midsummer throne,
All made of golden fire.

His flowing mantle, flowing free,
His shining gifts he showers
All golden on the earth and sea,
On men and beasts and flowers.

—J. Aulie

Two poems for this day, this beautiful awe-inspiring day that I have come to appreciate more and more. Somehow, for me this day is full of magic and hope and possibility.

The solstice is the peak moment of the year, the explosion of light and growth. It is the tippy-top of the year’s roller coaster’s path. On the summer solstice we feel an expansion of spirit, the exhalation of breath, and precious moments of busy, joyful living that somehow include relaxation and fun as its top priorities. It doesn’t even seem to matter how much work there is to do, or whether we sit in a cubicle or attend summer classes or dig ditches—this sky-splitting, star-bursting longest day has a kind of dreamy half-remembering quality, a laziness, a whisper that seems to say, “Take heed! The moment is NOW. Don’t miss it! Revel!”

And somehow, people seem to hear it. No other time of year feels this way. Midsummer is special. Spend it however you will, but LIVE IT.

This year, I am realizing a longtime dream of gathering many of my beloved friends in the woods this weekend. I’m hoping for a solstice bonfire and feast to make the gods proud. We will splash and play and get our feet dirty.

And because I feel if there’s ever an instant when magic is real and wishes come true, it is on Midsummer night. And so, here is my wish:

May we grow and flourish, may our roots dig deep and may our minds reach for the illuminating sun.
May we expand our consciousness to include others in our sphere of concern—and not just our loved ones, but also the strangers we interact with every day and all those people on the other side of the world whom we will never meet.
May we learn to see beauty everywhere, for it is there if only we look. Even struggles and tragedy have a kind of beauty.
May we seek to alleviate the suffering of all beings, even ourselves.
May we strive, even though we sometimes fail, and may we fail big and fast to maximize our learning and increase our compassion.
May we hold to our values, but never allow our ideas to petrify.
May we appreciate all that we are with every inhalation, and all that we have with every exhalation.
May we play, and laugh, and hug, and kiss, and dance, and sing—because for what other purpose are we here?
May we love with all our hearts until our flesh becomes one with the earth.
Blessed be.

Happy Solstice!

 

 

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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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