Summer Kickoff!

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What better way to kick off summer than to take a vacation? The boys and I drove up to South Lake Tahoe to spend a few days in the woods. Having some time with just the boys was fun, just as I’d hoped. It was special, since we weren’t at home like normal. Ian was able to join us a couple of days later.

I took some work with me—a project that didn’t finish up in time for me to be free and clear of it. Fortunately there’s a Starbucks where I could get my work emails, and download and upload files. Even better, my dear ol’ dad called the next-door neighbor and he generously gave me his wifi network password. It was a bit hoopty, but well worth it. I went out on the deck, pointed my computer at the neighbor’s home, and worked standing with the computer perched on the balcony railing (standing desk?) or sitting at a little iron bistro table. It was totally brilliant and I’m so grateful for this solution; my days with my boys would have been disrupted much more if we had had to spend hours and hours at Starbucks.

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We brought the boys’ bows and arrows up with us, and every day we set up targets and practiced shooting. They both LOVE archery. And shooting arrows in an alpine meadow filled with blooming wildflowers and pines and aspens all around doesn’t suck, I tell ya. I’m proud of the boys because they seem really interested in practicing and getting better at archery. It’s a hobby that is well-fueled by their imagination, of course. Fantasy characters like elves and dwarves use bows, and that’s connection and motivation enough!

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Naturally we spent some time throwing stones into the creek.

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See the caterpillar?

I was a bit nervous taking the kids out of town on my own, but this is my comfortable home away from home and there’s plenty to do near the “cabin.” I have many gorgeous memories of rambling up and down the creeks with my brother and sometimes my cousins. I remember searching for swimming holes, places to fish, and places to dam the water with logs or stones. I remember watching the minnows and dragonflies, of staying out too long and getting sunburned and so, so tired from our adventures. I remember getting lost in the woods and having to find my way back to the house, where my grandmother and grandaunt waited to scold us. Summertime in the Tahoe woods: I wanted to give my boys a taste of this. And I hope to come back and do it again and again.

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We asked a local and found an amazing beach that allows dogs and we spent two glorious afternoons there, enjoying the beautiful lake and sky, and meeting plenty of doggie playmates for Solstice. Our sweet dog gets along pretty well with almost all dogs, and that’s a relief.

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One animal was so totally wolflike that we were mesmerized by the way she moved. She was lean and furtive, and she wore a purple bandana around her neck; its purpose was clearly to communicate “I am not a wolf. I am a dog and I have people who love me.”

I’m continually surprised by what I don’t know about this beautiful area. We found the Tallac historic village (full of amazing rich people homes from the early 1900s). I had no idea it was there.

We stopped off on the way home at Wrights Lake for a picnic and a swim. This lake is just gorgeous and totally peaceful. Very few people were there and no watercraft with motors are allowed on the lake, so there was nothing to break the serenity of the place—except our own whooping and hollering …

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… and Calvin-like dancing.

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I took tons of photos for painting reference.

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The only problem with this gorgeous campground and lake is that the mosquitoes are prolific and hungry.

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Honestly, I can’t think of a nicer way to start the boys’ summer vacation.

I hope you too are enjoying long, lazy days in nature.

Midsummer Festival E-Book

Midsummer Festival E-Book

Summertime is here! I often wonder how in the world I’m going to fill 13 consecutive weeks of “summer vacation,” and so I tend to start planning early. I’d like to offer up the Midsummer Festival E-Book as a way of filling summertime with festivities and delightful Waldorf-inspired crafts, songs, poems, and more. My coauthor, Eileen Straiton, and warmly I invite you to check out our e-book, and please tell a friend!

Midsummer Festival E-Book Is Now Available!

This wonderful Midsummer Festival E-Book, 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 of 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
  • Read How to Create Daytime and Nightime 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

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Midsummer Festival E-Book

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I am delighted to announce that my dear friend Eileen Straiton (of Little Acorn Learning) and I wrote a Midsummer Festival E-Book! It has been a marvelous journey and I loved every step we took in making it. Please spread the word!

Little Acorn Learning
Monthly and Seasonal Guides
for Childcare, School and Home

*New* Midsummer Festival Book is Available!

This wonderful Midsummer Festival E-Book 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 of 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
  • Read How to Create Daytime and Nightime 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

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In addition to our Midsummer Festival eBook, Little Acorn Learning has lots of wonderful offerings to fill your summer months with enriching, creative activities for your family, daycare, summer camp, or homeschool group, so please check out their other fine products.

Midsummer: Faery Riders

Full Moon Winter Solstice

Faery Riders

When the moon is round and white

The Faery Riders shake the night

With song and laughter going by:

I love to hear the noise they make,

The pine trees hear it too, and wake;

It fills the room in which I lie.

 

I hear the trumpets long and loud,

I hear the voices of a crowd,

I hear the horses prancing by:

All night they pass, and pass, and pass,

But not one little blade of grass

Is trampled down or turned away.

 

If I could see their faces plain,

Or run beside the bridle rein

Of Mab the Queen, as she comes by:

I might know all the Faeries know,

And follow, follow where they go

Before the sun climbs up the sky.

 

But though I hurry might and main

To look out through the windowpane,

I never see them passing by.

Just when I reach the window sill

The music stops and all is still:

Only the wind is passing by.

—Ella Young

Happy Solstice!

Dusty Miller Blossoms

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, from Summer, A Collection of Poems, Songs and Stories for Young Children

Happy Solstice!

We’re having a small kid-oriented celebration here tonight. I’m excited!

The Summer Sun
by Robert Louis Stevenson

GREAT is the sun, and wide he goes
Through empty heaven without repose;
And in the blue and glowing days
More thick than rain he showers his rays.

Though closer still the blinds we pull
To keep the shady parlour cool,
Yet he will find a chink or two
To slip his golden fingers through.

Above the hills, along the blue,
Round the bright air with footing true,
To please the child, to paint the rose,
The Gardener of the World, he goes.

Happy Solstice! Advent and Other Spiritual Musings

Last year, I managed to throw together a tiny Solstice celebration. At the last minute, I invited Theresa and Greg and Phoebe over for dinner. I decorated the table with a gold lamé and served only yellow foods (butternut squash soup, oranges, summer squashes cut into disks and sautéed, chicken with a lemon sauce, sparkling cider, and probably other stuff I don’t remember). We had a lovely, silly time, subtly worshipping the sun and its return.

Today I don’t have any such thing planned, but maybe I’ll go to the grocery store for some oranges or something.

Over the course of this month, we’ve been observing Advent, à la Waldorf schools and Anthroposophists rather than Catholics/Christians. The difference is slight, however. We have an Advent Wreath (a real evergreen wreath) and in the center we placed a Celtic-style candleholder that was a gift from Flonkbob (and Chilipantz?) many years ago. Although the candleholder is not a ring, per se, it features three outer candles with a place for one elevated candle in the center. It’s beautiful and works nicely as the symbolic equivalent of the four weeks leading up to Solstice/Christmas, with the fourth being the prominent one signifying the birth of the Sun/Christ. (The Advent wreath we had when I was growing up was a ring, but in the Catholic tradition, we used 3 purple candles and 1 pink candle signifying the climax. Pink/purple are the traditional colors of Advent in the church.) This year, I’ve stuffed it with golden beeswax candles made by lovely dakini_grl.

Each night, we’ve been reciting the following poem, which I believe is traditional for the Anthroposophists:

The first light of Advent,
It is the light of Stones,
Stones that live in crystals, seashells,
And our bones.

The second light of Advent
It is the light of plants,
Plants that reach up to the sun,
And in the breezes dance.

The third light of Advent,
It is the light of Beasts,
The light of hope that we may see
In greatest and in least

The fourth light of Advent,
It is the light of man,
The light of love, the light of thought,
To give and understand.

I like this verse because it’s earth- and human-centered. It’s pagan-sounding to me. But that pagan stuff isn’t quite so important to me as it used to be. I’ve become like Joseph Campbell in my old age. I’ve been meditating on the meaning of Christmas to me and how well I see the lines that connect this holiday with other, older holidays. My need to step apart and define myself as a pagan, as something entirely other than a Christian, is much diminished. I’m finding that this is making me really happy, and is allowing me to enjoy all the religiosity of the season more. Somehow there’s less of a reason to be uptight.

ASIDE:
At one point last year sometime, Ian’s mother expressed concern that Lucas must be educated about the Christian faith so that he can live in our God-fearing, Christian society.  I hardly fear that Lucas will somehow escape learning a basic knowledge of Christianity, just because we don’t define ourselves as Christians. She worried because we were attending the Unitarian Universalist Society services: “Do they even talk about Christ?!”

Anyway, we have been singing the Advent song that mentions the Christ child along with our candle-lighting ritual. Lucas’s face always lights up when we sing “Then comes the Christ child at the door.” I think that he is really captivated by the image of a child being the inspiration of the season.

The other morning, all by myself, I sat down on the couch in my living room with some Christmas carol sheet music and sang my wondering Christian heart out.

Review: Naturally Fun Parties for Kids

Review: Naturally Fun Parties for Kids

I was tickled to be asked to review Anni Daulter and Heather Fontenot’s new book, Naturally Fun Parties for Kids. Alas, I should have done so in a more timely fashion, as the book released earlier this year. But hopefully late is better than never. I’ve paged through this book dozens of times and I think it’s marvelous. Every time I pick it up I light upon a brilliant idea that hadn’t ever occurred to me before.

Daulter’s and Fontenot’s book is all about throwing parties with kid-friendly themes. As a huge fan of parties in general and, really, ANY excuse to dress up, I can totally relate. We all need celebrations and we all need to exercise our creativity muscles. This book is just the ticket to show what’s possible, with a little ingenuity, patience, and planning. A party for children doesn’t have to glorify a licensed media character! The book is organized into seasons and the authors provides three awesome party ideas per season. My favorites are the Summer Solstice Beach party, the Winter Solstice Party, the Forest Fairy Dress-up Party (Oh, to have girls!), and the Knights and Dragon Quest party.

The book offers “tips and tricks for making the parties green, natural, simple, and organic in style and content.” I like the emphasis on taking inspiration from nature and keeping it simple. The authors suggest thrifting, upcycling, borrowing, and making items from scratch to make the parties doable and special.

Review: Naturally Fun Parties for Kids

The book’s photography, by Tnah and Mario Di Donato, is simply gorgeous. Do NOT take my silly snapshots as an indication of the book’s beauty. I just wanted to give a little teaser. Their photos are vivid and inspiring.

Review: Naturally Fun Parties for Kids

What is kind of fun is how much the authors’ esthetic matches my own. Several of the projects in this book are ones we have done in the past, or ones that I’ve always wanted to do with my kids. I’m particularly intrigued by the beeswax ornaments (Winter Solstice Party), the upcycled sweater aprons (Community Cooking Party), and the grapefruit sugar scrub (Natural Spa Party). But there is much more.

Review: Naturally Fun Parties for Kids

Each party comes with a project and materials list, and a timeline for getting things put together in advance of the big party day. That’s just the sort of thing people like me need! I’m often full of ideas at the too-late last minute and don’t have time to execute them. These handy lists fix that deficiency.

Review: Naturally Fun Parties for Kids

Activities are provided for each party, too: games and crafts, and even a play! And the party themes are well chosen to appeal to kids, such as pajama parties, berry picking, art, egg-dying in spring.

Review: Naturally Fun Parties for Kids

The authors also provide plenty of delicious-looking recipes and, frankly, you don’t need to throw the party to make them. Herbal tea spice cake and mushroom and onion mini crustless quiches both sound like they’ll be visiting my kitchen soon. Furthermore, the recipes are geared toward kid palates. Nothing too fussy and plenty of fun: Italian ices; black bean, corn, and cheese quesadillas; grilled flatbread pizzas; Dutch oven apple-berry cobbler, etc. Now, where the heck does one find a donut pan for baking donuts? (The Internet, I suppose.)

Those who like to do paper crafts will love all the invitation making in this book. That’s mostly not my thing, to be honest. So I’d probably skip some of that stuff. Anyone with a flare for scrapbooking and stamps and stuff will dig it.

So, if you’re looking for inspiration for celebrating with children, check out Naturally Fun Parties for Kids by Anni Daulter with Heather Fontenot.  I wonder if I could con my boys into a Forest Fairy Party? Well, maybe not that one, but definitely the Pancake P.J. Party. They’ll go for that!

Catch Up

• Mom and Dad have been in Europe since the 8th. VoVo and DiDi are in Oaklahoma and left on the 19th. Neither set of babysitters…uh, grandparents… will return until July. Lame.
• Had 2 half days of work at Sacramento Magazine for shipout. It was fun to go and work in the world for a little while and be around other people.
• Went to a party at Jane’s new home in Sac. Saw old high school chums
• Lucas was off school for two weeks, but returned to do the Little Gate summer program starting on the 20th. Lucas’s behavior lately has been really challenging. I partly blame the schedule interruption for it. I also wonder if his aggressive behavior is partly from taking the prednisone and antibiotics? This is something I’m going to watch. It seems like anytime he get’s really sick (and takes medicine), he goes a little haywire. This time it’s hitting me and dad. Striking out at other kids, etc. All the most obnoxious stuff. One Sunday at the day care at church, a kid bit Lucas’s hand. He/she SHOWED Lucas that biting in anger can hurt other people. Since then, Lucas has bit me several times and probably Ian too. He’s had a LOT of time outs lately. He’s really testing his boundaries in a major way.
• For example, one day, June 6, RoRo took me to the Windmill Nursery to buy me plants for my birthday. (Actually, I took her and Lucas.) Lucas was so difficult—he ran away, he hit me, etc., that we really had a lousy time. I was having to spend so much of my attention on L that RoRo was kinda on her own, hobbling along pushing her shopping cart, which helps to keep her on her feet. Basically it was a disaster
• RoRo and Glen both had another birthday. For Glen, we took him to a concert at the Sacramento Zoo on the solstice (his actual birthday is the 23rd). Joe Craven was playing jazzy mandolin. It was fun and we got to roam the zoo after hours with Lucas. Lucas quietly appropriated the toys of the small boy named Everest sitting next to us on the lawn. His parents were cool, and the boys played together. Lucas got filthy. It was a good time.
RoRo’s birthday is on the summer solstice (21st). We were at the zoo that night, but we went to her party on Saturday the 25th. It was a typical family birthday party. Some were surly, some friendly. This time we got her a present that she might actually use: a lavender purse/handbag.
• On a positive note, Lucas’s imagination seems to have taken over. His toy trains have very elaborate dialogues, exciting adventures, and interpersonal problems and resolutions. It’s very interesting to listen to.
• Recent Lucas quotes:
—“I’m trillobananabun. That means I’m eating breakfast!”
—tonight, coming down a flight of stairs, he turns, goes back up and says, “I’m rescuing a kitten. She’s blue.” He gently cradled the kitten while coming downstairs.
• This month, Lucas has spent a lot more time with T at the Bs’ place. I’ve seen him picking up her mannerisms, sense of humor, love of the absurd, etc. Sometimes it’s even charming.
• X turned two on June 14th. We went to his birthday party on the 18th. We got him two books—Is Your Mama a Llama? and Freight Train.

Waldorf Festival E-Books

Here are our Festival E-Books designed to support family and caregivers in creating holistic, meaningful holidays and festivals with children. My writing partner, Eileen Straiton of Little Acorn Learning, and I have poured our love and creativity into these e-books, which feature verses and songs, craft projects, caregiver meditations, a little history, traditional symbols and customs, art, and stories. Each of the photos on this page links to the Little Acorn Learning webpage, where you can read about the contents and can purchase the publication. All books are delivered in PDF format. Please explore Little Acorn Learning’s many beautiful offerings for caregivers, day cares, and home schools.

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Martinmas & Thanksgiving Festival E-Book

Advent & Saint Nichoals Festival E-Book           Solstice Spheres

Advent & Saint Nicholas Festival E-Book        Winter Festivals E-Book

Little Felted Chick in Basket     IMG_5005

Spring Festivals E-Book                                      Late Spring Festivals E-Book

Midsummer Festival E-Book              E-Book Cover

Midsummer Festival E-Book                                    Autumn Equinox & Michaelmas Festival E-Book

 

 

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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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