Back to School and January Roses

January Rose

Monday morning. The boys went back to school today after a two-week winter vacation. Suddenly the house is quiet and the little dog is wandering around. He’s gone back to Asher’s bed to snooze five times now.

It has been a marvelous two weeks. Plenty of rest and play, plenty of knitting and painting and gardening, plenty of little brown dog.  We have also had plenty of bickering, having to share, and learning how to get along and what to do/not do when you’re not getting along. Although this part isn’t sweet and peaceful and the stuff of most blogs, it’s also important family work.

Lucas bravely walked out the door this morning with all his fourth-grade animal report and two eager helpers (Daddy and Asher) to carry it all. It is a paper report, a 16 by 20 acrylic painting and a diorama of the fennec fox in its habitat. It turns out the report is actually due tomorrow, but I think he’s so happy and relieved to have it done.

My Boy

Fennec Fox Diorama

Fennec Fox Diorama

For his diorama he used brown paper (which came to us in a package as packing material) to simulate desert sand dunes of the Sahara Desert in Africa and a fennec fox burrow. He sprayed the paper with spray adhesive and then carefully sprinkled sand over the whole thing and a little bit of sawdust. The fennec foxes are made from Sculpey clay and painted with craft acrylics. More (unbaked) Sculpey clay and some grasses complete the environment. I think it looks great!

This weekend we did a lot of project work and also quite a bit of household reorganization. We weeded out some books for the used book store and Ian tackled the craft/game closet and reorganized it. It’s lovely that he did that because I sometimes have a hard time letting go of things “that we might someday need.” My office needs the same kind of attention. I worked in the garden a bit, pruning the roses and other shrubs, watering, etc. We’re having such a warm winter (I guess to balance our cool 2011 summer?) that I’ve had to water. No rains have come yet and we have roses blooming in January. I have some more planting to do and hope to pick up a few bare-root roses that typically appear in the shops this time of year.

I’m starting a new work project today. The timing couldn’t be better. The quiet of today feels blissful. I can hear myself think again.

Fourth Grade Animal Report

Fennec Fox Report

Lucas is deep into his fourth grade animal report. He is actually done with all the hardest parts. The research is done, the report is written, edited, and the final draft has been done. It’s illuminated beautifully and lacks only an illustration and a cover design. Lucas consulted three books and a website to learn about the African desert fox.

Fennec Fox Report

These last two days before his deadline are dedicated to the art of his report. He has to model his animal in 3-D and create a diorama of the animal in its environment. We are working on how to make a desert scene.

Fennec Fox Painting in Progress

Lucas also has to paint his animal so the painting can be displayed at the front of the class during his oral presentation. He considered watercolors but elected to use acrylics and canvas for his painting. I didn’t see anything in the instructions barring this option, so that’s what he is working on today.


He paints with a sort of flair, I think. I love this kid!

He has lots more work to do still, but I’m so proud of how he has approached this extensive, multipart, multimedia project. I am proud of his skill and his artistic eye. I’m also delighted with how easily the writing portion went. I watch him unfolding and expanding and becoming more every day with astonishment and gratitude. Imagine—this amazing, soulful being came to us! And I am honored.

Finished Fennec Fox Painting

Holy Days

Christmas Morning at Home

My Boys

These holy, family days have been so full. We are enjoying. Resting.

Asher got Face Crayons


Dragon from Santa!


Playing with so, so many wonderful gifts.

We have had long, luxurious visits from friends, and a sweet party that we are very honored to host.

Dog and Ian


The little dog, Solstice, is a great joy to us all. We still don’t know where he is from. We haven’t had even a single nibble on the ads we placed, hoping to find his owners. In the meantime, whatever the outcome, we are enjoying him ever so much. And now I have someone new and fluffy to point my camera at.

Christmas Day Reading

We’ve been reading new books in our leisure and drinking too much delicious coffee. Nursing head colds.


Experimenting with magical ice … to see what we can make, of course.

Window Stars

Cutting snowflakes and folding window stars. (LOVE!)

After all the working>making>striving>doing>going> leading up to and including Christmas day, we are now fully and happily settled into our hibernation days, our holy, family days. There is plenty to do—very little of it is urgent. So perhaps we’ll do some laundry. Or cook. Or play more Legos or a game. Or go for another walk instead …

Nature Walk

At the River

Asher Climbs

Or climb a tree …

Asher and Solstice


while we learn more about each other …

Heart of Stones: Found Art

and see what we can find along the way.

Treasure: The Animal Fair

Birds in the Fall

In the Fall

I walk on yellow leaves in fall,
And see the earth from summer turning.

I hear the brown birds’ distant call,
And smell the autumn fires burning.

Soon all the leaves will fade and die,
The last wild birds will rise and roam.

The wind will blow and snow will fly.
But I’ll be warm and safe at home.


This poem and art is from The Animal Fair by Alice and Martin Povensen, which is one of the grooviest Golden Books ever published (originally 1952). Bergin Streetman posted about it on Vintage Kids’ Books My Kid Loves, coincidentally on Asher’s birthday this year, so you can see more there. This book is chock-full of amazing artwork, poems, jokes, and stories. It’s very fun.


Isn’t this lovely?

Farmers Market Trip

Jonathan at the Market

I got to spend some much needed time with my brother last weekend. He took me out to Denio’s Farmers Market and Auction, where he goes fairly often. I haven’t been since I was a kid. This place is great! We wandered through lots of sellers’ stalls, poking about. I bought two notebooks for my kids for a buck and a piece of garden art. Jonathan bought a colander and gloves to wear while pouring concrete. I saw 5 gallon fruit trees there for $49. I’ve made a mental note of that for later!

Farmers Market

We enjoyed a beer and we went through the fruit and veg market. I bought local honey and pickled garlic. I didn’t see anything fresh marked organic, but the prices were terrific and I was buying directly from the farmers, which feels pretty great.

Farmers Market

Farmers Market

Farmers Market

Farmers Market

Farmers Market

Everything was so lovely, all set out and ready to go home with us. I bought peaches, apricots, pickling cucumbers, eggplant, oranges (7 lbs for $2), nopales (prickly pear cactus pad), dried oregano, star anise, cherry tomatoes, grapes, honey, pickled garlic, candied kiwi fruit and candied cantaloupe—all for less than $40. We ate barbecue ribs for lunch. The whole thing was awesome.

A Summer Day

Breakfast dishes, with two small helpers.

Putting away laundry, also with help. Halleluia!

Chicken care and feeding.

Kitchen science, on the cheap.

Kitchen Science: Food Dye Mixing

Kitchen Science: Food Dye Mixing

Safetytown USA, where we learned about fire safety, bike safety (“Wear your helmets, kids,” says Uncle Mario), and how to be safe near electrical wires and power stations, stray animals, strangers, and assorted other dangerous things. Safetytown is a mini town, with scaled-down buildings, working traffic lights, and a little pretend railroad crossing. We practiced crossing the street a lot.

Safetytown USA: RR Crossing

Safetytown USA: Learning About Traffic Lights

Ours was a self-guided tour, which gave us some map-reading and reading practice. Lucas did a great job!

Lucas Was Our Guide

It also gave us lots of opportunities to sit and watch DVD presentations play. :-/  Still, the kids were mostly engaged.

Safetytown USA: Fire Safety DVD

We learned about not playing with matches or lighters, about “Don’t Hide! Get Outside!”, about crawling on the ground if there’s a fire, and having a family fire escape plan and meeting place. Although Lucas already knew a lot of this stuff, I think it was Asher’s first introduction to “Stop! Drop! Roll!”

There was a boring trip to the grocery store, made somewhat less boring by buying crummy Chinese potstickers, chow mein, and egg rolls for lunch.

We watered the garden where it was looking thirsty.

We watered the boys, who raced through the hose spray.

I fetched 17 glasses of ice water for thirsty humans. That water cooler idea is looking really good in the heat of summer.

We made mango, orange, yogurt pops.

The 4 p.m. tantrum came right on schedule.

Two storybooks.

Some math and language arts practice.

Piano practice.



Asher's Ice Cube Art

Food Dye Hands

Lucas's Ice Cube Art

Lucas tried on his new gi to show me. He looks so handsome and grown up.

New Jujistu Gee

Quite a day, no?

Reading Reward

Lucas just had his fifth piano recital. He played two fairly long pieces of music: the theme from Star Wars and “Colorful Sonatina,” with three movements. “Six whole pages of music!” he would like everyone to know.

Preparing for "Star Wars" Theme

Ready to Play "Colorful Sonatina"

We are so very proud of him. He worked hard for this one, and to ensure that he got in all the practice time he needed, I made a “14 Days of Music” chart to track his practice sessions. I put two rewards on the chart: one at seven practices for a dessert of his choice (cookies and cream ice cream) and one “book reward.” He worked for that book reward, having decided long before he achieved it that what he wanted was a Missile Mouse graphic novel.

After Piano Recital: Taking His Bow

This is my not-so-great shot of Lucas just after he finished playing. He was happy and relieved to have it behind him, I think, and proud of how well he played. After the recital cookies, we went straight to the bookstore to buy Missile Mouse. He came straight home and read it cover to cover!

Can you think of a better reward that a new book? No, I can’t either.

I love that my kid is motivated by reading books! Lucas has four different books going right now, I think. I don’t know if he switches between them when the reading gets difficult, or if he just enjoys having several different stories to dive into. Right now he’s reading The 39 Clues book 1, Stuart Little and a Jack and Annie Magic Tree House book (I have no idea which number). He also picks up grandma’s book about Samurai once in a while, which is way over his head but totally cool nonetheless.

He’s now pushing the books he has read on me and Ian. He thinks Ian would enjoy Missile Mouse. And for me, he recommends the Spiderwick Chronicles. “Mom, I think you’d really like this one. You should borrow my book and read it.” And you know what? I am. And I will, whenever he says that because it’s totally wonderful that he wants to share his discoveries. If we can geek out about the books we enjoy together, I’ll be a happy mama indeed!

Birthday Beach Camping

I’m catching up from last month! I guess life has been pretty busy, and pretty good lately.

Old Family Tent "DAD" by Lucas

We went camping for my birthday in May to Wright’s Beach, which is where my family always went for vacation when I was a kid. I love this beach with my whole heart.

Lookout over Wright's Beach

We spent two chilly nights there in Ian’s old family tent. We wandered on the beach, collected small seashells and pebbles, flew kites, and read books. Lucas did a lot of whittling with his new pocket knife, making arrows and spears and assorted sharp and pointy items. The boys bickered a lot, and unfortunately this beach isn’t terribly safe for playing chase with the waves. There are signs posted everywhere saying how Wright’s Beach is one of the deadliest beaches in California. Funny, I don’t remember that tidbit from my childhood, and while I do remember gettting knocked about by the waves, my brother and I always survived. When the ranger came around in her truck to tell us under no circumstances should we allow the boys to touch the water, well, we decided to play by the rules. Still, we had plenty of fun and Daddy’s delicious grilled steak, plus s’mores!

My Favorite Beach Learning How to Light a Fire

Wright's Beach

My Boys

The next day we packed up early and drove five minutes down the coast to Duncan’s Cove, where the beach was more sheltered and the wind wasn’t so bad. We explored and found lots of wildflowers. Lucas found a great rock to jump from onto the sand below. It was quite a drop!

Leaping Off

Happy When Moving

Here we did let Lucas get his feet wet. Asher didn’t let the waves get anywhere near him before he began running for the dry sand.

My Little Trekker

It was cold and windy up on the bluff. The views were amazing and so were the flowers. Asher enjoyed wearing his camelbak.


We picnicked on Portuguese Beach before beginning our drive home. A beach picnic with beautiful seagulls, sandwiches, champagne, and peach pie is tops in my book!

Asher's Wistle

Lucas at Lucas Wharf

This is one of the fun things about Bodega Bay. The Lucas Warf sign photo.

Enjoy Life!

We stopped at the candy and kites store. I enjoy all the flags and spinning things. Ian says I am allowed to be an old woman with flags someday, as long as we make them ourselves.

It was a great weekend and I’m glad I got to show my children this place that’s so special to me. Even if we never go there again, it was delightful to have all those fond childhood memories come flooding back.

And after we came home, I had some fun playing with my seagull photos. Tee hee!

Seagulls High Drama


9th Birthday Party

Balloon Fight Madness

Lucas’s first-ever sleepover birthday party started with an epic balloon fight.

Balloon Fight Madness

Six 9-year-olds and a determined-to-keep-up 4-year-old is a what you might call a cacophany of boys. The dozen balloons lasted almost 8 minutes.

Birthday Boy

The theme— “No theme, Mom! Just a sleepover.” The cake— “No cake, Mom! I want a homemade apple pie.”

Dinner Shenanigans

There were antics of all sorts. There was talk of how girls trying to kiss you is the grossest thing ever. There was plenty of belching words. There were stick fights and spy-on-the-parents games. After they inhaled the watermelon, there was a rind fight.

Watching Mythbusters

There were two episodes of “Mythbusters,” at the special request of the birthday boy, with extra explosions.

Opening Gifts

Lucas received marvelous gifts, like a mosaic stepping stone kit, a solar cooker, a Hex Bug, paintbrushes, LEGO, and more.

Lucas Birthday Boy

He greatly enjoyed being the star of the show for a full evening, night, and morning. The boys stayed awake talking and laughing until about midnight, before they finally all fell asleep.

Opening Birthday Presents

After the guests left on May 1, we spent some time with just the four of us. We gave Lucas our gifts, such as a solar kit, books, a basketball, wool roving and needle-felting tools, extreme dot-to-dot and puzzle books, North American animal fact cards—just the sort of things a 9-year-old needs.

6-in-1 Solar Kit

39 Clues, Book 1 The Name of this Book is Secret

But best of all—most desired of all possible birthday gifts—was this:

Pocket Knife!

Whittling Together

And thus he spent much of the day whittling. We were all a bit worn out from the festivities of the night before and so we elected not to attend the May Day festival at Lucas’s Waldorf school. (The third grade had no part to play in the festival this year, and so we left the choice up to Lucas. He wanted to whittle.)

Later that evening, we went to Grandma’s and Papa’s house for dinner. We enjoyed tacos and salad and birthday brownies for dessert. The boys wanted to go swimming—on May Day! And although it was not exactly warm, well—it was his birthday. May Day is traditionally the “first day of summer.”

Swimming on May 1

The next day, which was a day off from school, Lucas got to visit with his other grandmother and his auntie. He came home with a set of woodcarving tools and more LEGO. Bliss!

It’s two weeks later now, and I can tell Lucas is supremely happy to be 9, and is really enjoying all his gifts. He has finally (and briefly) caught up to the age of his classmates, some of whom are soon to turn 10.

May Afterschool Enrichment Guide from Little Acorn Learning


The May Afterschool Enrichment Guide ebook, published by Little Acorn Learning is now available!. Publisher Eileen Foley Straiton creates marvelous ebooks that are perfect for homeschooling, preschool programs, and families. They are full of crafts, stories, poems, songs, activities, caregiver meditations, recipes, holiday celebration ideas, and more. Little Acorn Learning also publishes seasonal and festival ebooks, childcare menu guides, and lesson plan guides.

For this May ebook, I was delighted to create an original song, a bee and honeycomb mobile craft tutorial, a tutorial on making a Mother’s Day yarn necklace, and a piece about hosting a very scientific and super-sweet honey-tasting party.

Here is a peek at what the May guide contains:

Week One, May
May Day, Dancing

~Enjoy a May Dance Song
with Sheet Music!
~Make a Miniature Maypole for
Your Nature Table
~So Many Verses and Songs to Share with the Children
~Meditate on Living Your Life in Rhythm Like a Beautiful Dance
~Practice the Pennywhistle or Flute and Play ‘A Dance’ (click to hear
sample above) – also Recieve the MP3 Version to Listen!
~Make a Finger Woven Mother’s Day Necklace
~Learn About Walpurgus and Celebrate
Spring in the Swedish Tradition
~Read Books that Were Handpicked for You to
Celebrate the First Week of May!

Finger Weaving a Mother's Day Necklace Finished Mother's Day Yarn Necklace

Week Two, May
Flowers, Unfolding

~Make Felted Flowers
~Share Verses and Song Celebrating Growth
and Blooming Life
~Grow Eggshell Seedlings to Transplant into
Your Garden
~Make Flower Crowns to Celebrate Beltane
~Design a Beautiful Flower Window Star
~Make Edible Flower Ice and Share a Pitcher of
Colorful Lemonaide
~Meditate on Blooming in Your
Current Conditions to Bring Joy
and Love into Your Surroundings
and Find a Life of Peace

Honeycomb and Bee Mobile Project

Week Three, May
The Bee, Community

~Read Sweet Stories About These
Beautiful, Life
Spreading Creatures
~Host a Honey-Tasting Party in Your Own Backyard!
~Sing Songs of Honey, Nectar and Bees
~Make a Honeycomb and Bee Mobile
and Hang it Over Your Nature Space
~Play ‘When Bees Come Out’ (see sample above)
on Your Penny Whistle or Flute and
Receive the MP3 to Listen!
~Bake Honey Buns and Serve with Fresh
Honey Butter
~Make a Commitment to Get More Involved in
Your Local Community

Week Four, May
The Caterpillar, Transformation

~Make Caterpillar and Butterflies Out of Nature
~Create a Wool Caterpillar
~Needle Felt Butterflies
~Make a Cocoon
~Share a Story Verse as You Introduce Your Creations
to the Children
~Make a Pom-Pom Caterpillars
~Transform Your Current Situation by Living
Colorfully in the Present Moment
~Play a Sweet Caterpillar Cocoon Game using
Silks with the Children
~Sing Songs and Fingerplays of Butterflies,
Caterpillars and Change

Honey-Tasting Party

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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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