Thar Be Dragons

Asher is really into dragons. He has been playing dragon for quite some time, but we were recently inspired by this book, Tell Me a Dragon, by Jackie Morris. It is simply beautiful and I fully recommend it. It was published in 2009 by Frances Lincoln Children’s Books.

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We have been wanting to make some wooden toy figures for a long time, so making him a dragon for Christmas seemed like just the right thing. We used a scroll saw with a blade that turned out to be too lightweight for the job, and yet, it got the job done.

Christmas Projects: Wood Dragon in Progress

I drew the dragon on paper and cut it out, then I traced it onto a piece of pine. I wish I had paid more attention to the back side of the board, as the back was flawed and we didn’t notice until our dragon was cut out. (Thank you, Ian, for doing the scary work with the saw.) At this point, we were so pleased with our cutout that there was no turning back.

Christmas Projects: Wood Dragon in Progress

I used regular old acrylic craft paints, slightly watered down, to make a kind of color wash. The wood absorbed the wetness quickly, but there were a few seconds with each application when the colors would blend nicely like watercolors. I painted this dragon in several sessions because I needed to let it dry in between.

Christmas Projects: Wood Dragon in Progress

The face was last, and I’ll admit I was really scared I’d mess up on the face! I was hoping to achieve a face that looked both friendly and fierce—kind of a tall order! (I am really pleased with how the tail works like a handle. It feels really sturdy.)

Christmas Projects: Horse, Dragon, and Knight

Of course, what do you do with just a dragon? Along the way, we created a knight and gave him a horse to ride. The horse had to be to scale to the knight, who was done first, but couldn’t be as big as the dragon. Tricky!

Ian was really clever with the knight’s paint job, I think. They look marvelous together. The figures were sanded lightly after painting to smooth them, then finished with a beeswax and lavender furniture polish. They smell and feel delightful.

Now, let’s hope Asher plays with them!

Christmas Bubble

Christmas Morning: Our Tree with Gifts

It’s been so sweet, this little Christmas bubble. I want to hibernate here for a good long while. My sons and my husband are at home all this week, too, so we have lots of good family time ahead.

Our Christmas was wonderful. We’re always very busy right up to the end of Christmas Day, visiting with family. But we have carved out a few very happy hours at home on Christmas morning and they are most precious!

Celebrate Books!

May he always rejoice at the sight of a new book! Santa brought Dragonology for Lucas.

Happy Asher

Asher was most impressed with the gold-wrapped chocolate coins. Santa brought him a dragon book, Tell Me a Dragon, and a stuffed seal backpack.

Wow!

Lucas’s other Santa gift was Fuzzoodles (as seen on TV!) : They’re like chenille pipe cleaners with really long fuzz. They come with Mr. Potato Head-style eyes, mouths, noses, feet, etc., and can be used again and again to make silly creatures. So far I’m pretty happy with these, especially since both of my boys are able and happy to play with them.

Lucas's Handspun Yarn Lucas Checks Out New Books Asher Made a Yellow Fuzzoodle Creature Playing with Handmade Wood Gnomes

More scenes from Christmas morning (my, it seemed dark!): A handwork basket for Lucas, complete with crochet hook and assorted yarns including some handspun ones (from Syrendell). New books like How to Train Your Dragon, the Eight Year Old Legend Book, and number 1 in the Nathaniel Fludd Beastologist series. (I sure hope he ends up liking sci-fi and fantasy as much as we do.) Playing with the gnomes we made.

Hello Dragon

Ian and I lovingly crafted a number of wooden toys and a pretend-play costume. Here is Asher’s new wooden dragon, designed and crafted by me and Ian. Painting this was so much fun! I used a watered-down wash of acrylic paint and sealed it with a beeswax polish. It smells wonderful, as do the rainbow wooden gnomes we made.

Asher Flies His Airplane from Daddy

Here is a “remote control” airplane that Ian made for Asher. There’s a handle on the end of the stick that acts like a joystick, tilting the wings as it flies. Ian made stilts for Lucas, too!

We also visited with family on both sides Christmas Day and everyone seems to be doing great! Even RoRo was dressed up and looking happy when we saw her at my parents’ house. I couldn’t begin to enumerate all the amazing gifts we received and I’m feeling extremely grateful and also overwhelmed by it all. Certainly presents do not make the holiday, but I admit I am awestruck at the generosity we are paid. We appreciate this so much. I don’t know where we are going to put it all!

We were proud to give a number of homemade gifts this year, including poplar cutting boards, nature table decorations, herbal glycerin soaps, photo books, and one wacky googly-eye jar. Plus a small assortment of books. Honestly, it wouldn’t be Christmas without books.

Our home filled up Christmas night with our beautiful, talented, magical, loving friends. Thank you, my darlings, for filling our home with warmth, love, and laughter. Thank you for spending your Christmas with us. You inspire and fortify us.

And then … the long day ended in the wee wee hours.

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In the morning, our time to relax came. A CitiBlocks tall ship, indoor hovercraft-spaceship-thingy, coffee and reading a biography of Cleopatra, trying out Lucas’s homemade stilts, attempting to skateboard for the first time, looking at pictures, a Da Vinci picture book, wearing the wool sweater my mother knitted for me, a bite of Belgian chocolate, roasted root vegetables, popcorn and The Princess Bride, pajamas all day, crystal growing kit, and snickerdoodles = Best. Boxing. Day. Ever.

Christmas Projects: King’s Costume in Progress

I think I’m safe in sharing this now, given I’m pretty sure Asher doesn’t read my blog yet. This is a Christmas gift for him.

Fancy Buttons

I am repurposing a sleeveless linen blouse of mine into a king’s or knight’s tunic. I don’t wear this anymore, and the fabric is so soft and lovely. I’ve bought new buttons that look like medieval devices to replace the buttons on the blouse.

King's Costume in Progress

I am also sewing him a fancy crown to wear. I have noticed that the children at his preschool all race to claim the fancy gold and silver fabric crowns that are available for pretend play. I am hoping this will be just the perfect gift for him. (Honestly he doesn’t want for anything.) What’s doubly awesome is that I already had this gold lame in my stash. Thank goodness for all those costume parties, no?

King's Crown in Progress

I bought the ribbon trim and the jewels for this costume. The hand-sewn crown is almost finished. I want to hot-glue the jewels, in addition to stitching them on.

I’m planning on sewing the ribbon trim onto the tunic as well. The final touch will be to sew a cape onto the shoulders of the tunic. My vision is that it will all be one piece (tunic and attached cape), and I have a gorgeous purple peplos that I’m sacrificing to make the cape.

Wish me luck! Today is the last day of school, so from this afternoon on, my kids will be home and working on things secretly will become trickier.

This Moment: Holding

Asher and Me

Inspired by SouleMama {this moment} – A Friday ritual. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Christmas Tree

We have our Christmas tree now! We fetched it last Saturday from the bargain store for $10. Although driving up to an Apple Hill tree farm and cutting our own tree is one of my favorite family traditions, we felt this year that being frugal with both our time and money was a fair trade-off.  It’s easier to adapt if your traditions don’t have you in a stranglehold, I think. And being adaptable is important.

Cutting the Trunk

Ian’s very handy with a Sawzall. Doesn’t he look handy? Our bargain Douglas Fir tree is fresh and smells wonderful!

Our Bargain Douglas Fir

Seed-Bead Star Angel Tree Topper Happy Yule

We got it all decorated in one afternoon. To me our ornaments are like old friends; I’m glad to see them every year. Lucas was touched by all the “Baby’s First Christmas” ornaments that are his. (I regret that we don’t have many of those for Asher.)

Christmas Tree

I’m surprised at how many Waldorf wool angels we now have to hang on our tree!

Smiley Lights

Then we played with funny glasses from Captain Jack’s Smiley Bar to see smiley faces on our tree! Thanks T!

And thank goodness for SomaFM’s “Christmas Lounge” station—it’s Christmas music recordings that you mostly haven’t heard before. Happy listening!

Saying Yes

“Can I wear my snow gear to school today? It’s wet outside.”

“Yes.”

~~~
“Let’s walk, Mama!”

“In the rain?”

“Yeah! I have my boots. It’s fun!”

“Yes, it is. Let’s go.”

~~~

Do you ever have days when it seems like all that comes out of your mouth is no? I do. Do you ever find that all those noes, which are of course reasonable, justifiable, appropriate to the present circumstances, etc., seem to pile on top of each other until you and your children are smothered in them? I do.

I find that some days the noes are so very heavy, and they accumulate in great drifts of disappointment and anger. They’re depressing. They’re aggravating. They cause trouble.

In an avalanche of noes, tempers flare. We bash into one another emotionally. My stress levels rise. The children bicker more.

Even when every no placed on the pile is the well-meaning kind, sooner or later, the mountain looms, casting shadows and sucking the fun out of the day.

I’m trying to be mindful of this. I’m trying to turn my noes into yeses. Yesterday was a Yes Day. I just resolved to say yes as often as possible.

~~~

“When we get home, can I go play outside? I want to pick some rosemary to make my rosemary tea.”

“Yes.”

“Can I put some lemon in it?”

“Sure, honey.”

~~~

“Can we have popcorn with Parmesan cheese for snack?”

“Yes.”

~~~

“Can I light my special birthday candle that my teacher made for me?”

“Your May Pole candle? In December? Um … yes.”

May Pole Birthday Candle in December

~~~

“Mama! You come and play with me in the playroom?”

“Yes, OK.”

~~~

“Can we have a fire in the fireplace?”

“Yes. That sounds nice.”

~~~

“Can we eat a bit of chocolate?”

“A little, yes.”

~~~

“Mama! You come and be the tickle love monster and you chase us!”

“Yes! Here I come!”

~~~

“Mama, will you please snuggle me?”

“Oh, yes!”

Snake Dragon Bunny

“I am a fluffy snake dragon bunny,” Asher said.

“Do you have a fluffy tail or a long tail?” Daddy asked.

“I have a fluffy long tail.”

“Do you have ears like a bunny or no ears like a snake?”

“I have ears like a bunny,” Asher said.

“What part of you is like a snake?” inquired Daddy.

“My feet.”

Morning

“Princess! Listen to my words! You stay by me. I will betect [protect] you in the Land of Car! I am a warrior,” Asher explained as we wandered down the road early in the morning, heading generally in the direction of preschool.

We fought a dragon on the way. “Ting! Ting! Ting! Ting! Shink!” I’m sure I saw the tree stump cower.

We found some interesting things to look at: some pretty leaves, some goopy, leaf-choked puddles. Some lawns are covered in stars of all colors.

On Our Walk

A car almost squished us. “Look out, Princess! It’s very dangerous!”

Having a warrior along while walking through the neighborhood can be a big help. It can also be somewhat … hair-raising. Warriors who are “7 years old” (really 3.75) are erratic at the best of times. Sometimes they dawdle, examining every stick along the way. Sometimes they rush haphazardly—forward, or even sideways. Sideways makes me nervous in the morning school drop-off traffic—the Land of Car.

“Princess! This is a magic puddle! I have to walk in it. How ’bout you be my mama duck Princess and I be your baby duck warrior?”

We walked a little closer to school. We balanced on white painted curbs. We watched the squirrels and the birds.

“Mama, I’m a betective. That means I’m in charge and I betect people. I train good dragons and kill only bad dragons. I ride on a dragon!”

We passed moms and dads hurrying their kids to the local school. Some of them smile at us.

“Mom, I’m gonna teach you how to run fast.” Perhaps we would get there faster if we ran, but honestly I would miss the meandering. I see and hear more when we go slowly.

Morning Walk to Preschool

Good Saint Nicholas

We are celebrating the Feast of Saint Nicholas in small ways. I’m making a honey cake to eat after dinner tonight and yesterday, on the eve of St. Nicholas’s birthday, the children polished their boots and set them out to see if perhaps some treats might appear there. Indeed, Lucas and Asher did receive some traditional Saint Nicholas goodies this morning: oranges, chocolates, and walnuts.

This morning Daddy said, “Go look in your boots.” Asher was incredulous. “Go look in my boots?!” The poor kid teared up when he saw the orange in his red rain boots. He’s not a big fan of oranges. But when he found the chocolate he cheered right up again and gobbled some down. (Mmmm … chocolate at 7:04 a.m.!) Lucas opted to have his orange in his lunch box today.

I made this needle-felted Saint Nicholas to display for the holiday. He’s presently on our kitchen table with Sturdylegs the Donkey.

Needle-Felted Saint Nicholas

Kind old man, St. Nicholas dear,
Come to our house this year.
Here’s some straw and here’s some hay
For your little donkey gray.

Pray put something in my shoe,
I’ve been good the whole year through,
Kind old man, St. Nicholas dear,
Come to our house this year.

(from Germany, and the Winter book from Wynstones Press)

We are also reading Christine Natale’s St. Nicholas stories, which are found on this Saint Nicholas Center website along with lots and lots of Saint Nicholas resources and recipes. I admit I’m editing the stories a bit to make them suit our family. I really do like the examples of Nicholas doing good deeds as a boy; I think Natale has done a great job of relating the concept of generosity in a way that children can easily understand.

Second Grade Saints: Saint Nicholas
Lucas’s Saint Nicholas drawing from last year in second grade.

It is said that Saint Nicholas is the children’s saint because he rewards their goodness (and his buddy, Rupert/Krampus/Black Peter punishes bad children who don’t learn their lessons or obey their parents). Celebrating Nicholas’s giving spirit is good preparation for Christmas, which is why they call him the Advent saint. This celebration wasn’t part of Ian’s or my childhood (funny, considering our Austrian roots), so we are feeling our way into it and enjoying the parts we want.

There is a beautiful children’s picture book by Demi, The Legend of Saint Nicholas, published in 2003. Demi’s marvelous, gilded illustrations present Nicholas’s life and many miracles, and explain how he came to be the patron saint of so many groups. (There is one story I’m not at all fond of, however. I would recommend that parents read this book first, and then decide whether to present it to their children.)

Page from Demi's The Legend of Saint Nicholas

Do you celebrate this day? How do you celebrate?

Aerospace Museum

Handsome Sign
We used one of our precious Family Days during the Thanksgiving holiday to visit the Aerospace Museum of California, which happens to be in our town on a closed Air Force base. Ian and Lucas like this place a bunch. I was mainly along for the traveling StarTrek exhibit, which had … um … too many rules.

StarTrek Exhibit: "History of the Future"

Needless to say, we all had fun punching buttons on the Enterprise bridge and raising the deflector shields. Asher’s big idea was to fire the phasers on the aliens. We declined to pay $20 for a photo of Ian in Kirk’s chair. I found the costumes from the various TV shows to be pretty interesting.

Phoenix Mars Lander Replica: Aerospace Museum of California

In the main museum, we saw an exhibit about the future “Manned Mission to Mars” (planned for 2034), including this replica of the Phoenix Mars Lander …

Shot from Mars Exploration Movie

… and a movie about what going to Mars will be like someday.

Pilots Do This

There’s a mini jet plane for the kiddos.

Pilot Lucas

And outside they have a good number of real airplanes from various eras. This is Lucas in the cockpit of the “Warning Star,” an intelligence gathering plane. Asher was the cutest copilot ever.

Engineer's Fuel Mixture Station

An older gentleman docent inside that plane talked with me for quite a while about serving as ship’s engineer. He flew 6,000 hours on this type of plane, and his job was to monitor these gauges and manually tweak the fuel mixture for either fuel efficiency or increased power, depending on the situation. He blushed after a few minutes and exclaimed, “I don’t get many ladies asking me about this stuff. Most ladies don’t get it.” Ha! It was fun to make his day.

Right Here Is Where the Danger Is

Ian always knows where to find the danger. Especially when it’s this well marked. (This is the side of a Coast Guard helicopter.)

Through the Portal Window 1

Cogs

I’m not the biggest airplane fan, and frankly, I don’t need to return to this museum for a couple of years. But my boys enjoy it plenty.  And some of this stuff is pretty nifty even to me, like these cogs inside an engine on display.

The StarTrek exhibit is there until January, in case you want to check it out.

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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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