Seattle Musings and A List

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We returned on Sunday from a glorious Thanksgiving holiday in Seattle, Washington. There we were hosted by Mike and Kimmie and got to spend some comfy, quality time with them and other friends we rarely see. This was Asher’s first trip to Seattle, and he fell for it hard, not least because he loves blustery, rainy days and it Seattle obliged us with rain.

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Our journey up, by plane, was kind of hellish, as fog had socked in SeaTac and the pilot flew us round and round above Portland for a while. Then he landed us in Portland, which was good because we were able to buy sandwiches, but then we were out of queue and didn’t actually make it to land in Seattle until 4 p.m. Originally we were supposed to arrive at 8 in the morning. Long long very boring day with not enough food for my hungry boys. The worst part is that it robbed us of a precious day in Seattle.

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HOWEVER, once we were there, our vacation was on! We saw Tony on Tuesday night. And on Wednesday we got to explore Pike Place Market with Kimmie, visiting food stalls for Thanksgiving supplies and kitschy gift shops and comics stores for fun. I ate a duck burrito for the first time.

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Thanksgiving Day was lovely. We cooked and hung out. We made multiple grocery store trips–so much that Mike called it Five Store Turkey. All the side dishes were vegan, and Kimmie made a stuffed seitan dish and a glorious mushroom gravy. Ian roasted root vegetables. Trevor and Sara and their son S came for dinner and Trevor made several delicious desserts. I burned my brussels sprouts because I was so busy relaxing and visiting. My cranberry sauce turned out well, however. A few other friends dropped by near the end of the day.

The kids loved getting to play Mario Kart and we watched Ant Man and Wasp. S took to Asher immediately. It was fun seeing Asher interacting with him and being the bigger kid.

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On Friday, we met up with Trevor, Sara, and S again and made a walking tour of University of Washington. Trevor attended grad school  and also taught there. So he shared some of his experiences and showed us around the campus. Unfortunately, the library and all the buildings were closed for the holiday.

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We also got to go to the MoPop and enjoyed the Marvel exhibit. Asher loved the fantasy collection (Gimli’s axe! Saruman’s staff!) and the horror collection. What is it with the fascination with horror films even though he’s never seen one. (Or has he?)

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Because airfare during Thanksgiving weekend is atrocious, we elected to drive home. Even with car rental, gas, and one night in a hotel, we probably saved $1,000. And after our flight up, the kids weren’t too keen on getting on an airplane again. They weren’t especially keen on driving 13 or so hours home, either, but it is what it is. Honestly, traveling with these guys is really easy now. They were wonderful, even under the worst of circumstances, and I can’t wait to take them back to Seattle.

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We stopped briefly in Portland and visited Brianna and Jasper. Haven’t seen her since summer of 2015.

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I’m so grateful for this trip, for the opportunity to do extraordinary things with my family. Ordinary time is sacred too, of course, but exploring the world together is a privilege.

* I love my friends. They are brilliant, generous, compassionate, kind, forgiving, talented, hard-working, committed, and wise.
* You might not guess it from its name but Monster Manor is the most hospitable and comfortable place in the U.S.
* Seattle has charmed the socks off both my boys. (I couldn’t be happier about this.)
* Lucas really liked U of W!!!! I don’t blame him one bit!
* 5- and 6-year-old boys are TONS of work. I have had no less than three ample opportunities to rediscover this fact. My kids are so EASY now, comparatively.
* Sometimes you can befriend a 16-year-old girl and then see her periodically and again when she’s 36 (approximately) and be wowed all over again, for a thousand more reasons.
* Pike Place Market is the bomb. I wanted lots of stuff for myself; I bought two refrigerator magnets.
* It’s pretty rad to book and pay for a hotel while traveling down the road. And it gives you a good goal.
* Washington and Oregon have WAY more water than we do. California has WAY more people.
* With climate change, I think I should buy a few thousand acres up north–get a jump on future agribusiness.
* We returned to Sacramento at that vivid autumnal peak, when the trees are practically vibrating with their most intense colors, and you wonder if your eyes are seeing some infrared wavelengths you can’t see at any other time of the year. It’s magic. Don’t blink.
* Alice Hoffman is still my fav author. Here on Earth was deliciously dark. I love an unhappy ending.
* I had a tightly, tidily scheduled workweek planned; then today it unraveled, opening ugly unbillable gaps. I always want to ask PMs, “When exactly did you realize your document would be late? And why did you not inform me then?”
* I can hustle like a badass with 13 years of self-employment under her belt: I now have plenty of replacement work.
* Phone, “unbillable” is a word. I want “unkillable” work even less than I want unbillable work.
* Asher believes that Avatar the Last Airbender should be a Thanksgiving tradition the world over. He is probably not wrong.
* It appears that my father will take us to, or pick us up from, the airport at any time: even 3:45 a.m., which is a bloody ungodly hour. Good to know!
* Alaska gave us each a $75 discount on our next flights because of our colossally bad 10-hour day flying to Seattle. Where should we go?
* Kimberly’s mushroom gravy and Mike’s turkey and vegan stuffing are divine.
* It’s possible that my burned Brussels sprouts were partially redeemed by my warmly spiced cranberry sauce. It’s great on bagels, too.
* Ian may be allergic to cats.
* Lucas has been to Seattle twice and has yet to see Mt. Rainier. It was hiding both trips.
* Our dogs are tiny fluffy stupid misbehaving dummies who are naughty and that bodes ill for future trips. I missed them.
* My uncle is making (slow) progress after his third (“The Works”) cardiac surgery. I am thrilled.
* I estimate that Asher and I are on page 4,490 of Percy Jackson Takes Over My Life With Ten Books.

2017—A Summary

2017—What can I say? In a lot of ways 2017 kicked my ass. I’ve despaired more times than I can count. I’ve also rolled up my sleeves and done more political activism than ever before. I’ve challenged myself in innumerable ways, through work, personal relationships, and parenting. I’ve also thrown up my hands lots of times, had too much booze, gained weight, watched a ton of TV, curled up and licked my wounds. Staying informed and engaged this year has been a matter of taking a daily barrage of gut-punches.

I am frequently exhausted by the mental and physical requirements of my job; it leaves me feeling depleted and out of gas at the end of many days. Nevertheless, and despite the fact that I edit for a living, I embarked on a fun personal challenge to read broader and more challenging categories/genres of books for pleasure. Filling up my mind is always one of my highest priorities, and I’ve stretched into reading fiction and nonfiction about contemporary issues and people who are living lives that are a vastly different from my own. Rock!

I’ve also allowed myself a lot of time to change slowly. I see this as a kind of self-care in a year that by any measure surely required it. Win some, lose some. I barely painted at all, and I miss it every day. I still dream about painting at night. I struggle with finding the perfect cocktail of opportunity, free time, emotional wherewithal to face the complex feelings of ambition/desire/failure/striving/laziness/etc that well up when I approach a canvas. I barely exercise. I barely blog. These are things that have always given me joy or emotional and health benefits, and they have fallen by the wayside. Because I can only exist in this moment, not in all moments at once.

I’ve parented through a few doozies, and advocated for my boys a number of times in assorted settings such as school and health care. I’ve watched my children both maturing beautifully and in sometimes shocking and sudden spurts throughout the year. Learning to let go is a daily lesson, and I believe a quintessential quality of being a parent. As much as I want out of life for myself—and believe me that’s a long and glorious list—I want even more and better for them. But I am not them and they are not me, and ultimately we all walk our own paths. Nevertheless, I often feel like I am not one but three people, because there’s nary a moment when their needs are not at the top of my mind and factored into just about every decision I make. I’ve had to pull back from school activities and volunteering. I have feelings about this, but I’m learning to say no. Saying no can save you. And letting go, in measured increments, with love is the name of this parenting game, from that first Beltane dawn in 2002.

I am blessed to have found meaningful employment in a place I can grow and develop my career. I already said it’s taxing. It’s also truly wonderful to have friends and colleagues again—talented people with passion for what they do and amazingly clever minds solving enormous problems and working from value positions I can respect. My company has a slogan: We make big things possible—in areas that matter for humans and our environment. That I have a part to play, a contribution to make, in projects that will affect our state for the next 50-100 years is somewhat staggering and a source of considerable pride. What’s more, I learn about a dozen new things every day in subjects that were largely previously unknown to me: hydrology, cultural anthropology, historical architecture, air quality, noise and vibration, native California species I’ve never seen before, environmental justice, hazardous materials … the list goes on and on and on. What’s more, I can tell you with great confidence: big infrastructure projects and development are not done cavalierly in California! We live in the best state.

I maintained my freelance business this year, too, working joyfully with Sacramento Magazine monthly and taking on special freelance projects for fun. There’s one project that came to me this year that is very close to my heart because I get to work with two brilliant friends. I’m honored and delighted by this.

This year I’ve proven to myself that I can handle more than I thought. I’ve done a gazillion new things, sometimes clumsily, sometimes with grace. I’m on a board of directors. I’ve worked hard to maintain all my relationships. I try to make contact with three or four people every day. That’s called kin-keeping and I’m a badass at it. My friendships nourish me and fulfill me and I know it’s goofy when I say it on Facebook but I truly love you. I witness your heartaches, your striving. I sit with you when you’re depressed, and I celebrate your accomplishments every day. I am here for you. It’s who I am. Thank you for being in my life. Thank you for loving.

My love, Ian, is my rock and my best friend. We are sometimes gasping for air in the grind of all this work-family stuff, but we’re connected and in it together. He’s my heartbeat, my song. In 2017, we’ve managed to put a new roof on our home and fix it up really nice. It’s water-tight, just right, and the place I love best of all. In. The. Whole. World. And 2018 is going to be grand in a whole bunch of important ways.

My family is good. My parents are well. My brother is doing great. My uncle survived not one but two open heart surgeries in 2017. One cousin had a beautiful baby girl. Another cousin got married to a wonderful woman. My aunt and uncle returned to Sacramento after five years in Geneva. My folks are in my life almost daily, and I feel their love and support as a constant, no matter what.

My Asher is sick. My Lucas has two good friends over tonight, for NYE (ethernet!) gaming. And though Ian and I had the opportunity to spend tonight with shiny friends and loves, cooler (sicker) heads prevailed.

In just about 36 hours we’ll be on a plane all together—Mom, Dad, Jonathan, Ian, the boys and me—heading for Maui where we will celebrate the new year and soak up some rays! Hello, 2018!

Probably all of this should be on my blog instead of here. But it’s down again for an unknown reason. I’ll deal with that later. One thing at a time.

Anyway, I love you. May this coming year be gentler, more peaceful and just, and more connected. May we find our courage and stand together. May we hold close our values and loved ones, extend a hand to a stranger, shine out our brilliance, and let our resilience be our strength. Happy New Year!

Asher’s 10!

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Well. This post is almost six months late. In late January, my baby son turned 10! We had a lovely celebration at home and then we took some of his best buddies to the movies. He chose to see Moana.

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After the movie we went to Leatherby’s for food and ice cream. It was a lively meal. Some of these guys have known each other since preschool.

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In January, we started Asher with viola lessons with Ms. S. She is such a wonderful music teacher. In just a couple of weeks she turned Asher’s experience of viola around from tears of frustration and embarrassment to accomplished playing. He stopped asking if he could stay home from school on orchestra days.

There are only a hundred million things I should have been writing about these last few months. I can only say that I guess I didn’t have it in me. Life is full and joyful and sometimes hard. This little boy is a delight almost every moment. Ten has been pretty great so far!

Halloween Fun

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“Don’t torture yourself, Gomez. That’s my job.”

What can I say? We LOVE Halloween! And I know we’ve just had Thanksgiving and I am behind as usual, but these pics are just too cute not to post. In a moment of last minute inspiration, Ian and I decided to dress as Gomez and Morticia Addams.

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Morticia: When we first met years ago, it was an evening much like this. Magic in the air. A boy.
Gomez: A girl.
Morticia: An open grave. It was my first funeral.
Gomez: You were so beautiful. Pale and mysterious. No one even looked at the corpse.

We went to a party hosted by the family of one of Asher’s best friends. There was ghoulish fun for the kids, including an impromptu toilet paper fight (after the mummy making, of course), and good wine and conversation for the grown-ups.

I love Halloween

Gomez: Cara mia.
Morticia: Mon sauvage.

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Asher went as a king in shining armor. We bought a costume modeled on a character from a video game that none of us knew anything about. For him, it was all about the boss costume. We shopped for it online because time was short, and Asher said, “Mom, are you sure you want to spend that much money on me?” Oh, yes, my little Love. Yes, I do.

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#halloween #king

The sword with the lion head on it sealed the deal. And of course, he needed a bloody wound. This so perfectly shows how he’s in-between: kind of a big kid, kind of not.

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Lucas wasn’t feeling especially inspired this year as he has been many years in the past. However, he pulled out a creepy zombie getup with ease.

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Asher got to play with some of his buddies from school at the party. (Thanks to Melissa for the photo!)

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Most wonderful time of the year!

Halloween itself was on a rainy Monday evening, and we happily joined friends for a bit of trick-or-treating in East Sacramento. This year, the Halloween Fairy was not invoked, nor did she trade gifts for our boys’ candy (for her wee sugar babies to eat). The kids ate some, and the rest, well … it disappears relatively quickly.

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?

CNC Mill for 8th-Grade Project

Couldn't be prouder of my son!

I have to take a moment to say I’m so proud of my amazing son. Lucas had a huge win earlier this month way back in December when he presented his eighth-grade project to his classmates, family, and our school community. He spent five months of 2015 fabricating a CNC mill, with two of our dearest friends, Thomas and Jeff, as mentors. He wrote a big paper, made a working milling machine, learned about electricity, circuits, and Arduinos, learned how to write G-code, and presented his 10-minute speech and his machine on December 3.

CNC machine moves in three axes!

A very happy moment in the 8th-grade project! Three axes move on the CNC machine!

This project was hard work. It required perseverance and investigation into lots of new territory for Lucas. During the course of this project Lucas and his mentors did something really amazing and unlike anything he had ever done before, but they also suffered delays and setbacks, and occasional back-to-the-drawing-board moments. What a gift it is to learn about failure with someone who will help you pick up the pieces, emphasize what you learned from the mistakes, and then begin again on a better path with you! It’s priceless!

They worked nearly every Tuesday evening for five months. Lucas had approximately 80 hours invested in this project. Furthermore, they had a great time doing it.

CNC mill demo, 8th-grade project presentation, Sacramento Waldorf School #waldorf #sacramentowaldorfschool

His paper deftly explained some pretty technical stuff, and his speech quickly walked his audience through what Computer Numeric Controlled machines are, how they work, and how he and his mentors made the machine. Then, for a grand finale, he turned it on and it cut a picture stand out of foam core, which was decided upon because the tool could accomplish the job in under two minutes. If they had demonstrated the CNC mill with a more complicated project, or with a denser material, it would have taken too long for his allotted speaking time. With flourish, he punched the picture stand out of the foam core, creased it along the center line, stood it up, and then placed upon it a wooden sign engraved (by the CNC mill) with “Questions?” The applause was wild and he beamed. I wish I had a good shot of that moment.

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Lucas got an A+ on his eighth-grade project. It was so wonderful to see his hard work rewarded! The best part perhaps is that he is still so interested in the project that he and his mentors continue to work on it, refining it, refining it. Recently Lucas learned how to solder. He’s expressed an interest in learning to code, and that’s terrific.

Over the four nights the eighth graders presented, we heard about so many wonderful topics: fly fishing, competitive road racing, cosmetology and hair cutting and styling, drones, a diesel ’68 school bus converted to run on vegetable oil, wood duck nests and conservation efforts on the Pacific Flyway, the effects of sleep deprivation on a young teen, rowing and crew, drumming, music therapy, natural horsemanship and horse training, building a computer, and many more. I’m so very impressed with these young people, and so grateful that their first major research project and paper was on topics of their own choosing, which I believe made the whole experience as reinforcing as possible.

 

Asher’s Ninth Birthday

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My beautiful sunbeam, my little pirate king, my wizard, my imp, my healer, the song of my heart and laughter embodied—my Asher Donovan is 9! My sweet boy had a birthday on the last day of January. He asked for a Labyrinth party.k2-_03b88201-873f-45f8-9f40-e8682d75aab3.v3

Asher and Ian had watched Labyrinth together the day after David Bowie died, and the film captivated our son. And so, for the first time, he had friends over to watch a movie with us—a 30-year-old movie starring a beloved 69-year-old rock star who just passed away. (Farewell, Starman!)

Our invitation to his Waldorf school friends included a link to the Common Sense Media website’s rating and review, so families could decide whether their kids were ready for this 1986 PG film. To my great surprise, every child we invited was allowed to come.

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With many demands on my time and a determination to take this one easy, we spent just a little time the day of the party decorating with items we already had. We were trying to suggest a labyrinth with symbols from the movie in this table centerpiece.

Centerpiece for Labyrinth birthday party

Weirdly, we only borrowed two glass globes from grandma, which used to be curtain rod finials, I think. All of this other weird stuff was already in our home! CitiBlocs served for labyrinth walls nicely!

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Asher enjoyed setting up more labyrinth decor on top of our cubbies, and we found assorted gargoyles and knights in armor and chess pieces to be labyrinth denizens. The kiddos arrived and we set them down to watch the adventure of Sarah, baby Toby, Jareth the Goblin King, Hoggle, Ludo, Sir Didymus and loads of lovely Jim Hensen Creature Shop puppets.

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What’s funny is that nearly all of our nine guests had previewed the movie with their parents, and so they simply could NOT stop talking throughout. “Watch this! Watch this! They fall into the bog of eternal stench!” “Don’t worry! She gets her baby brother back.”

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After the movie, Asher’s friends gave him loads of wonderful presents. Art supplies, books to read, sketch books, games, Legos. Just what an enterprising and artistic 9-year-old needs. Thank you cards are still forthcoming—please, nobody hold your breath.

Labyrinth birthday dessert. He didn't want a cake this year.

Asher didn’t want a cake this year. He asked for ice cream instead. We served it with graham cracker labyrinth walls, sprinkles of the children’s choice, and gummy “goblins.”

Muppet Goblin Lollipops

We thanked our guests and sent them home with goblin lollies I made with stuff on hand. They’re more like muppets than goblins, but whatever.

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The next day was Asher’s actual birthday. This is the very picture of a modern 9-year-old full of vim and vigor, silly jokes, giggles, bounces, mad skills, mercurial moods, and dimples. I can’t possibly explain how much I adore this child.

He got even MORE pressies from Mom and Dad: a beautiful book called Tolkien’s World: A Guide to the Peoples and Places of Middle-Earth, exactly the type of magical book that Asher creates in his many sketchbooks, with maps, monsters, battles, runes, weapons, etc. We gave him the much anticipated sequel to Nnewts by Doug TenNapel, and the first two Secret Agent Jack Stalwart books. Plus Legos. Chima, naturally.

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We had a lovely birthday breakfast—Asher’s choice was pancakes and strawberries, with eggs. (They all suffer my camera with much patience, see?)

Asher's first viewing of A New Hope 1/31/16 A privilege of 9-year-olds
Finally, that afternoon, we gathered with friends for another party: Asher’s first viewing of Star Wars: A New Hope. Turning 9 is a little coming-of-age moment in our family, you see. We made Lucas wait until he was 9 to see Star Wars. A few years back, we threw a surprise party and watched the movie with him and a bunch of friends. Well, we couldn’t quite make this gathering for Asher a surprise because he’d heard all his life about Lucas’s 9-year-old Star Wars party.

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To our great delight, Thomas and Jami hosted a viewing party in their comfy home and we all enjoyed the film anew on a big beautiful screen. (Gosh, it’s beautiful!) Asher laid on a Tauntaun sleeping bag, naturally, and we had three Storm Troopers in attendance. I’m so grateful for this moment.

I’m probably going to sound like a crazy woman here, but this film means something to me. This first Star Wars film was a seminal cultural moment, a point when the world shifted. It’s the hero’s journey, it’s loyalty, friendship, good versus crystal-clear unambiguous evil, spaceships and hyperdrive, our first (and only, for a long time) badass princess, robots, cowboys with laser guns. What’s not to love? But it was also the FIRST exposure we had to this kind of mythic storytelling on the big screen. It fueled our imaginations, our games, even our career choices. It inspired our generation’s favorite brand of entertainment. Our children may not love it the same way we do, or connect with it the same, and that’s OK. They have sooooooo much to choose from; theirs is a world where any story ever made is available at any time. They’ll have their own myths. But for us, as children, watching Luke, Han, and Leia face down Vader and his terrifying goons was important. Somehow, for me, it still is important. And we just had to share it with Asher, hopefully at the moment he can best appreciate it (nine year change and all). OK. Enough of that.

Custom-made resin blaster. A hade-made birthday gift to Asher from Sandy. It's his first toy gun.

Jami bought Asher a huge Storm Trooper figure as a present. Jaleen brought him a Darth Vader bionicle. There were other gifts that passed by before I could even take note (sorry). And Sandy, dear Sandy, handmade this custom blaster for Asher. She cast it out of resin, I think, and hand-painted it. It’s beautiful and he’s over the moon about it. (My rules about no gunplay in the house still apply.)

There you have it. An unforgettable birthday for a one-of-kind precious boy, who might just be the luckiest boy in the world.

Midwinter Holidays

Sol Invictus, Lord of Light, Reborn!

I am hoping your midwinter holidays were as beautiful as ours were. Life is so full lately it’s hard to keep up with my blogging, but I do try to take lots of pictures still. This was the sun on December 24, Sol Invictus, Lord of Light reborn!

Christmas Eve sushi

We enjoyed our traditional Christmas Eve sushi dinner with Ian’s father, Glen, and his love, Miriam. We go to a tiny little restaurant that serves Japanese and Korean foods. It’s never full on Christmas Eve, and we get to enjoy a lingering meal, complete with gift-opening. It’s a brief oasis in the midst of the busyness of the days of Christmas and we cherish it every year.

Merry Christmas! Here we go!

I am very grateful to spend my Christmases with this beautiful man. I love him completely.

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The pregnant moment, the Before, when all is quiet and the children are in bed. Everything is ready and the anticipation in the air is palpable. I try to catch this magical moment each year.

Astonished that Santa brought a tablet for our family

Christmas morning dawned beautifully—and EARLY. We have a rule. No presents before Mom and Dad get their coffee.

Oh, the bounty! Santa Claus was amazingly generous. He brought Asher a robot lizard that walks and follows you around. (He and Ian got to build it together too.) Santa brought Lucas a small stereo system for his bedroom, which has a much-needed alarm clock. And he brought our family a Kindle Fire tablet, our first device of this nature. 

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My parents came over in the morning for a brief brunch. They blew Lucas’s mind by giving him a PC computer. He’s going to need it for high school next year, and is learning how to use it. (And what NOT to click online—thanks to an early virus infection. Honestly, I couldn’t be more pleased about that because it scared the daylights out of him. We were able to return it to factory settings.)

My daddy and mama

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Asher really got into the spirit of things. He had spent the three days before Christmas making things and going through his belongings and wrapping up gifts for people. By the time he was finished, there was something under the tree for everyone, with tags written on binder paper.

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I found some stylish clothes for my boys. This hoodie for Asher, who loves to make a splash, and a dark and brooding/lurking long hoodie for Lucas, who rather likes to fade mysteriously into the background. They each got books and art supplies, a Death Note tee for Lucas, a Gryffindor tee for Asher. My folks delivered two indoor RC helicopters, which have seriously improved over early models. I’m hoping Asher will break out the spirograph set we got him soon because I really want to play with it.

My only regret is that we didn’t get to see my brother and his family on Christmas. It’s just impossible to be in two places at the same time. At least, so far.

We spent the afternoon at Ian’s mom and stepfather’s home, celebrating with family. Little cousin Jack is 3 now, and getting big.

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And then we rushed home to our crazy house to fill it with beloveds for what is either the 20th or 21sth year in a row (some debate about that). I typically fail at snapping any photos during this party, which is a shame, really, because my friends are all so beautiful to me. We poured drinks and talked, shared food and friendship. It’s everything I want for Christmas night, every year. I really cannot say it enough: Thank you, darlings, for sharing your Christmas with us. It means the world to me. 

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I know it is nuts to be writing about Christmas on January 28. I have so much I want to blog about, and this post has been blocking my flow, so to speak. I frequently write on Facebook, but that stuff gets lost in the stream of time. I’m going to try to write more here because I miss it and I need it. I need to clear the blocks.

So, I’ll end by saying Happy New Year to all.

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Invoking the Light

Happy Solstice!

6500365891_3247aaf429Yule Fires: A Carol

(Sung to the tune of “Greensleeves”)

In ancient days the folk of old
When chilled with fright by winter’s cold
Did kindle up a great Yule fire
With leaping flames in its great pyre;

So to entice the waning sun
To rise again and wider run;
It’s fiery course across the sky,
To warm them so they would not die. (Chorus)

Chorus: Yule Fires light up the night!
Yule fires give us delight!
Yule Fires call back the Sun,
And keep our hearts ever burning!

So we, whose minds now sense a chill
Of anger in the evil will,
The human conflict, hate, and strife,
Which hold a menace over life;

Would kindle up a flame of love
That we within our hearts may move,
In Yuletide joy, with love embrace
And thus abide in peace and grace. (Chorus)

John G. MacKinnon

Sunshine

Well, it seems some are celebrating the Solstice today/tonight and some are celebrating tomorrow/tomorrow night. The solstices and equinoxes can be a bit tricky. Astronomers and meteorologists calculate it down to the minute, but frankly, I just pick whatever is most convenient for our busy lives.

We’ve been getting ready, little by little, for the holidays. There is so much going on at this time of year, and it seems our home transforms more at this time of year than any other. 

This year's wreath ... unless I add more stuff to it

To fit in the Christmas tree, we have to move furniture and dust under things. It’s quite a production. And yet, as our home becomes more and more festive, more and more filled with light, it gets cozier and cozier.

Smells divine and full of happiness

All the better to snuggle in and then welcome our guests.

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I find I cherish sunbeams anywhere I find them.

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And chase after December rainbows … even barefoot.

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Our winter storms are knocking all the pretty leaves to the ground. We have been having a dark and rainy day today, which only means we can better appreciate the warmth and light that comes with the rebirth of the sun.

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We’ve been enjoying holiday parties and friends and family. Last weekend was Grinchmas, the annual reading of The Grinch Who Stole Christmas at our friends’ beautiful home. We recently went to our first gingerbread house decorating party. I’ve never seen so much candy outside a candy shop in my life!

Gingerbread house party!

Tonight we go to a Solstice party, and tomorrow night, on the 22nd, we’ll hold our usual quiet family celebration here. I’ve got a newish solstice dessert idea and my son has requested a vegetarian yellow curry. Sounds perfect to me. I’m thinking potatoes, garbanzos, corn, peas, leeks and chard.

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We’re also celebrating that golden fellow above, Solstice Dog, who came to us four years ago. He is a bright, shining light in our lives, working devotedly to keep our spirits up and our blood pressures down. We love him so!

Good people all this happy tide,
Consider well and bear in mind,
All that strong love for us can do
When we remember our promise true.

Now love itself stands in this place
With glorious beauty and pleasant grace;
To welcome us with open heart
And raise up welcome in every hearth.

Whatever life on us bestows,
Love’s mantle round our shoulders goes
Remembering this day’s delight,
To bring us help and mercy bright.

When darkest winter draweth near,
The light is kindled without fear;
Love sparks at Midwinter so deep,
This blessed time in our hearts keep.

When coldest winter draweth near,
Turn we to joy and make good cheer;
Remembering our vows so strong,
We raise our voices in this song.

Drive darkest want and need away,
Remember we this happy day.
Call love to witness, everyone,
And dance beneath the winter sun.
—Caitlin Matthews

 

And now it’s time to go, so I’ll sign off and thank you for reading. May your Solstice be bright and blessed, full of the tinkling laughter of loved ones and sparkling lights shining in the winter darkness. Blessed Be!

Too Late for Halloween?

Pirate!

Yes, I’m quite sure it is entirely too late to post about Halloween. It’s December for Christmas’s sake! However, once you look at these pictures, you might, just might, forgive me. I MUST post these shots because they’re so completely adorable. Therefore, I temporarily interrupt our regular December programming for this spooky flashback to October shenanigans.

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You see, we build our geodesic dome in Thomas and Jami’s yard. And then we put a rock band in it.

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♡

The debut performance of Death In Bloom, to be precise. And they were wonderful.

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And sexy. And terrifying. And we invited all our friends to come out and party.

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Friends new and old, tall and small, came to play with us Halloween night. We had costume contests with many winners of gigantic TROPHIES!

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Lovely ladies!

Competition was stiff, as you can see!
(Cute Costumed Kids + Giant Redecorated Sports Trophies = Winning Halloween)

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Jami was a magnificent warrior hostess, as usual!

Lana and Archer

Ian and I went as Stirling Archer and Lana Kane—Danger Zone! Our kids were like, “who are you guys supposed to be?” So then we knew we were still good parents because our children have never seen “Archer,” even though it’s the funniest (and wrongest) thing ever. (Not for children.)

I think I owe Ian one, considering it was Halloween and he had to wear a stupid gray suit and tie. But he made it more fun with costume changes: the tactical turtleneck outfit and the light blue Cuban shirt too! (I am very very sorry I didn’t get more pics.)

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But whatever. It was all worth it to wear these thigh-high boots and a shoulder holster with a 45 pistol. (Toy) I’m not sorry.

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Asher was a badass pirate. Clearly.

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(With beautiful English roses in his cheeks, but don’t tell him.)

The scariest cupcakes ever

Janelle, Frank, and Joyce made these glorious, awful, horrifying mouth cupcakes. I couldn’t taste them. Too scary for me.

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And the party went late, late, late (though our boys went home with parents more responsible than us). S’OK. I am quite comfortable with that.

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November dawned beautifully, if a little headachy. Ahem.

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When the silliness was done, we tore it all down again. Piece by color-coded piece. Working together, which is my favorite way to work.

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Many many many thanks to our intrepid hosts, to our work crew, to our guests who came from near and far, and some from out of our decades-ago past, in costumes too numerous and magical to photograph all of them. (Also, generally speaking, I put my camera away when it gets dark.)

So, this next stuff is part of the reason I had to wait to post this. Cuz I have to double-check about posting his picture, you know. This guy, below, made the most amazing wind-up man. Lucas created this steampunky costume for Halloween and the school dance. He won the costume contest at the dance!

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uploadSo proud of my gorgeous son!

Every time I look at these shots of my handsome boy, I feel like swooning. Which is probably exactly what he would prefer I NOT say here or anywhere. OK. Never mind that.

So, that’s just a sliver of the Best Halloween Ever Until Next Year.

Life is complicated, and juicy, and rarely fits neatly into a predictable, comfortable order of events. But we try to keep it straight, and we fail, and we try again. Fa-la-la-la!

Now, back to jingle-bells and Christmas cookies and Solstice preparations and all that lovely stuff.

With love,

S

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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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