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!

Saint Nicholas’s Day

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Good morning! It’s the Feast Day of Saint Nicholas. We were blessed to wake up this morning to find little gifts in our polished shoes.

Saint Nicholas came! He left little treats and treasures. #waldorf #waldorfhome #festivalseason #festivals #holidays #saints

A pretty little blank book and pen set, an orange, some chocolates, and a honey stick. Small things can inspire big delight.

It’s also the second Sunday of Advent, and we traditionally get our Yule tree on this day. We might be able to fit that in between Lucas’s basketball game and his Advent Spiral event tonight. We’ll see. I’m definitely feeling the urge to decorate for the holidays, and so far haven’t had time.

We’re wishing you a merry day, whatever you’re doing today. May you enjoy a moment of giving, a moment of gratitude, a moment of satisfying work, a moment of joy, and a moment of rest.

Jumping into Summertime

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It’s here! Glorious Summer is here! Actually, we are now starting our second week of the boys’ summer vacation. These are days full of lovely things, like swimming and day camps,

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School buddies at camp.

Perfect moment at pond's edge

nature walks with friends,

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and family,

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swimming pool horsing around,

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a few runs at our river parkway, which I try to accomplish mostly in the shady areas,

♡

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some gaming with Daddy and neighborhood friends, both D&D and LOADS of Magic the Gathering,

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and this. Lucas has been in a junior lifeguard camp (with three friends from school) for the last two weeks at Folsom Lake. This photo is from the tryouts day. I’ve been BLESSED by another mom, an angel who is doing most of the driving to and from camp, and so I only have photos from tryouts. The kids have been trained in CPR and choking rescue, gone river rafting, practiced water rescues, and I don’t even know what else! Their days are full of physical conditioning—running, core exercises, push ups, swimming—and these kids come home TIRED and sore. It’s great! We’re packing enormous lunches and liters of water every day to keep Lucas fueled and hydrated.

My harpies woke me up this morning in the wee hours. I started thinking about all the usual worries, and then a new one struck: This week, Tuesday through Thursday, late, Lucas is going to Santa Cruz to do open-water lifeguard training and to compete in a lifeguard competition. He is going along with our dear friends because Ian and I cannot go with him. It’s truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and we’re very happy he gets to go. However, last night I started worrying about my little son in the great big ocean without my being nearby. I started spinning on that: What if something happens to him?!

Then I realized he would be surrounded by pro lifeguards, and I went back to sleep.

Asher is doing a day camp with some buddies at Effie Yeaw Nature Center, which is a jewel in the middle of our city. From 9 to noon for ten days, he gets to do crafts, hike, learn about wild creatures, our local ecosystem, go fishing, go rafting, and more. Lucas did this camp when he was younger and it was wonderful. It really helps that two of Asher’s buddies (Star Destroyer and Blackout) are doing this with him. Asher’s nickname is Shadow Sting. How cute is that?

Last week, Ian and I got to see Eddie Izzard’s Force Majeur show. It was deliciously funny and I laughed until I felt amazing!

 

Summertime Inspiration

Painting Suns

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

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

Midsummer Festival E-Book Is Now ON SALE!

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

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

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

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Wishing you delicious, sweet moments all summer long!

Time in My Garden

Rain. Blessed rain.

It rained last night! For a good long time.

I woke to a beautiful day of perfect temperature, and enjoyed a delicious soak in the hot tub while we watched the trees continue to drip.

Everything around me was so lovely. It got me to thinking about all the joy and travel, heartache and courage, striving and learning I see my friends and family doing all the time. My heart kind of burst with the beauty of it all in that perfect moment. Never fear, my thoughtful friends. There is so much juicy LIVING going on all around us. I am thick in it, reveling and diving deep, and so are you. I am inspired by you every day. Carry on with your boldness, your beautiful, wild selves. It will not only be all right, it is and will be glorious!

We spent some time doing fix-it things today. Ian fixed our leaky bathtub faucet, which is a huge weight off my shoulders. I’ve been putting buckets under the leak to save and use the water, but it was a major stress. I will now sleep better at night. He also installed a water-saving shower head in the boys’ bathroom. Voila! Good work.

The boys played almost all day with the neighborhood boys. They played D&D and basketball. And used a huge box of chalk and drew on most of my driveway.

Major chalk art is happening here!

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I got to spend some time in my garden, too. I planted some (old, old) seeds, just in case they’ll come up. (Love in a mist, scarlet morning glories, marigolds.) I planted some scarlet verbena and separated out some day lilies. (I just love it when my plants can be multiplied.) I amended the soil in the worst section of my yard, in the hopes that something can actually grow there someday. I trimmed tree branches a bit. And put two yellow bell peppers in our veg bed. I dug and moved soil from one section of my yard to another. I unearthed a whole mess of ants and their nursery. I’ve ruined my nails and got some sun on my face. And I’m not one bit sorry.

I have some spectacular irises blooming right now.

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This one’s called Obi-Wan Kenobi.

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And these poppies drive me mad, they’re so pretty. Tomorrow I’ll plant some nasturtium seeds and some others. My hubby loves nasturtiums.

I pulled out some mint that’s going crazy—like they say it does. The ground is soft from the rain, so pulling out mint was easy …

Then Ian made me a mojito and the most amazing shrimp jambalaya ever!

And now, I’m going to finish my wonderful day with some Deep Space Nine. Goodnight.

Earth Day 2015

Happy Earth Day.  May we all make the world a better place with our amazing cleverness, cooperation, and compassion. Sending love and blessings to all.

Happy Earth Day!

Our little patch of Earth is presently covered in flowers. All of my beautiful plants are laughing uproariously in color. It makes me happy.

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No filter Aurora, I think

California is experiencing a very serious drought. And I’m conflicted about having a garden at all. I’ve been building and growing and tending this little oasis of ours for 16 years now. I think often about taking out my lawn, but then I watch my children playing in our yard and feel so grateful that we have a place to play! I am withholding water from these plants. I’m taking Navy showers (brrr!) and saving every drop of rainwater I can capture whenever water does come from the sky.

I promise to bathe my children rarely. I promise to make them wear the same pajamas several nights in a row. I promise to save shower water. I promise to let the yellow mellow at night. I promise to eat less meat. I promise to plant only drought-tolerant plants. I promise I will only drink coffee and champagne from now on if I can keep my garden alive this summer!

Foxgloves are coming

So far, the yard is doing pretty well on water rations, but the temperatures are still cool.

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Last week Asher asked if we could make a cactus garden. I bought him three little cactuses and brought a few more from my kitchen window out so he could make this. He painted the vine wreath with green and red paint, and then we buried it into the little garden so it looks like an arch now.

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We also planted a tiny vegetable garden. I debated about this, but figured it was a good cause, especially since the drip watering system will be watering this box anyway. We planted 2 sungold tomatoes, 1 rainbow tomato (that might be the name), two types of cucumber (one is a lemon cucumber), 1 summer squash, 1 Japanese eggplant, 2 purple basil, 2 sweet basil. (We like to make pesto.)

Today, after school, I’m going to see if I can get the boys to plant some seeds with me and do some art for Earth Day.

And now poetry:

The Robin’s Song

God bless the field and bless the furrow,
Stream and branch and rabbit burrow,
Hill and stone and flower and tree,
From Bristol town to Wetherby –
Bless the sun and bless the sleet,
Bless the land and bless the street,
Bless the night and bless the day,
From Somerset and all the way
To the meadows of Cathay;
Bless the minnow, bless the whale,
Bless the rainbow and the hail,
Bless the nest and bless the leaf,
Bless the righteous and the thief,
Bless the wing and bless the fin,
Bless the air I travel in,
Bless the mill and bless the mouse,
Bless the miller’s bricken house,
Bless the earth and bless the sea,
God bless you and God bless me!
—Old English Rhyme

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Canticle to the Sun

Praised be God for brother Sun,
Who shines with splendid glow,
He brings the golden day to us,
Thy glory does he show!
Praised be God for sister Moon
And every twinkling star;
They shine in heaven most bright and clear,
All glorious they are.
Praised be God for brother Wind
That storms across the skies,
And then grows still, and silent moves
And sweetly sings and sighs.
Praised be God for Water pure,
Her usefulness we tell,
So humble, precious, clean and good,
She works for us so well.
Praised be God for brother Fire
Friendly and wild and tame,
Tender and warm, mighty and strong,
A flashing, flaring flame.
Praised be to God for mother Earth,
Who keeps us safe and well,
Whose mother heart all warm with love,
Dark in her depths doth dwell.
—St. Francis of Assisi

Here are a few links I’ve enjoyed this week, and thought you might like them too:

Plantable gift wrapping paper

Plantable paper earths with seeds

Crochet earth ball pattern. I wish I could make this but I can’t crochet!

Recycle your Crayola markers

Green gifts from National Resources Defense Council

Elemental play book

Finally, our Late Spring Festivals E-Book is on sale for 50% off at Little Acorn Learning. It’s only $12.50 until 4/24/15.

OK. This was a rambling post. It’s what I get for trying to cram weeks of living into one blog. So, back to the message:

Happy Earth Day to all beings near and far, finned and furry, scaly and feathered, mossy and green. May we humans all make the world a better place with our amazing cleverness, cooperation, and compassion. Sending love and blessings to all. ~~~~

Easter Gnomes

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It’s a bit late, but these are so sweet, I had to share them. These vintage and German Easter cards with gnomes are too cute.

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Lilacs

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My plan for today was to take my family to Volcano to see the daffodils at Daffodil Hill, then have lunch somewhere quaint, drive through the countryside, and maybe visit Indian Grinding Rock. It’s a perfect day, cool with some cloud cover. The grass is green, the light’s pretty even—ideal for photos.

Instead, Asher’s sick. (I wish this child could catch a break!) Three of us are home; we let Lucas escape with his bestie. Ian is working. I will soon start working. We’re doing necessary things instead of what we wanted to do. It’s fine, really. There’s laundry and other chores …

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Still, I’m feeling a little glum while the scent of lilacs wafts through my window. Thank goodness for lilacs.

St. Patrick’s Day Festivities

We made our leprechaun house and welcomed the to the party we set up. #waldorfhome #waldorfinspired #holiday #home #stpatricksday #8yearold #secondgrader

We had our little St. Patrick’s Day fun yesterday. Asher and I made a little party for the leprechauns, which we do each year on the 16th. I know some people like to build traps to try to catch a leprechaun, but we like to throw them a party instead. We set out tiny dishes (an old child’s tea set) and put milk in the saucer and honey on a plate. With some green paper we made a little banner. This year Asher wrote the letters spelling “Welcome” himself. Then we put some flowers around whole thing. It takes about 20 minutes to do this, and Asher gets really excited. He’s always been very fond of leprechauns.

Welcome leprechauns!  Welcome to our party!  #waldorfhome #waldorfinspired #holiday #home #stpatricksday #8yearold #secondgrader #leprechauns

In the morning, he rushed outside to see what was there. The leprechauns left a pot with some fairy jewels and some gold dollar coins for Asher and Lucas to split. They ate up all the honey and drank the milk, so we can only assume they had a nice time in our little party space. They also made a huge pile of our shoes by our front door—the shoes we carefully put away into the cubbies where we belong. Leprechauns always do something tricksy, no matter what treats we leave for them. I’m told the little people all over the world are tricky like that.

Frosting

I made corned beef and cabbage in the crock pot, and an Irish soda bread from a Martha Stewart recipe. It was crusty and heartier than I expected, with caraway seeds and raisins and wheat bran. We read The Leprechaun’s Gold by Pamela Duncan Edwards. Asher and I baked and decorated cupcakes. He’s quite good at frosting them! I enjoy having times like this when he and I can do creative things alone together. He will usually gravitate toward whatever Lucas wants to do instead, as you might expect. But when we’re alone, Asher is able to be his young, 8-year-old self.

Sticky gooey

Treats for St. Patrick's Day

They turned out great! And yes, I saw a photo of cupcakes like this on Pinterest or somewhere and bought the rainbow candy knowing it would blow my boys’ minds. We don’t often make treats like this. Lucas’s eyes lit up when he saw these. (He was at baseball practice while we made them. Bigger boys have after-school activities and stuff.)

St. Patrick's Day dinner -- outside -- with my parents #holiday #home #stpatricksday #family #love #homemade

The best part of the day, though, was having my folks over for dinner. It’s so warm already, we had our St. Patrick’s Day feast outside! It’s good to enjoy the perfect weather if you have it, I say. Yum. Grandma read us Fiona’s Luck by Teresa Bateman after dinner, and then it was time to get ready for bed.

May love and laughter light your days,

and warm your heart and home.

May good and faithful friends be yours,

wherever you may roam.

May peace and plenty bless your world

with joy that long endures.

May all life’s passing seasons

bring the best to you and yours!

More of my St. Patrick’s Day book recommendations are found here. You know, for next year. 😉

Happy Valentine’s Day—Almost

Path of hearts

My little son asked me last night, “Mama, are you going to do the path of hearts again?” And my heart grew three sizes in that moment. I’ve always tried to make the little holidays and festivals special for my family, and his asking about this little tradition shows me that he has had some memorable experiences of family celebrations in our home. I usually do all the magic-making at night or early in the morning before they wake. Tomorrow, we’ll have a special breakfast of pancakes and strawberries, I think. And I’m hoping Ian will make me a pretty steak dinner tomorrow night.

Valentines #8yearold #secondgrader #secondgrade #waldorf #sacramentowaldorfschool #waldorfhome

Asher’s class celebrated by exchanging valentines today. I’m so grateful to his teacher for splitting the class into groups. Asher joyfully made six valentines. If he had had to make 27 valentines, it would have been a different story. Lucas made brownies for his seventh-grade classmates.

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How do you do Valentine’s Day? Here’s a few ideas for you:

In other news, the boys are currently with their grandmother celebrating the end of the week and grandma’s dog’s birthday. (We do a lot of celebrating, I guess.) The kids have next week off. Ian’s prepping for a big conference. Lucas will play a basketball game tomorrow, and then play in a tournament next week. It’s 70 degrees today and gorgeous, and it feels entirely like SPRING.

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Happy Valentine’s Day, my friends. Wherever you are and whomever you love, may you revel in the joy that connection brings. And may your heart be open to receiving all the love you inspire.

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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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