Tree Hunting

#christmas #home #waldorfhome #traditions #yule

Our tree is beautiful this year. We drove up to fetch it from Apple Hill on a perfect weekend in early December. The tree farm was part of Boa Vista Orchards, where Christmas trees and apple trees still wearing some autumn colors were growing practically side by side.

I would follow them anywhere #family #boys #wild #california #brave

Getting our tree #christmas #family #traditions

Apple orchard

The golden leaves in the orchard and the gnarly apple trunks in late afternoon sunlight were to die for.

Could wander for hours here #apples #orchard #California

There were a few grumbles this year à la, “Why do we have to take all this time to get a tree? Can’t we just go to the local tree lot?” Because Mama wants to, that’s why.

The hot apple donuts that came with our tree purchase made up for the inconvenience, I think. They were amazing!

Coming home from the hills #California #colors #sky #sunset

And, despite our late-day start, we even got home before it was completely dark, and enjoyed this beautiful sunset as a companion on our drive down into the valley.

Merry Yuletide,  my friends.  #winter #festivals #holiday #home #yule #tree #waldorfhome

The boys and I enjoyed rediscovering our favorite ornaments while Ian cooked dinner for us. Thank goodness for Soma FM’s “Christmas Lounge” stream, which is our traditional decorating-the-tree soundtrack. I wonder how my kids will feel about this tradition when they’re older. I know I think back fondly on the tree-hunting trips to the mountains that I made with my family as a child.

A Dickens Christmas

Bay Bridge #California

In late November, we enjoyed a terrific day at the Great Dickens Christmas Fair in San Francisco. The boys had never been before and the last time Ian and I were there was probably 15 years ago. We left a rainy Sacramento to drive to the city, where I got to admire our pretty bridges and took some fun shots out the car windows. (Don’t laugh, they’re worth it.)

#dickens #faire

The Fair does an excellent job of representing a Victorian London “where it’s always Christmas Eve and the streets resound with celebrations of the season!” Chestnuts, puppeteers, street musicians, stage shows, Bobbies in uniform, gangs of urchins, card players, and dancers enliven the place. I don’t remember it being so elaborately textured and staged! Honestly, it’s a feast for the senses.

#dickens #faire #music #waltz #violin

I got to dance a bit at Fezziwig’s Christmas party.

Foresto #dickens #faire #waltz

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We watched dear friends perform and dance. That’s Bryn and Nicole there, playing with the Bruno Band.

Ebenezer and Ghost of Christmas Present #dickens #faire #christmas

Ran into Ebenezer and the Ghost of Christmas Present—you know, this fellow:

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Scrooges third visitor-John Leech,1843” by John Leech

Mad Sal's #autumn #dickens #faire

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Hammered dulcimer

Wands

We bought the boys wands as souvenirs. Asher chose Harry Potter’s wand. Lucas got a beautiful custom wooden wand.

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After a while, Asher reached a melting point. We realized that from his shorter perspective, it was all a bit overwhelming. I wish we could have stayed a little longer, but when you have to leave, you have to leave. The city glowed under stormy skies for us on our way home.

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Our Evenings

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We have been spending our summer evenings reading. Daddy has been reading Harry Potter books to us for hours almost every night. We’re into the middle of book 4 now, and the children’s enthusiasm for this nightly ritual has not waned. They even prefer this over a movie night.

#magic #7yearold

You might say it has ignited their imagination.

Wizard #summer #boys #7yearold

This one loves to shout spells and play wizard.

Reading Harry Potter book 3 tonight under the wisteria while rare, blessed raindrops fall.

Sometimes we read outside together, if its not too hot. Sometimes we’re inside, enjoying the AC. Ian got the ebooks too, so if we’re out at a restaurant he can read to us while we’re waiting for a table, or when we’re waiting for the play to begin.

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Ian is a master of funny voices and accents. It’s amazing to hear him read a conversation in a scene with eight wizards in the room, some sounding Scottish, Irish, Russian, English, American, powerful, weak, evil, or snobby. He switches between these various voices with such facility. I applaud at the end of certain scenes because they sound damned difficult to read aloud!

I’m loving this summer’s evening entertainment. I love how we’re all enjoying it, how the Harry Potter books have wide enough appeal that all four of us are engaged. It’s simple, and sweet, and bonding.

Nightmares

Library love #7yearold #firstgrade #son #mamainthepicture #mamaandbaby

Asher has been having a fair (or unfair) number of nightmares lately. I feel for the kid, honestly. I still remember the vivid, horrifying nightmares of my own childhood. These bad dreams are freaky and they result in sweats and many tears. And, of course, they result in requests to sleep with us, or requests for one of us to sleep with him.

Tonight my little love is having a hard time going to sleep. It could be the temperature warming. It could be that he’s overtired—the boy runs solidly without rest from morning to night. It could be that Daddy’s not yet home. I suppose he could also be getting sick.

Whatever it is, I’ve put him to bed now four times.

As I was lying there with him in his bed, wishing that he would sleep, he sobbed: “Mama, I’m sooo tired! And I’m sooo sorry I keep making you come back and forth! I just don’t want to be without you.”

There’s nothing quite like when my child in need notices I am short on patience to make me feel chagrined. I took a deep breath and settled into my role.

“I am always here for you, my love. You are safe and I am here.”

He whimpered a while longer. I held him close and he wrapped my arms even tighter around himself. Gradually his breathing slowed. I shifted and then he said, “Mama, it’s just like always when you are underwater and …”

 

… and he finally slept. For now. And I’m free to read my book or get ready for bed. But what I said before is true: I am always here for him. He is safe and I am here.

Happy 12th Birthday!

12 #12yearold #birthday

May 1

Dear Lucas,

I love you, my happy Beltane Boy. Happy birthday! I asked  you on the morning of your birthday last week if you feel any different and you said no, but I can see a kind of relief in your face. You’ve finally made it here. All but one of  your classmates are older than you and you’ve finally caught up.

Ready for his 12th birthday! #12yearold #birthday #spring #waldorf #home #family #traditions

We celebrated in our usual way, with a special breakfast, flowers, your old birthday crown, which you gamely wore for a few moments. We gave you a few gifts in the morning and then sent you off to school.

Magic card protective sleeves.

Birthday/Beltane roses

By your report, it was a great day!

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And in the evening, we had a special dinner: you requested fettuccine Alfredo, Brussels sprouts, Caesar salad, and a very chocolatey birthday cake.

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There were a few more gifts, including this Magic The Gathering set. In fact, it was pretty much all Magic this year. It’s what you’re most interested in, most fascinated by.

Birthday party #waldorf #birthday #spring #friends #12yearold #sixthgrade

On Saturday, we had a bunch of your buddies over for a party. You rode bikes and Daddy fixed burgers for everyone, and we watched a superhero movie. You wanted ice cream sundaes for dessert. Magic, Magic, and more Magic. Your friends were very generous and I believe you said it was “the best birthday party ever.”

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There is so much I could say about the person you are now, yet I find whenever I try that my words come so short. You are a delicious mixture of competence and forgetfulness. You are physically strong and possess great endurance, yet you need more and more fuel and rest to support your growing body. You are wise and witty, sarcastic, and sometimes worldly, yet you dance into fantasy almost as easily as ever before. You are challenged every day—don’t think I don’t see it. Each day more and more is expected of you, and most of the time you square your shoulders and step forward bravely. There is more pressure in life and school this year; you are game to take on new things and often embrace a certain stoicism when it comes to things you don’t want to do. But at the end of the week, I can see that you are tired and really need to relax, rest, and play. Your possessions matter to you, except when you completely forget about them. You are working hard in school, and your work shows it. You are helpful and kind, and a good big brother, when you aren’t being provoked. You are still artistic and sensitive. You possess so many delightful contradictions. You exhibit such striving, beauty, and grace. You are the very picture of 12.

And I couldn’t possibly love you more.

 

Three Amigos

buddies

We took these fellas to the theater to see Rapunzel at the Chautauqua Playhouse. I wanted a date with Asher, and I want us to see more live theater, but I didn’t want to hear him moan and groan about not wanting to go without Lucas and Dad. So I contacted some of our friends from school and got two buddies and their mamas to agree to meet us there.

three amigos

three friends at the theatre

The play was cute and I think the boys enjoyed it. Asher told me that Rapunzel does NOT have red mylar hair—everyone knows Rapunzel has yellow hair. “Who says?” I asked. “Everyone.”

This year, these first graders have seen Beauty and the Beast, which was a little too intense for them, and The Little Mermaid, performed by the high school, which was just fine for Asher but not so fine for some. Rapunzel was a nice example of children’s theatre without any scary bits.

Back in December, we saw a British pantomime, and my kids LOVED it. (The actors threw candy at the audience.) I recently bought tix to The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes for the four of us. Should be fun! We’re lucky to live in a city that has lots of good theater for children.

He’s Home

He's home! Tired and dirty,  but happy. #waldorf #11yearold #sixthgrade #camping

Boy and his dog #11yearold #sixthgrade #home

This was Friday afternoon. My beautiful son came home—tired, dirty, and a little wiser. He had a wonderful time. I think there were hard parts to his class camping/farming trip, but he wasn’t too cold or too wet. Or at least not so much as to ruin his trip. He says he wants to spend more time with Farmer Harl at Rudolf Steiner College.

The next sixth-grade class trip is in May, I think.

We are so in-between now. He’s responsible about some things and irresponsible about others. I guess that’s called growing up.

 

Mothering

There are some moments when I despair. I look at these two strange beings who bicker and occupy my home, who confuse and frustrate me, and are so different from me, and I wonder if I am having any civilizing influence on them at all.

Then I get sick, like I am now, and they come to me with soft small hands, stroking my skin and hair, bringing me cool wet cloths for my forehead, and rubbing my shoulders. They hold me close, cuddle up next to me, worry about me, and whisper sweet words of comfort.

And I feel their mothering and hear my own words coming back to me. It’s a mirror, and a window to their future selves.

Reassuring Children

Asher and Solstice

I’ll probably get around to writing a little about our Christmas holiday soon, but for now I want to talk about reassuring little ones when fears surface.

My little almost-7-year-old son asked me last night, as we were cuddling at bedtime, “Mama, put your arms around me. I like it. It makes me feel safe.” Then he paused and said, “How do you keep me safe?”

Such a big question at the end of a full and happy day, from a brave boy who spent his time battling orcs in the woods. Such an important moment for me as a mother. How do I say the right thing—just enough and not too much, before he drops off to sleep? Accounting for context, age, and timing is so important in parenting. My sweet boy was about to slip into dreamland. I knew what he needed to hear.

I waited a beat. And then launched into my quiet answer.

“There are many things and people in your life who are working to keep you safe, sweetheart. Some things we cannot see. Our society has laws that keep our air and water safe to breathe and drink. We have safe foods to eat. We have people who keep our country safe. We have bike helmets, seat belts in the car, and speed limits on the roads.

“Our police and firefighters keep us safe from harm and crime and emergencies. We live in a safe neighborhood. There are good people all around us.

“Mama and Daddy are here to keep you safe. We made this warm, solid home for you to live in. We stay with you and make sure you’re not alone. We lock our doors at night so we are safe while we sleep. We have safety rules. Your brother looks out for you. And you have adults all around you who protect you.

“Our love and care for one another keeps us safe. We are safe together.”

He listened. He sighed. “That’s good, Mama.” And then he fell asleep.

Reusing

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I am pulling winter clothes out of the totes stockpiled in the garage, hoping that some of these pants will fit Asher now. The few pairs of pants in his dresser are now too small, and the trees’ brilliant hues are telling me that cold weather is coming. I try telling my boys that, but they still insist on shorts and bare feet, whenever they can get away with it.

I do this turning over of belongings several times a year, unearthing Lucas’s old items from years’ past and diving into bags of clothes outgrown by friends’ children. The process isn’t pretty. Things are dusty and worn. I never manage to make the garage pile neat again when I’m done, much to my husband’s dismay. I also inevitably find a bag or box of forgotten items we just accidentally missed out on reusing. Sometimes, timing is everything.

This suburban archaeology makes me realize how my boys are always growing, growing, growing—whether I am OK with it or not. I feel nostalgic when I touch some old things again, after several years of their being absent and in storage, and I sometimes feel sad when giving current now-too-small things away. However, mostly I feel connected and grateful whenever I do this. I know that families all over the world do this very thing, every season or two, hoping to eek a little more use out of this shirt, these socks, those pants. We pass items along to younger siblings or friends, or strangers, with the hope of being helpful. And this pleases me.

To all those who have passed well-loved and still-useful items to us, thank you. Your generosity keeps us warm.

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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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