Spring Break

Vacation

Well, I’ve not been writing much here lately. Instead, there’s been a whole lot of living happening. The boys had two weeks of spring break and while sometimes a school vacation means I have more time for hobbies, such as blogging, sometimes it totally does not.

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The boys have been reading and drawing like crazy. Both are completely captivated by all things Fantasy, all things Dragon, and all things Tolkien. Asher has a great fondness for Dwarves. Lucas fancies Elves. They write books, design games, draw pictures, and create “Game World” stories, which are “video games” that exist only in their heads and they act out the action. I like those video games!

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We had one super great Mama & Boys Day; we went to a local miniature golf course and played minigolf and a few arcade games—a very rare treat indeed.

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Asher played a killer game of Fast & Furious, a driving game where he spent most of the time flying off bridges and overpasses, but the old standbys were best—air hockey and skeeball. I let Lucas play the rifle-shooting game and he looked at me like he had just won the lottery. Arcade: $3. Minigolf for 3: $21. Lunch for 3: $25. Oh yeah, that’s why we don’t do all that many outings like this. Oh well.

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Then we went to the library and the park. This is more my speed.

Lucas and Asher had a little time with grandma. They played a lot with the neighborhood boys. The fact that we now have some neighborhood kids is a great pleasure—we have lived in this neighborhood for almost 13 years and for 12 of them there were no children. Elderly neighbors. The housing bubble and then the crash. Finally some younger families are moving in.

Let’s see … Ian built me a raised garden bed, which is totally awesome.

Rehearsal. Asher on ukelele, N on drum machine, Lucas is the band manager.

Asher got to have a buddy come to play. They created a rock band. Asher played ukelele, N played the drum machine, Lucas was their manager. They rehearsed. They sang songs called “Alabama Shakes,” “Lightning Strike,” “Golden Wolf,” “Clutches,” and “Death Knife.” I kid you not. Lucas told them they had a kind of punkheavymetal sound and then convinced Asher and his friend to put on face paint. It. Was. Awesome.

I love this boy.

He agreed to be photographed. He must be feeling pretty cool.

And there was this. I love this boy.

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On the last day of Spring Break, we went on a lovely hike with Mars and NoNo.

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River outing

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Mars showed us the game he is making. We picnicked. We got wet in the river. The dogs got to sniff a lot of things and meet other dogs. We walked the trails and spent time under the great big sky. I can’t really explain how refreshing and nourishing that is for me. It’s like medicine.

And now, the boys are back at school. Our normal rhythm has returned and I am happy about that, except I’m still not a morning person and never will be.

Another Sixth Birthday Gift: Earthbender Costume

My new baby: Janome New Home Christmas present from my mom and dad.

My parents bought me this awesome sewing machine for Christmas. It’s my third machine. I am still learning and I’m kind of hard on them. (For the record, two of my sewing machines work and one of them is a perfect learning machine. I thought I might let Lucas take it for a spin.) But this new one—this Janome New Home—is all mine. (Besides, Mom gets nervous whenever I go near her Bernina.)

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Back in December I conceived of giving Asher an Earthbender costume, inspired by one of our family’s favorite shows, Avatar the Last Airbender. Asher has always been fondest of the Earthbending skill, and when he plays at “bending,” he is always an Earthbender. Maybe it’s because green is his favorite color. At first, I thought this costume might be a Christmas gift, but then I realized it was more appropriate for his sixth birthday.

So I bought a mini gi. (Actually, I bought two. The first was too mini.) I know my limitations and I realized I could spiff-up a gi more efficiently than I could make one from scratch.

Dyed Earthbender Costume in Progress

I spent a day last week dyeing the top green and the pants and belt a taupe color. Pale yellow would have been nicer, but that wasn’t an option when buying dye.

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My mom and I carefully picked out some fancy trim, and last night I got my new sewing machine out and put it to use. I even changed the needle to a denim one, to go through all the layers of the gi edge! I read the manual and everything! Amazingly, my boys slept through my sewing.

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I cut off the sleeves and sewed on this gold and green fringe. I wanted the costume to look like a cool martial arts gi, but not exactly like a karate uniform. I have one day left before Asher’s birthday gift will be presented to him. I’m presently debating about whether to use the sleeves I cut off to make wrist bands or a headband. I hope to decorate this final item(s) with the Earthbender symbol.

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Today I spent the morning in Asher’s kindergarten class with him, to help celebrate his birthday at school. His teacher told me that yesterday she asked him what he wished for. He said he wished for infinite wishes, and for a closet full of costumes. A CLOSET FULL OF COSTUMES!

Maybe I actually have made him the right birthday gift. … Or maybe he won’t wear it at all. That’s also a possibility. If he does like it and wear it, I’ll be sure to get a photo.

Anyway, there’s just one hour left in this Circle of Moms Top 25 Creative Moms contest. Here’s the button to vote for me. My gratitude goes out to all the wonderful friends and readers who have voted for me daily over the last two weeks. Thank you for the support and for helping me get into and stay in the Top 25! Voting closes at 4 p.m. PST on 1/30.

Thanks again!

This Moment: Foosball

Foosball

I haven’t done a This Moment in a long time. 😉

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.

Nomination and Other News

I was recently nominated for an award of sorts at Circle of Moms. Some kind soul (I don’t know who) nominated my blog for the Top 25 Creative Moms list there and folks can vote for their favorite blogs. The voting continues until the end of January and you can vote for more than one blog, once each 24 hours. I’d be honored if you’d vote for me, and keep voting for me. It would be very nifty to get into that Top 25 list.

This button takes you to the voting site. Vote for me!

I’ve never been involved in one of these things before, but there’s always a (typically awkward) first time, right? It’s neat because I’m planning to ramp up and improve my attention, involvement, and content here. So please check back often for new, more useful material. A girl with a writer’s soul just has to write. And a girl with an artist’s eye just has to share her visions.

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In other news, my little guy turns six years old in two weeks. I’ve finally figured out the outline of his birthday party and sent invitations. Usually I’m more on top of things like this, but I’ve been working quite a lot lately. Well, we’re getting RSVPs back now, so that’s great. Crisis averted!

I’ve got a few homemade gifts in mind for him, and must carve away some time to work on them. I am making Asher an Earthbending costume, inspired by Avatar the Last Airbender, which is a show that my whole family adores. Great story-telling, good characters, plenty of heart, and featuring themes of friendship, commitment, duty, forgiveness, family, courage, peace, and finding one’s own way, Avatar is good TV. Asher has always liked the Earth Kingdom in the show the best. He has started dressing up for play in recent months, finally using the King’s costume I made for him two years ago. I think this Earthbending outfit idea is a winner.

Yesterday we scouted the location of his “Fantasy Wizards in a Forest” party.

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This place will fit the bill nicely, I think! This is a is 17 acre undeveloped park right here in Fair Oaks, just five minutes from our home. It features tall, beautiful eucalyptus trees, a tiny creek with mossy banks, green meadows, fallen logs, wild mushrooms, and plenty of crisscrossing paths that you might call “trails.” Our plan for the party is to allow the children as much space to roam and explore as is safe. The park is big enough that it feels wild, but not really big enough to get lost in, and I expect a small gaggle of 6- and 7-year-olds to make plenty of noise.

Wishing you a bright and happy day!

Woolen Winter Playscape Tutorial

Woolen Winter Playscape, gnomes and deer

Materials

  • white wool batting
  • a board, such as a painting board or serving tray, to serve as a base
  • figurines (gnomes, animals, people of any material you have)
  • driftwood, bark, sticks, pine cones, rocks, etc.
  • small bit of silk

Tutorial

This winter playscape can be assembled inexpensively and remade again and again. It can be either temporary or permanent, as you wish.

Buy a bag of wool batting. This material is often used as stuffing for toys or pillows, or can be wet-felted or needle felted. It is extremely versatile for all kinds crafting and fiber arts. It often comes in one- or two-pound bags. Tear off a layer of batting to make snow and place it on your playscape base. Add other bits to cover your base. Try to add a hiding place, such as a wooden cave or build a little den make of driftwood or sticks. Layer some more snow over the top of it.

Woolen Winter Playscape

If you have a small bit of silk, you can create a silken creek, perhaps. Now add some figures such as gnomes or animals. Or add some people.

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You might also add a special rock or two. If you have a mama and baby animal pair, they might like to cuddle into the den you made. Resist the temptation to fill the scene or complicate it will too many toys.

Woolen Winter Playscape, wolf

Leave this simple scene for your children to find. They will elaborate upon it, change it, and remake it as they play. Their fingers will be warmed and comforted by the feel of the soft wool. They will respond to it and the feel of the wood and rocks in this simple scene.

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If you find your child playing with the winter scene, ask him or her to tell you the story of what‟s happening. Or just listen to the play.

(When the play is done, the wool can go back into your craft supplies to be made into something else.)

Autumn Farewell

Tree stars

We’ve had buckets of rain in the past week. Our jacuzzi has stopped working again, due to flooding. The chicken run is a soupy, smelly mess. The pretty leaves have largely fallen from the deciduous trees in the neighborhood, but my liquidambar is still full of golden stars.

My tree

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The palette of my surroundings is fading. Bright oranges, golds, russets, and crimsons are vanishing, giving way to more muted tones. Browns and grays, straw, and dusty greens—punctuated by lurid, store-bought red and green for Christmas—are the colors of December in Northern California’s central valley. The transformation is gradual and a few flowers seem to have missed the memo. I’ve seen marguerites shouting “yellow!” at the top of their voices, and a few purple irises are confused enough to bloom even in the heavy rain.

A couple of weeks ago, we took the boys to a local amusement park called Funderland, which has been in operation in Land Park as long as I can remember. The day was perfectly glorious, the kind of day November hopes to achieve—with sparkling, flaming trees and crystalline skies.

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The rides, horseback riding, and pretty slanting afternoon sunbeams inspired many shining smiles.

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And plenty of autumn frolicking.

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It was a wonderful day. Land Park had lots of finery to show off while we were there.

Thank you, November. Your brilliance is fortifying.

Halloween: The Wood Elf

I realize November 10 is a bit late to write about Halloween, but I’m just getting to it now. We worked way too hard on these costumes to not show them here.

Lucas's Halloween Costume Design: Wood Elf

Lucas decided to be a Wood Elf. This year Ian read all three books of The Lord of the Rings to our boys, and the stories have really taken root in Lucas’s and Asher’s minds. Lucas didn’t want to be Legolas or any specific elf, or a fancy High Elf. He drew this picture of himself as a Wood Elf, so this is what we had to work toward.

Making leather armor for his wood elf costume.

We brought our cow hide out and allowed Lucas to use some leather to make himself some armor. The hide was purchased back in 1991 when I wanted to make a medicine bundle for Ian—back when there was no Michael’s-type craft store in town. I had to buy a whole hide to get the little bit of leather I needed, and for my college-age self it cost a lot of money. I never dreamed in 1991 that this purchase would help us create a Halloween costume for our 10-year-old son!

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We lucked out at the thrift store this year and found a green tunic-like shirt. It had vine-like details and some beautiful leaf and vine embroidery on it. At first Lucas was nervous about the few flower details on it. He didn’t want to wear flowers. We had to argue for a moment or two, then I pulled out my shears and made some cuts to remove the flowers. I ripped and distressed the tunic just enough to make it look like he had spent several weeks traveling in the woods. That seemed to satisfy him. I also removed a seam to make the arms wider and more comfortable.

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For the shoulder armor, we cut “scales” of leather to look a bit like leaves. We fitted this onto his body, piece by piece, and marked where we needed the scales to connect to each other with a Sharpie. Lucas made all the holes in the leather himself. We used brass-colored paper fasteners to quickly fasten the scales together, and we did the whole piece on the afternoon of the 31st. He decorated the armor with a silver paint pen. “They are runes of protection, Mom.” We sewed the leather to the shirt. The whole thing looks awesome!

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If we had had more time, we would have made a piece of armor to cover his his thigh, too. We pressed into service a leather belt from Ian’s old Renaissance Faire stuff. Lucas sewed a quiver out of green felt using the sewing machine. His first time on the machine! We used a small thrift-store belt to hold the quiver on his back; he used hot glue and stitches to attach the quiver to the belt.He made his own bow from a stick and string, and his quiver held five or six stick arrows.

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I’m not sure why he wanted to wear jeans, but he did. The last piece was a set of pointy elf ears held on by spirit gum. They had to be subtle ears! He added a blue tattoo to his face.

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And then, with no time to spare, we went to an awesome party with a few other families from school. We ate yummy soup and went trick-or-treating in a big group.

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The kids got loads of candy and had a blast running door to door at night. They all looked amazing!

I’m so proud of Lucas. He knew what he wanted. He worked hard to create it, doing many of the tasks on his own. He was a terrific Wood Elf!

Asher’s costume is up next.

Climb

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So inviting, this golden tree, shining in the setting sun.

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Impossible to resist, with its rustling leaves like stained glass of every warm hue.

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It doesn’t take long for a boy to find his way up.

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Stretching and climbing, gilded by light,

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into the heights, where no one can reach and he is best and bravest.

Halloween Fairy Goodies

Needle-Felted Monster Friends

We have a tradition in our home, and I know we’re not the only ones who do this. After Halloween every year, my children set a good portion of the candy they have collected trick-or-treating in our backyard. We shout into the night, “Halloween Fairy! Halloween Fairy! Come and get our candy sweet. Trade us for a little treat!” And then we go to bed.

The next morning we usually find that the candy has been whisked away, and in its place are small goodies or treasures that our children can play with and enjoy much longer than they could enjoy a sweet.

Some years the Halloween Fairy brings books, sometimes toys. Sometimes the toys are handmade—perhaps the Halloween Fairy has a little workshop where she and some Halloween Sprites make treasures for children? You might be wondering, What happens to the candy? Well, the Halloween fairy left us a note once that explained that she gives all the candy to the Sugar Sprite, who needs help to feed her family. She finds it pretty difficult to gather sweet nectar from flowers at this time of year, so she instead feeds candy to her Sugar Babies to keep up their strength in the cold months. In exchange for your child’s generosity, the Halloween Fairy will leave a small gift for your child to play with.

I’ve done a bit of looking, on the Fairy’s behalf, and I’ve discovered all of these wonderful treasures to be purchased at A Toy Garden. I thought I’d share them with you, in case you can help the Halloween Fairy choose a special treasure for your child. *

Mushroom Knitting Spool  /  Peekaboo Pixies – Orange and Black  /  Blank Book – Set of 4 – Red, Yellow, Green, Blue  

 The Harvest Story  /  Autumn Gnome Set  /  Autumn: A Collection of Poems, Songs and Stories for Young Children

Forest Spirit Wand  /  Treasure Pumpkin Wet Felting Kit  /  Felted Pumpkin Pair

Forest Gnome Family Kit  /  Autumn Garden Gnome Pair  /  Forest Friends Herbal Beanbags

Stacking Gnomes  /  Earthtone Silks  /  Forest Animal Box Set

In a Nutshell  /  Felt Mushrooms  /  Carved Wooden Heart Nesting Bowls

There is something for everyone in this collection (open-ended playsilks, dolls, crafting kits, nature table finds, toys), and far more at A Toy Garden’s beautiful website. I know the folks from A Toy Garden personally and I can assure you they take great pride in sourcing toys, craft supplies, clothing, books, seasonal decorations, dolls and much more from the very finest makers and suppliers around. Many of their products are Fair Trade or made in the U.S.

* Now, here’s a little note from me, the Reluctant and Often Confused Webmistress of Love in the Suburbs: I’ve done the best I can with this technology stuff. If you click a photo, you unfortunately won’t go to the website where you can buy the item. (Trust me, I tried!) To be whisked off to the AToyGarden.com website item page, you have to click the text link below the pretty pictures. Thanks!

Santa Cruz, We Love You

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I guess this is vacation post 2. After our trip to the Monterey Bay Aquarium last Saturday, we visited the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk on Sunday. We had a bunch of fun, riding rides and getting to hang out with Danny some more. Lucas was big enough this time to ride even on …

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the GIANT DIPPER!

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He thought it was awesome. He is ready for more.

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We all enjoyed the skytram. (Don’t know its official name.) Here is Danny waving at us. xo

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My only ride was the carousel and I got to sit on a white pony right next to my beamish boy. I love this carousel. It’s very beautiful. Lucas managed to throw the brass ring into the clown’s mouth! Lucas also did the bumper cars and the haunted house, which was his first, I think. He said it wasn’t scary at all.

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We didn’t ride this thingy, but it was pretty.

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At first Asher wasn’t interested in riding anything, but we found the kiddie rides, like this Cave Train Adventure, and he went with Ian and Lucas.

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Pretty little engine. I have a fondness for trains, thanks to Lucas’s young childhood obsession with them. It’s funny how Asher never took to them.

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There was plenty of togetherness and horsing around. We ate crummy Boardwalk food for a mere $55. Ugh!

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Then we spent an hour or so playing in the waves on the beach. Lucas swam and Asher played in the sand a lot. It was a beautiful day and lots of people were enjoying the water and the beach. The bay was filled with lovely sailboats, and the sounds of Boardwalk merriment drifted over to the water’s edge. I got to put my toes in Mama Ocean, which is my great love and privilege. I must touch the water. It’s a personal law.

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So much sun and sea and adventure! A perfect way to end the summer. It’s nice to break away together and do those special things. As important as rhythm and consistency and a firm, foundational family life is, it’s also important to have experiences, move outside of normal, and go wild, to enter into a place of magic and discovery—because we’re not just here this earth to be steady, rhythmical, safe, and constant. We’re also here to take big bites, to reach, to dive deep and swim on the tides, and to fly on the breezes of opportunity.

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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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