Imbolc in California

We made a quick little wool sheep today in honor of Imbolc. Happy Feast of St. Brigit/Candlemas! #waldorfhome #winter #festivals #holiday #home #homemade #handwork #needlefelting

Asher is home sick today, as he was all of last week. He was bored today, of course, so we brought out the wool to make a little sheep in honor of Imbolc. He didn’t want to play with wool, though. He just wanted to be bored.

Everywhere across the nation is buried under snowfall, it seems. But here we’re enjoying warmish days in the low 70s. It may sound lovely, and it is, but we really need more rain. We are hearing that some rain is coming later this week, and frankly I’m praying for a good long winter to ameliorate our drought.

Jonquil #winter #waldorfhome #gardening #spring #harbinger

These are just some of the beauties that have arrived lately, and I’m only showing you snowy white flowers today, in honor of this midwinter moment.

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I’m embarrassed to realized I haven’t posted here since the Solstice. I’ve been all blocked up with Christmas, unable to write all that I feel I should, and busy with other pressing things. Life is happening. It’s full of mild illnesses, birthday parties, work deadlines, family meals, our new business, basketball games, and other goodnesses. We are following our path, with a modicum of grace and plenty of stumbling. Life is good.

In past years I’ve written more about this pretty little holiday, which most Americans know only as Groundhog Day. For me it is about hearth and home and family, about leaning in and protecting each other, about sheltering and feeding our light so that it glows brightly, even through the storms.

Wool Painting for Imbolc: Last year, Asher got to do some needle-felting in honor of Brigid

Happy Imbolc: This post gives a fair amount of background on the holiday, and how it has many names.

Our Imbolc Celebration: This was a little family ritual we did when the children were smaller.

Imbolc, or Candlemas: Some thoughts about preparing for Candlemas.

Candlemas: We rolled candles this year and discussed how it was the midpoint of winter.

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My backyard is full of robins this afternoon. The tulips are coming up. My daffodils are blooming. I guess that’s Imbolc in California.

I’m wondering how others celebrate. I know Eileen and her girls made snow candles today, and that sounds fun. I might just stick a few Four O’Clocks seeds in the ground in a gesture of hope and investment in a bright, colorful spring. However you celebrate, I wish you warmth and fellowship, and a nurturing moment for all those you love.

Our Bright Solstice

#Solstice #celebration #latergram

I wonder if my posts will be more timely next year. It seems I’m forever playing catch-up, but this time I have a really good reason. I’ve been busy enjoying some beautiful holidays with my family, resting, painting, relaxing, eating too much, working just a tad. So here is my tardy account of our Solstice celebration.

Decorating our solstice cookie #winter #waldorfhome #waldorf#traditions #family #baking

Solstice cookie

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We made our traditional giant cookie for dessert. The boys opted for a spiral design with the Reese’s pieces candies this time. I think it looks great.

Happy Solstice! We're celebrating tonight.  #winter #festivals #holiday #home #waldorfhome #traditions #sabbat #wheeloftheyear

I found these sunny beauties in my garden.

Solstice dinner #waldorfhome #winter #festivals #holiday #traditions #wheeloftheyear #solstice #sabbat

We had a yummy dinner of chicken chili, cornbread, salad, sliced persimmons. I love those persimmons because when you cut them crosswise you can see the eight seeds arrayed as a sun, one for each sabbat, making a beautiful wheel of the year. It tickles me to pieces. We also enjoyed apple cider with a lemon slice in it, which is divine, don’t ya know.

Solstice dog's raw beef/peanut butter birthday cake. He came to us three years ago. I love him so.  #solstice #dog #bff #winter

And I got it in my head to make my furry friend a meat “cake” for his “birthday,” which is really the anniversary of his arrival into our home. Solstice dog got a raw hamburger “cake” frosted with peanut butter and decorated with summer squash shavings. He loved it and it took him a long time to eat it. I love this dog, and I thank my lucky stars every day that he came to live with us.

Birthday boy #solstice #dog #bff #winter

Our fireplace was out of commission this year for reasons of clutter—ahem—so we made do with this simple feast and some reading aloud. (We’re in the middle of The Subtle Knife, by Philip Pullman.)

I love to mark the winter solstice in this way. It helps me feel the passage of time, and to honor the changes that come with the seasons and that happen within us. It’s a special moment of winter quiet, a pregnant pause before Christmas steals the show (and all our energy). And it’s ours.

I know some families for whom the Solstice is the main winter holiday. Sometimes I wonder what that would be like, but in our family we celebrate them all.

Welcome back, Sun!

Santa Lucia: Bringing the Light

I know we are a little late,  but Happy Santa Lucia! Asher's class will be singing and delivering treats today to all the classes,  K to 12. Wish I could be there.  #winter #festivals #holiday #santalucia #waldorf #sacramentowaldorfschool #waldorfhome #se

I particularly enjoyed Santa Lucia this year, knowing that Asher was studying saints in second grade and that his class would be visiting each class in the school, K through 12, to sing and deliver treats. The second graders wore white shirts and white tunics. The oldest girl in the class dressed as Santa Lucia with a crown of candles and led the procession.

We had to postpone the festival day at school because of a big storm front that moved through Northern California, dumping loads of rain and accompanied by high winds. For the first time that I can remember, school was closed. Here in the Sacramento Valley we simply do not get “snow days.” The school administrators and grounds supervisors were worried that some of our older trees might come crashing down in the storm on our 50+-year-old campus, and they didn’t want to take the chance of having any students on campus that day.

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For me, this was a blessing in disguise because I had injured my neck and had zero mobility, tons of pain, and a job to go to. Baking buns was really not possible in the midst of all that. When the festival was postponed until Monday morning, it was great news. I was able to rally on Sunday and made the best Lussekatter buns I’ve ever made.

39 Lussekatter for second grade for Santa Lucia Day #waldorf #sacramentowaldorfschool #waldorfhome #secondgrade #saints #baking

We were able to enjoy a lovely breakfast that morning. I wish I had some photos of the children going class to class. (When Lucas was in second grade, I was able to be there and got some lovely shots of the children all in white, singing and processing through the school. Lucas, as youngest boy, was dressed as a little gnome.) Alas, this year I had to be at work this year on that day. I’m sure they did a marvelous job of heralding the coming of the light and bringing good cheer to the school.

And as December is always full to brimming of important moments, we had our Winter Concert on the previous Friday night. The program is such that each grade, 3 through 12, performs, and some performances are a traditional part of the program. For example, the third grade always lights the menorah and sings some songs in Hebrew. The sixth grade always performs the sword dance.

This year, our seventh grade did something new and wonderful: with the help of some African drumming teachers, they performed a dance for the jungle goddess to encourage the growth and development of the coming child. Some of the students danced, and some were drummers. Lucas opted to drum, and he was far to the left, where we couldn’t see him at all.  We did not the greatest view of the stage, but I was happy because I was in a chair with my hurt neck and not sitting on a bleacher bench. Anyway, the dance and music were beautiful and exciting. It felt nice to have the energy of the concert punched up a bit with the drums.

African dance: Kakilambe #waldorf #sacramentowaldorfschool #12yearold #seventhgrade #christmas

7th- and 8th-grade choir at the Winter Concert at #sacramentowaldorfschool  This time I could see my son! #waldorf #music #seventhgrade

The seventh and eighth grades combined in a choir to sing as well. Lucas was front and center this time, which he didn’t care to be. He seems to be in a phase where he doesn’t much want to be onstage. (Later this year they will perform an opera and he has been assigned the role of director, for which he is grateful.) There is such a rich and varied curriculum at our Waldorf school. These students get to experience so many forms of art.

As a second grader, Asher didn’t perform this year, and he wiggled and squirmed the entire way through the concert. Ian and I enjoyed it very much. (Also, my neck is now much better.)

These are some of the ways we’ve been welcoming the light.

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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Happy Hanukkah!

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Hello!

I will spare you the details about how I’m behind on lots of stuff; it’s been a rough week. However, I’m feeling better and because of that my spirits are soaring! And all that stuff that’s piled up will get done eventually. More to come on Dickens Christmas Fair, tree hunting, St. Nick, and Santa Lucia.

Here is a post I wrote a couple of years ago, in case you’d like to make my Star of David window stars this week. Click the link for a detailed tutorial.

I’m wishing everyone a joyful holiday season filled with light, laughter, and peace on earth. Shalom.

2014 Family Vacation: Part 1, Science

It’s been more than three months since we returned from our week in Los Angeles in February. It was magical in all kinds of ways. I wish I’d written about it sooner, but life has been so complex and full.

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We started with a trip to the ScienCenter in L.A.

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It’s a beautiful museum.

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We got to see the Space Shuttle Endeavour in person! We knew it would be cool, but we didn’t realize how moving it would be to be in the presence of a real spaceship! It completed 25 missions into space, including the first service mission to the Hubble Space Telescope and the first mission to add a U.S.-built component to the International Space Station.

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I cried when I saw the photo of the Challenger crew. I remember exactly where I was when I learned of the disaster as a child.

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We also saw an IMAX movie about the International Space Station. Such an enormous achievement! It gives me some hope for humanity. We learned a lot about how the astronaut/scientists live aboard the station, and the work they’re doing there. We learned that the Russians have a very sweet and simple tradition. They honor each cosmonaut with the planting of a tree. (Google “cosmonaut grove” or “cosmonaut trees” to see some cool photos.)

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We also got to visit the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles, just across the campus, which has a great dinosaur exhibit. And we caught a gem and mineral exhibit too.

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There’s a hallway where you can walk past the paleontologists in a lab, working on fossils. Very cool!

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The Natural History Museum also has those weird taxidermied animal dioramas, with full-scale animals set in scenes depicting their natural habitats. They are fascinating and strange at the same time.

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And we caught a gem and mineral exhibit there, too. Asher really loves the crystals.

This was just our first full day in LA. The next three days we spent at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure park.

Valentine’s Day Catch-Up

Asher's finished valentines. His idea, design, and words. I did the writing for him. #valentine #holiday #son #waldorf #firstgrade #sweet

I know Valentine’s Day was two weeks ago, but we’ve been out of town on vacation, and then reentering work and school life. I won’t belabor it, but I do want to leave a picture of how we celebrated this year.

Expert valentine maker says, "Don't take my picture. It's in PROGRESS!" #valentine #son #papercrafts #holiday #homemade #love. #loveinthesuburbs

Asher made valentines for classmates. His teacher divided the class into groups and the children gave valentines to the other kids in their groups. It was so much easier making six valentines instead of 27!

Four new napkins for our Valentine's Day family meals #valentine #sewing #home #holiday #homemade #loveinthesuburbs

I did a little sewing, which I rarely do but really enjoy. I made six new napkins for our home.

New napkins #valentine #holiday #home #homemade #waldorf #loveinthesuburbs

Happy Valentine's Day! May love be forever increasing in your lives!

We had a lovely breakfast and dinner together, with a pretty table setting and the pathway of paper hearts leading from the boys’ bedrooms to the kitchen, which is something I’ve done for many years. I was thinking of not doing that this year because we were leaving on vacation shortly after and I thought I’d avoid the extra cleanup work. But then Asher told me the night before, “Mama, don’t forget to put all the hearts on the floor.”

For my sons

They got a couple of chocolates and a stuffed toy each. And mama-made valentines, of course.

Lucas, in sixth grade, had a Valentine’s Day Roman feast; they were finishing up a block on Roman history and celebrated with a toga-clad feast.

Wool Painting for Imbolc

We brought out the wool and made a little "wool painting" together for Imbolc. This was Asher's first time needle felting.

“If Candlemas Day be fair and bright, Winter will take another flight. If Candlemas Day be cloud and rain, Winter is gone and will not come again.”

This has been a weekend jam-packed with holidays and special events: Asher’s seventh birthday, Lunar New Year, Super Bowl today, and Imbolc, or Candlemas, and Groundhog Day. I have a post or two brewing, particularly Asher’s birthday celebration. Unfortunately, we’ve been pretty sick and down for the count for a couple of days.

Asher and I had some time this morning while Lucas and Ian were at basketball practice. We thought Imbolc would be a good time to bring out the wool roving and make something wooly and beautiful. There’s something soothing and lovely about the feel of warm, soft wool in your hands. Asher has never needle-felted before, but he was ready for it. We used a white wool base that I had felted into a rough oval at some time in the past. Asher got to choose the colors for our meadow scene. We worked together and I taught him how sharp and stabby the needle can be, and that we must be very careful. He seemed to enjoy the felting. It was fun making this little wool painting of sheep in a meadow with him.

Babies! #sacramentowaldorfschool #waldorf #farm #baby #sheep

Last week, one of the school sheep gave birth to two sweet lambs. We enjoyed a little bit of rain, too. These are some of the many blessings in our winter. What are your wintertime blessings?

Since today is quite fair and not rainy, I’m hoping that we have more weeks of (wet) winter ahead of us. We really need the rain.

If you’d like more info about this festival, I wrote about Imbolc last year here. And here is a little family ritual we did to focus on the hearth and home aspects of this Celtic holiday.

Happy Imbolc, or Candlemas, or feast day of Saint Brigid, Groundhog Day, or Super Bowl day! Whatever you do today, be sure to do it with people you love.

A Little Prayer for Rain

Slight Rain

“Let the rain kiss you. Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops. Let the rain sing you a lullaby.”  —Langston Hughes

Today. Some rain may fall today.

Our terrible CA drought. All this pale and red earth should be underwater. #drought #folsomlake #northfork #california #water

Almost two weeks ago, Jeff and I went for a hike up to the North Fork of the American River, where it flows into Folsom Lake. Water levels are so terribly low. All the pale and red dirt you see should be covered by the river.

Our terrible CA drought. North Fork of the American River at Rattlesnake Bar State Park, Newcastle, Ca. All this pale and red earth should be underwater. #drought #folsomlake #northfork #california #water

While the rest of the country freezes to death, California is so very thirsty.

 

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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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