Zoo Day

Sacramento zoo

Yesterday we spent a little time at the Sacramento Zoo. We haven’t been in a while and I think the last few times the kids were there, they were with either just Ian or with their grandparents. It was a lovely hot day and we were grateful for all the beautiful shade. The zoo really is nice now—much more beautiful and comfortable for the animals than it used to be 30+ years ago when I was a child.

My monkeys and some chimps


The giraffe enclosure and viewing platform is really top-notch.


Improbable zebras

What can I say? I love the zebras.

I enjoyed the hornbills and the white handed gibbons. The snow leopard looked uncomfortably hot. I was sad to learn that the daddy tiger Castro has cancer and is undergoing treatment. The baby tiger that was born at the zoo earlier this year still has not made his debut to the public.

Spider and fly

Here is Spider Lucas attacking Asher Fly.

Zoo day with my fellas

The boys enjoyed the reptile house. Asher was delighted to see tree frogs and snakes with skin his favorite color—chartreuse!

We were all kind of enchanted by the burrowing owl, who had a mouse that he was snacking on and then hiding, then snacking on some more.

Frog on toadstool

My wee froggy on a toadstool.

Kissing cousins

I have some ambivalent feelings about zoos, in general. I think that personal encounters with wild creatures and nature is the only thing that can make a person really care about conservation and environmental protection. At 11, Lucas is now able to see some of the injustices in the world, take them in and form opinions, and react. It’s good to give him experiences like this, instead of me just telling him that people destroy ecosystems and wildlife.

We renewed our zoo membership. I hope to take the kids a few more times this year. Maybe we can meet friends there this summer for a day of hanging out. I am working hard on my list of things to do this summer, as school lets out this coming Friday!



We were blessed with wonderful house guests this past weekend—friends who were willing to fall into our family rhythm and enjoy some simple pleasures like home meals and nature walks.


There’s nothing like Sacramento in April.

Rope swing in the woods

We were able to show them a bit around our neck of the woods, with Lucas bravely leading the way and showing us what all the Waldorf kids know about this stretch of the American River Parkway—like this awesome rope swing …


… and Grandfather Oak, which is simply enormous.


We marched along the cliffs, watching bathers in the river below. Christyn and I geeked about wildflowers a bit. Lucas showed us all the wild fennel. Asher made sure we were aware of the area the kids call “Coyote Cafe.”


We found the pond and watched some Canada geese. Asher got stuck in some deep sloppy mud and Lucas rescued him. Big brothers are great like that!


On the way back we saw a handsome rattlesnake in our path. It was at least three feet long. Lucas saved us then, too, for he was the one to spot it. We were fortunate our fluffy dog was too ditzy to notice and try to mess with it.

Iris Farm

After a superb brunch of Dutch baby (pancakes) with fresh fruit, during which we scientifically compared Brian’s family recipe to one from the Organic Family Cookbook, we lazed about for a while and then drove up the hill to the Horton Iris Farm.

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It was really fun to share this place with my boys and my friends. Christyn, Brian, and I share a love of gardening and chatting about plants with them was wonderful. We enjoyed finding some unusual specimens.

Main Street

I ordered this one for later this year. It’s called “Main Street.” I also ordered one that Lucas really liked, “Persian Berry,” and “Fade to Black,” which was Ian’s pick. I wrote down about a dozen names of irises I loved.

Brian and Christyn and us at Horton Iris Farm


I haven’t been to Horton Iris Farm since last May when I went with my mom. I bought her a yellow iris as a gift.

Anyway, it was a lovely, relaxing weekend and I’m still trying to gear up for all the tasks ahead of me this week. Hope you enjoyed the phone photos. Happy Earth Day, everyone. (We’re going with Earth Week around here.)

Drawing Animals with Children


Winter days can be long and dreary if you don’t find happy ways to pass the time together indoors. When weather is especially inclement, take the opportunity to sit down with your children and draw. Even if you don’t consider yourself to be artistic, your children will most likely be delighted to have you by their side, making art. The impulse to create is so very strong in children. As parents and caregivers, we can nurture their creative impulse by modeling creative behavior.


  • paper
  • block crayons and stick crayons
  • inspiration photos from books or Internet
  • a story about animals in wintertime, perhaps


Take a little time to play with the crayons. Experiment how you can make different kinds of strokes and lines. Block crayons are beautifully suited for shading, blending, and giving dimension to your pictures.

Donna Simmons, author of Drawing with your Four to Eleven Year Old, says “By pressing firmly or lightly, you can achieve both depth and movement in clouds or sea, for example. Wavering strokes of red, yellow and orange can bring fire to life. Direction of stroke can also emphasize muscling or roundness in animals, depth in caves, or distance of, say, mountains in the background.” Her book holds specific tips for drawing in Kindergarten through Fifth grade Waldorf curriculum.


Picture books or books with lots of inspiring photographs are always nice to have around. We found this fox photo online and drew using it as our example.

Lucas Drawing

Lucas's Fox in the Snow (Age 9)

My 9-year-old’s drawing of the fox in the snow

My Fox in the Snow

My drawing of the fox in the snow

Here are some general drawing tips for children:

  • Avoid outlining.
  • Aim to capture the mood or movement of your subject, not the superfine detail.
  • Young children need not worry about eyes, whiskers, nose, etc.
  • Try to find your subject’s major shapes: where are the circles, ovals, triangles, and rectangles? Use these instead of outlining to avoid adding too much detail too soon.
  • Block out where the figures will fit on the page to help make them large and bold. Some children resist using the whole page.
  • Finish your picture with a decorative border.

Lucas's Owl at Night (Age 9)

My son’s drawing of an owl at night

You may find that you need to lead by example. After story time, try drawing an animal in your story. Or while your child is having free time, try drawing beside him or her. Encourage your child if he or she chooses to draw with you. “I like to be with you like this.”

Avoid saying things that imply a judgment of the child’s work (“good drawing,” “sloppy drawing,” etc.). Instead try to find something that you can comment on that feels neutral. “I wonder if that fox has cold feet.” or “What a fluffy coat it has!” Nor should you say that your own drawing is “bad” or “didn’t turn out right.”

My Chipmunk Drawing

Practice and your own drawings will improve. We are all learning as we go.

Display drawings made by your child. A wooden “card stand” works well for displaying small drawings. A cork board works nicely for larger ones. Refrigerators are a good standby, too, for showcasing family art. And never underestimate the delight a child will feel if you should put his or her artwork in a real frame.

Back to School and January Roses

January Rose

Monday morning. The boys went back to school today after a two-week winter vacation. Suddenly the house is quiet and the little dog is wandering around. He’s gone back to Asher’s bed to snooze five times now.

It has been a marvelous two weeks. Plenty of rest and play, plenty of knitting and painting and gardening, plenty of little brown dog.  We have also had plenty of bickering, having to share, and learning how to get along and what to do/not do when you’re not getting along. Although this part isn’t sweet and peaceful and the stuff of most blogs, it’s also important family work.

Lucas bravely walked out the door this morning with all his fourth-grade animal report and two eager helpers (Daddy and Asher) to carry it all. It is a paper report, a 16 by 20 acrylic painting and a diorama of the fennec fox in its habitat. It turns out the report is actually due tomorrow, but I think he’s so happy and relieved to have it done.

My Boy

Fennec Fox Diorama

Fennec Fox Diorama

For his diorama he used brown paper (which came to us in a package as packing material) to simulate desert sand dunes of the Sahara Desert in Africa and a fennec fox burrow. He sprayed the paper with spray adhesive and then carefully sprinkled sand over the whole thing and a little bit of sawdust. The fennec foxes are made from Sculpey clay and painted with craft acrylics. More (unbaked) Sculpey clay and some grasses complete the environment. I think it looks great!

This weekend we did a lot of project work and also quite a bit of household reorganization. We weeded out some books for the used book store and Ian tackled the craft/game closet and reorganized it. It’s lovely that he did that because I sometimes have a hard time letting go of things “that we might someday need.” My office needs the same kind of attention. I worked in the garden a bit, pruning the roses and other shrubs, watering, etc. We’re having such a warm winter (I guess to balance our cool 2011 summer?) that I’ve had to water. No rains have come yet and we have roses blooming in January. I have some more planting to do and hope to pick up a few bare-root roses that typically appear in the shops this time of year.

I’m starting a new work project today. The timing couldn’t be better. The quiet of today feels blissful. I can hear myself think again.



These days are drifting by me. My children still have a few days of winter break left, and we are in a sleepy sort of stillness here. There are arguments, of course, and normal life chores to do, but we are also lounging more, playing more, reading more. Although the weather doesn’t feel all that wintery, we’re still deep in the quiet stream of short days and long nights.

Now that the excitement of the holidays is passed, we can just be. So far, I’ve been able to relax into this period of rest. Perhaps it’s because I’ve been sick, and so sleeping in late or spending time on the couch with a book seems good and justified. NOVA programs are my good friends right now.

New-to-Us Playstands

There are walks and visits, overnights with friends, and, just a few days ago, we enjoyed an epic New Year’s weekend of homemade roller disco and hours upon hours of delicious social time. We play with new toys and eat together and find moments to sift through belongings, then let items go to others who need them more than we do. The boys’ scooter and trike have had extra workouts this week. These activities are comfortable and easy to me, despite the child-made sound effects and the bickering. I don’t know if my expectations for this time are higher or lower than normal, but whatever it is, it’s working. I feel rather like I’m mentally hibernating.

Today I felt the first inkling of the What-If Harpies, which arrived with some news. They started in with their usual doomsaying. I told them to go away. I’m too busy resting to worry right now.

Squirrel Eating My Plants

This afternoon I watched a fat, robust squirrel drink from my birdbath. He approached boldly as though he does this every afternoon, which he may very well do. I’ve just never seen it before. I watched him drink his fill, then hop down, rip a bit off a nearby garden plant and then sit atop a rock and eat it as his salad course.

Solstice at Rest

I have a new, light-brown shadow. It seems as though this little foundling dog is staying with us. We have had not a single nibble, despite our efforts to find his family. Not even a mistaken call from a worried pet-owner hoping we have found her pet. Ian went back to work yesterday and in his absence the little dog stayed by my side all day long. He likes to cuddle or sleep beside me; if I move, he’s up and ready to go along. He does not wish to be left behind. I have so much to learn about having a dog. And yet this tethered feeling is very familiar.

The truth is Solstice is a joy for us all. I’m hoping hoping hoping that my illness is illness and not a bad reaction to him. The doctor gave me meds today for a sinus infection, so I guess if I start to feel better, that’s a good sign that my condition isn’t being caused by the dog.

First Sweater in Progress (Knitting Top Down)

First Sweater in Progress

I’ve faked my way through knitting about a quarter of my first sweater. I’ve flubbed a bunch of things, but also used a number of techniques for the first time. I consider that progress. I wonder what my mother will say when she sees it. She is both my cheerleader and teacher in this sort of thing. I’ve arrived at the body portion with too many stitches and a hole where I clearly dropped one, and yet I press on. I like the colors a lot and I am kind of astonished at the beautiful stripes that are appearing as I work. This sweater is for Asher. I figure there’s about a 20 percent chance I’ll finish it and a 2 percent chance he’ll wear it. But … if I did … and if he did … wouldn’t that be wonderful?

I’ll leave you with this sweet and insightful post by Team Studer: 25 Rules for Mothers with Sons because it made me feel nostalgic and appreciative of everything my sons are and are becoming. And now a walk I think, and then perhaps some tea …

Waldorf School Farm in Spring

School Farm

I’ve been so busy that I’ve not had a lot of time to write lately. But while I’ve been working, spring has sprung! I did sneak away with Asher last week to visit the Sacramento Waldorf School farm in the late afternoon.

My Four-Year-Old Wunderkind

We wanted to see the black butterflies on the yellow flowers …

School Farm: Pyramid Greenhouse

the seedlings in the pyramid greenhouse …

Lucky Pony

Princess the pony, grazing by the American River …

Lettuce Growing on School Farm

rows and rows of glowing lettuces …

Princess and Honalea

Honalea, the school cow …


calla lilies growing in the shade …

School's Baby Lambs: Milkshake

Milkshake and Licorice

But most of all, we went to see the baby lambs, Milkshake and Licorice. Asher says, “They are a-DOH-able.”

Happy spring!

Snake Dragon Bunny

“I am a fluffy snake dragon bunny,” Asher said.

“Do you have a fluffy tail or a long tail?” Daddy asked.

“I have a fluffy long tail.”

“Do you have ears like a bunny or no ears like a snake?”

“I have ears like a bunny,” Asher said.

“What part of you is like a snake?” inquired Daddy.

“My feet.”

Turkey Day

Turkey Hen: Love the Red Wattle

This Moment: Asher and Barley

This Moment: Asher and Barley

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.

Sunday Nature Walk

We took a little nature walk last Sunday, after we were reunited. The boys had spend the night before at Grandma’s and Papa’s house and it seemed like a little quality time outdoors would be just the right thing.

I Love Moments Like These

Moments like these fill up my heart. In the future, when we’re having disagreements or struggles, I hope that such photos will remind us how much love we have always shared.

Young Buck 3

We were lucky to come across this handsome young buck.

Oak Branches Woodpecker Zoomed

My eyes were peeled for signs of autumn, which I found in yellowing oak leaves and blue-gray October skies. This was an industrious woodpecker!


Most things are dry and gone to seed; this yellow flower is being watered at the Nature Center.

Turkey Hen: Love the Red Wattle

Love this turkey hen’s bright red wattle.

Mushroom Dried

Yellow leaves, yellow grasses, yellow flowers, and a yellow fungus.

Asher Watches the Deer

This little doe crossed the path behind us. We got a great look at her as she leaped away.

Shed Snake Skin!

Other hikers had told us of a big rattlesnake on the trail and three of us tried hard to find it. Asher thought that was a terrible idea. We never saw the snake, but found this great discarded snake skin.

Leaf and Pond

So many beautiful sights to see! More on my Flickr.

My Family Grinning

Even though we were hungry when we finished, I think our walk was a huge success.

  • 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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