We are very fortunate in that we are the lucky recipients of some really big gifts lately. Opportunities for family and personal enrichment seem to be falling out of the sky.

During the hottest part of Saturday afternoon, movers brought us a piano that is being given to us by Ian’s ex-step-family. It is a Kimball that Dan Sr., Ian’s sister’s father, purchased new in 1968. It was in Dan’s possession until about five years ago. What I hear is that he was a good musician and enjoyed playing it until he and his wife moved to an upstairs condo in Capitola. For the last several years, the piano has been at Dan’s sister’s home. A fall and a broken hip has resulted in elderly Aunt Rachel’s having to move to an assisted living home. Rachel’s family are selling, donating, and disposing of her things, including her home, to help pay for her long-term care. 

We were very touched to hear from Ian’s sister, Kellie, and his ex-step-brother, Dan Jr., that Dan Sr. wanted his piano to stay “in the family.” He hoped we might want it, and tearfully said he feels Ian has “always been like family” to him. Dan is understandably upset about the changes that are happening for Aunt Rachel, his sister, and he is frequently emotional since he had a stroke several years ago. 

So through old connections and the good will of some really sweet people, we now have a pretty, 40-year-old mahogany piano in our home. I do not play, but I have always wanted to learn. I always felt at a disadvantage when I was singing because I couldn’t plunk out my own part without help. I have held a secret hope that Lucas would learn to play someday. It seems to me that if you learn piano, nearly every other musical endeavor comes more easily. It feels like a tremendous windfall to have this instrument for the cost of moving and tuning it; we would never be able to afford one otherwise.

I know of another young boy who was in Lucas’s class last year and he plays. A music teacher comes to his home once a week and teaches Charlie piano and Charlie’s sister, the violin. I’m hoping to arrange for lessons for us to start this summer. 

So, in honor of kind people who gift us with wonderful opportunities to learn new things, I raise my popsicle in a toast: Thank you!

Done with Syria. Next?

I’ve just finished a small copyediting project about Syria. It was interesting and thankfully short. Arabic names are a bitch; transliteration produces all manner of variant spellings. I did not make a ton of money on the book and worked harder on it than I’ve worked on most projects in the last … um … six months or so, but as my freelance work has been spotty over the last several months, I’m grateful to have had the project. Now I am more convinced than ever that peace in that region of the globe is hopeless, although that was not the message of the book. 

I’m experiencing a lot of internal conflict over work and what I’m supposed to be doing with my time. On the one hand, I have a voracious appetite for work. I like working. I find it stimulating and rewarding. I like concentrating and solving problems, unraveling knots of words into a single, easy-to-follow thread. I like challenging myself and learning new things, which is truly the beauty of the work I do: Every project is different. There is always something to learn. And getting paid to work on books that I wouldn’t normally pick up to read for pleasure has the added bonus of forcing me to learn about things I’m not necessarily naturally inclined to learn about. It broadens my horizons, so to speak. Whenever I speak to other freelancer friends, I’m impressed by what they are doing, by how many clients they have, by how much hustling, networking, and marketing they do, by how much they work/earn (although direct conversation about money is rare). I’m impressed by their drive and ambition and success. I yearn for the same. I yearn to do more, earn more, learn more, be more. My immediate impulse at this moment is to email all my clients and ask for more work.

And yet …

I’m equally motivated by the needs of my family. I have two small people who can’t get along five minutes without me (or so it often seems). I have thoroughly enjoyed Asher’s babyhood thus far. Sometimes I get to take naps with him. We look at books together. We listen to music. In the afternoons when Lucas is home and not at the babysitters’, we enjoy the outdoors, go to the library, visit my grandmother, take walks, do art projects. These things are fun and fulfilling. I know that my children will grow up quickly. I am not willing to miss these early years. I think they do best when they are with me, and I’m grateful to have a supportive (literally and figuratively) husband and a profession that allows me so much flexibility to be with my kids. I also know that I would be a miserable wreck of a mother if I had to ship my children off to daycare full-time. I wussed out at the prospect of part-time daycare back in 2003 and have never looked back since. Some days I am able to slow down my brain and watch the butterflies drift across the yard. Some days I can take great pleasure in washing the dishes by hand with Lucas. I try to cultivate patience and peace by watching good things grow—vegetables, messes, and boys. They grow slowly. I am unable (and unwilling) to speed up the time. And so, my world turns slowly. 

Sometimes that slowness—the drowzy and dizzying days of taking care of children—is a welcome balm. And sometimes it makes me grit my teeth and feel corralled.

There is a metaphor about marriage that is a better metaphor for raising children. Ian and I have “hitched” ourselves to a cart full of precious cargo. We did it on purpose. We must ensure the cargo’s safe delivery to (hopefully) a happy and productive adulthood. We must choose our path carefully and not deviate from it randomly or without consideration. We must go slowly and steadily so as not to jostle or damage the cargo, or bounce it out and leave it by the wayside. We must make frequent rest stops and potty breaks. And although we might wish to run off together without the cart and cargo, we basically can’t—at least not until the cargo gets much farther down the path, and then only for a short break. And the cart won’t travel nearly so well with only one of us pulling, so we are hitched. It’s a good kind of hitched.


  • 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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