Good Saint Nicholas Visited


My boys put out their shoes last night in the hopes that St. Nicholas would visit on his feast day of December 6. In the morning we woke to this: shoes full of simple treasures. They each received a small pot of honey, rock candy lollies in Christmas colors, a chocolate in the shape of a Swiss army knife, and a small, bejeweled magnifying glass.

I admit it’s a challenge to continue to put in the effort involved in celebrating festivals at home. Life just seems to get busier and busier, and we’re always adapting. I find it’s also difficult to keep the festivals alive for younger children when their older siblings age out of them. However, Lucas obligingly threw his Converse sneakers down by the door at 10 p.m. last night, after some prodding on my part. Asher was all in at the first mention of St. Nicholas visiting.


How do you jolly your olders along to keep the magic alive for your youngers? I’d love to hear ideas! I’m grateful that my older son is still a pretty good sport, most of the time.

Discovering goodies at 0-dark-thirty is always a thrill, is it not?


The good saint visited the Waldorf school today, too, with his helper Rupert. Here is a photo of him in the Kindergarten (Thank you, Michelle!). Our kids are so blessed. Our beautiful school happily receives St. Nicholas and Rupert every year. They bring small treats to all the students in every grade in the school. Asher reports that he brought an orange and tiny chocolates to everyone in fourth grade. Nicholas prepares the way for the Sun child, who’s coming soon in the deepest part of winter.


Kind old man Saint Nicholas, dear,
Come into our house this year.
Here’s some straw and here’s some hay
For your little donkey gray.

Pray put something into my shoe;
I’ve been good the whole year through.
Kind old man Saint Nicholas dear,
Come into our house this year.

I’ve written about this simple festival for many years now. Feel free to search in the Archives window at the right for “Nicholas” and you’ll find the posts. Moreover, the St. Nicholas Center online has a gazillion pages of stories and info about this interesting patron saint of children, sailors, scholars, orphans, paupers, marriageable maidens, students, and victims of judicial mistakes. He’s a busy guy.

Advent & Saint Nichoals Festival E-Book

The Advent and Saint Nicholas Festival E-Book that I wrote with my dear Eileen is available here, at Little Acorn Learning. It contains loads of fun ideas.

I left for work today at 7:30. It’s been a long, tiring day of editing a high-speed train document, commuting, helping Asher with homework, managing a difficult but productive viola practice session, searching for a missing spelling list, asthma testing and meds, stories, emails, and now this little missive. I feel often like I’ve got so many juggling balls in the air right now, and keep adding more. But with each new one another ball drops. I’ve realized I need to refocus a bit more on providing supports for Asher. Although he’s quite good at doing a lot of stuff on his own, he needs more practice with spelling words and math, more practice with viola (he feeling really lost and left behind in strings class), and more assistance making sure his homework gets done. I’ve put reminders in my phone to help me help him. And no matter how tired I am in the evening, we need to attend to these things to establish a good rhythm. And all of this is part of a bigger effort to deal with Asher’s anxiety. The more prepared he is, the less he’ll feel anxiousI hope.

Motherhood. It ain’t for the faint of heart.


Our 2012

2012: The year that featured plenty of Big and Scary and Sad. I learned so much this year and I am grateful for all the opportunities and lessons it brought, although I often didn’t like learning them. I’ve watched us dig deep and come out older, wiser, and sadder but with a greater capacity to love.

mosaic 2012

Plenty of amazing and beautiful things happened, too. When I look through photos from the year, I see so much color, so much light, so much adventure, so much growth.

I asked my family what were the best parts of 2012 for them.

Lucas’s Favorities:
He got to ride the biggest roller coaster on the SC Boardwalk and do the Haunted House for the first time.
This Christmas—“What part?” I asked. “The Christmas part.” I think he means everything about Christmas.
The world didn’t end. He’s glad about that.

Ian’s Favorites:
He finished his second Tough Mudder at Diablo Grande in the California Central Valley.
Our family trip to Santa Cruz in September, when we visited the Monterey Bay Aquarium and the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk with Ian’s brother Danny.
Both of our summer camping trips to Grover Hot Springs with our beloved Barbarians and DL Bliss State Park with our Waldorf school chums.

Asher’s Favorities:
His. Own. Legos. And playing Legos any chance he gets.
Being an “Older” in Kindergarten and all the great responsibility that entails.
Playing D&D with Daddy and Brother. Playing with Solstice dog.
“Writing books. Annoying my brother. Getting presents from Santa.”

My Favorities:
Watching Lucas play Thor in the spring fourth grade play and Hanuman in the Ramayana in the fall.
Painting, especially my landscape class and how challenging it was.
Writing e-books and publishing festival e-books with Eileen at Little Acorn Learning.
I am closer now to some friends than before and that feels wonderful.
Celebrating so many lovely holidays with my family. Creating joy and memories.
My birthday wine-tasting excursion with my friends.
Family Clay Camp with my kiddos in the summer.

Happy New Year! May you find new richness in the everyday, new opportunities, new friends, and new delights in 2013. May you find peace and laughter, forgiveness and love for self and others.

Fourth Grade Trip to Malakoff Diggins

L at farm sepia

In May, before the end of the school year, Lucas and Ian got to go on the fourth-grade class trip to Malakoff Diggins, a California State Historic Park that was once a hydraulic mining operation in the Sierra Nevada mountains. Twenty-eight students, one class teacher, one Spanish teacher, and about ten parent volunteers/chaperones went for two and a half days. They dressed in Gold Rush period clothing, cooked their meals over an open fire, hiked, made rope, made candles, built their own benches for sitting around the campfire, learned about gold mining, danced, listened to a storyteller entertainer, and forged their own iron hooks. They had a marvelous time and came back filthy and tired, but very satisfied.


Boys at farm





The class made wonderful wood, tin, and plexiglass lanterns in school, so they would have a way to see at night. I’m told that the food was wonderful the whole time.




M gunslinger sepia


These are the cabins Ian stayed in when he was a boy, going camping with his mother and sister. Malakoff Diggins is very special to him and he jumped at the chance to chaperone. I’m so glad he got to do it, both for his sake and for Lucas’s sake. For Lucas, it was fun having his dad there to share in the adventure.


There was an old, old piano in the saloon. Lucas and some other students got to play it. They also played cards and ordered root beer from Ian, the barkeep. To get their second root beer, they had to tell Ian a joke, a fact, or a riddle.



I and S gunslingers sepia

Girls making rope





The blacksmith was amazing, according to Ian. He was a volunteer who, in his time of working with children at Malakoff Diggins, had helped over 10,000 kids make iron hooks like this one. He had his system down pat, with every child getting the opportunity to both work the bellows and hammer the iron hooks into shape. Isn’t Lucas’s hook terrific?

L trapper sepia

R and E sepia

The parents in attendance brought a wagon load of essential skills along to help: camping, cooking, nursing, building, child herding, and much more.



Everyone even tried square dancing and country dancing.



A few brave kids brought their guitars and played music around the campfire. I’m so impressed by this! These kids are so comfortable with each other, as they’ve been together since first grade (and some since preschool).

Lucas tired

This is how Lucas looked when he returned home after two and a half days—filthy and soooo tired.

These photos are just some of my favorite shots. I took a bunch of “before” shots on the morning they all left town, when the kids were clean, fresh-faced, and eager. Ian took all the wonderful photographs of the kids at Malakoff Diggins, for which I am so grateful. I had a TON of fun editing the photos when they returned, adding filters and making them look old-timey—something altogether new to me. Anyway, aren’t they the most beautiful children in the Wild West?

I am so grateful that my son got to experience this! Although every child in California studies California history in fourth grade, few get to immerse themselves in a Gold Rush era town for a few days, living and working like people used to do. These children, because of their Waldorf background, took to this stuff so easily. Make our own rope? Of course! My heartfelt thanks goes to the teachers and brave parents to took them. And thank you to Malakoff Diggins for having such a terrific program.

The Theft of Thor’s Hammer: Fourth Grade Play


Last month, my son’s fourth grade class put on their spring play, The Theft of Thor’s Hammer. It was a funny story and the children performed beautifully in two performances. I only have photos from the performance in which Lucas played Thor. Doesn’t he look mighty? I was so proud to see him try for a big part—the part he really wanted—and get it. He’s never put himself out there like that before. And boy did he! I think this part required quite a lot of courage. You’ll see why in a minute.


Here’s Freya, the goddess associated with love, beauty, fertility, gold (and sorcery, war, and death—don’t mess with Freya).

Frey, with Sif in the Background

And here’s glorious Frey, with Thor’s wife Sif, an earth goddess whose hair is “like golden sheaves of wheat,” in the background.

Angry Thor

See Thor’s grumbly, angry face? That’s ACTING. I love it. I also love the wool roving used for his hair and beard.


This darling child played Loki with such athleticism and feeling. Truly it was a joy to watch Loki’s antics.


Loki borrows Freya’s falcon feather cloak.

Loki and Thrym

In the play, the giant Thrym steals Thor’s hammer, Mjolnir. The Asir gods are imperiled if Thor doesn’t get it back. Thrym says he’ll return the hammer to Thor if Freya will consent to become his wife.

Freya Is Angry: The Gods Suggest She Marry Thrym the Giant

Several of the of Norse gods say this isn’t a bad plan. Freya, on the other hand, is highly insulted. She will not consent! (Go Freya!)


Thrym insists and waits eagerly for his bride.

Loki Confronts Thor

Loki suggests that Thor disguise himself as Freya to go get the hammer. This is not Thor’s favorite idea, but after his fury subsides, he reluctantly agrees.

Thor Dressed as Freya

Thor and Loki are dressed as Freya and her maid. The veil hides Thor’s manly visage.


Giants' Song

At Thrym’s home, the giants bumble about and sing a song. Thor-as-Freya is invited to a wedding feast, where he puts away a lot of food before unveiling his true god-self and bonking Thrym with the hammer. Mustn’t fight giants on an empty stomach, after all.

Mjolnir, Thor's Hammer, Is Back

With Mjolnir back in Thor’s possession, the world of the Asir gods is saved. Odin and the others are grateful.

Sick Day Together

Face Paint Crayons: Dragon Boy, Very Fierce

My guys were home sick today. They’ve picked up a cold and Ian and I are trying to deny that we have a tickle of it, too. Despite it, we had a good day. The boys were surprisingly cooperative both with me and with each other. They played with some of Asher’s new birthday presents, invented a kind of D & D game with Ian’s old dice, and did some chores. Lucas read and Asher did a lot of singing, improvising a song about gnomes and magic and adventure. They both wrote and drew in their journals.

Later they enjoyed painting each other’s faces with some new face paint crayons. As you can see, they were very fierce. Asher was a mighty dragon with wicked claws.

Face Paint Crayons

Lucas was a kind of magical warrior.

Face Paint Crayons

They were thorough. And cute.

Valentines in the Making

We also started the valentine making. This year, both Lucas and Asher need class sets of valentines for all their classmates. That’s 55 valentines, folks.


Asher’s valentines are pretty simple. (Keep It Simple, Sara!) We might add glitter later if we feel like it, and I’ll have to write “Love, Asher” on each of them. Lucas is doing his own thing this year. He’s not so keen to do a project. Mostly he wants to make cards and write on them himself. So, yay! Independence! I get to help a little by cutting out hearts.

We also practiced spelling words today, even though Lucas missed his quiz. We had exciting fruit smoothies for snack, with fresh pineapple and blueberries blended in. Lucas and I worked on our Gryffindor scarf knitting project a little, too. And we watched some “Shaun the Sheep.”

I worked a bit, in between activities, but not enough. So, back to chapter 9 then.

Kid-Made Star Wars Paper Dolls

The Good Guys (Lucas's "Origami Star Wars Characters" Paper Dolls)

This is Lucas’s most recent invention: Star Wars “origami,” aka paper dolls. He started with Yoda first on Thursday night. Then proceeded to make nine more lickety-split. It helped that we had a much-admired adult friend over for dinner that night, I think. Lucas enjoys impressing her.

"Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi. You're my only hope." (Lucas's "Origami Star Wars Characters" Paper Dolls)

“Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi. You’re my only hope.” (I love her hair!)

Luke and Droids (Lucas's "Origami Star Wars Characters" Paper Dolls)

Luke and the droids: I suppose we should have used a sand-colored Tatooine backdrop for this one.

C3-PO (Lucas's "Origami Star Wars Characters" Paper Dolls)

C-3PO is funny. You can almost hear him lecturing R2.

Lucas's "Origami Star Wars Characters" Paper Dolls

Lucas is proud of these paper creations. He helped pose them for these photos.

Darth Vader Fighting Luke (Lucas's "Origami Star Wars Characters" Paper Dolls)

Here’s Darth Vader fighting Luke.

Storm Trooper and Darth Vader (Lucas's "Origami Star Wars Characters" Paper Dolls)

The bad guys: Storm Trooper and Darth Vader. You might not be able to see it, but the Storm Trooper has a blaster in his hand.

Han and Chewbacca (Lucas's "Origami Star Wars Characters" Paper Dolls)

Somehow, these two, Han Solo and Chewbacca, have the most personality—just as in the film.

Lucas has seen only the first Star Wars film (Espisode 4). Nevertheless, Star Wars mythology features heavily in this 9-almost-10-year-old’s world. I think it’s beyond awesome that he makes his own Star Wars stuff to play with, since his stingy mama doesn’t buy SW toys.

<rubs hands wickedly like evil supervillain>

Shared Project: Gryffindor Scarf

Shared Project in Progress: Gryffindor House Scarf

Lucas and I have a shared knitting project going right now. Back before Christmas, we went to the yarn shop one day and he asked for gold and scarlet yarn to knit a Harry Potter Gryffindor House scarf for himself. (I know for a fact that Lucas makes a terrific Harry Potter.) I said no at the time, but went back later and bought him the yarn he wanted and gave it to him as a Christmas present. Then I suggested it might be fun for us to knit the scarf together, sharing the project as much or as little as he wants.

He jumped at the idea. He decided how wide it would be and what the stripes would look like: “Even, Mom. Even all the way.” We are just knitting garter stitch—nothing fancy. Although we started with 30 stitches, we now have 34. We have a couple of holes, too. None of that matters, though. What matters is that we are doing it.

Shared Project in Progress: Gryffindor House Scarf

So, we press onward despite mistakes and whatever.

The reason I suggested we share the project is so that he can have the experience of working on it and watching it grow. Lucas knits for a row or two and then puts it down. I knit to hopefully keep his interest in the project. I am thinking it will be rewarding and reinforcing to see the scarf coming along at a faster clip than he could do on his own. And he’ll be getting lots of practice.

We’ll file this under Experiments in Parenting, shall we?

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.

Fourth Grade Animal Report

Fennec Fox Report

Lucas is deep into his fourth grade animal report. He is actually done with all the hardest parts. The research is done, the report is written, edited, and the final draft has been done. It’s illuminated beautifully and lacks only an illustration and a cover design. Lucas consulted three books and a website to learn about the African desert fox.

Fennec Fox Report

These last two days before his deadline are dedicated to the art of his report. He has to model his animal in 3-D and create a diorama of the animal in its environment. We are working on how to make a desert scene.

Fennec Fox Painting in Progress

Lucas also has to paint his animal so the painting can be displayed at the front of the class during his oral presentation. He considered watercolors but elected to use acrylics and canvas for his painting. I didn’t see anything in the instructions barring this option, so that’s what he is working on today.


He paints with a sort of flair, I think. I love this kid!

He has lots more work to do still, but I’m so proud of how he has approached this extensive, multipart, multimedia project. I am proud of his skill and his artistic eye. I’m also delighted with how easily the writing portion went. I watch him unfolding and expanding and becoming more every day with astonishment and gratitude. Imagine—this amazing, soulful being came to us! And I am honored.

Finished Fennec Fox Painting

Harvest Faire Beauty

Welcome Sign (evening)

Two weekends ago we got to enjoy the Sacramento Waldorf School Harvest Faire and Children’s Festival. Every year I am struck by the amount of time and devotion our school community gives to this event. And their love and attention to detail is evident everywhere—in every nook and corner there is great beauty and intention. Here are a just a few beautiful scenes I caught on camera.


Visiting Alpacas Scene from the SWS Farm: Pomegranate Asher and Daddy Try Archery Arrows

Felted Dragon

Saint Francis Chalk Drawing

Pie Contest

Children's Store

Country Store Edibles

Country Store Children's Items

Waldorf Student Work


Ms R and Ms L Making Fairy Crowns

Handwork Yarns

Scene from the SWS Farm

X and Lucas Choose Weapons

I think I’ll just let the photos speak for me.

  • 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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