Halloween Time

I’m working up a post about our wonderful family vacation to San Diego, but it’s taking a fair amount of time and there’s just not that much free time these days. Some procedural things I used to do when writing a blog post have changed, and it seems like the new way takes longer. I don’t know.

Let’s see, it’s Saturday before Halloween, which is one of the best days of the year. Tonight we’ll be attending the 10th annual Shannon McCabe’s Vampire Ball, which somehow we’ve managed to miss until now. A Death in Bloom is playing two sets of music tonight, and Ian’s thrilled to be performing with them. He’s debuting a Cure cover, which he’s never done before. He’s all aflutter. I’m so fucking proud of him. He’s pursuing his music with dedication and determination, and it’s paying off!



So, soon I’ll put on my vampire clothes and get dolled up. It will be a fun night I’m sure.

Lucas, my lovely young man, went to a Halloween dance last night, dressed very smartly. “I don’t like costumes as much as you guys do,” he said, when I asked him if he needed a costume. (I remember when he did love costumes and cosplay as much as I do. We have to give him room to change.) Tonight he’s with friends, attending a haunted house and staying over.

My little guy got to attend a Halloween party last night. “Mom, I don’t want to wear the whole werewolf costume, just the mask.” He, too, used to be all about dressing up, and I have the evidence here and here and here.

That’s OK, though. They get to go through this phase, just like all the others. Asher’s a sixth grader now, and that self-consciousness is taking hold. It’s right on time, really.

I hope everyone has some deliciously spooky fun tonight or next week for Halloween. It’s one of my fav holidays.


Halloween, 2016

Start of the 2017 School Year


Our dear Lucas started tenth grade this year, in the last couple of days of August. He’s taking Spanish 1, Math 2, Chemistry, World History, English (focusing on literature), and PE. I’m thrilled with the literature curriculum: The Odyssey, Of Mice and Men, The Tragedy of Macbeth, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, A Raisin in the Sun, Lord of the Flies, and Fahrenheit 51. How fun is that!?


Lucas really seems to like high school, though he hasn’t always loved all of his classes and teachers. He’s strong, confidant, and has many friends. He’s committed to his schoolwork, and we’re trying to find the right balance between giving him his independence and supporting his efforts. (Parenting in a nutshell.) He is really enjoying riding his bike home from school some days, which is a 10-mile ride that takes an hour. Lucas is a wonderful guy and I’m super proud of him.


Our sweet Asher has started fifth grade. This year is quite different in that he has a new class teacher for the first time in four years. His beloved former teacher got the opportunity to take a class at the Waldorf school in her city, after four solid years of commuting an hour each way to work at Sacramento Waldorf School. We were sorry to see her go. Asher and she had a good bond. We wish her luck with her new class!

The new class teacher has a lot of energy and an upbeat personality. We don’t know her very well yet, but we’re hoping for a good year. Except in the weeks leading up to the start of school, Asher was feeling very nervous and sad that he can’t just stay home all the time, with all of his family and his fluffy dogs. Instead of feeling excited for new opportunities, he feels anxiety and dread. On the last day of summer break, he was beside himself with nervousness and sadness, so our strategy for the last few days before school started was to provide distractions galore.

If there’s a softer, more loving school for him anywhere, I don’t know where it could be.


On the first day, all of his buddies looked happier than he did.


Fortunately, we have a lot of friends there who love him very much. Neva always props him up and takes good care of him. I’m forever grateful.



We have a handful of new students in grade five, and they have a few new teachers (math, strings class) to get used to. These kids are a lively bunch!



That first morning handshake. Hello, Ms. Thorman!

In the almost two weeks since this first day, we have seen Asher relax a bit. He’s getting used to the new routine; knowing the rhythm, knowing what’s going to happen in a day makes all the difference. Asher still isn’t exactly comfortable yet, but I’m hoping this will come with time. He’s such a lovely, sensitive person, and I hope we can find a way to support him through this stuff.

Asher has decided to switch from strings class, where he was playing viola, to winds class. He has taken up the flute. This move was largely influenced by the fact that a number of his good friends switched instruments and classes this year. Although I really hoped he would stay with viola (because this is one of very few schools in California that teach strings and have orchestra), he’s pretty sure about his decision. (I think he would like to play the “jazz machine,” which is what he calls the saxophone. We have my old flute for now, though.) I think it helped him to have a choice in some part of his school day. So be it.

And there we are. Getting up earlier has been a bit tough. Both Lucas and I are not morning people. But we’re muddling through, feeling a bit tired from all the adjustments, and I think we’re all looking forward to the weekend!

Here’s to a great year! Blessed be!

August Days

The month of August seemed like a million, billion years long. It’s been the hottest summer I can remember. I read that while we in Sacramento don’t have the hottest summers in the U.S., we may have the sunniest summers. Which means no relief. Whatever. We’ve been sweltering for weeks, and frankly we’re all tired of it.

We got to go to a great punk show: Dropkick Murphys and Rancid. It was my first show at the Memorial Auditorium in Sacramento, which was built in 1926. Beautiful venue and a beautiful crowd. I may have been the only person there without any tattoos. We saw friends there, too!




On my mama’s birthday, August 21, we were gifted with a super-rare astronomical phenomenon: a solar eclipse. Although we don’t live in the path of the totality, we still got a very cool experience. Ian made a camera obscura so we could safely view the partial eclipse.


And we were surprised to have our friend Gary visit us and share his eclipse glasses with us! Not only was it lovely to see Gary, but his generosity enhanced the eclipse a lot.




No cool pics of the sun. I don’t have the equipment. We kind of hoped our dogs would act weird in some way, but no, they were entirely chill.

Later that day, Asher got to go to the movies with my mama, and then we cooked dinner for her and my dad.

Asher’s 10!


Well. This post is almost six months late. In late January, my baby son turned 10! We had a lovely celebration at home and then we took some of his best buddies to the movies. He chose to see Moana.



After the movie we went to Leatherby’s for food and ice cream. It was a lively meal. Some of these guys have known each other since preschool.



In January, we started Asher with viola lessons with Ms. S. She is such a wonderful music teacher. In just a couple of weeks she turned Asher’s experience of viola around from tears of frustration and embarrassment to accomplished playing. He stopped asking if he could stay home from school on orchestra days.

There are only a hundred million things I should have been writing about these last few months. I can only say that I guess I didn’t have it in me. Life is full and joyful and sometimes hard. This little boy is a delight almost every moment. Ten has been pretty great so far!

May Day Music


On May 3, our Waldorf school celebrated May Day. It was a perfect day. Not to hot, not overcast and cool. The community turned out to celebrate the turning seasons, schoolwork in full blossom, and the soon-to-graduate eighth-grade class. It was marvelous and inspiring, as it is every year.


(Photo by Melissa Sam Rainsford)

This year, our second graders had a part to play. They played a song on their flutes and sang, standing all in a large ring around the may pole. They were the prelude to the eighth-grade may dancers. My sweet Asher has learned to play the pentatonic flute!

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I’ve said this before, but these children are breathtakingly beautiful to me.


(Photo by Melissa Sam Rainsford)


(Photo by Melissa Sam Rainsford)


Second graders

They played and sang beautifully with movements to go with their songs. I’m so proud of them. You can tell some are very happy to be performing, and others hang back a bit, a little shy to be in the spotlight with the school community watching them. They are growing so fast.


(Photo by Melissa Sam Rainsford)

Honestly, I cannot get enough of this gap-tastic smile Asher has right now. It slays me every time he flashes it. I kind of hope his new tooth never comes in.

My littlest love at May Day

I love a boy with flowers in his hair.


The seventh grade played the music for the eighth-grade may dancers. Most were on soprano, alto, or tenor recorders, with one boy on tambourine and another teacher accompanying them on guitar. Lucas was fond of saying they had to play the same difficult, quick song 86 times. I try to remind Lucas that he can do all kinds of things I never learned to do. (My son plays piano, flute, recorder, and violin!) These kids are more impressive with each passing month. Next year, it will be their turn to don white clothes and flower crowns and dance! Be still my heart!

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Alas, I had a major camera failure and didn’t get any pictures of the beautiful dancers this year. Something is wrong with my Canon, either in the battery charging process or else the camera is draining the battery rapidly. I suspect that perhaps it’s not really off when I flip the switch to turn the camera off. I need to take it to a shop to be cleaned, checked, and repaired, but that will have to wait. (I daydream often about getting a new, better camera.) My trusty phone ran out of available space too, so, these are the shots I got. C’est la vie!

Much love to these musicians of all ages, to the dancers, to their parents, and the school community, who together support this amazing festival every year. It fills me up and makes me hopeful and happy every time I see it.

Reading Reward

Lucas just had his fifth piano recital. He played two fairly long pieces of music: the theme from Star Wars and “Colorful Sonatina,” with three movements. “Six whole pages of music!” he would like everyone to know.

Preparing for "Star Wars" Theme

Ready to Play "Colorful Sonatina"

We are so very proud of him. He worked hard for this one, and to ensure that he got in all the practice time he needed, I made a “14 Days of Music” chart to track his practice sessions. I put two rewards on the chart: one at seven practices for a dessert of his choice (cookies and cream ice cream) and one “book reward.” He worked for that book reward, having decided long before he achieved it that what he wanted was a Missile Mouse graphic novel.

After Piano Recital: Taking His Bow

This is my not-so-great shot of Lucas just after he finished playing. He was happy and relieved to have it behind him, I think, and proud of how well he played. After the recital cookies, we went straight to the bookstore to buy Missile Mouse. He came straight home and read it cover to cover!

Can you think of a better reward that a new book? No, I can’t either.

I love that my kid is motivated by reading books! Lucas has four different books going right now, I think. I don’t know if he switches between them when the reading gets difficult, or if he just enjoys having several different stories to dive into. Right now he’s reading The 39 Clues book 1, Stuart Little and a Jack and Annie Magic Tree House book (I have no idea which number). He also picks up grandma’s book about Samurai once in a while, which is way over his head but totally cool nonetheless.

He’s now pushing the books he has read on me and Ian. He thinks Ian would enjoy Missile Mouse. And for me, he recommends the Spiderwick Chronicles. “Mom, I think you’d really like this one. You should borrow my book and read it.” And you know what? I am. And I will, whenever he says that because it’s totally wonderful that he wants to share his discoveries. If we can geek out about the books we enjoy together, I’ll be a happy mama indeed!

Lucas at the End of Third Grade


It’s the end of the school year. There are four more days of school left and then it’s twelve weeks of summer vacation for Lucas. Normally at this time of year I’d be panicking, wondering what the hell we are going to do during twelve weeks “off.”

OK, the truth is, part of my brain IS doing exactly that because I am both full-time mommy and full-time professional editor. Try as I might, I have yet to figure out how to be fully effective at doing two vastly different jobs at once.

Twelve weeks. Somehow the camp options are fewer this summer, and I just know that there are going to be yawning weeks of hot, drawn-out days. You’ve heard me sing this song before. That’s not why I’m writing now.

Just now. This is why I’m writing. This exact moment I’m so awestruck by my child. My 9-year-old has me feeling just boggled, and not for any one thing, but for all of him.

Today he brought home some of his third-grade schoolwork. Not reams of mimeographed math problem practice sheets, but his own watercolor paintings. His crocheted potholder. His hand-carded, handspun and plied yarn.

While Ian was preparing dinner, Lucas was out in the backyard, shooting homemade arrows at targets with his most recent handmade bow.

During dinner, Lucas told us the story of Moses and the Hebrew people wandering the in the desert. This was a treat for us because he doesn’t always want to talk about what’s going on at school. I marveled at how parts of the story were so well-crafted, as if he had absorbed whole phrases of the narrative word for word because the pictures in his mind responded to them. He also told us he got to shovel manure today—and that he’s aware he’ll be doing a lot of that sort of thing next year because the fourth grade does the animal chores on the school farm. We discussed how interesting the Norse myths will be next year.

After dinner tonight, he played for us a piano sonatina. It has three movements and is about six pages of music, with plenty of repeats and codas. His sonatina is not perfect. Some sections are played faster than others. There are rough patches that we hope he will iron out through practice before his next piano recital in a couple of weeks. But, damn! My kid just made music out of nothing but his knowledge and skill and feeling.

Who is this capable being standing before me?

I cannot promise to be the perfect, carefree mom all summer. I will not promise to keep him entertained through the dog days. All I can promise is to try to meet him where he is now, which is most certainly not where he was a year or a month ago. Now is new, and brave and capable and lovely.

Family Rituals: After-Dinner Disco

Asher Dancing

We all love to dance, but somehow it was our younger son who galvanized this passion into a family ritual. We didn’t set out to make it a regular part of our family life, but before long it was. We hold After-Dinner Discos—dance parties for four that let us all cut loose for a while and get the dishes done. They are one of my favorite family activities.

We finish dinner around 7 p.m. on most nights. My boys go to bed at 8 and they usually shower before bed. Most of the time, we have a lovely 10- or 15-minute window after dinner and we crank up the music and boogie. When the daylight stretches longer into the evening, I confess we party even more, and our dancing spills out into the backyard under the sky.

What kind of music, you ask? Truly, it’s not lyres and pentatonic flutes. The music we play depends on a lot of things: What mood are we in? Is it a night near a holiday? Have we been talking about anything over dinner that brings to mind a song, a style, or a period of history?

Around St. Patrick’s Day, we all kick up our heels to the Pogues, Black 47, and the Chieftains. During Christmas time, we enjoy the Pandora online radio station called “Christmas Lounge.” At Diwali, we might put on some Bollywood film music. We dance to Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra and Aretha Franklin. We shake our booties to Lady Gaga, Cher, and Pink. My older son loves the White Stripes. The little guy loves the Beatles, Bob Marley, and Shakira. I’m fond of Michael Franti and OK Go, and Sting’s music has always been close my heart. My husband is a true musical aficionado, and he always has a fine suggestion for us. Perhaps it feels like ’80s night, or maybe a little big band music fits the bill. We sometimes play a CD called “AM Radio Hits of the ’70s.” Maybe it’s time for some Goa trance or techno. Did you know you could party to a fabulous, techno remix of an autotuned Carl Sagan lecture called “A Glorious Dawn” by Symphony of Science?

My younger son, who is now 4, feels music in his very bones. He’s really got moves, and he’s serious about it, too. He works on a new dance move for a while until he gets it to where it feels just right, to where it’s a facile part of his physical repertoire. Then he works on the next thing. Sometimes I see him mimicking one of us, working out how to make his body do the same thing. There’s no instruction of any kind, and it’s not mechanical or rigid—it’s just a natural learning about his body in space, how it feels to move through the air or place his feet just so. You should see his rock star power slide on his knees.

And he is driven to dancing to just about anything. Beethoven and Mozart work just as well for him as Katy Perry. When the spirit moves him, there’s no standing on the sidelines allowed: “Dance! Mama, Dance!” If I let a little too much of my attention stray to cleaning up our dinner mess, I hear about it. “Mama! You’ve gotta dance with me!” And heaven forbid I’m feeling under the weather. “Mama, I know what will make you better. Let’s dance!”

My older son’s dancing has changed over the years. The carefree quality of his young childhood is moving away gradually. Now, at 9 years old, he sometimes performs Eurhythmy he has learned in school, or attempts some fancy footwork, like a made-up jig or tap routine. He likes to head-bang to electric guitars (which pleases Daddy to no end), and I’ve caught my son playing the air guitar more than a few times. More often than not, these days, my older son’s dancing is morphing into a kind of acrobatic martial art of his own invention, with high kicks and blocking stances. He spins, punches, and dodges imaginary assailants in time to the music.

Before I had children, I used to imagine I’d one day be one of those moms who drives her daughters to frequent ballet lessons. I don’t do that (although if my sons asked, I would). Having boys doesn’t mean I can’t share the gift of music and dance with them, no matter the cultural forces that suggest that boys don’t dance. What better way is there to bring our family together after our long days than to crank up the tunes, revel in our bodies’ abilities, and express ourselves through dance? To get our hearts pumping and put smiles on our faces? What better way is there to have fun and celebrate life?

Ring Solstice Bells!

full moon

Oh, I am a little bit excited! Happy Solstice! I don’t know whether to read poetry or rush outside to try to capture the Lunar eclipse with my camera. We didn’t do too much to celebrate ~ apart from spending the day all together, working on our various Christmas projects, making art, relaxing, running through the leaves, and listening to some wonderful music tonight. (Thank you Jethro Tull!) The kids and I read The Winter Solstice, a picture book by Ellen Jackson.

Where exactly is the nearest bonfire?

Ring Out, Solstice Bells” by Jethro Tull

Now is the solstice of the year,
winter is the glad song that you hear.
Seven maids move in seven time.
Have the lads up ready in a line.

Ring out these bells.
Ring out, ring solstice bells.
Ring solstice bells.

Join together beneath the mistletoe.
by the holy oak whereon it grows.
Seven druids dance in seven time.
Sing the song the bells call, loudly chiming.

Ring out these bells.
Ring out, ring solstice bells.
Ring solstice bells.

Praise be to the distant sister sun,
joyful as the silver planets run.
Seven maids move in seven time.
Sing the song the bells call, loudly chiming.
Ring out those bells.
Ring out, ring solstice bells.
Ring solstice bells.
Ring on, ring out.
Ring on, ring out.

And here’s one more, that suits my frame of mind on this darkest night.

“Lord of the Dance” (Traditional)

I danced in the morning when the world was begun
I danced in the moon and the stars and the sun;
I was called from the darkness by the song of the earth,
I joined in the singing and she gave me birth.

Dance, then, wherever you may be!
I am the Lord of the Dance, said he,
And I’ll lead you on, wherever you may be, I will lead you all in the Dance, said he!

I sleep in the kernel and I dance in the rain,
I dance in the wind, and through the waving grain,
And when you cut me down, I care nothing for the pain —
In Spring I’ll be Lord of the Dance again!

Dance, then, wherever you may be!
I am the Lord of the Dance, said he,
And I’ll lead you on, wherever you may be, I will lead you all in the Dance, said he!

I see the maidens laughing as they dance in the sun,
I count the fruits of the of the harvest, one by one;
I know the storm is coming, but the grain is all stored,
So I sing of the dance of the Lady and the Lord.

Dance, then, wherever you may be!
I am the Lord of the Dance, said he,
And I’ll lead you on, wherever you may be, I will lead you all in the Dance, said he!

We dance ever slower as the leaves fall and spin
And the sound of the Horn is the wailing of the wind;
The Earth is wrapped in stillness and we move in a trance,
but we hold on fast to our faith in the dance.

Dance, then, wherever you may be!
I am the Lord of the Dance, said he,
And I’ll lead you on, wherever you may be, I will lead you all in the Dance, said he!

The sun is in the south and the days lengthen fast,
And soon we’ll sing for the winter that is past,
Now we light the candles and rejoice as they burn,
and Dance the dance of the sun’s return.

Dance, then, wherever you may be!
I am the Lord of the Dance, said he,
And I’ll lead you on, wherever you may be, I will lead you all in the Dance, said he!

They cut me down, but I leap up high!
I am life that will never, never die.
I’ll live in you and you’ll live in me—
I am the Lord of the Dance, said he!

Dance, then, wherever you may be!
I am the Lord of the Dance, said he,
And I’ll lead you on, wherever you may be, I will lead you all in the Dance, said he!

The moon in her phases and the tides of the sea,
the movement of Earth, and the seasons that will be
Are rhythm for the dancing and a promise through the years—
The Dance goes on through joy and tears.

May your homes be full of love and light. May you find a moment to nurture your own inner spark, that source of all of your own inspiration, generosity, compassion, and love. Let it shine in the darkness!

This Moment: Music-Making

Piano Practice
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.

  • 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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