Thankful for Some Downtime


Over Thanksgiving vacation, we escaped town for a little family vacation in Guerneville, CA. Ian found us a cute little flat via Airbnb that was just big enough for the four of us and our two little dogs.

Happy Thanksgiving from a cozy flat in the redwoods with puppies and boys and board games and Murphy beds and head colds and knitting and a fake fireplace and pumpkin pie. So much to be grateful for. Sending out our love to all people everywhere.

The weather was rainy and we all caught a cold, so our adventuring was circumscribed. Nevertheless, we had a lovely, low-key time. We read, played board games, and watched movies, while we sniffled and coughed and sneezed together. I know it’s kinda weird to be grateful for some slow, easy sick time, but it was nice not to have to worry about missing school or work, and just allowing ourselves time to rest and recouperate.

I’m not a huge fan of board games, but we played Pandemic for the first time and I really liked it. It’s a cooperative game in which all players must work together to save the world from diseases.

We did not save humanity from the Pandemic, but we have a strategy for next time.

We took a few walks around the neighborhood, visited the local roadhouse on Thanksgiving Day and had a lovely nontraditional meal. Asher picked fried chicken and waffles, which I think he’s never ordered before. I had a nice butternut squash pizza. The beer and cider were delish and it meant that we didn’t have to stress about trying to cook a “proper” holiday meal in a foreign kitchen.

Garden Mandala No. 84 Thankful #autumn #mandala #mandalaart #leaves #landart #gardenart #gardenartflowers #found #travel #thanksgiving #prayers #camellias #gratitude #redwoodsorrel #redwood #maple

Here’s the Thanksgiving mandala I made by gathering items from the ground and the verge in the redwood neighborhood of our little flat. This is mandala number 84.


We packed ourselves, our dogs, and several boxes of tissues in the car and drove out to the beach at Jenner on Friday. We didn’t stay long; nobody was feeling great. But this walk on the beach was soothing and fun. Even though most of our vacation was cuddly, cozy time, this excursion was a highlight.

Goat Rock Beach


Such a pretty beach! I wish I could visit the ocean every month.


This one guy I know doesn’t much care to be photographed these days.

Silly Pippin

This guy acts surprised and delighted every time he’s included on an adventure.


Armstrong Woods, Guerneville

On our final day off, after checking out of our flat, the rain let up and the sun came out. We stopped at Armstrong Woods for a little walk before driving home. Asher is very fond of forests, you see.


So it wasn’t exactly the vacation we had envisioned, but it was lovely nonetheless. And now it’s a whole month later. They boys are dragging through the last couple of days of school before Winter Break. We’ll make it. And come Boxing Day, all will be cuddly cozy again.

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.


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




It’s a beautiful museum.


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.



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.


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.)


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.


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




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.


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.

Giving Thanks


Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you’ve all had a wonderful holiday. I warn you, this post is going to try to do too much.

Thanksgiving vacation has been all in all pretty great. It started a day early with my grandmother’s funeral services. That first weekend was full and emotionally difficult, but the funeral services eased into an early Thanksgiving family gathering (Ian’s family this time), where people were kind and gentle to me and let me slide on everything because I was sad, and then a party at my home for Tony and our local November birthday girls. My friends made it soooo easy for me to host that party by helping to prepare my house. Once I got over being embarrassed by the neglected state of things, I let go and allowed them to make the place sparkle and shine. When the day of the party came, I just got to sit back and enjoy having my home full of lovely, friendly people. Many, many thanks to Lady K and Jami for making it so perfect.


I got to do two trail runs with Stacy. She is a super running partner for me—very encouraging and she has introduced me to the joys of running on the trails instead of the street. We’re evenly matched, and that means I don’t have to worry about holding her back, and vice verse. Running near the river means we get to see vistas and oak trees, deer trails and sparkling sunshine. This fills my heart as much as the running does.

Sunday's trail run

While they had time off, the kids and I did some normal stuff, like shoe buying and errands. We had lunch with Papa and Uncle Mike one day. I couldn’t help but think I should go and visit my grandmother, but … the time for doing that is done.

Running with my boys; I think we're ready for tomorrow's 10K.

We went running at Del Campo high school’s track on the day before Thanksgiving. We were getting ready for The Run to Feed the Hungry the next day. Thanksgiving morning dawned and we four went to East Sacramento to run a 10K. My goal was to run together as a family, keeping to our six-almost-seven-year-old’s pace—run when he could run, walk when he wanted to walk. It kind of worked and kind of didn’t. I kind of got the experience I had hoped for, but … well, let’s say that Ian was right and I was wrong and it is evidently too hard for fast boys to slow down enough to meet mama’s family experience agenda. We’ll chock this up to experience; I don’t actually know if we can do this event together again.

Asher ran 5.5 miles. We walked the rest and I’m so proud of him. He was absolutely determined to run, and lots of people cheered him on all along the course.


Here we are after the race. There were approximately 30,000 people there. The weather was perfect. The mood, festive. The course started and finished at Sacramento State University and looped through lovely East Sacramento. It was nice and flat.


And let me boast a moment by saying that running this 10K was an incredible accomplishment for me, personally. I’ve never been able to run this far in my life. I am slow, but the training I’ve been doing these last two months has paid off.

A big part of why I’m pushing so hard to rewire my brain about exercise is because I see how naturally movement and athletics comes to my family. I see how much joy they derive from using their bodies and I want very much to be a good role model for them. I also want to be physically capable of doing things they like to do. They have inspired me to be better about this aspect of my life.

Anyway, Thanksgiving. We went to my parents’ home for Thanksgiving dinner and enjoyed a few hours with them and my brother and his girlfriend. It was relaxed and easy, and just what I needed.

Today's trail run

IMG_20131130_112814 IMG_20131126_051325

Sorry, more trail run pics. (Stopping just a sec to take a photo is fun and then I have pretty evidence that I really did it.) Stacy doesn’t seem to mind. We ran yesterday morning I am thrilled to keep going even after meeting our race goal.

Mom and Dad, and Mom's sibs and sibs-in-law, minus one

We visited with my mother’s side of the family yesterday, too. Her brothers were in town visiting, so we got all five siblings together. Many thanks to my cousin Emily and her husband Mike for hosting. The shape of our family has changed and it was nice to meet all the kids and get them together. It was sweet how well they got along!

The "grandkids"

Asher and I have been reading a lot about Pilgrims, and the “first Thanksgiving” of 1621, which is entirely mythologized in our American culture. We’ve read about the time when the Wampanoag encountered the colonists at Plymouth, Massachusetts, who were able to settle the area because the former occupants, the Patuxet tribe, had been wiped out by disease. Amazingly, this interest Asher has is completely his—I didn’t choose these topics or books for him. Doubly amazingly is that both books about this time of American history do not give the American myth of the first Thanksgiving.


We’ve also been reading about Vikings, and how archaeologists and historians know what they know about them. Asher seems to have a budding interest in history.


We watched some “Avatar The Last Airbender,” a family autumn staple, and a movie called “Arthur and the Invisibles.” We have snuggled in, cooked and eaten meals together, gone to piano lessons and basketball practice, and the boys have started working on Christmas projects. Ian and I had a date night, Lucas did math homework, and I painted a bit and today I planted irises and tulip bulbs.

See what I mean? Too much in one post, and a full and wonderful week. We are thankful for so much love and abundance in our lives!

Tangy Fruit and Cabbage Smoothie


We make a lot of smoothies around here. During the school year they often serve as healthy, refreshing after-school snacks. I discovered a couple of years ago that a smoothie after school helped smooth out the transition from school time/behavior to home time/behavior. After-School Smoothies of Love (TM) also keep me from being (unjustly) perceived as the Bad Guy. So it’s a habit I embraced fully.

In summertime, smoothies often serve as breakfast. We don’t serve the kids eggs every morning in the summertime, though that’s generally the rule during the school year. A lighter breakfast is OK in summer because they are here and able to snack when they need to.

I’ve created a new smoothie recipe and thought I’d share it.

2-3 handfuls frozen mixed berries
1 banana
1 mango
1 to 1.5 c orange juice
1-inch thick slick of cabbage from whole cabbage head
Optional: Whey protein powder

Purée until smooth.

The cabbage adds a tangy quality that most berry smoothies don’t have. It also adds beta-carotene, vitamin C, and heaps of fiber. Several studies indicate that indole-3-carbinol in cabbage boosts DNA repair in cells and appears to block the growth of cancer cells.

Makes 3 to 4 12-oz smoothies.

Spring Break


Well, I’ve not been writing much here lately. Instead, there’s been a whole lot of living happening. The boys had two weeks of spring break and while sometimes a school vacation means I have more time for hobbies, such as blogging, sometimes it totally does not.


The boys have been reading and drawing like crazy. Both are completely captivated by all things Fantasy, all things Dragon, and all things Tolkien. Asher has a great fondness for Dwarves. Lucas fancies Elves. They write books, design games, draw pictures, and create “Game World” stories, which are “video games” that exist only in their heads and they act out the action. I like those video games!


We had one super great Mama & Boys Day; we went to a local miniature golf course and played minigolf and a few arcade games—a very rare treat indeed.




Asher played a killer game of Fast & Furious, a driving game where he spent most of the time flying off bridges and overpasses, but the old standbys were best—air hockey and skeeball. I let Lucas play the rifle-shooting game and he looked at me like he had just won the lottery. Arcade: $3. Minigolf for 3: $21. Lunch for 3: $25. Oh yeah, that’s why we don’t do all that many outings like this. Oh well.


Then we went to the library and the park. This is more my speed.

Lucas and Asher had a little time with grandma. They played a lot with the neighborhood boys. The fact that we now have some neighborhood kids is a great pleasure—we have lived in this neighborhood for almost 13 years and for 12 of them there were no children. Elderly neighbors. The housing bubble and then the crash. Finally some younger families are moving in.

Let’s see … Ian built me a raised garden bed, which is totally awesome.

Rehearsal. Asher on ukelele, N on drum machine, Lucas is the band manager.

Asher got to have a buddy come to play. They created a rock band. Asher played ukelele, N played the drum machine, Lucas was their manager. They rehearsed. They sang songs called “Alabama Shakes,” “Lightning Strike,” “Golden Wolf,” “Clutches,” and “Death Knife.” I kid you not. Lucas told them they had a kind of punkheavymetal sound and then convinced Asher and his friend to put on face paint. It. Was. Awesome.

I love this boy.

He agreed to be photographed. He must be feeling pretty cool.

And there was this. I love this boy.


On the last day of Spring Break, we went on a lovely hike with Mars and NoNo.



River outing


Mars showed us the game he is making. We picnicked. We got wet in the river. The dogs got to sniff a lot of things and meet other dogs. We walked the trails and spent time under the great big sky. I can’t really explain how refreshing and nourishing that is for me. It’s like medicine.

And now, the boys are back at school. Our normal rhythm has returned and I am happy about that, except I’m still not a morning person and never will be.

More Window Stars

Or, What I Did on My Vacation


OK, I admit I’m completely obsessed with window stars lately. I think I mentioned that here a little while ago. Anyway, we had some time off last week and I took all my kite paper and window star books along with me to the mountains. I was determined to challenge myself to make some of the more complex stars. While I was there, in between working, eating, and playing outside, I made eight new stars.


I also accidentally wrecked one, but shed only a few tears about that.


The more you make them, the easier it becomes. I guess I got into a kind of flow.


Lucas helped me make this beautiful multicolored star. He did most of the white center. I’m hoping he’ll want to make some more with me. I think stars like these may be our birthday gifts for everyone this year.


I love the way the light shines through them and I confess I’m crazy about the colors.

Purple Eight-Point Window Star

Window Stars in Boys' Room

My boys wanted one for their room in their favorite colors, blue and green. Now that we’re home again, the stars have all found spots on our windows here, sharing space with the Valentine window transparencies I made last month, which are still up because I adore them.

New Window Star

I’ve also been experimenting and will share my results very soon, if it all works out the way I think it will.


Snow Days


We were on a school vacation last week, and Ian carved a few days off his work week. So we were able to leave town for one of our delicious, infrequent snow vacations.



We had a new family member along with us this time. I fell even more in love with Solstice. What an intrepid snow dog he is!





I love to see my children roaming, to see them march off on their own mission in whatever direction they choose. I love to see them free.








We had plenty of time for games and new hobbies, and that was enchanting, too.













What more can I say? It was perfect.

This Moment: Marble Run

This Moment: Marble Run

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.

Best Family Burn Ever

I’m still not entirely sure what to say about Burning Man, nor what pictures to show here. My heart is full of love and gratitude. We have endured and celebrated nature, the elements, life, humanity, friendship, silliness, joy. My impressions of Burning Man are swirly and colorful.
Nevada Desert

Nevada desert on the way to the playa

After the One Rainstorm

Sunset after a brief rainstorm

I am so glad we went, and especially glad that we camped with so many wonderful friends. Our campmates were super fun and very patient with our small taggers-on. They helped us look out for the boys, entertain them, and graciously shared their “space yogurts” (yogurt in a tube) and other goodies that were novel and exciting. Two friends even volunteered to babysit one night so Ian and I could have a much-needed date!

Our children were brave in the face of not only a hostile environment but also a Saturnalian one, where grown-ups generally don’t behave as usual, where instead they act silly, dye their hair pink, dress in funny clothes (or none at all), and spend their time playing, adventuring, or lazing about. It was a place where you might gleefully talk with strangers and give a made-up playa name just for the fun of playing at being someone else. Best of all, our boys got to see that play is for everyone, that all human beings need long stretches of time to do nothing, or only what we want to do, and that these moments are crystalline and pure. Climbing, running, jumping, dancing, flying kites, making friends, laughing and telling jokes, creating art, falling in love, being—these are the things that make life worth living.

Lucas climbing a pole on top of the Nexus nightclub

Super Fun

Super fun Genesha art car that passed us by one day

Dust Overload Strawberry Shortcake Yummy

A dust-weary Asher, me on the afternoon of the burn, and our dashing Agent Daddy

Fearless Tightrope Walker

Lucas fearlessly walking a tightrope about 10 feet off the ground

"My Parents Take Me to the Weirdest Places"

This tuna art car drove by during one of our family bike outings

Asher's First Kite Flying

Asher’s very first kite-flying experience; hold on tight!

Bocci Ball Mid-Throw

My boys playing boccie ball

Jellyfish Parasol Workshop Exultant Fish Dance with the Salmon of Knowledge

Decorating our parasols like jellyfish; Lucas jumping on a trampoline; Asher dancing with the Salmon of Knowledge

Lucas and Asher also got to see, and we ourselves were reminded, that challenges are worth facing because the rewards are often great. Braving our fears or walking out into the unknown is our task, our surest course to learning who we are and what’s important to us. By purposefully venturing into a desert of nothingness, we fill it with our hopes and dreams and remake ourselves. I watched both of my children, in their own individual ways and according to their ages, encounter their limitations and push past them, gaining confidence and respect along the way.

It was a different kind of Burning Man for me and Ian. Having our kids along was a ton of work and we spent much (most?) of our time making sure that their needs were being met. Keeping two sensitive children safe and happy, hydrated and fed, rested and slathered with sunblock in the desert is pretty much a constant effort. Ian worked ceaselessly to take care of all of us. There was a lot less aimless wandering just to see what there was to see. There were moments I felt despair because I thought I was missing all the fun, but mostly I let that fleeting feeling wash over me and away, and we managed to relax into a new kind of Burning Man experience. We got more sleep this year on the playa than ever before, thanks to the boys’ tuckering out and needing to be home and in bed fairly early. We ate like kings, with lots of fresh produce and barbecued tri-tip dinners. We spent more time near and in camp, which meant time together as a family and with our peeps. We let Burning Man come to us much of the time, and the sweetest folks wandered into our communal shade and spent time with us. Our camp gave out water, drinks, food, advice when it was asked for, a place by the fire, and generally enjoyed that special/sacred hospitality relationship. To all the desert beauties that we met, thank you! You’re my little potato.

Dusted! After the Burn

Lucas is VERY happy to have seen the Man burn this time! Here he is after the burn on Saturday night. I’ve never been in such a whiteout before! For long moments the Burning Man disappeared from view completely, then eerily reappeared through the waves of flying powder.

The truth is we saw a teensy-tiny slice of Burning Man, maybe 1 percent of what was out there. However, what we saw was wonderful. We are tired and a little sad to have to resume normal life now that we are home again. We are loving this breathtaking miracle called running water. My thoughts are dreamy and I feel like I need a rest after my vacation. I feel a creative pulsing in my veins.

All in all, Best Family Burn Ever.

Burning Man Prep

One more day at home
One more day of food shopping
One more day of packing
One more day of costuming
One more day of planning
One more day of waiting

Burning Man Thrift Purchases

Burning Man: some thrift purchases

Burning Man Chariot (Before)

Burning Man: chariot for Asher (before picture; it’s way cooler now)

Burning Man Stacks

Burning Man: stacks of Lucas’s clothes, folded surprisingly neatly

Burning Man Flags

Burning Man: flags sewing project

Burning Man Toes

Burning Man: painted toes

Burning Man Fingers

Burning Man: laser fingers of doom

  • 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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