Thursday, December 30, 2010


On the Tuesday after Christmas my dear cat Golem passed away.  We had been together for almost thirteen years.
He was a special boy.  Not your ordinary cat.  Some animals are like that.

I couldn't say what it was, but he was an uncommon and valued friend.
I feel that our home is not the same.  I will miss him very much.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

winter solstice

In all of our discussions, reading, research and personal history and experience, we've come to the conclusion that the most important part of celebrating festivals and marking the passage and holy days of the year is in the gathering.
This year for Solstice we came together with family and friends for a cookie exchange party and play time with crafts and snacks for the children.  If you've not experienced a cookie exchange before, it's a really lovely holiday idea.  We each baked four dozen of our favorite cookie and set them out in a delicious display.  From the selection, we equally divided up all the different assortments so that we all ended up taking home the same amount that we each brought, except in a scrumptious eclectic variety!  We then took these collections of goodness home to gobble up or perhaps re-package and gift out to family, friends or neighbors.  It's a great way to get a delicious assortment of home made goodies without buying ingredients for all the different sorts.

The children, to celebrate the return of the sun, rolled beeswax candles and made pomander satsumas (oranges being a bit tough for their small hands to pierce with the cloves).  Many thanks to our friends Patricia and Lisa for bringing these warm, wonderful, sweet smelling activities to our celebration.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

this year's tree

We found and harvested this year's tree from the same family farm we went to last year.  When the couple there even remembered us, it felt like a tradition was in the making.

Thursday, December 9, 2010


We've been talking about the cats quite a lot lately.  Golem has cancer and, to my great sadness, is not long for this world.
Naiya was asking if Golem and Frodo were going to get something in their stockings from Santa. I told her that Frodo might not because he's not been such a bad boy (he's been peeing on things). She then asked if she, mommy and daddy were going to get anything from Santa in our stockings.
"Of course," I told her, "we've all been very good, haven't we?"
"How does Santa know we've been good?"
"He has special powers of knowing because he's Santa," I told her.
"I think he must look it up on his computer," she said.

Monday, December 6, 2010

st. nicholas day

This morning Naiya woke to find that St. Nicholas had left some little gnomes in her boots.  They had a grand play time introduction downstairs with the nutcrackers we had just taken out to begin our holiday decorating. With Naiya's help they were all putting on "puppet shows" for at least 30 or 40 minutes!

Because St. Nicholas also left gold coins and a likeness of himself (which Naiya thought was incredibly silly) she also repeatedly re-enacted the story we often tell of the poor man and his three daughters...

Long ago a poor man and his three daughters lived in a little village. The man had once been rich but now had almost nothing.  He and his three daughters barely had food to eat or clothes to keep themselves warm.  
Now, Nicholas was the bishop of that village. He heard about the man's family and their suffering and it made him very sad.  He wanted to help but he didn't want to call any attention to himself.  Finally, Nicholas hit upon a plan, and this was it:  One night, the poor family went off to bed as usual.  Nicholas though, didn't go to bed. He waited in his house until the middle of the night, when everyone in the village was asleep and no one would see him.  Then he made his way quietly to the poor family's house and crept up to the window, keeping out of sight. When he was sure no one was nearby, he quickly stood up and tossed into the window enough gold coins for the family to get by— and hurried back to his own house before anyone there missed him.
Well, you can imagine the family's surprise and delight in the morning when they found the gift! The man gave the coins to his eldest daughter, to help her and her sweetheart get married, which they had been wanting to do. And he thought that perhaps she and her new husband could help by sending the family some money sometimes so they would have enough to live on.
Alas! The daughter and her new husband soon had a family of their own, and moved away, and couldn't help much. Before long, the man and his remaining daughters were just as poor as they had been before.  Again, they suffered.  But again Nicholas heard of their adversity.  So once more, long after everyone had gone to bed, and everything was very still, Nicholas crept to the family's house, pitched his gift of coins through the window and ran home without anyone noticing him.
Once again the family found the gold coins in the morning with tears and joy.  And once again the man gave the coins to his daughter, the middle one this time—thinking perhaps she and her new husband could give some help to him and his remaining daughter.
But you've probably guessed what happened. The second daughter too quickly had a family of her own, moved away, and couldn't contribute anything. And so the man and his remaining daughter were again destitute. 
This time, however,  the man didn't go to bed when his daughter did. He had a feeling that the bag of coins would come and this time he was going to find out how it happened. So he waited.
Sure enough, in the middle of the night, Nicholas came quietly to the house.  He saw a candle burning in the window though so instead of dropping the bag in there, he crawled up to the rooftop and dropped it down the chimney where it fell into the youngest daughters stockings which hung drying on the fireplace mantle.  The man heard the clanging of the coins in the stocking and ran out of the house.  Nicholas slid off the roof and ran but the man chased him all through the streets until they were both out of breath. He finally caught up with him. The man looked at his face and saw that it was Nicholas, the bishop! He fell to his knees, and thanked Nicholas for all he had given him.  But Nicholas did not want any credit for what he had done. He told the man not to tell anyone (although I don't think the man kept the promise, or else I would never have heard the story to tell to you.)

(This anecdote from St. Nicholas Center originally includes the man selling his daughters into slavery.  I thought that a tad disturbing for a four year old so I altered the tale a bit.)

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

the first light of advent

Advent, Advent, a candle burns
Advent, Advent, a candle burns
First one then two then three then four
Than stands the Light Child at my door

The first light of Advent is the light of stones
Stones that live in crystals
In seashells and in bones

Last year I made these little Advent bags to replace the candy Advent calendar.  Each morning Naiya awakens with a squeal wishing to open the day's bag.  Most days the bag is filled with something to place upon the Advent wreath that sits on our table.  The first week so far has held an amethyst crystal and two beautiful polished stones.

The second light of Advent is the light of plants
Plants that reach up to the sun
And in the breezes dance

The third light of Advent is the light of beasts
The light of hope that we may see
In greatest and in least

The fourth light of Advent is the light of humankind
The light of love, the light of thought
To give and to understand

Saturday, November 20, 2010

giving thanks

Naiya: “Does everyone have Thanksgiving on the same day?”

Oma: “Yes. You know, that on Thanksgiving, sometimes at the table, people will ask 'What are you thankful for?' I would say that I am thankful for my children and grandchildren and for my house. What would you say?”

Naiya, after some heavy thinking: “I am thankful for so many things, it would take two days to say them all.”

Saturday, November 13, 2010


On November 11th we celebrated Martinmas at home with Naiya. We told stories of giving and sharing and one of the more well-known stories of Saint Martin himself. Naiya wanted to hear it over and over and also set up her dolls to act out the events. It was a sweet day even though the weather was quite dreary and we couldn't get her to go outside to walk the neighborhood with her lantern.  There are many famous works of art of this tale of Saint Martin that we had copies of around the house.

Long ago, there lived a good young man named Martin. Even as a boy, he knew that one day he would be expected to serve in the military. His father was an important military officer. And, though he desired a peaceful life outside of the military, he knew that it would be his duty to follow the life of his father. So, Martin joined the military, became an officer, and was eventually assigned to garrison duty in the town of Amiens.
One bitterly cold winter evening, the young Martin rode through the gates of Amiens on his fine proud horse. He was dressed in the regalia of his military unit: gleaming armor, a bright helmet, and a beautiful red cloak, lined with lambs wool. It was nearly freezing outside, but his thick cloak kept him warm. He was hardly aware of the cold. But then, as he approached the gates of the town, he saw a poor man, a beggar, dressed with clothes so ragged that he was practically bare. The man was shaking and blue with cold, but no one reached out to help him. People would pass through the gates, looking straight ahead, so their eyes would not meet with those of the poor, desperate man.
Martin, seeing this, was overcome with compassion. He rode straight to the poor man and took off his red cloak.  With one stroke of his sword he tore the lovely mantle in two. He wrapped half of the cloak around the freezing man and the other half around his own shoulders.
The people nearby watched in amazement. To see a fine military officer do such a thing was a ridiculous sight to many, but others were touched by the goodness that Martin showed.
That night, as Martin slept, he had a dream. A man appeared to him who looked so familiar, and he was wearing the half of the cloak Martin had given to the poor beggar. And then, Martin saw in the eyes of this man, and the light of the Divine which we all carry within us.
From that day on, Martin’s life was changed forever. He knew that he could no longer fight and harm other men as part of the military, for his true desire was to live a life of kindness, forgiveness, compassion and goodness.
Golden light is turning grey,
Mists begin to rule the day.
Bare the trees, their branches lift;
Clouds of dead leaves earthward drift.

Through the field the farmer goes,

Seeds of ripened corn he sows’
Trusts the earth will hold it warm,
Shelter it from cold and harm.

For he knows that warmth and light

Live there, hidden from our sight;
And beneath a sheltering wing,
Deep below, new life will spring!

(adapted from a story by Cerdiwen Anya Coit posted at )

Monday, November 1, 2010

the sugar sprite

This year we heard from some friends about the Sugar Sprite!  Ah, what a dear little fairy this one is.  The Sugar Sprite feeds in Spring, Summer and early Autumn on all the nectar, honey and fruits she can find.  As the season turns colder and darker though, the flowers fade and fruits are scarce.  The Sugar Sprite has hardly enough to keep herself and her family nourished.  Luckily, she knows about how children on Hallowe'en collect more sweets than they can possibly eat.  If those little children leave a bag of candy on their doorstep the night after it is gathered (and after they have selected a few of the choicest morsels for themselves), the Sugar Sprite will gather it up and have enough to make it through the Winter until the flowers and fruits again blossom in the Spring.  In exchange for the kindness and generosity of the children who leave her such treasure, the Sugar Sprite leaves a small gift for them to find in the morning.

lantern walk

Each October/November we have a Lantern Walk to celebrate Martinmas, a celebration of inner light in the midst of the outer darkness of the approaching winter. Waldorf education places a special emphasis on festivals in community. Festivals anchor the human spirit to the year. It doesn't matter how festivals are celebrated --it's the celebrating, the ritual, the reverence, and the consistency within the cycle of the seasons that grows in a child (and in an adult!).
Saint Martin's legend is one of choices and service. The tale most associated with Martin is one in which he gives half of his cloak to a freezing beggar outside of the gates of the city of Samarobriva (Amiens). After splitting his cloak with his sword and sharing it with the suffering man, the soldier Martin has a dream in which he sees the beggar as a holy figure. Martin awakes and knows in his heart that he can no longer fulfill his duties as a soldier, but instead becomes a devoted man of God helping those in need.

Our walk this year wound through the candlelit Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden with various stops where the children were given small gifts.  (The children helped make their apple stamped wool capes in class earlier in the week.)  We started at twilight and ended in darkness.

I go outside with my lantern
My lantern goes outside with me
Above me shine the stars so bright
Down here on earth shine we
So shine my light in the still dark night
Rabimmel rabammel raboom
'Neath heaven's dome 'till we go home
Rabimmel rabammel raboom

(Oma prefers the original German.)

Sunday, October 3, 2010

new dress

Back in the Summer, we were at the zoo and I saw a little girl in a really sweet dress.  I asked her mom if I could snap a picture of it with my cell phone.  If you haven't gathered yet, I'm a fervent do-it-myself-er and I'm also a penny pincher (that's the nice way to say it).  I'm pretty sure this mom was not a dress maker so I figured the dress was from some expensive boutique.  Upon reflection, maybe I should have just asked where she got the dress.  Instead I made a number of assumptions about it's origin and likely outlandish cost.  Anyhow, in the end, once again without a pattern, I put together this new dress for my dear little girl.  That was back in May.  Five months later, it fits!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

birthday treasure hunt

 Unlike in years past, this year I came up with a fun activity for the children at the party in plenty of time to prepare.

The hunt began with a collection bag containing the first clue:
To begin your treasure quest, 
find the airplane with the name of each guest.
Follow the picture clues from there.
(Help from a grown-up is perfectly fair!)

 In the clip of each plane was a simple photograph of the garden gnome which the children had to find in his hiding place under a tree.

The gnome's clue read:
Take a mushroom and under the cap
is the next clue which you need to unwrap

(The mushrooms were made of clipped branches of the hedge laurel in our front yard and felted sweater rounds with needle felted spots.)

 Inside the stem of the mushrooms was a simple photograph of the scarecrow hidden behind the rose bushes.

The scarecrow's clue read:
One tossing ring is for you.
This picture clue is too!

(The toss rings are heavy wooden rings with various ribbons attached...great for fancy flights.)

The photo on the scarecrow's clue was of the treasure chest (hidden under a nearby table.)

Inside the chest read:
Congratulations, your hunt is done
Choose a crown and go have more fun!

The bags, in the end, were filled with the little planes, the mushrooms, the wood & ribbon toss rings and the felted crowns.  Really, it wasn't nearly as much work as one might think :)

party for the fourth birthday

We held our grand birthday bash once again at Kruger's Farm on Sauvie Island. This is an actual working farm that we visit at various times throughout the year to pick different berries, flowers and whatnot. They also offer hay rides and during autumn have a corn maze and pumpkins galore. Some children from Naiya's class joined us as well as her cousins, aunts and uncles, her grandparents and a number of friends made in previous years. The kids decorated pumpkins, performed a treasure hunt, rode the hay tractor to pick pumpkins, visited the giant hog, snuck up on the hen with her brood of baby chicks hiding in the sunflowers and just played as the overcast morning unfolded into a lovely sunny afternoon. We baked four cakes (Ryan made the most impressive two) and this year got it together well enough to offer coffee for the grown-ups. At the end of the day we had a stack of sweet handmade cards, some crazy jack-o-lanterns and a bunch of tuckered out little kids. There were at least two totally worn out adults as well.

Friday, October 1, 2010

birthday the fourth

I must say that we're well into my favorite ages of childhood. Three to seven-ish have got to be the peak of parenting. There is so much adoration and love in both directions and so much fun every single day. Granted, it can be trying as well, but I think one day I will perhaps look back on these years as the very best we shared with our little one. Or maybe they just keep getting better? (We'll see what the teens bring... )
This morning for her special day, we had a sweet lighting of the birthday ring and a hunt for the four birthday fairies before heading to preschool. I was able to join the class for some play time and Naiya's birthday festivities. What a beautiful celebration of her coming and growing in the world. At circle time the story for all the children was of Naiya's birth into our family. Her amazing teacher gave her the most precious hand made felted bird in a soft flowery nest wrapped inside of four layers of tissue and wool cord: one for each of her years. I can't tell you the number of times that I have had tears in my eyes during the beautiful festivals held at this school. We fell incredibly lucky to be a part of this Waldorf community.

When we arrived home, grandma and grandpa had come for additional merrymaking. We opened a few gifts at home before they, along with her auntie, uncle and new cousin took her out to dinner while Ryan and I prepared for her party the next day. Naiya wanted to go to the "dinosaur restaurant" (Laughing Planet) and it seems they all had a fine time. Naiya was apparently chatting up several tables of other small children. I can't get over how social this kid is, especially given the shyness both Ryan and I suffered in our own childhoods.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

the birth moment

Every year since she was born I have woken Naiya up at the minute of her birth.  It's in the middle of the night before she wakes up one year older.  I head into her dark room and gaze at this wonder that has changed my life.  I sing her a birthday song; she wakes up, looks at me and usually just falls back to sleep.  I remember that moment she came to us and how I knew everything had changed but I had no idea what that really meant.  When she's asleep and still and so peaceful, all I see is what an incredible gift she has been.

When she's fourteen she might not appreciate this special ritual I have begun.  Or maybe she'll lay in bed straining to stay awake in anticipation of her mother's loving harassment.  Time will tell.

This year we began another pre-birthday ritual with this special poem just before we turned off the lights.

When I have snuggled into bed,
With pillows soft beneath my head,
And mommy switches off the light, 
I'll still be three years old tonight.
But from the very break of day,
Before the children rise and play,
Before the darkness turns to gold
Tomorrow, I'll be four years old.

Four kisses when I wake.
Four candles on my cake.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

even in arizona

Naiya: "How do you grow a green bean?"
Mommy: "You plant a bean, a green one :)"
Naiya: "But before there was... the first bean... before there was a bean, how do you grow a bean? When there was nothing? Only earth and people and houses?"
Mommy: "How do you think the first bean grew?"
Naiya: "Did god do it?"
Mommy: "Who?"
Naiya: "God"
Mommy: "Who told you about God?"
Naiya: "You did. You said children talked to gods in churches"
Mommy: "Do you know where God is?"
Naiya: "Where?"
Mommy: "In here." (I put my hand on her heart and held it there as I looked into her eyes and stopped talking)
...long pause
(I wish I could describe the look in her eyes)
Naiya: "...And in you?"
Mommy: "Yes."
Naiya: "And in daddy?"
Mommy: "Yes."
Naiya: "And Matthew, and Kelly, and Auntie Kelli?"
Mommy: "Yes."
Naiya: "Even Uncle Erin?"
Mommy: "Even Uncle Erin."
Naiya: "Even in other places?"
Mommy: "Yes."
Naiya: "Even in Arizona?"
Mommy: "Yes."
Naiya: "In all the people?"
Mommy: "All the people."

Monday, September 13, 2010

then you must hasten to gather it in

80 pounds of potatoes.
6 massive carrots.
1 new favorite song of the girl child.

The Gardening Song by Dillon Bustin

oh my friends it's springtime again
buds are swelling of every limb
the peepers do call small birds do sing
and my thoughts return to gardening
gardening is a very fine art
bear well in mind before you start
lay up your ax your saw blade also
and take down you spade
your rake and your hoe
polish your hoe
till the blade it does shine
likewise your rake and sharpen each tine
dress up your spade with a light coat of oil
then you are ready to prepare your soil
prepare your soil with a good free will
bear well in mind what you may till
some compost and lime
are all that you need
then you are ready to plant your seed
plant your seed but none too soon
bear well in mind the phase of the moon
set out the fruit the roots and the grain
and hope it all sprouts
in the cool early rain
if the cool early rain don't drown you out
the first hot spell will bring on the drought
the midsummer sun is hotter than hell
mulch down your rows
and you water them well
water them well and thin them also
beware of weeds and beetles and crows
if you work every day then little is lost
just hope it all ripens
before the first frost
the first frost will come as sure as sin
then you must hasten to gather it in
by cartloads and bushels
by pecks and quarts
your harvest of fruit
and grain of all sorts
all sorts of peaches and apples and wheat
oats and rye and strawberries sweet
squashes and melons with colorful rinds
your harvest of vegetable
roots of all kinds
all kinds of turnips and carrots and beets
potatoes tomatoes and strong smelling leeks
cabbage and corn the beans and the hay
then you must carefully store it away
away in the cellars and lofts and bins
make cider and kraut, pickles and gin
if you do it all well
then you'll not go wrong
you will have plenty all winter long
all winter long while the cold winds blow
take down your saw and wood cutting go
if you're well fed and warm
be well content then
till warm weather comes and you say to your friends

oh my friends it's springtime again
buds are swelling on every limb
the peepers do call small birds do sing
and my thoughts return to gardening

Friday, August 20, 2010

olallie lake

View from the resort check-in and store at Olallie Lake.
Just up the road from Olallie is little Monan Lake.

We took this trip up the mountain and down a treacherous road to Olallie Lake in the first stretch of August. Ryan was up by himself for a couple of days fishing then Naiya and I joined him later in the week. There had been a fire there some years ago and the resort and cabins were closed until this year. They're rustic with no electricity and no running water but they do have wood burning stoves and two queen beds (with real mattresses) as well as cold water taps outside and a table, dresser and usable counter tops inside. We determined that these few comforts made all the difference for comfort in "outdoor" vacationing. It's sort of like camping but you can easily stand up, your feet stay somewhat clean and the beds are very cozy (unlike deflating camping mattresses). Ryan caught fish trawling from the small row boat he rented, but mostly we just relaxed and went on some really lovely hikes. It was our favorite lake of the summer.
Olallie Lake is one of Oregon's cleanest with snow melt as its main source of water. While only 40 miles from Portland, there are few signs of civilization there and in the lake itself, no motor boating or swimming are allowed.

Friday, July 23, 2010

summer harvest

This year in the garden we planted beans for the first time. What we learned is that you'd need A LOT more space to make enough beans to save them for the year. Other than that we had a bumper crop of garlic and quite a few onions as well. With the onions we learned that they have to be planted much further apart and thinned after they've started to bulb. Our tomatoes were late but some of the tastiest we've had since we've begun. We're only harvesting those now. Out on our park strip we planted 9 seed potatoes. Top side they look great and we'll be pulling them up soon. We've also already harvested blueberries, strawberries, cherries, lettuce, peas and rhubarb from our yard. In the learning curve of gardening, this year was full of spikes. Upon discovering that rhubarb returns of its own accord nearly twice the size it was last year, we'll be transplanting those two enormous plants into another area.
In other daily news, our three chickens are still thriving and we're getting enough eggs now to occasionally share with friends and neighbors. Our cats Frodo and Golem are a chipper duo (considering they're getting on up there) and, as usual, we three are a happy people. Summer blessings to you and yours.

Monday, July 12, 2010


We just returned from our first camping trip of the summer. We spent four days at Suttle Lake (west of Sisters) from which we also visited Scout Lake and grandma and grandpa. I've been on a quest to find the perfect lake on which to stay. This one would have been close if not for the road across the way that we could hear at night (and also during most of the day). A little cold for swimming in too, but we managed to get in on occasion due to the warm and near perfect weather. For two of the days we had the treat of a two hour thunder storm complete with my favorite weather condition - warm wind.
There's just nothing like warm wind. Mmmmm.
Also, Scout lake is a five minute drive up the road. That one IS perfect for swimming since it's smaller. We've been there for the past three years and it's one of our favorite spots. Warm water, no motor craft and these logs floating like rafts on which anyone can hitch a ride. One can see to the bottom of the lake even in its deepest regions. And oh, what excitement!... All on her own, this time around, Naiya swam! She just lifted up her feet (while wearing her life jacket bathing suit) and started to kick and paddle! She seemed nearly as surprised as we were. We had marshmallows for breakfast and, of course, those mini cereal boxes that I remember us taking camping as kids, hot dogs for dinner and crackers and cheese and fruit all day long. It was a decadent week of sweets and swimming, root beer, fishing and sleeping under the stars.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...