snow day

About once a year, the memories of many childhood snow days in Vermont come back to me.  We wake up to the lovely news that we have a whole free day ahead of us to do whatever we like.  There’s not much that matches that magical feeling, even as an adult.

We made the best of it, inside and out.  Hot baths, afternoon naps, chocolate chip cookies (a snow day tradition) and shoveling “train tracks” in the driveway.  Mosie and I even had some time to sneak away and take a snowshoe lap around the park.  30 minutes of deep breathing in the fresh air.  Perfect remedy for the February slump.  They tell us we have a bit more snow coming our way in the next few days.  We’re hoping for sunshine too, so we can break out the sleds.   DSC02620

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school days with Opal

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Four mornings a week the boys go off to school and it’s just us girls at home.  I remember how long the days seemed when I was home all alone with Mattheus all day, back when we were a family of three.   I know how fast it goes now, and I try not to take for granted these mornings when Opal and I move slowly and peacefully through the morning, the house quiet for a change.

It’s not very exciting.  I putter about doing housework, satisfied to know how much will be done by the time the boys walk in the door.  Opal does her own work.  Sometimes she stands at the sink, for what seems like most of the morning, washing, making fish ponds, waterfalls.  There’s usually a huge puddle on the floor when she is done, and I cringe a bit at all of that water going down the drain.  But, she loves it, and how that warm water must feel on her dry Colorado winter skin.  I have a hard time redirecting her.  Often she plays with every toy in the house, thankful to have it all to herself.  She also carefully goes through her brothers’ “special things,” baskets tucked under their beds of crystals and rocks, tiny toys and stuffed animals, post cards and pens–all that they have claimed of their own in this house where almost everything is shared .  Picking up and marveling at each item, Opal seems certain that there is nothing more magical than the hat of an acorn.  If it is so special to a big brother, it must be important.  We return the treasures to their right place when she is done so that her brothers are none the wiser.  Although, I’m pretty sure Mattheus, so careful and observant, is on to us.

We sit at the table and eat snack quietly, talking very little.  Afterwards, we have a walk around the block.  At the end of our street there is a bunny statue sitting on the fence.  She points it out every time.  We turn the corner and wave to the construction workers who have been busy building a house for months.  They look forward to seeing us.  Around the next corner there is a big black dog that never barks.  Usually she simply lifts her head to say hello, but on special days, for reasons unknown to us, she gets up and trots over to the fence.  “Big black dog, come see us!” Opal exclaims in joy and a little nervousness.  As we turn onto our street, we pass the park and by the flock of winter Canadian geese.  Opal reminds me, “Mosie no chase geese, Mama.”  Things with Opal must be just so, and she rarely neglects to remind us.  The whole walk, except for a shy moment with the workers, she chatters away.  Pointing out every small detail.  The chickadees and sparrows in the bare branches that scatter away as we come close, and return just after we have passed.  She talks about the neighbors, many of whom we are lucky to know by name.  She looks at me with a twinkle in her eye when she sees the puddle that always gathers in the same place.  “Not today, Opal, we’re not wearing our puddle boots.”  “No, Mama. No puddle boots,” she responds, earnestly nodding her head with that familiar tilt to the right.  When the sun is shining and the road is dry, she runs down the last stretch of hill to home.  “Opal running.  Go fast.”

Back from our walk, we often end up in my studio.  It’s hard to work with three kids downstairs, a lot easier with one.  Opal makes short work of bringing chaos–or is it creativity–to the carefully folded piles of fabric.  She makes spider webs of yarn.  In the little kitchen that has found at least a temporary home at the bottom of the stairs, she makes eggs and bacon and turkey.  All foods that she watches her big brothers eat, but she is not yet allowed to.  I love that she sees me creating with my hands.  That making beautiful things is a balance to the necessary consuming we’ve accepted as part of our lives.

We’ve developed a cereal ritual, observed each day while I prepare lunch.  When I’m done cooking and the last drop of milk is gone, she is happily tucked into bed.  (Stomach full of cereal, she waits to eat lunch until she wakes up.)  Not without a kiss and a nose kiss and three blankets in the right order, her blankie, her baby Ruby, her knit bunny, Bunby, and two books–no more, no less.  Things must be just so with Opal.

Her brothers burst through the door soon after, words rushing out of their mouths, describing the adventures of the morning.  Most of them are actually created out of their own minds.  And another chapter of the day begins.

these ordinary things: is that a goat?

Because being a homemaker isn’t about being extraordinary.  It’s about seeing the ordinary in a conscious way.  A way that leads to gratitude, joy and understanding.  A way that helps me create an environment in which my family can become more human everyday.  If you are moved, I invite you to share your ordinary things by replying below or leaving a link.

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I looked out the window yesterday to see the goats standing on their hind legs to nibble on the branches of our pine trees.  (I wish I had a better photo, but every time I tried to go out and snap a shot, the goats would come over for a visit, so I resigned myself to shooting through a not very clean window.)  The branches were heavy after the weekend snowstorm: perfect tiny goat height.  Each time they yanked off a bunch of needles, a clump of snow plopped down on their heads.  Seemingly oblivious, they just munched away.  I smiled of course.  When I’m feeling a little grumpy, I step out the back door and pet a goat.  You really can’t be around them and not feel better about life.

When people walk past our house, their response to the goats is almost always the same.  First they glance over, assuming the goat is a dog.  Then they look again, their eyebrows furrowed in puzzlement.  Then, slowly, a grin stretches across their face, and if they are with a walking companion they exclaim, “Is that a goat?!”  I’ve even seen people slam on the breaks while driving by in their cars.

I like to think we are offering them two gifts just by walking by our house.  First, I hope that if they are a little grumpy, we might have made them a little happier.  And second, I hope it wakes them up from the dream of habit most of us spend our days in.  That maybe this fleeting moment of heightened consciousness plants the seed of something new that might even ripen into something big.

All that from a tiny goat in a surprising place.  Who’d have thought?

this moment

Linking with Amanda to share “{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. If you’re inspired to do the same, leave a link to your ‘moment’ in the comments for all to find and see.”

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friendless february

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The light is returning.  The sun is beginning to peek through the window at our supper table.  The number of eggs in the laying boxes is increasing.  The seed order has arrived, promising the green of spring.  The predictable thaw has been so unseasonably warm that the spring bulbs have begun poking their shoots out of the ground.  The next snowfall will set them straight.  All of this waking up in the natural world, and yet, for some reason, February seems generally short on friends.  (Respiratory season surely does not help its social life.)

How can it be that amidst all of this promise of rebirth, the inner feeling of soul is one of death?  This is how I always experience it, and when I speak with others the words, “it’s just been really hard lately,” repeat themselves over and over again.  Not the hard that demands fire and force and fury as Michaelmas does, but the hard that requires the day to day commitment of putting one foot in front of the other, even if it feels like the ground is molasses.  And unlike the dark days of Christmas, it feels as though there is little grace sent to us in the form of hope and celebration and community.  Instead we are called upon, our tiny huge selves, to gather our own endurance to live these days.  Perhaps not to excel, or thrive or find revelation, simply to be steadfast and know that that is enough.  That sometimes we learn what must be learned, just by getting by.  That we accept the feeling of dissatisfaction and for a time lay it out honestly on the table, because we hope that it wakes us up to what we’d rather forget, to all in this human world that is not right, even if we cannot begin to find solutions.  That joy and hardship are the partners that make us human.

As I watch the children, it’s clear they are oblivious to the mood of these days.  They gaze back at us, wondering why our knickers are all in a twist, for they are too fresh to be burdened with the atrocities that human beings create, to understand how far we have to go, to experience the lasting, inescapable grief of loss.  They speak of returning to the Starflower Garden with matter-of-fact-ness.  They have their squabbles, their small inequities, but of the grand things, they are little Buddha’s of the heart.  As far as they are concerned, all things are possible, and all solutions have problems, and if there isn’t a solution, then maybe it wasn’t really a problem after all.

It is a tempting place to be, but I remind myself that a five year old is not going to figure out how to feed the world without toxic chemicals and bee colony collapse.  He’s not going to solve the Southwest’s water crisis as we watch the Colorado River dry up, or find the economical path to renewable energy.  And, it’s not likely he’ll depolarize the Islamists and Christian Fundamentalists.  Or the Pro-Lifers and the Pro-Choicers.  Or the Vaxxers and the Antivaxxers.  Perhaps one day (I hope, as all parents do) he will have as good a shot at it as any of us, when he has known the sufferings of a few more Februaries.

As I wade through three feet of molasses, I watch my children and their innocent hearts, and hope that as I am enduring the darkness of these enlightening days, I will find a way to preserve this openness of heart within myself, so that when the crocuses finally do bloom for good, I may emerge from poor friendless February with a clearer picture of what it means to be human, and a little more strength and desire to strive for this capacity within myself.

I guess I’ll have to wait and see what Easter brings, but for the moment, it feels like it’s enough just to get by.

these ordinary things: glimpse

Because being a homemaker isn’t about being extraordinary.  It’s about seeing the ordinary in a conscious way.  A way that leads to gratitude, joy and understanding.  A way that helps me create an environment in which my family can become more human everyday.  If you are moved, I invite you to share your ordinary things by replying below or leaving a link.

DSC02398When you walk outside of the back gate of this tiny suburban farmlette, and stand in just the right spot looking west, you can see Mt Evans, one of Colorado’s famed 14ers, rising over the foothills.  It is a glimpse into my own memory of breathing among these billion year old beings of rock.

It turns out, that half full mason jar of milk that shattered on the floor this morning, isn’t the end of the world.  Just another opportunity to weigh my life on the scale between minute and infinite.

this moment

Linking with Amanda to share {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. If you’re inspired to do the same, leave a link to your ‘moment’ in the comments for all to find and see.

I haven’t been keeping up regularly with my “moments,” but this one brought such a smile to my face I just had to share it!  Happy weekend to all.

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