these ordinary things: school soup

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.

DSC03681Every Thursday the boys make soup at school with their class, and every Thursday afternoon the teacher sends home the leftovers for our family.  It’s a real gift to have a meal that doesn’t require much thought or preparation, and the animals love the leftover leftovers.  I confess, it’s not the most exciting meal for an adult–maybe because they always use beets which turns the entire bowl pink–but it’s not the culinary experience that’s important.  It’s the thought of all of those little people, taking care in what they are doing, gaining confidence in being trusted with real knives, and little hands engaged in meaningful work.  Makes for a pretty special bowl of soup.

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the play house

DSC03015DSC03243  DSC03245 DSC02997DSC03244 DSC03242 DSC03246 DSC03249Mattheus was six months old when we bought our house nearly five years ago.  In the backyard two beautiful pine trees stand next to each other.  They evoke images of tree houses and the schemes of little hands and minds.  We haven’t quite gotten that far yet–the tree house part of course, the scheming needs no special setting at all–but we did finally start on a play house this month.   We came by two old shipping crates last summer that the kids have been using for said schemes.  A few weeks ago I suddenly had the idea to turn them one of top of the other to make a play house.  After that, with all salvaged materials, the project seemed to take on a life of its own.  Mattheus and Lucien did most of the design themselves, while John and I made suggestions in terms of safety.  John did much of the sawing.  I made the curtains Mattheus requested.  Opal became the official slide tester, “here comes Opal!”  Lucien designed the hooks for the “fire coats.”  As we flowed together through this work I suddenly realized that it was so enjoyable because we were playing together–imagining and creating and problem solving.  No one wanted the play house to actually be complete, we just wanted to go on working on it forever.  That’s the moment I remembered one of my favorite articles about children and play, The Overprotected Kid.  It’s also when I decided we weren’t going to stop playing!  Lots of movable parts, ladders, ropes, stumps, planks, sticks.  And that is only the beginning.  I can’t wait to see what we create next.

these ordinary things: a fresh start

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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Five years ago when we bought our house, a three story black walnut tree that had died in a blight, stood in the backyard.  In February of this year we finally called the tree trimmers.  It was hard to see this beautiful tree come down and we mourned it even though its life had ended before we even knew it.

Yesterday, just a few paces from where the walnut stump still stands, amid the scattered remnants of the tree itself, we planted a new apple tree.  They stand there next to each other, a clear and full testament to the cycle that is life and death.  A cycle we know everyday, but as our humanity preserves the acuity of every loss, this knowledge does little to ease the wound.  And we know these losses bring life’s joys into strong relief, but that never makes it much easier until enough time has passed.  So we create these little rituals for ourselves, hoping that, for a moment, we can make a fresh start.

her birthday sweater

DSC02819DSC03479DSC03440DSC03473 DSC03434 DSC03430Opal’s birthday sweater is a Hawthorn, knit in Lamb’s Pride worsted weight, cream.  I love plain garter stitch garments and this one perfectly suits her “no frills but fancy,” style.  The slightly offset kimono-like front is just enough detail to keep it from being boring, while the one piece construction makes it fast and simple to knit.  The original pattern is long sleeved, but the cap sleeves seemed just about perfect for our Colorado spring weather, and it’s long enough that it might even fit right on up until next spring. Opal came with me to pick out the buttons and promptly lost the first choice somewhere in the aisle, so these are the runners up.  Pretty good taste, my girl has.  Unfortunately, they weren’t the most economical choice.  Might just be the last shopping trip she accompanies me on for quite some time.

There are two new baby boys around these parts who are in need of sweaters, and after enjoying making this one so much, I’m already onto another mini version in sky blue.  Once those tiny baby items are done, I’ll be hanging up the needles for a while in favor of shovels and hoes and dirty hands.  Happy handwork to all of you!

(For anyone wondering, no, Opal does not have road rash.  She simply figured out how to fall on her face out of our hammock which is three inches off the ground.  Thankfully her little cheek is almost completely healed now!)

her story

DSC03393DSC03257DSC03515DSC03504Two years ago, Opal was born late on a Friday night–pizza night in our house.  After supper we walked across the street to the park.  I recall sitting on the bench, breathing through easy contractions, and watching the boys run around the playground.  I knew then, and I looked over at John, saying, “Time we said goodbye to this family of four.  This baby will be here soon.”  It’s a bittersweet moment.  No matter how much anticipation and joy a baby brings, there is also the letting go of what has been and will never be again.  We do it everyday, in tiny moments, but when the threshold is so great we cannot help but feel the loss as acutely as the joy.

I told her birthday story that night for the first time, after a week long story about waiting for the spring flowers to wake up.  I could tell by their wide eyes that the boys deeply sensed the world shifting around them.  They went to bed late that night, about 8 o’clock.  Afterwards, we took the last few belly pictures and I took a shower.

Now, mind you, I had called my poor midwife around 6 that evening to tell her that I thought I might be in early labor that maybe my water had broken, but yes, of course she could keep a social engagement an hour from our house.  We had plenty of time.  (Lucien, the shorter of my two previous births, made his way into the world in about 15 hours.)  By 9 I was uncomfortable, and to be honest, unsettled by the sudden increase of strong, close together contractions.  By 9:30 the midwife was on her way, and while we joke that she nearly missed the birth, that is an exaggeration for narrative brilliance, of course.  She arrived well in time to do what midwives do so well, remind us that we are stronger than we ever realized.

I don’t remember too much about the birth except that it was fast and hard.  I recall John doing a lot in the background, and asking myself when birthing had become something of a habit for both of us.  I recall the apprentice midwife had mismatched socks.  I spent a good chunk of time watching them while hanging over the side of the birth tub.  I think I said, “I can’t do this for very much longer,” and someone responded, “I don’t think you’re going to have to.”   Just before my body gave way to involuntary pushes, I said to myself “I am never doing this again,” and then I remembered that I had said that twice before.

Then, out of me and into the world, with the euphoria and relief that can only be present in birth, Opal arrived just after 11pm.  Passed from my body to John’s hands, to my hands, she stared quietly up at us–the complete stillness that follows a vernal thunderstorm.

She hasn’t changed much since that first day.  She’s still in a hurry and refuses to be left out of anything, nor be helped with much these days, “Opal do it myself!”  She’s careful in her own way, never moving so quickly that she can’t keep up with herself.  We’re seeing that storm more and more as we enter the era of temper tantrums.  She stamps her foot and pouts and yells “no” with a red face when life doesn’t go her way.  But, when it does, her joy does not stop with her.  It spills out around her and  pulls everyone in.  If her joy does not grab you, her laugh will.  And when we are sad, she sees into the darkest corners of our hearts and blesses them with her own special balm, “You feelin’ sad, Mama?  Opal hug you.  Now feel better.”

Yes, Opal, we do.

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these ordinary things: blossom

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.

DSC03357I sat on the playground at church yesterday.  Above my head, the crab apple blossoms had opened into luxurious pink petals that fluttered to the ground in the spring breeze.  Petal Fairies, Mattheus would call them.  I watched the petals fall, and I watched my children play, and I suddenly realized that we speak so often of a child blossoming and unfolding in their own right, but we do not speak of them bearing fruit.  For bearing fruit is what happens after many trips around the sun.  Bearing fruit is a conclusion, the end of a cycle, the passing on to the next generation, or the intentional nourishing of others. Children, instead, open themselves to the world and seek out what life has offered them, ever receiving what will one day make them complete.

these ordinary things: the search

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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Do you know what I love most about Easter?  That it can remind us we need not always create to bring something into birth.  Sometimes all we have to do is seek out what the universe has already given to us. And be grateful.

The chocolate’s not too bad either.  Happy spring to you and yours!