these ordinary things: acceptance

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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It’s been raining for two weeks straight.  Last weekend we saw the sun long enough to dry out the garden for planting, so I took a chance and sewed seeds, including beans, and transplanted herbs, tomatoes and cukes.  When another week of rain set in I watched everything turn pale, and then yellow.  Then last night a hail storm blew in off the mountains the likes of which I have never seen.  It was devastating to the garden.  I am not sure the tomatoes will bounce back and the cukes are gone.  The more delicate herbs, basil, cilantro and parsley will likely have to be replanted.  Of the beans that were not washed away in the torrents that flowed down our hill, I’d bet most of them rotted in the cold wet weather.

But, all of this is beyond our control.  It’s the risk of gardening.  The risk of life.  We’ll accept it and move on, and perhaps come August we’ll look back and realize that it wasn’t so devastating after all.

what’s your simple?

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Somewhat by coincidence, with the Simplicity Parenting Soul of Parenting Summit this week, I’ve been ruminating a fair bit about our family’s current standing with simplicity.

Around here, there seems to be an endless movement from overwhelm to simplicity and back again.  It happens a bit like this.  I notice that one of the family is out of sorts (“soul fever” as Kim Payne has coined the term) and start running down the list of questions in my head.  Is this a developmental milestone?  Is it a seasonal transition?  Are we getting sick?  Is this burn out?  Are we doing too much?  Are we disconnected from each other?  Usually, the answer to more than one of these is yes, but over and over again, it becomes clear that most of these family challenges will be eased by slowing down and reconnecting to our family’s striving toward simplicity.  It is an evolution I enjoy participating in: the ever-present attempt at stripping away the extras so that we can stand firmly rooted in the essential.  For, over the years, I’ve come to view simplicity as a means to discovering and upholding our deepest values as a family.

And yet, practically speaking, how do we know what of these extras need letting go of?  What activities do we save for later?  When do we stretch ourselves because an experience is really worth it, even if it is outside of our usual rhythm?  How much stuff makes a home comfortable without feeling sparse?  When I ask John about his day, because I want the children to learn how to take interest and care for others, how much do little ears really need to hear?

There are no fixed answers of course.  Outside of the rules that govern home culture, each answer comes out of the weighing that happens in a moment.  But I wonder, how have you brought simple into your home?

these ordinary things: a five year old’s world

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Shortly after I arrived home from running errands today, Mattheus presented me with this picture and defiantly proclaimed,

“Mama, Nana is trying to convince me that this is the world, but that’s just about the silliest thing I have ever heard.  No one lives on a ball!  She also said that all of these other balls are different kinds of weather, but weather doesn’t come in balls either.  She said that the earth ball goes around the sun ball, but that is also just silliness because I watch the sun go around me everyday.  And, she said that the moon isn’t in the sky, but far away and you could walk on it if you had a rocket ship, but the moon is the only one that is a ball, and I’m pretty sure no one lives there and you can’t walk on it because it is so much smaller than anyone’s foot.”

I almost fell off of my chair.  First, of course, because it was so funny.  Second, because it was one of those rarest of moments in which an adult is offered a glimpse into the consciousness of a child.  No matter how much we try to keep explanations simple, directions straight forward, language at a minimum, it is so easy to forget the way they approach the world, through sense and experience, not with learned facts.  Of course the world is not a ball!  It’s flat and green and dirty and mountainous and some parts have asphalt and others swimming pools and farms and grocery stores.  Sure would be hard to fit all that on a soccer ball.

I think we forget too often that most of what we know about the world is something that someone told us, rather than something we experienced with our own senses.  It’s not a bad thing, it’s good to know about the world, but it’s also good to remember that collecting all of those facts is not the only way to know the world.  And nowadays, with the earth asking so much of us, we need as many different ways as possible to understand and care for this soccer ball floating around in outer space.

Thanks again, my dear Mattheus, for a welcome reminder.

in the studio

Did I say something about spending more time in the dirt than in the studio?  Well, that was before Mother Nature sent us a week straight of rain and snow.  April and July are our rainiest months, but the day you wake up and wonder when it’s finally going to stop raining in Colorado, well that’s a day that doesn’t come very often.  While I watched the rain collect in puddles throughout our very silty soil, I kept my worries at bay with lots of handwork.

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I’ve had the honor of sewing up the quilt squares from a Baby Blessing for a dear friend.  Baby boy has arrived and his quilt is coming together quite nicely, and quickly, given the large squares.  What a treat it is that someone else cut out the squares!

DSC03872Lucien’s quilt is also coming along slowly, in stolen moments.  I’ve settled on a square size, but haven’t come up with a good strategy for cutting and sorting log cabin strips that allows for equally varied blocks.  I have two colors, blue and orange, which will essentially follow the “sun and shade,” log cabin tradition, except with color, not light and dark.  I’ve cut out all of the strips, then I cut lengths to piece together a square at a time.  I know, not very efficient.  Perhaps someone has a better approach to share?

DSC03878Two more Hawthorns are off the needles, waiting for buttons and finishing.  Two little boys we know will be warm next fall, including the recipient of the baby blessing quilt.  Here’s to baby garments: on the needles one day, off the next.  So satisfying.

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And last but not least, I’ve courageously cast on a February Lady Sweater.  I’ve been sitting on the pattern and supplies for several months, but I am always a little daunted at adult sized sweaters.  (Remember John’s Strond vest?  Still in progress after two years….)  I chose the February Lady on purpose, at least there is no sewing pieces together.  That alone could stop me in my tracks for several weeks.  This particular sweater is intended as a Christmas gift, so hopefully I’ve left myself plenty of time.  More likely, I’ll set it aside at some point in the next month or so, only to pick it up in November and realize how little time left there is to complete it.  Ah well, best not get ahead of myself.

Have you had any time for handwork?  Or is the sun shining on your garden?  Or perhaps both?  Now that would be lovely.

suburban nature walk

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Have you gathered yet that I am not a city girl?  What I am, however, is a community girl.  And, at the moment our community centers around an urban Waldorf school.  So that’s that.  Country girl in the suburbs.  Well, it’s not Manhattan, at least.  Life in the suburbs is that odd mix of country and city that is both and not quite either.  We make the best of it, of where we are, and most of the time, it works out just fine.

I do miss the feeling of being surrounded by Mother Nature.  The way she eases wounds and polishes off the corners of life by simply just being herself.  Out in the middle of no where, she washes over us, and no matter how much we recognize it or not, we are healed from the faster moments of life.  Here, amidst concrete creations, her presence is quieter and we must seek her out.  The gift in this is that we are conscious of her.  We invite her into our lives and do what we can to care for her, as she cares for us.  We strive to find the balance between our needs and hers, in which neither she nor we are more important, but equal partners.

Around here, a nature walk requires watching for cars, and conversations about just how many pieces of trash we can reasonably pick up from the side of the road in one day.  It includes a pass by the deafening construction site with five or more huge machines tearing at the asphalt and dirt.  But, it also includes meeting a few busy bees, and industrious robins.  Opal likes to join them in their worm hunts.  Sometimes, there is a pair of mallards or a small flock of Canadian geese that take up residence in our neighbor’s yard.  The trees are always changing, right now budding and blossoming in their own ways.  So many yards are cared for and filled with beauty.  Some are left a bit wild (ahem) with spring grasses going to seed.

When we unload our pockets at home, I am always surprised at what we find.  Certainly not as diverse a horde as one might find in the woods.  But also, not strikingly suburban.

these ordinary things: ascension

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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We’re emerging from a week of rain, snow and flooding (though we have been blessedly spared the last one).  For days we watched out the window as water collected in puddles in our newly sown garden beds.  We wondered if our seeds were being washed away, or rotting in the cold and damp.  Today, when finally the snow from yesterday melted, we discovered these tiny pea shoots emerging from the ground.  Watching them reach up to the sunlight and blue sky, it feels as though the warm season is finally upon us.  Very much like them, we turn our thoughts and hearts a little bit away from the work that happens inside of doors, and towards the awakeness–no longer awakening–of the natural world.  It’s as if the very air is light shining upon and within all.

Mother Nature will not be ignored now.  She calls to us to lie in the grass and watch clouds roll in the sky.  To blow dandelion puffs on the breeze.  To have faith in all that is unseen and mysterious: the sprouting seed under the soil, the sap running in the trees, tiny eggs in a hidden nest.  She calls to us to reach our own shoots up to the heavens and become part of that which is so much bigger than our little selves.  All of us in this little red house, are happy to oblige.

his first paying job

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If you haven’t yet gathered as much, I can tell you that our eldest child likes to work.  If it includes power tools, even better.  After “Mama,” “Papa” and “no,” his first word was “pry bar.”  His second was “nail.”  Shortly after that we were called upon to decipher the meaning of “wood wadder.”  Weed whacker!   Now five years old, he really does use the weed whacker more than anyone else in the family.  (This picture is actually a couple of years old.  I tried to capture a current one today but he insisted that there would be no weed whacking at all until the grass was completely dry.  How little I know about the rules of proper weed whacking!)  Lately he’s also been insistent upon spreading his landscaping work to his school playground, which he has pointed out is in serious need of attention.  A key part of this equation seems to be that the other children in the class will not be able to be there since he is the only one allowed to use a weed whacker.  I suppose he’s likely right about that one.

Yesterday, while I was making supper, John and the kids were out working in the yard.  Mattheus ran into the house, elated and puffed up with pride and holding up a folded dollar bill in his hand.  He exclaimed, “Mama, look, Brian gave me money!”  And indeed our next door neighbor Brian had.  Apparently, Mattheus had noticed that the grass under Brian’s hasn’t-run-for-sometime car had grown quite tall.  So naturally, lover of weed whacking that he is, Mattheus went right to work.  Brian noticed and came out to thank our industrious five year old and pay him for his work.  I cannot speak to the exact revelation that happened in Mattheus’ mind when Brian handed him that dollar bill, but I can assure you there was one.  I’d hoped we could hold out on the lessons of finance for a bit longer, but Mattheus has already told me about all of the weed whacking he is planning to do to increase the money in his new mason jar bank.  Knowing him, he’ll have a business plan drafted before the week is out.