five and half

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Mattheus turned five and a half last month, and it seemed as if almost over night he started careening toward the “change of teeth,” developmental shift.  It was hard at first.  Surprising, as is so often true with these moments in a biography.  For a while, we wonder if life with him has become challenging because he is getting sick.  Or perhaps our lives have been too busy.  Or our rhythm too weak.  Then we gradually begin to realize that something is changing within him, and that we need to see him differently.  We begin to shift our interactions bit by bit and then life becomes a bit smoother.

We realize that the mini-teenager defiance is him asserting his own individuality.  That the moodiness is a little bit of astral awakening, and a little bit of discomfort with his new relationship to himself and the world around him.  “No one understands me!” is a common refrain, and I think he can include himself in that statement.  We begin to understand that the separation from his siblings, the way he looks at them with an expression on his face than can mean nothing other than, “they are so immature!” comes from his deep sense that he is somehow becoming very different from them.  All of this awareness is remarkable to watch and at times difficult to meet–for the most part, uncharted territory for all of us.

His temperament, which has leaned toward melancholic for sometime, is really beginning to emerge.  He craves alone time and has begun advocating for moving to a bigger house so that he can have his own room.

He experiences the smallest disappointments as calamities. Last week he greeted John at the gate with the announcement, “Papa, I have some really very awful news.  Sigh.  Long Pause.  Forlorn look.  “There are biting ants in the sandbox.”

But he is becoming more tender as well.  Full of a need for tactile closeness, hugs and snuggles and kisses.

He moves through these summer days playing alone in his bed, wrapped up in elaborate imaginative play (scuba diving is big at the moment), working on a building project, captivating us with long explanations of his life, or asking to be read to from a chapter book.  He “is really getting too old for books with lots of pictures since it won’t be too long before he learns his numbers.”  Last week we installed a shelf over his bed to keep some of this special things away from his siblings, and today he designed a new shelf to put over the posts between his bed.  John helped him a bit with the execution, but it was truly Mattheus’ show.  This meaningful work is so soul fulfilling to him at the moment.  (I did have to negotiate what could go on the shelf.  “I don’t think keeping all of your tools up there is the best idea.  What if a hammer or a saw fell on your head in the middle of the night?”  Next step?  “Well, I need my own place on Papa’s work bench where the ‘littles’ can’t get to my things.”  That we could arrange.)

He’s also taken great interest in the garden and is able to understand and help in new ways.  He’s been plucking suckers off tomatoes, weeding, cutting and bunching herbs for drying, watering, discerning  more accurately when things are ripe and increasing in his ability to identify all of the various plants.  I do so enjoy sharing this love of mine with him.

It’s truly exhilarating to watch him.  The way that a child protected from so much of the adult world emerges with a full and intact individuality.  Of course, much to learn about life, but so many of his own intentions and wisdom to share.

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these ordinary things: weeding

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 weed season again.  All of those plants in the wrong place.  Not good or bad in and of themselves, but not exactly where we want them to be.  Inappropriate maybe.  More grass on the lawn would be great, but not choking the onions.  More dandelions for balms and root coffee would be wonderful, but not overpowering the salad greens.  In one place, at one time, a blessing to be grateful for.  In another place, at another time, hindering.

So, as I pull up the grass, scuff the soil, I restore a bit of balance.  Some in the soil, some in my mind.  Between onions and grass.  Between to-do-lists and moments.  Quick weed and salad greens.  Intention and laughter.  One handful at a time.

milestones

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DSCN1513I celebrate my 33rd trip around the sun today.  After sleeping in, I woke up to these handmade cards from the family, and these special grasses that Mattheus found (over) growing along the barnyard fence.  The boys also picked this “salad,” for me, which I think is mostly purslane. lamb’s quarters and dandelion greens, with a few accidental quick weeds to add to the mix.  Opal dressed for the occasion in her two year old style.  She’s been singing happy birthday to me for several hours.  They are all out on a pastry hunting adventure at the moment.  I’m looking forward to a break from cooking dinner tonight, and a free pass when it comes to the endless piles of dishes. In a few days we will have a small gathering with family.

And that’s about it.

It’s fitting, I think, that the celebrations are passing simply and quietly.  This year life has called upon us to strip back all of the extras and focus on what is fundamentally most important to us: health, mindfulness, gratitude, honesty, striving, faith, family and community.  I’m not sure we even could’ve made this list a year ago, and so I am deeply thankful for the experiences of the past 12 months.

This month also marks a year since my first post!  I hear it all the time, but it really is true, I couldn’t have imagined what the blog would bring into my life.  I have made so many wonderful connections with like minded friends that have fed me and nourished me, struggled with me and rejoiced with me.  I’ve also realized the blog keeps me honest and it reminds me to acknowledge the deep truths that sit quietly underneath the fast flowing current of life.

I’ve struggled to find a good rhythm for writing and posting, so as I move forward into this year, I hope this will emerge a bit more clearly.  And, I hope that my connections with others will continue to multiply and deepen.  I also hope that my readers can find some support and encouragement in meeting the many challenges of life, and that they might find a small moment of peace from our hectic world here in my space.

As for the rest of it, I expect to be thoroughly surprised by what I find in my 34th trip around the sun, and second year on the blog.

Out of my many connections I have met my friend, Tiffany, who is hosting a series on Journeys in Waldorf Homeschooling.  I am honored to have been included, coincidentally on my 33rd birthday! I invite you to pop over and visit her blog.

these ordinary things: the corners of life

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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“The ring rounds off the corners of life,” read the words of the Sacrament of Marriage in the Christian Community.  Late last month, John and I celebrated our seven year anniversary–our “change of teeth” anniversary as I’ve been calling it.  Over the past six years, my evolving mama body has prevented me from wearing my wedding ring, but when I tried it on two weeks ago, I realized it just about fit.

It is odd to wear it now, when it had once been so odd not to.

Over the years I’ve wondered from time to time what people might think seeing John and I together, he with his ring on, and I without.  Of me, three kids in tow and no ring on my finger.  But, as a Chinese acquaintance once said to me, “A married couple should not need rings.  The world should be able to see that they are married by the way they care for each other.”

And it is true that the ring softens the challenges of community of life.  It reminds us how we chose to be together, out of our highest intentions to honor each other, and promised to call upon the greatest humanity in each other.  The little things, that we sometimes think are so important, they fall away when we glance down at the rings on our fingers.

Again, thanks to our dear friends at Devil’s Thumb Ranch, we managed a short getaway.  Since we usually travel back east in the summer, it has been several years since we’ve made it to the mountains in wildflower season.  I had forgotten how lovely and diverse they are–tiny blossoms collected together in explosions of color on the mountain slopes.

We also stopped off at Hot Sulfur Springs on the way home for a good soak.  Always a bit of a feeling of rebirth after climbing out of those healing waters.  If only we could follow it with a long nap instead of a long drive home!

these ordinary things: a fair trade

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.

DSCN1126 After a particularly windy storm last week, the boys noticed that our neighbor Cindy had lost a large branch off one of her trees.  She is a single woman, living alone, on land that sits at the bottom corner of a city park, once owned by her grandmother before it was passed on to the city.  Sometimes the Parks Department takes care of a fallen tree branch like this for her, and sometimes not, but either way, the Reinhart kids beat them to it this time.

Determined to haul it over to our house and saw it into pieces, John and all three kids marched across the street and knocked on Cindy’s door.  Obviously, she was thrilled to have someone else do this work for her.  With the branch across the street and the sawing operation well underway, none of us noticed Cindy walking towards us with a pint of maple syrup in her hand.  Apparently, her niece’s family taps their own trees and sent her more maple syrup (worth more than gold in our house) than she could consume and wanted to thank us for our work. Having grown up in the northeast, I have quite a maple syrup habit, and I am afraid I have passed it along to my children.

I really can’t think of a way to better demonstrate to the children that when we work out of love, the goodness streams back to us.  And sometimes, it is just so sweet.

around the garden

DSCN1222DSCN1204DSCN1205DSCN1203DSCN1207DSCN1208DSCN1209DSCN1211Despite a tumultuous, cold, wet spring, the garden has bounced back quite well.  Everything is a week or two behind, in some places even three, but in most cases I hope this won’t make a huge difference come harvest time.

We’re eating greens, herbs and spring garlic and scapes daily.  The peas are doing quite well, which is unusual for us here.  Springs with late frosts that turn into hot dry summers seemingly overnight, do not do much for pea yields.  But this year they have done well, and now that I have convinced Mattheus to leave some for the rest of us, we are eating these daily as well.  The strawberries are another story.  I think I’ve managed to get one red ripe one, while the rest have disappeared into tiny mouths via tiny fingers.  I had also hoped that Opal would pass out of the “green tomato phase,” this season, but apparently she still does not discriminate when it comes to ripeness.  Thankfully, we will have enough before too long that she won’t be able to keep up with production.  Lucien is particularly found of grazing in the herb bed.

I am realizing just how much this family is growing.  What once would’ve easily kept us going for most of the summer and into the winter months after putting things by, now disappears so quickly!  We will have to be continually more creative in figuring out how to get as much as we can out of our little piece of land, while still finding balance with Mother Nature’s needs.  I’ve been dipping my toes into companion planting this year, which is helping a bit to optimize space usage.  I’m also trellising things that I’ve never tried trellising before, such as cucumbers.  Thankfully, while I am a novice at this, many are not, and there is much to be learned from others.  I am also really hoping that this is the year we are successful with a winter garden.  Time will tell.

DSCN1225 DSCN1224 DSCN1219 DSCN1221After five years, the perennial flowers and herbs are beginning to feel firmly established, and it is a joy to watch them all blossom in their own time.  I’ve been moving things around a bit, as I get a feel for what blooms when, allowing for more balance in the years to come.  Different plants bloom at different times depending upon shade on the property.  It’s nice to have lived one place long enough to understand these relationships.  What a wonderfully slow and organic process, both therapeutic and homeopathic at the same time.

How is your garden growing?