these ordinary things: vacation

“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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John and I gave ourselves the gift of a short vacation last week: three nights on the Pacific shores of La Jolla, California.  Two days to vacate the course of our regular lives.  To forget the housework and papers in need of correcting and be free of the questioning and self-doubt that are destiny’s best friends.   Two days for new parts of the world to awaken in us what we hadn’t realized had fallen asleep.

We were lucky to do it there, where saltwater, earth and tides come together to make a place for pelicans and sea lions, palm trees and scurrying crabs.  Where arid plains and sky piercing rock are nowhere in sight.  And then, not even one full day into our trip, the report from home was dismal.  One very sick kiddo, another two close on his heals, and us 1000 miles away.  In seconds we were whisked away from this coastal haven.  Sucked right back into the questioning and self-doubt.

There are magical far away places that allow us a respite, it’s true.  But as far away as we go,  the course of our lives persistently knocks on the window of the rental car.  So we make a choice.  Pause, take a deep breath, be present.  Notice the way the surf sprays over the rocks and the sand–once shells– beneath our feet.  Or, we follow the sucking force, the anxieties of feverish children in need of a Mama or  Papa at their bedside, and we allow ourselves to be not quite transported but stuck in between where we are and where we want to be.

It’s that choice that allows us a vacation, be it miles from home, or standing at our own kitchen sinks, elbow deep in dishwater.  The choice to turn off the voice that wants us to believe that there is so much more to get done, to worry about or brood over.  Not enough hours in a day.  But there is, lots of them.  So many to fill that, sooner or later, we all need a vacation.

(Kiddos are all on the mend, as well as hard working grandparents.  Now all that’s left is to get Mama back on her feet.)

these ordinary things: ebb and flow

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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There is an underlying belief about parenting nowadays: if we do everything right–build attachment, protect them from suffering, nurture self-esteem, buy organic mattresses and grass-fed beef–well, in the end, they’ll be okay.  One day they’ll be healthy, well adjusted, contributing members of society who call home every Sunday night to check in with Mom and Dad.

It’s a belief I know personally, and I’m glad it’s begun to fade into my past.  Too often it plants the seeds of perfectionism.  Anxiety replaces trust, confidence becomes guilt, and none of it does much to foster satisfaction.

Now, I look back over our days, and watch as each player tosses a card from his hand into the center.  I see how exhaustion transforms a broken puzzle into a wrestling match.  How happiness bubbles over to joy when it’s shared.  How not enough adult time equals a lost tempter.  How two and a half year old exuberance collapses into tears and the-wrestling-opponents-turned-best-friends respond with big brother hugs.  “We’re twins so that means we always love the same things and we do all the same things and we go everywhere together.  You can be a twin with us!”  Happiness.  Joy.  Wrestling match.  Frustration.  Lost temper.  Forgiveness.  Peace.  Repeat.  (Also an excellent single player game.)

Conceived of our imperfect parents, we were invited into the stream of imperfect earthly life.   Here in this little red house, five imperfect people have come to know the ebb and flow of family life.  Of human life.  Just as it needs to be.

 

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.

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.