just the two of us

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When I talk with other mamas about Opal starting preschool, they often comment on how nice it must be to have a little more time to myself.  I look forward to that someday, but it’s not quite here yet.  Instead, as each kiddo goes off to school on different days, circumstance has given us the gift of one on one time.  Every week I spend one morning with each of them, just the two of us.

Mattheus usually has a grand outing or project planned, which I say yes to when I can.  But in the in between moments–in the car, when I’m doing housework–he speaks little, or quietly to himself.  I know he’s thankful for the solitude–for a morning free of all those siblings.

Lucien thinks Mattheus’s outings will surely be wonderful, but he tires easily and quickly remembers he’s more suited to projects at home with Mama.  Our mornings together are uniquely special.  Birth order has never quite allowed us this space, and our shared joy is clear.  The kitchen is his favorite creative place, so I try to reserve some of our Monday baking for Thursdays with him.

Opal is thrilled about school and her new friends.  Often she wanders around the house whispering lists of their names over and over again.  So, she can’t quite figure out why the boys are so excited about getting to stay home with Mama by themselves.  (“Papa, today I am staying home with Mama, like Opal does!”)  She’d much rather be at school where all of the action is.  But then there’s a trip to the coffee shop for hot chocolate, and Mama actually playing at the park instead of sitting on the bench with knitting needles in hand while everyone else plays.  It might not be so boring after all.

Next Fall Mattheus will meet the teacher and classmates he will spend the next eight years with, formally marking the end of his early childhood.  And with this shift, some part of our entire family moves on and out into the world.  No longer will life be all that is home, with a bit of school, a bit of friends, a bit of family added at the last minute for garnish.  But before that, these last few months of one on one days, to pause and be grateful all the quiet chaos and humbling joy of the last six years.  I’ll take it.

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off she goes

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Nearly every morning last fall, Opal would fall in step with her brothers as they prepared for school, only to be shocked into tears as they drove away without her.  After all, these three kiddos are a tightly knit pack.

Slowly, she got used to the routine of waving goodbye to them as they went on their way.  But the sense of inequity never quite left her.  We would bustled around the house getting ready for church, or hikes in the foothills–outings planned for the entire family–and she would look up at us, steeling herself for disappointment and ask, “Do I get to go?”  “Yes, Opal.  You are coming, or course.”  Then she would raise across the house to another family member and exclaim, “I’m going to school too!”  “To church, Opal.  We’re going to church.”  “Oh.  I’m going to church too!”

Well here we are, a few short-long months later and Opal is finally off to kindergarten a couple of mornings a week.

It’s a moment that stirs up the first days of her life.  The first wobbly steps.  First attempts at language.  I find myself wanting to go back in time, hold them each in my arms for just a few moments.  Their new and fresh from heaven selves, who have passed into memory and become little people with successes and attempts, failures and mendings.

But this is the selfish part of me.  Joyfully watching them from afar, the rest of me understands a little better what it is to be human–the interweaving of given and created, archetype and individual, connecting and separating.  And it all starts with those few words, “I’m going to school too!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

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.