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.)

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these ordinary things: hearth

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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Years of dreaming, several months of planning, a few weekends of work (yes, with a hole in the roof), some help from friends, and the wood stove is finally in.

For six years we have been transforming this neglected structure into our home.  There are the big things–two of our children were born in the room they currently sleep in.  And the unnoticed things–the daily ritual of sweeping up dust, sandbox sand and muddy boot prints.  Ensouled with all of it and every in-between, this home now has a life of its own, and in its hearth the heart’s transforming power of warmth. Not the abstract warmth of a furnace that somehow manufactures heat from the bowels of our house, but the right-in-front-of-you sacrificial combustion of sunlight and sap.

Somehow, gathered around its warmth, we find our inner selves again, so easily avoided in the endless distractions of modern life.  Then, turning outward, we hope to bring the powers of the heart with us.  And returning, we find the home fires diminished, but never quite extinguished, just waiting for replenishment.

 

 

 

 

these ordinary things: when plans change

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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When Mattheus awoke to find that Opal needed to stay home sick from school on Monday, he became quite the grumpy fellow.  Monday is Mattheus’s home day, and now with Opal in preschool, he usually gets Mama all to himself.  He returns surprisingly quickly to the way it once was, in those early days with just him, Mama and Papa.  Even though he was too young to remember it consciously, there is a rightness for him when he has us all to himself.

This eldest child of ours does not manage very well when plans change.  He likes life to be predictable–the day is a map he unfolds in his mind.  And from this particular change of plan, he never quite recovered.  He pushed and poked Opal and me all day.  Provoking any attention he could, positive or negative.

But in between, he was a big brother, taking little sister by the hand and inviting her into his play: a board game, knights and princesses, snuggles.  In between he tried to be flexible, accept what was.  And he grew just a little bit, just a very little bit in his humanity because he was faced with a disappointing and challenging situation.  In between, I was so proud of him.

 

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.

 

these ordinary things: saying yes

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Throughout our days with four and a half year old Lucien, we are just as likely to be redirecting a storm of aggressive limbs and biting teeth as we are to be swept up by his expansive joy in life and heartfelt regard for everyone around him.   On the difficult days, it’s easy to fall into a kind of assembly-line-style-parenting: just get it done so we can start again tomorrow.

And then he tenderly asks if he can help (in the kitchen, always in the kitchen) and the word “No” flashes across the screen in my head.  When I take a deep breath and say yes, the connection I find heals all the moments of mutual frustration.  Not just yes to the spilled flour and egg shells in the batter, the pancake flipped halfway off the griddle, but yes to the path we are walking with him.  Aggression and tenderness.  Joy and teeth marks.  Heart force and restlessness.  Without judgement, only compassion, and saying yes to his little limitless life.

these ordinary things: a dream

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 have a two car garage with a flat roof on our property.  As garages so often are, it’s so filled with all variety of odds and ends that have nothing to do with driving.  It’s a poorly used space, one that we hope to completely overhaul someday: more animal space, guest house, roof top gardens, but in the mean time, we have a smaller dream in mind.  Like most of my urban gardening growing friends, I never walk around our little property without an eye toward where we could grow for food.  I’ve been peering up at the garage roof for several years, and am hoping next year might be the year we get a couple of raised beds up there.  The logistics always hold me back, and surely, the fact that we’ve got enough on our plates without more beds at the moment.  But there’s also a little indulgence in living in the dream.  In seeing it all as the ideal living in my head–the endless ripe food abundantly waiting for the canning jars, the glimpse of the Rockies turning purple in the rising sun as I bend over to harvest and set the irrigation hoses.  Those are the images that keep us going when the weeds are overtaking the carrots, and the irrigation hoses are making us feel like we’d better off living in the rainforest.  We need both of course, the dream and the reality, but in the midst of high summer, when the practical is breathing down our necks,  those someday roof top beds are a nice place to rest the mind for a moment or two.

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.