choosing thankfulness

Today I choose to be thankful for the things I forget are gifts.

For the perpetual mess that reminds me of magical play.  For spaceships and tepees, farms and firehouses, treasures and collections.  Memories and problem solving in the making.

IMG_0355

For the dirty dishes in the sink and the good food we shared while laughing (and yelling and crying ) about our days.

IMG_0381

For the dirt tracked in on boots and dust blown through heating vents that collects in the corners and clings to the baseboards of our little red house.  This house that keeps us safe and warm.

For the daily 20 minute ritual of negotiating getting dressed with a sanguine child who, while bending over to pull up her tights, realizes that there is absolutely no better time than the present to practice her yoga poses.  Best to be reminded of the important detours in life from time to time.

IMG_0393

For every household task that takes 10 times longer because these children just have to work.

IMG_0366

For barn chores in the winter cold, and knowing where our eggs and milk come from.

IMG_0400

For remembering the joy we find when following the yes-to-life energy of a small child.   Small dusting of snow on a frigid day an obstacle to sledding?  Certainly not!

IMG_0414

And for the karma of community, family and partnership in all their forms.  For the unconditional love and measured respect we share with each other, and the moments that we bump into each other, rub each other the wrong way, step on the wrong toes.  All the little moments that propel us toward ourselves each and every day.

IMG_0409.JPG

IMG_0369

 

 

return of the rainbow fairies

137

134

This time of year the Rainbow Fairies return to us, casting their changing constant selves on the surfaces of the house.  The maple tree sheds its leaves releasing our house from the shade of summer , and the low hanging fall sun finds its way into our windows.  Outside the days are shortening as we sink into winter darkness, but inside our little red house, this same light shines more brightly than it does at the height of summer.  As we tuck in the garden and watch the squirrels filling their nests, we see the light wake up in our house and in our hearts.  Now all that we have gathered of the summer’s bounty can bloom within us.

Turning inward we find the core of our family again.  No longer scattered about the yard, hands in the dirt, but lying on the floor among the puzzle pieces or intently bent over handwork projects.  There is plenty of running into each other, of pondering how we will survive the years on top of each other in 1000 sqft.  But along side this are the miraculous moments in which we remember what a gift it is to all be here together.  That in all the many beings in the universe, we have had the good luck of finding each other.

intruducing felix

IMG_0364

“If you have three, you might as well have five,” someone once said to me about large families.

I’m not sure I agree on this when it comes to children.  Then again, I don’t have five kids!  When it comes to farmlette animals, however, it seems there is a point when one more isn’t such a big change.

A week ago Lucien and Opal and I were racing out the door to pick up Mattheus from school when this gray and white guy ran into the yard.  We’ve tried to find his family, we really have, but it seems he found us instead.

All week we’ve called him “laundry basket,” after his favorite sleeping place, but as it seemed more and more that he was here to stay, we settled on Felix because, well, he is a Felix.

He races around the house at all hours of the night and day, exploding from corners to attack tiny bare feet.  He seems to find amusement stalking Enkidu, our (how come he is so much bigger than yesterday, Mama?) seven year old big black cat.  Enkidu looks down his nose at Felix, wishing he would “just grow up, for goodness sake.”  The sunbeam on Mattheus’ bed is already a favorite sleeping spot.  Our chocolate lab, Mosie, is pretty excited about the bowl of kitten food on the bathroom floor, which for some reason needs constant refilling.

As for me, I can’t say Felix feels like he’s part of the family yet, but he is growing on me.  I think he will find his place yet.  Here’s hoping it’s as a good mouser.

the courage to be unfinished

193

All these long months I have been away, I have been examining this full and miraculous life that I share with my family.  As I collect years, I am beginning to sense what it means to hold what I am capable of and letting go of the rest so that I can still find balance.  I think in our youth we want to do it all–participate in all that is life.  And I for one have spent many years muscling through, trying to do just that, for I find each hidden corner of life so marvelous.  But, life with small kiddos and doing it all are not good companions.  I have come to see how simple life must be for our young family, so that we may find health`, and be present in all of these fleeting moments of the small child.

But what do we let go of?  What can wait until that all too soon time when they are spending their days at school? It’s hard to let things go, because some force in the universe wants us to be anxious that we will never get them back.  That what we let go of now will be lost forever.  Perhaps this will be true, but I must find the courage to trust that the important things will be waiting in the wings until the time is right.

The great gift of life is that we are all unfinished.  That what we need to become more ourselves will emerge out of the great tableau of life.  That each day we can be reminded that perfection is static and devoid of human personality.  That we can forgive ourselves and each other our rough edges and embrace what it means to be an evolving human being.

Even when we don’t blog for four months 🙂

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.

DSC01918

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.

summer days

DSCN1567

Oh my, dear friends, how busy our days have been.  I move through the day composing snippets of blog posts in my head, but each moment is so full of all things summer, it is hard to sneak a moment to sit down at the computer.  And, let’s face it, after supper, when half dressed children are running through the sprinkler and planning camp outs, the desire to pull out the guitar and play as the summer evening seems to draw on forever, well, it always wins.

But here I am, summoning some discipline and wondering where to begin sharing all of the magic on the farmlette.  Here are a few, rather, a lot of snapshots.

DSC02065 DSC02030 DSC02026 DSC02017DSC01932 DSC02020 DSC02014 DSC02010DSCN1544 DSC02011 DSC02013 DSC01943 DSC01912 DSCN1569 DSCN1550 DSCN1545 DSCN1539 DSCN1542 DSCN1536 DSCN1535DSCN1519DSC02036

In the garden we are beginning to sense the fullness of the approaching harvest season.  Piles of green tomatoes are yearning for a good stretch of hot weather.  The garlic is in, and what will likely be the last of our spring greens planting.  Both of those beds, along with one more and the cold frame will be getting a good load of compost and manure to prepare for fall/winter.  This is our first year doing cool season gardening here, so it will be an experiment.  We still have a bit of work to do to get the actual frames ready, but there is time.  The peas, we have had such an oddly long season, are finally done and we will pull them up this week to throw into the goat pen.  Greens, cukes, zukes, summer squash, strawberries and the first cherry tomatoes are coming in, although nothing in huge quantities yet.  We’ve been sneaking a few beets and carrots in the name of thinning.  For the third year in a row our beans have done very little, so I will have to give that some serious attention this winter.  I planted some greens under our maple tree this year, hoping they would do well in a shady spot during the hotter months, and so far they seem to be doing well.  Herbs are drying by the bunches and I think we’ll have enough to get through the year.  So far, the only new obstacle this year has been combining companion planting with our irrigation system, which is a necessity in Colorado.  The few things I planted not directly on irrigation lines are doing okay, but not quite getting enough and so I end up spot watering quite a bit.  So more winter thinking on that one.

DSC02018 DSC02001 DSC01987DSC01921DSCN1388 DSC01936

In the barnyard the kids have grown so quickly.  They will be big enough to go to their new homes soon.  The bucklings don’t have homes yet, and we are still on the fence on how to proceed with them in terms of keeping them intact or not.  We’ve chosen not to disbud them, so that may complicate homing them.  However, there must be someone else out there who sees the value of allowing these lovely animals to live the way Mother Nature intended.  Time will tell and it is all a learning process this time around, so when we find out how difficult it is to home a horned goat, we will have more information for next time.  Our little chick is all feathered out.  Hen or rooster?  Well, that remains to be seen.  Either way, it ended up being the only addition to our barnyard this year.  We’ve separated out our first batch of six hens to slaughter this fall so that we can fatten them up.  We all have mixed emotions on this, but the reality of urban farming is that there is only so much space.  If we want to continue striving for our ideals of sustainability then we have to also strive to accept these compromises.

DSC02076 DSC02080 DSC02079 In the studio, well, I’ve not been down there very much.  I have managed to get the buttons on those baby boy Hawthorne sweaters which is good because those baby boys are getting big.  Hopefully they will fit well for fall.  The body on my FLS is done!  And then there is those sleeves.  I always tend to stall out on the sleeves, just an old habit of mine, but perhaps when the cool weather sets in I’ll be ready to plow ahead.  I have a gathering collection of quilts in some stage of progress, four now, I think.  Fall will be a busy time.

DSC02061 DSC02060 DSC02059

August 1st always brings images of school along with it.  We begin to look forward to the stability of a rhythm, to the way our minds are a bit clearer when the sky is crystal blue and the breeze is crisp.  To the renewed intentions we’ve let go of during these hot hazy days.  The great expanse of summer, the urge to free oneself from all earthly responsibilities is so strong, that eventually I find myself craving the grounding of fall.  But it’s not here yet.  We have a few weeks left of no schedules and siestas and late bedtimes.  A few more weeks to share long visits with friends and pull out the fiddle and guitar after supper.  A few more weeks to fill ourselves with the ease that is the slow paced life, centered around what needs to be done each day, right here on the farmlette and no where else.  A few more weeks to insulate ourselves in this haven from urban life.  And that’s just what we plan to do.

And what about you?  What is August bringing to your life?

five and half

DSC01951 DSC01954 DSC01948 DSCN1593 DSCN1458

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.