Monday, January 31, 2011

To J, On Your 35th Birthday

As I write this, our fourth son, the boy who is my little "you", is in my lap proudly saying "Mama! Papa!" as he looks at these pictures of us.  His hands, little miniatures of yours, pointing at the screen.  
Today as I rocked this little feverish man, holding him all day, I thought of you.  I thought of our beginning, and our "I do", and how far we have journeyed together.

 J & I our first year together
 At music school together

I thought about how crazy our coming together was.  Me yelling "I have a crush on you" across campus that moonlit night.  How the next time I saw you, you squeezed my hand.  How you picked me those little purple flowers that spring and I pressed them in my book of Tennyson, because I knew that I wanted to keep them forever.  

I was so young and foolish then.  A whirlwind that caught you up in the beauty of things. rooted me.  I felt planted when I was with you.  I still do.

 J in Venice (a few days before we were engaged)  
This trip was so surreal.  Touring, singing, and being so sick with colds.  Seeing all the beautiful things with you.  Feeling like we belonged in the world.  

Life with you has been so good.  Better than I could've imagined.  It isn't a whirlwind of romance anymore.  But it's so much more than that.  So much better than I even knew could be.  You have taught me what real love is and I'm so glad for your patient heart.   

Thank you for working so hard for our family.  For going to work every day for us.  Thank you for giving me these beautiful boys.  Thank you for loving them, and cultivating them with so much care.  Thank you for listening to me even when you're tired and for loving me even when I am a porcupine.
 I always am at my best when I'm at your side.
I love you.
Happy 35th Birthday.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Reading and Writing

Learning at home has been really rewarding lately.  We've had several days where each boy has been really engaged in what we've been doing as a group!  And several moments where everyone has been involved in their own thing so that Mom can spend time one on one with them.  How or why this happens I do not know.  Because honestly, there have been several less inspired moments of homeschooling these boys.  I suspect though, that it has something to do with capturing their heart!  When in doubt make them fall in love with you.  No, really!  Show them that you care about their heart, and then your relationship enables learning and being in harmony.  For real.  But, I digress.....

I have been working on building Cricket's confidence in the reading arena.  He is so capable but doesn't always believe he is.  So....this week I made him a scavenger hunt.  Always a good idea to encourage reading.  This one was secret writing.  White crayon on white paper.  Then at the start he received his first clue and a marker!
 I stuck with just one word per page because I wanted him to feel super successful! Socks.  Go socks drawer!
He ended up with a small ziploc of organic chocolate chips.  :)  I'd read for chocolate too.

The next reading and writing activity we have recently tried are Writing Journals.  I just bought each boy a writing pad.  Then each day I write a word, put a sticker, cut and glue a picture, or draw them a picture for them to write about.  I've thought about starting a story too, and having them finish it.  They love it!!!
 Badger's story.
Cricket's Story.

I loved writing stories when I was a kid, and I hope my boys will too.  So far so good!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Icy Art

Snow.  Cold.  Ice.  January.
It's been hard to get the gang outdoors, since it's been in the single digits here for days on end.
So I sent them out to find some treasure.  
For an art project.
Who let that boy outside in ten degree weather with holes in his jeans?
He came back with this.
 They each filled a pan with pretty things, and arranged them just so.
 Then we filled them with water.
We all guessed how long it would take for them to freeze, but we were waaaay off.  Even I didn't guess it would take more than 7 hours for it to freeze completely.  (we don't know the precise time, because we stopped checking after dark.  faint of heart, i know, but single digits.)
 In the morning we brought them in for a look.
 The day was lovely, so we all went out to find places for our ice suncatchers to hang.
 It seemed a shame to disturb this artwork to hang our own.

This was such a fun project for us.  They look just lovely as the light comes through, and it will be fun to watch them change and melt as winter finishes its fury and blows away for another year.

ps.  you may have noticed that the black walnut from the original photo is not included in the frozen art.  a hungry squirrel collected it before the water had frozen!

Monday, January 24, 2011


You may remember, a while back I started sharing The List with you here on the blog.  It started around Thanksgiving, when I was pondering what it meant to be thankful, wondering how to teach this to our boys.  Then, fatefully, I stumbled upon Ann, at a Holy Experience and things began to change.  She just has a new book out now, called 1,000 gifts and it is phenomonal.  Life Changing.  And I'm only 3/4 of the way through it.  I would tell you more about it, but I think the best way to find out is to go watch the book's trailer here.  Seriously, go watch it.  (just scroll down a wee bit to the picture of the boy with the fish!) The trailer in itself is really, really beautiful.

Now....about the List.  I've realized that being thankful is not just a feel good thing.  It's not something to do when you have time and want to see your life through rose colored glasses.  It is consciously choosing to accept God's gifts.  It takes practice.  It brings joy.  It changes you.

See the thing is, I've tasted it now.  And I want more.  So, I've begun in earnest.  I have a book on my counter open all the time and I'm writing the words down.  Little glimpses of how God sees me.  His call to me.  His love.

#4.... little boy's drawing of another knight.  the carefully drawn armor.  his stories. his thoughtfulness. light of the sunset over the snow.

#6....boys pretending to be hermit crabs on the kitchen floor.  tucking into their shells whenever I walk near.

#7....snuggly dog.....

#8....snuggly dog that cleans up spills.'s willingness and good humor to do the exercise video with me.

#16... tea and scones with my boys.  little hands cupping tea, and whipped cream smiles.

I'm still counting....still missing much that I don't see....but I feel as though I'm being opened up....softened a seed that is just now starting to understand that it is okay to grow now.  To let it happen.  It might hurt....being alive always does. Growing pains.  But I'm going for it anyway.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Boys' New Project

We are all excitement over here!  

So excited that they are all happy and in one spot!  What has their attention?
These little guys.  Oh you can't see them?  Well....they are hermit crabs.  The boys have been wanting to keep some crabs for quite some time. (like over a year) And I am all for following interests, but at the same time have been putting it off because I like to protect our priorities a bit and not just create more work for something that is just a fleeting fancy. (not that fleeting fancies are all bad)

Earlier this month I got my hands on a copy of this book, which I've been wanting to read.  It's all about simplifying your life so that you can be free to live more fully.  It walks you through how to think about your lifestyle, how you want your family to be and then how to organize your house to make it a place that cultivates that lifestyle.  It's really a great book.  The second half of it actually walks you through the process of going through your house room by room and getting rid of unneeded stuff!  Whoo hoo!

I mention this because, it was this book that finally helped me rehome our beloved fish and put away our giant fish tank for awhile.  It was one of those things that everyone loved but no one wanted to help with, and it had become a burden for me to keep it clean.   We also recently went through all of our books and movies and got rid of stuff that honestly wasn't worthy of our time.  With the money that we got from selling these we purchased our new little friends.  The boys loved the concept of making money out of something we already had and putting it to use for a new adventure.  Hurray!

We spent last night all gathered round watching the little guys race around the room.  Hen especially is interested and it's so fun to watch him explore just how close he can get before the crab snaps shut in his shell.

 Papa even got in on the fun.  One crab kept trying to go up his pant leg.
 I had my camera handy and had a nice time catching some photos of the boys.

And here they are up close.  
And, Bravery.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Crochet Fun!

I've been making small crochet pieces and it's been so much fun!  Here are a few recent creations.

 Flowers and Sea life.  That yellow swirrely creature is a sea star.  
 I made this little guy for Owl.  He loves him!  And loves to act out the sea star eating the crab over and over again.  
 I couldn't resist making a snail.  Can you imagine him on a little one's hat?  Or as a lapel pin?
 These flowers were so quick and fun to make!  
 Can you tell from the photo how three dimensional the flower is?  I love crochet for that reason.  You can make any shape you like!
A pansy.  He lies so nice and flat that I was thinking of sewing him to a piece of felt and making a nice bookmark for a friend.  I also have ideas for attaching a whole bunch of flowers to some beautiful handmade rope to make a garland!  Wouldn't that be awesome?!?  The possibilities are endless!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Thoughts on a Snowy, Feverish Night

Some days are challenging for the mother person over here.  I really love these boys, this man, this house....this life.  I am so glad to be here, alive and well, and able to work and think and love.  I see my mothering as an opportunity to show these little people and this man how very much I love them.  It's so practical, isn't it?  Every time I choose to serve them (think...wipe a nose or bum or do another load of laundry) and I serve willingly I find a joy that awakens me in a way I have never known before.  It's really so cool and even though I am the one experiencing it, it is somehow not of me and I know this to be true.

Today just when things were getting challenging....a sudden feverish afternoon slipping away from me with nothing really "done" (i'm working on a deep clean of the house)....the littlest boy crying, crying, crying and me not being able to figure out what he needs.... I walked around my kitchen with no real purpose thinking how I wish my mother were here to help me.   Or how I would just like to complain to someone, as if that would help me.

Just then, I looked out the big kitchen window and saw a mother deer and two fawns walking through the gently falling snow.  They visited our grape vines looking for any little bits of goodness to nibble and then over to the evergreens to graze on the tops.  It was so calming to see them, and I felt reminded of the story of how God takes care of even the sparrow.  And how He knows the number of hairs on my head.  And I told Him how I felt about the fever and the cleaning and the crying and the no supper ready and I felt much better.   I watched the snow fall and He set me right again.  And each time my faith is encouraged like that it grows deeper and more certain and the work gets easier and the joy deeper.

The boys are settling in for the night.  Papa's reading stories to the little nodding heads.  I'm going to conquer the laundry and the dishes and the bookshelf that needs some help.
G'night, friend.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Crochet Flower Rug

One wintry day this past December, I decided to unravel the giant lambswool sweater that had been sitting in my closet for too long.  It never fit right, and it was such a nice big sweater that I thought it would be good to repurpose all that yarn.  It was a good choice.  I made a nice scarf and this rug for my friend Jess.  

I didn't have a pattern, just an idea of making a rug with a flower in the middle.  I used some colored cotton yarn mixed in with the lambswool, and I was pleased with the result.  It's unusual, interesting to look at, and feels good under one's toes.  I hope it looks nice in my friend's home.  I hope many little kid toes linger on it after bathtime!

I love making rugs!  My brother gave me a rope maker for Christmas and it's really fun!  I've made a few different kinds of rope with it and now I'm experimenting to find the best way to sew the coils together to make a rag rug.  Sometimes I wish these kinds of skills were still passed down from generations before, but oh's to embracing the path of learning!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Taking Notice

The day started well.  Fresh snow.  Berry cakes.  The last of the brambles from summer's goodness.  Warm coffee and a place on the bench next to my beloved.   J and I now sit together on the bench at the table.  We started it to break up a kid brawl, but decided it was a good move.  Coffee is always better with your man when you are accidently brushing shoulders.

 When J headed off to work this morning I admit I felt a little overwhelmed.  It seems we have not fully climbed out of the lazy holiday times, and the house is still a bit messy too.  As I cleaned up the breakfast dishes I chatted with my Cricket and noticed his long, long hair.  Oh yeah, I have to cut hair too, was my thought.  Why is it that I see the things that need to be done, instead of the people that need to be loved?  I mean, both are important, but why do I let the things that need to be done make me feel overwhelmed? Shouldn't I just dig in with a cheerfulness that comes with loving and serving those around me, those that I love?

 (this pic is because I know you all were wanting to know what he was drawing!)

So after one more cup of coffee I dug in!  Haircuts for everyone!  And three hours later, I kid you not, they were done!

 After lunch, we went outside to play in the snow.  It was the first fresh snowfall in a while, so it was extra enjoyable.  Hen learned how to pull the sled.

 Badger worked on a snow fort, although I think he decided there wasn't enough snow afterall.
 And Cricket, after making some snow angels decided to pull Hen around the yard.
This is my favorite moment from the day.  Big brother helping put on a mitten.  He was super patient as he helped with this, over and over again.  And it was a good reminder to me about my own attitude and how I too want to be so kind.