"Don't you stay at home of evenings? Don't you love a cushioned seat in a corner, by the fireside, with your slippers on your feet?"
-Oliver Wendall Holmes Sr.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

January Stillness

I keep coming down in the morning, turning the oven on and running back upstairs for a sweater. Its cold! Next, I turn on the coffee maker and sternly tell myself to caulk the ancient kitchen window. It really must be done. (I tell myself this every morning and some evenings) Then I stand on the cold tile and try to think of hot things to make for breakfast that aren't bad for us. Putting my fuzzy lined moccasins on helps me think. This morning I decided the answer was to bake sweet potatoes in the microwave and serve a half of a steaming potato onto each plate with mugs of tea as warming back-up.

The boys and I are enjoying quite a lot of sunshine right now, even if it isn't warm. The chickens are out scratching vigorously every morning in the morning rays...completely undeterred by their absurdly timed molting. There are feathers EVERYWHERE in the coop! It looks like a pillow exploded. The silly hens are doing their fall shedding in the middle of the peak cold time! Its a darn good thing they had the good fortune to be Southern Connecticut hens and not Northern Michigan biddies. Teach them to follow their own rhythms!

I am looking deeper and deeper into the freezer and the pantry and find myself thinking strategically about what to plant and harvest and buy and freeze and can this next summer. We could use more frozen veggies, frozen batches of quick breads, dried fruits, canned peaches and canned meats. Note to self....more of everything except bags of frozen zucchini chunks. We have enough of those.

Our hopeful plan to go see the desert of Arizona and visit our friends who have set up house there among the saguaro has melted away. I have learned a real life lesson about the wisdom of jumping on cheap tickets when they are spotted. This year, instead, we'll be flying to Florida and soaking up some rays in the Sunshine State. We found cheap tickets for the whole family to sunny Ft. Lauderdale so I am banking many hours dreaming about tanning in the sand while the boys play, doing almost nothing except letting my skin soak in warmth and my brain take a giant pause. Sounds so good. No theme parks, no marathon crazy plans, no insane amounts of highway to chase down and conqueror in a day. Just us. Just warmth. Just a break. March is coming.

In the meantime, there is tea, and mending with heart shaped patches for little boys jeans, there are friends to drop by and there are paints. .....the paints she had with her always.


Monday, January 12, 2015

My Morning Routine

Its a new year and that means that I am working on shaping up my goals, focus and productivity every day! One of the most talked about ways of putting yourself on the right track towards accomplishment and progressiveness is the secret of routine....especially, your morning routine. I'm all over that. I'm a big believer in starting the day on the right foot and aiming at a steady rhythm in life. My husband A and I are really different people in some ways, one of the ways we differ is in our relationship to routine. I didn't grow up in a very regimented family culture and have a lot more connection to following my own inner yens and also to passionate spontaneity. Your spouse can be one of you best teachers in life if you let them into your inner world. I have taught A about the power of spontaneous moments and open spots in your life, he has taught me the warmth and steadying power of routine. I will never be a person who schedules my whole life or slavishly follows the routines I do use but I have learned to really, really love having a Morning Routine to lean on in my life.

This is how I stay steady, how I get the day kicked off and how I maximize my productivity.

My Morning Routine

  • 6-6:30am Get up early before the family: For me, this part is key. I like the quiet, early part of the day because I have to it to myself, I am more productive if I have a headstart on the crazy, noisy, insanity. Also, its so peaceful to be up in the calm hours. I feel happier when I get up early.
  • 6:30-7:00amPersonal time (Set my MIT for the day [my 3 Most Important Tasks for the day], read, do art, sip tea, write....etc.)
  • 7:00am Boys Up: A few of them need to be shaken awake usually.
  • 7:15am Breakfast Prep: I have a breakfast schedule and I check the list and put out what I need to get out and pull together. I have optimized for a fifteen minute cook/prep time. Simple, fast, nutritious....that's the goal. Dee sets the table.
  • 7:30am Breakfast Together: We try to maximize our time together as a family and even though A works more than 40 hours and that makes it harder, one of the ways we've pushed our edge is by prioritizing eating together as a family at breakfast, not just dinner. 
  • 8:30am A, Leaves For Work: A walks to the train a few blocks away which means he is able to leave our single vehicle family with wheels and the boys and I can focus on staying in our groove while he takes off.
  • 9:00am-10:00am Chore Hour: We continue to wrestle with how we're executing chore time but at the moment each boy has a set of chores that are his duties and I have one big household job I'm working on every day (Monday is bathrooms) and during this time we all work on getting things squared away. The early finishers have free time until school starts!
  • 10:00-12:00 School Time: I am working on one subject a day with the boys and during this time I work on projects with them, do read-alouds, research things we wonder about and also help out A with the math that he is teaching by working with one of the boys a day to take some of the load off of him.
  • 12:30 Lunch: Morning is over! Time to eat. Lunch is leftovers. No cooking! Nib sets the table.
How do you plan your morning to set you up for success? This schedule is only what I'm doing right now...things change and I print up a new schedule at least quarterly to put on our fridge. What do you do to 


Thursday, January 8, 2015

Cold, Robots and Holiday Romoval

The winter cold has finally really found us. After a frozen pipe inventory (all bathroom sinks and toilets...) I pulled on extra layers to take the chickens their food scraps and also a new wad of straw for the next boxes and coop floor. Its amazing to me that the hens seem so fine in the cold but from what I've read they actually are in more danger during hot weather in the summer when we get into the 90 and 100 degree weather than they are from today's 9 degree chill. They might be fine running barefoot in the snow, but the girls still got warm water in their waterer and an extra handful of meal worms for a snack. The weather men tell us that there are days of super cold ahead of us so I'll be keeping a close eye on the hens, reading up on Pinterest recipes for breakfast porridge and turning our science walks into indoor reading time. Its still refreshing to go outside in weather that cold but it leaves you gasping and your hands burning after much less than a city block. Its reading weather.

Sometimes its nice to be the indoor pet.
I am slowly taking down Christmas. Today I am taking down the mini-tree on top of the bookcase and burning the branches that were on the mantle. I have put some of the special decorations from my grandparents collection on the mini tree. I like having them up out of the reach of little fingers but I love having them out and in sight of the whole family, being used and loved each year.

It has been grand to have them out but I'm really excited about putting Christmas away too. Tomorrow will be the day I attack the tree and haul it out to the curb! I'm intimidated and invigorated all at once at the prospect! All those pine needles! EEP!

The boys and I are painting a series of watercolor robots to hand on their bedroom walls. So much fun to be doing pen and ink outlines, non-realism, playful subjects and more cartoony lines. The boys are inspired and keep making new varieties of Lego robots. They are little figures, easy to slip into a coat pocket when running errands (even if Mommy does say to leave toys home) and just simple enough to teach to your little brother. Love finding them all over the house.