"She refused to be bored, chiefly because she wasn't boring." Zelda Fitzgerald

Monday, December 31, 2012

Paternal Instinct

Sweet little man, caught him at the window with his baby doll in the sling he got for Christmas. Love catching my boys being sweet, makes me feel so hopeful.


Thursday, December 27, 2012

Winter Minutia

There is something very crisp and healing about a winter hike. Even here, in the land of very little snowfall the winter woods feel cleaner and peaceful. All the inhabitants of stream and leaf are sleeping deeply or gone away all together and everything from bud to burl is snugly folded for the resting season.

The palette is a simple: khaki, bone and taupe, so that every little snip of color shows up like a blinking sign in the even landscape. Its good to be outdoors and to feel pure solace, no chance of meeting other hikers on the trail, and hear only the hoot of your own voice or the echo of a raven's call in the distance.

Its time for little things to have a small moment to shine: the dark maroon purple of a wineberry leaf, the chartreuse carpet of moss under rusty oak leaves, the glint of mica in a trailside boulder. There were no bird's nests this hike but I always like to look for them once the leaves are down and all the occupants have flown off to other habitats.

 Away from highways and crowds and busy activities you can finally hear the drip of water off the spruce tips and the scuffle of a squirrel over the next rise and the rattle of the dead beech leaves in the wind. Small beauties, little things...but good to remember. All these small things are there, under the momentous importance of our busy lives if only we will take the time to bend down and see them.


Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas 2012

We spent much of Christmas 2012 wiping noses, dosing out painkiller and getting up in the night with stuffy toddlers; real reality for sure. We also had some moments of pretty idyllic beauty, and it is all about perspective, isn't it? Big warm mugs of mint tea, boisterous carol singing in the car, our record-best gingerbread cookies ever, homemade pomanders, snowflake cutting that drifted the table full one night before bed, and a 3 AM wake-up of enormous excitement on Christmas morning.

I am busy processing everything I've learned and missed learning in 2012 and gearing up for exciting new clean slate living in January! Hooray for The New Year!!!!

A very merry Christmas to all of you (yesterday was only the first day of 12!) out there in the world. I hope your pain this year was your teacher, your joy was deep and your hope springs eternal! Much love from all of us here at Chez Armstrong!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Growing 32

I have begun my 32nd year. 

There are 32 teeth in an adult's mouth naturally...should his wisdom teeth grow in straight and strong. I am here standing beginning my 32nd year and watching my baby get his first two teeth at exactly the same time. I feel like I've cut quite a few ivories myself this year in the development of my character and personal growth.
This last year has been a year of big spiritual understanding for me, a year of dreams, a year of finally feeling like I grasped some shred of motherhood, a year for cracking open myself and understanding pieces of humanity and myself that have puzzled me for ages. It has been my maiden voyage into the role of educator, a year of discovering nutritional health and healing and a confirmation of my household as a place where multiple men will be born and come of age. I feel wiser this year, more hopeful, rooted, and more pleased with who I am becoming than ever before. I am letting go of fears I never knew were poisoning me, opening my inner door to hope and love and freedom of a richer kind and learning  the beginnings of what it means to say no from a place of deep health and warmth and positive energy.

He has two teeth!
Newtown happened on my birthday this year and I've had more than one person tell me that they are "so sorry" this happened on "my" day. While I understand the sentiment I feel in some ways like it is also appropriately emblematic. Life and growth don't happen when things are simple and peaceful. Those are time for reflection and soaking in warmth. True strength is made perfect in weakness and true beauty is only shown in contrast to broken ugliness. I'm not asking life to hand me trouble or sadness or calamity but I am expecting that what God gives is my intended spiritual exercise and I am slowly learning to unclench my fists, look for love and resist nothing...even the things that need to change.
Roses...which came to the door for me from my parents and sisters. Love with petals on. 
As my state heals I am praying for growth in the healing.... for love to abound and out of it for people to find hope and peace and great vigor. Life is a miracle, however speckled with pain and darkness....the bright glimpses in between are shot through with incredible stuff that I lately can't even express because it is so beautiful and I increasingly feel so lucky to be a part of it all. 


Thursday, December 13, 2012

Music for the Little People

We used to live not far from the campus of Yale University. It was my first brush with something as entirely upper crust as The Ivy Leagues. (there really is ivy in quantity if you wondered) I was cowed and awed and underwhelmed all at once.

This week I took my two oldest boys back for a special big boy outing with Mommy to hear the symphony perform their annual concert for children. It was a beautiful day and we wandered around campus both before and after the show, meandering under a Calder sculpture, jumping a few puddles, and counting gargoyles on the tops of walls.

I feel fond of Yale now. Fond of the oldness and the careful, minute beauty, fond of the importance and yet approachableness of it all. Anyone can wander into The Bieneke Rare Books Library or ancient, hallowed concert hall where we sat above a glowing russet string section and listened to Beethoven. Its all very lovely really and hard to believe this great alma mater of presidents is really also part of own tapestry of life, the place where my first child was born.

The concert was magnificent. Beautiful little dances and pastorals performed with great feeling by very young artists, directed by an apple cheeked, tweed elbowed young man who was an echo of Ru's godfather. The musicians wandered the aisles before the show and let little fingers run up and down their instruments and warmly explained what all the keys and holes did. And the energy in the hall was really vibrant and humming, nearly 1,000 school children all packed shoulder to shoulder in seats, the lower open level all bussed in children from various institutions in the area with their various teachers eagerly flanking their charges and then the great balcony above all homeschooler parents and their little free-spirited young. So amazing to look all around the great room and feel the hum of the eager kids watching and listening for the first note.
My favorite part was when Dee, sitting on my lap for a better view yelped happily and began bouncing when he recognized The Arabian Dance from The Nutcracker. That's my four year old there, recognizing and loving Tchaikovsky! Having my children feel some ownership and kinship in the arts makes me feel so good. The world is their oyster, as it is for any child...if they can wiggle to Tchiakovsky or play under a Calder so much the better. I hope they always feel the freedom to enjoy even the most pretentious appearing forms of beauty and feel that beauty is created for no man...and yet for all.


Friday, December 7, 2012

Poetry Friday: Winter Cherry Cinquain

Happy Poetry Friday! I am sharing a cinqain today, a shorter form but kind of fun for its simplicity and compact succinctness. Yesterday the boys and  I pulled over because I spotted the first blooms of tiny, flowers on the dormant looking branches of a Prunus subhirtella, the winter cherry. It was bitter cold so the boys all stayed bundled in the car while I braved the frosty air, breathing smoky clouds of breath on the branches in the sunlight. I took one tiny blossom into the car and let my four year old hold the tiny bloom up to his eye, examining the minute gold stamens with a smile. This is all in December, in New England...in below freezing temperatures, mind you.

 Last year I noticed the little blossoms in February by chance and went dashing home all full of global warming sadness and googled to see if other people in my area were seeing cherry trees bloom far, far too early.  Instead I met this particular species of cherry and found out that it was happily doing exactly what it was supposed to be doing....blooming "sporadically from autumn until spring." There is a whole row of them there, standing side by side all along the parking lot. This year, knowing they are there now the boys and I will keep enjoying the gradual, gentle show. I do love an unexpected pleasure. 

Winter Sakura
I find
Pale, petals
Fluttering in the chill park
December-time cherry blossoms.
Rosy snow. 

 Alison is hosting Poetry Friday round-up today over on her blog Robin Hood Black. Take a lazy, meander through the offerings and enjoy a little poetry with your Saturday morning tea. I am hoping to get a chance myself, mug in hand, baby on my knee....

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Dee Wonders

Dee asks me most wonderful questions right now. I write them down in my phone when I think of it. And sometimes I re-read the list to make myself smile, to look up the answers later for him when I have a moment and to remind myself to wonder about all the little assumed mysteries in the world. We are so busy sometimes that we adults (and increasingly even our children) don't allow ourselves  to stand agape at the puzzling tiny thoughts and the amazing ideas we encounter all the time.
Here are some of his best zingers, be inspired and listen for your own curious little thoughts.

Dee's Finest Questions

What does a baby's skull look like?
Why do raccoons wash things?
Could we go see people boxing?
How do ice cream trucks fill up?
How hot are fireworks?
What's the highest a person can count to?
What does a cuckoo bird look like?
And when do they usually say cuckoo?
How can Siri be in a phone?
What is orange pulp?
Why don't we hire some day-laborors?
What is snail slime?
What is inside a camera that goes click?


Monday, December 3, 2012

December Rose

The boys and I headed out to have a picnic lunch on the playground next door late this morning and this was blooming by the back door. :) Fun to have Botany play little jokes on us from time to time. No reason why we can't have the occasional rose in December. The norm is only what most often happens...not what must be.