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

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Last Few Mouthfuls

This week has been chock-full of all the best of the season: wildflowers, corn on the cob, amazing body surfing, golden sun, grilling, ice cream, parties, picnics, laughter, extra hugs and a touch of sunburn thrown in for seasonality.

When we are about to switch gears like this, summer into crisp fall, hot weather into cool nights and leaf scented breezes, (pumpkin lattes, pumpkin lattes, pumpkin lattes...) it's easy to just throw out the baby with the bath water and in our excitement about the next stage, undersell the last bits of the current stage and look right past them into the thing that's coming.

The other day my aunt mentioned that she always feels like September is better beach weather than people are willing to notice, often outstripping June. Let's notice. Let's keep on summering, finishing those lists and squeezing the last little bits out of the season. It's good, you know, to the very last drop.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Monday, August 25, 2014

Ru, Right Now.

Time to have a son-hunt...peer through the minutia of details that make up my oldest and figure out what is new and different, what hasn't been mentioned, what's unique and what is important in his world. Things change, lets notice, shall we?

Ru Likes:

  • The color lime green: His surprising new favorite. I was totally taken aback when he told me. I had no idea. It was red for the longest time.
  • Frozen yogurt joints: This is one of his favorite solo outing locations. The frozen yogurt bars with pump your own machines and a long  buffet of toppings are popping everywhere around here lately so they make handy places to bop in and have some quality one on one. 
  • Friends: This kid is always pushing us to get out there and get connected. He's an immediate fan of going to anyone's house or meeting anyone at the park and is always asking when is the next chance to have a friend over. Love it. 
  • Hugs: This kid can't get enough physical connection. He's my oldest and still one of the snuggliest. A (who is teaching math at our house) has figured out that the best way to sweeten the dreaded subject is to reward hard work on a section with a snuggle session on Daddy's lap. Love that he holds my hand when we are out and about and comes up for a squeeze whenever he thinks of it. I hope he holds onto his love for affection and warm touch. 
  • Leave It to Beaver: You can thank me. I introduced him and now his brothers and Lockbox are subjected to an instant suggestion of, "What About Leave It To Beaver???" whenever we get a few minutes to watch a little show. They are not fans. Oops.
  • Combing his hair in funky ways: I think I need to buy him some gel. He's old enough anyway...every morning I have "comb your hair" as part of each boy's morning routine and he got really excited about it when he realized that meant he could comb it however he wanted. Almost every morning when he goes up to brush, he comes down with a new part or a zany do. Have to take pictures of them and post a collection. We have a Crazy Hair Day coming up this semester in our co-op we are part of....I think he'll be pretty pleased. I see him nailing it.
  • What Does The Fox Say: I have a pre-teen. He looks and sounds just like a pre-teen when "his song" comes on....more so when he has guy pals rockin' along with him in the car to this insanely ridiculous song. 

Ru Detests:

  • The word "sassy:" We have been having a challenge with getting him to remember to make respectful word choices and remember to use a polite tone of voice. Somewhere along the line I picked up this word and reflexively use it to remind him. Somehow its like nails on a chalkboard. He hates that word, I'm trying to walk a line between remembering to use a word that he isn't so reactive to (rude, inappropriate, disrespectful) and trying make sure he remembers to be polite even when I do use the word sassy. Tricky stuff, this parenting gig.
  • Spaghetti squash: At our house spaghetti night means spaghetti squash with the customary pasta fixins. Ru has taken to skipping the squash which he claims gives him a headache (tall tale? Hmm) and just eating the meatballs, sauce and cheese. I hated all squash as a kid and he still eats other kinds with impunity so I feel bested. 
  • Making his bed: He has a top bunk. Making bunk beds is the worst. I hated it that part whenever I slept in a bunk bed and I hated it all through the years when he couldn't make his own bed yet and I was making his bunk bed. Making bunk beds is the worst.
  • Having his nails clipped short: Every time I trim his nails he's after me to be sure to leave him a little extra space. I even bought him a nail brush so that he could keep his slightly longer nails clean. Maybe he's destined to be a classical guitarist? I wouldn't cry.
  • Readers: He's learned to read and he realizes that "readers" are dumbed down fake books with thin to no storyline. He recognizes that giant print and the absurdly clipped words and he's not down with that and he's no dummy. Time for real books. Big boy stuff, yo.
  • Mosquitoes: I mean, who doesn't, right? But, seriously...he's my paranoid skeeter man at the moment. Maybe its living in our yard where we have somehow managed to cultivate a special environment friendly to mosquitoes, they descend in clouds in the late afternoon. He's our bug repellent guard dog, anytime he notices bugs biting he runs in and gets the spray to douse his brothers and himself and then when that particular stage of the evening arrives where they become irrepressible he shoos his brothers inside because he doesn't want anyone chewed up. Love his vigilance.
  • Strict People: Some people thrive with structure and love people who make the firm lines clear to them. Some people respect leaders who are disciplined, and then some people feel like those kinds of adults are walking around with a stick up their rears. Ru really doesn't like extra stern folks, extra strict people and people who are very hard-line about rules. If you can't loosen up, you might not end up on his favorites list. The idea of martial arts has kind of faded after visiting a class we thought we'd put him in around the corner with a very strict, traditional teacher, direct from Japan. Ru blanched and said, "Um. How about skateboards?"


Friday, August 22, 2014

Poetry Friday: One For Therapy

Dear World,

Its Poetry Friday. The weekend can begin now. A little balm for the soul, a little meaning for the road, a little dose of wisdom coated with deep noticing for what ails you. Lets have a poem.

A Poem For Hard Times

Poems are where your sobs come out in
Pointy, adverb strings, all the clauses sticking
Together like mucus or stress or a migraine the size of Canada.
We can click or scribble the physicality of
Our upset, the ocean liner size of it all
Honking out our lumbering pain, rhythmic (or not)
We can write stories we never owned that tell the
Fizzing, splattering, drippingintheicecolddark feelings that we live.
Poems can be canvasses for smearing our bright
Progress...the passage from a thick, globby raw umber
To a smeared gloss of cerulean blue in the far corner.
We can have poems that are for chewing on,
Instead of gnawing holes in our childhood loveys
Between our bone grinding sobs.
Poems can be there. They can hack it.
Poems don't blush or tell, or give a damn.
A light drift of verse can also be a rope out of the pit.
When you have cried yourself to sleep and wake up
Hollow, rasping in your shell
A poem can wink at you and kiss your hand
Pulling you upright, into the world and yourself.
And then it will lie there, after you have dressed,
Gleaming on your pillow while you make it into your bed
Waiting for you between your sheets and the quilt.

You can find other contributors at Live Your Poem, where Irene Latham is hosting this week's jamboree. Have a mug of tea, sit in silence and contemplate your own breath, read a  poem for each down beat of you heart and then have Saturday. Happy Weekend, Friends. May there always be poems in our brains....


Tuesday, August 19, 2014

I Can Have Cookies Magically

We are hitting new stages at our house all the time due to four little boys who are constantly upping their game and discovering the world. This week we reached the, "Bake Their Own Cookies" stage. Ru asked me if he could make cookies and told me that since he knows how to read decently now and he could tell that I was working on dinner...he'd do it alone!

And then, because he's a total extrovert who always feels better working in a crowd he recruited all of his brothers to be a part of the occasion, including the naked, potty training toddler. Ha!

It was amazing! He found the recipe, read it, got out all the ingredients, made the cookies and put them in the oven and then cleaned up the work area!

Voila! Life is amazing. He's 8 and we can have fresh cookies whenever we say the word.


Monday, August 18, 2014

Now, The Best Time of Year

Summer is waning. We are still wearing t-shirts and tank tops but we're keeping our sweatshirts handy and most mornings I pull on jeans before I run down to start the coffee maker and level off the chicken feeder. The garden is all seedy and disreputable, the support stakes are leaning tiredly and the borders grown over with grasses chickweed. I am starting to make lists of autumn bulbs and think about where to park the chicken coop for winter. Its a season of stripping down and organizing, busily strapping on our routines and making labels for everything.

This weekend we had A's youngest brother visiting us. He has just moved to our coast and is going to be living in Boston for the next couple of years so we celebrated with an inaugural visit together filled with every good thing.We had late night discussions, morning coffee, road-tripping, beach walking, garden tours, a tea party and many a book discussion. Ru was so enamored of his uncle after a weekend of his excellent company that he got up early this morning and lovingly made him a dozen cookies to take with him on the train. Love feeling so rich in family and seeing how feeding belonging and a sense of connection is for my children. They just bloom under it all, like so many little seedlings.

I was still chewing on all the goodness from the weekend and needed a meditative but energetic project. In a fit of caffeinated enthusiasm I spontaneously attacked the pantry after breakfast. I pulled it all apart and scrubbed the shelves, dusted out all the stray onion skins and found all the glass canisters that are empty and need refilling in the bulk department. I put a little drip of wintergreen oil in it and when Ru came in the room looking for me he said, "It smells like root beer in here, or fall spices or something." I was telegraphing autumn through the house, telling everyone including myself that it was time to switch modes. The squirrels in our garden are whittling the sunflower heads down to sawdust and carting away anything salvageable that shows up on the compost pile within minutes and there I am, playing squirrel in my own pantry, dusting off the spaces for extra onions and squashes and potatoes. I can feel the change coming and the mourning for the blazing, high summer with and orchestra of crickets that threatens. I keep forcefully working on now. Right now it is not Autumn, as good as it sounds, with its chimney sweep appointments and hickory nuts and dusky evenings filled with silent, falling leaves. Now is now. We've passed the peak of summer. The days for sun tan oil and perpetual barefeet, we are in a magical time with 80 degree afternoons and chilly mornings with tea cups on the back step. We hear the cicadas singing and most of the garden needs nothing more than a lot of deadheading. The sprinkler still wants a little use and there are nubbins of sidewalk chalk calling to be turned into dusty rainbows on our front walk but the starlings are visiting in flocks sometimes, just to shake it up and bring all of us to the window to watch their random robot walking and their bright yellow bills stabbing the lawn. Now is always ephemeral and more specific and perfect than any seasonal cliche and always the most important thing is to be paying attention, listening with our whole selves.

 “In this moment, there is plenty of time. In this moment, you are precisely as you should be. In this moment, there is infinite possibility. ” 
― Victoria MoranYounger by the Day

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Deciphering The Garden

Dug the potatoes today and then sorted through them and all the new squash (there is soooo much) and played mandala making with my takings.

So strange to make peace with what a garden gives in some ways. We had a decent purple, fingerling potato harvest but the handful of miniature sweet potatoes that you see above are really all we got. And yet we are overrun and awash with unexpected riches of those tiny chalk white pumpkins which came mysteriously out of the compost pile, utterly unbidden. Gardens reflect the unpredictable whims of nature AND the energy or laziness of the gardener. The trick is the message is untranslatable for anyone but the gardener themselves. Only I can know that the sweet potatoes were given everything their little hearts desires except blazing hot weather for weeks on end or that all those white pumpkins are a tumbling, pleated, pile of gifts that I never dreamed of asking for. I love the way a harvest keeps you guessing and thinking. Who knows what next year will hold?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Brave, Rainy Days

It was clear the minute our feet touched our own yard that rain was in order. The strawberries had wilted away to floppy little copies of themselves and the hanging basket by the back door was mostly yellow and crunchy. I was so relieved yesterday evening when it started to sprinkled and bluster.

The only downside was that in the night we were totally startled awake by the loud cracking of a splitting tree. The next door neighbors have a massive, massive white pine that stands taller than our house and although it appears healthy it would utterly destroy our home if it suddenly fell some stormy night. I think A and I both harbor somewhat obsessive fear about the idea although we try to dwell on it or be ridiculous. You can't go chopping down any tree near anything in the neighborhood.
A's subconscious mind was on red alert apparently because, out of a dead sleep he catapulted both of us out of bed at the sound of the tree splitting. Triple Axel Wake Up was a pretty hilarious move when we discovered that it wasn't The Big Pine after all, and then sad after all when we realized it totally destroyed my sister Lockbox's boyfriend's back windshield since his car was parked on the curb in front of our house.

After that excitement, its been a pretty simple day. We have been catching up mail duty, writing notes, addressing cards, coloring pictures to mail out, thinking of cousins we'd like to send messages too....that sort of thing. The postman has a whole stack of correspondence to collect from our front box.

We also made gak slime from Borax, water and Elmer's Glue....and read extra stories. This afternoon I am hoping to drop off our official registration for Homeschool Co-op since its that time of year again and maybe if I'm lucky the curricula I ordered with be delivered. I feel really nervous about trying a curricula for the first time ever this year. I am very concerned that our learning at home not become dry, burdensome and blandy "school-y" in style. I really prefer to do, see ourselves, live, flex and have firsthand learning. I'm a mixture of Unschooling, Montessori and Charlotte Mason if you know anything about educational philosophy. I did some soul searching over the summer and decided that I really would love a neat schedule for what to do every day, all plotted out for me so that I have to do minimal planning and can focus on tweaking and teaching. That's the whole point of curriculum. Enter my exploration of the idea of buying one. If I have to pick I think I'm mostly Charlotte Mason by allegiance so I did some scoping online and purchased Living Books curriculum to try out. Stepping out. Trying new things. Reminding myself that I am the mistress of my choices and I can choose to try things and to quit if it doesn't work.

I love feeling that I can brave and make bold, even uncertain choices and learn from them while not being bound to my learning on the go. Are you trying any new, brave things right now?


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Summer Isn't Over List

This is the one final push. There's about a month left of summer, that epic, open ended time full of carefree adventuring and outdoors fun. Because I am a lists girl and because I believe in seizing that day, I thought I'd listify the stuff I haven't ticked off yet this summer.

Lists help me let go of things I mean to remember, otherwise they keep popping up randomly in my mind and then I forget them and then two more pop up and are forgotten and I accomplish my goals haphazardly with a lot of niggling background stress about stuff I mean to do and things I forgot. So, here's what's rattling around in my brain at odd hours at the moment:

The....Summer Isn't Over List
  1. Have a proper picnic. 
  2. Go swimming at our local beach 5 more times. 
  3.  Go peach picking.
  4. Can tomato sauce.
  5. Go horseback riding with Ru and maybe Dee. 
  6.  Take a daytrip to Concord, MA.
  7. Go fishing with the boys.
  8.  Make popsicles.
  9. Go hunting for chanterelles.
  10.  Have a lawn breakfast party.
  11. Finish the brick edging on our front walk.
  12.  Drink more juices!
  13. Catch a local baseball game with the boys. Bridgeport Bluefish, here we come! 
  14. Bake a lemon meringue pie.
  15. Take a surfing lesson.
  16. Watch the sunset over the water. 
  17. Paint my bedroom.
  18.  Raise a monarch butterfly.
  19. Go see the lighthouse in Manhattan.
  20.  Visit the aquarium.

 What's still left on your list? Don't give up! Strategize!


Monday, August 11, 2014

Back Home....Reboot!

And then there was the time I went meandering off to the Pacific Northwest and fell into a giant black bloggy hole and didn't post at all for three whole weeks! Whew! I didn't mean to do it, I really thought that I would be clicking along in the evenings recording all our adventures and staying in touch like I did while we were in California this past fall. Sometimes you can do it, and sometimes life has other plans.

 I managed one measly post and found that there was a bug in the app I use for mobile blogging (I don't have a laptop that I can take on the road so blogging on the phone is my go to, when not home). Anyhow, it turned out that the app wouldn't work properly and refused to allow more than one photo per post. It sounds kind of silly now, but I think I felt like posts with only one photo weren't worth it. So, I just went AWOL. I think I meant to do an explanation at some point in the trip to let my readers know what happened to me but I never really did.


Anyhow....three weeks on the road and now we are home. Whew. It was such a long time away that I heard A telling a friend the other day that he had forgotten which direction the light switch flips in his own bathroom. Strange to feel those muscle memory habits fade because you've been away so long. Home feels just slightly odd.

I am feeling daunted by the massive weeds in the garden, the gigantic house to clean and keep renovated, feeding and caring for all our animals and the enormity of keeping four little boys occupied and happy without a daily itinerary. I know there were tools that I had set up to manage all these things. The boys take care of some of the animals when they are in the swing of things, normally I am not slogging through jet-lag so I get early before the family and have a little jump on the day and normally I keep up on the weeds day by day and they don't get out of hand. I'll get in back in hand, I know I will.

I am rebooting my healthy eating, trip food is fun and celebratory but not particularly the way I want to live. I am resuming my standard of one sweet treat a week, aiming for organic, and eating the triad of meat, produce and dairy while trying to have three colors of produce at every meal.

We've also been playing games together, the boys are actually decent players at Uno, Set, Go Fish, War, Monopoly and a beginner version of Scrabble which I like to call Camaraderie Scrabble....no competition, open hands and lots of cooperative help about coming up with words that we know how to spell. Also, I realized why my grandma kept the scrabble tiles in a ceramic jar with a lid. You can't have too many tiles, they are always scooting away under the couch, and I can understand why...not only are they small but they just feel so good to handle....all silky and meditatively smooth. I'd like a jar of them just for running my own fingers through in the early morning while I drink my tea. :) Our little garage sale set of Scrabble is now a bit shockingly short on tiles so I think a bonus purchase will be in order. They have to sell the tiles alone someplace online, right?