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

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Hydration and The Ice Age

The nice thing about chilly weather is that I stay hydrated. I am living off of a virtual deconstructed i.v. of hot beverages, rotating coffee and tea by turns...dreaming of a hot toddy tossed in for variation. Also, I keep up on my wash...there's no chore in the world that sounds better than folding clothes, fresh out of the dryer.

The poor chickens on the other hand and probly getting very sick of their breakfast time slipping further and further into the morning because the resident farmerette can't seem to get up the gumption to go tromping out through the frosted leaves and fill their water and feed. Brrrrr!!!! On the upside, I have a new coat (this is surprisingly encouraging for outdoor chores!) and on the downside, it is after all, only November.

A was talking to the boys the other day about the concept of an Ice Age and their eyes got pretty darn wide. They like chilly weather as much as any kid. Snow is twelve shades of fabulous and there's almost nothing better than dipping your mittens in mud puddles after you have scooped out the ice film on the top, as a stiff November gale whips down the driveway. All that aside, I think the idea of an entire era of frozen living with snow and ice that was higher and thicker and colder all the time put the fear of God into them. They keep checking with me from time to time now to see if an ice age is starting yet. I keep reassuring them that that's not how they arrive...and that this is just New England in late fall.....I think. Time for another mug of tea. 

We are off to Michigan to see my parents, a couple of my sisters and my much beloved grandma for Thanksgiving this weekend and even though travel is a hassle and family can be stressful...I'm really looking forward to it. Its so good to be with those you know and to settle in where you are well loved. It is also such a comfort to know that even if I do that ridiculous thing where I always choke at dinner--just for tradition, wear earrings that are utterly too large and glamorous for stacking wood, completely forget to be on time to anything or boss everyone around non-stop they all totally get me and while they might laugh at me outright or roll their eyes they laugh, nobody will be disowning me anytime soon. Its all  part of the great comedy that is family. I'm me and they all get it. I love it.

 I hope you all have a cozy start to the holiday season, and feel launched into familiar places of festive dreaming, warm knowing and brave new edges of growth.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Never Giving Up On My Journal

I have been absent from paper journals for a few years. Like maybe 10 years. In my single days I was a pretty avid journal keeper. I filled several books, granted....mostly with drivel, but faithful drivel. I have been blogging which some people might say is "the same thing" but no, its not. Very few people blog the same kind of personal, raw, introspective, sometimes tedious things that we pour out in our journals.

I think I stopped writing shortly after I met A....there are a few entries through our early marriage and I think it really stopped completely after Ru was born. The only other personal writing that I have done is some dream journalling...trying to keep a written record of significant dreams upon waking. Also cool but different.

This year I went on a retreat and one of the things I came home with was that I needed to start journalling. I think one of the things that was holding me back is that life is hard and sometimes its rough to actively process the reality of it all by writing it down on paper. I've just come through a really tough period in my marriage and am also starting to feel like I am making real progress with parenting which are both super scary and huge and some piece of me wants to just avoid mentally engaging sometimes...especially with my inner self. I like to hide from the shadow pieces of me, the things that are hard or dark or angry or bitter and I like to avoid processing the really sticky and complicated, even overwhelming things because I hate conflict...even inner conflict. That said, this recent progress in my marriage and parenting is almost completely due to a new grit, a new determination to look at all the realities, to say hard things, to be honest, to be terrified and not run, to be angry and allow it to happen, to try harder and solve things and grow. Journalling came back.

I'm journalling differently this time. I'm the current me journalling, in my current stage of life. I journal short bits, phrases that strike me, things I am studying in nature with the kids, doodles, intense ideas that I just need to write down and want to come back to later, I write for 5-10 minutes at a time, I allow gaps....even long ones. No topic is off-limits, no medium or kind of writing or use of the book is forbidden. I'm opening up what journalling means to me and letting it be a place where I write whatever I want. I'm excited about coming back to it, about revitalizing something that got scary and dull at the same time, learning new ways to do things, not being a quitter and chewing on my own inner storyline.

Grow, people. Write. Draw. Sing. Play your thoughts out somehow, have a place to digest, face your nightmares, allow fooling around somehow in your life, be the dynamic sort.


Thursday, November 13, 2014

Seashore Cure

Well, we have....as I tell the boys....only two more sleeps until our family is all back in one location again. We're all good and ready for A to come home.

Today the weather was still insanely gorgeous. The day started off with a misty, fog that was stunning against the beautiful fall colors we still have and the fog burned off into a beautiful, if sometimes cloudy day. It almost felt like spring...the air was moist and warm and smelled of leaves and green things.

We worked in the yard a little. I raked leaves into the hen's new pen which made them tremendously happy. We finished the stone garden borders in the front of the house which I have been working on for about two years. SO AMAZING to have it all done! I keep looking out the window again to enjoy the accomplishment. I also laid a little more of the brickwork (mortarless) that I am using to edge our front walk. Should have taken a picture...didn't think of that. I am using salvage brick that is all red and the standard size but otherwise varies in style and design and mossy character. I love how its turning out. I have maybe one third of the walk left to finish although at the moment I am out of brick and need to keep my eyes peeled for more being thrown out somewhere.

Poor little Nib was sick again today. This is his second illness in the course of A's travel. I let him sleep in a long time and then we did some gentle things around the house and read a bunch of story books and then it was time for something cheering. The boys and I took a cloth bag for beach combing and headed to the ocean.

It was gorgeous. We saw a school of big silver fish, swimming and sometimes leaping out of the water. We found horseshoe crabs and ark clams and beautiful driftwood and more oyster shells than we could count. There are oyster beds right off the coast here so loads of their shells wash up. Some of them get to be enormous. I also thought to myself that maybe next time the chickens are getting low on their store purchased oyster shell, I could just take a hammer to some of the extra shells we bring home from the beach. Wonder if that would work?

By the time we got home Nib was feeling 200% better (there is no place better to recover than the seashore) and little Pom was taking his place with a clingy attitude and permanent bad mood. I have him draped across my lap right now while I type...his feverish little self snoring away on my knee.
Have to remember the seashore for the next time I get deathly ill...it seems like such a wonderful place to be sick. The air feels cheering, the sound of water is theraputic, there are shells for combing, there are birds wheeling over you and the endless water sweeping out in front.

Man, do kids get sick a lot. Good thing I have an immune system that can handle it! I can usually avoid getting sick and if I do fall prey I usually get a lighter version. I'm all for that.

Do lets learn invincibility!


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Reasons To Love November

This time of year is kind of one those in between stages....its getting cold and soon will be drab but we're not quite to the holidays. It starts to feel wintery but its not technically winter for weeks yet. Its a kind of a lull in the calendar...not much on the docket until Thanksgiving at the very end of the month. BUT, nothing is wasted....all things have meaning.

Why must we remember November? Let's delve.

Reasons Why November Is Fabulous:

  1. It is stunning! Where I live, leaf color really only begins in October and every year the truly breathtaking color is this month....at least some of it is. We have incredible frosty mornings that make you shuffle into slippers and catch your breath and then blazing, golden afternoon with sunlight shooting through every window of the house and making the maple above the garage simply radiate.
  2. Bulbs! I love my garden and I always think bulb planting is such fun. It feels special and happy but its easy and can be very cheap, depending on what you invest in. Even dollar stores sell bulbs in November. My boys all love when bulbs need planting because its such a simple thing that they can all help. 
  3. Hot coffee, hot tea, roasts, pies, baked chicken, slow roasted beets.....its oven weather! Finally, I can cook all the things that I have been dreaming about all summer and it feels so wonderful to open the oven door to have a peek and have all that deliciously scented heat curl out at your face. 
  4. Its Native Heritage Month. This is a hokey sounding official designation that became a little bit of a family tradition in our house after my friend Ashley started making a point to spend November looking into teaching more explicitly about native culture in her homeschool. The boys and I have so much fun learning about new tidbits, especially about the tribes that live and lived here in Connecticut. So many fascinating groups, traditions, crafts, songs, clothes and stories. This year, I am really hoping to get to the Mashanntucket Pequot Museum, which is up the coast from us and sounds amaaaaazing!
  5. Its early holiday season but its feels like the legit holiday warm-up to me. I am scouting cookie recipes, thinking a little about gifts, making my birthday wishlist (I have a December birthday) and mulling over menu plans for big meals together with loved ones and friends. This is the fun part....before the crazy hits. 
  6. Hiking season! This is my top, most favorite time of year for hiking. The weather is cool enough to not be sweaty on the trail but all the wildlife is out in full array, trying to get their larders and bellies packed before winter. And best of all...the horrible, terrifying, completely disgusting ticks that carry Lyme's Disease so rampantly around here....are hiding because the weather gets too chilly for them. YAY!!!!!!
  7. Gratitude gets the spotlight. I love this new trend of conscious and specific gratitude and right now everyone is all trending on Facebook with their daily November thankful posts. Sure, sometimes its annoying that every goes trite, starting with their family and having food and clothes but I love the thought and the occasionally sparkling and sincere grateful clarity about specific things in the lives of those I love. I try to use my Instagram account for a goal of making at least one daily post about some thing I was grateful for that day....and this month...I feel invigorated. 'Tis the season!
  8. Darker evenings. I know that its hard on my mood and everyone I know complains but I have to say that having a mug of evening tea or a fire in the fireplace with the velvet black in every window is 10 x's better than the bright summer night athmosphere. Also, getting four boys to actually sleep is soooooo much easier when it actually gets dark. I have to say, despite the fact that I am posting this at 1 in the morning....I'm totally ready for bed myself every night in the the post Daylight Savings time of year. Cozy. 
  9. Its Interior Decorating season. This time of year always has me re-invigorated about my house, renovation, moving furniture to different spots and painting things. I've been outside all summer...I'm ready to feather my nest. My new obsession is the show, Rehab Addict, a Netflix available, old house refurbishing kind of a thing with a young, blonde, mama lead character who brings old homes back to life while juggling the Little League schedule. I love it.
  10. New Linens. I try to replace some linens in the my house that need a little love every year in November. Most years I buy myself a new pillow (I like them nice and fluffy), its my personal indulgence. This year, I saved up and treated myself to a batch of new, white bath towels. November is a good month to snuggle down. 


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Loving The Hard Work Of Things

Whoops! Its tomorrow. I truly didn't mean to stay up quite that late.

When A is gone time becomes strangely plastic for me. I am astounded, even embarrassed by how much his existence keeps me on a schedule. Somehow, knowing that he is coming home at a certain time or that he is trying to get to the gym in the morning or that he will want to eat at such and such an hour is a major motivator for me. I'm glad that I care about him and notice what he wants and needs, I'm a little concerned (hence the embarrassment) that as much as I thrive on a schedule and feel that I own my own use of routine and timing....its rather quick to fall away and become a mangled mess as soon as A is out of the house. I am finding it terribly hard to do most any of the usual things with my former vigor: getting up on time, having proper meals, making sure the kids clear the table, getting the animals fed bright and early, etc. Someone tell me this does not equate to a complete lack of moral fiber and starch on my part. Anyone?

We did manage to get the chicken coop totally finished! I forgot to take a nice shot of the finished coop....I'll have to add one later in the week. Its incredibly nice, almost absurdly nice, really. The six hens seem to have settled right in and made themselves at home. They are laying without interruption and no longer having riots at the fence and trying to all moshpit themselves out the door everytime I open the pen. I'm glad to see them so occupied and happy. They're now stationed right next to the compost pile which is giving them lots of good material to scratch about in and for a chicken....life couldn't be sweeter than living in a redwood mansion over a pile of kitchen waste. Good times abound.

The boys are doing all kinds of little handicraft projects lately. Ru has been dabbling in woodcarving after one of our recent readalouds featured a Swiss woodcarver, Dee has discovered detailed paper cutting and paper chains and Nib is really into coloring books and has started some of his first clearly representational art lately. Even Pom has begun drawing his own little crayon scribble storms on paper....and only once in Sharpie on a dining room chair which I think is a pretty good score. I would love to get all of them to do a little bit of some kind of art to use for Christmas presents this year. Have to mull over how to work it all in. So many wonderful things to make and do in the world.

Off to bed now before the gremlins get me! I've got a full day tomorrow and brand new towels that I bought myself for a treat which require a hot shower during some mama alone-time early in the morning. Somebody remind me to let go of my insane need to procrastinate and actually stay on track with my schedule tomorrow. My guitar teacher wisely quipped this past week....."one of the great keys to life is to learn to find real motivation and personal pleasure in the practice and work of life because that is most of life." I feel the need. Have to figure out how that works and what you do to switch your inner switch.


Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Exhausted In The Autumn

So tired tonight, y'all. So tired. Also....it is 30 minutes past midnight and maybe that has something to do with it.

A and I have been slowly making shifts in our marriage and parenting plans...most of which are about more equality, more honesty, more acceptance. The upside is that I am getting more concrete help around the house, and being more verbal and truthful about what I need. The downside is that these California Weeks are SO MUCH HARDER!!!! Its amazing how much support one other grown-up who truly cares about you can be after a day of complete immersion with kids. Children are drowning in the drama and stress of growing and learning and being small and wanting to be big. Its super draining to be around. My poor sister Lockbox has been kind of shell-shocked by the enormity of living with that whole business.

After marinading in all that crazy, its immensely powerful to have another human adult be with you at the end of the day when the house is finally quiet. Its out of sight to have another human who washes the dishes while you put boys in pajamas, who turns down the bed while you put in a load of wash, who makes you a mug of tea while you change into pajamas. The thought of having that again after these California Weeks makes me cry....every single time.

Tonight is just one of those nights. I cried on the phone with A. I cried after I hung up. I am too tired, and I will feel better after I sleep. Also I am hormonal which never helps. (Must drink balancing herbal teas!) But truth, guys....being loved and supported is such a wonderful and important thing for me. I feel very lucky and can't believe that it took this long in our marriage to figure this out. Life is weird.

Tonight, as I tuck myself in and enjoy my starfish sleep positions....I'm sending out mad, mad props to you single mamas. You are heroes....I have no idea how you do it. Wanna grab coffee?