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

Monday, January 26, 2015

Bring It On, Juno!

We are waiting for Winter Storm Juno to roll into town. A has flown the coop for California, making me hold his breath this morning about whether or not they could get manage to get out of New York City and into the air. He's off now, on his way to the land of palm trees and internet start-ups and I'm here, stacking up a little extra wood beside the fireplace, stirring the hot chocolate and watching the snow start to fall.

I have to say that there is nothing like New England before a storm to make you feel festive and cozy. People love to gripe about the lines at the store, the empty shelves and the advanced school closures. I used to think that people around here were terrified about storms but thinking about it this morning I changed my mind. I think that storms in our area are a rarity, and locals feel a sense of pride and celebration about this kind of a small catastrophe. Everyone is out stocking their front porches with snow shovels, salt and scrapers and waving to each other, all my friends are checking with each other to see what movies and board games we have all stocked up on for weathering the blizzard. There's something kind of yesteryear and community oriented about the whole business. I feel like we should all meet at a diner after the storm abates for egg creams and toasts.

This area doesn't see regular snow in the winter but I have to say that when it comes, we know how to make a season into a real sensation. Storm Parties all 'round!

I just got a call from the governor's office ordering everyone to stay off of all roads after 9pm and requiring everyone in my city to remove cars into private driveways. Feels kinda real! Now I just need to put something in the oven for dinner and pick out a late night, mama activity. Bring it on, Juno! We're ready to rock and roll!


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.


Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Delicious Words

"I want to practice some words that are not my name, Mama. These are the words I want to know how to draw...."book, pineapple, candle, star and flower." -My Preschool Student

I feel like I'm doing something right. 


Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Library Day: What Are We Reading?

Today is Library Day...and there are ever so many things to research as always.

Top Topics To Hunt For This Week:

  • Arizona Travel Tips (We're going for a weekend in March!)
  • Watercolor Projects (I'm teaching a class for Middle and High School students.)
  • Lego Ideas (Everyone's obsessed)
  • Crystals (Today is Science Day...we had a gorgeous snowfall....and crystal study came to us)
  • Gardening (The seed catalogs have started to arrive!!!! YAY!)
  • Jewelry Making (We moved on from ice crystals to rock crystals and suddenly we were looking over our rock collections and pondering pendants.)

Epsom salts crystals....so pretty!
Crystals from our collection.
The winter time is the ideal time to library our little heads off. So much wonderful cozy, indoor enthusiasm and so much dark and snug time to read. Reading is one thing I'm really going to throw myself into again this year.
I had a less prolific reading year in 2014 and I miss it a lot. I have so many books on my list and a stack of them that are waiting in the wings on my bedside table but I need to knock a few of my in-process tomes out of the way first.

I'm currently reading:

The Rosie Project
Parent Effectiveness Training
The Bible's Cutting Room Floor
Sex at Dawn
The Gifts of Imperfection
Eating on the Wild Side

No duds in the batch...although some of are the type I need a break from periodically because they require some processing.

Monday, January 5, 2015

New Year's Resolutions, 2015

"Dear, Darling New Year.....I love you! Thank you so much for coming!" <3 p="">

A new year is the perfect boost to have planted in the middle of winter. I am making lists of resolutions, thinking about what I want to accomplish, what areas of my life need addressing and planning what I want to let go of from 2014. So much hopeful material for the 365 tomorrows ahead!

I believe fervently in making resolutions at New Year's. I think its a good exercise to evaluate where you stand, what progress you're making and how your life choices are lining up with your hoped for goals. Its hard to end up where you mean to when you don't keep re-focusing!

I also find that sometimes there are surprises, things I didn't plan for that are wonderful gifts....even in catastrophic form. Its really healthy to be able to notice and call out the good things in your life. We all need to grow and improve but we also need encouragement and that's part of why we need to review and digest our lives sometimes.

I want to be the kind of person who is never stagnant but always growing and improving, trying to learn and change. In order to make sure that my resolutions aren't just ignored or weakly tried for a week and then dropped, I always make certain to make measurable, concrete goals that are specific and achievable. Instead of  "Get Healthy" I might resolve to: "do yoga three times a week,"   "drink a glass of water first thing each morning," and "eat a salad four times a week."  The things I am working on this year are big and small....all kinds of stuff but they are all specific:

My much loved year workbook. You can get one too at Leonie Dawson's website

 Resolutions 2015

1. Make an ancestor wall with framed pictures of our parents, grand parents and great-grandparents.

2. Get two professional massages over the course of the year. (I've never had one before!)

3. Start a monthly family movie night.

4. Paint my bedroom.

5. Fly a kite.

6. Finish the brickwork on our front walk.

7. Go visit the Alcott House.

8. Take the two older boys out for a fine dining outing alone with Mommy.

9. Make tissue paper flowers.

10. Sort and cull the sports box.

11. Prune my clematis.

12. Buy a new juicer.

13. Go visit three far away friends.

14. Take our family Christmas photo in October.

15. Have my grandpa's paintings re-glassed.

16. Get one of my orchids to bloom.

17. Attend my book club 8 times.

18. Make two meals out of my Thai cookbook.

19. Have five hot baths.

20. Make shell art!

Not all your resolutions have to be life-changing, they can be funny or trivial or indulgent. There are so many aspects to life and so many things that we need to remind ourselves to include. I feel like the new year is a chance to tweak and focus in on intended direction. What do you want more of in your life this year? What did you never get around to last year? What needs changing? What parts of you need letting go and what parts need watering?

Happy Clean Start, everyone!

Friday, January 2, 2015

Poetry Friday: A New Year Comes

Happy Poetry Friday! Boy, has it ever been a while since I've participated. There's no time in the universe like the start of a new year to turn our hearts back to poetry. Whatever else this year may have for us, let us all be able to say that it holds more poems. Read other people's poetry, sing your poetry, rap your inner poem, or write it out with ink but get that stuff out and into the universe.

I can't wait to share with you my goals, lists, inspirations and reading plans for the coming 12 months. I like almost nothing in life more than I like a brand new year. Lets read about how it feels, shall we:

The First Month

Just the barest tip of a velvet beginning:
A year that is pink and wobbly legged,
Newly opened and untouched with tears
Under its wings lie messages, wishes, prayers
All of them creased into its first tender embrace.
Remember how to greet it properly?
You must let it kiss you on the mouth.

Join other Poetry Friday participants as we make a giant list of poems: old and new from many bloggers this month over at The Miss Rhumphius Effect.

A mug of hot tea and a candle and the Poetry Friday list is my favorite way to spend a lazy Saturday morning. I wish you a year filled with umpteen lazy Saturdays and so many good things!