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

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Missed Sap Seasons

 Its Sugaring Season here in Southern Connecticut. Yet again, I have considered but then skipped tapping the maple trees here on our city lot. Only one of our trees is a sugar maple but we have several other maples, red and Norway on our city lot and any maple, as a learned a couple of years ago, can be tapped for sap! Maybe next year. I have to buy a few spiles and buckets and stop making plans to run away to the tropics screaming during the exact week that the sap runs hardest where I live. Heh. We leave for Florida soon.

 We are taking a class at one of the local nature centers (the kids and I, although I have to admit that I am a tag-along and the class is supposed to be for my sons) and today it involved a hike through the snow and sparkling sunshine to inspect the woods, chew birch twigs together (Mmmm!!!! Wintergreen!) and take peeks into the first few filling sap buckets. Next week we are promised tastes of maple syrup since they will be hopefully getting enough sap to start boiling it down. Even without any action, it was super fun to visit the sugar house and pat the stove and sit together on hay bales around it. Maybe next year is the year that I will put on my giant canning stock pot and keep the stove at a simmer while I lug buckets of pale golden water indoors triumphantly. I'm quite keen on the idea....I just keep forgetting every year. Maybe I should put a reminder in my electronic calendar that will go off mid-January and tell me that I want to tap trees. "Order Spiles and Scrub Out Canning Pot" it could say. Laura Ingalls, move on over.

 The boys and I got out our first big teeny piece jig-saw puzzle after dinner tonight. I was giving them lessons on sorting out the edge pieces and examining the cover illustration for small clues on the gray shag rug in front of the fireplace. So much fun. Dee took to it like a duck to water, I had to pry his little engineer hands off the project when it was time to take a break for the night. A's family are great puzzle lovers and my ended family love puzzles quite a lot although my own natal family group didn't do them much at all. I think my Mama found them tedious or boring or maybe the baby was always losing pieces and the dog was always eating a few and somehow that rattled her..... Anyhow, its kind of a new pasttime for me and I feel really happy about bringing some piece of A's childhood into our family activity.

 Joke books are huge this year, especially with our newly confident reader who is suddenly devouring everything written within reach. He's incessantly reading his new joke book that he got for Christmas and loving his new handwriting book which has him doing jokes for copywork. Such a hilarious, brilliant otter idea for a kid like mine.

Well, its time to go to bed. The quilts and down comforter are calling and my good man is waiting. I hope you all have a snug night and wake to a day full of challenges and excitement, little gifts and new lessons. I am thinking of you out there as we pass the middle of the week, as my tiny nephew recovers from his surgery this morning, as my garden sleeps under the snow, as I plot lesson plan in my mind, as the mending sits waiting in the downstairs closet and as we all recover, rest and rejuvenate under the half moon. xoxo!


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Amish Parenting and Seed Catalogs

Reading a really great book about Amish parenting, believe it or not. I am really struggling lately with teaching my children to not be prideful and haughty, getting across the ideals of industry and conscientiousness and getting at the soul of helping to instruct in kindness. Most of these things are weaknesses in my own personal character too which means that I'm searching for ways to teach myself and guide myself as I struggle to get across to my boys. Parenting is the most fantastic muscle work! Seriously!

I am not finding the book astoundingly revelatory, the author is no researcher and sometimes isn't able to pinpoint what the Amish are doing differently but there are hints and clues and some clear ideas. Its also just a super interesting cultural narrative, there are lots of things I didn't know about the Amish: they occasionally allow....movies, video games, cell phones, divorces, visiting with shunned folks, birth control, junk food, puzzles etc. Fascinating to imagine their lives and look over the landscape of their world for useful principles, ideas or viewpoints. I wish I had an Amish neighbor. The warmth and support sound so indescribable, especially in the stage of young motherhood. My Mennonite roots start to show during reading and I find myself missing some of the older, more devout, grandmas of my childhood church. Makes me want to go can a giant batch of apple sauce....and read more Amish literature!

Today was cold again, the sun still shines though which makes it so much more bearable. I don't mind so incredibly much when it is sunny during the day and then the wind kicks up as darkness arrives and the temperature drops. Its kind of cheering to snuggle down under the down comforter with my man and listen to the howling in the branches of the old white pine that towers over our house. We have however been freezing our pipes and bringing in eggs that have frozen and split from the coop. Its great pruning weather though, so I need to get my snips all dusted off and get out there and shape up our fruit trees. I am thinking that next week might be a great time to make sure that gets done! Spring is coming soon and now's the time to make sure that we've finished all the winter jobs. Isn't that a cheering thought!?!

Another thing I need to work on is planning out the vegetable garden. Last year's simpler garden arrangement went fairly well, so I think this year I will do a similarly streamlined plan. Not a million varieties, just the basics, and clean, neat planting set-ups. I see a date with a thick stack of seed catalogs in my near future. Mama morning time with a steaming cup of tea by my side as the sun rises and boys snore! YAY!

Sending you lots of cheering energy as you while away the last hours of winter, plan your spring, travel for breaks, try to get yourself out of bed in the morning, smile even though the wind bites and wrack your brain for creative and energy consuming things for kids to do indoors! I am on the same program. Lets keep on!


Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Lenten Sunshine

 Spending so many days indoors lately. Between windchill, cold temps, deep snow and mama laziness about dressing four kids up and down in all the required layers...we've just done a lot of holing up. The boys are starting to go a little crazy. Now that we are officially 29 days from Spring, I have managed to finally get each boy a set of real winter boots and an actual winter coat that actually zips. (How did my parents do it?!?!?! They had six!!!) We are finally equipped and the weather is starting to lift a little.
 The icicles are melting in the peak of the afternoon, the sky is aching blue and the sun is beaming down a lot lately. We have been braving cold and just going out and playing in the sun and snow until our hands ache. Its such a tonic just to be in the sunshine. Light matters.

 I was so excited last year when I bought a Seasonal Affective Disorder light to use on darker days. Hah. The boys stepped on it this year, round about November. I haven't been able to justify getting another so I've just been making it through relying on other boosters (liver, magnesium, coffee, hydration, visiting with friends, extra hugs...) to carry me through.

Today is Ash Wednesday and didn't make it out to get blessed or ashed which is a tiny bit sad. I also didn't run in a mad panic around freaking out about making it to church on time. There is enough space for everything in my life. I can do church and blessing and even ashing (heresy!!!) in the privacy and quiet of my own home sometimes and have a more holy interlude for the day I'm living today. I keep reminding myself that Lent is a season for letting go. I have a lot of that to do. Burying and symbolically burning and mourning the things that need to stop. This year I am fasting from close parking spaces, and leaving my dirty dishes heaped in the sink. I am going to try to write a few extra letters to those I love and drink more water and take time every day to do a little sacred devotional meditation from this cool website I just found called 3 Minute Retreat. Such a manageable, approachable, bite sized amount of devotion. I can do that.

Soak up all the sunshine where you are and think of us here, sending us the extra rays for our dark days yet ahead. Spring is still coming....

Thursday, February 5, 2015


Thinking fondly of my roommate sister tonight. Living together has been fun and full of good times, laughter and girl adventures. So glad she came to stay at our house. It is also real life.

It is not one long slumber party. We have rubbed each other the wrong way, had arguments that made both of us cry, fumbled with common standards and practices that would be agreeable to both of us and danced around awkwardly trying to both have romantic relationships in the same space. I have to say that although it has been tricky, it has been one of the good choices in my life. When you get the chance, live with those you came from and do it with a stethoscope on your own soul. If you can learn from it and stay soft under the experience it will be the best kind of school and a way to know yourself and your family better.

Thanks for all you put up with and bring to the party, Lockbox! xoxo

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Fat, NYC and Loving My Shadow Self

It is winter and I have gained a little weight again. Not a lot of weight, not even an amount of weight I care about very much...but its noticeable enough that I went up a size and that I feel larger. Something ancient and real about the very nature driven urge to have a little extra padding, or else to move less in efforts to conserve strength, heat and energy. Because I was paying attention last year and the year before I am pretty sure that this is a cyclical thing for me. I am my thickest and most muffled self in the cold months and then I shed the extra and am a more wirey version in the summer heat. Very, very hard this time of year to think about getting up and actually shuffling out in the pre-dawn chill for my once a week, sunrise yoga class. I am totally okay however, with perpetual mugs of tea with cream and honey.  We are just living the other half of the equation now and remembering that we are creatures who till and garden and harvest and adventure and dance and also creatures who burrow in and sleep extra and recover.

 We went down into New York City tonight to see A's work and have dinner together. Pom was so excited about all the hustle and bustle in the city. He kept yelling, "Taxi!!!" and "I sees two peoples!" and other key sights as we drove along. I felt so stressed about trying to drive down into the city with the boys and find parking myself but I really wanted to be brave enough to handle it so I told A that I was game. I was not above texting him when we had arrived and asking if he wanted to come down and help me park. Imagine, if you can, how astonished I was to find out that the curbside parking spot I had pulled into, at the front door was perfectly legal and free! Sometimes life is astonishing.
 The boys and I are going to start work tomorrow on our valentines. So many, many hearts to make and cut and paint and stamp and draw on! I am thinking about the very ambitious plan of making enough to mail to all their cousins AND all the kids in their co-op on Fridays. Am I crazy? At least I am not buying little gifts and making hand crafted astounding little gift bags and rhyming limericks for every child we know! How do some women do it?!? I feel like I am totally hitting it out of the park if I manage to pack snacks for a day's outing. I did, truly, and really astonish a friend with that simple feat today. I'm not a fussy mama. I'm not even a prepared or organized mama although I do at least aspire to those goals.

Then again....I need to remember this yin and yang, this teetering and tottering, this time-for-everything-reality. I stumbled on this poem by Haafizah the other day and it made me smile and remember to appreciate my double sided self. I want to be neat and orderly but I also love passion, flexibility, and visual chatter....the things that make me who I am.  Love your shadow self and the self you aspire to be. They both matter and they are both real. 

Monday, February 2, 2015

February Floridian Dreams

We have sifted on into February, all the snow finally coming in poofy piles and heaps, our snow shovels dusted off and being all loved and hefted every day. We now have a little banks on either side of our driveway and this morning when I shoveled I was having a little trouble stacking more snow some places. Its kind of cozy to have so much white stuff outside and the boys sure have been logging sledding hours in the backyard.

My hens are hiding in the coop and sometimes making it out in the yard for a tiny peck and forage in the snow in the afternoon but mostly they are sitting indoors, fluffed up, snuggling together and doing little more than looking outside through the door for variety. I have to say that I can relate. Its the time of year for reading, circling things in seed catalogs and baking....but not much else. I went out this morning and shoveled until I had cleared the whole front walk and then part of the driveway and I felt all woozy and dizzy by lunchtime. My body is not used to vigorous exercise + multiple cups of coffee. Whew! Back to the books and the research and my paint brushes.....with maybe a few more detours for movement in between.

We were hoping to go to Arizona this year for a little mid-winter pep. Some of our friends from the homeschool world moved to the Pheonix area and a little desert visit sounded like just the thing in the dregs of winter. Unfortunately, I am not super adept at internet ticket price nabbing. I totally missed the amazing tickets that saw when I first shopped the idea out. So, the whole idea of a desert tour has gone by the wayside for this year. $399 per person was just a little out of our range. We did however manage to flex a little and snap up some seats heading to Florida in March for a week. We'll stay in some little out of the way corner and recharge, scavange shells, drive out to The Keys, see alligators and manatee and hopefully drop in on our numerous friends and family in The Sunshine State. Being flexible is good and being in Florida in sludgy March sounds great. I have been perusing Pinterest for great ideas for one or two key daytrips while we are there. So many pictures of sunshine, palm trees and surf have to be warming me somehow, right?

Now, I'm off to research "best way to weatherproof doors,"  "crockpot dinners" and other important things like, "what do meercats eat." Ah, internets....you are so good to us. We here at Homeschool Central and HomeStead United are forever in your debt. What would we do without you on a chilly winter day when bundling up in snowpants and damp knit gloves seems like way too much work?