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

Friday, July 28, 2017

Reading Stack and Summer Lull

This week we are back in the swing of our own life again, finally. Part of the challenge has been not only settling in after a bunch of travel but also just changing our own set-up here at home. A is at yet another new job (he adores change and stimulation) so we have a new schedule to digest and wrap into our life. Its also a new season and the school year approaches which, as they say in You've Got Mail:
"...makes me wanna buy school supplies. I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address. "  
So, that right there is justification for self-organization and assessment and the sort of things I spent the morning on today: making up a new daily schedule, printing off my weekly goals, re-writing the kids chore chart (everyone gets a new chore at their birthday and everyone had birthdays). I am hoping to be absurdly organized and get the chore chart laminated and slapped with a matching dry erase marker in the next week. I have printed attendance charts for the coming school year (state law here in California for homeschooling) and have subscribed to a printer ink program so that we won't have any last minute panics about papers that are finished but need to be printed the night before co-op. Its a good time of year.

We are also in the middle of the lull season. We have had our travel and our excitement and now its time for things like grilling in the backyard, taking slow evening walks, watching the weed patches for caterpillars to raise and checking to see if friends can come over to play. Its the rest in the garden when the extremely fuss-free daylilies bloom, the dramatic peonies and foxgloves are over and the zinnias aren't ready yet. The roadsides are all chickory and oatgrass, no blooming trees anymore and not much else in view besides the gentle endless sun and the tiny basking fence lizards blinking at each other.

We are reading several read-alouds since I can't seem to ever get enough sitting around together reading at this time of year and the kids are just as excited as I am about all the options. We are listening to Pollyanna in audio form from the free and delightful Libravox collection and also reading the third Harry Potter book, The Prisoner From Azkaban which occasionally gets too exciting and full of plot tension to for relief we retire to Swallows And Amazons which is the best for firing the love nature and sense of capability in little boys, not mention a love of sailing....also on the stack at the moment is Dandelion Cottage, a vintage favorite about a group of little girls who play house with an abandoned cottage in their northern Michigan village. The boys always wish we could find a nearby house that's empty when we read the next chapters, and they start eyeing up the empty lot nearby.
 We recently finished Girl Of The Limberlost (added to my narrow list of favorites) and More All Of A Kind Family (book 2) all about our favorite, laugh-out-loud Jewish sibling set, total fun and lots of interesting cultural discussion to boot! We plan to read the rest in the series of both books.  Ah! So much good fun, take-you-away storytelling and interesting stuff to talk about together. We love our read-alouds. The new schedule at our house means we start breakfast early so I am stretching it out a little so that we can linger at the table together making up for the early start with a little reading at the table while we sip our tea and coffee and digest a little. Kind of lovely to find you have the time for some new little nugget of enjoyment. Shift and tweak, it isn't all difficult and grinding.


Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Tips From The Slower, Italian Life

Italy. Time to talk about it a little bit. The big thing I want to talk about is culture, the way Italians live day to day...although the food and sights and history were epic, of course...not in any way to detract from the gorgeousness of it all.

Italians do three big things differently than Americans which look to me like they would revolutionize family life and the mania of existence. I cannot stop thinking about these items and I'm still chewing on how to incorporate them into my life here and wondering how in the world they managed to create and maintain such a different standard for normal than we do.

They wash all dishes by hand. To make sure this happens, they don't own dishwashers. We AirBnb'd our way through the country and nowhere, at any stop was there a dishwasher but every single kitchen was equipped with a dish rack. I talked to a few Italians about this and they think dishwashers are wasteful since they take up space and use more energy than a sink of hot water and your own strong hands.

They hang out all laundry to dry. Another appliance that no Italian homes seemed to have was a dryer. I specifically rented places with a washer so that we could minimize our luggage and our spending by doing our own laundry as we went....not at one house was there a way to get the items dry quickly. They had lines or racks and maybe a big bucket of pins....but that was it. Get hanging. The most elegant sections of town have clotheslines at the windows.

They cook real food and eat it at tables. Always. That means no eating in cars on the way to practice or school, no dashing off to meet friends with a sandwich in your hand, no sipping a milkshake on the way out of work, no microwave in the kitchen and little consumption of packaged processed foods and a very high rate of cookery literacy. Nobody in Italy feels like eating real food that you made yourself is fancy. Its just normal. It took us a little while to figure out this rule and we made fools of ourselves a couple of times by snacking in public before we caught the drift. But now that I think about it....I'm smitten.

I can't help chuckling, envisioning American households trying to do without dryer, dishwasher, microwave AND snacking.....however similar this prescription is to my own anomalous upbringing. Most of our country is locked to these conveniences. What an interesting proposition it is to consider their elimination and think about what it would do to us. I think the big change would be a massive slowing down. You cannot run a life at top speed with no convenience cooking or on the run eating. You can't quickly run Junior's baseball uniform through in the short cycle and have it be of any use when all you have is a clothesline for step two. So much of the way we live is both facilitated by our convenience items and locks us into the trap. Italians also don't have every child enrolled in 4-6 different extra-curricular activities which eat up proper meal times and space for laundry sessions.

We are part of the way there on some of this stuff....intentionally slowing down and maybe even purposely hobbling ourselves so that we have excuses to stick to our slow living. We have four kids and no dishwasher and I had already been doing a bit to beat back the snacking obsession after reading Karen Le Billon's fresh, enlightening book about French food culture and parenting.

There is still room for improvement. I do have a big black microwave (that I am terribly bad at remembering to clean) that is squatting on my counter-top. I'm not sure I need it. I mean, I use it....but mostly for things like heating a mug of water for tea because we are too lazy to use the kettle that particular moment, cooking artichokes (because they take forever on the stove top) and melting butter for eating seafood. I'm not sure its bad to have one, per say....but I can see than they keep me on a fast track. I'm not sure that's good.

We are trying to cut back on our eating on the run. If you didn't get a chance to eat at the table...its worth considering if you could just wait until the next meal. Eating genuine meals shouldn't be rushed into eating in cars and while running down the sidewalk. We should just make time to eat together properly, even if it means not making it to our appointments sometimes. I think that's a good goal.

And now I come to the clothesline, coiled in my garage... I have space in my yard, a dry climate that's great for clothes hanging and a bunch of clothespins waiting to be used. Its time to hang a line at my house....the summer months could be great for hanging out our laundry and saving some electricity while utilizing those UV rays and freshening things up a little. Slowing down is possible.


Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Woodpeckers From My Life List

Today, on the playground I was distracted from a truly delightful mommy conversation by the lisping call of an acorn woodpecker! Right there in the middle of a suburban play area, across from the plastic twisty slide...there was a colony of acorn woodpeckers, Melanerpes formicivorus!!!  I took a minute away from my totally normal friends who are not magnetically drawn to woodpeckers and got to see them working away at peppering their telephone pole cum larder with holes, each one a storage hole for a meticulously shelled acorn meat. Totally exciting! I had wanted to see these guys ever since reading about them as a little girl. Most woodpeckers are pretty solitary, feeding from suet at windows around other individuals but mostly operating solo unless its mating season. This woodpecker builds a larder of acorns together with other frien

ds, male and female and shares nesting and incubating duties with other couples....its like a commune woodpecker! So California! I love it.

 When I was maybe 10 or so my sisters and I found an old woodpecker nest by mistake. We were knocking over deadwood in the area of the woods where we liked to play and we snapped open a deceased maple tree about six inches in diameter and there, in the snapped open trunk with a carved open cavity with the old nest, a shockingly minimal pile of woodshavings leftover from the excavation in the bottom. We were pretty fascinated by it and I remember feeling so lucky to find such a hidden thing. Google "downy woodpecker nest" and see how many people are getting glimpses inside of one. Its a pretty rare pleasure.

Anyhow, this was a whole new woodpecker that I had never seen before....we have no woodpeckers here in our yard at Orange Blossom Cottage, just jays, towhees, mockingbirds, crows and lot of assertive little hummingbirds. I miss them. They are a fixture of northern feeders and were an iconic part of my childhood bird watching. I used to leaf through field guides and make mental lists of birds and flowers that I wanted to see someday that seemed exotic and faraway...things that had range maps that were nowhere near Michigan. And there I was, a responsible 36 year old mother, transfixed by the sight of a one of those birds on my  imaginary lists, while suburban mothers around me offered their children goldfish crackers and placidly reapplied sunscreen. Its truly fantastic how life doesn't always wait for a "natural moment" to hand you a wonderful pleasure. I had to take a minute to swallow down my mania before I was ready to go back and join the group again. Some of the best victories have to stay private because only truly odd people can sometimes understand our own little fixations.

We spent a long time more lingering there while the kids shrieked and ran through the splash pad and we moms had many enlightening, comforting and hilarious conversations, someone got stung by a yellow jacket and we pack and unpacked our lunches over and over as kids ran in and out of our circle taking and returning bits of food and stray flip flops. I love a good playground lingering anyhow, especially if its with ladies that fill my cup and make me smile but my favorite kind of open ended recharge session plus a childhood bucket list item....that's a secret victory if ever I heard of one! And its only Monday, folks!


Wednesday, July 19, 2017

The Movers And The Stayers

Summer is here, and I have not been. That's the way with these warm weather months....all digging in the yard until way too late to make a proper supper by accident, reading way too many books and going on way too many exciting outings, catching up with all the friends and forgetting entirely those I communicate with online and far away. Please, let's pick up where we left off and carry-on with grace flowing around us to fill in all the gaps and distances and things I forgot to share and mention. We'll all catch up, shall we?

First of all, the elephant in the room we went on a stupendous trip to Italy. Totally amazing.

I have to write a post on several of the things I thought about our trip. So much to process and so much to share....more on that later.

Secondly, so much else is going on with us. One of my very close friends is moving away, the garden in our second year here at Orange Blossom Cottage is finally starting to come into its own, we had a really fun trip home to Michigan to see so much wonderful family, I have been doing some homeschooling public speaking this summer, and we are still ever in pursuit of giving ourselves a rich vibrant life with lots of space and breathing room in it.

Having a close friend move is a new experience for me as an adult. I realized once when talking with my husband that I had never been dumped by a boyfriend...although I'd dumped guys several times. It was a strange self-discovery. Did that mean I was selfish, pompous, picky, or lucky? I felt like I had kind of missed out on a rite of passage and the ability to claim normalcy in some tiny way. Weird how all the things mean things sometimes. Having a girlfriend move away and leave me is like this too. I have left several times, been guilt tripped, sobbed over and begged to stay. I've had people tell me they could never replace me, that they were mad at me because I had to move or resentful because I didn't consider them in my life location plans. But, through all of that I have always kind of played the same role. Tried to thank the stayers for their love, their loyal affection, their sharing of their time and lives and feelings and tried to walk the balance of showing just enough of my own feelings about moving to make sure that my humanity shows but be strong enough to comfort my friends and help them imagine a good future while not letting the negativity and depressing guilt get to me. I've never been the stayer. My gal is leaving and while I don't resent her adventure or the stress of packing up and shifting all her worldly goods to a new state....its surprisingly complicated for me too....even though I have no real clear role in the moving and shaking. I'm all conflicted about how much to show my cards with her. Do I cry in front of her, tell her exactly what she means to me or try to just keep it light and cheer her on while crying on my own time? Or is it some back and forth seesaw of behaviors. I don't want to be clingy and desperate but of course I'd love to make sure she knows that I care and that I will deeply, rawly miss her when she's suddenly not there for random roadside berry picking and hilarious girl's nights.

This relationship stuff gets me in to trouble in my marriage too. I want to be strong and independent and never have my husband be suffocated by trying to "be there for me" but I really want to be real and open and wear my heart dissected open on my sleeve. I think the thing that really gets me is that I so badly want reciprocity. I want to be sure that I share like he shares, that he wants my dirt and my pain as well as my hips and my best jokes. I start to feel gun-shy when its not clear that we want the same depth. Nobody wants to realize retroactively that they were an over-sharer. Ain't nobody got time for that!

I worry about this kind of thing with my friend too. I want to communicate my pain at her loss and my adoration of who she has been in my life at exactly the same level she discloses with me. I'm not sure I want to feel the same...just control what I tell her to visibly be her emotional twin. I'm always the emotional one, the deep feeler, the raw transmitter and sometimes its fatiguing to be judged as the eternal mess or the out of control girl or the person who is never done processing. I don't mean to be that way and when my feelings stay inside of me it mostly doesn't feel that way....its only when I leak them in disproportionate amounts and people get their measuring tools out and point them my way that I look a mess and seem like a problem. I wish there was a neat way to let my friend know that I will miss her exactly as wildly and deeply as she misses me and that I will probably culture some even darker and deeper feelings that she'll never know too and it all means that she's been really very special to me and I wish her the world. I'm lousy at being what people expect or want although I am one of the most people aware and over observant humans I know. Its tough to wish you could be just right and feel blind about making it happen. Moving is hard, even if you're staying.

Good thing there is shiny, crinkly swiss chard in the garden and orange roses by my front door, the sound of children's laughter in my yard and more phone calls than I can answer from people who love me. Summer ain't so very bad, even if its lumpy in places.


Friday, April 7, 2017

Lucid Dreaming, Joy and Exegesis

I have learned the skill of lucid dreaming, knowing that "this is just a dream" is a useful edge when I am trapped in a nightmare like I was early this morning. I can change elements of the story occasionally and if that doesn't work I can exit the dream on command. I woke myself, eject-button-style, when I realized that the story-line (telling my boys to clear the table, item by item by item while they ran off to other parts of the house after each fork or napkin) was only imaginary and that I didn't actually have to walk through that scenario in my sleep as well as in my waking hours. I woke up and lay there in the dark laughing about what a cheated dreamer I was, my brain having nothing better to conjure up for either dream material (if it was a dream) or scary nightmare fright (if it was a nightmare....which I decided was more likely). How lame!

A listened while I related my silly, exhausting dream, annoyed that I had experienced nothing beyond my hum drum real life. I chuckled at the joke that my own daily living had passed for nightmare material to my brain. Not scary, no....but draining and negative, for sure! And then, A said, "Yeah, you know, I'm struggling with that same attitude of unwilling participation with math with one boy right now, each problem means dragging him back into the task and forcibly directing his attention. I wish I knew what to do to fix it." I mused that I had been studying on that for quite a while myself! How to get  the boys to not only do their work but also to learn to cultivate a good attitude while they do it? Oh, to get them to be self-motivated with desire to complete the things they are given to do, with a love of the feeling of satisfaction, the value of industry and skill to find joy in the simple tasks! I get so endlessly sick of the starry-eyed yearning my boys have for video games and the heel dragging, eye rolling attitude they have about helping the family with any kind of work!

I lay there in the dark in my bed and there was silence for a second and then I added off-hand that despite all my searching, the only technique I had turned up was the super bland, usual "leading-by-example thing." We could improve that....and suddenly I was reeling mentally in deep conviction. How often do my boys hear me complain to my friends about the endless laundry pile or sigh heavily before I start washing the mountain of dishes, put off making my own bed because even the process seems discouraging to me or gripe at the end of the day about my righteously earned feeling of weariness??? Oh dear. So, I have no clever ways to teach loving work (bribes don't work so don't even say that....they only teach love of the bribe) except to learn the lesson myself and demonstrate it to my sons so that see and feel around how it is to love your work, to enjoy your own output and to feel useful in your own mundane place. What if my children never absorbed the lesson until adulthood when they were responsible for reminding themselves to work and only then learned to be cheerful about mowing the lawn, helping with carrying in the groceries and picking up Lego after Lego after Lego? Would it be worth it? Would I put in the effort for that end-goal? Absolutely. One thousand times yes!!!! What if I knew that my boys would never, ever "get it" but my own life would change and I would have the virtue I so badly want them to develop? Is it worth it to work simply for my own improvement and the knowledge that I could live my life with the ability to find warmth and goodness in the things I now claim are the bane of my existence? Yes, if it were a sure thing, I'd do it then too.

Suddenly, my mind flew to my friend who I had been wracking my brain to help. This particular pal had been complaining about the grind of her life, the way everything seemed the same and she had nothing to look forward to. I had been thinking about how to suggest ways for her to add thrills to her existence. Could she paint like I do? Write on the side? Get away for ladies nights out with friends once a month? Maybe she was in the wrong career and taking destiny in her hands and changing jobs no matter the cost and work was the thing! This particular friend is rather taken with scriptural advice so I had been looking through scripture for something to support my intended suggestions. Alas, I had been able to find only instructions to: "work at whatever you do with your whole heart," "render your services with good will, working as to the Lord," have a "cheerful heart [which is] good medicine while a crushed spirit dries up the bones," "enjoy the good of all your labor for it is the gift of God," "commit your work to the Lord and your plans will succeed," "work with enthusiasm as if working for the Lord," "excel in your work because you know your labor is not in vain," know that "where your treasure is, there will your heart be also" and know that "all hard work brings a profit."
And if you can believe it, I had stopped my exegesis there in a spirit of annoyance at not being able to find anything useful. *head desk*

Here, in the early hours of the morning....the words barely out of my mouth that the only thing I had thought of to help my boys was the boring suggestion to lead by example, and with a litany of scriptural inducements towards humility and joy in mundane work running ticker-tape-style through my mind...I laughed out-loud. Maybe my decision to categorize the dream as a nightmare and my reaction to eject in disgust from the plot were illustrative of something important and maybe it had been given to me as a dream to help me reexamine something I needed to learn. Isn't even teaching and re-teaching unwilling pupils, correcting their work kindly over and over and over....the work I have been given? Why am I complaining about this? Why am I not working to find joy there?

I had intended to teach honesty to my kids and share vulnerably that "Mommy understands your feeling of sloth" and I had accidentally stopped there and not progressed to teaching the vulnerability of Mommy wanting to learn love of industry too, and the authenticity of the fact that sometimes I need to change my own attitude to make things go the way they ought to. There is nothing in any of these things that is actually bad, I'm lucky to have so many dishes to wash, so many clothes to fold, to have all these little boys to teach and to have a husband who humbly asks me to pick up the slack he can't carry instead of doing in all himself or hiring assistance. These are gifts. I need to shoulder my lucky burdens like I'd pile so many presents into the car after a Christmas visit....with gratitude and cheer, showing my sons, my id and my ego the truth of intentional, grateful industry and how it triumphs over the lie of drudgery.

"Work hard, but not just to please your masters when they are watching. As slaves of Christ, do the will of God with all your heart.
Work with enthusiasm, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people."
Ephesians 6:6


Friday, March 31, 2017

The Pre-Teen Prep Zone

The other day Ru went off for a big boy day in the redwoods with friends, no mama oversight, not even any drop-off....just a handed him a packed lunch and waved as he hopped in the car with friends and took off. Its a wild new phase. I feel the tug of the crazy scheduling stuff yanking on us a little more as he gets older and we start to dip our toes into the world of the pre-teen, more independent zone. I am trying to help him get out on his own a little more and make sure I provide opportunities for stuff to do and space to build his own interests and world but keep the center of our life calm, teach boundaries and continue to help him nurture connection to home and those who love him. He has been texting with one of his grandmas this year, spending time having solo phone conversations a little with his other grandparents and writing private handwritten letters to one of his cousins.

There is also a lot of cozy family stuff still happening here at home to keep us grounded. We have folded Sabbath dinners into our life and moved them around from Saturday to Sunday and finally landed back on the traditional Friday night with our tea party tradition melded with the Sabbath meal. We have been hiking once a week together as a family which is a good practice in being outdoors and free together, learning about our California environment together and practicing understanding both parents and their differing styles of activity and direction. We have also been doing lots of read alouds. We are reading the Harry Potter series now (book 3) and also in the middle of Swallows And Amazons. We just finished The BFG which was really popular. We also try to take afternoon walk together through our neighborhood in the old time slot for quiet hour. As the boys get older I find that I am struggling to find more space for physical activity than for quiet. There seem to be so many times I tell the kids to just be quiet and to occupy themselves and to sit still and listen and to apply themselves and less opportunity to push them towards physical exertion. These are a few of the little home rituals that I am building in to try to keep life sane and warm, and build connection. Special Time with each boy, Family Meetings, outings to make sure that each kid feels celebrated occasionally and date night for Aaron and I are works in progress but are also part of simple routines for connection.

I have been watching Ru get more independent and thinking about all the ways I can support that leap to individual space and yet help him learn to respect advice, work towards closeness and feel understood and valued. I have the following on my reading list:
He has taken over cleaning up the table and the floor under it after our evening meal and I have given him Pom as an apprentice to teach about the job. He decides what needs to be done to clean up and simultaneously gives directions to Pom and works himself. Teaching someone smaller is a good way to learn. He's also learning more and more in school. He's reading pretty fluidly and pleasurably on his own and he has been reading chapter books in his own time and we also have one that he is reading aloud to me (for fun and for the sake of correcting inflection, rhythm and pronunciation on trickier words), A continues to tutor him along in math (I'm impressed....fractions at 10!) and he is writing papers and diagramming sentences this year for the first time in conjunction with our co-op. So much new stuff. This week we added a run around the block every day, and when I told him his new assignment he said "Once? I think three times is better." So three times it was. Here we go racing around this new block in our lives, trying to stay tender to all the learning and then newness and then beauty and let go of my fear, relinquish the worries and open my hands to the strange things I feel intimidated by. 


Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Italian Dreams At The Equinox

      Happy First Day of Spring, Friends!!!!
 This past week we had a night when it was truly warm out....the bikes and scooters got hauled out, the shorts got tried on and the shoes got kicked off at the door.  In no time at all, after a little shouting over the fence to each other the neighbor kids and my boys had made themselves into a little pack and were running through our house and yard and then back to the neighbors yard hatching plans for making things out of cardboard while I worked on making a pie for dessert. Yes, they shredded cardboard all over the living room, yes they hurt each other's feelings a couple of times and yes my oldest preferred to play video games instead of playing but it was amazing. They were unbelievably happy and it felt so right listening to their silly ideas and happy banter, watching them help and inspire the little ones in the group together and then hollering over the fence to their grandma and mom when I sent them home at dinner time. What fun! I pray all the time that my house becomes a place that other kids want to come to, a place where people get together and laugh a lot and breath deep, where they can be themselves and feel comfort and scheme up plans together. I hope there are many more days like this ahead of us.

It truly has started to warm up to what feels to me (Californian import alert!) like summer weather. We've had a couple of family dinners on our picnic table under the lemon tree again and I've put on shorts myself once. Yesterday the high was 83 degrees. Pretty amazing! I am sure it will dip back down into the 60's again and we'll have more rain before its truly time for warm weather, this is only a preview. Its pretty delicious to feel the sun again and to feel comfortable kicking off our shoes indoors and out and to even feel hot again. I'm ready. The roses have started to put out their flush of red-tinged new leaves, the winter chanterelles have petered out beneath the oak trees and the plum trees have finished their bloom and dropped their white petals all over the neighborhood. Its time to start scouting out last year's forest fire locations in the mountains to see if I can get in on the legendary spring morel hunts that happen as the hills warm up. And its time to start putting in the garden and figuring out what trellis to get to support jasmine vine on the corner of the garage.

We are going to be taking a trip to Italy this spring....a big, life-dream type drive down the coast of the Mediterranean after a good soaking visit with A's brother and family in the north part of the country. They are creative, homeschooling, free-wheeling, deep-living folks so I forsee late night discussions, amazing early morning coffee on the balcony and cousins running around planning highjinks every minute of the day. The boys talk daily about this part of the trip and are at least as excited as we are about the visiting family together. I think they will also love the chance to see so many ancient and beautiful sights but, they have no concept of that kind of a trip. I have tried to explain a couple of times what an amazing thing it would be to see Da Vinci's work in person or walk around the Colosseum but the boys seem  kind of meh about that whole aspect, but they have no scope and also no experience. It might hit them once we are there....or, (and I must be prepared for this) it might never strike them as particularly cool. This is our trip really, they are along and we hope to draw them into the wonder and joy whenever possible but they have their own adult life and travel futures ahead of them too. Its easy to make your kids the focus and forget that this is your one life and the best thing is sometimes to live your own life with intention and gusto and let them watch.


Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Calling My Sisters In The Eye Of The Storm

Last night I made my first ever trip to the Emergency Room with Pom. A glass floor lamp fell on him and cut open his lip in two spots and it took a little while to clot. He wouldn't hold still and let me examine it for glass and was really panicking so, older brothers and I rushed around the house collecting extra shoes and my purse and everyone's jackets and made a panicky little trip to our local ER. He was fine. No stitches, no glass in the cut.

This afternoon a close friend's little toddler had a serious finger laceration and a we had a mutual shaky stomach prayer session over jerky texts. It flooded me right back into that scary spot I was in last night. I was so taken back in by the undertow of the feeling that I stopped what I was doing and told the women who happened to be around me and we stood there with mama tears in our eyes and prayed out all our worries and then hugged each other and hugged each other some more.

Then this evening another close pal reported that she was just in a serious accident and although the car is smashed up and she is feeling very wobbly emotionally....they are all okay. Whew.

I am tempted to say that it is all too much. Enough with the emergencies and the accidents and feeling vulnerable as a mama. Sheesh! But, you know....I was talking to my new friends today at our homeschool co-op and we were discussing emergencies and I mentioned that I sometimes worry about who to call if I need a hand, if I can't reach my husband, if I have to troubleshoot a scenario that's scary...and we all laughed when I realized out loud that the right people to call are the other women, patiently listening to me and also dealing with this kind of thing. We mamas have to have each other's backs. Its great if you have a spouse who is willing to field questions from his desk at work or a mother-in-law who can drop everything and come over to drive you to the doctor but when in doubt, a person who is in that same boat and knows that mama panic personally is the right person to call. There's something very bonding and healing about going through emergencies together, about the feminine connective instinct to nurture which echoes and calms your own reflexes and about the community of collective feminine experience open to your needs in a moment of desperation. I certainly have no desire to wish more emergencies on my community but, I'd love to be equipped to help my sisters in the neighborhood and the other mamas in my co-op. I'd also love to build an instinct to call another woman or two when things are rough and plan to lean in to the safety net of others when I emergencies crop up.

Sitting here thinking about this way I want to live made me remember the time last summer when my next door neighbor lady had an emergency and I happened to see the rescue vehicles arrive. I peeked over the fence nervously and smiled and waved at her when she was scared and I ended up helping her call her daughter, bringing her a cup of calming tea and just sitting with her and giving her hugs until her daughter arrived. I forgot that I did that for her and how good it felt. If it felt good to me then I have remember that it will be just as powerful for others when I let them help me. Yes, I only have one car, I don't have medical training, I don't know the area super well but, I know people who can help with all those concerns....and I can provide Bandaids, mugs of soothing tea or lend my phone out to a mama who needs help. Lets have each other's backs, lets call when we are scared and lets quite trying to be self-sufficient and step into interdependence. This is womanhood.


Saturday, February 11, 2017

Springtime Shifts

Its been a good winter....again, and I am loping on into a New Year, February already a new notch in my belt. There are big fat buds on the apple tree that leans over our fence, the snails are out doing war  with the cole crops in my garden every night and the acacia trees are flouncing along with their yellow blossoms all down the freeways. Its the first of the really solidly spring blooms...before the poppies are spilling down the hills like orange sprinkles or the bottle brush trees are a standing in fierce crimson array on every street corner. So wonderful to live in a place where winter means green, and lush and damp fog laden moss. I have to get my tail down to the redwoods again, haven't been for a couple of shameful months...the trees call in this kind of weather.

I have noticed that in the waste space along the freeways there are some old forgotten orchard trees...I saw them for the first time last year and assumed they were cherries but missed a chance to go see them close up because we were so busy with baseball. They are just opening to peak bloom right now and I managed to park and run over to check some out on a side street near an overpass. They are not cherries, but maybe some kind of plum or peach. I am curious to see what/ if any fruit develops as the summer goes on. Lovely to feel homey enough where I live to be able to start picking out little curiosities like that to keep tabs on.

I am starting to feel pretty settled. I have places for most everything in the house, I am starting to feel like our possessions are trimmed down to an amount that more closely match this space. I have people to call in case we are trouble, know the neighbors, have the mailman's name down and even occasionally run into folks we know at the grocery store. Its such a good feeling to nest in more firmly and feel the amazing mix of wonder at the novelties but comfort over the known.

Spring is coming and I am working on tuning up my life and schedule...working out all the little ways things can be tweaked and adjusted and let go and removed. Isn't it wonderful to remember that we are the stewards of our own lives?

Here's What's New Right Now:

  • I have been making meals for families with new babies or sick members at our church and homeschool group as a little way to contribute to the community. 
  • I am cutting back on fruit and coffee and going back to a more strict interpretation of paleo eating.
  • I am trying a new sleep schedule (to bed before my husband) to try to get 8 hours and still have morning quiet time alone.
  • Minimization has come back into my life in a firm manner.
  • Watching the boys play piano is inspiring and I have been planning to get my fiddle back out for tune up and learning.
  • I am painting weekly now thanks to standing babysitter dates.
  • We are not doing baseball this spring.
  • Taking Zumba in addition to yoga.
  • I am signing up for another year with Classical Conversations.
  • We are planning a big trip to Italy this spring!
  • I cut a bunch of length off my hair after it kept breaking and breaking. 

What are you shifting and changing in your life this season?