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Saturday, September 28, 2013

one last summery walk in the woods

It is Saturday morning. Kids are binging on PBS kids. It is cold and rainy out. Fall is setting in. But the other day, it was humid, breezy, warm, beautiful. And we walked in the woods, peeking in our stick fort and finding deer tracks in the soft earth.

And it was lovely.

And I feel myself mourning the summer, the warm sunshine, the green things, my garden.

Sniff, sniff.

And this is the time for Michaelmas. The celebration of St. Michael, the Archangel, who in the legends, defeated the dragon and gave golden cloaks to protect the star children of earth, us, earth's star children. And all that this little story signifies resonates with me this week. The refocusing inward. The discipline of school and fall schedules. Getting out the knitting baskets. Stacking up wood for the stove. Moving energy inside as the green around turns golden and soon brown.

I sound so dismal, huh? Gee Sara LIGHTEN UP. What happened to those gosh darn funny posts about parenting and mommyhood??

I know, right?

Its this weird contemplative thing I am in right now. And honestly I think a lot has to do with the changing seasons. Last winter was HARD. I am trying to steel myself I guess. YOU CAN DO IT.

And also, and this is probably another post all together, this strange post-baby-in-the-house time of life we are facing. Life without a baby to diaper, nap down, rock and cuddle. And she is still totally in diapers, totally my baby, HA, nursing as I type actually, but it is there, staring me in the face, that two to three transition, weaning, potty training, and becoming A KID.

Its weird.

But the rain is lovely, really, and the garden needs a good watering, and it is still there, green and good, and exciting things are afoot and, yes, it is good.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

500 posts! giveaway! new blog layout! lots of happy.

500 posts.

Kinda crazy.

1) That I have that much to say.
2) That I have that much time to write.
3) That you all are still reading.

I have thought of giving up blogging for a split second here and there, but then its 3 o'clock in the afternoon and I am sipping homemade chai while spelling out "The Trojan War" to little man for his history lesson and I sit down to write and I smile. Because I like writing. And I like you. And I like this little cozy life, which is maddening and exhausting but lovely all the same.

"1200 BC"

That is the alleged date of The Trojan War. The one with the wooden horse, if you wondered.

And I sip chai, just cooling enough to drink, and the afternoon sun is beautiful through the trees, into the window, and both girls are napping, and, yes, lovely.

And thanks for sharing in it all, letting me share, being a part of this space.

And who knows where June is going.

This mama is going to start working again, part time here and there, and I am still trying to write the June book idea (rejection letters are SO FUN) and I have an idea that this little space will always be a part of my life, even if I am logging on from India to write about missing home, and chai, and the sun through the trees, and little hands pulling at my yoga pants.

Yes, probably always.

So why not freshen the poor gal up, right? (I just used the word gal, HA HA HA) It kinda irks me to see my little June Cleaver watermark template being used by other bloggers (dumb, yes, I know) So I am trying to go for something with little more character, and a little less use. Maybe someday I will pay for an actual designer pro to do one for me. For now, this my attempt at giving dear old June a new color of lipstick to match her pearls. (Something like that, I guess.) Be on the lookout for a new design. And don't worry if it doesn't seem to work right. I have no idea what I am doing, but I will figure it out. (Or maybe one of you is a blogger template pro and could give advice???)

And finally, a giveaway. Perhaps to coincide with my late-30s-slightly-freaky-birthday next Tuesday??? Yes. Sounds good.

And why? Why??? Because giving stuff away is fun.

So, lets do that.

Here are my thoughts for "the rules:"

1)Share your favorite post on your Facebook page. ("HERE IS MY FAV BLOGGER AND ONE OF MY FAV POSTS, YOU SHOULD READ HER BLOG TOO." Sorry, that was a lot of CAPS.)
2) Come back to this post and comment how you shared and what post, and maybe, for kicks, what kind of June posts you like to read.
3) Don't forget to leave your name, code name, whatever!
4) I will randomly pick a name, out of a hat, on my birthday, next Tuesday, October 1.
5) Winner will get a custom made pair of shoes for any size feet, up to maybe an age 5 kid (I find this style of shoes doesn't stay on bigger feet than that very well) using material from my stash (I have lots of good stuff, don't fret, you can email me your kids measurements and I will pattern from there for sizing.)

Fun, right?

Here is a picture of the shoes I am talking about, just in case you wondered.

So, lets do this thing. Evolving. Moving forward. Embracing the slightly freaky late-30s age. Because really, this little-and-cozy-yet-doing-big-things-doing-hard-things life ... it really does kick ass.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

you are two

Two. Two. My baby is two. And potty training. And that whole super duper independence thing. And its all coming. This year. The big baby-to-kid year. And I am not ready for it. To say goodbye to this baby. This "I love you mama, with my WHOLE HEART," baby. This "happy berfday" singing, fluffy haired girl, who stole our hearts when we finally heard her cry two years ago. Two years ago. It seems like just yesterday and yet, I cant imagine our family, our lives, ever felt right without her. Our Green. Our Evergreen. Happy berfday my girl. We adore you.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

the toddler at play

The toddler at play. This sounds like some law of nature "The toddler at play, stays at play. Constantly." Until they fall apart and take a nap. Then they wake up, and play.

As it should be.

And oh my what busy creatures they are!

Building and knocking down and rocking babies to sleep and spinning in circles and talking to toy trains. Busy. Busy. Busy.

As it should be.

When little man was a little toddler man I can remember nearly panicking about what we did or did not have at his disposal so as to prompt creative and meaningful play.

And now, relaxed, carefree, experienced mama that I am (tongue in cheek folks, tongue in cheek) I watch my third toddler play. She's laying on the floor in her brother's sleeping bag, hauled out from the closet.

"I have a pillow now, 'neath my head. And now I cozy. Zipper over my head."

And now she is singing, holding her brothers army guy truck (don't judge, k? HA)

And now she is going into her brother's room.

"I need dat castle! Get me dat castle! I need it!"

FINE, he says and gets it down. Say thank you baby. SAY THANK YOU.

And now she come in, with "dat castle" singing again. "I got da castle. And dis one guy up here! Going up and dis one guy here, come on guys!"

And she makes her fire truck guys walk up and down the castle ladder, knocking on the door, talking and singing.

So easy. So naturally playful. So many worlds in her mind, all mixed together, flowing from idea to idea without any inhibitions.

And I have come to realize all we can do is provide props for these worlds. We have a little area for her in the living room with a collection of toddler toys from over the years. A basket of trains and tracks. Some firetrucks and a school bus full of people and a lovely wooden minivan. Some wooden blocks, just bits of branches that we cut up and sanded and polished with beeswax. A basket of toddler books. Two child size rocking chairs, one pink and one red. A wooden Noah's ark set with animals. Two hobby horses and a wooden push toy. One of those Ikea wire bead toys. A basket of musical instruments. And a push cart and a cradle with an assortment of baby dolls. A few baskets for carrying around odds and ends. Sometimes a few silk scarves are up here too. They become blankets or capes for queens. Around the corner is a little kitchen with pots and food for tea parties and pretend birthday celebrations.

And this is her little world.

And when I just sit, and watch, amazed by her creativity, her little unique self.

And I find myself longing for the inhibited creativity, without censoring ideas, without compartmentalizing play.

And then she and her sister start fighting over the pink headband and she flings herself on the floor sobbing and it is naptime.

The world of the toddler.

Monday, September 16, 2013

a trip to the shore

Sometimes a trip to the lakeshore is all that is needed to slow you down, let you see each other eye to eye. No email, no dishes, no work, no Legos to fight over. Just the crashing waves and each other.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

25 things I want my girls to know about being sisters

It's an amazing thing, raising sisters. Sisters are especially special to me, I should know, I am like the expert in sister-ness, like I have a PhD in it or something, well, me and my seven sisters do that is.


There are a lot of us. And one brother too. We call him Brother. We adore him, all of us.

But the sister thing, well, Brother came along when I was older, a teen, so for my childhood it was a world of sisters. Sisters who soothe your grumpy moods. Sisters who loan you a favored T-shirt. Sisters who run around outside playing little house on the prairie. Sisters who listen to horror stories of the mean kid at recess. Sisters who comb out your hair and put in perfect French braids. And yes, sisters who scratch you with claw-like fingernails, as only girls can, when you exchange mean words.


They are beautiful, this bond between girls, a giggling, sacred bond that only they can share. And as I grow older this bond becomes more sacred, as we enter into adulthood and discover the role of woman, and all that it entails - professional lives, academic lives, marriage, and then that journey into motherhood. And with each new journey our bonds tighten, woven together in time, sometimes ebbing, sometimes shifting, but always there, tangible, sacred, sisterhood.

And now I watch it as it grows between my girls, this bond.

"Sist-uh! Sist-uh! Where are you my sist-uh?" My little toddler girl calls out into the backyard.

"I need you my sist-uh!!" She looks up at me with sleepy eyes, after just waking from her nap, and her eyes start to fill with tears. "Mama, where my sist-uh go?"

A blonde curly head emerges from the woods, "I am here sister!"

And they run, arms outstretched, into an embrace, both calling out "SIST-UH!" "SISTER!"

And they hug, and my heart skips a beat.

And I want them to know, how special they are to each other. So here is my list, in no particular order, of some things I want my girls to know about being sisters, and this is especially dedicated to my teachers in this art of sisterhood, my sisters.

1) Sisters come first. Period. Before friends. Before boys. Especially boys.

2) NEVER borrow each others clothes without asking.

3) Listen to each other, even if you are in different places in life, stay connected to each others dreams, goals, and yes, daily crap.

4) When your sister breaks up with a boy [holy cow I cant even handle thinking about my girls dating] just listen, you aren't allowed to talk bad about the boy, only they can - at first - and bring ice cream.

5) Share each other's triumphs. A promotion. A positive pregnancy test. And if you ever get invited to the White House to meet the president, or speak on national television, a text to your sister beforehand is required.

6) Tell the truth when your sister needs to hear it, like, if her skirt is too short or if her butt looks funny in those jeans, or if you think she shouldn't ride on the back of Georgio's motorcycle at the age of 15. She might be mad at you for telling the truth, but secretly she will be grateful.

7) Your sister is in your corner. Remember that. And remember to be in your sisters corner for her.

8) Best friends come and go. Sisters stay. Invest in each others friendships. Ditch the kids, the office, and go to a museum together. Out to coffee once a week. Something.

9) Fingernail scratches and pulled hair hurts. Mean words hurt more. Be careful and kind with your words.

10) Learn to love - or at least take interest in - the people and things your sister loves, for her sake.

11) If your sister is down, give her space to feel what she is feeling, love her from wherever she is coming from, lift her up gently, smooth her curls, put a bandaid on her knee, be there for her.

12) Be a good secret keeper. Listen to each others worries and concerns and excitements. Unless one of you is planning to elope at the age of 17. Then for God's sake TELL ON YOUR SISTER.

13) Have fun together. Love things together. Giggle. Laugh. Listen to good music together. Maybe even sneak a wine cooler to your sister when she is 17, ONLY AT HOME THOUGH. Ha.

14) If you have mutual friends, and I bet you will, take each other's side when group dynamics have gone bad. You might secretly think so and so is right in whatever teenage girl squabble you are in the midst of, BUT your sister is the one sharing your bathroom.

15) Check in with each other. Email. Text. Something. Stay connected. Heck, by the time you are in college you will probably be able to blink and send messages via google to each others brains. Do that then.

16) Don't hold grudges. Its not worth it. You will fight. You will get mad, but its not worth it to stay mad.

17) Don't pick on your brother. Too much.

18) No, but seriously, let your brother in on your world of giggles and secrets. Let him drink tea at your tea parties and pretend forest fairies. Let him be your knight.

19) Encourage each other. Keep tabs on each others frustrations. Ask about how that crappy econ prof is treating you or how that marathon training is going. Care.

20) Don't talk behind your sister's back. Ever. Period. (Unless you are telling your mom about how she plans on eloping at the age of 17. Heck. Even if she plans on eloping at the age of 37. I WANT TO KNOW.)

21) Respect each others dreams and wishes. Your sister might be totally happy as a pastry chef or training to be an Olympic equestrian. You might think that is the biggest mistake of her life BUT if she loves it, support her in it.

22) Encourage each other to be the best selves you can be. To be women of integrity. To be women who are strong, who believe in themselves, who believe in good in the world and know how to fight for it.

23) Love each other.

24) Love each other.

25) Love each other.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

its all just... much. Its all just so much.

I've got an actual physical need for chocolate right now. (noIamNOTpregnant.)

Which is why, throughout our day today I have been creeping upstairs to quietly gnaw on frozen baking chocolate, standing with freezer door open, trying to hide, lest a small child find me and call me out. MAMA, IS THAT CHOCOLATE?? I WANT SOME TOOOOOOOOO.

And so I hide.

And then I say to heck with trying (again) to get baby to nap or doing dishes or laundry or forcing little man to do more school (we are still working our way into a full schedule, to put it diplomatically).

And meanwhile, I have swirling in my head, this week, last week, possibilities of working more, internationally, consulting, and what it would mean to this routine of ours.

And so, I ignore it all, swirling and whirling, and I come, and sit, and write, to you.


Its hard to get back into this routine. Isn't it? The sun still shining, as if it were summer, the garden still serving up its goodness (and requiring my attention).

And in the midst of trying to get into this new routine, I am finding myself on autopilot. You know those moments right? Coffee (me), Cheerios (them), school, play outside, lunch, dishes, laundry, dinner, bathtime, more dishes, more laundry, bedtime.

Collapse with wine in hand.

And then you do it again.

And again.

And again.

And my brain is all the swirls and whirls of these other things, the preoccupying things. We've all been there. Whether its a friendship on the rocks, or troubles at work, or a bill to pay, or a writing project that is stuck, or thinking of changing up your little world with TAKING MORE WORK ON (I am crazy, truly) we all do this. Those autopilot days.

I need to bring my mind back, refocus, compartmentalize my thinking a bit more. Here is now. Now is good. Be in the now.

And in the now. What does your now look like?

I look around at my now.

There are toys strewn across the floor. The sink is stacked with dishes. Tomato seeds ands juice covering the cutting board. The table contains exactly three cups peppermint tea, two princess dolls, duct tape (little man was mysteriously taping something a moment ago, always nervewracking) a half eaten banana, playmobile knights and a sippy cup. There is dirt and sand covering the stair, hall, and front entrance, tracked in from the rain we have had the past two days.

But those are the negative things. Funny how one's mind does that.

There is also sun shining outside. I can see the wind dancing in the trees at the edge of our field, blowing the pines back and forth. The garden is green and good, with sunflowers over 10 feet tall and tomatoes still coming as well as potatoes to dig soon, beets nearly ready, huge carrots and all kinds of other goodness. Out back the chickens are squawking about something.

Inside tomatoes are whirring in the dehydrator. Little man is pacing the house with his pretend bow strapped to his back, quiver at his side, awaiting some grand adventure. Little miss, who has been sick, curled herself up on my bed, seeking out quiet, and fell asleep. Baby is now crying to play with my twenty year old Russian stacking doll up on the shelf. She pushed up her little red rocker, little tushie hanging out of her dress (still working on that potty thing) and stretches her plump little arm up to the top shelf. "Can we do it mama? Your big dolly?" (Yes, she is speaking in the royal "we" these days.)

Paintings of three little artists hang on the wall. A collection of oil lamps are on the shelves in front of me. A newly strung guitar by my side. A stack of books on the shelf with titles like "Build your own log cabin" and "How to be a famous writer before you die" (Hilarious right??) Next to these books is a tiny greenhouse (love you Ikea!) with my orchid and my ginger plant that just finally decided to sprout (YAY.)

And I look around, in this, my now, and I see love and beauty, and such goodness that I cant really even take it. And baby climbs up on my lap, and says "Mama, my milky?"

And really, its all just beautiful.

the sky at sunset the other day. yep, still managing to get up early! maybe it will last...until October? November? ha!

recreating a Jackson Pollock painting

I love LOVE finding him reading around the house. he is now on his top bunkbed, heels kicked up,
reading Calvin and Hobbes. LOVE IT.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

summers last hurrah - iPhone poetry

Blue skies 
Bees above clover
Sand in my toes
Wind that tempers the heat of the sun  on this late summer day
Hazy air blowing this way and that
Breathing in and out the smell of heat and sand and water and grass
Bits of clouds scattered above
Bullied by the wind
Castles of sand, bedecked with dandelion and drifted wood, built by tan and happy hands
Pines standing tall on the horizon, lazily waving to the warmth
And the world sighs, one last goodbye
And there is quiet underneath the wind and the water and the skies 
The world remembering all the green things, one last hurrah 
As it settles down to sleep, a babe on the breast of its mother
And I breathe it in
My baby's warm skin pressed against mine, her solid limbs, her curls a torrent of sand and sun and all things good
And peaceful
And I am peaceful too
And thankful

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