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Saturday, March 29, 2014


Different. This is how life feels lately.

Dada quit his job, after years of talking about it, and is going out into the world of self-employment. Which means....what exactly?

Well, exactly.

Different. Different is what it means.

It means no more weeks on end of 12 hour days all week, mama and babies. It means running at noon and writing at 4pm when the sun hits my dining room perfectly and I just want to WRITE but too often I am stuck doing XYZmommyness instead.

And not every day will this magic happen. But its possible, it COULD happen, and that is the gloriousness of it you know?

And then, yesterday I tell dada, "hey, this lady nearby is selling her goat milking equipment" (milking stand, milk pail, filters, books, etc) and I am like, "hey, we should buy it," and he's all like, "sure, lets buy it." So today he goes to pick it up and comes back talking about buying goats after he gets some fencing up this summer. THIS SUMMER.


My city born dada wears plaid shirts, chops wood like a boss, with an axe, and is now a small town/country lawyer and just agreed to buy goats.


And I am still writing my book, and I am going to finish it. Soon.


And baby is actually potty training. And, you know, not actually a baby anymore.

And this too means different.

And then other, not good different. My April Hawaii teaching gig has been postponed. Not good different, but, understandable different. And my whole "lets do some contract consulting work from home" idea is proving challenging, juggling kids and homeschool and noise and chickens and wood for the stove and...(okay goats will probably do me in but, you know, GOATS.)


So, good different, not so good different. Different all around.

And its weird.

And even, yes, the hair is different. I had a dream about re-dreading my hair the other night, and it was such a relief, in dreamland, to have them again, hiding once more in my "different-ness."

And so, here we are. Different, somewhat exposed, ready, even expecting for all the what-ifs to come crashing down, juggling balls dropped to the ground in defeat, and what have you.

So. What to do with that mood. Well, you know, I do what I do, which is NOT different. Type out a post, exposed and all, nurse baby while typing (wondering when THAT will be different) and watch the icicles dripping outside, foretelling of a new season in life.

So, I'm not usually one for selfies (though we all know I am not shy about them...I don't want to end up one of those
moms who is behind the camera and has NO record of her life with her any case...) I took this picture and
1) I LOOK OLD. hello wrinkles. really? 2) really? this is me?? Huh. okay then.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

waiting, waiting, waiting

Waiting, for spring of course.

This is me. June. I write about my kids, cooking attempts, cleaning the house, attempts at being a professional and...the WEATHER.

Because I am boring like that.


But this is the melting time of year. One day. MELT. Next day. ICE COLD. Next day. MELT MORE. DRIP DRIP DRIP. And you think, this is it, we are done, mud and brown ugly grass here we come, then 6-8 inches of the fluffy white stuff hits you in your smug March face. HA. Just kidding! Here, have another single digit temperature day while we're at it.

Mean King Winter.

My kids totally talk about King Winter, how he is battling with the Sun King right now for who gets to be in charge. Then someday, hopefully soon, Old King Winter will pack his bags and leave for his ice palace in the north (but we ARE the north mama, little man wails, OH NO!) and then the Sun King will come, and caress the little seed babies who have slept all winter in their snug little beds, and the rain will come and wash the snow away and up, up, up, the green things will come.

Really MOM??

Yes, I promise baby.

Here is the adorable story I told the kids recently about the brave little snowdrop flower poking up through the snow and wind.



C. S. B. Adapted from Hans Christian Andersen.
The snow lay deep, for it was winter time. The winter winds blew cold, but there was one house where all was snug and warm. And in the house lay a little flower; in its bulb it lay, under the earth and the snow.

One day the rain fell and it trickled through the ice and snow down into the ground. And presently a sunbeam, pointed and slender, pierced down through the ground and tapped on the bulb.

"Come in," said the flower.

"I can't do that," said the sunbeam; "I'm not strong enough to lift the latch. I shall be stronger when the spring time comes."

"When will it come spring?" asked the flower of every little sunbeam that rapped on its door, but for a long time it was winter. The ground was still covered with snow, and every night there was ice in the water. The flower grew quite tired of waiting.

"How long it is!" it said. "I feel quite cramped. I must stretch myself and rise up a little. I must lift the latch, and look out, and say 'good morning' to the spring."

So the flower pushed and pushed. The walls were softened by the rain and warmed by the little sunbeams, so the flower shot up from under the snow, with a pale green bud on its stalk and some long, narrow leaves on either side. It was biting cold.

"You are a little too early," said the Wind and the Weather, but every sunbeam sang "Welcome," and the flower raised its head from the snow, and unfolded itself—pure and white, and decked with green stripes. It was weather to freeze it to pieces—such a delicate little flower—but it was stronger than any one knew. It stood in its white dress in the white snow, bowing its head when the snowflakes fell and raising it again to smile at the sunbeams. And every day it grew sweeter.

"Oh," shouted the children, as they ran into the garden, "see the snowdrop! There it stands so pretty, so beautiful—the first, the only one!"
our nature table dressed for spring with a little root baby and a snowdrop
(made by yours truly)

really simple to make, but kinda sweet and cute

through spring and summer we will work on new nature books combining science/nature studies and art
(and writing!) we just did another page today of robin's eggs in a nest in watercolor. LOVE THIS.

little man copying my flower diagram

school room diagram

little miss version. also with seed baby nearby. :)

and then it snows....

so we read.

and sit right here with tea.

and read more (he's amazingly proficient these days. apparently I can teach someone to love reading. WHO KNEW?)
AND little miss can now easily read simple words. YAY.

and we play.

bear sleepy in his den. is it spring yet? no? back to sleep.

and then it warms up.
so we go outside to do some of this.

and this (eating SNOW ICE CREAM. it was truly gross to me but she loved it...milk, powdered sugar, vanilla and SNOW)

and we do this.

and this. (she actually fell asleep here. in the snow and puddles. water dripping from the deck onto her face.)

a little more cozy of a spot.

but then its cold again. so we come in and do more of this.
and some this (bead stringing, excellent busy work for busy toddler hands)

and play made up board games

my cozy crew

and mama puts up spring decorations

and we hope for a rainbow soon!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

on perspective and getting little man to sleep

As a baby little man was such a, er, challenging, sleeper. Mommy friends would eye the wild look on my face, my sighs, my chugging coffee, and say "um, so how is he sleeping?" They soon learned not to ask.

He was a hall walker. Or we were rather. Up and down the halls, for hours. I would nurse him and instead of falling to sleep like my other babies. He would just stare at me. "Hi Mom. Thanks for the milk. Now what's on our agenda??" And at first yes, I was trying to "schedule him" till I threw that out the window. I had an excel spreadsheet. Do I not seem like that type of parent? Oh yes, yes I did. I tracked his naps. His feedings. His poops. No seriously. You can laugh. I totally did this. But after awhile, once I trashed the tracking, it was clear. Child just didn't like going to sleep. This is about when we caved to the co-sleeping, which I fought against even as he was older. MAMA JUST NEEDS TO SLEEP. His little cocooned self tucked in my arm, finally, I did.

Then as a toddler we tried to push the pack and play. Maybe he could just play in there, like other kids, until he falls asleep? Don't some kids do that? NOT MINE. Ha. The first (and only) time I tried this move he looked at me like "What do you think YOU are doing?" Night night baby, time for sleep, lay down. Confusion. "You are going to shut the door and LEAVE ME HERE?? Hells NO!" Commence screaming. And mommy runs in, holds his hand, night night baby, lay down in your nice bed. I will hold your hand. Go to sleep. This was attempted ONCE. And never again. More typically it was both mama (who was expecting sister at this point) and dada lying exhausted on our bed while little man did silly dances, jumped, and was all around crazy until he would collapse into a ball of used up energy, and then fall asleep.

For years even after he was a baby we had to lay with him in his bed. Tell him his story about his mini action figures rescuing animals in distress (my specialty) or about his two bears Charlie and Alexander and their adventures with Curious George. Then there was the singing. For months it was that holiday bell song "Hark how the bells!" over and over and over.

And then the magic moment. His eyes would close. His breathing would get deep. And he was out. Sigh of relief. Kiss on the cheek. Parent performs the ninja roll off of his bed, tucking hands under the covers. Sweet Jesus. We did it. He's asleep!

Ah. The joys of parenting an intense kid.

Somewhere around five it changed. Bedtime. "AW MOM" Come on, go get in bed. "FINE" stomp stomp. Tuck boy in. Kiss. Song. Prayers. Walk away. He falls asleep ON HIS OWN.

It comes and goes in cycles though. The past week or so he has fairly much insisted every night that he must lay in our bed to fall asleep. Which means mama or dada picks up his gangly 7 year old self and hauls him into his upper bunk bed. (Kid is HEAVY) And of course, it is not ideal.

"But WHY?" I say to him last night after we finished our nightly reading (mama was doing solo bedtime). Both girls asleep on my lap. Mama eager to tuck sisters into the big bed (they sleep better when someone else is there, then little miss gets moved to her own bunk later) and drink some tea and watch some Netflix or just stare at the ceiling IN SILENCE.

Eyes well with tears. Little foot stamps in rage.

"Buddy. WHY? You used to sleep in your own bunk just fine!"

"I just want my mom!" was all the explanation I could get out of him. Fists balled up in anger. Tired eyes full of tears.

I sigh - and not a patient calm sigh. A crabby mama sigh.

"FINE. Okay, okay, go get in my bed. I will be there in a minute." Little girls get carried to the bed too. Tucked in. Arranged. Some discussion follows about WHERE little man is sleeping. I fold up my glasses and climb into bed next to him, impatient, upset at myself for being impatient (you know that spiral, right??).

But then. Oh, then. He curls up on his side, I curl up on mine. We face each other. His little expression melts into a peaceful one, he reaches out to hold my hand. Mama. And I watch him. My big boy. Who can carry on a conversation that holds the interest of adults, read a book, write in cursive, feed our chickens, make a cup of tea. My big boy, as he closes his eyes, becomes my baby again. His face soft and happy.

I kiss his forehead, and it hits me. Not too many more years left of wanting to cuddle mom to sleep. Not too many more years of "sing to me mama." And while I have hopes he won't be a stinky teenage boy who is repulsed by his parents affection, well, things will change.

And for now, as I have the chance, watching his still baby like face drift off to sleep is a precious moment. His dark lashes batting up and down to make sure I'm still next to him. Smiling when he sees me looking down, still there.

And his breathing deepens and his eyelashes finally stay down and I do the ninja roll, tucking him in (sisters too) and I feel like I have been given a gift, a chance to see for a second, The Big Picture of parenting. That it goes so fast. That I love his so much. That each moment, each frustrating, hall-walking, song-singing, please-dear-god-let-him-fall-asleep moment, is precious.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

right now

Right now.

Music playing.

Dishes with princess.

Kitchen window framed with icicles.

Snow melting in drips all around.

Fire blazing in the woodstove.

Kids playing Monopoly.

Mama sipping hot, strong, sugary tea.

Clearing off counters.

Ticking off to do lists.

And all in all.

In love.


mr. ramsbottom, the snowman


yes, that is snow up to Ayla's armpit

little man is toothless these days

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

how to properly clean a stovetop

I realize I haven't been posting enough "how-to" "crafty" posts to share with you all my life in an aspiration of achieving "June-ness," pearls and all.

So here is a post to improve upon your housekeeping skills. From me to you.

Where was I?

Oh, yes. Cleaning.

First of all, its best if you wait until your stovetop is good and dirty. The results utilizing this technique are all the more apparent and miraculous then. I suggest cooking omelettes, rice, and spaghetti all with the corresponding splatters across the stove top.


Now. Fill up your tea kettle. Put it on to boil.

Yes, you read that right.

Now get out a giant mug. The biggest one you have.

Now place a tea bag of quality tea in said mug, or looseleaf tea in a tea ball if you are snobby like that (MOM.)


When the tea kettle is just reaching a rolling boil pour water into your mug.

Now pour water on your stovetop. Yes, boiling water, just a bit. DON'T put out your pilot light (I do all the time, ha!) Make sure you get all the spaghetti sauce splatters in the back corners.

Now. For the best part.

Fix your tea the way you like it (lately for me is dark, black tea with one teaspoon of sugar, no milk, which is contrary to my upbringing and feels rebellious every time I drink it.)

Now, sit. Sip. Sip slowly. Take your time. Read a magazine. Okay, no one reads magazines anymore. Get on Buzzfeed or whatever. Pinterest for me. Maybe actually do some writing.

Note, this step works best if the baby is napping and the kids are out playing in the muddy snow out in the yard.

Keep sipping.

Nice right?

Now, when you get down to the last sip you can either A) add more water, more sugar, and drink another cup or B) wipe off the stove top.

If you choose A, good for you! This is also often my preferred choice. If however, you run into the unfortunate situation which is THE KIDS COMING IN ALL MUDDY FROM PLAYING IN THE MUD/SNOW BEFORE YOU FINISH YOUR SECOND CUP or baby wakes up, or the phone rings, or an email comes through, or you realize its 3:30 and you haven't thought about dinner or the laundry needs turned around and you get distracted and forget about the water sitting on the stove top and then start the oven which cooks the spaghetti/egg/rice goo on even more, NEVER FEAR! Simply go back up to step number one, pour yourself another cup of tea, and repeat all steps until you achieve your goal...

Which is the last step...

Which is...

Take a clean rag with some dish soap and hot water and wipe up the spaghetti/egg/rice goo. It honest to God usually comes off with just a single wipe. If it doesn't, you know what to do. Start up at step one! More tea! More pinterest! Don't worry. It will get clean eventually. Like, tomorrow!

Or you could scrub it.

I am sure June would. Maybe.

There, now go get out those pearls! You are worthy!

HA. Kids just came in. And baby is now perched on my lap. Guess the stovetop will have to wait.

Happy cleaning!
Friday, March 7, 2014

the ebbs and flows of contentment

You know those five minutes you have in the morning to sit down with your (reheated) coffee and actually just be?? I am in those five minutes right now. God bless you Friday.

Friday is our "unschooling" day. That is how I have come to think of it anyhow. The kids play (right now they are playing alien/Spaceman Spiff/mean baby ballerina...guess who is who...HA)

Friday is when they play. And play. And play. (Play is educational, I say.) And they do some kind of craft. And go outside. And play some more.

And I am off the hook with enforcing the book work and copying sentences and etc. Its kind of lovely.

So. Here is where I am at.

And its grey outside. But I am okay with it because...ITS 35 DEGREES OUT. Which is amazing. Which is SPRING and all things GOOD and WARM and I am talking in Olaf's VOICE right now. HA HA.

And I had a nice chat with my sister today (one of them) about contentment. And it makes me think about being content this winter, and why and how that came about. If you remember, last winter I couldn't find that contentment. I let worry and what-if's eat me up. And I sat in it. And wallowed in it. And refused to let my brain escape. (And was suffering from some kind of seasonal thing, I admit.) I feel like though that this year I decided. You know, not going to go there again, and something in me just felt like. Hey, how's about we CHOOSE to be content? And I did. I mean, I have my days, but as hard as this winter was (the coldest since 1887 or something like that!) it was a fairly productive and happy winter.

This post is not coming out like I meant.

Do you get where I am coming from?

Just that, sometimes it is a choice. Right?

Like my sister, who all her life thought she would be a full time stay at home mama. And then she realizes. Huh, I'm not. So she is a part time stay at home mama, but she had to come to a place where she was okay with that - not being home all the time - and not just okay, GOOD with it.

And that's an amazing thing.

To be able to choose to be content. And I think I did that too this year, it ebbs and flows right? And somehow we have to chin up and look at our lives and say, this isn't what I thought it would be, but I am good with that, in fact, I LOVE this me. I am not in a power suit in DC. (That's another sister...she is a ROCKSTAR) I am not "in the field" drinking strong cups of sugary tea and holding meetings at 10pm with politicians, talking through an interpreter about Big, Heavy, Important things.


I am sitting on my couch, wearing yoga pants, a big grey sweater,a flannel shirt, and a hat made out of an old sweater. Next to me is a princess Barbie doll (the one Barbie I've allowed into the house) and my kids are screaming in laughter downstairs and I need to check on my chickens and stoke the fire again and brew another batch of kombucha. The icicles are dripping off the eaves outside. I'm making playdates over texts while sipping reheated coffee. I've just pulled up my silly little book project (just hit 60,000 words!) and plan on typing as long as its happy screams coming from downstairs (instead of the tears kind).

And God, thank you God, life is so good.

I write a lot about contentment here. I think its because I wrestle with this, and have since first entering into that age of awareness as a teenager. Life is so big. Where do I fit in? Etc. Etc. Oh my, I was FUN as an angstful 17 year old (and I've a feeling little man and little miss are going to put me through the wringer too - kudos MOM!)

And I think its something that a lot of moms wrestle with. Finding peace. Being okay with not being "Pinterest Perfect." Being able to look Pinterest Perfect in the face and say, hey, that's okay that I am not that. And sitting with a laptop and a reheated cup of coffee and realizing as you type. I AM CONTENT. I CHOOSE CONTENTMENT. Oh, yes, every now and then its good to let a little bit of angst out. Angst spurs us on to new heights. It makes us say, HEY, we are nearing that Scary Milestone Age That Shall Not Be Named. LETS WRITE A BOOK, dammit. Lets run a marathon (that one is for you maybe, NOT ME, HA.) Lets do the big thing we have aching inside us. This kind of motivating angst is good for the soul. It doesn't wallow, it spurs us! Onward and upward.

But it springs out of a pool of contentment. Contentment is our resting place. And, as someone who dips down into the deep dark murky place easily and often, it can be a hard place to maintain.

I am writing in circles at this point, but this is how I process, so bear with me. HA.

Because deep dark can bring revelation too. Which is what last winter was for me and dada. THIS, this place, THIS SUCKS. Lets not be here anymore. And we made a commitment to each other, to move out of it. What do you want? To work from home. To write a book. Okay, lets do those things.

Maybe its just letting it be for awhile, learning what you can from those periods of life, and then USING THEM TO LAUNCH OUT INTO THE NEW.

Yes, I wrote that in all caps.

Moving forward, ever forward.

But as you do, its coming from a place of contentment. Where battling knights lay down their swords to come and cuddle mama, and your heart smiles. And you stoke the fire, and bake chocolate chip cookies and watch reruns of Little House on the Prairie, other things lurking, growing from this place, but yes, being here and Present in the Here. And still the smiling heart, and maybe, hitting 40 soon, I am finding my stride, contentment, deep dark, learning, contentment, and it all rolls on, ebbs and flows. And it is ALL good.

Cheers mamas, TO FRIDAY! May it be filled with pizza,  early bedtimes, some good shows on Netflix, and a glass (or two) of wine.

Yay us. Rock on.

nothing to do with this post, but pretty.... :)

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