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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

a mother's poem of thanksgiving

Thank you God, for strong coffee
Thank you for healthy children, so healthy they rise at the break of dawn to welcome the new day
Bouncing and screaming in glee, running in circles - so healthy and strong! - cackling, broom in hand as they try and get a sticky hand toy off of the ceiling, before I've barely cracked open my eyes.
And, thank you God, for strong coffee

Thank you God, for strong coffee
Thank you for a house, with carpet the color of sand, to hide the spills and stains of last week's squeezie yogurt, newly discovered under the ottoman
Thank you for strong walls and wood stoves and windows, upon which to have smudged noses and hand prints, and doors, to remind little man not to slam,
And, thank you God, for strong coffee

Thank you God, for strong coffee
For mothers to call about rashes and coughs, who reassure that we are indeed, not ruining our children's lives forever by not letting them sleep in our bed until they are 47
For sisters, and a brother, who text the whole live long day about everything under the sun, including cocktails and Pinterest plans
And, thank you God, for strong coffee

Thank you God, for strong coffee
For this three year old, lovely sweet head of curls, who just now insists on climbing onto my lap, wiggling and writhing and talking and, indeed, wiping her nose on my sweater, thank you for that.
And, thank you God, for strong coffee

Thank you God, for strong coffee
For the five year old at the table, insisting on writing love notes to me, in Sharpie, so they never go away, who cuts out snowflakes and shrieks in delight, leaving a powdery snow of paper remains underneath her, who despite multiple warnings has now dotted up my table with said Sharpie.
And, thank you God, for strong coffee

Thank you God, for strong coffee
For the eight year old boy, wrestling my new wool fleece like a cat, pouncing - GOD, that was HIGH - from ottoman to the couch, approximately four feet into the air, before plummeting on his prey, who loves to read and Lego it up, leaving strewn remains all over the house
And, thank you God, for strong coffee

Thank you God for strong coffee
Thank you for the near misses all day, for almost kneeling on a Lego, seeing it staring at me, as I look under the couch for the missing sippy cup, for watching out of the window as three year old nearly lands head first in snow, but rights herself, fat little dumpling in her snow gear, and keeps walking on. Keep walking on.
For dada, making it home late at night, when it was icy and windy and foggy out
For not having my leather slippers on, just now, when I dumped yogurt all over my feet. That was good. Thanks for that God.
And, thank you God, for strong coffee

Thank you God, for strong coffee
Thank you for sunshine, when it decides to come out, for a nice day of 41 degrees when the snow nearly melted and I was able to run errands without wearing a parka. Thank you for the green beans I dug out of the freezer, just now, grown from the dried up plants now covered in frost in my garden. Thank you for hard work and land and sun and rain and wind and the whole world of it out there. Even snow. It IS pretty.
And thank you God, for strong coffee

Thank you God, for strong coffee
For siblings who love each other, even as they tug at the iPad, wanting their turn (also, thank you God and Steve Jobs for the iPad), for siblings who play, creatively, beautifully, who fight, ferociously, wildly (are they cats??) who call each other pet names and kiss each other's heads when I am not looking.
And thank you God, for strong coffee

Thank you God, for strong coffee
For a partner who works hard, at parenting, jobs, and life, who does the dishes and folds laundry and gently disciplines and stacks wood right alongside me, laughing about child antics and incomprehensible (to me) YouTube videos, who gets angry at injustice, and who informs me four nights in advance of his intentions to stay out late playing volleyball tonight.
And thank you God, for strong coffee

Thank you God, for strong coffee
For a brain, that is unfoggy and coherent most of the time, that is creative and thoughtful, even if melancholy, for the thoughts and ideas and the passion. And, for weirdly pale green eyes to see three year old, chasing the cat - again - for hands to pour the crabby eight year old his Cheerios and ears to hear the five year old screeching out my name and a voice to calmly respond.
And thank you God, for strong coffee

Thank you God, for strong coffee
For friends near and far, around the world even, for the memories and the connections and the random texts and five minute phone calls, in between yapping children, and the thoughtful messages of hang in there, you too mama, we are sisters in this together.
And thank you God, for strong coffee

Thank you.
For all of it.
It's good.
And especially, for strong coffee.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

operation peaceful parenting



Its been a stressful summer, a stressful fall. And as I type that VERY sentence five year old just dropped a giant tub of beads on the floor.

I smile and shrug. But a painful shrug that is something more like a wince. Something more like someone just pinched me. Hard.


Operation Peaceful Parenting at work.

Our lovely pastor this week spoke about peace on earth, as we enter the advent season soon.

Peace on earth, she reminded us, begins with peace in our homes. Peace in our relationships. How can we encourage peace if we aren't at peace in our day to day interactions with people we love?



And so. This week. With temperatures 20 degrees below the norm. Bright sunshine streaming in. Soothing Gregorian chants on Pandora (cant stop.) I pledge. No shouting over spilt beads. No yelling over kid shenanigans. Calm. I will be calm.


Anybody with me? A renewed effort to bring peace in our home.

I would write more about this now but five year old is now hiding in the fridge because big brother is chasing her, making grunting ogre noises. Their latest game is ogre. It's SUPER fun.




And not shoving it away, not ignoring, not NOT instructing, but, keeping it all in perspective. Sun is shining. Kiddies are healthy. Coffee is plentiful.

You know?

Also, Operation Clean Sweep is going to be part of this. Simplifying the house and actually GETTING RID OF SHIT. Not just throwing it in the boxes in the garage.

More on that later this week.

And now three year old is screaming for an Oreo.





(laughing/not laughing)

Sun. Coffee. Gregorian chants. Do your thing.

so its winter, which means our bird feeder is full and my posts are once again going to be full of pictures of birds
because one day I am going to be a crazy bird lady, tuppens, tuppens, tuppens a bag....HA HA.

Friday, November 14, 2014

where i am at

When you wake up, after going to sleep at 7:45pm with your two littles, and find all three kiddos plus dada in your bed the next morning, little man snuggled at your leg like a cat.

And you smile at the sunshine.

And you start humming this song.

Don't mind telling you, in my humble fash
That you thrill me through, with a tender pash
When you said you care 'magine my emoshe
I swore then and there, permanent devoshe
You made all other men seem blah
Just you alone filled me with ah
'S wonderful, 's marvelous
You should care for me
'S awful nice, 's paradise
'S what I love to see
You've made my life so glamorous
You can't blame me for feeling amorous
Oh, 's wonderful, 's marvelous
That you should care for me
'S magnificque, 's what I seek
You should care for me
'S elegant, 's what I want
'S what I love to see
My dear, it's four leaved clover time
From now on my heart's working overtime
'S exceptional, 's no bagatelle
That you should care for, that you should care for
That you should care for me

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

and so it goes, and so it snows

And we're the only one who knows...

I just had to say that. A song from somewhere? Where is that song from?

In any case.


Lots of it. And its NaNoWriMo again. And so I write. And write. All the feelings. All the everythings. Into this new little book project. Dammit! I WILL BE A WRITER, MAN. HA.

So, you all get weather posts today. Ha. Because all inspiration is leaked out elsewhere.

Also. It appears my children have forgotten to sleep. Have you ever gone through this at your house? Little man, our difficult baby sleeper, who takes an hour to fall asleep some nights, has now started waking up in the middle of the night. EVERY. NIGHT. I don't know why. Then there are the late night pleadings. Please, please, can I sleep in your bed? And inevitably everyone is piled in my bed by morning. And I GET NO SLEEP. Dada too of course.

We are both exhausted.

And for some reason Monday night when the kids finally did fall asleep it was like. WOOHOO they are asleep by 10PM! Lets WATCH A MOVIE. So we did. Which was a stupidly exhausting fun way to start out the week.

Yesterday I was so tired it felt like back in the newborn days. Please dear God. More sleep! Or more coffee! No, scratch that, BOTH.

So this is the post that is the result.

And then the snow. I saw on Saturday that a little flurries were predicted for Monday. By Sunday the prediction had turned into 12-16 INCHES. Apparently some typhoon in Japan is to blame.

So, we spent most of Sunday afternoon outside. Bringing in the cushions off the outside furniture. Corralling yard toys into the garage. Stacking wood in the garage for our wood stove. And then the garden. Poor garden. We had such a cold month in June I had broccoli plants that tried to produce in October! I gathered up the kale, and the last of the greens and tried to create a makeshift cold frame to keep a few baby kale and arugula plants alive.

The sky was dark and biting but the kiddies were lovely. Actually GASP helping, for an extended period of time too!

And so yes, Monday morning.


Monday, all day.


But it feels (for now) cozy and happy and nice. Plus, its pretty.

November. I still like you.

helper in church dress and "ninja mask"

oh kale. I love you

ninja princess

the strawberry bed

clouds moving in...

good bye garden.

this and most of the below pics are by little miss :)


so proud to be a helper

not the prettiest but hopefully it works!

my baby arugula and kale plants. I wonder if they survived out there...



Tuesday, November 4, 2014

lifting and pulling

So, I've been thinking about this for awhile.

Lifting. And Pulling.

Its a funny thing, on so many levels, when you come out of the baby baby years. You finally scrub the last of the spit up off the couch. You no longer smell like sour milk. You pack away the baby toys, the boppy, the play mats and cribs.

And you take a step back, and assess life.

Three things I think.



I write about those two a lot.

But I think there is another one, and it is this...

3) Who am I around the women of my life? Who are my friends? Who am I to them?

The fog clears and suddenly we are not just meeting in the park or at a house to carefully watch our small children learn to not snatch toys, not hit, not fall off of park structures, etc. Suddenly we are able to send them out to play and, GASP, talk. Talk like regular uninterrupted adults. Maybe even with a glass of wine in hand.

The first several...dozen...times I found this happening to me it was one of two things. I either talked the other (poor) women's ear off, like a verbal tap I couldn't shut off. Or found myself absolutely unable to communicate. Um, do I have any non-baby thoughts inside of me?

And then. THEN. We almost have to relearn interacting with each other.

Sometimes its lovely and bonding and we hold each other and cry about lost sleep, lost date nights, etc.

Sometimes it isn't so lovely.

Sometimes it is rough.

You know the kind of interaction I am talking about.

"Little Susie isn't sleeping well these days."
"Oh really, Johnny sleeps like a rock from 6pm to 8am! EVERY. DAY. Can you believe it?"

or this...

Watching your kids pick over their meals.
"Yea, she is going through a picky stage. Its been rough."
"Yea, well, you know, I read four books about picky eating in toddlers, so let me tell you what you are doing wrong."

or maybe its about career stuff, or lack thereof...
"So then I was thinking, I start a company! And I will sell all the little hairbands and tutus I've been been making for Claire! And I can do it from home! Wouldn't that be great!"
"Oh really? Have you ever looked at etsy? They have tons of that stuff, for cheap. But, yea, that might be fun!"


And this is what I have been thinking about. How do we, as women, come together, and face each other, and do this to each other?  Why do we insist on pulling, so many times?

Lifting though, lifting can take work. It can take peace and gratitude where there isn't any. It can take good humor and love when you feel drained.

Yes! You can do that etsy shop, its a great idea! Yes, I think those new skinny jeans look GREAT on you! Yes, your meatloaf is sublime and NOT AT ALL BORING.

So, this is my question, are we lifters?

Or do we have this need, in our place of insecurity, to be pullers.

Come down here, to where I am, in my feelings about myself, which are low down grey feelings. Stay here with me. Here, I will help you. COME. DOWN. HERE...


We've all been in both places. The puller, the one getting pulled down.

And sisters, here is the thing, we have got, GOT, to be lifters.

Glennon over at Momastery writes about this a lot, and started an organization to help women do just that, lift each other up, sisters rising together. She's amazing for it. Also, ironically, one of those women, in this journey, that I have been insanely jealous of in the past. LOOK AT HER BLOG. LOOK AT THE PRESS. A few years ago I was dying to have the big old blog and the articles on HuffPost. I couldn't even read her blog, it made me so crazy.

Pathetic right?

But you know what I mean. I know you know.

The girl you graduated with from college who now has the job you totally thought you would have. The sister who seems to communicate with your parents more easily and readily than you. The coworker in your office who is always on top of everything. The woman at church who is always on time, who's children are perfectly dressed every morning.

And it irks you to no end. And so, on occasion, you are snarky about said person. You might even, on occasion, be snarky TO said person.

And it eats you up. And whether or not it pulls them down, to the place you are feeling, it does do one thing.

It pulls you down. Further. Deeper.

And the funny thing is, when we lift, the opposite happens, we lift ourselves too. We do. We are stronger than our moments of insecurity. We are stronger than our bad moods, bad days, selfish moments. When we lift someone else, we lift our own chin up too. In learning to celebrate each other, we learn to celebrate ourselves.

Congratulate that younger sister about her stellar career. She'll confess her insecurities. You admit yours. You encourage each other through it. Together, you are lifted higher.

Love on that younger mom who is always letting her kids run amuck during library story hour, even just a chat or a "What a cute little guy you have" comment. Because, remember those days?? When you daren't go out for fear of being the one with the run amuck kids??? She is doing it. Being brave.

Or that friend who is struggling. Or that acquaintance who is always snarky to you. Or that relative that seems to question everything you do.

Lift. Find a way. Not because you are higher. Because you are standing next to them. And anyhow, tomorrow you might need a hand too.

Be  lifter, not a puller.

We moms, we parents, we have got to find a way through this life journey, however the walk takes us. And we are trying to figure it out. One careful tentative step at a time. One crazy helter skelter sprint at a time. Scaling those damned cliffs that sometimes seem insurmountable. And how we respond to each other on the journey impacts our own journey. Defines us. Molds us. And our kids too, as they listen and watch and learn from us - our mistakes and our successes.

Take the high road, if you want to think of it like that, sure.

But, lets take each other with us, walk the walk together, climbing those high roads, where, after all that hard work, the view is unsurpassed.

So, naturally I need to follow this post with pictures of my sisters who taught me as a child, and continue to teach me as women, about loving and lifting up. I LOVE YOU GIRLS.
(And also Brother. WE LOVE YOU.)


that tall guy with his arm around me (crazy dread hair me)
is our brother. Brother, we call him. He is lovely.

Monday, November 3, 2014

ah, November

As I child I can remember tremendously disliking November (not hating though, as good Midwestern Protestant children we were not allowed to hate anything).

It seemed pointless. Everything died. My mom's garden withered up. The lilacs leaves turned a papery grey and blew away. The apples plunked off the tree and lay in sweet stinking heaps around the orchard. The green golden fields turned burgundy orange, then dull grey.

Everything growing and green that I loved about our little farm was gone. My outside play world. There was no snow yet to make things interesting. Maybe just angry rain that kept us inside our tiny house too long. And Christmas was AGES away. (I was a dramatic child... Whaaaat?????? That doesn't surprise you????? HA HA HA)

Now, though, as an adult. Well, in college November became The Month of Hope. Finals were around the corner. Everything was scurry busy get it done. And lots of good cozy house parties with candles and huge fires in the fireplaces of the old New England houses we lived in.

As a mother, well, I straddle the line between the two worlds.

Good cozy house with a fire in the hearth (well, the wood stove) and candles (far out of reach of the children) I've moved from kegs to boxed wine however. Ha. And my background music has changed from wailing yet meaningful rock and roll (ahhhh, the 90s!) to Gregorian chants (I'm dorkily into it, just for the peace of Medieval music)

And, well, we now have the angst of the Christmas wait in three similarly spirited children. (Who ME, have SPIRITED CHILDREN? With ANGST? WHHHHAAAAA???) And there is no snow. They are sad about that. I am relieved. No really, I HATE driving in snow. (Also, I say hate now. But not in front of my children. HA) So I take them hiking. "Its not cold!" I say, "PUT ON A JACKET THEN." And we drive to grandma's. And I am living it up in anticipation of the snow that puts a damper on my willingness to haul kids around God's no-longer-green-earth.

And I drink coffee. And read. And write.

And yes, I am kind of a fan of November now. Even the grey days. I can do it. Because the sun of our glorious fall is still bright in my mind. Time to pick up the knitting (I aim to knit all the kids special hats for the winter) and bring in more wood to stoke up the fire, and pick the last of the greens and beets out in the garden, and breathe in the stillness of the woods (before the insanity of the holidays hit).

AH. November. I hug you. But first, of course, time for another pot of coffee.

Happy Monday!

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