Friday, June 25, 2010

friday night par-tay

I am trying to be a little more laid back these days. Trying to let my kids be kids a little more, and savor the moments. Trying to find joy in their purity and encourage their exuberance. Who wants a mean old mom, right? So, Blair and I decided to let the kids stay up late tonight and do some fun stuff.

First of all, after dinner we went on a walk around the yard and made some leaf art. (This is inspired by my friend Christina...see her blog, Moment to Moment). We all had looked at her beautiful creations online and had alot of fun walking around, trying to find leaves and plants that would work well. Then we went back to the porch and played!

Elliot, whom I thought would be so into this, wasn't so much. :) He helped Novah with this one, here, then went off to pick some berries that he found while scouting for leaves.

Connor, whom I thought would not be so into this, actually was. He took it very seriously and really got focused with it. Isn't this beautiful...

And Hayden got into it as well. She was so proud.

And here are two variations of my own.

I would have liked a bit more color, but was honestly just too lazy to go out to the fields. So, I just made do with what was closer around the house. It was really fun, though. We all enjoyed it.

Hayden is so sweet with baby Gil. She loves him so much, and takes such good care of him.

After this, the kids decided they wanted to go for a swim in the creek. They have been spending almost every afternoon splashing around in the creek for the last week or so because it has been so blazing hot. The boys have been having a blast with these vests, because they love to float and let the creek's current push them along.

They splashed around until it was almost dark, and then moved on to scout out the berries that Elliot had found along the fence line.

Then began the lightning bug hunt. This was a huge treat because they are normally in bed way before the lightning bugs come out, but hey, this was a party.

They ran around , caught some, and marveled at the first few stars that popped out in the night sky. And then, things got really crazy when Blair brought out one of his Organic, Fair Trade Dark Chocolate Almonds bars (from his private stash) and split it amongst them all. Cra-zay. :)

See, it takes a moment like this to set me straight. I get so upset and frustrated and exasperated so often over small things. Insignificant, minor things. (I mean, I get upset because often a small thing, multiplied by 5 and complicated by infinite variables usually ends up to be a big thing). But still. I just know that one day, when my kids are all grown up they'll remember a special night like tonight. They'll remember that rules were ignored and bedtimes tossed and chocolate was broken out. And me....what will I think then? Will I think, "Wow, I sure wish I had yelled at everyone a little more and freaked out every time someone dumped their bowl over. Sure wish that the kids were put to bed on the spot every single night of their lives. Sure hope they'll always remember me as being exasperated and uptight their whole childhood!"

I won't even remember the spills. (probably) But I'm pretty sure that I will remember this night and others like it...the pure fun and freedom in their eyes, and the thrill that I know filled them up and spilled out of them as they went from one awesomely fun thing to the next. And I know I'll wish there were more days and nights. I hope there will be.

Okay, wipe your tears, back to business. After things began to wind down, they came inside and after a night like this, who should have to go to bed?? Not these kids. This calls for a sleepover in the fort. The fort is a recent construction under the stairs. Complete with art supplies, changes of clothes, sleeping bags, etc...

So, they camped out down there, and even though I'm still hearing murmurs at the ungodly hour of 10:54pm, I'm cool. Well, I'm trying to be cool. And I'm actually banking on the hope that they might sleep in past 6:30 tomorrow. Wouldn't that be sweet.

And to finish, a moment from the week that I wanted to capture and remember. I was looking out my front door, watching Novah run out to meet the older kids at the creek. I love the way she runs...more up and down than forward. And I loved how beautiful it looked all around her. I am blessed.
Be blessed. Thanks for swinging by. And a happy Friday night to you.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

things I love, part two...lovely laundry

Back onto things I love...I love doing laundry. Yes, I just said that. I really do. It's one of my "chaos into order" addictions that fire off chemicals in my brain which then tell my mind that everything's good. Unlike the many other chores that are never quite completed, with laundry day there is a definite beginning and a definite end.

Honestly, it starts out as nothing less than a huge mess. I'm married to a farmer. A dirty, sweaty often muddy one. One that my boys often follow around, nearly matching his dirt and mud speck for speck. I could take one walk around the perimeter of my house and stumble over four pairs of jeans, stiff with dried mud and pockets full of rocks, tools, and other nameless treasures. My girls like to change their clothes no less than 4 times a day, wearing one dress just long enough to smear some food or squat in the mud or splash in the creek, then change into another and repeat. And Gil, sweet baby Gil, is not to be left out. He goes through about 6 cloth diapers a day, and the poopy ones need to be soaked in a bucket, the water in which must be changed daily until I go to the laundromat. (That's right- you heard me...laundromat- two times a week, baby.) And I proudly wear the residue of the mud, milk and pee of all the others. Alright, I might sweat a little..sometimes...perhaps...but it doesn't even smell.

This, friends, is chaos. Just gathering it up is chaos. But then I drive downtown to my little laundromat and dump my chaos into the largest commercial front-loader you have ever seen and throw six bucks at it. Then, I kill 30 minutes, retrieve it, and take it back home for the phase of "laundry" that I love.

I hang it on my clothesline.

I love standing in the sunshine and putting up each piece. Each sheet, each cloth diaper, each pair of underwear. (The more I see, the more encouraged I am that my children are actually changing them occasionally.) The monotony is therapy. One piece after the other, after the other, and my basket is empty. Task completed. But the real joy comes when I step back and look. When I walk back to the deck and glance behind me at the colors and the different shapes and sizes all blowing in the super-fresh air and delicious sunshine. I just plain love the way that looks. And each time I pass by the window, I look. And something resembling peace and happiness flip-flops inside me. I am grateful for the sun, for the gift of warmth and energy. I am grateful for the money I am saving. I am grateful for the pieces themselves that clothe me and my family.

Then, sometime in the evening, either Connor or myself goes out to collect it all and dump it into a small mountain in my living room. Clean chaos. When all the kids are sleeping, I set about folding each thing, and making a pile for each person. Sweet order.

Trust me, I realize that while this sounds so charming, it smacks of mental illness. It's the same reason that I battle crossword puzzle addiction and read voraciously, and scrutinize a receipt showing all of my random groceries in neat little categories. (Ok, and dishes...the chaos of a dinner table and the order of the drying rack) And yes, there's a touch of escapism in the way I stare at the clouds while pinning up dishrags or hammer away at 48-across. Unless I am ignoring the needs of my's usually a guilt-free pleasure. And it's a good thing. And I love it. (And I have to say it...combining a cup of coffee with a word puzzle or a good book...double bliss.)

My dear friend Christina took this picture in my backyard and captured my thoughts here in a single, beautiful picture.

And visit Garden Mama. Her Wash Wednesday posts offer a glimpse into the beautiful ways that many others enjoy this enchanting chore. Blessings.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

things I love...

Thought I'd share some of the things that I am obsessively addicted to...I mean, things I love. With five kids under seven, no help, no breaks, and just a few unscathed brain cells left, these are the things that I do instead of becoming a raging alcoholic. :) My little serotonin boosters. I wish I could say they're the things that keep me from going crazy, but then I'd be exaggerating and implying that I still have my sanity. And you know I never exaggerate.

I love coffee. I love it more than most people. More than I should. More than anyone should. For some reason, coffee has always been a comfort for me. The smell, the color, the warmth, (or sometimes the coolness), and, I suppose the caffeine may have a little something to do with it. I grew up watching my dad drink coffee like water. Anytime of the day or night, he'd have a cup. He wasn't the type that would get into all of the Starbucks hoopla, though. He was a strong, black, straight up coffee drinker. So, it was natural for me, I suppose. It could be midnight, and I'd say to my dad, "Hey, I think I'll make some coffee, would you drink some?" And he'd say, "Sure!" like it was the most reasonable thing in the world. To this day, I love that in people. I am secretly annoyed by people who don't drink coffee (don't hate me!) and I have an inexplicable respect for those who do- and who do with reckless abandon. :) That's probably because their complicity makes me feel just a little less guilty.

In high school, the Indian ladies at the Dunkin' Donuts by my house became like aunts to me. (Farrah, I will never forget you.) :) They'd see me get out of my car in the parking lot and have my drink ready by the time I was at the counter. There were vicious rumors flying during my senior year of high school that I went to Dunkin' Donuts every day for coffee and a bagel during 3rd period, but my teachers didn't care because I brought them back coffee and donuts as well. Crazy rumors- that wasn't true at all! Actually, my teacher sent me, and it wasn't every day. More like every other day. Anyway, during college I would usually see Farrah twice a day. At 4:30 am on my way to work, then again at 11:15am on my way to class. Then, I would cheat on her and end up in Starbucks at about 9pm to fuel a study session with Blair. Then, the next day repeated much the same.

A few years ago, I even quit coffee. I don't regret it. I think it was good for my body. At the time, I wasn't comfortable with the fact that I was addicted to something, and needed it to function. So, after three days of tortuous, brain-thrashing headaches, I lived without it for months. I'm sure that was good for my body to "detox" and cleanse itself. But I never stopped missing it. I would then just make it/get it every once in a while in the afternoon- just for a treat. Then, after a few more months, the "every once in a while in the afternoon" became every the afternoon :)

Now, you have to understand that it wasn't just for the caffeine. Having a cup of good strong coffee in my hand actually makes me feel like everything is going to be OK. At the end of a hard day (most days, now), I make a cup of coffee. When I wake up and wonder how I will get through the day, I make coffee. Currently, it is the mid-morning or mid-afternoon stretch that has me reaching for the press. When I get up, clean the kitchen, clean the house, feed the baby, change some diapers, get everyone dressed, do some chores, teach some math, do some reading...then look at the clock and it's only 10:45am.

(hear beans grinding)

Or when I repeat most of the above things plus a few others, combined with a few super fun surprises (like someone whose name starts with "N" throwing 25 books out of the upstairs window onto the roof and front yard), and I look at the clock and it's only 2:15pm.

(see water boiling and grinds dropping into press)

Or when it's 7:30 and I have done all of the above for 12 hours straight plus a few more fun surprises (like, oh, I don't know...dry erase marker all over the sheets, permanent marker on the laptop, or 2-4 kids screaming and wrestling with each other, or gigantic muddy footprints on a painstakingly clean floor, all while scream-whispering at everyone because the baby has finally fallen asleep and would probably like to do so for more than 10 minutes). You're so jealous of me, I know.

(hear the timer go off- four minutes, coffee is ready to be pressed. Pour into my favorite mug, add half and half, agave nectar, and cinnamon.)

One smell and one sip, and I can breathe a little deeper. Everything seems just a little bit less like eternal hellfire and brimstone and just a little more bearable. At this point in my life, I have evolved into a bona fide coffee snob. You won't catch me in Dunkin' Donuts. (Sorry Farrah, wherever you are) You won't even catch me in Starbucks most of time because we have taken a vow of poverty in exchange for a great house and a great farm. Nope- I make it at home, but we only use organic, and fair trade beans, bold, and preferably locally roasted. We buy whole beans and grind them fresh for each press. I like it strong-no I love it strong. And it loves me.