Monday, April 18, 2011

They're Growing Right Up

This is a shot of our collards earlier this week (with our thriving Rocky Top lettuce mix in the background). Perhaps I was the feeling the rush of accomplishment or perhaps it was sheer inexperience that lead me to announce "we'll be eating collards this weekend!"

They are an inch or so taller now. We are not eating collards this weekend.

Yet. We are closer everyday. Our tomato plants chug away in our windows. I had a eureka! moment the other morning, on noticing they were all starting to bend towards the window. So strange, so strange... they couldn't be... are they... is that reaching for the sun?

I turned the trays around and- voilĂ !- they righted themselves by the end of the day. Now I remember to turn them each day so our stems are fairly even and straight.

With this kind of expertise and natural ability, I feel a show on HGTV or some gardening-minded network is right around the corner...

Sunday, April 17, 2011


Yesterday Matthew (essentially) finished his semester. There is one class left, a review class, but tests, papers, and presentations are done for the summer. He will have nearly three full glorious months to work and be with us before he starts his student-teaching in the fall.


Apparently I've been, unconsciously, looking forward to this for some time. Because the feeling in our house last night was one of mild and quiet jubilation. Here's what a celebration looks like in our house these days:

chatting in the kitchen, while cooking dinner, Dory running around us
one of us leaving to do something with Dory
Dory nursing for a bit from all the excitement
eating said dinner
spending most of dinner trying to explain to Dory she may sit on the table, during said meal, but may not stand, jump, walk around, or squat on table
cleaning up dishes
not so subtle attempt to coax Dory to bed
Matthew getting in bed, in said attempt
Matthew falling asleep at 8pm
Dory and I playing quietly in living room, with Thistle and Shamrock radio show playing in background
Dory and I in bed, her falling asleep while we read, as she says, The Yor-yax
Dory asleep, Matthew rolls over, around 9:30, says "so tired..." commence more soft snoring
I close out the night by taking Georgie out to use the bathroom, turning out the lights, and reading a bit of Chickens magazine

We are wild and crazy guys.

And speaking of wild and crazy, here's our adventurous girl, doing a little tree-climbing at Baby M's house (where I nanny) this past Friday. She very much likes climbing trees. I imagine being one to two feet off the ground must be invigorating to the three feet and shorter crowd...

Is she beautiful or is she beautiful?

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Oh, Mr. Sun

A few quiet minutes here to post and so I thought I would mention this interesting bit of sun and sunscreen information I came across during my perusing of some favorite blogs.

Ashley, over at Small Measure, posted this EPA research on sunscreen. She also provided this link, from the EPA, detailing their best and worst choices for sunscreen. Really helpful information, especially as we're all gearing up for lots of sunshine in the coming days!

And then I'll say here- it always makes me sigh when I see a new list like this one. I pick Burt's Bees sunscreen- it's mostly natural, it's easy to find, and, for our budget (keeping in mind our budget goes to very few things these days), fairly affordable. So it is disappointing to see it fall in the "caution" category of their list, right next to Banana Boat. I've used both, of course, my point is its disappointing to spend more money and time on a particular brand only to discover, eh, its about the same as several others (though, conversely, if you've been a Banana Boat buyer, might as well pump your fist over the couple of bucks you've saved each time you've picked that particular brand.) So I read this and I want to shake my fist and demand of the sky, "what else can we do?!"

Except I know the answer, for me at least. Read! Do your homework. I seem to have been born with a gene that says, if you've thought it, someone else has written about it. Extensively. So I read. A lot.

I'm always so glad to come across information like this, put together succinctly and with sources. I've gone to the EPA site, made notes of their recommendations and now I'll know how to shop differently in the next few weeks. I'm glad to see natural instincts, like "The best sunscreen is a hat and a shirt" at the top of the EPA's advice- at least something is simple!

My active imagination determines I could easily scare myself silly if I read too much. So I stop once I have an idea of the material and think, now on to that new Elizabeth Peters mystery I scored at the library! Or those toe-up socks I've frogged and am ready to cast-on again. Still, a little research goes a looong way. I'm still amazed at how picking up the Sears' The Baby Book completely altered our journey to parenting.

I'm going to stop now, because Dory burst into the room, saying "Peek a boo!"and then our conversation went a little something like this.
Me: Hey little sweetie!
Me: What's that on your mouth?
Dory: Its choc'ate chips!
Me: Are you and daddy making cookies?
Dory: No! We just eatin' choc'ate chips!
Dory: We need YOU to make cookies! We just eatin' choc'ate chips and watchin' Toy Story! C'mon, mommy!

Who here thinks if Daddy was our stay-at-home parent life would pretty much be a carnival all the time?

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Always Looking Up

We have sprouts. Or sprouting. I'm not entirely certain what to call them. Seedlings? Whatever these little shoots and small green leaves are, we have 'em.

The tomatoes took off first and the fastest. Originally the Brandywine and the Goldman's Italian-American were going gangbusters, while the Principe Borghese and Riesentraube lagged behind. They have since caught up and I can safely say, of the dozen each planted, we have at least eight little tiny plants per kind, as many as a full dozen for one. The good news came two mornings ago, however, when Matthew sent me a picture of the newly sprouted broccoli. This was our first sprout beyond tomatoes. Since then two of the peppers are showing life, the wild strawberries container is dotted with green and the thyme from Dory's little garden has several shoots. There is growth!

As a first time gardener, I don't yet know what I can't do. While I did read a book and look around for good seeds and I did have a general idea of what was needed (dirt, water, sunshine, right?), I confess to not studying this seed starting business too closely. Now, reading back through old articles on Mother Earth News, I'm realizing all the ways we weren't quite prepared for this. Like starting all your plants in 3 inches or deeper containers. Hmm, pretty sure our sagging and soggy little egg cartons don't quite reach that height requirement. Or the great benefit to having a growing lamp. Our plants look more like dirt on the run, constantly moved around the house to catch the best sunlight and heat throughout the day. I started a faint panic one night, thinking, we're doing it all wrong! We're not prepared! How will we survive the summer?!

I dialed that back pretty quickly and now we have more sprouts. Maybe not all hope is lost, even without fancy growing lights or the common sense to start with real potting plants.

Still, I'm glad of our ignorance at the moment. We're trying veggies we might not have if we had 'known better.' Even if the broccoli goes straight to flower, I'm proud it got going. And I do think we're going to have some winners from these plants. They're just trying so darned hard. They make you want to believe in them.

Friday, March 18, 2011


Woke up on time, awake and ready to go yesterday morning. But somehow couldn’t bring myself to slip out of bed, to leave the warmth of Dory’s little body, not so little now, her slim, long body curled up against mine, her head tucked so perfectly under my chin. Instead, stayed in bed, arms wrapped around her, and for two hours lost myself in family and farm fantasies, imagining a farm, some land and a house for us, imagining our chickens, imagining our dairy cow and our beef cow, imagining our garden, tilled right into the soil, imagining all kinds of things, giving classes in our home on cheesemaking, canning, Dory, a little older, whirling into the kitchen, with Matthew on her heels, the feeling of us being together as a family throughout the day.

We all want this. She loves Matthew as she loves me, she thrives best when we stay together as a family unit. For so long now, forever, Matthew has said, when we three are together,' this is what matters, this is all I want.' And for some time I’ve rolled my eyes and basically thought, enjoy it until real life sets back in.

I have a new idea of what I want real life to look like. Maybe real life isn’t work, cars, bills, with snippets of family love and magic fit in around it. Maybe life could BE family, could be togetherness, could be relationship, with work, cars, and bills fit in around THAT.

There’s no point agonizing over time lost or not knowing these things before. But now that this realization begins to dawn, I wonder what other possibilities are out there? What would it be like to have that, that bit of land, our chickens, our cows, to leave your place only once a week, to find your food there, where you grow it, to find our joy there, being together...

I think, more than ever, the path opens up in front of me... read this book, find this suggestion, get out in the ground, and do this work. Last night, we came together after being gone all day at work and we stayed outside, watering our garden, playing in the grass, sipping cool beverages, feeling the first suggestion of heat and summer on our arms and faces. Matthew said, even as the clock said 6:30, ‘let’s stay outside all day!’ almost giddy with the joy of being with his daughter and wife again. Maybe these times aren’t meant to be fitted in around ‘everything else.’ Maybe THIS is meant to be the time.

I don’t want to rush this or try to make it happen now. I’m a good one for either forcing something to work that isn’t ready yet and so often breaking it, or for staying sick with longing and desire, letting it eat at me until the dream is simply twisted into something that hurts instead of inspires.

I’m not going to do this here. Right now, this is our life. I work as a nanny, I am so fortunate to provide an income to my family, while being with my daughter all day, while taking care of her mostly as I always intended to. Matthew follows this teaching dream, in school on weekends, and working around that. We live in a house we love, in a great neighborhood, we are close to family, we have many dear friends. There is a smoothing to life’s rough edges these days and Matthew and I often marvel that, on a third of the money that he used to make on his own, we live far better now than before. We better understand living within our means, quality over quantity and what, to us, now truly matters, these ties that don’t bind but envelope and hold us together.

We carve out that other life, that life of possibility, in small ways right now. There are three vegetable beds in our backyard, there are little damp seed trays in our windows, there are pots on the front porch that will hopefully become basil, cilantro, dill, and other herbs. Books are scattered through the house with titles like “Radical Homemakers” and “Storey’s Guide to Raising Chickens.” There are bonds we make and strengthen, finding a way to eat locally, to buy quality, humanely tended meat, thoughtfully produced produce, shopping at our local co-op for the needs in between. We drive less and less, the miles on the car Dory and I share racking up maybe a dozen a week. We receive from our family, who offer us a car so we don’t overextend, who slip us $30 here or a pair of shoes for Dory there and we appreciate the generosity, try to return the gift by excepting graciously and with good humor.

All these little steps and yet steps go by fast, they take you where you want to go, so often, more quickly than you expect. That’s what I think. And sometimes its worth giving up all the little to-do’s of the morning, to lay next to a sleeping child, that little body that grows so quickly and seems to stay warm with love, hope, and optimism, just to be close to her and dream for a few minutes of what might someday, a few months or maybe a few short years, come to be. What if...?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Seed Fever

This morning, Dory, her arms wrapped around my neck, whispered in my ear, "Let's go see my seeds growing."

One of Matthew's dear, thoughtful co-workers picked up a set of these herb plants for her son and a set for Dory too. This is one of the sweetest gifts I think Dory's ever received. She even labeled each little plant and the garden itself.

Dory and Matthew planted them last night. We checked their progress this morning and, well, not much yet. She was not discouraged. And standing in our kitchen, on a rainy Tuesday morning, with her little monkey arms and legs around me, I wasn't either.

After that, we had tea. Dory served.

If a day can start off this well with no visible seed growth, what will a day with a little visible green be like? I cannot wait to find out.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Seed Starting

(Dory on her John Deere)

Is it March that comes in like a lion? February left like one and March still growls a little. Yet new growth, life and adventure is on the horizon. We started seeds two Sundays ago.
Taking what feels like a lifelong collection of cardboard egg cartons, we got out our seed starter dirt and got going on the dining room table. For anyone who doubts these are the actions of novices, we laid down no towels or newspapers and Dory's first action was to take out a scoopful of dirt, with her little Garfield spade, and pour it all over herself. She announced, this was her shower. I wanted to lecture, on 'where dirt belongs,' I wanted to start sweeping and cleaning up around her. I would have done, too, had not some little instinct, some little voice, called out to me, reminded me of something I already almost forgot- this is supposed to be fun! Dirt is not meant to be tidy, clean, and I expect keeping it to 'where it belongs' is almost impossible. Shower on, little one, shower on.

This was a two step process, playing with dirt with Dory and then actually starting the seeds on the floor of our living room, on a picnic blanket, long after she had fallen asleep, while (talk about getting back to the land!) the Oscars played in the background. We are your modern, homesteading family. In progress.

For the first days my confidence was high, but lately its flagged a little as we see no evidence of growth. Surely its coming. They're in the windows, they're working, surely its coming.

Do we need one of those heat lamps, people? This is my concern.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Sunday Morning


Would the deliciousness of Sunday morning be lost if all mornings were Sunday morning? Of course it would, at least a little. So I tell myself Monday morning. Today, though, nice to dream, what if this was everyday?

Right now, my Sunday morning looks and sounds a little like... dog sleeping at the bottom of the bed. Husband and daughter thumping through the house, accompanied by sweet, high pitched child's voice bossing daddy about. Birds chirping outside. Some knitting in front of me, Cascade Superwash on the needles, slowly becoming Child's Placket Neck Sweater. Just finished listening to Keeping Chickens on Mother Earth News radio. Rumbling tummy requests hot tea, with some yogurt and granola. Granola was a treat from our local Co-op this week; Dory carried the bag through the store with gritty, three-foot tall determination, and finally I gave in, because, honestly, it looked delicious. Turns out it is. Too pricey for an every week buy. (Add to to-do list: find good granola recipe.)

A little later today, Husband and I have plans for a rare and exciting trip to the movies, maybe even getting lunch beforehand, while Grandpa and Grante (pronounced Gran-T) Mojo look after our little girl. Movies were once an every weekend excursion for us and now I average perhaps three or four a year. Something I thoroughly enjoy regardless of film; the experience is a thrill simply for its uncommon occurence. My Sunday morning lesson; the rarity makes it more precious.

Happy Sunday to you all!

(No worries, Dory is not suddenly regressing, suffering from some kind of Merlin backwards-aging. No new pictures to show, so found one from this time last year. Can you believe the change?)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

It's Started...

We ordered seeds Tuesday night. In Friday's mail we found...

Included was a free seed packet for wildflowers and also a note apologizing for any delays as they were swamped with orders. Tuesday night order, Friday morning delivery. Concern about delay in delivery? That is good service.

On Saturday, we went to our local nursery and what an experience. Being afflicted with Budgetus tightus and so shopping very little, I've discovered walking into a store can be sensory overload. This is true especially for little ones. Dory has been to Target a handful of times in her life and the last two times, she looked around in wide-eyes wonder, and said, "Mommy, yook at all dis stuff!" I either want to flee, overwhelmed, or I want to start buying everything (its so cheap!) and so must flee, to protect our hard-earned and carefully rationed budget.

Walking into Stanley's however, was, well, lovely. It was well lit (naturally, from a durable glass ceiling), the air felt clean and clear (from the tables and tables and tables of plants), the sounds were soothing (from the many outdoor fountains, yes something ornamental, to buy, I realize). And their employees weren't just helpful, they were eager. Passionate. Excited to help.

And for someone, such as myself, who knows nothing on this matter of gardening, except what I've recently read or gleaned from conversation, this was of tremendous value. For instance, when you're filling your own beds with dirt, you need lots of dirt. LOTS. My expectation of four or five bags- I was a little off. A cheerful, knowledgeable employee, a woman, in fact, I'd seen at our downtown library's storytime with her two boys, informed me, we need a 'scoop'. She directed us away from purchasing at their store and pointed us towards two different mulch companies where we might get our scoop. The Wow-factor is high with Stanley's folks. We bought a few bags of organic compost, to complement the scoop, a bag of seed starter dirt and (here was my impulse buy) a small impatiens to tend in our window until its warm enough to transplant. That is one draw back to starting with seeds; there's no immediate green something in the house.

Grandpa Mojo kindly and generously donated time and energy into preparing wood for the boxes during the week. He came over Sunday and he and Matthew set to work. Magic happened. Our vegetable beds started to take shape.

The building of the boxes...

Just a few steps closer to our first, real garden, and my dream of a self-sufficient life.

(Somehow I failed to get a picture of the other two finished beds, in daylight, so this will suffice for now.)

There you go. Start some seeds this week indoors (luckily we are an egg eating family, so we'll get some mileage out of all these cardboard egg cartons I've saved). Get our scoop this weekend, mix dirt and let's see what happens.

I must stop here to marvel- this is, I hope, much of our vegetable and fruit consumption for the year. And it fits in a yellow manila envelope and costs less than $3 to ship. Even if half of our garden was a major flop, the money saved (not to mention other factors, fuel, cost to the environment, etc) is immense. We will come out so far ahead. This does not include the great amount of family time, sunshine and enjoyment I expect us to reap as we work this garden together. My only question: why haven't we done this sooner?

Actually, why isn't everyone doing this?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

What Will They Say About Us?

Since Dory started enjoying books (really enjoying them, not just wanting to mouth them or rip the pages) we've been reading stories at bedtime. This has been months now, maybe even a year? Hard to recall in fuzzy mama memory.

Occasionally its a quick night; on nights where she's exhausted, she's out in the middle of the first book. Most nights, its anywhere from three to eight stories and lately I've felt impatient. Impatient to finish, for her to fall asleep.

(Dory at eighteen months)

Last night, on the sofa, I performed my typical feats of nursing and reading simultaneously. Just as thoughts, that mental chatter, started to pop up ("surely it will be soon; she must be tired") and words to follow ("one last story, OK, sweetie? Last one."), an entirely new image popped into my brain. I imagined her, as an adult, relating to me how our ritual of reading at bedtime was a cherished childhood memory. I heard her, really, almost heard the words, saying she treasured that time, she felt special, loved, safe and valued. That she, as an adult, appreciated that we would read "one more story" and then "one more story" after that, that we read them gladly and with pleasure.

(Dory at two and a half)

And the words "last one, last time" disappeared. We read until she fell asleep, somewhere near the end of "The Sword and the Stone" from Walt Disney's Classic Storybook, a book she loves though I don't think she's actually seen one movie from the entire collection. And then for another half hour after that, we stayed cuddled there on the sofa, she, this long, slender toddler, sprawled across my arms and I imagined myself, saying back to her, in those later years, "Dory, our bedtime stories are some of my best memories too. Some of my very best."

(Last week, napping the day after I declared 'She's all done with naps, I think!' Ah, we wise and all-knowing parents...)

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Off the Grid-iness

What's going on around here? Something is different..

This morning, one of our first to-do's was to take our homemade chicken stock, simmering through the night, off the stove and drain it. We left a a stewing hen's carcass, carrots, onions, celery and a bunch of parsley behind as we poured out a silky, golden stock, smelling, though I say it myself, heavenly. Bone broth, as I learned from Nourishing Traditions, a cookbook I find myself pouring over the way spiritual scholars seek out the great religious texts of the world, is "extremely nutritious, containing the minerals of bone, cartilage, marrow and vegetables as electrolytes, a form that is easy to assimilate." Mary Fallon, co-author of NT, attributes "the decline in the use of meat, chicken, and fish stocks" as a "lamentable outcome of our hurry-up, throwaway lifestyle." Few of us buy meat still in tact, "on the bone" as Fallon calls it, unlike our "thrifty ancestors [who] made use of every part of the animal." Homemade chicken stock...

At the library yesterday, after making a large selection from the children's side, we stopped off in the gardening section, only to meander a few rows over, past animal care (where Dory selected a book on hamsters), before cookbooks, there! that book! Made from Scratch: The pleasures of discovering a homemade life. An unexpected find that went straight into the bag, with great delight.

A slew of books, actually, littered around the house (Handmade Home and Coop); on hold at the library (Radical Homemakers); online magazines checked on a daily basis (Mother Earth News and Mary Jane's Farm)...

Yesterday morning, awake before the rest of the family, I sat in our living room, pouring through our seed catalogue, checking and double-checking that we had all we wanted and no more. We picked Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds for delving into the world of growing our own food. Our virtual shopping cart is now full to the point of tipping over and yet I thought, I bet this is a drop in the bucket to real homesteaders...

Homesteading? Is that what we're moving towards?

Surely not. Off to a farm forty miles from anything? Hmm... I love where we live, to me centrally located to what's most important (parents within a fifteen minutes drive, our local park and library a quarter mile walk, many friends anywhere from three to fifteen minutes away, a farmer's market a three mile drive on three different days, Matthew's work and mine easily accessible). Creating our own energy... Matthew's first question: is wind-powered satellite-television possible?

Yet books about keeping a family cow and how to raise your own chickens appeal to me.

Maybe this isn't a surprise. Moving out of the mainstream appeals to me lately, not different for different's sake, but a genuine questioning of what I value and what I hope to model to our next generation. We're already parenting in mostly unheard of way (still trying to follow Dory's lead, in co-sleeping, breastfeeding, cloth diapering until potty trained, the list goes on), so its not surprising these other worlds would start to pull me in.

I would have thought this a tiny community, difficult to find and impossible to incorporate into an everyday lifestyle, available mostly through beautiful blogs and websites. Not so. In fact if I start to look around, I can see where it's been happening around me this entire time. Mental flashbacks to my parent's garden when I was three and four and my dad's stories about me picking tiny green tomatoes far too soon. Some of our first friends when we moved home, who live on a tiny farm, with goats and sheep, she spinning her own wool, both of them commuting half an hour into work everyday. Another friend who makes her own yogurt, juice, broth, dried fruit, the list goes one, while, during winter, a supermarket and interstate sit in view behind the woods and creek at the back of her house. A neighbor one street away who used to keep chickens...

I'm curious how many of us have these longings as of late? Perhaps disillusionment with work, the government, the media, stemming from a realization the promise given won't be fulfilled by that particular establishment, that their brand of happiness just doesn't do for me. Maybe a sudden longing, as generations before us pass on, a call from the past, tugging at the fingers and heart to find the same dirt that slipped through our great-grandparents hands. Or a modern concern, an understanding we don't want to be labeled the "throwaway" society, this isn't the legacy we want to leave behind...

Check "all of the above" for me.

So something is afoot, something definitely moves through the house. I have no idea what I'm doing and, because I came of age during the boom, I mostly look to books and websites for understanding. Another something on the list, sandwiched between "find raw milk source" and "learn to sew"- talk to people. Find people! Other living, breathing humans, preferably in the same room people from who to learn.

And if any of this sounds like I am disparaging technology or haranguing how life has fallen apart since the development of the internet, let me relate this snippet from moments ago. Dory, at two and a half, just plopped up on my lap to nurse, and with the laptop open in front of her announced: "Mommy, yook! I'm having bobos and pushing buttons on da internet!"

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

My Tribes

There are two groups, since I became a mama, that I joined, two groups that I now can't imagine 'mothering' without their support: the first, Attachment Parenting Int., the second, Holistic Moms Network.

I found one through the other, stumbling onto HMN after finding API. They have both been amazing lifelines to other mothers, family choices, and support.

At the start of last year, Dory turned eighteen months old and I suddenly felt a little lighter, a little freer... like someone who had some extra time. I decided I wanted to lend a hand to these groups that introduced me to women I now consider dear friends, helped sustain and uplift me during difficult times, brought me information and knowledge and empowered me in the, often unusual choices, I made as a mother and we made as a family. Turns out, what our local Holistic Moms group needed was a new chapter leader.


So after an OK year last year, I finally feel like I have started to hit my stride, organizing and coordinating this great group of women and mothers. Then February came and I realized knowing my topic for the month was not the same thing as scheduling a speaker for the month... oops.

All of this to say, we had a lovely, quiet, meet-and-greet meeting this last Tuesday, with about eight of us, four regulars and four new mamas and most of our children (a few are now in school) coming up with ideas for our group, getting to know each other, offering suggestions about local pediatricians, diaper rash, eating habits and basically bonding in that hit-the-ground running we mothers seem to do.

I like that about us mamas. I like that so many of us have lost our pretenses and come to the discussion simply, honestly, wanting to help, wanting to learn. I feel so fortunate to know so many lovely, amazing women and their bright and beautiful children.

If you're in the area and would like to catch the next meeting, mark Tuesday, March 8th on your calendar. We'll have a leader from our local Weston A. Price chapter speak about this traditional, thoughtful, healing nutrition. I will post more soon. In the mean time, be well and a lovely Wednesday to you!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

A Surprisingly Ordinary Story

As I mentioned in a recent post, Dory and I bring home stacks of books from the library. These books go many places. Different rooms in our house, our car, to my job, Matthew's car- these are books on the move. And we haven't, yet, lost a single book. Imagine that.

Until last week, when Dory picked a book to bring with her (a book we never actually read) on a trip to the park. I, theory would have it, being better prepared to look after a book than she, took the book from her before I helped her down from her car seat. I then forgot the book in the place where many of us forget things when exiting a car: on top of said vehicle.

I remembered that book about two hours after we came home from the park. I remembered it balanced precariously on the edge of the roof of the car. I remembered, if such a thing is possible, not remembering it when we left. I resigned myself to "buying" our first library book.

During my recent solo trip, the librarian and I went through the list of books and could not find this title anywhere. Not anywhere! And I realized what had happened. Allow me to enlighten you, with this quick preface: I believe (most days, I believe) we live in a kind, benevolent Universe under the influence of an unconditional, loving Spirit (I would say God, but welcome and appreciate any word of awe and magnitude that fills that space for you). I realized, somehow, this magical, almighty Power manufactured a scenario wherein this particular book missed the check-out process, that somehow we walked out of the library with a book never borrowed and it was this very book we subsequently lost. Amazing.

I told Matthew the story and began to explain what must have happened when he interrupted to say, "Someone found it and returned it to the library? That was nice."

Um, yes. Yes. Yes, it was, wasn't it? Some person at the park found our book, identified it as a library book and then took the time to return it to the library.

I like his explanation better. And I can't help but think it still works in harmony, though on a less extraordinary scale, with my story. I think, actually, its the very ordinary niceness of it that makes his story better.

Thank you, to whoever-you-are out there, with your respect for books and libraries and mostly for your simple, kind gesture.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


Today through SouleMama I stumbled across another lovely blog, MommyCoddle. Roaming around her site I came across this thoughtful, gentle explanation as to her family's choice to homeschool. And, if for no other reason than so I might remember it for later years when we are hopefully following the same path, I wanted to link it here. What a soft, tender, and heartfelt discussion for this, I'm realizing, controversial choice. Definitely worth a read and consideration for any other mamas curious on this subject.

Monday, January 31, 2011

New Bedtime Ramblings

While naps are not entirely gone, they are mainly phased out. At two and a half, Dory can handle a good solid ten to eleven hours straight waking-time before nerves start to fray. An hour after that she goes to bed. So suddenly I have free evenings! Already I have started some laundry, emailed a few friends about getting together for lunch, eaten a quiet dinner, and found two different Meryl Streep films to alternate watching. (Julie & Julia and Defending Your Life). I don't watch nearly as much television as I once did (any guess as to why?) and it feels positively glutinous that, with the press of a "Back" button I get double Meryl. Her laugh, in both films, is infectious.

Other happenings.

I want to learn to sew. I have many friends who are accomplished sewers but only one in town. She has recently moved. I am now faced with finding time for class (difficult) or finding a book, getting out the machine my Grante Suzanney so kindly loaned me and just figuring it out. I want to be brave and bold and just do it. So tonight at the library I checked out Socks from the Toe Up. Exactly. A knitting book. I'm not ready for brave and bold sewing but I am ready, after four and a years of knitting, to learn a new cast-on. I will stay posted on progress.

The library trip merits a mention. Tonight, Matthew surprised Dory and I by arriving at work (where I nanny) and picking Dory up. They came home to play and, when I left work twenty minutes later, I stopped at our neighborhood library and... wandered. Now, Dory and I visit the library weekly. I consider her an avid reader by the number of books she enjoys having read to her. We come away with a stack for her every time we come home. Because of Dory (well, mostly- I might have had a few) I have officially hit my book loan limit and had to put books back. (How many does Knox County consider too many? Anything over 35.) I mean only to make the point, I get my library fill.

I had one book on hold to pick up. Yet to wander the shelves, even for ten minutes, on my own... temptation was too strong to dash in and out again. Just like, I imagine, anything in life, it can be nice to do it unaccompanied. I gave myself a few extra minutes and just wandered. Because of this I discovered the socks book and a new Amelia Peabody mystery that I would not have known was available had I not chosen to meander. I might also have come home with Barbara Kingsolver's , a book I've read a couple of time nows, but which I always find inspirational, especially as my fingers start to dog-ear pages of these new seed catalogs.

What a good, happy ending to a strange, bumpy month. Welcome, February!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Sing! Sing a Song!

Its Saturday morning, Matthew and Dory are playing in the living room and I am tucked up in bed, with this laptop, a stack of books, a candle burning and I can see about two inches of Knoxville snow* out of my window, an occasional flurry sweeping in another handful of snowflakes. And for some reason, I have the song from Sesame Street ("sessy street" as Dory calls it) in my head. This version particularly. We are thoughtful and limiting on what Dory watches, but Sesame Street is still a classic to me. Especially scenes like this one.

I have no special blog to write today, except for working to build a habit. So I'll mention the books by my bed right now.

Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy by Sarah Ban Breathnach
Coop: A Year of Poultry, Pigs, and Parenting by Michael Perry
All New Square Foot Gardening by Mel Batholomew
You Are Your Child's First Teacher by Rahima Baldwin Dancy

I also have the Winter 2010 of Interweave Knits

Angelina on Stage and
Llama, Llama Red Pajama

And I've just been invaded- time to read those last two books! Will write more about my reads later. Definitely a theme developing though... What books are you starting this new year?

And I'll mention, just now Dory thrust a crayon and piece of paper at me to make our grocery list. She said we need; Bread, Eggs, Cheese, Blankets, Sofa, Pillows, and Curtains. Sounds like an ideal list for a wintry Saturday to me.

Happy snowy Saturday to you!

*Knoxville snow: an inch to three, melts fast, rarely stops up traffic or sticks on roads, but sends our whole town (myself included) into a frenzy for bread and milk. Everyone goes to get bread and milk. Gluten-free, dairy-intolerant people race to the supermarkets for bread and milk. Causes me to wonder, is this some strange plot by our local grocery stores to sell more bread and milk in these crazy diet days? Just a thought...

Saturday, January 1, 2011

What's Your Word?

Join the caravan of those who have turned their faces to the sun.~ Rumi

What a beautiful quote. Perfect intention for the New Year. I fell asleep last night- drifted, finally, after hours of being awake, buzzing with the understanding we just entered a new phase, a new time, a new what-if, what-could-be, what-will-be- and I thought, "Wife, Mother, Writer, Nanny, Gardener, Homemaker, Leader..." In front of each title, I placed this word: passionate.

That's my word. This is my year of passion, to act from this place. I want to make choices fueled by passion. No perfection needed. Rediscover enthusiasm, burn my energy brightly, let go. Just passion!

I've got a slew of books to read and re-read. I'm firing the blog back up. I've got a set of gardening gloves just waiting to be broken in, a stack of beautifully framed photos to hang around the house and remind me of all that I have, a new stock pot already broken in with the last batch of homemade chicken stock for 2010 (a revelation in and of itself)- that list alone shows what a lucky, lucky lady I am.

I ask you- what's your word, your adjective of the year?

Wishing you a happiest of New Years.

Perhaps, a second intention- to find my own "bangerina" skirt...?