We've all been under the weather this past week (hence my absence from the blog more than usual, my apologies!). It's been just enough to slow us down a bit, though not entirely. It's just the kind of change-of-season cold that keeps things a little more mellow than usual. And what we've found to focus a great deal of our energy on together in our days....is crafting. Surprising, no? It's been non-stop here. Papier mache, drawing while listening to audiobooks, and of course....the leaves.
Supposedly last weekend was 'peak' foliage around here. I believe it - it's absolutely stunning right now. My twice-a-day drive to bring Calvin to and from school has honestly been nothing but a pleasure - driving through the riot of color that is the trees here right now. And of course, stopping more often than he'd like because "that tree is SO red! We need more really really red leaves!"
At home, we've been simply dipping them in beeswax and then adorning every single corner of our home with them. Garlands (can one ever have too many garlands?), hanging in windows, and simply filling baskets on the table. This morning, as I sit in my studio to work for the first time in a few days, a drawing was slipped under my door (that's their subtle way of asking). A halloween costume made entirely of leaves. I think we can do that...
Have a lovely weekend, friends!
Sometimes, I am surprised by what I find on my camera card. My big camera still goes most every place with me, even though the phone is easy and handy too. But I've gotten quite used to hefting around the big one, and always so glad for it when can take just the photo I want. Though, there isn't a lot of thinking that happens behind the photos, as it's an appendage I'm quite unaware of using sometimes. Hence the pleasant surprise from time to time. When I know that my calendar tells me this weekend was a flurry - of driving and races, parties and gatherings, work and activity. But then the only sights on my camera are these above, and I am reminded that all of that beauty was present too, and I noticed it, and I am glad for the reminder.
Wishing you a peaceful, beautiful, easy start to your week, friends.
Oh, the waiting! As we head into another weekend full of cross country meets and theater rehearsals, I am refreshing my Bag of Tricks, as I call it, for the littles. Of course, we try to 'divide and conquer' as much as possible, and carpool, and all of those things....but the reality is that the life of these younger siblings most definitely involves some serious waiting around for their older brothers. I'm mindful that this isn't something that the oldest two really had to do much of, and wanting as much as possible to make all that 'waiting' something fun, pleasant and not dreaded by the younger kids. This takes just a little bit of planning ahead, but it's so worth it in keeping the peace and something of a rhythm in our days! Sometimes, the kids will bring something of their own that they're working on (Adelaide has been packing her knitting a lot lately, smart girl), but I always have, on standby and ready at the door, my Bag of Tricks which gets refreshed with a little something different each time. It's gotten easier of late to do so, as I realize the elements I always want with us. I thought I'd share today, in case it is helpful to you and yours too!
Nourishment - Food, of course, is critical, especially as it seems that so many of these activities fall in the challenging 'almost dinner' hours! We've been rocking these granola bars like crazy lately - they're so incredibly easy to make, store well, and make everyone happy. Food, and of course, water. There's nothing worse than empty water bottles on a journey out from home! I fill plenty.
Warmth - As we head into the cooler seasons, standing shivering on the side of race that you don't particularly care to be at to begin with, is no fun at all (I'm talking of the little kids here, mind you. I'm turning into quite a fan!). But more than just staying warm, I think there's something really comforting and securing to the little ones when they start to feel overwhelmed, overstimulated, or just plain tired and bored. Wrapping up in a cozy blanket and going inward is sometimes just the thing. Additionally, a blanket thrown down just about anywhere - a field or a waiting room - can instantly create a whole little world of space, creativity, and peace amidst the chaos around us.
Art - Always, always. It keeps our hands busy! I've been traveling lately with some coloring books - those that are just for this very purpose - and markers, which isn't something we use regularly at home. The specialness of these only being used when we're out and about makes them all the more appealing and interesting when the time comes.
Story - There are always a few books in my Bag of Tricks, and I swap them out when I remember to do so. Elsa Beskow always is a standby that can reach the spread of my younger three - from four to ten - with joy. And an easy chapter book is always good too - short stories like Old Mother West Wind and the like.
Action - And of course, something to do with each other, both in a physical way and a more quiet way, depending on the mental and physical space we're in. We keep a soccer ball in the back of the car always, and a frisbee too. But in my Bag of Tricks is always a game as well - Rat-A-Tat Cat has been coming along lately, or just a simple deck of playing cards.
Such simple things, really, it hardly feels worth sharing here. But then again, the few minutes a day that I spend thinking about these things and planning for them makes a world of difference in our experience as a family. It can turn our time out there in the world 'waiting' together from something challenging into time that feels intentional and good, where everyone's time is valued. And of course, a happy family makes for the best cheering team of all - from the sidelines or the audience, whatever it may be.
It's my favorite time of year for a walk in the woods. I enjoy a walk in the woods anytime of year, of course. Sure, winter is magical and spring is refreshing and summer is relaxing....but autumn? It's just perfect. There are no bugs, there is no mud, there is no uncomfortable heat, and there is so much beauty all around us. And, well, time to linger. Time to linger and so much to gather and bring back in with us. Mushrooms last week, pine cones and acorns this week, and surely leaves will be coming in by the basket full by next week. And then all those bits find their way into the library and onto the craft table and onto the shelves and dangling from the ceiling in all manner of creations. I've learned, in these years, to create the space for all of this to happen, to supply the tools with which to create, but to then sit back and let it unfold. To be the one ready to tie the knots, or trouble shoot, or thread the needle. It's a pretty sweet job, I must say. I love it so. To see what they remember from year's past. To see what they come up with new from books and stories and their own imaginations and inspirations. So much fun, I tell you. One of my favorite parts of being a Mama.....even when it means cleaning up glitter from in between the floor boards yet again. Totally worth it.
(*A note about acorn crafting. I prefer to bake the acorns for an hour at 180 in the oven, to kill the grubs inside, rather than having them fall out as the acorns age. And we use a small drill bit to make holes in them, easy for stringing.)
I'm feeling rather wordless on this Wednesday, and a bit out of breath as we adjust to the new fall schedule and do our best to find our groove within the unfamiliar rhythm. In the midst of that, I think we're all finding comfort in what is familiar. The corners of peace that fill our days and our home. For me, that's happening most of all in my kitchen right now, as I stop and notice the abundance, the familiar, and the blessings all around me.
Wishing you peace in your day today!
While I baked, she cleaned. And ironed tablecloths, and hung her pom poms, and arranged everything just so. At one point, as I was spreading vases flowers here and there throughout the house, she walked into the room, humming and practically skipping with joy as she had been all day long, and said, "Oh! That's pretty. But I was thinking we'd put the hydrangeas on that table."
Oh my girl. We both giggled at that one, and she said, "Isn't this just so much fun?" with a smile so wide that both dimples were visible. Yes, yes, my love. This is so much fun. There's not much that I love more than those moments just before guests arrive - when the house is tidy and shiny, when the baking is nearly complete and the house smells of the loveliness. When I've been thinking about our friends to come and how to make them comfortable and happy. And when there is time to fuss over things like ironing tablecloths and deciding just precisely where the hydrangeas should sit. It is not, I know, a thing that everyone loves. But I can't tell you what a delight it is to see that my kindred little one loves that task just as much as I do - perhaps even more. And while I tried to stay present in the moment of soaking up that joyful time with her that morning, before her guests arrived, I couldn't help but excitedly let my mind wander to all the parties we might host together in the years to come.
We had a lovely party. And we had a lovely time making the party too.
This little lady is ten today. Ten! She's growing into such a wise, funny, sensitive and thoughtful soul. Oh, what joy it is to watch all this growing happen in our children, isn't it? How I look at her now and can see the two year old she was, and only imagine how those attributes of hers will manifest as an adult. It's a delight.
She's having a gathering with some friends this weekend, something she's had in the works for months now, my little planner (and fellow Virgo). But this week has been so incredibly busy - with garden harvesting, with the magazine, with the start of the fall classes, and especially with getting Calvin out the door and ready for school - that I was beginning to feel terrible about not getting to her party preparations. There was no time for late night studio sewing sessions, or other crafty undertakings. And just as the Mama guilt started to creep in and started to overwhelm me....I stumbled upon another pile of pom poms.
Because, of course, this girl has her own crafty plans and ambitions! She's been having her own late night crafting sessions in her bedroom, and having an absolute blast doing so. Tissue paper flowers, sewn paper heart garlands, pom poms ready to string, paper goodie bags for each of her friends....and on and on. I have no doubt that a few more creations will emerge today.
Continually learning from these little ones, I am. What a gift and a blessing it is to know and love them.
This first week of September is always a busy one in our house, if only for the fact that we have two birthdays just days apart. But this particular year, this week also finds us starting most of our fall classes and rhythm. And.... it just so happens to be the same week in which our eldest embarks on his next great adventure - high school, and therefore 'school' for the first time ever. What an exciting week it has been - full of celebration, new beginnings, and a whole lot of fun. And it's only Wednesday!
My own birthday wish was for dinner on the beach. There's no place I'd rather spend the last few hours of the day, watching the sun set, with my very favorite people in all the world. Oh, I'm a lucky, lucky Mama.
I'm fairly certain we got all the life out of that three day weekend that was possible to be had. Harvesting of the current season, a peek of the next. The old and familiar, and some new things too. So, so good. As much as the summer season is my absolute favorite, without a doubt, there is a part of me that is so welcoming of what is to come. For autumn brings a rhythm that summer - in all its last minute adventures and sunshine to be grabbed - just doesn't have. Our rhythm may very well look different than yours, and certainly it looks different than even ours did last year, or will the next. But it is rhythm, I am certain, that grounds a family in comfort, security, and love. And for all of those reasons, we are ready and excited....to greet what comes next this September. This weekend felt like a gentle ushering of that into our lives, and I could see us all settling into that feeling of comfort, and home. The very place from which all adventures can begin.
Here we go, September!
When Calvin was a toddler, he couldn't quite say 'beautiful' in the way that the rest of us do, and so it came out something like "bucicle". And that is precisely how you'll hear it said in our house, from time to time. It stuck. There are countless other 'family words' that have come in this way, and then stayed....and just as many, I suppose, that have gone and been forgotten. Quite without realizing that it was happening, I see now that we've been building a family vocabulary all these years - a language that only we understand. Words that evoke giggles and laughter and memories amongst just the seven of us. With our last and youngest, I find myself holding onto those precious words even longer, and feeling bittersweet when Annabel's mistaken words are eventually replaced by the proper ones. And maybe - just maybe - I don't rush to correct her on much at all in that regard.
And so it was that yesterday, all through my day in the garden, and in the kitchen, I was followed by a little girl paint-facing. Not face paint. But paint face. And somehow - either everyone in the family agrees with my feelings on the subject, or they know me well enough to honor my feelings - but no one did correct her all day long. What are you doing, Annabel? someone would ask. "Paint Facing!" she'd reply. Which was only met with a smile from each of us.
Last week, Annabel and Adelaide came to me with their sketches for Halloween costumes. Yes, yes....Halloween (I did remind them that it was still mid-August, to which I was met with a blank stare. As if Halloween shouldn't be prepared for all the year long?). Once I saw the drawing, I realized that what I had been interpreting as a KNIGHT Princess in conversation for weeks, was actually a NIGHT Princess. The both of them - flowing blue dresses with yellow stars all over. Oh!! Fun!! And I quickly became just as excited as they were. A search through my fabric shelves revealed not enough blue fabric, and not of the right color. But! I remembered an indigo kit (this one), tucked away for testing out a future Taproot piece, and a whole big pile of linen, ripe for becoming the color of night.
There's nothing like a good old fashioned messy craft project to bring the kids coming in from all corners of the farm and house. And that's just what this project did - as each of them scoured their bedrooms for 'something white,' set to experimenting with elastics, rubber bands and clamps, and handed me the pieces to watch transform in front of their eyes. It was as fun for me as it was for them, of course. After we spent a full day working on it, stopping only for snacks, the 4-load laundry line of mine was full of our creations. I promised them we'd use up the rest of the dye vat for as long as it lasted, and they haven't forgotten that promise. Last night found us out there by headlamp as dark set in but we weren't quite yet done....and this morning, Harper came to me with a white handkerchief in his hand and sleep still in his eyes, and declared "tiny rocks, I think!".
It'll be a wonder if there's anything white left in our house by week's end!
Scenes from a weekend spent with dear and old friends in the woods of New Hampshire - where conversations sometimes twenty years old are picked up and started right where they left off; where memories are relived, retold, replayed, all while new ones are simultaneously being made; where sandy toes and exhausted, blissed-out children who have known each other their whole lives fill the beds each night; where fish are caught and canoes paddled and each year brings another child old/big/brave enough to jump off the rope swing; where there is far too much fabulous food and drink; and where all of us, in all the ways we best know how, soak up every last drop of the best of this summer season we all love so much in the good company of each other. What a full-up beautiful way to usher this month out, and begin what comes next. How grateful I am.
Friends, I wish you a most wonderful start to the week that lies ahead for you and yours!
Thank goodness. Thank goodness I stopped myself and actually thought before the words in my head -"Please don't eat all the carrots out of the garden!" - escaped my mouth. Because really now. How ridiculous is that of a thing to say? And second of all, with two bottom teeth missing and two wigglies up top, if carrots right from the garden are what he really wants to eat, not a soul on earth should stop him, least of all his Mama. Eat all the garden carrots you want, my love. They're yours.
. . . .
Thank you, all, for so kindly receiving my words and thoughts yesterday and for sending back so much love, gentleness, and righteousness too - for that's what I hope we feel about the issue of our bodies. Protective and proud. And what a gift we have in that we can encourage each other too. Let's always do just that.
I had the great and unexpected pleasure of meeting Miss Dottie Angel (Tif) this spring, when she came out to our knit night while I was in Bellingham, Washington. I've long admired her work, her writing, her everything, since first introduced to her - way back in the day in the when we both had just begun our blogs. Witty, clever, smart, funny, beautiful, kind and everything in between. Meeting her? Well, that only increased my adoration for her tenfold. She's a pretty special one, that lady. And I'm so glad to have made her acquaintance in the real world too.
Her dress pattern, sold now by Simplicity Patterns, is out in the world for all to enjoy a bit of that style she's so loved for, and I was ever so glad to pick up my very own copy recently and get sewing. This is a dress style I love - sweet, comfortable, farm-girlish, totally adaptable and oh-so-versatile. I chose a Cotton + Steel fabric (in lawn) for the dress, and some scraps of Liberty and vintage cotton (from an old 1800's dress shirt) for the pockets. A few old buttons at the top (the lace collar, in the end, just didn't feel right - maybe next time). The pattern came together quite smoothly, and fits - I think - just right for me. (That said, I had some trouble with the sleeves and ended up improvising a bit on my own. Erin has a really great pattern review here that's helpful.) I love this dress. I really do. It feels like a dress I can wear everyday and feel comfortable and pretty in, and for that I am glad. I have more planned. A whole lot more, actually.
I know when sewing a pattern, I love seeing photographs of it actually being worn, and you'll notice a lack of that above. Ah! What a struggle. I've addressed this here before in bits and pieces, but oh boy, it's a hard one for me to wrap my words around. I am quite accustomed to criticism - it is the nature of the beast in this writing format that I use. It's easy to hide behind anonymous words on the internet, and after all these years I am quite adept at letting it roll. It is never really about me. My parenting, my food decisions, my choice in music, the way in which I earn a living, whatever it may be - criticism is someone else's feelings about those things being voiced and in general, I'm able to remember that. But body snark? Oh my. While it still may be true (that it is never really about me) it's one of the most unkind forms of snark, I'm certain, and I'm simultaneously repulsed, saddened, heartbroken, hurt and angered about it each and every time I see it happening - to me or anyone else. As for me, it happens each and every time I share a photograph of myself. Truly. Don't we have enough of that in our own heads? I am not exempt from feeling the sting. I am, after all, a woman living in this time when each day there are thousands of messages about how my body, as it is, is not enough. That I should stop the aging that is happening. That, despite being healthy where I am, I should lose weight. I definitely need "toning". Or maybe I should paint on some eyebrows? On and on. And while I think we need to work hard to erase those sources of cultural pressure and criticism, and seek out body-positive messages for ourselves and our children...there's also an element of protection that we must give ourselves. This body of mine - the one that has birthed five human beings, and treated me with good health and much joy for 38 years - is one that I want to cushion in love and acceptance. And for me, for today at least, that just might mean not putting myself - or rather photographs of myself - in a space which doesn't feel safe. I guess it's as simple as that. And I bring all of this up, not for sympathy or reassurance, but so that you know precisely why that dress is photographed on a hanger up above. And so that I may say - let us never, ever - never, ever - say unkind things about each others bodies, shall we? Not about a celebrity, a friend or an enemy - or ourselves. Not in person, not behind someone's back, and no, not even on the anonymous internet.
Well now, I fear I ruined a perfectly good pretty frock story with all of that chatter, but I hope you understand. And I hope today, you too are wearing something that makes you feel as beautiful as you are (because, of course, you are beautiful).
This is one of the things I love about gardening. (And of the things that makes me fear farming/admire farmers on a commercial level!) The unpredictable nature. I can guess, and with each year, the results become closer to what I expected. But there are always surprises. Big ones. Sometimes....literally.
I'm sure I've told you before that Steve and I laugh about becoming burdock, thistle and dandelion farmers, for that's what seems to want to grow here by the field full. And while I wish it were tomatoes that I could grow with ease and happily fill baskets with by the bushel (maybe someday...maybe with a greenhouse), I do appreciate the things that grow easily for now. Beans, you may remember (and I dare say we're on the same trajectory this year). Beets. And in general root vegetables. Which should have given me pause, perhaps, when I decided to grow nearly a whole bed of rutabaga this year. I've never grown them before, and had no idea how they'd do.
How are they doing? See above. And imagine an entire bed full of them - all bigger than a human head! Rutabaga, rutabaga, rutabaga! Which is great, but here's a little secret, please don't tell my children, for I am about to launch a 'rutabagas are awesome!' campaign in my house in preparation for all the eating of them that we will be doing- I don't really love rutabagas. Or turnips. But surely that's just because I've never really had them prepared well, right? Yes, this must be true.
So - fans of rutabaga and turnips (um, I planted just as many of those, and they're doing just as well!) - I need your help! Rutabaga! Turnip! What magic can be made with them in the kitchen?
And on the topic of garden beds overflowing, gardeners, what crop are you feeling a bit, surprised, by this season?
The lake water is cold! I'm telling you, it happened August first, it always does. And do you see that red leaf just up above? Amazing. I feel you, cold lake water...I see you, red autumn maple leaf. I know you're coming, and as a result, we're doing all the things we should to be present and enjoy what is here, before we nestle on into the next season to come (and all the goodness that one brings).
Being present and enjoying for us right now means standing still, and staying at home. We've had many traveling adventures this summer - at least more than our family is used to. But just the very second we pick up the last two travelers from the airport tomorrow, we are headed straight back home, do not pass go. Family lockdown, I call it, but it is meant in the best of ways and no one thinks it a punishment. After a lot of adventure and the normal excitement of summer camps and parties and food and outings - I can start to see some moods fraying, a little bit of discord weaving its way through the house and the people living together in it. Yup, just like after the busy holiday season, or directly after a vacation, I'm thinking this is a familiar feeling at this point in August after so much good and busy. Time to touch ground, check in, and be together. At home.
Badminton, knitting, swimming and swinging? Canning, and drawing and reading and eating? Yes, please. Home, all together, for a good long stretch, is just the thing.
Yesterday, in a moment of frustration that included a foot stomp, a pout, and perhaps some hands on the hips if I'm remembering correctly, one of my children said, "I am SO BORED with hearing no!"
And well, I rather disagree with that statement. Because NO, it is not okay to eat only popsicles for breakfast and lunch. And NO, we are not going to get ice cream for dinner (again). And NO, you can't just push your brother when he's in your way or annoying you. And NO, you most certainly cannot watch a movie in the middle of an absolutely gorgeous summer's day. And NO, I am not driving an hour and a half on such a day so that I can drop you off at the skatepark and wait while you play, then drive you home again. And NO, tying a collar around the neck of the cats so you can walk them on leashes while they get tangled and frustrated is NOT okay. And No, no, no, no, no...to all of them, all the time.... is certainly sometimes how I feel. Don't you? It's impossible not to. Yes, I can change my language and redirect and find alternatives and positive solutions. But the reality is that life includes some limits, many necessary, important and good limits really, and those amount to a great deal of 'no' uttered from my mouth during the course of a day.
Which is all to say that I LOVE when I can say yes. And I seek out the opportunity to do so whenever possible. And I pause, I really do, before answering a question with a no, to see what other options we have. But oh, the easy yeses. They are the best, they really are.
Such as....on an August afternoon when everyone is hot and spent and grouchy and cranky and not engaged in anything at all besides irritating each other and declaring their "boredom with the word no".....
In such a moment, when someone asks, "Can we please just go swim?" The answer, without a doubt, is ABSOLUTELY, YES!
Not boring at all.
Oh these fleeting days. Can you believe we have turned the calendar page to August? I cannot. And I say that with a deep sigh. I have always believed - here in Maine - that everything shifts August first. That the air just feels different, that the evenings are not quite the same as July, that autumn is essentially at the doorstep. My husband laughs at me. My kids think I'm silly. And well, maybe they're right. Maybe I'm a bit oversensitive about it all. But really - August 1, I tell you, everything changes (says this summer loving gal).
It's a precious fleeting feeling though. And it's echoed throughout my home and life right now. As I see the bounty of not just this season, but this season of our lives. The garden that is bursting and near to overflowing with so much goodness that every dinner feels like a feast of freshness and abundance. Or that oldest boy of mine just about pass his father in height (well, the man bun, or mun as we call it, helps a bit), as I watch him gracefully prepare for the next great adventure in his life at high school. I feel it in the moments we come together and gather with friends to celebrate the season, our community, and a blue moon. And see it as I turn the corner and find my girls curling each others hair with hot rollers once again, in preparation for the "show" that will be performed by the clothesline later in the day.
I suppose all of that is why I pay attention and notice that subtle shift come August 1st. It isn't so much that I'm terribly sad that summer will end, but more that I want to not let it slip by without noticing, and appreciating. Both summer and everything else - the abundance, the fullness, and the blessings of this time of year, and this time of our lives. I'm doing my best these days to do just that, inhale these little moments, and tuck them into my pocket for later. Yes.
If I had a bucket list, the Newport Folk Festival surely would have been on it. I've long wanted to attend, and for years have been listening to the live NPR broadcasts when the festival happens. That it worked out for me to attend this year - when so very many of my absolute favorite musicians appeared on the stages (expected and unexpected too!), and to do so with Taproot, where I could share the work we're doing with appreciating folks - well, I can hardly believe that it happened. But the best part of all, was a brave and dear friend who took on the job of farm care and child care for five days so that Steve and I could take this trip together. Our lives, our days, our farm is not very conducive to us getting away together before (nor, really, have we had a huge desire to leave this place we call home!) - in fact, we can only remember a single overnight since Calvin was born. Ah! So, so blessed we were by this stretch of days working together and enjoying each others company. And all that music!
The lineup surely tells you how fabulous the music was - I needn't explain that. And the way that the organization honors its history while moving forward is impressive to me. But I have to tell you how completely touched and overwhelmed I was by the crowd of folk in attendance. I practically had a fight of kindness at the merchandise table with someone about who should go next - each insisting it was the other's turn. That kind of vibe was throughout the festival, and just felt so good. Good music (amazing music!), good weather, beautiful setting, and good, kind people. Spectacular. After the music each day, we stayed up far past our bedtime each night, explored Newport a bit, found the best cocktails in town (HOPE Food and Spirits, hands down!), and found music in every corner of every room, basement (that's Spirit Family Reunion above - so glad to have discovered them this weekend!), and fort tunnel we walked into.
Ah, and now we're home! Feeling refreshed from the time away, energized by the music, and fueled by the good conversation with the people we met. How fitting that we slide right on into the work of our next Taproot issue, FOLK, now. I've got a few new thoughts about that word and all that it means and can't wait to translate it into the pages of the magazine.
And though my mind was blown when Gillian Welch and Dave Rawlings walked onto the final stage to host the 65 Revisted "surprise" set (marking 50 years since Dylan went electric at Newport); and it was incredible to see Spirit Family Reunion (with many talented friends) in a teeny tiny basement after the festival one night; and I've come home with a whole list of new sounds to add to my days......I still think the version of Heart & Soul I heard last night was one of the best (courtesy of Adelaide and Steve on the piano and Harper on drums). And "The Horn on My Unicorn is Green" by one Necklace Rainbow Magic Candy might be my new favorite song of all. And falling asleep to the distant sound of Ezra strumming away on his guitar downstairs was just the right way to be welcomed home. Oh, the many ways music moves us.
So, this is happening. Or rather, has been happening for a few weeks now. When we added a drake last year, Adelaide (and well, maybe all of us) were hoping some ducklings would appear this year. Stellaluna - everyone's favorite duck - has decided to take the task on herself, and it's been a fascinating process so far - watching her and then reading about what it is that she is so instinctually doing. Like covering the clutch of eggs with feathers to protect them while she takes one of her brief breaks.And the 'brood patch' of down that she plucked from her own belly to keep the eggs warmer (through direct contact with her skin). So fascinating, these little but very big things. We're excited to see what happens next. She's very close we think to the 31 day incubation period ending, so it could be anytime.
That is happening too. A little bit of a library reorganization was desperately in need. Someone came to me last week complaining that we had no colored pencils. And that's like saying, well, like saying we have no yarn. Or fabric. Or sheep. You get the idea. It wasn't that we didn't have any, it's just that they were nowhere and EVERYWHERE to be found. A jar here and a jar there, a dozen stuffed in the couch cushions, two dozen under each bed, and on and on. Adelaide's cart (Raskog by IKEA) for her most-used crafts is working out so well at corralling those things in her bedroom, I decided to give the same thing a try in the library. So far, so good. No one can claim we have no colored pencils. Or scissors (I counted 21.)
The wildflowers are off the hook right now. That is all I have to say about that. I'm so happy.
And, I'm off! Just as soon as I decide which knitting project to bring (priorities, you know), I'm out the door for the Newport Folk Festival! I'll be staffing a booth for Taproot in the Quad area of the festival. If any of you happen to be headed there yourselves, please do come say hi! I've always wanted to attend this festival and am so glad to be there this year. Check out the lineup. Seriously amazing - so many very old favorites of mine, and so many new favorites too (thanks to Ezra who set me up with a playlist of all the Newport artists a few weeks ago and pointed me a to a few he thought I'd like. My own personal DJ - so handy). I'm not sure what my connection will be while away, but I do hope to pop in and say hello from Newport.
Until then....wishing you and yours a lovely day!
Here we are on another Monday morning, after a full and wonderful summer weekend. One child retrieved from running camp, then dropped directly off at another camp. And a second child retrieved to settle into the rest of his summer at home. That is, until theater camp starts for him in August. Phew! Steve and I have often remarked that despite there being such a strong and wonderful community of homeschoolers in our area, and with so many great offerings all the time....there is still this surge in the summertime of the kind of intensive learning and playing that happens at camps when the focus is long and thorough. Summer intensives - whether ballet or running or horses or Quaker camp or whatever it may be - are just so conducive to that kind of intense learning. And living, of course - they are one in the same.
Meanwhile, back on the farm, as we say....I think we're all feeling that similar parallel of intensity in life and learning. SO much happens in a summer day. Once in a while, that tips towards overwhelm and long to do lists that seem impossible to complete, and we start to panic that maybe we won't get enough wood cut for this winter, and my, won't that be cold? (Yes, it would be very!) But then, the next day rolls around and the kids are more than happy to ride into the woods on the trailer of the tractor while we haul more firewood up to be cut and stacked, and before we know it, a whole morning has gone by and so much has been done. Adelaide brings Almanzo the cat and talks to him the whole time, Annabel has her racket (you never know when it might be needed - for what, I do not know) and talks, again, about her plan for her halloween costume - a Knight Princess ("a beautiful knight that shoots things!" hmn......). And Harper, well Harper certainly finds plenty of ways to keep busy in the woods. He's Papa's right hand man, that's for sure. Always nearby to lend his hatchet, or give Steve some pointers on what might be causing that tractor the trouble it's having. He's often right.
They'll break for lunch, and maybe we'll get back out there, though the kids will likely disperse into their own adventures - whatever those may be. Maybe I'll finish painting the garden shed and get that put back together, which will surely be a beacon for all to come and beg for some time to paint. It's easy to say yes out there. And at the end of the day, I hope someone suggests a jump in the lake. I'm sure the answer will be yes (I'll make sure of it).
It can be tricky sometimes, in the moments, in the days, to remember what's getting done, or to feel like anything is getting done at all. Of course it is, one day at a time, one more tractor load hauled from the woods, one more coat of paint. But it's impossible to forget the help we have in doing it. That, of course, is the great joy at the end of the day that I remember most of all. A pile of wood in the woodshed is surely satisfying (and necessary), but nothing beats the pile of tired, happy kids in the bed at the end of the day. That's the real reward of a long summer's day of work.
You already know I'm a firm believer in the importance of benches - anywhere and everywhere. Our yard and gardens now are practically littered with them (the best kind of littered). Well, I suppose it's no surprise that hammocks and swings are right behind benches in my backyard love life. There can never be too many, now can there?
All spring and summer I've been saying out loud, thinking to myself, and asking Steve to build a new swing for Ani. She outgrew horsie at the end of last summer, sadly, and all the round tree swings are just a little too tricky for her to manage. She just needs a spot to sit and swing (who doesn't?). Each time I mentioned it to Steve, I saw the slightly panicked look in his eyes that said, "a swing would be great, I'd love to make a swing, but how about I cut that firewood I need to so that we don't all freeze this winter?" Right. That.
And so it went, and here we are in the middle of July and she still didn't have her swing. Until last week, when Steve and the big boys were away. It wasn't until then, as I was moving one of the benches to mow around it, that it dawned on me. What's the matter with me? I can totally make a swing! Geesh!
I know, a swing. A simple swing. Adelaide could make one, likely Harper too. And yet, I still find myself, even after having made a few things, not thinking of myself as someone who can make anything with wood. It's funny, isn't it? The things we believe ourselves capable of, the things we think we can't do, or don't even think about at all. And the things, that after nearly forty years of not even paying any attention to, we discover that we really actually enjoy and are perfectly capable of. There's a whole lot of gender thoughts mashed up in this, of course. And there's a whole lot of empowerment in slowly letting go of some of those thoughts buried so deep I didn't even know they were there. The miter saw? It's not scary. It's just a tool, like any other. Which sandpaper to use on the sander? This is not rocket science.
I know, not exactly revolutionary thinking here, but it still surprises me sometimes, how these ideas become engrained, how deeply they can stay there, and how liberating and exciting it is when we become aware of them and let them go. Right now, I'm incredibly excited by the gift from a friend - thanks, Don! - of my own chainsaw. Ah, what freedom it will be when I want that birch branch cut just right for hanging in someone's bedroom for something or other. Or, when I want to spend a day out there limbing trees with Steve in the pasture, making things go along at a faster and smoother pace with the work of two adults, not just one.
Well, anyway....those are all the things that were on my mind as I made this simple little swing this weekend. Some leftover pieces of cedar, a little bit of our favorite stain (Vermont Natural Coatings), and a few power tools that I thoroughly enjoy using. She's as happy as can be. And so is her Mama.
And just as soon as that one was up, I set to work on another right away (because who wants to stop using the power tools once they're all fired up and ready to go? Not me!). Adelaide has requested one for the pasture, which I think is just brilliant. And then I've got my eye on this perfect maple tree deep in the woods that I wouldn't mind swinging on...and then.....
1. My girl is home!!!!! She arrived home happy, confident and full of new friendships and so many stories. Like the one about this treehouse, and a boy named Mike that she was hiding from because "Mom, he was just too silly, you know, and I think he liked me. Like, really liked me."
2. Her room was completed on time, and she walked into it with a huge smile on her face and so much love and gratitude for it. I think the end result is so very her, and she agrees. Hooray! I'll show you the finished results in the coming days, once she's settled into it a bit more.
3. The day before we picked Adelaide up, we received no fewer than three letters from her in the mail. The postcard reads "Dear Mom & Dad, I miss you a lot. But then again, Camp is awesome. There's a lot of strange things written on the walls. I've learned how to twerk! The girls in my cabin taught me. Write back. Ada" That just might be my favorite piece of mail ever. When I picked her up, I asked for a demonstration of this twerking. She started cackling, "Na! I don't know how to do that, I was just messing with you Mom!"
4. Such is the weekends of our summer, we picked one up and dropped another off. Ezra is off for his own camp adventure right on the heels of his little sister. He went out the door with his ukulele, a fresh haircut, and a new bottle of hair gel. I'm expecting him to have lots and lots of fun, and for us to receive well, approximately no letters. That's okay too.
5. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, this one has declared this to be her last summer at home "because four is just too little and you still need your Mom and Dad and stuff, but not when you're five". Her constant stream of dialogue from morning to night is a true pleasure to hear right now, even when the eleventh hour of engaging with it approaches. "Can you pick dandelions upside down?" And so on and so forth. I do so love the mind of a four year old!
6. Harper? While he certainly loves being given the tours of camp from his older brothers and sister, he's decided that camp will 'never!" be for him. Instead, he'd really like to stay at home and "do whatever I want." That's a smart fella, I'd say. Right now, "do whatever I want" mostly involves the use of a hatchet. I think we can keep him busy.
7. Calvin and I continue to plug away at his "handmade dickies" using the Thread Theory pattern. We seem to be working on it in only one-step-per-night intervals, because that's about the maximum amount of time I can keep myself from swearing to a point far beyond appropriate for the ears of even my fourteen year old. That zipper fly? What the? But....I'm determined to save my sewing cred, and more importantly, have this thing that we created together, so we will persevere. I've got about 48 hours before he starts a series of his own summer adventures that will keep him out of my studio for a while, so we best get to it. And I will practice patience and appropriate language all the while.
8. Speaking of that child, is there skateboarding Mom in the crowd? Will someone explain to me how it is that he can go through a pair of skate shoes in just five weeks before blowing them out completely? Twelve pair a year seems excessive, but seems to be the track we're on right now. And each time I say "that can't be possible!" he shows me a completely falling apart shoe with a hole in the sole. Also? His feet are now so much bigger than mine, that I'm no longer getting any fun hand me downs (the non-skate shoes with holes in them, that is). This is very sad (and my eye is on you now, Ezra!).
9. We watched Harold & Maude with Ezra a few days ago. It was one of those movies Steve and I were cautious to share with him, only because we love it so and were afraid he wouldn't love it as much as we do. Thank heavens, he really, really got it, and it even made his top ten movie list of all time. Phew! But while watching, needing something that didn't take too much concentration, I pulled out the ongoing scrap blanket I haven't worked on since winter. Each time I do, I am reminded how much I love this project, and wonder just how big I should make it. It might just be the blanket that never ends. I've been knitting it for five years now, and I think there might be more years ahead!
10. The ocean. It's happening today, finally. Ah.....
Another Monday morning after a busy summer weekend, with a long to-do list ahead of me. But I'm moving slowly, because oh, all of it feels so good and full, and the sun is shining and the garden is growing, and children are outside playing, and there is sure to be a lake swim later in the day. On such a morning, another 'ten things' feels just right for here and now...
1. Necklace Rainbow Magic Candy has taken to wearing my clothes lately. Each day, she wakes up and picks something from my dresser, then we head down to my studio and adjust it all with pins and ties and anything to make it small enough to fit on her and stay on her. The finishing touch is always a scarf for her head. It all suits her just right.
2. Her older sister? HAS NOT WRITTEN HOME!
3. I've decided that being barefoot in the garden early in the morning, still in my pajamas, gathering flowers to bring inside might just be one of my favorite things in this life. Those are Sweet William above. Some dear friends of ours have it growing all around their root cellar and I fell in love with it there many years ago. So glad to have it growing in my own garden now, and so pleased it's taken off as it has. It's happy here, I think.
4. The strawberry shortcake marathon? It continues nearly each night and has somehow crept into our morning's too. What started as a special treat one morning - whipped cream and strawberries on top of our oatmeal - has somehow slid into an every day thing. But who can argue with that? Strawberry season is short, and too good to be missed.
5. I am back to sewing with clothesline! I'm thinking it's just the very thing that Adelaide needs in her room for holding all her stuff - from horses to glitter glue. Today will require a run for more thread, because good golly, these baskets do just soak up the thread.
6. I'm also thinking a pouffe needs to happen. Contemplating this tutorial, but looking around for others. Do you have a favorite?
7. I've been making a lot of garlic scape pesto lately, and everyone is loving it. I add cream, which helps tamp down the strong garlic just enough to make it palatable by all, but still vibrant. I'll share the recipe here soon, if you'd like.
8. That second photo above? Sometimes I think a wider lens is necessary. That's what's really going on outside the pretty basket of greens. A whole lot of kitchen table life.
9. I just finished reading The Lost Wife last night, amidst a whole lot of tears. Currently searching for the next great book to read, something reasonably light since I'll be balancing it with Moby Dick. Yes, Moby Dick....helping my eldest prepare for his freshman year summer read.
10. And in case you haven't seen mention of it elsewhere, I wanted to let you know that Taproot is hiring! We're looking for a part-time Copy Editor (in the Portland, Maine area) and a full-time Graphic Designer (in the Burlington, VT area) to join our team. Check out our Jobs page for more details.
Friends, I wish you a most wonderful start to your week!
The family "rule" is that sleepaway summer camp happens when you're eleven. If you'd like to go, that is. That's when Calvin went for the first time, and it seemed just the perfect age at the time, hence the rule. But then Ezra came along, and at ten years old, he was insistent that he was ready, eager, and excited to go. And so he went, at ten, and did marvelously. Cue Adelaide, who is still just nine, yet has been asking for a year now if she can go to camp this summer too. No way! we said. You're nine! But the requests didn't stop and once we stopped resisting long enough to look past the 'rule' and really look at the kid, of course she was right. She was ready, and she wanted it badly. (And what will all of this mean for not only Harper, but dear baby Annabel? Oh gosh. I might as well sign her up for six years old right now. Though that one, I think she'd go now if she could.)
And so she's off, my Adelaide. She's been packing for months, ever so thoughtfully. Planning out her favorite outfits in just the right rotation until laundry day at camp, plotting which horse books she'd bring and what craft supplies she'd limit herself to putting in her suitcase, picking just the right stuffed animals to have with her on the journey, and .... bless her heart, choosing just the perfect pens, paper, stamps (lotus flowers, Mom, not the flags, please!), and drawing a set of notecards that she'll write and send while at camp (she's a bit inspired by Emily Martin, as you can see). She remembers, of course, all the letter writing kits I put together for her two older brothers (Calvin and Ezra), but took matters into her own hands well before I had a chance to do so. She ended up asking to take the very original Gratitude Wrap, because she said it would remind her of me every time she saw it. (Oh, that girl.) I have a feeling I'm going to get some mail from her.
She's a sensitive, shy and quiet one, my Adelaide. One who is known to say that she'd much rather be in a room full of animals than a room full of people. I've been nervous about camp for her. But as the drop off day approached, there was nothing but excitement and a big ole paper chain in her room marking down the days. Once there, beginning to settle into her assigned cabin, she looked on the wall in the bunk she had chosen and read "Ezra S. 2014" (along with a silly nonsensical Ezra poem, and an Instagram signature. Oh, Ezra). Ah! What are the chances that not only would she be assigned his last cabin, but then pick his bunk? It made her smile and it made my heart happy, thinking that she is surrounded - at least energetically - by the familiar, in this place that has been so nurturing and wonderful for my boys each and every summer.
When it was time to say goodbye, both dimples on her cheeks were deep, so big was her smile. A hug, a giggle, and off she went, happily skipping into a room full of what are sure to be new friends.
And then I got home and cried. I miss her! She's a bright big ball of sunshine around this place, not to mention an amazing farm helper, and goodness, my best crafting companion. The first year at summer camp is always the hardest, I'm learning. It gets easier in subsequent years. But this first year, their absence is felt so strongly....and that's precisely why, whether I knew what I was doing or not, I started the other first-year-at-camp tradition. A Bedroom Redo! Not only does a few weeks away give all that paint time to dry, but it gives me a bit of time each day to focus on her, whether she's here or not. It feels just right, just as it did each time I did so for the boys before her.
I've got my work cut out for me, though. Five years of cats, kittens, puppies, dogs, lambs (well, that was only one time), not to mention markers, paint, and gosh, that awful glitter glue (that she loves sooooo much and uses sooooo creatively that I just can't bear to ban it)! From ceiling to walls, trim, and floor, this room needs new paint. Holes in the walls patched. A more grown up girl vibe. And some kind of solution to all those stuffed animals, Breyer horses, and dare I mention craft supplies? I think she rivals me for that last bit, and she's in one of the smallest rooms of the house to boot.
See? I've got just the perfect distraction all lined up and needing my attention every time I feel those pangs of missing her. And then there's the mailbox, which I may or may not be watching like a hawk. Oh, what joy - and a little bit of pain - it is to watch them soar!
1. Is there such a thing as too much strawberry shortcake? For example, would it be so wrong to have dessert every night and have it be strawberry shortcake each time? Hmn. Don't answer that.
2. Last week, on the side of a pizza box she dragged out of the recycling bin, Annabel drew a family portrait of our, um, bums. She didn't forget a single Soule, and I dare say her renditions were quite fabulous. Sadly, the box found its way right back into the recycling by accident before I could save it, frame it, or take a picture of it. Thank goodness though, the image will stay in my brain forever and ever. Number 5, and she's the first to have thought of such a family portrait? She's a special one.
3. I can't believe this to be true, but it is. We have run out of pork. Which means no bacon, or sausage, or pulled pork or pork chops or any other of our favorites until early October. Thank goodness, though, for a garden full of greens. Salad, salad and more salad - we're making up for winter.
4. I have a new shoe love. Pons by Arvaca. I have them in one color and while I don't think I'll indulge, it IS awfully tempting to think about getting a rainbow of colors (and I dare not show my Annabel, Necklace Rainbow Magic Candy, the sparkly kids version, for I'll never hear the end of it). Growing up, my mother - who loves shoes more than anyone I know - had a full rainbow in her closet of the very same pair of heels. And being the 80's, I kid you not when I say it was the full spectrum of the rainbow. My three sisters and I teased her relentlessly about them, but the truth is that we all secretly really wanted our own rainbow of shoes. Who wouldn't?
5. I am so excited for Ida Pearle and the release of her first children's book, The Moon is Going to Addy's House. I've been looking forward to holding this in my hands for quite some time, knowing how beautiful it would be with Ida's art. It does not disappoint - Annabel and I are quite in love with this one, the sweet story and the beautiful illustrations. Dreamy, awesome, pre-bedtime reading.
6. I've just started planning a trip for next month to the Newport Folk Festival, where Taproot will be having a booth. I've always wanted to go, but it's never been in the cards until now. To make the deal even sweeter, I'm bringing along one of my favorite Taproot contributors to help me staff the booth. Ahem, SoulePapa. We can't wait. Any tips from those of you who have been? (And yes, that is one rockstar of a friend who is willing to take on the farm at the height of summer, plus five children and a mother in law!).
7. Remember my chatter about the lack of good quality clothespins that actually work these days? My prayers have been answered! While at the Mother Earth News Fair earlier this month, a sweet gentleman named Kevin came by our booth, with a package of clothespins in his hands. Clothespins he had made himself, from local wood and stained with linseed oil. Apparently, one of you had told him to seek me out (thank you!). Anyway, I took the pretty things home with me and was so happy to discover they're just what I've been looking for. Big enough springs to actually hold clothes on the line, no matter the wind. And they're pretty, and made by hand. I instantly ordered three more sets and can't tell you how lovely it is to have a basket full of working pins. You can find Kevin and his awesome pins at Lady and the Carpenter. Yay for the little things that make a really big difference (and Yay for readers looking out for me!)!
8. While there have been many trips to the lake, I haven't put my feet in the (East Coast) ocean yet this summer. I'm giving myself a week to remedy that situation.
9. I had a ridiculously whiny moment in the garden on Saturday afternoon, after coming home from the Farmer's Market with some (many) unplanned for seedlings. "There's no more room in the garden!" I whined to my husband, who stopped what he was doing across the yard, and gave me the hairy eyeball. "Thirty acres and you can't find a spot to put four husk cherry plants?" Oh, right. And so I got some pots and made do (and then looked around and wondered what else I could add).
10. I'm excited about the week ahead, full of summer adventures, garden play, editing of the next issue of Taproot (FOLK, without a doubt my favorite issue yet!), and of course that visit to the ocean. I wish you and yours a most lovely week too!
(That's two different boys up there, though I know it's becoming increasingly difficult to tell them apart!)
My baby boy, or rather my fourteen year old eldest son, the one who is just a hair shy of being taller than his Mama, is starting high school in the fall. High school away from home, high school on a formal schedule with an oh-so-early wake up time, and a most definitive first and last day of the school year. I'm sure I'll have a lot more to say about all of that in the months to come (it feels so big - it IS so big!), but right now, this time of this year, I am noticing the absence of that school schedule, for what appears to be the last spring of our parenting and homeschooling lives. Granted, the kids are involved in so many activities in the community that go year round, and even for those, there is a bit of a break that comes this time of year. Dance recitals are over (and there's a few weeks before summer ballet starts). Theater troupe is on hiatus. Fiddle recital is just around the corner. And for the first time since she was three, Adelaide will be taking the summer off from horseback riding so that she can join her big brothers at Quaker sleepaway camp (gah! how can my little girl be old enough for such a thing?). Still, knowing that next year as everyone gets older there will be even more to do, and especially with the start of a new school schedule to come, I'm feeling mindful that right now, this moment in time, is the end of an era, so to speak.
All that to say, at this moment things are s-l-o-w-i-n-g down and I am l-o-v-i-n-g it. Loving it. Of course I love driving them around (thanks to long car ride chats and audiobooks and podcasts), and I love supporting their passions year round, and I will love sending my son away to school where he is supported and encouraged and happy to be there. I really am. It's my greatest pleasure and honor as their Mama to see them becoming themselves, their passions encouraged, their dreams fulfilled. But oh, I love this month of June (not quite here yet, but yes, I am pushing it!), especially this year. The one in which all of that is on a bit of a break. In which we are - for the most part, nothing but home, home, home. Home! And....together.
My favorite kinds of days are those in which, at the breakfast table, the question is posed "What are we doing today?" and the reply can be "Nothing!" which of course really means....everything and anything. There is gardening and farming to be done, skateboard ramps in and out of doors to be dropped into, another play to perform, a parade to be held, music to be made, art to be created, and definitely some fabulous costumes to wear. Those days - of nothing and everything all at once - are becoming more rare as the years go by in our world. But I am treasuring even more now, the days in which that happens, and treasuring this time of year when a whole string of them can be put together. Bliss.
That's what she'll tell you right now if you ask her name. Necklace Rainbow Magic. All one word. Her nickname, she says, is Jessie. And she's seven years old. And she ONLY wears "Lady Shoes" (also known as the high heels that have been long-abandoned to the back of Mama's closet).
Oh my baby girl. Annabel turned four yesterday. We've been having fun celebrating her this week - a small party with her bestest little friends here on the weekend, and an outing with the other four year old cousins yesterday (oh how lucky she is to have FOUR cousins her exact age!). It's been such a sweet week, so fitting for her, this growing, funny, smart, extroverted little babe. I will try to spare you the sentimental birthday feelings that I always have, but really, wasn't this just yesterday? I swear it was. But while I get a little teary-eyed thinking about that tiny baby that once was, it is such a pleasure to watch this girl who now is. Four is one of my absolute favorite ages - so curious, so creative, so capable. It's going to be a wonderful year.
For her birthday, Steve and I built Ani (or Necklace Rainbow Magic, rather) a little table for outside her Garden Cottage. It's the "Bigger Kids Picnic Table" by Ana White. It was a breeze to put together, even if it involved cutting angles on the chop saw (I'm a little bit afraid of messing those up). And then it was painted in the pinkest pink that Adelaide could pick out for her sister - pink begonia by Benjamin Moore. The birthday girl was thrilled with her new table and all of its pinkness. And then throw in her new hammock (the kid's rainbow hammock from Nova), and well....I don't think I'll ever get her out of this corner of the garden. I don't blame her a bit.
I met an amazing man in Bali, a life counselor and spiritual healer. He said so many things to me that I think about every single day, but one message of his stood out loud and clear and I am so grateful for all the many times a day I hear his voice saying, "You don't need to worry so much about your children. Worry less."
We worry. Oh, don't we Mamas worry! There's something to worry about at every single turn in parenting, I think, and then multiply it times five children and I could honestly worry about something all the live long day. When they're little, the worries are too many to count, and as trivial, but seemingly important, as can be. Cloth diapering, breastfeeding, and when should we start solids? What's in those vaccines? And what about school? And they grow, and it becomes about peer influence and should they have an iphone and what about video games? And on and on. And on.
But I've been noticing something as my eldest shifts well into his teen years, as he is out and in the world more and more all the time - beyond our doors, beyond our reach, beyond me whispering in his ear about manners and advice and all of that. He's in a place in his life where more and more, he is standing on his own, holding his ground. Doing the work that it takes to get where he wants to go, what he wants to do. And the thing is, of course there are bumps and struggles and always will be, but for the most part, I am feeling a deep and real exhale as I watch him, standing there on his own. He's going to be fine. Just fine. I could worry less. He shows me that.
I suppose that is the burden and the gift of the oldest child, and one that his younger siblings will someday hopefully appreciate. Because as I exhale just a little bit - in relief and pride at watching him soar, I turn to the rest of them, worrying a little bit less, letting go a little bit more. And that, is the gift that the younger ones receive. A mom with a little bit of experience under her belt, so much more relaxed in my role with each passing year.
This weekend, after three dance recitals for her big brother, Ani had a small little birthday gathering with some of her friends (fittingly, as it was in between recitals - literally - that she was born four years ago this week). I didn't make any decorations or party favors - but Adelaide stepped in and took over on that front without me asking. There were no party games or craft projects, but every child played beautifully and peacefully together for the afternoon. And I didn't make the tofu cake with kudzu frosting that Calvin had for his early birthdays (though that was a tasty cake, no matter how much that boy will never stop teasing me about it). Instead, and because she is the fifth child, she got just what she asked for - a chocolate cake with cupcakes, raspberries and lollipops on top.
Worrying less feels so good.
Greetings! I'm Amanda Blake Soule - mother of five, author of three books on family creativity, and editor-in-chief of Taproot Magazine. I live with my family in an old farmhouse in Western Maine where we raise animals, grow vegetables and make lots of things. I write about it all here on the blog. Thank you for visiting!