Thursday, February 28, 2013

OK Aquarium


I am plum tuckered out. Pooped. Spent. Done. We drove 2 1/2 hours west and back today to the Oklahoma Aquarium in a caravan with the homeschool group. We had twenty-five people in all, a loose and happy gaggle of kids from 2 months to 12 years old. We stayed for a good long while, getting to know the otters and eels, beavers and stingrays, sea cucumbers, starfish, anemone, giant crabs, snakes, turtles, seahorses, clownfish, and so many others (but not octopus, much to Fox's disappointment), until finally we all more or less regrouped near the entrance, weary but glad, ready to head home.


The sharks were the most wonderful. Surprisingly, they were enchanting and serene. Not at all terrifying or brutish. And these were no babies; the aquarium boasts the biggest Bull Shark (Bull Shark! The one Jaws was based on!) in captivity. The scariness wore off in  ten seconds, then they were just beautiful.


You know what did scare the bejeesus out of me today? Fox.

I had occasion to wonder today, three times, whether or not Fox was actually going to make it out of childhood. Two of those times, when he had put himself in terrible danger (running out into a parking lot, full-tilt, and taking off his carseat buckles as we sped down the highway in Oklahoma in the dark), he blustered that he was immune to death. "I would win a battle against a car," he told me this morning, and "I'm SuperFox, and I don't need buckles," he said this evening.

Careless and reckless, I think, would be easier than this perception of invincibility. This cocky little dude who takes significant calculated risks, he frightens me.

Monday, February 25, 2013

When in doubt...

Oh, excitement!!!

We just saw--in the same tree, the same close-up tree, our front-yard maple--two new and wonderful birds! A Pileated Woodpecker and a female Yellow-bellied Sapsucker! What glorious luck! Woody and I stood stock-still on the front porch observing for a good two or three minutes before the Pileated flew across the street and the Sapsucker away in a direction I didn't catch. From across the street, we heard the Pileated's characteristic Wuk-wuk-wuk-wuk sound that I always associated with hikes through the north Florida woods, though I didn't know at the time which bird made that noise.

I am sitting here feeling fantastic. Who would have thought that our new family hobby would hold such powerful, positive sway?

He dressed himself today, down to the jaunty little hand-knit scarf. He told me how much he liked it, and asked me to make him another one in greens and reds. Also, we found this terrific book that Daddy Honey, Kerouac lover that he is, is going to be over-the-moon about.

We had a great time at the library. We stayed a short while--less than an hour--just enough for five or six picture book read-alouds and a hunt for The Little Prince in the stacks. We saw a puppet theater performance of the story last week, and have been enchanted since. On the way home, I reminded Woody that in the fall, we had set out to have a library day once a week. We had fallen out of habit, and since getting out of the house for even new and exciting events has been challenging as of late, our "regular" outings such as the library did not make the list of places I was willing to push. But Woody said back to me, "I hate to admit it, but that was a really good time. I'd be glad to go back."

That's The Little Prince cast from Bristol Riverside Theatre. 

And since we're reaching back through the day in reverse order, before going to the library, we dropped for Daddy Honey a small container of cookies. Vanilla-coconut. A new recipe.

And before that, I wrote a note to my friend Alison telling her among other things that I really thought it would be a good idea for me to take healthy eating more seriously, beginning with baking cookies less frequently.


And before, during, and after that, the boys argued over having different ideas about how the play-pretend was going to go, and Fox--who yesterday tripped and flew face-first into the refrigerator, busting his lip good and proper--was throwing big Lego's and sticks at Woody along with plenty of yelling and name-calling on both sides.

Had I gotten enough sleep last night, and had I not been feeling pressure to reclaim some time of my own to connect with far-away friends on the one day of the week I refuse to check my work email or indulge my work-related thoughts, then I might have handled the situation more proactively and gracefully. As it was, I actually shouted--in a voice that hardly seemed my own--for them to "Knock it off!" and "Go do something else!"

So the day really wasn't as haphazard as it seemed. The cookie-baking helped focus everyone's attentions and acted as a catalyst for a series of positive sharing experiences. And the library got us all out doing something fun and loving together, as well as supplying us with take-home entertainment for the remainder of the afternoon. When in doubt, I have come to realize about myself, I 1) bake cookies and 2) get out of the house.

I have to tell you, at a spot there in the middle, well aware of the role my negligence and impatience played in my children's behavior, I was feeling panicked and desperate about parenting. My kids were yelling at me, angry, would not get in the car, took off the clothes they had just asked me to help them put on, still would not get in the car, yelled at each other, yelled again at me, and rallied against the injustice of all things mom. For about twenty minutes, I was feeling like the least-qualified person in the world to raise children, or these children, anyway.  And then, you know what? I did something I almost never do. I got stubborn about it. I dug my heels in in my mind. I told myself I was a fine--dammit, a GOOD--parent, and my kids were having a tough morning, and we could all get through this together without my sense of self-worth taking a hit.

I am reading my friend Shawna's copy of Daring Greatly. I have a sneaky suspicious I will not finish the book; I tend to stop after one or two nuggets of truth and wisdom from self-help books as I like to try applying them to my life without getting overwhelmed. But I am really feeling this thing about screwing shame and instead focusing on learning and adapting.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Too much

There was much too much this week.

Too much work. Too much volunteering. Too much thinking. Too much worrying. Too much scheduled. Too much dessert.

Yesterday I reclaimed a bit of space, some ease, a ride with the flow a bath in lavender-sandalwood salts, and an early bedtime.Still, here at 5 o'clock in the morning, I'm awake because I can't stop thinking about what lies ahead--a too-full day of teaching with several activities planned that depend on precarious circumstances such as working laptops and projectors and Skype.

One thing we did do well this week was play. I think I was so desperate to find and hold on to my kids in the crowd of stressors that I ran full-tilt toward play and didn't come in till the lights came on. You know what helped that? Snow.


The two kids utterly unprepared for playing in snow are mine: cotton sweaters and jeans and leather shoes. Ah, the disadvantage of a Florida upbringing. The other sweetie pie there belongs to my friend who grew up in Oregon and knows a thing or two about crystalized precipitation. It was a good time anyway, even with wet heads. 

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

"Big Sky, Big Love" and big distraction

Woody wanted to send a few valentines out this year, and one of them was to his Aunt Annie--one of Daddy Honey's older sisters--who is a Fullbright Roving Scholar in Norway. She sent us a picture of it "in action" in her window:


The boys' first cousin once removed--Daddy Honey's first cousin Maurya--titled this picture Big Sky, Big Love. And I liked that.

This morning, I 1) made a 20-minute work-related phone call, 2) rescheduled a doctor's appointment, 3) talked to a friend on the phone for about 30 minutes, and 4) sat at the back computer and wrote out a draft of a poem that has been wandering around in my brain for a few days.

And during that time, my children got into three fist-fights, angrily yelled/screamed "Mama!" from across the house at least half a dozen times, and were a near constant presence at the corner of my t-shirt, tugging and asking for me to play with them, fix them sandwiches, set the puppet theater back up, queue up the next SpongeBob episode, and other requests that I couldn't hear because I was trying to listen to someone else speak--other real people and my own voice inside my mind.

My half-hearted and not-truthful refrain from 8:30 to 11:30 was, "In just a minute," but as one might expect it offered no comfort and bought me no ease. I really did think I would be available to them again in just a minute; I wasn't intentionally misleading them. I was distracted, though, and trying to squeeze in just one more thing before I put my brain back on my boys. It wasn't until nearly lunchtime that I realized where the morning had gone, and what role I had played in it.

At a work meeting last night, a friend of mine remarked that "You moms who do the homeschool thing don't get that 6-hour break in the middle of the day!" I don't usually see it like that. Usually, I see it as such a gift that I get to spend the biggest and brightest parts of the days with my kids. I joked with her that for my "break," I was going to swing by the co-op after our meeting, buy a chocolate bar, and eat it myself driving really slow on my way home. I did that, but I woke up still distracted. I signed myself out of the Honey House Homeschool for a few hours.

So, this afternoon, we're heading to the park. Sometimes, when I or the boys or all of us are at loose ends, going to the park helps. It's a change of scenery. Sunshine and fresh air. Lots of room to move around. It's running on the trails, making tunnels in the volley ball court sandpit, pushing on the swings, playing monster on the slide--things that help me to be in my body rather than way up in my mind.








Monday, February 18, 2013

Shadow Puppet Theater


I joined Pinterest a few days ago. My friend Leah, who organizes our homeschool playgroup, sold me on it as a way to help you remember all those cool projects and fun ideas that you come across but that often slip through the cracks of the ole brain. As soon as I got the hang of it--and I'm not fully there yet--I started looking for examples of shadow puppet theaters. I've been wanting to make one of these for a long time, but hadn't yet gotten around to it. I wasn't disappointed. There were links galore to really terrific examples, so I picked and chose among them, adapted to what materials I had on hand, and cleared off the table to work on it today.


First, I made the puppets. I freehanded some ocean creatures using a web search for "ocean creatures sillhouettes." This gave me lots to work with. Woody helped with the sharks, and Fox had some keen ideas about the starfish. But this part was a bit tedious, so I worked on it mostly solo while they did other things.

When it was time to cut out, I wished I had an Exacto knife and cutting mat. It was tough to work around all those tiny curves. Also, I accidentally made all the creatures facing the same direction, so some of the white lines showed when I attempted to correct this by gluing the sticks so that they'd vary which way they faced. 

I used stripped cotton swabs from our tiny cupid bow and arrow sets, but if I were to do it again, I'd definitely raid the Starbucks for a handful of coffee stirring sticks. I needed something exactly this thin (the Popsicle sticks were too thick), but longer and preferably a bit flat. 


The theater itself was the top of a box of copy paper. We taped kelp and a cave to the front of the box as a setting for a story based on the Three Billy Goats Gruff, but with our sea animals. We set the box-top on a chair, and mounted a reading lamp behind it.

You can see there, too, a little sea turtle with colored tissue paper or a middle. The colored tissue paper for puppets was a Pinterest idea, and I thought it was really neat. But, unless you really mash the puppet right up against the vellum paper, you can't see the color much. Still, the turtle was a good one to try it on because the color ended up looking like a geometric pattern on his shell. 


We ate our pizza while the glue dried on the puppets. Everybody was impatient to start the shows, and the pizza helped us focus on something else for a while. Plus, Fox hasn't been all that interested in food other than bread and milk lately, so at least this way, I get some garlic, tomatoes, and olive oil in him, too. 


Yep, that's a toilet on the right next to my little one's head. The only room in our house that isn't flooded with window light is the tiny half-bath off the bedroom. 

We made up stories and borrowed stories, and because Woody and I saw a Purim spiel at church on Sunday, we boo'ed and hissed at the bad guys in our stories just like people boo and hiss at the villainous Haman. And then, after a while, the boys just played pretend with it, partial stories and set-ups and circumstances that meandered around in the land of what-if.




Friday, February 15, 2013

Spring


We saw crocuses for the first time today! These are up at the memorial garden at church, where we spent a couple of hours this morning while I did some paid work. We were back down in Florida this time last year, and I don't know if there aren't many crocuses in Florida or if we just hardly had time to notice them in their short little blooming period, but this was a new sight to us.


We also saw what many Arkansans call a turtle rock. Our neighbor Gavin told us about them recently, but this was the first we'd seen on our own. It's a pseudofossil, formed when the different minerals that comprise the rock erode at different rates. Sometimes the minerals that erode first leave geometric patterns or other shapes that we mistake for prints. 

After leaving church, we went to the park. It was sunny, but cold. There was only one other parent and child there, a mother with a maybe 18-month old girl. The little girl kept coming to be wherever we were in the park--on the swings, stuffed in the tube slide, throwing Sweet Gum balls at each other, racing up and down the hills--and the mom apologized, saying, "She just keeps following their laughter!"

When we were cold and hungry, we came home for lunch.


The birds at the feeder were active. Here are three little house finches and one American Goldfinch. To date, at and around the feeder in the side yard we have identified:

Carolina Wren (who lives in the delapidated detached garage, and who has a suitor!)

A handsome crew of yardmates, no? Woody's favorite is the Northern Cardinal, mine's the Tufted Titmouse, Daddy Honey likes the two Nuthatches, and Fox is fondest of the Downy Woodpecker. (Heee! He said to me the other day, "There's the Downy Woodpecker. Someday we'll see the Uppie Woodpecker.")

Woody asked me where the word medieval came from--one of many words whose origin he's questioned lately, and I didn't know the answer. He was thinking of it as it sounded rather than how it was spelled, so mid-evil was confusing to him. But in a recent unschooling chat, another parent sent me a link to etymonline.com. There, we learned that medieval comes from the Latin medium+aevum, meaning Middle Ages. It's a good little online resource, but it's been fun, too, to spend the car rides home (when these types of questions often come up) making best guesses.

The day ended with feet covered in quilts and  the Raffi channel on the Internet radio. I don't know if I've said this before, but my mom was an early Raffi fan, back in the early '80s, and listening to Raffi songs--nearly all of which I know by heart--connects me and them to her. Sitting shoulder to shoulder on the couch, pretending to bump up and down in our little red wagons, the boys are laughing and I am happy remembering when my little sister was little and my big nephew was small. Daddy Honey the zen atheist believes that if God had a voice, it would sound like Raffi's.


Thursday, February 14, 2013

Valentines

Woody wanted to come up with is own messages for valentines this year. There was this one: "When we play, it's like flying." There was also, "Your kindness is as pure as fire," and "Good times all the time!"  He had different kids in mind for each one, and those he didn't know as well, he wished a happy Valentine's Day. He worked on getting his letters nice-looking (in his own eyes), and was proud of his progression through the signatures.

Our homeschooling co-op had a valentines exchange and potluck play-date. It was the sweetest, the best time, easy and good. I have no pictures, because I forgot my phone at home, but one of my favorite parts was witnessing the repeat intentional pile-ups of boys at the bottom of the big tube slide--one, two, three, four, five, all giggles and feet and sandy hair. Then half would go around to the top and some more would scamper back up the tube again. They were 2,4,5, 6, and 7. They were careful with the littler ones, and kind with each other.

From friends.

This is one of the things that homeschooling moms pray for, if they're the praying kind: that their children will know belly-laughs among buds and the easy love of friendship.

It's a situation that seems so improbable to those of us who grew up in school (so most of us) with 20+ age-same peers to choose from; how could homeschoolers hope to reproduce that kind of pool of potential amigos? But then, when you relax into the idea that you're not trying to reproduce it, you're trying to surround your kid with other kids who are happy and loved and having fun in the world--kids of all ages, from all over your area (not just your district), whose parents have an approach to education that more or less jibes with your own--well, that sounds a lot more feasible. In fact, that sounds like a pretty neat way to spend some social energy!

So I am thankful for the happiest moments, both that they happen for my sons and that I'm there to see them.

Fox didn't quite grasp the sharing-valentines concept, so last night he made one ("I love you, and a hamburger.") then wanted to be done. Thinking he'd change his mind once we got up to the park, I made a few for him to pass out. No. He liked these a lot, and didn't want to give them away, so he walked around for a whole hour with these in his hand, finally putting them down in some forgotten location. Leah and I joked about the futility of our--and likely many, many other mothers' and fathers'--late night efforts on February 13! Next year, I'll probably just use a photocopier.

Fierce Cupid. (instructions here)


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

A lesson in archery

While I was at an acupuncture appointment today--seeing the fourth doctor in six months to try and find out why my 35-year-old body is acting so wacky--Daddy Honey took the boys to an archery range and store that had been recommended to us. While they were there, they saw a friend of mine who had been the catalyst of a very, very difficult moment for Woody back in October. Maybe one of his hardest moments as an individual to date. It was on this day, and I did not write about it because Woody asked me expressly not to tell anyone. It was a coming-of-age moment, one where a budding ego was checked hard, not without cause but also not without consequences.

In a quiet moment after I found out about the chance encounter, I asked him about it. I asked if he had been uncomfortable or upset, remembering where he knew her from and the incident itself.

He said--quickly--that he had not been uncomfortable. "Oh," I said. "Do you not want to talk about it?" He said I didn't need to ask about it anymore because the answer would always be that he was fine with it. I said, "OK, good. Because, you know, as your mom, it's part of my job to help you to feel good in the world. That's why I asked. I didn't know how you were feeling now about what happened last time."

And then he said, "You know why I'm OK? Because enough time passed. When enough time passes, I'm OK with it."

Boy, oh, boy. Could I use this lesson myself. Notice that time has passed, be OK with the long-gone hard moments--the mistakes, the embarrassments, the anger and hard sobs--and be done with them.

A straight arrow, this one...




A snow day at school


Isn't this a gorgeous building? Straw bale with passive solar design, solar panel energy, mosaic detailing, and in-floor radial heating. Be still my earth-home-loving heart!

It's a homeschool school, started by an industrial group of back-to-the-land homeschooling families in the '70s so their kids would have a place to play and learn together--parents, kids, friends, scientists, artists, builders, farmers and siblings. 

It's too far out in the national forest to travel to often, but I had been wanting to see if it might be a good fit for once a week or once every couple of weeks. Folks who know us and know our approach to education recommended it highly, so I made arrangements for a visit.

I got us out of the house with a minimal of howling this morning (though I did have occasion to count to ten to myself and to remind Woody--at what felt at the time like a true impasse--that part of my job, as his homeschooling parent, was to bring new and possibly interesting experiences into our lives, and since we had all be excited about this just 24 hours before, I had gone ahead and confirmed with the teacher for our visit that day). By the time we loaded up, we had all worked into a better place. We drove east for a long time, and remarked with delight to each other how snowy the ground was becoming the farther we got out of town and up into the mountains. 

With only one wrong turn, we arrived to find...

a lovely, warm, empty building.

It was a snow day! And also, a Snow Day. Our first Snow Day. Because I had made all the arrangements over email, failing to include my phone number, that is how they tried to reach me to cancel. I did not check my email before leaving this morning, so there we were.


One of the other teachers was there when we arrived, and was all apologies and kindness. She invited us to play as long as we liked. "That's what we're here for," her husband said, "so that people in the community have a fun place to play." 

Doorstop values

We played for maybe 45 minutes, Woody with the foosball, Fox with the wall-mounted pencil sharpener that he was pretending was his chum grinder, and me with the camera as I walked around taking it all in. If I did not now before, I know now: my home and personal aesthetic is squarely hippie homeschooler. I embrace it.

Gorgeous light

Ample strewing--interesting things sitting out everywhere

Sustainable living taken seriously--toilet paper goes in the trashbag, not the toilet

A craft project I am going to copy.

Then we went outside to have a snowball fight in the playground. The day was warming up fast, and the trees were dropping great globs of snow on us much faster than we could pack and throw them ourselves. It was excellent fun. We tried to play hide and seek, but quickly learned why that was just a silly endeavor in freshly fallen snow.

Gee, where did Woody go?!? 

Leaving, we agreed it would be great to come back another time, when there were other kids there. I can't bring myself to think of the day as a disappointment. We had fun, and when we do come back, the boys with be more comfortable with the space. Plus, on the way home, we passed our packed lunches around to share and Woody and I played build-a-story for 45 minutes straight. It was an excellent story.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Sushi Masters

While I was out last night, Daddy Honey made sushi with the boys. Sushi making was the first class that Woody and I took together, back at our co-op in Tallahassee when he was 5. Woody remembered some of it, and Daddy Honey looked up directions online, and together with Fox they made four carrot-cucumber rolls. (They told me later that while Daddy Honey and Woody puzzled over rolling techniques to use sans rolling mat, Fox zipped his into a perfect, tight cylinder! They happily declared Fox the Sushi Master, and he was tickled to have something to be the master of.)

Today for lunch, I readied all the ingredients and Woody got to work. (Fox wasn't hungry, and instead set up Playmobil guys into a chess match/battle on the floor nearby.) Here's Woody's "signature" bacon roll with red peppers:


Monday, February 11, 2013

Under the bed and at the park

I am going out to eat Thai food with my friend Candice tonight. I can't remember that last time I had time with a girlfriend that wasn't a chance encounter at the co-op or that didn't double as a playdate where we each had half a brain on our kids and the frazzled half a brain left for conversation and connection.

I am excited. I am going to order Pad Thai and I am going to wear lipstick.

When I wear lipstick--every time--Woody asks me why I'm wearing makeup and Fox asks me if I'm going to go out and kiss someone. I may just make a little announcement as I leave the bathroom this time: "I am going out to eat with a friend. This lipstick will probably wear off by the time I'm done my meal, but it helps me to know that this is a special occasion for me. I will give you all kisses before I go, but I don't plan on giving anyone else any kisses this evening. That is all."


We did have the full happy day today that I'd hoped for.

I washed the sheets this morning, which meant there were new-seeming surfaces to play on--bare mattresses! We set up the puppet tree on the mattress using Woody's quilt as a pond. We added a magic door to and from alternative universes where the puppets couldn't see their own shadows and sometimes bumped into them.


Then, I cleaned under the bed. Oh-ho, boy, it was like a Christmas morning with dog hair for the Honey boys! Scads of hitherto forgotten toys as well as pieces to other toys that made them fun again. This dusty pile of stuff led to at least four other sets of toys being pulled out. That's OK. Deep cleaning is always like that. Even before I had kids, I'd start a cleaning project only to find, I don't know, some lost necklace, which would remind me I meant to fix the clasp on another necklace, which would lead to the beading supplies being trotted out, which would usher in an afternoon of delightful creativity and a complete abandonment of any domestic ambitions. They come by this delightful--if not practical (or hygienic) quality honestly.

We ate leftover gumbo for lunch, then went to the park. It was busy, and beautiful. There were joggers and readers and ball tossers and dog walkers everywhere. We did everything the boys like to do at the park, but still, when it was time to go, there was much distress.


We were all tired, and a little sun-weary, and thirsty, because they turn the water fountains off in the winters at the parks here. (This did not happen in Florida, and it mystified me for months. I still, for some reason, cannot get into the habit of carrying water everywhere.) So, we slowly, gently, with much love and delicacy, moved toward the car. They both fell asleep on the way home. I drove around my favorite streets and made dreamy plans about which houses I'd like to buy some day when we're out of debt and have a savings.









Sunday, February 10, 2013

Barefoot Prayers

Last week, though it seemed too early in the year for barefoot creek-climbing, we greeted the spring weather by taking off our shoes and socks and skimmed along the Niokaska's smooth rocks and muddy banks. 

I worked away from home for eight hours today, and while I know that's less than a fifth of what most people work--far less than a fifth of what Daddy Honey in our own family works--away from home, I felt it.

Still, it seems to be good for all of us for me to get as much work as I can on Sundays. I'm there anyway on Sunday mornings for the education hour and the worship hour, which gets me in a rhythm of work for the day that's easy enough to keep up for a few more hours into the afternoon and evening.

On Thursday, Woody asked to make his own meditation jar, after our friends' Leah, Hudson, and A.J. They learned about them in the book Moody Cow Meditates, but there are directions here, too.

The quiet in the church in the afternoons is delicious. It's the after-quiet, after all the people and music and busying about and service and kids and parents and snacks and carpools and dishes are done. The building itself seems to breathe, to exhale and collect itself. I move through the classrooms collecting attendance sheets and class reports. The rooms hold the happy energy of what was just and what may yet be. I open the door to the office and click on the copy machine. The big window looks out over the sleeping garden and the big grass lawn, winter brown. I move back downstairs, hearing the hum of the heater and the sliding of my own two shoes on the floor. Putting away books, I tidy the shelves. Collating next week's lesson, I restock the paper clips. I find a rain stick on a chair and bring it back up to the music cabinet with the other small percussion instruments that brighten the Family Choir, helping young not-yet-readers to contribute to the music. I clip through  my to-do list, making checks and notes for next week. I stop in the big room downstairs to appreciate this work and the people who are served by it.

I think this might be an abandoned sparrow's nest, a foot or two above the clothesline where it's closest to the fence. We noticed it for first time a few days ago, but there are neither eggs nor feathers in it. I think the combination of the bare branches and a new awareness from the bird class we just took helped it to come into view, even though it's probably been there for a long time.

I called the house to ask Daddy Honey to come get me from work, close to 5 o'clock, but he had a small crowd of friends and neighbors there sharing his gumbo. That was fine; it was beautiful outside, so I walked the two miles through campus and downtown, following the rivulets of last night's rainwater down the hill toward our house. I left everything but my one notebook containing my list of contacts and my weekly to-do lists. Tomorrow and the next day, I am being with my boys. I am writing a poem or three. I am shopping for groceries, going to the park, taking walks, making tiny bows and arrows, making forts, making lunches, feeding the birds, plucking dandelion greens, throwing tennis balls, and eagerly readying for anything else fun and wonderful that serendipity, friends, or connections tosses our way.

Amen.

Woody noticed the prayer box last week when I cleaned off the buffet table. He asked me about it, and we opened it up to read the prayers that I put inside many months ago. (The prayer box is a lovely idea that I endeavor to use regularly at some point in the future.) We decided to start fresh.  I put in a prayer for patience. He added an apology for not being kind to Fox during an argument over toys. He asked where the prayers go, and we talked about all the possibilities. He thought the prayer box was like a mailbox for the Universe, who has a personal letter carrier who was silver and drove a gold sparkling vehicle. He made a logo for this special delivery service, the blue winged envelope above. 

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Eggs, cookies, and flowers


This morning, we noticed the first daffodil. Woody and I marveled and sniffed it. We invited Fox over to see, and maybe because he was pissy, maybe because we cautioned gentleness a bit zealously, but he grabbed the blossom off in a growly snatch. We gasped. He glowered. But hey, a blossom for the nature table.

He is a complicated boy, that one. Far more of a mystery to me than his brother. His needs, his moods, his approach to the world, is so different, so his own. 


Lunch today was deviled eggs--a new favorite--prepared by the boys. We skipped the spices this time because last time Fox had a meltdown over the paprika. As a family we are eating 3+ dozen eggs per week. Clearly, it is time to move out of town and start our own laying flock.

In all seriousness, love of travel and easy access to downtown amenities are the only two things the keep me from pursuing this dream. In-town we can only have four hens, and chicken-savvy house sitters ain't easy to come by.


Still in a making/baking mood after the deviled eggs, the boys requested cookies, so we made something we're going to call Spice Rack Cookies, meaning that to a basic cookie start we added spices that we had on hand, in amplitude and combinations we thought would be tasty. They were cinnamon-cardamom-nutmeg, plenty of each, and delicious.


And in the afternoon, while poking around gathering kindling for tonight's fire, we saw the first dandelion.


Candlemas a few days late



This is our friend Leah and her new baby. We went over her house for a playdate with her other two sons, but there was some tension with the play and Woody stepped away for a little while. So while the other boys--her two and Fox--dug holes and pulled the sled and ran around outside, Leah showed Woody how to make rolled-up beeswax candles, something she and her boys did for Candlemas.  She taught us this verse:

Candle, candle, burning bright!
Winter's halfway done tonight.
With a glowing
we are knowing
spring is soon to come.



Leah's a homeschooler, too, and also a former teacher. She does most of the organizing of our little co-op along with another talented and happy mama. She shines in researching, planning, preparing, and implementing cute and sweet activities for kids, and my boys adore her. 

While we were at her house, she showed us the nature table she had set up. Woody loved the idea. We've collected and set out rocks, sticks, acorns, leaves, and other outside things for as long as I can remember, but I never called the place we put our treasures a nature table, and truth be told, these last few months, they've all been hidden under file folders and stacks of books, toys without homes, our birdwatching paraphernalia, and birthday cards (from November!) that had not yet been tucked away.  


So back at home, I cleaned off the table, set the dusted favorites of the collection back out, and added Woody's new candle. He was delighted. We lit the candle as we ate dinner, said our "thankfuls," and shared stories from our day. It wasn't Imbolc on Imbolc, but it was good.