Monday, January 31, 2011

Where do YOU keep your snowmen?

Apparently we keep ours in the fridge...of course.

Winter is just making us weird...this is how my girls spent their morning.  It was a balmy 36 degrees.
Yep. They drank their soup and watched the church traffic go by. I mean, what would you do on such a day?

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Friday My Town Shoot-Out: F

My Town Shoot-Out encourages amateur photographers to share images of their town, and in the process hopefully hone some of their photography skills! I am in high hopes of one of these weeks being caught up enough to do some honing specifically for this project, but I continue to mostly draw on my archives.  This week's theme is Things that start with the letter "F", and these photos were taken in and around Athens, Ohio.

Two "F"s come to mind simultaneously: friends and farms. So, we'll start with them both...
There are many small family farms in our hills, and we are fortunate to be friends with a number of organic farmers.  At certain times of the year we find ourselves visiting weekly, enjoying the land and the company of good friends...
We met for a while this fall for "bookclub", reading Charlotte's Web together with our friends. Pretty sweet when "school" takes place in a setting like this...complete with lunch.
Somehow I got close enough to one of the chickens to get a close-up of her beautiful feathers. Ffffff...
 "Farm School" was a regular feature in our lives and on this blog throughout the fall, and while we are on hiatus right now, until the weather warms, this farm is a 20 minute walk down the bike path from us, so we are frequent visitors...
Here is the farm in fog...ffffffffffffffff...
 Today we celebrated the long-awaited return of friends...I had to include some photos (ffff?) of them, because we are so happy they have come back...
Last but not least, I couldn't let an "F" post go by without at least a couple shots of fungi, could I?
And that's all I've got this week! To see how others were inspired by the great letter F, please go and have a look here!!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

figuring it out

:: :: :: ::

The energy in our sick house earlier this week was so....nice. It's as if in "survival" mode (really, it wasn't that bad), you do the bare minimum, try to make sure everyone including yourself is comfortable, and the rest that you manage is gravy. Our day of health today threw us into chaos; our bodies are unexercised, our moods are itchy, tempers easily ignited, and our energy ricocheted around, slamming into others' space, getting us all into trouble. It's hard for all of us to reset the day and forgive all of the unnecessary comments or other slights; Eliza and I both have a tendency to want the last word, and Ani, well, she just doesn't stop talking.  We started over many times today; we separated, we got outside, we ran errands, we read books, we ate food, we read more books, we talked and talked and talked...we just couldn't shake it. And then it was gone. Maybe we just wore it out. Maybe we were just worn out. But supper was peaceful. Late, but peaceful. So was bedtime reading, and sleep was quick in coming. I find myself wondering how I can set us on the right path tomorrow; those first minutes in the morning seem to set the tone for the whole day. I can get so discouraged with what I view as trying to manage the emotional state of three people (Dan is on his own on this one!!), and really, it's no wonder I find it such an overwhelming task.  I can only change my own outlook, attitude, tone. Right? And if I set the right one, the one that is positive and accepting and calm and loving and patient, then even if my children awake with irritation and negativity, I can weather it and not spiral down with them.

I was recently talking with my sister and a friend of mine, about the idea of healthy narcissism (my friend's term), or attending to your needs.  What a concept. I grew up with the women in my life - my mom, my grandmothers, my aunts - supporting their husbands and their children in every endeavor and never speaking out loud about their needs that I can remember. In fact, I have a deep connection to the feeling that selflessness is among the most noble and virtuous attitudes to have.  My mother learned, through a divorce and several years of single parenting, how first to take care of her basic needs - shelter, food, a safe and healthy home for my sister - and then, so gradually, and well into her 50's, she started learning about meeting her needs. For herself. Needs that had nothing to do with me, or my sister, or any man in her life. She is a different person.  She is happy more content, grounded, confident.   She is very involved with her family, including my sister's family, my grandfather (who is almost 93!) and my great-aunt.  She is also able to recognize and meet her own needs for quiet time alone.  I have recently realized that I am close to the age she was when she began that transformation, through my parents' divorce, and I am really not that much closer to knowing how to attend to my needs.  She inspires me to figure it out.

I am writing this partly as a pep talk for myself; I don't have any resolutions or solutions, just an ongoing conversation with myself and others about how we as mamas, as parents, can do this. I have some incredible role models in my life right now, including my sister - women who really spend time and energy working on their mental and physical health, who attend to their emotional life, who pay attention to what they need - and you know what? It all really really makes a difference in their lives and to their families.

All right. I'm going to go sleep on that now. Tomorrow is a new day.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Winter's poetry

Both girls have been inspired recently to write some poetry about Winter.  Here is one from Eliza:
Leaf litter covers the earth as white covers the crusty dirt, falling down, down, down

Little flowers start to spring out of the earth; sunflowers nod their heads in the wind
and love grows and grows and grows.

:: :: :: :: 

...and from Ani
Winter's long
Winter's boring
In my longing
I'll be soaring

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Saturday love

In the mornings the window panes were covered with frost in beautiful pictures of trees and flowers and fairies. Ma said that Jack Frost came in the night and made the pictures, while everyone was asleep. Laura thought that Jack Frost was a little man all snowy white, wearing a glittering white pointed cap and soft white knee-boots made of deer-skin. His coat was white and his mittens were white, and he did not carry a gun on his back, but in his hands he had shining sharp tools with which he carved the pictures. Laura and Mary were allowed to take Ma's thimble and make pretty patterns of circles in the frost on the glass. But they never spoiled the pictures that Jack Frost had made in the night. 
 ~ Little House in the Big Woods

 We had another quiet day today...reading, listening, playing games...Ani's fever persisted...she asked for "that tea that tastes a little like mint after you're done drinking it and it's good for you". Um...peppermint? Nope. you know the plant? Yes. It's tall and has these little flowers or maybe berries...Could you draw it? I think so...
Ahhh....mullein? Yes! That's it! After some discussion we decide that while mullein is good for my chest cold, there are other herbs that might help her belly and immune system right now... (and yes, I was beaming.) So, chamomile and echinacea it was, with some elderberry syrup to sweeten the pot.
That was about it! There was a brief Outside, to be with Papa - I think she dragged around the hoe, poking at the ice and talking a blue streak...
 But then it was Inside, to listen and draw and fall asleep before supper, and then again, on Papa, shortly after was lovely, and I hope everyone is feeling better tomorrow.

Friday, January 21, 2011


This week's sleep has been wonky.  Maybe it's the moon (full a few days ago), or a sleepover (for Eliza) or fighting off more sickness, but our days, with one exception, have been quiet and close to home, with all of us feeling the lack of sleep.  Ani was up at 4:00 the morning my dad and Liz left, and it's been a little off since then. So... while inside, we've discovered some new pastimes...
and rediscovered some old...
...including some card games like spit and solitaire and that magic trick that has you adding up to 13 over and over? I had to call my sister to pull that one completely out of our childhood, and she came through for me as she always does, and after the kids fell asleep tonight I tricked myself successfully over and over and over...

This morning we woke up to four inches of snow, all lit with morning glow. It was beautiful. Unfortunately none of us were feeling all that well and so only Dan got out in it today.  Ani was really clingy, and both Dan and I had a few moments of "Honey,  everyone has the need to be touched and loved, but sometimes we also have a need for space, and right now I need my space (to make breakfast! to get dressed!)" until finally she stood in the middle of the kitchen and said, somewhat defeated, "All right. You're right. I have a need. I have a need to be held today."  So we held. All day.

While Dan held, and inspired by this post and this, I went searching for the sun inside while it lasted...I was so glad I did.
:: :: :: ::

After a quick chapter of Calling on Dragons, Dan went to school, and the rest of the day unfolded kind of like this...
 some Penderwick Sisters, some Brother Bear, some mancala...
 some playing with origami and numbers (from Math and Literature), up in the sunny study...some sister time, with tea and a hot water bottle...
... and finally, a fever and the couch for the littlest of  us (aha! now I understand the need!) which meant more quiet and finally miso soup and Life of Birds, once Papa arrived home to take over the holding.

I have been feeling the growing pangs of my youngest turning six this year, and realizing that at some point in the not-so-distant future she will be too big for me to hold on my lap or pick up for a full-body hug.  The hours of holding her hot little body close, the tenderness of her cheek nuzzling my cooler one, her willingness to let me care for her, feel like such a gift.

Thursday, January 20, 2011


We have been reading Dealing with Dragons by Patricia Wrede, about a reluctant princess who escapes her predictable fate of marrying a dull prince by volunteering to work for a dragon. Very entertaining, with a strong, feisty lead character. She showed up a lot in Eliza's recent drawings.
These are tree people. Apparently that says it all.
And a sorceress of some sort...
I find myself wondering if this picture is a glimpse into my future teenager...

On to Ani's work...
This is also Cimorene, with her companion Princess Eleonora. On her other side is a magical staff.
This is a female Santa Claus! Her name is Clausina.
This might be the first picture Ani's drawn that includes some dialogue. In case you can't quite see it, the first person asks, "Ham?" and the second replies, "Ov kors Ham"  This is what the artist has to say about it:

"Well, she's saying that because she's asking her if they're going to have some ham, and she's like, well ya, dude, whaddya like, whaddya want? Ham!" It's a family, and they're having ham for dinner. Duh.