Monday, December 27, 2010

Because I need to be reminded...

There are times in this wild ride of parenting that I wonder if a certain stage is really a stage, if we will be "stuck" at a certain place forever. So I need to remember today! I need to be reminded that just like I change, children change too - in their own way and in their own time, but it happens! And sometimes, or most of the time, when we aren't expecting it and definitely when we aren't actively trying to make it happen.

So the context for this wonderful realization was as follows: some months (if not years) back we designated a large drawer in our old kitchen desk as Kali's drawer for various crafty keepsakes. I sarcastically labeled it "Kali's crap drawer" (which I attempted to not say around her, as it was not appreciated - these were TREASURES).

Several times when the drawer has been jammed fulled and I had to stuff things down to fit in the newest addition, we would venture into the scary territory of going through the drawer and trying to get rid of some things. Normally we would end up with a tiny pile of things for the paper recycling bin, Kali almost in tears and me about the pull my hair out. Sometimes Kali would have an outburst of emotion and would say something like, "it's your fault because we just don't have enough storage space." And then I would stoop so low as to offer some kind of sermon about how much we have in comparison to many. It was just ugly and not enjoyable for either of us...

So I've been nervous about any "organizing" or "sorting" project. But recently, Kali was starting to have trouble finding various things and her desk drawers were in a complete state of disarray and she couldn't work at her desk because it was covered with about a half foot of stuff. So one day we embarked on finding her desk and the various "lost" treasures. By the end of our efforts, we had found all the missing items, had gotten rid of a variety of things and had reorganized her drawers - with very little tension in comparison to previous times. And Kali was pretty happy to have her desk back as a work space , to have her dinosaur slippers to wear again, her silly putty to play with and a few other items. A glimmer of hope...

But I was still nervous about the aforementioned "crap drawer." But what is a whole week at home together for other than to at least tackle a few daunting projects. So today, after a good breakfast, a game or two together and cuddling to read a chapter of Shoo Fly Girl, we set to work.

Here are a few of the sentences coming out of our 7 year old's mouth:

"I don't need that."
"That's just crazy, I can't even tell what it is."
"Why did I want to keep that?"
"Get rid of it, I can always make another one sometime if I want to."
"Those are just scribbles."

We especially enjoyed burning some of the popsicle-stick creations in the woodstove...she wished she had made a few more of them!

I'm still in a state of shock that we went from a collection of "treasures" that jam packed a drawer and partially filled a box to a stack that now fits loosely in about half of the drawer. And while I still have my own opinions of the value of some of the items still in the "keep" pile, I swallowed hard and felt a secret satisfaction in knowing that the next time we "tackle the drawer" likely some of the sentences above will be heard once again...

Friday, December 24, 2010

To Touch the Wild Goose Cry

I (Jason) stayed up good and late last night, because I had something I needed to do. Today, you see, our family was slated to open our "big present," which was the envelope containing some very important (or perhaps not so all depends) information about the little jumping jack Janelle's been carrying around these months. That is to say, when we went for our twenty week prenatal ultrasound, the family compromise--in accordance with a friend's excellent suggestion--between those who desperately wanted to know the baby's gender and those who wanted a surprise was that the sonographer would take note of the relevant information and record it on a little folded card we supplied, and then seal it into an envelope, taking pains not to reveal it to us. We said we'd open the envelope at Christmas, and here we are.

I, being the one who didn't want to know, was not quite ready. Intuitively I realized that I needed to spend some time connecting with this little one without having a cultural category prepared. Based on recent experiences, I decided to use name searching as my vehicle to the spiritual process I sought.

I spent some time with baby name websites, playing around with various sounds, meanings, and associations, following rabbit trails from sound to idea to sound, flipping around between languages, cultures, genders...eventually I narrowed the standard Western selection down to the unisex names, and found a handful I could work with. But things really came together much better when I landed on the Native American section of one of the naming sites. Here were names that seemed to suit my purpose much better. Making my way through the alphabet, I soon had a list of them which are known to serve for either gender, which sounds interested me, and which meanings I was attracted to. I crawled under the covers with paper in hand, and gave myself over to swirling rounds of sound/meaning combinations, weighing and testing them in my heart and mind.

What I discovered through this practice about the coming of this child into my life was that I wanted this child to have a name that conveyed freedom, lightness, breath, air, freshness...something along that line, combined with some implication of sensory experience and connection. Of the list I was working with, I was most attracted to the meaning "Wild Goose Cry" (especially as a second name), combined with the meanings "to touch" or "fragrant" for first names, such that the child's name might mean, in combination, "Fragrant Wild Goose Cry" or "To Touch the Wild Goose Cry." The second of those was the one that really came home to me and I was able to put the paper down and go to sleep. I had made contact with part of what I feel this new parenthood experience will mean to me, and also part of what I hope for as I think about this new one's experience of this wild world we live and move in; the sky we peer through.

I think holding this baby for the first time will be to make contact with something untamed, intangible, and altogether lovely, and I hope (and will work and scheme to promote it) that this child will feel an intimate connection to the undomesticated elements and life expressions of the world she finds before her.

That's right, I wrote "her." This child will be female, and I for one found this evening that I just can hardly wait to meet her! A whole new person!

This morning when I was thinking over last evening's meditation, and looking forward to this evening's revelation, I felt glad that I had taken the time for that exercise. It seemed to me that the wishes and urges I had discovered in myself towards this new person were enlivening, humanizing ones, and though freedom and love of experience can have everything to do with gender at times, they are simultaneously gender-neutral values. I want this child--a baby girl, as it turns out--to feel free, and, when the wild goose lets loose its cry, for her to notice it, feel it, and understand.

You may be wondering whether we would hope to use this deeply spiritual name for our little one. Hmm. Probably not. You see, in order to achieve the meaning "To Touch the Wild Goose Cry", I was working with the name "Helki Saloso." Very lovely in its context I am sure, but for the Shenandoah Valley in 2010, it might come across as just a shade out of touch!

Last night's process was more for me and my relationship to the baby than about actual naming. Over the next few months, however, we will actually be in search of a simple, pronounceable, meaningful, easy-going name for this baby...information about any resources (or process tips) of which you might be aware and of which we might avail ourselves would be welcome.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Cleaning break...

I'm working at gearing up to wash the final three floors of our house! I got a major "cleaning bug" today and it was a good thing as our house had reached an unprecedented level of filth!! So I'm taking a break to put a very important picture up on our blog!!

We went from trying to find as many ways to use eggs as possible to having a "egg-free baking tips" sheet on our refrigerator. It's cold, hens are molting and our new hens have not started laying yet. That was until Thursday, when the first egg was laid by one of the Marans as we were getting the first significant snow fall of the year. Actually it was probably laid sometime Wednesday as it was frozen solid, but still an EGG! And she has laid one more since, which brings the cumulative total number of eggs in our house to two!

Kali is thrilled for there to be snow. We had to do a little rushed shopping this week when her snow boots from last year no longer fit. We tried the new ones out today (during an earlier cleaning break) and they kept her warm and comfy on our walk and as she made the hardest, packed ball of snow she could make.

She then took a turn being the photographer and had me pose. I chose some of the pictures I wanted her to take but the one here is the one in which she told me how to stand, where to put my hand, etc... It ended up being my favorite! I continue to enjoy my expanding belly, and the outlook is promising that I might even get an "outie belly button" this time around - for some reason I've always coveted them!!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Days at home!

At the end of two wonderful days at home, here are a few visuals from the past few days. Kali is munching on some of our home grown popcorn for a bedtime snack, while we both enjoy the warmth emanating from the wood stove. I'm enjoying an occasional jab from Tadpole, who is in the habit of giving me pretty frequent reminders of his/her presence (I am almost certain I enjoyed feeling hiccups earlier this week).

So some quick snippets from a glorious sabbath we have enjoyed from stepping foot in our car yesterday and today. Instead we (Kali and I while Jason and friend Tim worked on installing an attic staircase accessible from our bathroom) spent our time:

- taking a walk each day
- baking green turtle bread, gingerbread cookies, peanut blossoms with fair trade, dark chocolate wafers inserted (strongly recommended!), pumpkin bread and muffins
- Kali was found stuck in a book for a good number of hours each day and when she was not she was often doing very creative things like attempting to be a replica of her doll Zelda (see photo below)
- cutting up our 23 butternut, 20 of which had frozen solid in the shed, much to our dismay
- preparations for taking meals to two families this week who recently welcomed new babies into their families!
- making a Christmas chain noting "fun and exciting things" Kali can do each day between now and Christmas
- reading the last two chapters of A Life Worth Living for our final discussion time at church next week (it was just as good reading the book the second time!)
- reading Christmas in the Trenches and helping Kali find her "army outfit" for the Christmas pageant tomorrow
- making butter and yogurt from our milk share; and making potato soup with the fresh buttermilk
- enjoying eating 3 meals each day together as a family
- playing Christmas carols on the piano and enjoying Kali's expanding repertoire of songs (most of which she has taught herself with no formal piano instruction)
- delivering some of our baked goods to neighbors and playing hide and seek on our way up and down the driveway
- sleeping in until after 7am (or like today after 8am)
- and last but not least sitting down with a large sheet of paper and writing out the details for the coming week, which will not be very much like the last two days - busy full of social engagements, Christmas gatherings, and therefore many trips into town in our car!!