Tuesday, January 28, 2014


I think this won't be the first time we have mentioned that we are super happy to be heating with wood - not only the cost, which in our case is zero, but also having a super cozy warm place to get close to.  This January has been COLD!  We had -10 on our thermometer one morning recently and I was relieved when Jason returned from doing chores and assured us that all our animals had survived the night.  It's the kind of weather than eggs freeze before Jason gets around to collect them.  And where we have to replenish animal water several times; the other day by the time Jason got done the chores the ducks' swimming water was already frozen on top.  We've had some beautiful snow fall and stick around, and we did get in a few rounds of sledding, but I've been much more inclined to watch the weather from the comfort and warmth of our front room and the wood stove.  There is no doubt that snow transforms the world outside (as my dad noted upon seeing the first picture here, it can even make our turd corrals beautiful). But, while I don't really like admitting it, it is definitely true that my enjoyment of snow was much simpler and complete when I had no responsibilities other than to go out and play in it and when I got cold come in to warm hot chocolate, cookies and a mother who would take care of the wet, dirty stuff.  I'm that mother now! Our girls are in the complete enjoyment stage, though none of us have been super inclined to venture out on the really cold days. 

Our general lack of interest in spending hours of our day outside has opened up pockets of time for some winter tasks - those tasks that can sit on our to do list for years or never even get to the list but bug one or the other of us.  We have checked off two of them this week!  The first was cutting up a multitude of window blinds into garden tags that we salvaged from Martin House, a community-living house I was part of the year before Jason and I got married, before it was demolished this past year.  Anyone who needs a supply of garden tags please let us know - we have four boxes full!  Alida, especially, was very into this task and, as much as I was ready to never see another garden tag by the end, she was sad when the job was done.  The second was sorting all Jason's assorted collection of "metal bits."  There are no pictures of this job but we are equally glad that that one is done.  This job dates back to the tower demolition project and since that time Jason had amassed quite the collection of random pieces of metal, bent and straight nails, screws, etc...  We may be crazy to have spent time sorting it for keeping and recycling but Jason now has about a 5 gallon buckets worth of good nails and screws for various projects (especially perfect for kid projects, of which there is likely to be an increasing number).  And it put it into perspective when Jason reminded me that many years ago they would burn houses down before moving on to the next home site just so they could take the nails with them. 

So Jason is off for an ambitious round of errands, including several recycling spots, with Kali in tow and I'm enjoying some quiet moments while Alida rejuvenates herself with a nap!  I do love Tuesdays!  Alida and I spent my morning burst cooking up a delicious brunch.  I'm still feeling amazed at the meals we can come up with at the end of January without grocery shopping.  This morning's menu included purple potato crusted spinach ricotta quiche, garlic roasted sweet potatoes, chicken sausage, yellow grits and a fruit salad of Fruit Farm Lane peaches, strawberries and blueberries.  It was definitely the kind of meal I got full way before I wanted to.  And if any of us get hungry before dinner comes round there are pecans that I soaked and then dried in our new food dryer to snack on - yes, we have a new toy!  It is not replacing my solar food dryer but complementing it, enabling us to dry seeds more accurately and also do some food drying in the winter months when it is hard to get enough sun to finish things off.  Starting with pecans made sense since we have about 40 or so pounds of them right now due to a bulk sale that Koinonia Farms has on for the month of January and an order mix-up that landed us an extra box (that Jason and the girls opened before discovering they had sent it to us by mistake!).  No great loss - they are super pecans being grown by a community we are interested in supporting, even if that support didn't come in the form of getting amazing pecans from our investment!

Well, it's probably to revive the fire so it is nice and cozy when Kali and Jason return home.  Alida will likely rouse soon as she is at her magic 2 hour mark.  Before bundling her up for the nappy walk, she was reading one of her favorite books to herself. I was scurrying around trying to squeeze in just a few more small chores before heading out.  I was overhearing her "read" the book with almost 100% accuracy.  When she got to the end, I asked if she would read it again for me to record so she could listen to it when she was older.  She wanted to and here she is.  She was a little less accurate the second time, quite roochy because she had to pee, and a little silly towards the end because she was getting sleepy.  I also think it is funny that both Mr. and Mrs. Rogers are Mr. Rogers.  You can only imagine how many times Jason or I have read this book over the last number of weeks!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

First things first...

It's been a couple weeks since I have felt inclined to write anything for this public space (it's been more of a personal journaling kind of time for me!).  But there are some things worth noting and we'll start with the most monumental happening!

There's a new beautiful little person in the world, and more notably in our family.  There's really nothing like meeting a baby when she is just one day old, fresh from the womb.  She worked really hard to open her eyes for just a moment towards the end of our visit.  It's the first baby born in either of our families since Alida, so was very cute to see Alida's reaction to having a new little cousin.  She deemed her cute, which she is!  She also corrected my mom that her name was not the name given at birth but Sprout, her in utero name. I also discovered this time around that I have even more competition when it comes to baby holding time.  It seems that Kali has the baby-loving gene that was so strong in me at her age.  I'm honestly thrilled to see it, though it makes me want to have a dozen more babies because it is so sweet to see Kali holding a little one so tenderly!

The time with my parents here came and went (all too quickly).  Jason and I got a little spoiled with one dates night, two extra sets of helping hands and three jogs together all in the span of two weeks!  The three season room project is complete, as is the garage trim.  Both of those projects had been moving from to do list to to do list for the last several years.   The girls quickly adjusted to having grandparents upstairs and Alida would often inform me that she was going upstairs.  One day when I was home, she headed upstairs to hang out with grandma while I was busy doing some food prep in the kitchen.  I was surprised to find myself feeling rather out of sorts and kind of lonely.  I tried to tell myself to just enjoy the quiet and this alone time, but I missed her.  I realized how used to having my little side kick around for the morning burst I am.  We have so much fun puttering in the kitchen and her little chatter is the best entertainment ever. Before long I headed upstairs with my bag of kale, so I could be where the action was!  It was definitely handy to have more people around for her to rope into a game of Spot It, and the girls also enjoyed doing all sorts of fun projects with grandma while I was at work.  It was lovely to come home from some rough and long days at work to supper on the table, a fire in the woodstove to warm up by and very happy kiddos. 

Having them around spread out the Christmas celebrations a bit longer.  We enjoyed more game playing, popcorn, hot drinks, movie watching and fun hanging out time in the evenings.  We let our Christmas tree up a bit longer than we sometimes do, but in the event that we would not have had our tree up anymore, Alida successfully was transformed into a very cute little Christmas tree one night!  She really couldn't be a much more vibrant or creative.  Her imagination is so fun to be around.  She is reminding me of Kali these days as she'll often "read" stories to herself.  It's very common for the girls to finish eating before Jason or me and they'll head over to the living room and both pick up a book. Kali reads to herself, but Alida normally lets us in on what she is "reading."  It will sometimes incorporate pieces of our conversation!

Some of Jason's young chickens gave him a slightly belated Christmas present by starting in laying on the very last day of the year!  Here's the very first egg that the girls and I found on the wire when collecting eggs.  It's fun doing the rounds these days as we come back in with a full basket - we'll probably need to transition to a larger one soon.  We are getting between 1 and 2 dozen eggs a day right now.  One of our 2014 resolutions was to keep track of all chicken income and expenditures.  The egg talleying part of that is probably going to be the most fun! 

Two other quick follow ups from the last post - Alida did in fact make it to see in the New Year, but sacked out within about 10 minutes of our toasting it in!  And the goats have in fact become "free range goats."  They can pull their tethers all around the yard. We hook them together now, but that isn't stopping them.  They may be in good enough shape by the growing season to pull a little cart!

In closing I wanted to include a quote by Thomas Merton that is in the book Sabbath by Wayne Muller that Jason and I are reading together.  Another goal of ours for this year is to work on incorporating more sabbath moments into our days and weeks (and hopefully incrementally moving towards sabbath hours and then sabbath days).  The picture here captures for me the absolute joy of this stage of life that we find ourselves in and also the potential to be overwhelmed by the array of needs wanting to be met in any given moment.  We find ourselves at the point in life where the number of little people at our gatherings sometimes outnumbers us adults!  But by and large (when I have enough sleep and have had some recharge moments), I couldn't be happier to find myself smack dab in the middle of it. 

It's identifying the opportunities for recharging and taking them that I'm working on!  And it is Jason and I taking the time to process together where to direct the energy that we have most effectively and joyfully.  Muller notes that, "Even when our attentions are noble and our efforts sincere, the corrosive pressure of frantic overactivity can nonetheless cause suffering in ourselves and others."  Later he quotes Merton who says, "To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many demands, to commit oneself to too many projects, to want to help everyone in everything, is to succumb to violence..."  I'm still pondering this and in the meantime trying to be more present to my daily life and also attune to my attitude and approach to the life we are living. 

That brings me to today!  For me today has felt very Sabbath-like.  First of all, I did not wake to an alarm!  I spent the first few hours of my day playing in the kitchen with Alida as my helper, cooking up a birthday brunch feast for our housemate, Rachelle.  As I cooked, I would peak out the windows to watch the snow blowing off the trees or the bright red cardinals at the bird feeder with the contrasting white backdrop.  It was truly a winter wonderland.  Late morning, we all filled ourselves with good food and conversation!  Then off to do some sledding before all the snow melted and Alida melted down in need of a nap (thankfully we successfully avoided an Alida-meltdown and there is still a little snow to enjoy looking at).  We got in some fun playing, including watching how adorable Alida is sledding all by herself down the hill, and then Alida sacked out for a nap while I got in a jog/walk with Rachelle.  And now I can look forward to the rest of the day at home (not getting in a car adds to that Sabbath feel) with some more baking and cooking in preparation for one of those kids-outnumber-adults gatherings with good friends tomorrow.  But now, I think it is time to challenge Kali to a game of Blokus!