Tuesday, February 25, 2014

A month gone by...

Just in case we look back on this blog for some recounting of February 2014, I figured I better get a scrapbook's page worth of highlights from the month.  There's all sorts of tidbits that feel worthy of remembering, not sure if they will be of interest to anyone other than us.  But here is what stands out as I look back on the month gone by.

We've had lots of activity here at Tangly Woods!  While we have greatly missed Jonathan and Rachelle (who will be coming back soon from Guatemala speaking Spanish!), we haven't been twiddling our thumbs and have enjoyed many other people enjoying our space with us.  We have held Keezletown potlucks every Thursday evening in February and through that are making more connections in our neighborhood, which makes us very happy!  There have also been a number of very energetic playdates around here, as well as calm times with friends like the one pictured here.  Books!  What would we do without them?

We continue to savor the fruits of last year's harvests, but also are enjoying finding local sources for things that we haven't grown/stored up for winter.  We've been buying carrots by the 15-20 pound increments from a good friend and local farmer.  It was an added bonus to pick them up at his farm earlier this month and get to enjoy a little lamb watching field trip in the process.  That was probably worth about as much as the carrots!  There had been 5 born within the hour before our arrival and they were still working hard on standing up.  The ones that were not so fresh from the womb were tearing around, jumping on the moms, and playing what looked like a very intentional game of "who can race to the end of the barn and back the fastest."  We could have stood there for a long time if it hadn't been the start of a family night that still had three activities in store (dinner at the EMU dining hall, games in the EMU game room with friends, and a concert featuring good friends in Common Grounds coffee house).

We've been having fun with our new year's resolution to take a series of shots on the first of the month from various points on our property. January and February weren't so strikingly different, but we expect other months will show much more drastic changes.  However, we decided to do a special edition on Valentine's day since we had gotten well over a foot of snow the day before.  These two pictures are just a sampling of the ones taken.  My hope is at the end of the year to put together a slideshow that does each shot through the twelve months so we can enjoy watching the progression throughout the seasons.

The snow made for a mandatory slowing down of sorts.  It's a good thing since I'm more of less obsessed with the new game we got at Christmas.  If I don't get a round of Blokus in every few days I find myself starting to think about the shapes and making different patterns with them in my head at very odd times (I dreamed one new strategy that didn't really work at all and I've had to bring myself back to focus on a meeting at work at least once).

We don't have any "snow traditions" in our family but decided to try one I learned about from a friend. So the evening of the start of the big snow storm I ground some of our home grown corn and made mush.  We enjoyed fried mush the next morning, alongside eggs and sausage, as the snow poured down.  We like the tradition quite a lot!  Just like we haven't been suffering without regular trips to stores for food, at a meal like the one pictured here, I don't feel at all like I'm missing out not consuming gluten.  For a variety of reasons, I decided a number of weeks back to engage in a little experiment and cut gluten out of my diet for an undetermined amount of time. The experiment is still ongoing and I feel like I'm learning a whole lot about myself and food.  It feels like it would trigger a bit of an identity crisis to not have yeast breads be a regular part of my life, so I'm easing into it by just experimenting with what I personally am consuming.  Giving up baking actually feels harder than giving up consuming what I bake.  And my family is not interested in me giving it up either just yet!  It has been really fun and rewarding to experiment with baking more with corn - we are big fans of skillet cornbread!

We are still enjoying many evenings with a fire going in the woodstove, but there are also signs of spring around us.  Jason has started collecting hatching eggs for the various breeding projects he has going with the chickens.  There are little flowers poking through the ground outside.  And inside our windowsills are starting to fill up with egg cartons of seedlings.  We enjoyed our first walking iris blooms while it was snowing outside.

This past weekend the weather warmed and we were all eager to get outside.  We decided to spend our sabbath morning together in the woods.  In all the years we have lived here, I have never climbed to the top of the hill right behind our home.  It's a little embarrassing to admit it, and after having done it I hope it will be the first of many such times.  We hiked up together, with a picnic lunch in tow.  They had done some logging this past year so the tree tops remaining on the forest floor made for a bit of an obstacle course for the first half of the hike.  However, once we got near the top, the understory cleared out and we were able to see all around us.  The air felt fresh and clear and we found a little bench to sit on and enjoy a picnic lunch. Alida was running around in the crunchy leaves declaring that she was "exploring."  She talked about it a number of times since and Kali was clearly in her element.  It felt like the perfect way to spend a Sunday morning together!  And it never hurts for our sabbath days to not include stepping foot into a vehicle.

It was also a breath of fresh air to enjoy some family time that felt more or less tension-free.  I've been mourning a bit what seems to be the end of (or at least a temporary break from) the "our girls adore each other unconditionally" phase.  I know they still love each other very intensely and there are still oodles of sweet moments on a daily basis.  But there is also more peskiness and arguing and need for parental refereeing than has been needed to date.  While I can tell myself this is probably 100% normal and they are learning good relational skills through the process (if I can keep my creative juices flowing and stay patient), I can't help but admit enjoying the pure sweetness more!  And those moments come!  The other evening they wanted to play a game that was up in the game cabinet.  Kali (who is more like her mother at this age than I'd like to admit) was feeling very jittery about going upstairs by herself.  I (who tend not to be as patient as one might think I would be remembering how scared I was of the dark when little - and even sometimes now...) told her to turn lights on and to take Alida with her.  As the girls went up the stairs hand in hand, I heard Alida say, "Kali you don't have to be scared, I'm right here with you."  Yes, pure sweetness!