On one of my precious walks with a good friend recently, I was commenting about how hard it often is for us to just relax and have fun at home, with all the pressing projects calling for our attention. It seems that so many people come to Tangly Woods and talk about how relaxed they feel. Jason and I often look at each other with this "if only we could feel what they are feeling" look! I've often wanted to find ways to nurture us enjoying our land and times together without the project list looming. From that walk was born the idea of a "family retreat day" at home where efficiency and productivity are not the supreme goals! And while we are trying out a new thing, why not dive in and do two in a row: Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were slated as our first two "Myers-Benner family retreat days" and last night, when my head hit the pillow, they were deemed a whopping success.
Here's a few of the many pictures that I took to give you a bit of glimpse of all the fun we had. I will just note up front that "relaxing" is just not going to be something we (Jason and I) do at this stage of family life. The days were joy filled and full of precious moments all together, but I would not call any part of the time relaxing. With Terah in tow, that's not going to happen just yet...
|Ready for feasting! Pumpkin pie squares with barley flour crust and local honey (we voted for the others that used maple syrup), crustless pies since Alida was sure she wouldn't want crust, and then she liked the one with sorghum crust.|
|Our first retreat day meal: Soaked polenta "grits," applesauce, eggs and our homegrown salt cured bacon. Other than the salt, it's a Tangly Woods (expanded to Fruit Farm lane for the applesauce) meal!|
|First stop was to deliver some leftover bacon to Buttercup for a Christmas Eve treat. On Christmas Day she got some popcorn duds.|
|Kali takes amazing care of her animals and is clearly supremely concerned about their well being - really struggling if a day goes by that she has not been able to let both her ducks and her pet chicken out to forage and enjoy roaming!|
|It was the first time we made a fire "just for us" and not for some big event. It has always felt like a big production so for some reason that means we only do it with company?! The funny thing is that it felt like less of an ordeal with just 5 of us and was really, really fun - so another thing we'll hopefully be doing again (not waiting for the rare retreat day).|
|This gal was happy, happy, happy outside! She loved it...|
|We enjoyed a late afternoon walk together for Terah's second nap and visited a neighbor who is traveling through her first Christmas without her spouse (who was also our friend!). The girls had made her a set of hot pads and we brought some Tangly Woods fruit preserves. The sky was beautiful on our way home as the sun was setting.|
|Ready for the big cut!|
|Day 2: I watched the first time so Jason carried the baby and I did the chores!|
|I think my upper body would be stronger if I did this regularly. Some of these "movable coops" are indeed movable but with some muscles (and my arm muscles are not used nearly often enough other than carting around our 25 lb plus youngest!|
|Kali gave coop moving a try too!|
|I also had to learn the duck routine! I got some glimpses into why Kali's duck chores often take her 2 plus hours. I will be cutting some corners on her routine when I do chores for her when she goes to another conference with Jason in a few weeks!|
|Terah LOVES Buttercup! If she is within sight, she would really, really like to be touching her. We'll see how long until she begs for her own pet chicken. It's good he's got the Keezles breeding project going on...|
|I was making waffles for a few hours (today's breakfast will be leftover sweet potato waffles french toasted!!)|
|It was afternoon by the time chores, brunch and presents had concluded. Terah had lasted amazingly well, but she was sacked out even before we got up the hill to pay a short visit to our neighbors and deliver some waffles!|
|I love these people!!|
|She's an intense little gal with a mind of her own, but she's also such a fun, creative spark of curious, lively energy!|
|I could get into playing bball as a family! The long term goal is to pour a 24x24 concrete pad but no hurry on that, as the space already works great!|
|Making homegrown/ground corn tortillas with masa: I must admit they were tricky and while delicious did not hold together great. But it was our first time! I was glad I wasn't doing it for company or by myself...|
|Here they are - tasty and special, and a tad crumbly. We;d love a tortilla making lesson from someone whose family has done this for generations!|
Terah is still sacked out in my arms but Alida is laying here on my bed with her new doll, Ashley (oh, and the opossum is Maggie). She just admitted that "I got it," meaning the virus that has been making its rounds. We thought she had been spared, but Jason noted she was fevered overnight and her eyes are a tad bleary this a.m. I didn't mention it, but illness was definitely part of our retreat days - Terah has had a cold for over a week and it keeps moving through different phases but has made her a tad more cranky than is typical for her and me less rested. I'm glad Alida felt good for our Christmas together and hopefully she'll be on the mend and feeling great in a few days when the Benners descend for our Christmas/New Year celebration together...
Now while it is Monday and Jason is out doing chores, while I work on laundry and breakfast and kiddo care and cleaning up the house from all our festivities and preparing for the next, I hope I can carry with me some of the ways that our Christmas weekend together was unique and special (and embed some of those components into non-retreat days too)!