autumn days

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Owl Pellets

We recently got to explore owl pellets with friends.  We brought extras home for further adventures.  A couple resources on the topic were just up our alley.  Weeks later we are still singing the Owl Pellets song.  We also got to watch as a baby owl ejects a pellet.  Regurgitation is pretty awesome!  We were able to use the handy chart to identify which creature had been eaten by an owl.  Life cycles and sanitation and patience were all explored with this project.  My son was thrilled to dissect more owl pellets today in a different science class.

Snowy Bliss

With only half an hour of wet snow last winter, we had a hankering for some crisp whiteness.  Early this year we got just what we wanted: enough snow to stay home for a couple days.  My family spent our first snowy day outside sledding, shoveling, and building an igloo and snow castle.  The second day brought freezing rain atop the snow, which melted away on the third day.  Blessings come in many forms.  This blessing was the togetherness gifted by a simple winter storm.  Hot cocoa, freshly baked cookies, reading, warm blankets, bliss. 

Shoveling our bliss

Releasing the Should Mask

Last year I created a Should Mask to represent all the ways I felt I should live my life.  I should be on time, I should never disappoint others, I should always have dinner prepared by a certain time, I should raise genius children, I should protect them from all harm.  There is a lot of pressure when wearing a Should Mask.  After creating and removing this Should Mask, both physically and energetically, I was free to choose my actions in each moment, safe from the expectations of others.  The mask sat and soaked in our prayer room for an entire year.  The time felt right this winter to let go of the mask.  I attended a firewalk with the intention of burning the mask.  When the wind whipped and the temperature plummeted, I left more shoulds behind as I chose my family's comfort and health over completing the task.  The mask went home with us to be released in a different way.  Two weeks later, my children and I got to share the ceremony with a friend in her warm home.  Watching the mask and other sacred objects burn was soothing to my soul.  We had created a sacred ceremony to release in our own way without following the laws of should.

Preparing a talisman
Waiting to build the fire with friends
Warm and cozy as we watch the fire
Releasing the Should Mask

Wrapping Granny in Prayer Shawl Love

Three of my grandparents died before I was a teenager.  I've had the great privilege of bonding with my remaining grandmother in the last few years.  She was finally able to travel and host visitors after her husband died.  After not being together for decades, we have made up for the distance by seeing each other at least twice each year.  She is now on hospice, living on the same street on which she was born near Salt Lake City, and unable to make the trip to visit our family in Oregon.  My newborn daughter and I made plans to visit her for a few days.  

In preparation for our visit, after reading about a transitional blanket, my friend made a prayer shawl with lots of love just for Granny.  This shawl rested in my prayer room to fill with delicious energy.  When she finally received it, Granny was delighted to wrap herself in this warm prayer shawl as she sat by her cozy fireplace.  We don't know how much time each person will be in physical form on this earth, so it is a comfort to my grandmother and me to know she is wrapped in my love while I am not able to be there with her.  In this way, we feel I am there to hold her from my home so far from hers.

The three days went too quickly with my grandmother.  Despite my staying at a hotel so everyone could get more nightly rest, my four month old babe and I spent as much time as we could with Granny.  It was a wonderful adventure to share.  Visiting with relatives was comforting.  The photos are priceless.  

Now at home, my grandmother and I predictably miss each other greatly.  Having assembled and sent the photo book and photo mug she will cherish, I call Granny and send my love, and I take comfort in knowing my love is woven into the prayer shawl that wraps her warm shoulders as she sits at her fireplace.

The prayer shawl fills with love in our prayer room.
Loving on Great Granny
My daughter's "new" ring was originally gifted to my grandmother by her mother almost 90 years ago.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Musical Explorations

We've found music education to be one of our favorite activities to share.  My children sit at the piano (with reminders) to practice their songs each day.  We love to explore sound and rhythm with instruments found in our homes and in friends' homes.  These big kids are memorizing lyrics from their dad's favorite songs and singing them together.  Music is a such a treasure to share.

Showing off all her hard work at a piano lesson
Composing and playing his own piano music
Drumming it up at a friend's house
Electronic keyboard explorations

Daddy Date Time

My partner has been spending more time alone with our older children, as I am meeting the needs of our new baby.  I love the photos he brings home of adventures out and about.  They go to all sorts of classes, tackle the grocery shopping, visit friends, spend time at the library and parks.  This is one of my favorites.  What a treasure to have this time apart... and together.

People with No Kids Don't Know

As I sit on the bathroom floor to type this, my five month old on the other side of the door, I savor these few minutes alone I've anticipated for weeks.  With such limited time to frolic and tackle tiny details, spending most of my time holding and cherishing my three children, I treasure finding humor in daily details.  Things that weren't even things before having children now are incredible challenges, says comedian Michael McIntyre.  Simple things like getting dressed, leaving the house, sleeping, and driving.  My children and I watched Michael's video together (People with No Kids Don't Know) a few weeks ago and still regularly quote it.  We also enjoy Jim Gaffigan's Mr. Universe 4 Kids clip.  ("Yes, we have an open door policy, which basically means we invite our children into our bed every night... to pee in it.")  I love the use of humor in making it through the adventures of each day with young children.  How do you get your parenting laugh on?

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Nesting into our Spaces

As I anticipate holding my newest babe in five weeks, I sit to reflect on the state of my heart.  In and out I breath.  My heart is happy, calm, excited, ready.  I am enough.  Looking below enoughness that allows buoyancy, I feel abundance.  A great abundance that knows all I need is here in this moment and all that will follow.  When I falter in knowing this abundance, great lessons await.

I find great comfort in music that raises my joy factor, sitting down for meals with my family, reading the writings of friends and mentors who inspire me, singing with my children, being near chocolate, gardening, and calling my grandma on the telephone each week.  My partner finally brought home the little freezer I'd been demanding.  Yes, demanding.  (Thank you, pregnancy hormones, for that extra push, so very punny, to help me prepare in my own way.)  My friends are sharing their abundance of fresh fruit so we may make our annual jam.  This will feed our family and become gifts through the winter months.  My children and I are finalizing details for a couple gatherings, looking forward to more time with friends, writing love letters, and playing with projects at home.  Paperwork for autumn activities is complete, bringing our life-with-a-newborn routine into focus.  Miraculously, yet intentionally, there is space in our schedule for my new babe and me to be alone.

A new nanny will come love on our children soon while my partner and I have a long-overdue date.  Dinner and a comedy movie are on tap for this hormonal mama.  ("Please, just no drama!")  Our Fairy God Mums are offering their time to be with our wee ones.  My partner is cleaning out the garage and shed while also tackling aggressive wasps in our swing set.  We have successfully completed a week of intensive day camps where I was an adult helper, making new friends along the way.  Our communities and routines are established enough to bring comfort and delighted anticipation.  My children are now old enough to participate in their activities at the same time, such a gift.  And we are eating lots of vegetables!  

As pieces come together and balance is temporarily restored, my list of tasks also expands and contracts, we eat our fair share of sugar, and have our fair share of heated discussions.  With everything, there is contrast, depth, multiple perspectives, the forgiveness of grace, and lessons that await us.  When plans shift between here and there, we will move with the flow and find silver lining within lessons.  I give great thanks for this abundance of comfort, clarity, rest, and grace as my growing family steps forward together into our next great adventure.

Note: Written in August of 2015