Sunday, April 27, 2014

A Leisurely Sunday Brunch Date

While I am completely overwhelmed at the thought of hosting reluctant to host dinner parties, I'm happy to have guests for brunch! I get up at six in the morning anyway, and I love that everything is done and cleaned up by noon!

Our Sunday brunch guests today were a dad-friend and his two children, so the fare was simple: blueberry lemon muffins, a frittata loaded with golden-crisp potatoes, bacon, fire roasted peppers, and onions softened to the perfect degree of sweet flavour. Twisty bacon*, of course, fresh fruit, and coffee rounded it all out.

Some people laugh at the word "brunch", but to me it conjures memories of returning home from Mass where my dad would create a "souffle" (my sisters claim that once he made an omelette with dill pickles and cut-up hotdogs...and now I understand why I had an aversion to eggs as a child). The smells of coffee and bacon, the leisurely feeling of spreading jam on just one more piece of toast, the prospect of a day spreading out ahead of us where no rushing was's no wonder I still love Sundays best.

After our meal, we sat out in the sunshine chatting and watching the kids play. I've been reflecting on consciously spending true leisure time with my children and by myself, without a camera in my hand (and future blog post in my mind) since reading this article on the subject. Today felt like that; I left my phone in the house, and when I had the thought, "Oh, I wish I had my camera" I just focused on feeling all the sensations around the moment: the wind moving my hair, the coolness of Norah's cheek, the sound of the birds and our children's laughter. It's a great way to capture something beautiful, even if I may not remember it next week. 

I used to be really good at this leisure stuff. I'm determined to relearn it (in a leisurely way, of course!); I think making a tradition of Sunday brunch with friends is a great place to start. 

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Coffee, Lemons, and a Rebellious Ironing Board

Over the weekend I noticed the profound (negative) effect that coffee had on me. I woke up in good spirits but soon after enjoying a mug or two of caffeine and sugar I became very rattled and irritable. I recognized the feeling but always thought I just felt that way from taking care of four kids from the moment I wake up.

I really like coffee, but I didn't like the way I felt so I put the coffee maker away! I'm trying to start the day with hot water and lemon instead, as it's said to aid digestion by helping our natural stomach acids along. And of course, I can't be irritable every morning when I have smallish kids and teach kindergarten every day!

I generally wear wrinkly clothes to school but decided to iron my pants yesterday. Of course, I realized that my 20 year old ironing board was gone to the dump, finally. It either spontaneously collapsed at inopportune moments or refused to raise up higher than two feet. So I ironed my pants on the bread board of our old kitchen cupboard.

I teach in a beautiful Catholic school, and as a contribution to the children's journey through the Lenten season I created a Lenten garden. Originally, it looked dull and lifeless with a dry pond, bare earth and grey moss, and just a few pine cones scattered around.

Yesterday morning before our students arrived I transformed it (as if by magic) into a garden brimming with green life. Moss dug up from the hill beside our house, water in the pond, a lilac twig, and some small fake flowers and reeds create the perfect setting for a doe and her fawn.

I just want to frolic in this garden! I love the accessible symbolism for small children of life after death. It fits in well with our latest inquiry into how things grow...from that tiny acorn which appears to be dead, a mighty tree can grow!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Keeping It Real

A blog shifts and changes and grows as its creator does. There are times when I have time to craft and knit and at those times, my blog brims with beautiful photos of how amazingly creative I am. People wonder, "How does she do it?"

Then there are times (like now) where I can hardly see straight, I'm so busy. I don't get around to making handmade gifts for my kids, and forget to craft with them till the very last minute (like say, dyeing eggs the day before Easter).
feel like there's nothing to tell at these times (except, of course the real gritty stuff of life: pinworms and bruises and near-tumbles down the stairs, Lego in my coffee cup and half-assed "meals" of hotdogs and raw veggies.

I'd like to be writing about my garden, the things I'm knitting, our plans to raise our own pigs and chickens this year. And while we ARE living all those things, we're so busy living them that I don't have much time to write about them.

I just passed the fourth anniversary of the birth of this blog that's so dear to my heart, with nary a wish nor a giveaway, nor even a mention of this milestone. I was just too involved in this life to even notice!

It's natural to start thinking about closing it all down at times like these. I wonder, what's the point? 

Then a funny thing always happens: I get a note or comment or message from just one person who tells me they read every day, that they love what I have to share with the world, that they appreciate the "real" of this space. 

I am reminded that the posts that are about pinworms and Lego and all the beautiful mess of life and mothering is what many women crave. No one needs more pressure to have a perfect house, knit a perfect sweater, or create a perfect craft/cake/marriage/linen closet. There's plenty of that on Pinterest and I love it! It's inspiring!

It's just not what I'm here to do.

So, thank you, Lauren, for taking the time to write a note. It reminded me to keep on keepin' on, and to keep on keeping it real.

Friday, April 18, 2014

::this moment::maple taffy::

Joining in with Soulemama.

Have a beautiful Easter weekend!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Pretty Pictures and Stuff to Make You Gag

I got an iPhone recently and I'm kind of enamoured with Instagram. We cancelled our home internet and since I have yet to figure out how to tether my phone data plan to our laptop, I've been blogging using the teeny tiny keypad on my phone, and my Instagram photos (I'm there as knittygrittyhomestead in case you're wondering).

Kind of ridiculous, right? Not nearly as ridiculous as my life gets now and then,  of course, and I always find that crazy times in life and particularly in parenthood help me to keep things in perspective.

Like Norah having yet another fever followed by a rash while measles enjoys a renewed heyday in western Canada, the day before she was due to start her (delayed) immunizations. 

Like that same night, another child's mysterious nocturnal thrashing around combined with an itchy...ahem...bottom are explained when I checked for worms in the middle of the night.

I believe my exact words were "Dear God, please release me from this new hell". Because pin worms can only be seen at night if you sneak up on them with a flashlight. And of course you never have the medicine that kills them just kicking around your cupboard. 

And did I mention that of all the gross things I have dealt with so far as a mother and kindergarten teacher, pin worms get the hat trick for making me shudder, gag, and cringe all at the same time?

You simultaneously want to a) comfort your child, b) annihilate the worms in some horribly painful way, and c) put a pillow over your child's head so you can just get some damn sleep for once in your life.

But, no. You get up after five hours' broken sleep to go to work (teaching kindergarten no less) while your child stays home to rest. 

Nails clipped, dosed with vermicidal medicine, and all bedding washed. Phew!

So today when I received a text from my husband as I was heading into Mass, one that read "baby has worms", I could only sigh. Because sometimes it's just a gruelling marathon to some finish line you'll never reach and you're really out of shape to begin with.

Another thing that made me gag: the insane Fred Flintstone goose egg that Margot got today when she was accidentally shoved into a door frame during some good-natured horseplay. 
I know. Her face says everything I feel in these moments when my husband brings me a bag of ice and I ask for a cloth to wrap it in and he gives me a stinky old rag he found under the sink. Then I ask for the arnica before remembering that the mice nibbled the little rubber dropper bulb right off.

So all I could do was hold her while her baby sister tried to bite her on the bum which made her laugh-cry. Maybe this is how they're passing worms around.

And maybe it's time to contact the television networks about having my own reality show.  

Because it doesn't get much more real than this.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Sweet Release

The weekend brought long-awaited sunshine and trickles of water along the roadside. Bikes were released from their spot in the drive shed and puddles were tested for depth. We headed out for a long walk. The ponies watched our departure with longing; alas, the gate that would release them is locked shut with ice.

The remains of garland, perhaps blown from a spent Christmas tree on its way to the dump, became a fairy's wreath, while sparkling shards of granite on a leaf became gems wrapped in emerald velvet. 

A wooden club for the cave boy, a brush of red pine needles as a broom, pine cone projectiles and a fallen tree to explore. Dwindling snow banks and the detritus they leave behind, the scent of earth and fresh air, and new freckles sprouting like wildflowers on our children's faces.

After the longest winter in our memory, we have been released.

Friday, April 4, 2014


The day begins with a peek out the attic window to check the weather. The morning sun creates a nest of warmth for  the lucky felines who get to nap all day. I go to work where I help little ones in and out of splash pants and wet mitts, teach art to the tallest in the school, touch my own children tenderly when they pass me in the halls, then finally head home again.

A cheap bottle of wine, holding my love's hand while the kids watch their Friday night movie, and the rabid cuddles of a toddler who has missed me all week.

The promise of an episode of Downton Abbey and a bit of knitting, and a work day tomorrow to prepare for some minor renovations give the sense of a lovely weekend ahead.

just love Friday, don't you?

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

here and now

And finally, she is here. The snowsuits are officially done and I'll be building a big bonfire. The snow pants' knees cannot be patched one more time, the coats are grubby beyond the point that any laundry magic can clean them, and the boots and mitts have that weird stinky sweat smell that only winter clothes can have.

So, we stopped at our local shoe store and got new rubber boots and some splash pants. I dug into a bin I'd set aside and was delighted to find a tiny pair of pink rubbers for Norah. She was even more delighted than me and eagerly stepped in cold puddles for the first time. Then she fell face first into the icy, slushy, muddy water. She wasn't so delighted about that. But her big brother (in his cool $2 hat) swept her out of the puddle and back inside for dinner.

I am so loving these long days of warm sunlight and the promise that all this melting snow holds. I also love that big stack of wood and the promise of next winter's warmth. But I won't dwell on that right now when there are puddles to be splashed in!