Sunday, July 24, 2016

finding summer

We always look forward to summer as a time of rest and reconnection. The school year is like a runaway train that we board in September, with brief stops at Christmas and in March. It takes weeks of nothing for me to remember myself.

It starts with that first walk down a shady lane, through old deciduous trees and Canadian Shield to our favourite hidden beach. Visits with friends where there is no reason to look at a clock, sharing snacks and towels, wet bums on the quilts we've spread across the sand, sun and wind, red pines and the sound of waves and our children's voices calling to one another. A layer of stress falls away.

Finding myself onstage once more, stepping out of the self I have become (wife/mother/teacher/farmer) and into a role. I get to put on makeup, wear costumes, pretend, boss people around, flirt, argue, fight, and fall in love on stage once a week with this year's production of Mark Crawford's Stag and Doe

Another layer of stress falls away, to reveal a part of myself that sits quietly through the year where I meet the needs and demands of so many others. It's, quite simply, FUN. It's fun that I haven't orchestrated for my kids, that I don't have to manage or supervise. It's just joyful, pure fun, for me.

I sat at my spinning wheel yesterday for the first time in months, and felt more stress fall away as my feet worked the treadles and my hands played out lengths of merino and silk. I'm in love with green these days and am so happy with this multi-hued three-ply that resulted from a day of spinning-wheel play.

We've chosen not to raise any meat-animals this year and have welcomed the break this has given us. We've had our share of farm-drama, caring for a ewe with mastitis and a pony with an abrasion on his pastern. We also have a young chicken named Gonzo who either got pounced on by a cat or suffered from a nerve-damaging virus. He hobbles and flaps his way around the farm when he's not being catered to by the kids.

We keep busy taming our little fur-babies. I had almost forgotten the joy of timelessness, of lying on a quilt with my kids, scratching tiny ribs to elicit a tiny purr, with no deadlines to meet or places to be. Jude laughs with delight at my kitty-baby-talk and thinks I'm funny. That feels awesome.

And with our humidity and heat, we watch the storms. Our power inevitably goes out, so storms are always spent on the front porch watching the sky, counting the beats between lightning and thunder, having thumb wars, and just being together. 

I'm slowly shedding a school-year's worth of stress and coming back into myself. 

Sweet summer.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Violet's Room, Before and After

Violet will turn nine in May and needed an update to her room (which hadn't been repainted since it was Jude's room years ago). This girl loves to be alone in her room, cuddled up under the covers and reading. She specifies that she doesn't want "stuff" in her room, that a bookshelf and a bed are enough, thank you. I call it her nun's cell and admit to envying her her quiet, private sanctuary!

A few coats of bright yellow paint on the walls, a custom colour on her desk (mixed from Annie Sloan's Chalk Paint in Provence and Fat Paint's Warm White), a little chair covered with a bed sheet to create a reading nook, and a rearrangement of the furniture were all it took. 

On a budget? For me that speaks of budgeting money as well as time. I was off for a week for our Spring Break, and knew I could dedicate a few days to this project. For under $100, I think the redo was a success! I had purchased fabric for curtains, but after seeing it all put together (and fighting the usual power struggle with my mom's sewing machine ~ it hates me), I decided that white eyelet curtains will be better suited than a zany animal pattern. 

As you can see, she's all settled in. Yes, we need to add crown molding and some baseboard. Yes, the artwork is all made by her or her siblings. Every piece of the furniture in the room is second-hand and/or free. She loves it.  I love it. I love the newly-finished feeling of a room that has been emptied and repainted. Everything that is brought back into the new-feeling space is intentional and much gets handed down to little sisters or thrown away. The new space feels cleaner, more sparse, lighter.

At any given moment she will be found in her little book nook, oblivious to all noise and distraction ~ even a pouting little sister! 

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Winter Days

I changed my blog header to a summer theme in the dead of winter. We've had two snow days in a row because of inclement weather: lots of snow, freezing rain, and slush/ice on the roads. Yuck! This is the time of year when I'm ready for Spring.

The kids have had two days off school and spent their first night altogether at Nanny's without a parent to help out. 

I'd like to say that we made the most of our unexpected night alone. For parents of four children, sometimes "making the most of it" means eating a bagel or a grilled cheese for dinner and watching a movie while folding piles (and piles and piles) of laundry. "Song of the Sea" is the movie we're watching over and over again these days. If you haven't seen it, please do! It's on Netflix.

We're getting through the winter on a wing and a prayer. All the gates are snowed in so visiting the ponies, sheep, and cats involved a climb over a gate. The chickens are surviving the winter. In February I imagine the Tomten travelling the little paths of the farm, visiting everyone and reassuring them that Spring will come.

Our community sponsorship group succeeded in bringing a family of Syrian refugees to settle in our village. This is the result of hard work, enthusiasm, optimism, prayer, and hope. I am involved with teaching ESL to the adults of the family and it is a pleasure to visit with them every week. My kids run off with their kids, and we can hear the happy sounds of children playing from other rooms. We have found an easy comfort in the spaces between the words we share and Google Translate has been a huge help along with copious amounts of dark, strong coffee! I managed to convey that yes, we do have rain and sun in Canada in addition to snow and I could see the relief clearly etched on the faces of this family who so recently lived in a hot, desert climate!

Norah goes to a beautiful home-based preschool every day. This is her usual attire, basket in hand. My goodness, she's sweet. She's a-norah-ble, to borrow a term from her caregiver's daughter! This was a Little Grey Rabbit phase, where I was Mrs. Hedgehog, daddy was Wise Owl, and her siblings were Hare, Squirrel, and Fuzzypeg. We treasure our Alison Utley books and videos! 

How to wrap up this random update? Maybe I won't.