February 9, 2016

Winter's Start


I'm growing familiar with these delayed winters, and while I'm not holding my breath for the monster snow of February 2015, it certainly feels 'right' to kick off this month with a blizzard or two. Smith was out of school last Friday and today, and my evening class was cancelled as well. The storm fell a little short of the predictions, but I'm so grateful for a four day week-end (of sorts- James still did have to work), and a slower pace. We made snowballs and cornbread and chili, James came home early and shoveled the driveway. Winter done right.

I've been reflecting a lot on school and work. When I started this journal, four years ago, there was very little of either in my life, outside of the hard work of parenting that is. Now I have double scoops of everything, and I feel fulfilled, and overwhelmed with gratitude... and also, just overwhelmed. Period. 

Smith starts Kindergarten next fall, and I'm already nervous and wistful. Roo will be in preschool a few mornings a week as well. I will have more time than ever to work on design projects and prepare for classes... and yet I find myself wanting to pull back, to do less. All the balls are already in motion for the coming months, but it's something I'll continue to sift through as summer nears.

For now, I'm steadied by the snow, and spread a little thin. It all seems about right for February. Welcome winter.

February 5, 2016

Sweet Snow


Our winter, so far, has been ridiculously mild. It's no secret that we are snow lovers (I even have a hashtag on instagram #smithslovesnow, and I don't do hashtags, so that's true commitment!). I always say that if it's going to be cold, it might as well snow. But here's the thing, it hasn't been cold. It's been sweater weather and muddy and downright spring-like. Even I can't complain about that. Still, when we woke up this morning to giant heavy flakes and the scraping of the plow, I felt like a little kid. A good snowfall just never fails to excite.

I layered up the kids and headed out to play. I've been noticing with our last few snow-escapades that Roo isn't quite as enthusiastic as the rest of us. She is such a trouper in general, and much more up to try new things than her big brother... but when she is done, that's it. 'I want to go inside!' usually comes far before Smith is ready to head in, and all of our efforts to change her mind are just useless. She is done.

So today I decided to take advantage of our fenced yard, and let Smith continue to play while I set up a fancy little tea party indoors for Roo. She is a true girlie-girl at heart, and it's easy to overlook her interests, because James and I are such nature-lovers. Smith's appreciation of bugs and plants and animals is so painless for us to accommodate. Princesses and unicorns and tutu's come a with a little less ease. But I'm working harder to channel my inner little girl.

I scooped up a big bowl of snow and she decorated it with sprinkles. I set out a cloth and napkins on her playtable, she was quick to add her tea set. We used our favorite berry bowls. She was overjoyed, it was so simple and really sweet to see our feisty baby girl in her element. Smith later came in from the cold and spilled sprinkles all over the tablecloth, which melted and stained it... but it was nice while it lasted.

If the snow has found you this week-end, enjoy! I am hoping for some sledding and a snowman (or maybe a snow princess ;)


January 29, 2016

Headspace


Smith asks a lot of questions that strike me as dark for a preschooler; what happens to our bodies when we die? why do we have to get old? mama, are you going to be ugly when you're old? why don't people like ugly things? when will my body stop getting bigger and stronger and start getting smaller and weaker? am I going to get old and die one day? 

The responses that bring him comfort are the ones that are the least spiritual and the most literal. The idea that a body breaks down and nourishes the earth so that it can provide new life is a winner. Explanations of spirit versus body, or God, or as one aunt tried to explain, 'up in the clouds with the angels'... all that seems to confuse, frustrate, and even frighten him. 

His brain is so scientific, so focused on the physical, and so very different from my own. I often struggle to find the 'right' way to have these discussions, but somehow we muddle through, and I think (hope) he is getting what he needs. 

Our minds stir over things differently, but what we share is a hefty helping of headspace. When I was in Kindergarten, and only a few months older than Smith, I remember peeling off the thin membrane from a segment of grapefruit, and studying all of the juice-filled crystals inside. Each one was slightly different in shape and size, and they all nested together like a flawlessly organic jig-saw puzzle. I hadn't been raised with a lot of religion, but I knew in that moment that there was something, that the degree of design in this seemingly insignificant piece of life was greater than the force of nature. Over the years I have questioned that conclusion again and again, but I do know that I was certain at the age of five.

By contrast, James doesn't remember five. He remembers almost nothing from his entire childhood, safe for a new bike or a ski trip; a thing or an event here and there in the span of a decade and a half, but zero 'thoughts' have been archived. He rolls his eyes over most of my self inflicted mental crises, and it's not because he is a simple or unintelligent man. He is driven and loves problem solving and will do no end of brain gymnastics to reach a goal. But questionably productive soul searching, truth seeking, anxiety dwelling, deep reflecting... he simply doesn't have those settings. 'You think too much', is a phrase he throws at me often. And I probably do. My son probably also thinks too much, or maybe his father thinks too little ;)

If given the choice, I'm not certain that I would pass down to my children 'heavy thinking' as a trait. So many sleepless nights and worries and fears could be lifted if my head didn't hug them so tightly. But this is who we are, it's why I am writing these words and why my son often runs the other way when someone unfamiliar offers a simple, 'hello'. We are lost in our heads. It's inherently lonely, but there is comfort in being here together.

January 20, 2016

A New Year


I'm not sure if I am already setting a tone for this new year by finally addressing it as January draws to a close, by I am really hoping for a more even pace in 2016. Last year was great for our family, but exhausting. We accomplished virtually nothing on my list of resolutions... really, not one! 2015 was full of unexpected twists and blessings, and now I'm cozying up for 12 months of peace and quiet (maybe?). Probably not given a few changes that are already underway, but denial works for me, now and again.

My biggest goal this year is to 'work on myself'. My eyes automatically roll as I type that. I've put on a lot of weight in the two years since having Roo, and this past year was particularly unhealthy. I have never thought much about or struggled with weight, and it's a very strange thing to feel out of sync with your own body. I also need to finally even out my sleep issues, get back to cooking, not wear my hair in a bun every single day, and overhaul my clothes (although I will say that I did a pretty decent job of editing when we moved, and my closet is now very streamlined. Just not all that inspiring). I always cringe when I hear the advice for mothers to 'do for themselves'... but I've reached the point where I am going to try, cringes and all.

I have a million goals for our house, our garden, our work, our family... but I am going to keep those off record and just see how it all falls. I'm either getting lazier, smarter, or more realistic, but I have given up planning too far in advance. 

Welcome 2016, may you be delightfully boring!

January 6, 2016

The Slow Day After


This year I decided that my favorite holiday is the day after Christmas day. It's far too rare that we are all together, as a family, home, and not compelled to tackle projects. No pressure, just an easy and slow day to ourselves. It was especially sweet for the kids to get some time to chill out with James. He works hard long hours, and so often on the week-ends they still revert to wanting me for every stubbed toe or nose wipe. This vacation they were really able to settle in and rely on daddy, fulfilling for him (and a hugely needed relief for me!).

I look back on the 'cabin fever' of last winter, with the record breaking snow and days and days spent spinning our wheels at home... and truthfully I really crave some of that right now. It feels like we've been running in circles since last year's snow thawed, and I am crossing my fingers for another big winter of quiet to find us. We are ready for you snow!

January 4, 2016

Holiday Hustle


This was our first Christmas in our new house, and I really wanted to make it something sweet and memorable. In years past I have leaned heavily towards the Scrooge camp, leaving up my pumpkin decor until the jingle bell peer pressure forced me to drag home a tree. This time around, we decided early on to trim some of the fat from our typical holiday obligations, and it made all the difference. We actually were so excited that we had some greenery up outside before Thanksgiving! Full disclosure, I even did a little sketch of how I wanted to decorate... and then we took turns nearly killing ourselves on footstools and ladders executing that seemingly simple vision (worth it!).

The funny thing (maybe more hopeless than funny) is that even with all my advance planning and good intentions, we ended up totally unprepared and hustling in the final days and hours, just like we always do. Every day in December, I would see these Instagram mavens pull off insane crafts and wrapping marathons, and I just could not compete. In fairness, it is always a busy time for both of us with work, but that's probably not the main cause. The truth is that this is just our style. Put the tree up and leave it without decorations for three weeks. Debate gifts endlessly, and then finally order them with rushed delivery, anxiously refreshing those tracking stats. Start making gingerbread cookies for Santa an hour before the kids' bedtime on Christmas Eve. Pull all-nighters assembling play kitchens, and ripping apart brown paper bags to offset an emergency wrapping paper shortage. I think we both just work best under pressure, it makes that moment when all the presents are opened, and it sinks in that you did pull it off, all the sweeter. Also, the buzz from lack of sleep coupled with spiked eggnog gives that euphoria an extra boost.


The kids seemed to enjoy this Christmas more than ever too. It's probably their ages, 2 and 5 really seems like a sweet spot for the magic of Santa. Smith actually never asked much about Santa in years past, and he would wake up on Christmas morning and need to be reminded that there was something special about the day. Not this year! He could barley sleep he was so excited, and Roo (always eager to catch up with her big brother) seemed more aware of all the rituals than any of us. She started demanding a larger play kitchen from Santa as soon as Halloween wrapped up. Smith couldn't figure out what he wanted... but she was laser focused. 

I'm still learning how different my kids are. We were doing some last minute shopping at the mall when Roo spotted Santa in the big photo-op, and announced she wanted to sit on his lap. This floored me, because the one and only time I ever attempted to get a Santa pic with Smith, he pulled down eight feet of garland making his emergency exit. He's always been very clear that he wants no part of a Santa visit, and I don't even know where our girl learned the whole lap bit... but she wanted in. So we hit up Hanna Anderson and swapped the pajamas she was sporting for some tights and a skirt (hey, if I was going to get my first kid on Santa's lap, I wanted to do it right!), and a few minutes later she was telling a pretty decent looking bearded dude to bring her a kitchen. Smith thought she was nuts and totally refused to entertain any idea of joining, but he did ask her to put in a word for some items on his wish list, just in case. I hope these two will always make a good team, pushing and reigning in one another as needed. 

Balance. I think we found it this Christmas. Just enough planning, just enough travel, just enough laziness and jigsaw puzzles, not enough sleep (I still imagine a day where we get eight hours of sleep and wonder what that will even feel like!), just enough snow (at the eleventh hour.... I didn't even mention the heat wave and our t-shirt barbecue on Christmas Eve). It was a totally satisfying holiday. Quietly, one for the books.