Monday, February 27, 2012

building for spring

We had a few beautiful, warm-ish days here last week that made everyone think about spring.  So it was not really too surprising when a certain nine year old asked me: "Mommy, can we go in the woods and collect some sticks to make a teepee?"  Well, of all the things that were not on my to-do list, this one seemed important, so off we went.  Armed with some leftover blue cotton yarn, a pocket knife and a rubber mallet which she deemed very important for the success of the project, we headed out to find wood.  Wood.  We have lots of it behind the house.

the wood in the woods

After finding just the right sticks ("not too curvy, mom!") it was time to find just the right spot.

At first glance, this doesn't look like much (though it is flat).

But it has the best mountain view and is not so far away from the bathroom, and it's in a shaded spot.

Once we agreed that this indeed was a good place for the teepee, it was time to begin the process, with the help of our rubber mallet, to pound the bottoms of the sticks into the ground and then tie them together at the top with the yarn.  I was told that for reasons of balance, it was important to have a stick with a fork in it.  Luckily this, too, wasn't hard to locate.

wrapping the yarn

Once this was done, I was dismissed because apparently wrapping the teepee was daddy's job.  So I stepped inside for a few minutes while the project was completed.  From the driveway it looked like this:

She spent most of the afternoon in there seeing how comfortable it was (very), how many people fit (two nine year olds and a grownup) and how long she would be able to sit in it before cold and boredom set in.

She spent at least three hours out there, perfectly satisified with her little building project.  And I can't wait to visit once the weather clears up again.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


sometimes when you are nine years old life gets kind of complicated.  That's when you write your mother a note making sure to let her know how "miserabul" you are.  Sometimes it is just at this moment that visitors intrude in your space, people whom you love but cannot welcome gracefully right now.  Sometimes that makes you feel less than kind towards them and you might tell them things like they're "annoying".  Sometimes you just cannot stand the idea of going with everyone else's flow and you need the grownups to see that.  Sometimes you are able to express all your messy feelings.  Sometimes you get what you need: two hours of mommy-time in a busy weekend with friends.  Sometimes this means a vanilla steamer and clam chowder and a quick trip to the candy store. 

Sometimes that is just what you need to be restored to your cheerful self.  And as a mother, sometimes you're amazed how an hour doing just exactly what she wants is the best medicine of all.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Valentine's Day

Until I had children, I never gave a thought to Valentine's Day.  It was not a part of my childhood, and when I became an adult it seemed like such a cliche that I had no interest, even after meeting the man I have now shared my life with for nearly 17 years.  I just didn't see the point of enriching corporations just to tell the ones I love that I do.  Instead, I thought, I'd focus every day on loving them.  And I do.

 But when you have young children, Valentine's Day has such sweetness to it, and not just because it's yet another day to consume more chocolate than is good for anyone.  My 12 year old daughter spent almost two entire days preparing for this day this year, making chocolates by hand, cutting and folding gift boxes and carefully writing on each of them.  What she received in return ranged from the quickly thrown together card to the carefully folded piece of origami with a personal message inscribed just for her.  Similarly, my 9 year old spent a few hours making her valentines and when she came home, she showed me each one she had received.  She also came home from school with this lovely handmade mobile which now decorates our dining room.

Oh, I love it so!

 (Note: the art print is from here)

Over the years, because the children love it so much, I have left them special love notes or given a small chocolate lollipop (heart-shaped, of course).  But that was the extent of it, and I never gave much thought to the day in any other way.

But yesterday I went to my dance class.  During the hour plus in that room, I was treated to a paper heart with the word "Joy" written on it, I got to hug someone in pain, I heard a beautiful poem, I listened (and sang along) to  this song and I connected with 10 other women in a way that stunned me in it's beauty and intensity.

And then I got why my children put so much effort into their preparations:  not just because it is exciting, but because what could be more life affirming than a day on which to celebrate the giving and receiving of love in so many different ways, from the material to the deep soul connection that lets everyone know that they are safe, that they are worthy.  That love is not to be understood only in the framework of intimacy with one other person, but that it can bring us closer to many people, on this day and every day.

So today I am greatful for the magic that happens when you open your heart a little to the possibilities of giving and receiving love, connecting with other people in the smallest and the most meaningful ways.  It was indeed a very happy Valentine's Day.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

I went in the garden...

 I have been trying to post the following for several days now but somehow blogger currently has it's own ideas about where pictures should go. So please bear with me, I hope I can resolve this soon.

Friday reached 43 degrees here, so I took the opportunity to check in on the garden.  I have missed working out there, and I cut back the asparagus and trimmed some of the raspberry vines I didn't get to in the fall.  I had my camera with me and found a few surprises.

last year's blossoms still holding on

bulbs beginning to peek through the soil

tiny buds on the apple trees

more bulbs

I am particularly enjoying these pictures now as the temperatures have dropped dramatically and spring certainly feels a long way of.  And yet, there it is, on it's way.  Time to plan my indoor seed plantings!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

some pants for a girl

She loved her Christmas skirt much that she asked if I could make her pants next.  I used this project to get to know my new serger (thank you, Paul and Karin for that!) and could not believe how much faster it sews.  Once I had it threaded and tested, I asked the girl to pick her fabrics from my stash of thrifted cotton tshirts.  I took some of her pants and measured.  She's a size 8-10 and the pattern was easy to make as the back is 1-2 inches wider than the front.

When she had picked the fabrics she wanted to use, we played around with the order and came up with the front of the pants.  She decided that she wanted the same fabrics on the back but in reverse order.

I assembled the legs, then added a waistband with elastic and hemmed the cuffs on my sewing machine.  Finally I decorated with a little flower and bird as a surprise.

Tonight there is a very, very happy girl in the house.  She cannot wait to wear them to school tomorrow.

Sorry for the light posting lately.  I have been dealing with a bad cold and some other health issues but hope to get back to more activities soon.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Welcome, February

In this, our second winter here in New England, we still don't quite know what to expect of the weather.  Last year we lived in town and enjoyed lots of snow, many days off school and many days of sledding, skating and digging snow caves in the yard.

This winter we only had one snowstorm rivalling several of those last year, and that came on Halloween.  Since then it's been a few inches here, a dusting there, and much icing, sleeting and rain in between.

I for one am still hopeful that winter will still get here and provide us with more snow fun.  I'm still in the mood for some skating and sledding and skiing before heading back out into the garden.

The late afternoon sun trying to break through the clouds

the pond ice is melting

light reflecting off the wet road

do I spy some blue above the neighbor's house?

Aaah, yes, there it is

Then again, that blue sky could convince me that I'm ready for spring...

So I'm resolving to ward off the typical February mid-winter blues.  This year, instead of letting the weather influence my moods, I am going to set out to find the beauty in it.  It can be a challenge in this climate, but it's on!  Join me if you wish, and let me know in the comments how you are stopping the blues from creeping in at this time of year.