The first half of December

December is well under way. We’ve had plenty happening and much more breathing out time in the coming weeks.

Our advent spiral for this year.

As part of our third grade journey, we learned about Hanukkah, which lasted all of last week. My third grader made a menorah and helped light it each night. On the first night, we said a traditional prayer during the lighting. We read lots of library story books about Hanukkah. We made latkes and challah. We made dreidels out of two kinds of clay. (We also made some Christmas tree ornaments.)

We celebrated St Nicholas’ day. No pictures, as I forgot. St Nick brought everyone chocolate coins and wool socks.

This week, we are celebrating St Lucia’s day, which is tomorrow. In preparation, today we made lussekater (Lucy buns), pepparkakor (small ginger cookies), a crown for my daughter and two star boy hats for my sons. They plan on waking up before me tomorrow morning and brining it in to me for breakfast. It may be tricky to wake up before me, as my baby is an early riser. It’ll be fun either way!

A time of reflection

I haven’t blogged in nearly two months. It has been a time of adjustment and reflection. There have been some bumpy days (weeks?) and I’ve had to do lots of inner work and refining my own habits to find a sweet spot again. I’m getting there.

I’ve joked half seriously that I should start a blog called ‘Things My Kids Tell Me’. Not with the purpose of complaining or making jokes, but so that other moms out there don’t feel alone in their struggles. It can feel so isolating and depressing to think to yourself that the (unkind) things your child says couldn’t possibly be said by other kids, because no one you know has ever shared such things. I mean, we don’t really talk about it. Social media is full of the edited happy moments and lots of happy faces. But that’s not real life. And no matter how amazing you are as a mother, it is no insurance against your child saying hurtful things to you. Because what comes out of their mouth is a reflection about what is going on within them. I’ve found again and again how powerful it is to speak up and share with friends what happens within my house. It is sure scary to be vulnerable in that way, but I’ve found again and again that it not only is healing and helpful for me to share but that other mothers then feel less alone. Mothers then open up to me about the things that go on in their homes and how they’ve struggled. Our culture doesn’t do vulnerability very well. So, it takes intention and practice.

In our house, we’ve been in the thick of the 9 year change. I think we are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel, but that light is still a far way off yet, truth be told. I’m remembering how absolutely vital the inner work piece is and how making time for mediation and mindfulness and fun are is not optional. It is necessity. I’m reminded again and again that the only thing I can be in control of is how I react. So, I’m in charge of me, and that’s my main job as a parent.

I have taken some photos here and there of our homeschooling and life. Things are moving along nicely and we are settling into a workable rhythm. Lots of grace is given, daily. Grace, flexibility and self-compassion. Those are my tools lately.

Our chicks

About five weeks ago we brought three baby chicks home. I affectionately call them ‘the babies’. We already have 6 free ranging chicken in our yard so they will soon have more friends to be with as soon as they are big enough to go outside.

This is the day we brought them home.

The yellow one is a salmon favorelle, the gray one is a blue chochin, and the black one is unknown. We are starting to suspect she’s a copper marran. Time will tell!

Getting some outside time while we clean their cage.

They were running out of space in the guinea pig cage we initially had them in. I’d been stressing about what to put them in when a very large box arrived yesterday with guinea pig supplies. I suddenly realized it would be perfect for the babies! Here is our new set up.

I think it’s spacious enough until they have enough feathers to sleep outside. They spend a bit of time outside every day unless it’s cold and wet. I’m looking forward to seeing them becomes friends with the older hens.

What a summer

I always have this idea that summer will be a time to laze around and watch the flowers grow. And I know I’ve had summer like that in the recent past, but I think as my children get bigger, our summers get busier.

Don’t take me wrong. We have plenty of empty days with nothing planned, but for an introvert like me, the down days aren’t nearly enough lately in the summertime. I know that part of the busyness stems from chasing after a baby right now. He keeps our days very busy. But for the past month we’ve had so many happenings.

First, we went to the coast for a few nights to celebrate my second son turning nine. It was a lovely trip and really filled us up.

Four days after we got home from that trip, we left for 5 days at fiddle camp. This was our third year in a row attending and my kids loved every second of it. It was great. I was thoroughly exhausted when i got home and it took a good 3 days to feel back to normal. Camping with a mobile baby as a solo parent is no walk in the park! I’m so glad we went, though.

We had a full week to recover from fiddle camp before it was time to pack up and head out for the day for a fiddle contest about an hour away. Third year attending it as well. My second son competed and did great. My oldest only brought along his guitar to back up others, and then regretted not bringing his fiddle along and entering. Next year.

The following week brings us to the present. This is fair week. When you are in the 4H program, that makes 5 days of driving back and forth to the county fair, sometimes multiple times. Thank goodness for carpooling. The animals must be cared for and checked each morning before 8, so we head out by 7am. Today my oldest was at the fair for nearly 14 hours! It’s exhausting but fun. I’m sorely looking forward to the rest of August being a bit empty. But then again, I just received an invite from a fiddling family to attend a kids fiddle camp out at the end of the month. Three hours away. I think it’s a testament to my love of the music and watching my kids play that I’m seriously considering attending.

Our day in pictures

(This isn’t our cat but we saw him on our walk, and he is blind. I had to take a picture of him enjoying the sun.)

Of course, there was much much more to our day. Lots of meals and talking and fighting and crying and dishes and playing and laughing. Life is never dull.

Teething

Not much blogging happening as not much sleep is happening. The babe is working on his sixth tooth and this whole cutting teeth thing isn’t a walk in the park for him. I’ve learned that it usually means 2-3 sleepless nights for him (and me).

We’ve had the usual stuff going on. I’m starting to enter full-on planning mode for our 2018-2019 school year. I just finished reading, from cover to cover, the third grade curriculum that we are using. (Waldorf Essentials). Soon I’ll start getting into the nitty gritty of ninth grade planning, too.

As ever, LOTS of babywearing happening these days. Thank goodness for wraps. I don’t know how we’d get through without them. I have so many pictures of babywearing but I still struggle with my feelings of posting pictures of my kids on the internet.