Eighteen Months (40/52)

I just can not believe that our littlest love, our sweet tiny baby girl, is officially closer to two years old than to one.  It is mind-boggling and inconceivable and yet, undeniably true.  She calls herself “Ser-ee-a” and sings and dances all through the house.  She loves that hat and a certain bright colored patchwork skirt that she often pulls on over or under whatever else she has happens to have on.  She is exactly the same height that Elijah was at her age and looks just like him when she’s sleeping.  She thinks that his 13 year old self is the most fun person in the whole wide world.  Many times a day she runs through the house calling, “Sijah! Sijah!” wanting him to scoop her up and take her off to play.  Her attention span for listening to board books is much longer than anyone’s attention span for reading them.  She loves to be outside and hates to come back in.  She would stay out all day if she could, preferably playing in the sand, splashing in water or swinging.  Nothing could brighten a person’s day more than to have her run and greet them with a jubilant, “Hiya!”.  She is really the most darling, funny, determined, sweet, giggly, smart, cheerful, strong, utterly fearless, beautiful, little creature that anyone could ever hope to know.  Our hearts are so full.


Catching Up

Let’s call this post 38/52 and 39/52 as well, shall we?  I count at least 5 kids up there, so yes, I think we shall!

Our plans for the last week and a half were upended.  Many things shifted and changed.  We had company.  Various family members from out of state visiting, leaving, others coming, some returning again.  I’ve barely touched the computer in the last 12 days and I have an inbox full of unanswered (mostly unread, eek!) emails.

Galen is working on a homeschooling project, gathering and recording stories, to start compiling a family history.  He was conducting interviews throughout the week.  So far it has been a beautiful, moving and poignant experience, at least once he got past a fit of giggles over the first one.

My father oversaw music lessons for the week.

Have I mentioned that I’m learning French?  Galen and Mairi wanted to study French because of ballet, so I am learning along with them.  It would not be my first choice of second language, but it can’t be denied that there are some fabulous patterns in French, so there’s that at least.  Also, it turns out that I’m part French, which I totally didn’t know until like this part year, so maybe this somehow makes up for lost time?

After an unusually warm start to September, autumn is finally starting to set in.  Last weekend we harvested all of our squash and made our first batch of applesauce.  This weekend I pulled out my wool tights to go to a corn maze.  On my sister’s last night here we roasted peaches and ate them topped with homemade vanilla-caramel ice cream.  We’ve been eating way too many sweets.  She added a few rows to the now well-known blanket.  It feels good to start to settle into the inward arch of our year.  I think Mairi Rose and I will plant some bulbs in the garden this week.

I wanted to thank everyone for the kind comments and messages over the last several weeks!  They really do mean the world to me.


my feet were cold…

I made socks.  I’ve finally come to the conclusion that if I’m ever going to open my drawer and actually find socks, I have to own socks that can not possibly be mistaken for Elijah’s (or Galen’s or Steve’s or Iain’s).  They must be unquestionably mine.  The life cycle of a pair of my socks goes something like this: I buy myself a pair of nice wool socks.  It’s exciting!  You would be excited to if you never had any socks to wear.  I wear said socks.  Such a delight!  When they are dirty I put them in the hamper.  I may even come across them again while doing laundry.  This is the point where things start to get fuzzy.  I don’t see them again for at least a month, maybe more.  If by chance they do somehow reappear in my drawer, they do so with a great many holes and thin places that I don’t remember from the first and only time I wore them.

I divided everything up, taking it on faith that if I worked my leftover yarn into stripes there would be enough.  I think this might be the first time I made a toe up sock?  I prefer toe down,  But toe up has it’s advantages, like when you are knitting until you run out of yarn.  A shorter sock is one thing.  A toe-less one is pretty useless.

I cut off all of my hair.  I’ve been too tired and sick to care for it.  Actually I made poor Steve do it, while he nervously asked if perhaps one of the neighbors wouldn’t be better suited to the task?  He took off a solid 14-plus inches.  I think I’m at peace with the decision, which wasn’t really so much a decision as a reaction, even though I prefer my hair long- especially when I’m on the chubby side, as I am now.  Usually I somehow don’t quite feel myself without my long and wild mane.  But this is who I am right now.  It’s the most that I can manage.  And that’s ok too.


the first week

We’ve been experimenting with making our own pack baskets.  The first one, though quite sturdy, isn’t terribly functional.  It will make a pretty basket for around the house though.

The coyotes have been so loud.  Seraphina calls back to them from the porch and various windows.  She speaks their language nearly as well as she is beginning to speak our own.  It sounds as though they are right outside my window just now, as they very well may be.

The first baking day of the school year we usually have a celebration.  Since this time around it happened to land on the day before shopping day, our options were limited.  While the older boys helped an elderly neighbor out for a couple of hours, I took the younger ones apple picking.  The sheep are grazing in the orchard just now.  Licorice has grown a great deal.  She’s fully weaned, but she still comes running when she hears our voices.

We baked what I referred to as strudel, though it really wasn’t.  The crust wasn’t thin and crisp as the term strudel would imply.  Iain said it should properly be called a “cake wrapped pie”.  It was gigantic, that’s the same tray that I serve our Thanksgiving turkey on, and incredibly delicious!  We made a smaller, unsweetened one for the tiny girl.

Seeking to reconcile our old schedule with the new, the end of the week found us at the pond.  On of my goals this year is to get us all outside as much as possible.  I like, maybe even prefer, the beach in the off season.  It’s so quiet and peaceful.  When Iain and Elijah were little, we lived down the road from a lake where they used to dump a big load of sand every autumn.  We would walk down with shovels and they spent many a happy hour digging away.  When they grew tired of the digging- did that ever actually happen?- there were kites to fly.

The ruins of a giant, grand, old sandcastle greeted us that first week.  We come prepared with lots of extra towels, changes of clothes, sweaters.  And our lessons continue on in this place in their own manner.  The older ones are teaching the younger ones to swim, though I can’t imagine that carrying on for much longer.  Still, the water is bracing, it feels strong, like having the courage to jump in fortifies them and I’m content to have them out in it as deep into the season as they please.

Galen who will spend much of this year studying animals, gets to encounter them in their own world.  In his own world, which they are both equally a part of, whether it be a snail found resting at the water’s edge or the great egret that we’ll pour over guide books reading about later.  Mairi Rose and I draw forms, letters and numbers- both giant and small- in the sand with our fingers and toes.  The learning experiences provided for little Seraphine are too numerous and abstract to recount.  Lessons of balance, endurance, time, repetition, consistency and change.

Every week that I manage to end at the pond, connecting with nature and each other is a week I will consider a success.



Mairi Rose: With her eager little gap-toothed smile she the very portrait of a true 1st grader!

Seraphina: She really is the silliest of girls sometimes!

We’ve had a damp and chilly weekend here and I’ve found myself sick, yet again.  Thankfully it’s just a cold this time.  For those who are keeping score; since the beginning of June, that’s 2 colds, 2 infections (totally unrelated to the colds), some strange virus I can’t remember the name of that turned the skin on my torso into flesh toned leopard print, and of course Lyme Disease.  That’s without counting other debilitating things like the pinched nerve and so forth. fun, fun.

We made apple butter, roasted tomatoes, tilapia chowder and many pots of tea.  I cast on for Mairi’s birthday sweater (dress actually).  My long lost, missing, size 6 curricular needles finally showed up in a hat Iain had been working on.  The dress yarn is bright and cheery and I’m greatly enjoying watching it knit up into neat little gathers.

About the tilapia chowder!  I keep meaning to update that recipe… It’s delicious the way I posted it, but if you really want to make it into something amazingly special, replace the water with broth, make sure to include yams, don’t skip or skimp on the dulse or tarragon and use a really creamy canned coconut milk like this one for the last part.


just the two of us

For months now, Galen has been wanting to take me to see all of the special places they visited during the nature program he attended last year.  We started talking about it in winter and decided it would be best to wait until spring.  Time after time, something came up; illness, weather, scheduling conflicts.  Finally one night I told Steve, “That’s it, tomorrow we are going.  This is the most important thing I can do with this day.”  And go we did, albeit four full hours later than I intended, leaving everyone else to fend for themselves at home.

I’ve been jokingly referring to it as our immune boosting trip.  We stopped at a friends garden on our way to munch on some rose hips (very high in vitamin C).  Once in the woods we gathered ripe elderberries to snack on (general immune support) and Galen built a little fire on which to prepare us some hemlock needle tea (also high in vitamin C).  Between that, the fresh air and all that good ole’ vitamin D, I figure we were pretty thoroughly bolstered up.  The pleasant company and laughter probably didn’t hurt either.

I have to say, it took every last bit of everything I had in me to make that trek, but it was worth it.  I know it meant so very much to him, and being there with him, just glowing with happiness, meant the world to me as well.

Fact: the start of the (home) school year along with our various commitments and new schedules is kind of kicking my backside all over town at the moment.  I want to be posting here with more regularity, but as with our hike, other things keep cropping up to prevent me.  Things are going well, except I’m not sleeping nearly enough.  I read something the other day (I have no idea where!) about how if you find yourself up at 12:30 trying to put together lesson plans, then something is out of whack with life and it’s time to address it.  It’s not that I don’t see the wisdom in this, it’s just that, well, when else is everything going to get done?


a holzhausen (and 35/52)

“Every man looks upon his woodpile with a sort of affection.” ~Henry David Thoreau

In this case I think it’s understandable, this one is a beauty with a lot of charm – you know, for a wood pile!  Once our regular wood storage was full Steve decided to get a bit creative with the over-flow and, along with Iain and Elijah, spent a portion of last week building a holzhausen.  This is an old-fashioned, European, beehive shaped stack- practical for a number of reasons, but artful as well.

Later in the week we were entertaining house guests from out of state; old friends that we cherish dearly, but scarcely get to see.


32/52, 33/52, 34/52

Some how there were very few pictures of Galen the last several weeks?  It happens that way sometimes, where one child isn’t represented for a while.  At other times there will be a ridiculous surplus of photos of that very same child (see the post below!).

Some highlights: A tree fort in progress, late season sheering, a first tooth lost, berry picking in her new favorite hat, the joy of a new play space, and a tiny girl who continues to climb into or onto everything she can find.

Mastitis is the ailment of the week.  It’s just been a constant barrage since the beginning of June. I’m starting to have serious concerns about the abilities of my immune system.

I’ve been watching talks given by Shefali Tsabary on YouTube.  There is great strength there.  I plan on checking our library for her books.

I wanted to thank all of the people who have commented on this post.  I was truly touched by your observations and kind words.  These days, for the most part, there are only a few people who comment regularly here.  Sometimes I feel like I’m mostly just talking out loud to myself.  It was nice to be reminded that there are other people out there, busy people like me, who don’t always have the time or the desire to make their presence known, but who none the less, are still appreciative of this space.