Thursday, January 25, 2007
I was browsing through iPhoto today and couldn't resist pulling out some of my latest favorites of the boys for your viewing pleasure...
Ellis was really excited about this until he fell on his face about 30 seconds after this photo was taken. "Cold!" is a new favorite word.
The last couple of days I've been home, I've managed to set aside time for myself - something I am usually very undisciplined about. On Wednesday I took a walk in the morning. It's colder and crisper, even a little snowier these days. I pulled on my mukluks and trodded up the woods trail to the ridge. Along the way, I heard the hum of either snowmobiles or chainsaws not far off. Coming over the woods hill, I was stopped in my tracks at the sight and jarring sound of trees coming down. Our neighbor must be logging his woods property - why, we wonder? Why would someone willingly take down their beautiful, strong, tall trees? I cried when I heard the first crack, then whoosh, then thud of a fallen tree. I imagined those quiet giants helpless next to a tiny chainsaw - no voice, no power. And then I was amazed to find that within minutes and a few more fallen trees, I was already used to it, no longer saddened so deeply. Maybe our neighbors need the money. Maybe it's something that they planned to do long before we ever showed up to this part of town...we who have the luxury of living among our acres recreationally and not having to survive off of them. I welcomed all these thoughts and moved on in my walk. The ridge is snowier than right around our place, and it was exhilarating to walk/run/slide down the steep forest hill on my way back, trying to keep with the deer trails - they know the best route through the brushy woods. Across the road and into our field - the rows of alfalfa from summer are still visible through the snow.
The clarity of the air and the sun and the time away gave way to thoughts on who I want to be. I want to be a joyful, relaxed, present mother and wife. I want to be passionate and genuinely disciplined about my job. I want to take photos to capture the beauty of a moment, not because I am frantically trying to document it. I want to be reenergized in doing/by doing home projects - from cleaning out junk drawers to planting our garden starter seeds. I want to spend more time alone. I want to spend more time with my family. I want to spend more time doing nothing but sitting back at the dinner table with my household. I want to spend more time on the floor with our little boys.
I feel like I'm on a refurbished path - it's where I've always been headed, but my step is lighter and more deliberate. Today I talked with Chris and watched Ellis sleep while we walked our 5 mile loop. I watched Chris and Ellis "swim" in the hot tub. I worked on projects for the Mississippi River Fund. I had sundried tomato pesto for lunch, thankful still for last summer's crop. It's a beautiful thing, to relish in the goods from our 2006 garden while we plant our 2007 seeds.
It's about to get dark. Charis, Jay and Owain are due home anytime. Then boys' bedtime, dinner with us four, finish laundry, and to bed. Many blessings.
Tuesday, January 16, 2007
Hey everyone -
The horses nap like dead beasts, sunning themselves splayed out in the newly-fallen snow, and Owain sits (all by himself!) at my feet, playing with loud glee as I madly type, wipe his snotty nose for the fiftieth time today (cold season) and try to get a little something on the blog for your reading pleasure.
Hanging out with Owain and Ellis has made me realize that having kids this age means going from taking what is essentially a tiny quadrapalegic friend with you everywhere you go (in the early days) to housing a small foreign exchange student who is trying to get you to learn their language via immersion. Note this recent conversation between Ellis and myself:
Me (staring into the open refrigerator while holding Ellis): Ellis, what would you like to eat?
Ellis: Beak diai Caaaaaaaaaaaa.
Me: A pickle?
Ellis: Peaaaaaaaaa. Tlak akeleallsa. Dagle, dagle dagle.
Me: Some dates?
Ellis (with increasing intensity): Peaaaa! Caaaaa! Baaaa! (signs for "please" by rubbing his tummy)
Ellis (now excited): CHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEA!
And that's the way the conversations go around here. Pretty much. And they're even less intelligible with Owain, though he's pret-ty, pret-ty, pret-ty good at getting his point across. It seems that at 5 months Owain has gone from sweet baby to hyper little spazz monkey overnight. He continues in his bid to become the world's youngest sumo wrestler, recently graduating into one-year clothing, is becoming increasingly vocal and ticklish, loves the cats, and is now helping me type this by pressing return on a semi-regular basis.
He's VERY interested in our food these days, and we have to watch out for his lightning-fast reach (he pulled down a bowl of rice krispies last week in record time). He's in constant motion, bicycling his legs and kicking at my belly while nursing and being generally rambunctious and noisy. The johnny jump-up and the walker are getting good workouts as we need outlets for this kind of energy. Despite his teething issues, we have yet to see a tooth (please god, any day now would be nice) and are feeling the fallout nightly. Let me just tell you that world is pretty bleak-looking from 2 - 4 every morning. Especially in the winter. In Wisconsin.
We're now in the process of putting our and Owain's mattresses on the floor of our bedroom together so we have one big crazy bed designed to keep little spazz monkeys from sustaining head injuries when they roll over the side.
In farm news, we're signed up to go to the MOSES (Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service) Conference in February, a huge event in LaCrosse that is organized by my friend and trusty midwife Krista. We're excited to get to some good workshops to continue to hone our focus for the farm. I'll be going to a draft horse and tack auction at the end of this month to see about getting a wagon and harness for Gideon so we can put him to work and end equine obesity for good around here. I've been alternately loving and feeling overwhelmed with being a new mama, but I'm happy to report I continue to gain confidence and have more fun all the time, despite my desperate want for sleep. We look forward to spring and with it, this year's garden - a promise of new things to come.
Love and snowy days to all,
Sunday, January 07, 2007
Friday, January 05, 2007
I like to make the blog more than just a photo album of our children's goings on, but since I've actually received offical complaints about the lack of recent Ellis photos, I'll give in and post a few. At nearly 16 months old, Ellis is just more of his silly, busy self. His favorite words these days include: pear ("paaayah!!"), car ("caaaah!!"), uh-oh, tree, cheers ("cheeeeeah!!"), cheese, and chair. Most of his words have something of a Boston accent, a la Click and Clack the Tappit Brothers.
Right now he's chewing on a rubberband ball (yes, this is probably very dangerous), and rolling around on the floor (dusting). Oh, now he's standing on the bottom stair, reaching to switch the light on and off. And on and off. And on. Now he's crawling up the stairs and I really should probably go be a good mom and spot him in case he falls. Back in a minute.
Okay, I've got about 5 second intervals to get this post finished. It's an unusual night at the farm with just me and Ellis hanging out together. C, J and O are in Eau Claire celebrating Charis's birthday (today!) together. Chris is in Minneapolis working. Ellis and I are hanging out, reading books, playing with trucks, trying to keep the wood stoves burning and Ellis out of trouble. How do single parents do it?! How do single parent farmers do it?!
But I digress...here's what you're really here for...some still shots of a very not-still person.
Wednesday, January 03, 2007
During our life in Portland, Charis and I would head home down I-5 on New Year's day from a joyful, loud, creative and invigorating night of mayhem with her college friends Charles and Dan. Passing all the evergreens and majestic Mt. Rainier (and the glorious Olympics if we were lucky) I would ramble on to Charis about all that I was thinking about and excited for in the upcoming year.
This past new year was a bit different. We were actually awake, in the dark, trying to soothe Owain back to sleep. We did not drive down I-5, we drove up I-90 from Madison and not on New Year's day but a few days after Christmas. And I was not able to talk Charis' ear off this time because she was sitting in the back seat. I pondered and reflected to myself, wrote in my journal and now unleash it on you all...
I desire to make 2007 a year of listening for me. I have so many ideas and goals and want to do so much that I need to stop and listen. I want to talk less and I want to ask more questions. This comes from hearing myself talk too much nonsense. Plus, I was talking to someone about whether Owain will go to public school and if I would hold him back a year. I had all the thoughts on what I would do until Charis said, "Maybe we should get to know Owain first and see what he wants." Yes, listening.
Bearing that in mind, here's a list of goals I have for the farm. (Is that Alanais Morrisette singing in background?)
-Plant more cherries and sugar maples (syrup) in front of the house across from driveway
-Wood lot behind dead giant elm
-Wood forest with nut trees and dwarf fruit trees
-Collect and cut more wood for heat
-More windbreak around the pasture and by the creek
2. Lower garden
-Expand with many squash and raspberries
-Fence to keep the damn deer out
-Three sisters inside the fence?
-Finish insulating the ping pong area
-Firepit behind the deck with smoke mandela
-Wood storage inside the garage
-Chicken coop and green house on the East side
-Finish the bathroom in the basement
-Bedroom in basement
-Buy a wood stove that simultaneously cooks our food, heats the house and our water
-Build a sleigh/cart
-Build a sled for hauling cut wood
-Get a single horse harness for Gideon
Some questions I've been pondering:
-How do we become sustainable in feeding the horses? (raising our own hay, storage, etc.)
-How do we feed ourselves for an entire year without packing a freezer?
-When do I buckle down and learn to hunt and preserve meat?
-Chickens: eggs, meat and how?
-Goats: milk, containment?
-Do I stop and settle myself and sit by the river and fish? How?
-What is the ultimate goal of the farm? (make money or sustain ourselves)
-How do I drive less?
Outside the farm I have had time over the break to reflect on teaching. I am failing and the program I teach in is failing students. I am totally rehauling my teaching structure when I go back. Even though the classroom is set up in a circle, I talk too much and students do not seem connected or caring. I am trying to go back Cedar Lodge route where students are working in groups, working on projects and thematic units, and they are teaching each other.
-What is the purpose of school?
-What do the students need?
-What is the best way to provide that need for the students?
-How do I guide them and stay out their way?
-How is anything possible in a schedule of eight 45 minute periods?
The most important questions saved for the last.
How do I love Charis better?
How do I support Owain to be his own person?
"Whoever has ears to hear should hear."