Monday, December 21, 2009




through the darkness,

snow is falling.



deep within

a star is glowing.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Busy Busy

Making bread,

and ice, who needs a sled?
Pellet stove is kicking off heat,

moving our bodies to the Nutcracker Suite,

and eating sugary Christmas treats.

Last day of school before winter break,

what will happen next? You'll just have to wait...

Sunday, December 6, 2009


Ahh… to blog by the fire on a wintry evening, with snow on the ground outside, warm kettle on the stove, and New Orleans Christmas on the radio, instead of down in the cold, junk-filled basement. It only gets better from here I think…

We have snow! It’s so pathetic that I’ve taken pictures of the pitiful smathering of snow we have, but after the 65 degree day we had on Wednesday, I’ll take anything. Not that I’m complaining about our Indian autumn, but spring weather in December is just plain confusing for the Northern soul. And what is more fun in December than putting up decorations while rocking out to Christmas music? And hot chocolate? It just didn’t feel right before this weekend. Now we’re going full force. Yeay December!

Emerson’s new spot is right next to the fire, ears glued to the radio so that she can re-learn all the Christmas lyrics.

And we have color! After all this build up, we had a family painting day today, and the bedroom walls are finally blue! (Clay painting makes for family friendly, environmentally sound painting – and looks awesome. But are the bedroom walls too blue? It’s so hard to tell at this point, because we still don’t have the baseboard molding, windows, or doors that we want, let alone stuff on the wall. Or furniture. More waiting. And the meantime BLUE. Progress is a funny thing.

But we have our living space – the pleasure of which I can’t put into words. We are actually going to start letting people into our house! Hooray!

As for the parenting front, things with Emerson have improved dramatically over the last few days. After having over a month of the worst relationship with my child I’ve ever had, I finally realized a big part of the problem – me. I’ve done more yelling in the last month than I’ve done since I was a teenager (yelling at my own mother), and even though I knew that wasn’t who I wanted to be, and that it was just making things worse, I found myself doing it all the same. Every morning I would wake up saying “this day will be different,” and then find myself irritated with her before she even got out the door to school. The more I tired confrontational discipline with her, the worse she got, and the worse she got (I’ll spare details – think biting, scratching and flailing in public) the madder I would get until I would just let her have it.

Then all directions pointed me towards the answer.

1) My lovely husband - who thankfully spends part of his morning at work on the internet researching non-work related things – sent me a link to a blog written by a mom in Ireland. I’m just going to paste in a few (too many) or her quotes that struck a chord in me.

“This chapter talks about the differences between discipline and punishment. Punishment means to hurt by causing physical, emotional or social pain whereas discipline means to teach.”

“Punishment disconnects parent and child. It also produces anger, resentment, retaliation, fear, submission or passive aggression in the child. It produces guilt, remorse, and inconsistency of action in the parent because no one likes to see their child suffer for very long. Discipline, on the other hand, is respectful, caring, and gives attention to the relationship. Discipline does not intentionally hurt. Both sides are left feeling connected.”

“If you start out thinking you versus child in your head that you have already lost. The magical and sacred connection between a child and a caring adult is broken, and no good teaching can occur.”

“Somehow, we expect our children to accept our “no” with pleasantness and politeness, which is pretty unrealistic when we can’t even muster that as adults! The key is to stay calm after you say “no”. You are dealing with a child’s anger. You’re modeling self-control and self-discipline and that will go a long way in teaching a child to handle theirs.”

“They live in the moment without much thought of what happens before or after an action.”

“Children imitate what they see; their entire being is an eye at this point that takes everything in without a filter.”

“You have to be calm as a parent! You must be able to detach yourself enough from your emotions to address the behavior you do not want, and to focus on the behavior you want in a creative way- through song, movement, helping the child through your GENTLE physical touch. That is where they live! They don’t live in the verbal commands you direct from the kitchen while you are doing something else!”

“Parenting is saying and doing the same thing over and over with the small child. This is how they learn, and it takes time. They do not have the impulse control or logical thought when they are small to do otherwise.”

“Also, to have realistic expectations is EXTREMELY important. You may be expecting something completely out of the realm of normalcy for that age. The minute those “My child SHOULD be able to _____” starts in your head, breathe and take a step back!”

2) In a book I’m reading about child nutrition (of all things) there was this quote in the summation:

“Our family relationships are the ones that present us with the experience and lessons we need to work on extensively. Many modern families choose to break up rather than persevere in solving problems that arise. Those who succeed in creating a balanced family in this time of great social transformation acquire limitless patience and learn to work with compassionate understanding. The ultimate food for children is life with parents with these qualities.”

And further back in the book there was this – “Very often, however, the seemingly incorrigible child simply craves another kind of nurture besides a good diet – the influence of parents who live in emotional balance.”

At this point, I like to believe we live more in the top half of this. I wouldn’t label Emerson an incorrigible child overall (by any stretch of the imagination), just a four year old. And although I’ve been over the top lately, I don’t think I’d describe myself as an angry person overall. But lately we have been having a difficult time, and over the past few days I’ve just done two things differently. I’ve had realistic expectations of my four year old (isn’t that where anger stems from really – reality differing from expectations?) and I’ve modeled calmness and gentleness. And it’s been better for all of us. Is it really that easy? We’ll see…

Oh, and there’s a 3.

3) Matty and I are in an Anthroposophical study group, and our reading last month was “The Misson of Anger.” I can’t even begin to scratch the surface of that subject, but ultimately, the point of the essay was that the purpose of anger in man is to push him towards his loftier abilities, and that the point is not to try to repress anger, but to transform it into love.

If this isn’t love, I don’t know what is.

So that is where I leave off this week. Next week I am chasing the location of raw milk, and the possibility of doing a babysitting swap once a month with some friends so that Matty and I can get out sometimes without worrying about the extra expense of babysitting.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Today is my birthday, and so far I've celebrated by going to work and listening to my kids scream for the better part of the afternoon (one with a double ear infection, and one with and unidentified four year old infection that is about to be seriously addressed). But now both the girls have given their mama the best gift they could give - they are both asleep, and I am enjoying the luxury of a quiet house and some time with my thoughts. Not to mention the fact that I have escaped the dingy basement that was my place to blog, and am now sitting on the couch (which no longer is used as a dresser I might add) and looking out into the world. I am thinking maybe we'll be so lucky as to get a good fire going this evening, and I can enjoy this new space, drink some tea and write. Which is so different than most peoples' desire to drink some beer and go crazy, but alas, I was born in the dark month of December, and it seems my fate in life is to go inward. Anyway...

Today is my birthday! 35 years ago today I tumbled into this earthly existence from wherever I was before, and commenced this life I now live. Today at 9am (the hour of my birth) I was lucky enough to be sitting alone in a beautiful space, full of light and warmth, and felt so lucky to be here, and so amazed at the souls I've met so far in my life, and how the course of my life has come so far. It wasn't long before little bodies started filling the room, (not imagined bodies, the real little bodies of the kids in my class) and the moment was gone, but it is amazing sometimes how much a flash of time can hold.

I'm going to back up a little here, because the day leading up to my birthday held a lot as well. And end to a beginning so to speak.

So yesterday I deposited the Australian at Logan airport, and since both my passengers slept most of the way there, and my lone remaining passenger quietly listened to music on the way back, I had a lot of time to think about things. There's nothing like a drive to get the thoughts moving. Passing through landscapes and weather can do amazing things to the soul.

But I digress again. Maybe I should back this up even more and say that it was really great having Paul here. I joked about it when he was here, saying he was my assistant (he was awesome with my kids, cleaned the house, and cooked a bunch, among other things...) but the reality is that it was just great to have him around after five years of not seeing him. It's easy to forget how much someone means to us when they are out of sight for so long, and I'm glad I was reminded of what a special person Paul is, and how lucky I am to have him in my life. Two weeks is really such a short span of time in the entire view of things, but it felt like Paul was a part of our lives for an eternity - like he belonged here - and I have to admit, it was hard to let him go. Like that flash I mentioned above. Sometimes a short period of time can be so transformative - it can hold so much.

Anyway, after Paul left to catch his flight, I took Ophelia out of the car and walked over to the edge of the rooftop we had parked on - and looked out at the view of the city. After a cold, dreary morning the sky had opened up when we arrived in Boston, and the glare of the wintry afternoon sun gave the city an other worldly effect. I scanned out over the buildings and streets letting all the memories they held fill me up in my very center, and I breathed in that airport feeling - one of change and going places. Then I looked at little Ophelia's eyes, so bright and clear, taking everything in for the first time, and was really in awe of all this world has to hold for her. I have been alive for 35 years - five or six of them I don't even really remember - and already my life has held so much. Every place I looked at off the rooftop that day brought memories flooding back into my being of all the amazing souls I have encountered in my life, and all the morphs my own soul has been through. And that's just Boston!

As I drove home a little while later, the sky almost instantly grew eerily dark again. I let other memories from other places wash over me and reveled in them for a while until a massive orange sun appeared in front of me, setting below the dark clouds, and reminded me what I was heading towards. I told Matty all of this when I got home, and he responded by saying that driving towards a sunset usually signified an ending, not a beginning. And my response to him was that endings always lead to beginnings. Which is true. But what I really meant, was that I was driving towards something beautiful. A beauty just as stunning as the beauty behind me.

So enough of my blathering on and on. Here it is, in a nutshell. There are times in my life when I just want to hoard everything - all the people, all the memories, all the beautiful souls in my life. I wish that I could live all my lives at once, and not sequentially. I want to raise my family in the woods, while at the same time living in the city. I want to be settled and stable, while at the same time being a transient and free. And most important, I want to be able to always be with all the important people I have met in my life. Doesn't everyone?

Fortunately, this is not the design of life. We need to let go to expand, and I had to let go of Paul once more. His life is through the glass doors on the rooftop in Boston, down an elevator, onto a plane, and over an ocean where his Myra is waiting for him. And all the other amazing souls I have encountered have their destinies as well. And although I cannot hold them physically, I can always hold them in my heart and in my being. These meetings with people as we walk the earth are so overpoweringly beautiful. It's awe inspiring.

And me - my place is in that sunset. That ending, or beginning, or whatever it is. My place is here by the fire (yes, it's lit and turning out some serious HEAT, and smoke is nowhere to be seen - except out the chimney) with my husband sitting next to me, and some little feet that should be in bed, but are walking down the hall. All the places I've been before are most important because of the fact that they led me here.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

There's nothing like a house guest - especially one from another country who I haven't seen in years - to make me see the world through a new set of eyes. Last Sunday I spent blog night driving to Boston to pick up Paul from Australia. Yeay! Although he might feel like he fell into some crazy domestic limbo, we've been enjoying him to pieces. It's so great to have his company and to do so many things that I could do every day, but I don't. Like hiking in the morning when Emerson is at school. Or driving up to the Bookmill and having a leisurely lunch. It's nice to be taken away from everyday life for a while - even if it's in my own domain.

And we've actually made some headway on the house too, amazingly. There's nothing like a house guest - or a party, which we're having soon too - to get home renovation in high(er) gear. Originally, we thought we would get both back rooms done before Paul's arrival, which is humorous now. I'm not sure why we never take in to consideration the possibility of sick kids, crazy kids, and - oh yeah - our life. And the fact that we seriously underestimated the amount of time it would take us to do everything. Matt finally finished putting the joint compound on the walls of the bedroom closet and the ceiling, and he sanded it all down to a flawless finish! He ended up doing all the sanding by hand, and it took A LOT longer than we thought it would, and made a MUCH bigger mess. And then I thought I could clean it in a morning. Right. I'm still finding the dust in odd places. So as I drove to the airport, Matt painted the ceiling, and Paul spent his first night here on the couch. But the next day I finished cleaning up, and Paul and Matty moved the bed into the bedroom, and the futon into the guest room. So we're actually sleeping in the bedroom! For now. We still have to move the bed out again so that Matty can put the second coat on the ceiling. Maybe by our party we will actually have color on the walls. We'll see... Oh yeah, and there's no bed in our living room anymore!

And the rest of the life is going smoothly for the moment. The weather this month has been more like sunny October than gray November, which always makes life better. And Emerson has come back around - for the most part. It's always amazing to look at the worst behavior in hindsight, and realize what was truly going on. And from what I can gather, it was just a step forward, like it always is. Both her teachers have told me over the last few weeks that Emerson is really coming out more at school, and feeling more comfortable being herself. She's not just following behind her best friend, but reaching out to other kids, and flirting with leading. For such a timid girl, it's amazing what inner conflict reaching out can bring. Not to mention the conflict of simultaneously pushing away and reaching out at home. She wants independence, but not too much. She's always growing, and by letting her, I'm always growing. It's an amazing balance. Should I say amazing one more time?

So now I have a girl that seems older overnight. She's finger-knitting and hanging out with her friends, and it seems like her ability to communicate has gone up a notch too.

And as for Paul, I'm still not too sure what he thinks of our crazy life. Much different from mine and Paul's life while traveling in Thailand, but hopefully enjoyable all the same. We all had an awesome day at the Hartsbrook holiday fair. Emerson got to decorate cookies, make a jump rope, ride a pony, go on a hayride, get treats from the Pocket Lady and King Winter. We all ate lots of great food and watched a marionette show. And most important, we spent late part of the afternoon sitting around the fire, enjoying the end of a beautiful sunny day, talking to friends while Emerson ran around playing without abandon. We are so lucky to be a part of that school. But I don't even have time to begin talking about that now. Having a guest is exciting, but tiring.... so that is it.

Or maybe not. Ophelia is laughing, growing teeth, pushing chairs around, and trying to put on her own socks. She makes us laugh so hard.