a good to do (list)

It is that time of year where the snow lay deep around our doorstep, but it’s not quite intimidating or daunting, where cabin fever isn’t a thing as of yet, the indoor time is still welcomed, and where my body craves the stews and hearty breads of winter rather than looking forward towards a green fresh something.  The excitement of the upcoming season is so cherished around here.  Each day of to do lists is as overwhelming as they are exciting.  Think about it, on you list of things to do is decorate a gingerbread house, or plan a hot cocoa bar?  String lights or set up crafts for solstice party?  These are exactly the things I am made of.

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And with the help of some of our most dear friends, we got a hold on our woodpile is under giant mound of ice and snow situation, chipped away our icy stairs and had a whole lot of laughs.  Things are quite cozy and nice in this neck of the woods.

How about you?  Anything welcoming on your to do list these days?  

in the mail

I can remember asking my dad if it was truly awful to be an adult.  I was oddly aware of the magic of childhood and it filled me with such regret that someday, someday it would dissipate.  I could see it on the faces of all the grown ups around me when they could only pretend for so long, or drag their feet on a walk to see a fort or a play for sometimes (only sometimes mind you) they had better, more important things to do.  He would pause with a little smirk and a faraway look, and say something like, “Oh no, it isn’t awful at all.  It is different.  You will change.  Love will feel like a whole new emotion.  But awful?  No, it isn’t that.”  I hardly believed him.  In fact, what he told me never resonated with me at all until just yesterday.

I sometimes watch my kids tumble like puppies around the yard with such joy.  Me, sitting on the steps, hair ragged, teeth needing a brush still at noon, same outfit as yesterday (not unlike the boys in front of me I now realize!), and I stare at them in amazement at the unprecedented joy they find at the simplest things.  Through fuzzy, weary eyes I do long for the easy days of childhood.  I really do.

In the early dark of the afternoon yesterday, while in the middle of hollering at Rowan to watch his step! watch his step!  for my precious coffee was underfoot atop a brand new carpet, the mail carrier dropped of a few packages on our doorstep.  Oh, the timing.  A small parcel wrapped in criss-cross twine was amongst the Amazonian deliveries.  I opened it right away, instead of doing the proper thing and waiting for the assigned date this time of year.  Inside was a gift so great and cherished it sparked a whole new thought inside me.

As soon as I unwrapped the brown paper, a stack of old photographs fell out;  My mothers face as child under decorated trees, looking precisely like my sweet Miles would if we gave him a Shirley Temple do, my grandparents whom now have moved on from this form with ear to ear grins, matching plaid and polka-dotted outfits, ribboned trees, and then a letter.  No, a story.  A story about my grandma whom I only knew as a little girl, whom I only knew as a sugar cereal, bug juice delivering woman.  A woman who had a collection of dolls any little girl would pine after.  Who had a bowl full of jelly candies to share at all times.  Who doted over me like I was the most precious thing that ever was.  But also, as a very sick woman, who sometimes smelled of medicine and pure exhaustion.  A sweet woman who suffered for a very, long time.

Underneath all these words was a small box, stuffed with tissue and the most beautiful, sparkling blown ornament I can imagine.  It was a red and white mushroom home atop a mountain of bright green glitter; very fitting for our family.  The boys and I hung it on a bough (a very, very high up sturdy bough) and marveled at the sparkles, those age-old sparkles in the light of our freshly plucked tree.

It is our first holiday season in our first house with our little growing family.  It feels like the snow falling into the hollows of a tree the way traditions are just coming into place.  These memories are truly what this time of year is all about.  When I read the letter to Lee last night, while finishing up some of our holiday crafting, I realized this feeling of joy was exactly what my father was talking about all those years ago.  A childs magic of the season is amazing.  It is overflowing, in-containable excitement.  It is a beautiful thing all on its own.  But now, now that I have felt a mama’s pleasure at pulling out a box of fragile, old ornaments, heard the sweet,tender ideas of hand-made treasure to create for other family members whispered out of  the mouths of my sweet children, been given the love of the past, sat with my husband by our warm wood stove while the snow falls around our cozy, temporarily quiet house I see exactly what he means.  It is different.  It isn’t masked by santa or an excitement too big to hold inside.  It is not even about obligation, the rush, or requirements.  (Though those absolutely take an effort to let go.)  It is a sit back and notice the joy kind of feeling.  It is a process.  It is a full body knowing that this is life.  The very life of life.

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Thank you Aunt Bette, you without a doubt made my holiday season so very special.  I am grateful for you and all of my history.  

moi? organized ?

In no way shape or form do I have a history of being organized, together, tidy, or prepared.  It has served me fine in my 31 years and now, now it is time for a bit of change.  Just a bit mind you.  I am okay with flying by the seat of my pants most of the time.  Disorganization means you always have too much stuff in your car, which means you always have an extra outfit on the fly.  It means that you are used to the chaos and can whip up a meal when you haven’t made it to the grocery in far too long.  It means being able to step over the madness that is “creatively” strewn over the craft room floor and be okay with simply grabbing the wheel and pulling it over to calmer, quieter location of the house to begin.

But now, it seems with five sets of snow gear in the rotation now it was necessary to make a plan.  And plan I did!  A bin for each family member, a hook for each one of us, and there you have it.  This is a picture of what it ACTUALLY looks like.  I just snapped it this morning and minus the few items drying by the stove, this is reality.  I believe I can call this system a success.  I purchased three of the boxes at Jo-Anns and just painted a square with chalkboard paint for a name.  The other two I found a craft fair and they are so beautiful that I couldn’t bear to paint on them.  They are just perfect the way they are.  Lee and I can remember whose is whose I am quite sure.

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In another corner of our world is the growing stack of artwork.  With two boys constantly pumping out all sorts of gifts, keepsakes, masterpieces, and creations I needed some way of taming it all.  For the past year I had been tossing everything we felt was worth while into a bin.  Last night, I got a wild hair and a minute to sort, separate, reduce, and label and there you have it.  My boys art; 2014 in a nutshell!

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HOT PARTY. ?!?!?!!?  Let’s pause on this.  The back of it is a reindeer.  DADEL is Daddy Lee… for anyone curious.  The top left is a ferris wheel and the top right is one of Rowan’s famous spider people.  This particular one is in it’s web.

While I do embrace my free-sprited way of life (read-messy, messy, messy), it certainly feels good to have a few pockets of organization in our days.  Makes me wonder what else could I do that in a simple way would ease transitions and lessen the chaos.  Any ideas for me?  What systems work for you with your family?  

holiday weekends

The toboggan: Waxed and slick, begging for a go.  Her simplicity is her beauty.  Yes, this has been the center of our outdoor time these days.  The snow has been every texture imaginable since the land has turned white.  Hard as ice, shattering like glass under our boots, soft as a down comforter, thick and heavy slush, impossible to shovel.  The forecast is predicting much more of the latter in the next few days.  Much more.

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Our weekend was a holiday filled time.  The older two boys are at an age where their enthusiasm for the choosing of a tree is contagious, their awe at the beauty of twinkling lights is enviable, and their contentment with these simple traditions is something to behold.  It is truly a joy to be celebrating this season in our home, the home where we have our feet planted firmly.  I envision the years to come in the very spot I am, with these boys growing tall, and it makes me so proud.

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Have you been listening to Martin and Sylvia’s advent?  If not, you should!  Our boys weren’t quite there last year, but this year they are just perfectly content to sit at the table, mug of hot cocoa at their side, crafting in progress, listening to the days of this pair of brother and sister.  

the gift of a memory

Oh the holidays….  they are here!  They are so exciting!  Chock full of beauty, waist deep in tradition, and a to do list so long it makes my head spin.  While I am second guessing our ideas for gifts my boys (rock wall in basement), crafting up a storm for friends and family (secrets!!), bundling things to donate, decking the halls, peering into advent calendars, and generally having a merry old time, I am trying oh so hard to focus on what it is that is special about this season to me.  When I lift up the dusty veil into my memory, its decorating the tree, cramped car rides, santa’s lap, carols onstage at the towns christmas tree lighting, ballets at nursing homes and salt dough ornaments that I see.  It is my brother sleeping on my trundle-bed christmas eve, the way the lights look at four a.m, the smell of bacon and coffee.  It’s sausage links at my grandpa’s house christmas day, getting to visit my mama’s childhood room- a closet of a thing, and wishing I could have known her as a girl, we would have been best friends I always imagined.

You see, what I am getting at is it is the memories.  I can vaguely remember receiving a drafting table and a stack of florescent paper to doodle on one year, and for no reason whatsoever I remember a moccasin necklace and a soft blue sweat suit another.  But truth be told I hardly remember a single other gift I have EVER received.  It isn’t that I don’t appreciate them, or that I didn’t, it’s just that well… I can’t remember them.

So, when my sweet mama told me we would be going to the glass blowing studio to learn to make ornaments this year for christmas I was so very pleased.  Time spent with some amazing women in my life, an experience, and a couple of laughs.  Yes.  Yes, please.

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I am quite sure the gift of a memory, an event, a time spent together is far and away the way to go.  Something solid in the memory.  Something that lasts.  Something you truly get to keep.