The F month

The problem with February is that it is supposed to feel short.  It starts with a cute groundhog, then there is the day dedicated to love to make it seem less daunting, and on special years we leap our way out of the month a day early.  But, for some reason it seems to matter not a bit.  The days seem so grey I swear I have been feeling claustrophobic.

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But push forward we must, even if it is one heavy snowshoed step in front of another.  Today I ventured out to make up for a less than successful walk yesterday, filled with new gusto, and more layers.  The trip included picking up mail, three half gallons of milk, and birdsong in our ears.  Yup, birdsong.  Our neighbors barn is jam packed with loud cheeps and even though its normal, it feels so good to hear more than a chickadee’s call and the random crows warning.  Sky music, and birds are my favorite track.  On the way back, I got a wild hair and decided to unearth (unsnow?) one of the woodpiles.  With a sweet Willow high atop my back, snoozing soundly, two boys jaws set in determination, and one toddler with a tractor between his paws, it actually seemed possible.  I shoveled here and there and finally realized I was somehow standing on top of the pile.  Eighteen inches below my feet I pulled back the tarp and hoisted out logs from the cave below.  It made me laugh.

We have been so crafty lately.  I mean it too.  It is keeping us sane.  Though I am not sure the state of my house is…

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(keeping it real)

And we have been reading- A TON.  I mean seriously Almanzo and Laura are a hot item these days and we can’t put it down.  On his own time, Miles has become the best of chums with The Boxcar Children.  Luckily homeschooling lends to lots and lots of thick chunks of the day for reading, because this boy can’t get enough.  I have been nose deep in a few good ones myself:  Salt.– a collection of poems good for the times, both in the wide world, and in the one which having many small children places you in.  Fates and Furies, a book written in such beautiful language it begs to be read again, and with a story so intriguing I may just do so.  But not until I finish The Department of Speculation, this one I cannot put down. (I am grateful for the pandora reading station my friend Taylor is handcrafting for me… this girl is good.)

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Oh February, you will not drag us down.  Nope.  Not while there are velvet soft cheeks to press mine against, and capable hands to admire.  (This was a self-directed peanut butter making shot.  Thank you Honest Pretzels and peanuts in the shells, you bought me one whole hour of much-needed non fighting, chai tea drinking, knitting time!)

inside/outside

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We are currently under the shadow of a great billowy grey blanket.  A winter comforter if you will.  In the mornings when the sun seems to give me a nod that she is indeed still alive and well, I nod back, but lately it has begun to get easier and easier to just give the nod and not the full greeting she deserves.  So, with a newly infused sense of moral obligation to seek solace under the rays of light that I so miss- I reinstated the morning walk that had dropped off ever so casually since Willow’s birth.  It started when the temperature dipped, and a few colds or flus or sleepless nights, or likely a combination of it all, truth be told- I found myself stuck.  Stuck in the send ’em out, warm ’em up, feed ’em and do it again routine.  The one that so conveniently subtracted me and my vitamin D intake from the equation.

But a sled around my waist, a baby big enough to be hoisted on my back, and a pair of metal claws on the bottom of my snow shoes and I am out again.

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This month is about survival.  About coming in and letting that blanket cozy us up, and then entering the wide world for a while in hopes of letting bits and pieces of sun collect in the hollows under my dry eyes.  Oh February, you are bleak but not without hope.

entertainment

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhat is better for a gray, soggy day than a couple of typewriters and soft slices of warm bread thick with butter?  I am not sure that there is much.  Oh except maybe for the addition of a new knitting project, some recent knitting inspiration (pussycat hats for the win!), and a couple of really sweet baby faces to coo at.  Yes, that is perfection.

fibre swap

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAbout a month back I received my first package as part of The Fibre Share.  I believe I had as much fun putting together my Vermont-ish package of Icelandic fiber locks and shetland roving for my Australian fiber lover as I did receiving my batch of beautifully hand mixed merino and shimmery white rolags from my friend in England.  She also sent me chocolates, a model of The Big Ben, a sizable bag of bamboo, and drum roll please….  a bag of her neighbors dog hair!!!!  That, I am very, very curious about.

Miles has recently caught the spinning bug and received a new, more balanced drop spindle for christmas this year.  This is a little glimpse of him testing out the old CD spinner…  Nothing makes a crafty mama’s heart glow like a little boy dreaming of what to do with his hand spun!

one month

The kitchen counter has contained bits and pieces of the seasons crafting for over a month now.  It is finally clear and wiped off, leaving only my rolling-pin and a bowl of spices waiting to be made into chai.  Tonight we burn the tree, set the years intentions (better late than never) and move on from the holiday season.  We made so many gifts this year.  There were the little things scattered about such as pencil holders, pj pants, a knitted scarf and brass tinkered ornaments.  And then there were the big-ticket items: hand mixed tea, elecampagne cough syrup, bee balm sore throat elixir, elderberry tincture and syrup, chest rub, and flowery lotion all bundled into a clothesline basket.  A gift to clear away the winter sickies… which we all get right?  I also made two wool flannel hot water bottle covers from some whole flower dying experiment late last summer.

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(If you’re wondering what medicine making looks like with four kids… here is a vision of three of us during the process)

I had plans of heading to my hometown prior to the holidays but I just couldn’t.  To be clear- I wussed out.  The thought of four hours in a car with four children was more than I could bear.  Never mind the packing and unpacking.  And the bathroom stops, and the nursing stops.  And… and… and..

And so, we stayed.  We stayed in the place that has truly turned into the best of homes.  We settled right in, and guess what?  The people came to us!  All the people!  (Minus my sweet girl who just had her first baby… but we get that one of course.)  Our besties came over for Christmas eve feasting, and from then on we were surrounded by those we love most of all.

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On new years we took a drive up the hill to our neighbors across the way (whom I believe we could holler out to and be heard despite the half mile between us, the acoustics of these hills are so interesting), we gorged on delicious homemade pizza fresh out of a newly installed cookstove in a newly constructed shop, peeled off the shingles of a meticulously created gingerbread house because yumm, then stood around a bonfire so large Jasper was heard repeating the phrase “oh me gosh” dozens of times from his perch atop daddy’s shoulders. After the babies and I left, the snowball fight that went down sounds like the only way to truly bring in a new year.

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I don’t know how it has been a month since I last found time to sit here and record our days, but the truth is sometimes I struggle to make time to drink water, so I suppose that is the way it is.  Life is moving at a breakneck speed.  No longer can I agree with the age old  parenthood phrase, “The days are long but the years are short”.  It all feels fast lately.

But that doesn’t mean we don’t save time to give thanks.  In fact that is what we spend most of our time doing.  Be it a blessing at a meal, a deep breath of gratitude or a simple note, it feel so good to notice it.  Our thank you notes actually turned out to be fairly elaborate this year, and I for one am not sorry about it.  I broke out my childhood favorite: The embossing gun.  Oh wow, that is all I can say.

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And that is how things have been lately.  Full of chaos and gratitude.  And a whole lot of love. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA