adventure

I like to book these over night trips months in advance imagining how lovely they will be.  Picturing the adventure with rose-colored lenses, I seem to ignore the inevitable packing and unpacking which I loathe, or the actual driving in which I have no GPS, or the logistics of meal planning on the road.  But they must be good enough because I just keep planning them!  The truth is, it is always a welcome break from our typical days.  This past week we headed to Sturbridge Village for a home school day.  On the way down we stopped in Brattleboro and picked out CD’s and went to an awesome indoor playground.  Then we stayed in a hotel, which is usually the best part for these crazy kids.  The trip was topped off with a visit to see my parents and my brother and family!  And you know all that packing was worth it.  Especially when we came home to a spotless house, a very delicious pork supper, and freshly made beds.  Yes indeed it a perfect homecoming.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd then home to snow, snow and more snow.  Then some ice, and slush and hail and freezing rain.  April can be so mean.  We took our bucket down and can at least enjoy springs sweet reward.  2.5 gallons of syrup and a quart of maple sugar! You will notice in the picture we were eating it at a rapid rate… the sugar is already long gone.  Not too bad!

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slow change

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFor a brief moment in time it was almost spring.  We saw the wet earth and heard the sound of sweet sap pinging into metal.  We boiled and we splashed and I allowed myself to be hopeful.  Oh what a rookie move.  It is, after all, not even St. Patrick’s day, a day in which I have been told to allow that feeling of hope (and only the feeling mind you) to roll in and to start looking.

Ah, but though there may be feet of snow covering all I see, I know it is coming.  I have seen geese and robins.  I have heard the “Ko-ka-REEEEE!” of the red winged black bird.  I even saw green, fuzzy, mullein on a warm day.

We witnessed one of our favorite “home school lessons” for the second (non-human) time.  This calf was a boy, always a slightly disappointing moment, but beautiful none the less.  Yesterday we went back up to the barn to let the big boys roll their new toy cars through the hay loft and our awesome neighbor let Willow named a heifer calf.  He claimed it would be fun to tease her in ten years about her sweet little name choice as a one year old.  “Diya” is her name.  For those of you who don’t speak new englander baby  it translates to “here”.  But it also is the name of a tear dropped shaped candle holder used in Hindi celebrations.  Strangely we made them out of clay recently, so it all felt very full circle.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe snow has returned, twice over, as it has for most of New England.  All three boys are quite smitten over it quite honestly, so it’s not tearing at my soul (yet).  And of course more time by the woodstove waiting on bread to rise with a knitting project staring me down, as I wrangle a crazy one year old, is not a bad way to spend your day whatsoever.  I mean that smile…. those rosy cheeks… and dresses!  Oh yes, I will not pretend I am not completely in love with dressing up a little girl.  Becuase that would just be a downright lie.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFor those of you who like captions, these dolls have just recieved a loving toddler bath only to be handled with the same painty hands. And above, Jasper is asking Willow, “Would you like surgery?” which Willow is enthusiastically lying down for while vigorously shaking her head yes.  Strange, strange babies.  I mean look at his facial expression.  Not a surgeon I would go to.  (CRAZY!!! but cute:)OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMaple muffins.  Always a luxurious use of the golden syrup.  But this time of year I give myself permission in order to use up last years batch and make room for the latest.  The bread is Julia’s white bread with a tablespoon of turmeric added in.  Such a great recipe.  All that butter makes it incredibly soft and smooth.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAh, babies in snow suits, I will miss the marshmallow look with all my heart.  That is guaranteed.

8.5

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABeing the oldest of four has many perks I am sure, but having ample time with one parent (or both) is not one of them.  I have made a recent vow to weave this into our days more often.  A friend of mine, who is also the oldest of four, went on a date with her mom once a month rotating through the family weekly.  This is so appealing to me and has so much value.  Over the weekend I spent two luxurious hours on a stack of pillows tucked in the corner of the library with Rowan reading graphic novels, such as Binky the Space Cat, and Rapunzel’s Revenge.  We both left calmer, more content and most importantly, more connected.  It is so hard to find time to connect to each of these little beings we get to call “ours” on that level, and its something I crave more of.

The inspiration for doing so is pictured above.  Six months ago, almost exactly, we scurried through a sweet eight year old birthday.  There was a cake, there was playing at the lake, but really the promise of a candy store outing with his bestie was just that- a promise.  We couldn’t have predicted stomach viruses, holidays, and more stomach viruses keeping us from following through for an entire half a year.

But follow through we did.  I wish these photos could have captured the adorableness that was my Sunday.  These two hemmed and hawed in front of the glass case of colorful sugary, jeweled, candies and silky chocolates.  They giggled their way through the toy store splitting a package of glow in the dark stars.  Then they took turns in the changing room trying on outfits for their well choreographed Celtic dance that has been the center of their days lately.

Until of course Maple Syrup Time.   (Yes they are all capitalized.  It’s like that.)  So without further ado I am off to make sure the fire is properly stoked and no one needs helping hoisting heavy buckets- though I’m sure they don’t.  This operation has been running on the power of that 8.5 year old.  He is a determined soul.

And my favorite part of this half birthday celebration is that the timing worked perfectly for me to FINALLY finish his birthday sweater.  It is Bracken, by Annie Rowden knit with Brooklyn Tweed’s Quarry.  This kid was decked out in knitwear and enjoyed telling people his super power is knitting.  Oh my boy….

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what might be obvious

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMy current upload of photos indicates why I am so worn out and tired of cleaning.  The crafty madness is only second to extreme skiing these days.  Even the two littlest have slithered there way into the mix of glitter, paint, and watery clay.  And while my heart glows with pride, my insides are in a consistent state of sighing.  This week, though filled with warmer temperatures, will surely be wet and muddy and well… messy.

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Lucky for me I too have been enjoying the several feet of slushy snow outside before it melts away.  This morning I went for a ski that I imagined to be what the afterlife might be like.  The sun was streaming through the branches and I could literally taste spring on my lips.  The birds were calling from every direction as I entered a clearing, so I stopped and took off my skis, taking a deliberate and very rare, quiet moment to just- be- still.  No sounds to be heard except the chickadees and the avalanche of soft, wet snow falling off hemlocks.  And more importantly, none which needed attending to.  The actual sun was warming my chin and cheeks.  I could live off this moment all week, I knew it then and I still do now as I recall it.

above freezing

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Oh my yes, this little gnome was the balm for our souls this long weekend.  Needle felting, reading, fort building, 4h meetings and everything in between kept us busy during this incredibly cold weekend.  Of course, these activities were scattered amongst this slow moving virus as it makes its way trough our house one person at a time.  Painful.  We are hoping the warmer weather this week will allow this sickness to take a bow and exit.

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So with the suns first light we did this.  A snowshoe through the VERY deep snow with a real cute little pup chasing our every step.  Even she had a case of cabin fever it seems.  My boys were troopers because we may have gone juuuust a bit too far.  No complaints though, just lots of pauses and a bit of “hot-co-coa” chanting brought us home.  Thank goodness too because I needed it. I needed to move my body and feel my lungs and hear my children’s laughter.  I needed a bit of success.