Sunday, September 30, 2012

Cousin Maddy

Sip

Harry has a new cousin: Aunt Debbie and Uncle Tim's fuzzy, 8-week-old Bernese Mountain Dog pup—Maddy.  The girls fell in love immediately upon meeting her.  Amabel wanted to take her home, of course.  That face! 

Maddy

Maddy Pup

Although Maddy looks bigger than Harry in this picture, she really isn't (she is 'only' 15 pounds compared to his 25).  But how long will it be, I wonder, until she surpasses him?  When both dogs are full grown, Maddy will be three times his size!  We haven't broken the news to Harry yet. . .

Pups

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Thursday Evening In the Kitchen

Dough Hands

E

A

At 5:00 pm I decided it was a good idea to let them make salt dough (recipe here) while I made dinner.  And even considering sticky clean up and the delayed meal, it was a good idea.  How I love our kitchen—the room in our house where almost everything can happen all at once.  You see, it is the room: the dining room, the living room, the family room, the dancing room, the craft room, the dog training room, the play room.  You name it: it all comes to life in this space—and usually while I'm preparing something to eat.   

Salsa

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

A Lesson in the Garden

Gathering

I've been having a hard time making a peaceful transition into autumn.  A couple of weeks ago our temperatures dropped about 40 degrees.  And we went from wearing bathing suits and sleeveless tops to wool socks and knit hats.  Pretty much overnight.

Surveying the Basil

Ellen and I spent an afternoon out in the garden today.  She was gathering a little of this and a little of that for her soup (which, she informed me, contained only three edible ingredients); and I was picking basil while noticing how our plants have weathered the cold, wind, rain, and hail.  

Dill Going to Seed

Visitor

Tucked away, under the withering stalks and yellowing leaves, there is still an incredible amount of color out there.  And beauty.

Hot Peppers

Beauty Berries

The garden, it seems, is letting go gracefully.  A skill I think I'll be learning forever.

The Dogs

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Almost

Almost Autumn Beauties

It's almost autumn.  Almost.  I can feel it in the air outside and I can see it, most of all, in the garden.  As I wandered around out there yesterday, picking flowers with the girls, I found myself more nostalgic about the change in seasons than I have in years past.  Not quite ready to let go of the abundance of summer.  And so for now, I'll keep gathering it up and putting it in vases, cooking it for dinner, storing it in the freezer and pantry, and sharing it with the ones I love.

Just Blooming

Monday, September 17, 2012

Renegade Rules

Books

I have watched and listened to my friend Heather carry an idea—a dream—from its earliest beginnings to a full-fledged book over the past few years.  And now the parenting world is abuzz with talk about It's Okay Not to Share. . . and Other Renegade Rules for Raising Competent and Compassionate Kids.

We went to see Heather in action yesterday—talking about her book at our local bookstore—and I was reminded of how eloquent and wise she truly is.  Her book is a treasure.  And it's really not so "renegade" as it may first appear.  The book is full of good common sense, practical advice, and helpful suggestions for parents of young children everywhere.  There are many real life stories tucked inside (and if you are really perceptive you may be able to identify the alias of my own child, woven into some of its pages!). 

I think my personal favorite "rule" in Heather's book is the very first one, Don't Steal Play.  In this chapter, she explains simply and clearly why it is so important not to rush kids into academic learning before ages six or seven.  This is a subject near and dear to my heart.  After reading her chapter again, I found myself wondering what she would say about the importance of play after age seven?  Does its role diminish, shift, or perhaps even deepen?

I also get a big kick out of Rule 27: Be Buddies with Dead Birds.  As a mother of two children who like to investigate dead creatures, I was very reassured by Heather's calm voice: "It's not morbid for children to wonder about death.  It's healthy and normal."  I'll keep her helpful reminders in mind the next time we go out to bury one of Miss Mitty's deceased prizes (i.e., mouse, mole, chipmunk, squirrel).

Heather's work as a writer and her words as a friend have inspired me so very much over the past few years.  And as a "parent test reader" for some of Heather's early chapters, I can't tell you how thrilled I am to see her vision come to fruition!

Book

Monday, September 10, 2012

Little Red Beds

Kitty Bed

This is a beautiful set of doll bunk beds that was hiding downstairs in Jeffrey's basement workshop this afternoon.  When I went down to put a load of laundry in the washer, I looked over to see that Miss Mitty had discovered it.  She thought, apparently, that the bottom bunk was for her (lovely bedding and all, made by Grandmommy)—perfectly placed in a patch of sunlight.

We called the girls inside: "Amabel, Miss Mitty found your birthday present in the basement.  Go down and see if you can find her!"  It was about the sweetest thing to watch the girls come upon their kitty asleep in a kitty-sized bunk.

Bunk Beds

When I tucked Amabel in tonight, after a full day of play and family festivities, I asked if she had a favorite birthday gift.  "The bunk beds that Papa made," she said without hesitation.

Of course.  She'd been wondering what he was doing down there over the past couple of weeks.  Both Ellen and I managed to keep a secret, knowing that Jeffery was hard at work, cutting up the wood from an old bed we'd inherited from my dear uncle Wally, and making it into two little new beds. 

I have many intentions to make lovely handmade things for the girls.  And I do make some, mostly tiny things (although the knitted mouse I started for Amabel's birthday is still unfinished on my needles).  But Jeffrey gives so much thought to his ideas, and he carries out his plans to a beautiful finish.  He has a deep creativity and perseverance that I admire so very much.  And his handmade gifts have been the most loved and used things the girls have received over the years.  

The red beds were a most perfect gift for Amabel today—because she loves to play with her dolls, but also because Amabel shares her Papa's love for a good project. At age seven, she already seems to intuitively know how to envision a creative idea and then work diligently at it (even if her projects are still seven-year-old-size).  I love that about her.  

And I love how Jeffrey shares his gifts with our girls.

Red Beds

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Rain

Rain

I can feel the earth breathing a great sigh of relief today. . . rain, at last.  After over two months of hot, dry days, we're all basking in the peace of a saturated earth.  

Indeed, I had almost forgotten how much I love to hear the lovely sound of rain on our roof at night.  And to watch a thick mass of clouds spreading over the hills and across the sky!  We are grateful for our incredibly beautiful summer but so happy to have rain, rain, rain.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Autumn Rhythm

Morning Light

We are heading into the autumn season, into a slower, quieter pace.  Last week I didn't quite feel ready—I wasn't willing to admit that summer was drawing to a close—but something in the air has shifted over the past two days and now I'm relaxing into the shift.

One of my goals this year has been to stretch my writing wings and send some of my words a little further out into the world.  Bit by bit, I've been doing this.  And I'm happy to report that I am a contributor to the beautiful online magazine Rhythm of the Home, which launched its fall issue today.  It has been a pleasure to work with the women behind this lovely quarterly publication!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Eight Years

Love
Photo by our dear friend, Nathaniel Wilder: www.ngwphotography.com
Eight years today with my love, my best friend.