Thursday, December 31, 2009
January: On Chinese New Year (January 26), Josh and I made it legal at the Ramsey County courthouse. It was a Monday, bitter cold, and Charlie had some nasty stomach bug, and it was one of the happiest days of my life.
February: A squirrel broke into our front porch through the broken storm door and insinuated himself into the bag of bird seed. He stayed until spring.
March: Ellis turned six. Alaska grandparents stayed for a month. My 1993 Honda Civic was stolen from in front of our house.
April: I moved to a part-time schedule at work and got two extra days a week at home with Charlie. With the help of a conscientiously maintained budget, we managed to stay in the black and even purchase "the Ax Van," the sweetest ride for a family of five there ever was.
May: We got the garden planted. We enjoyed our first crop of rhubarb and resisted harvesting the asparagus to give the plants one more year to take hold.
June: Charlie turned one. Nate turned fifteen.
July: We foraged for wild black raspberries all over the Twin Cities. I found I couldn't stop planting this year, so I added perennials in the front yard and planted late crops in the vegetable bed. We traveled to Chicago to say goodbye to my brother-in-law's mom who died early in the month.
August: Note for next year - plant more tomatoes. Cherry tomatoes straight from the vine, larger ones sliced and salted or made into salsa were like directly ingesting summer to store up sunlight for the coming winter. It was never too hot so we got outside as much as we could.
September: Alaska grandparents stayed for two months. We snuck in a quick trip to Lake Superior's north shore.
October: I turned thirty-six. Work got crazy for Josh and me at the same time. It snowed and then it got warm again.
November: Josh turned forty-four. He and I started working out regularly and found that we yelled at the children less.
December: We got lost in a wave of holiday-induced nostalgia. It snowed a lot. Josh and I were so grateful for each other and for the life we have together with the kids.
Happy New Year!
Thursday, December 24, 2009
This is the kind of snow that makes me love Minnesota. Big, fluffy and wet with mild temperatures to go with it. It's the kind that makes me smile even knowing that I will be up in the morning digging out the cars to move for the snow plows. Even knowing that this much snow means that my six-year-old may be stuck in Wisconsin with his dad and grandparents instead of back here on Christmas morning and I'm not really sure what's "Plan B." This is the best of winter - inconvenient and beautiful. You could spend a bunch of time thinking about the former, but if give yourself fully over to the latter, it seems like yet another one of those strange miraculous things. Wishing you all a peaceful Christmas Eve.
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
There is a part of me that is seldom nurtured these days. The times when I am alone are brief - in the car during my commute, working out at the Y or running errands without kids in tow. At each of these times, I still encounter other people, so the solitude is not really complete. The times when I am alone in my own house with the whole world shut out border on never. So I'm using some vacation days to give my inner hermit her due - the part of me that yearns for a house in the woods with a narrow bed, a woodburning stove, some good books, and days and days in between instances of human contact. I want to hear my quiet mind, I want to hear my inner voice, I want to hear nothing.
Monday, December 21, 2009
Ellis woke up with an ear infection on Saturday. I had something funky going on with my sinuses. This was the day that we had planned to make Christmas cookies. We did, but the vision I had in my head about how it would go wasn't quite what happened. The holidays have been like that for me since I was a kid. Expectation and excitement that turns into disappointment and stress. I can say that by this point in my spirtual development, I am at least aware of this pattern in me and can turn it around when I see it happening.
The vision for Christmas Cookie Day 2009 was one of the kind loving mother providing her kids with a holiday experience that would be etched in their memories as an example of the Norman Rockwell-like existence they grew up in. We would make perfect beautiful cookies and laugh and talk together. Instead, I was Cranky Mom with heaping helping of Control Freak Mom. As is often the case, the strength of my vision was directly proportional with my inability to play well with others. I caught on to what I was doing, but it was certainly difficult to come out of the spiral of negativity. On the up side, Ellis said that it was fun anyway, even though I was sharp with him about dumping out a big pile of sprinkles, and everyone enjoyed eating the cookies (or as Charlie calls them, "cahcos").
Monday, December 14, 2009
I am grateful for being raised by her, although I don't readily admit it. She was my window into a generation that had many foibles, but was indeed a more glamorous and genteel than my own. Because of her, I understand lost social mores and references from popular culture that precede the onset of television. When I take Ellis to a play, I think of how she first introduced me to movie musicals. When I watch the PBS News Hour, I remember the constant consciousness of politics. Even if eventually I didn't agree with her particular politics, she gave me the tools to be an educated citizen. When I buy clothes or cook a meal or decorate my house, I think of her. Even though I did so many things that were decidedly "unladylike" in her mind, she taught me that being a woman could be an incredibly powerful thing and that things that are considered feminine are the heart and soul of our everyday lives.
So in homage to her, I share with you Mary Lundgren's Christmas Smorgasbord (what I remember. Note to my sister: please add to this):
Homemade baked beans
An array of cheeses and crackers (including Boondoost - an excellent Swedish cheese)
And let's not forget...special for Christmas breakfast:
French toast with a mixture of cherry pie filling mixed with maple syrup poured over it and topped with sour cream.
Thank you, Gram, for my sense of luxury!
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Sunday, December 6, 2009
paperwhite narcissus (left & right) that makes the house smell great while they are blooming. Add to that, cool glass containers and earthy stones or sand used for planting, and you add a great tranquil design element to your house. That little bit of peace is added motivation to keep the dining room table clear of all our family junk.
Friday, December 4, 2009
Thursday, November 26, 2009
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Saturday, November 14, 2009
Ellis: "If you didn't have an immune system, you wouldn't have allergies."
Me: "Yes, but if you didn't have an immune system..."
Ellis: "You would die. And when you are dead you don't have an immune system."
Me: "That's true. When you die eventually you don't have anything left."
Ellis: "Yeah, the only thing left when you die is your spirit."
Me: "What happens to your spirit?"
Ellis: "It walks around. Like ghosts."
Me: "Do spirits walk around on earth or do they go someplace else?"
Ellis: "On earth."
Me: "Wow, how does everyone fit?"
Ellis: "Ghosts don't take up as much space. They can go through each other."
Me: "Do you think that ghosts are with God?"
Ellis: "Yeah, because all ghosts can see other things that are like ghosts."
Me: "Oh, so God is a ghost? Do you believe in God?"
Ellis: "Yeah, God controls the weather. He makes sure it changes all the time so that we don't get bored with the weather always being the same."
Friday, November 6, 2009
Pointy toe flats with stripey socks. I had a pair just like the blue ones when I was in seventh grade so when I saw these at Target I couldn't help myself. You don't have to ask why I bought the pink flowery ones, too. Even an elderly woman at the polls when I went to vote on Tuesday said, "I love your shoes!" The two pairs cost me $40 together. The stripey socks were half off at J. Crew. They have the best knee socks in the world. I wear them with skinny leg jeans - a look I feel ambiguous about. I vacillate between feeling hip and feeling that I look like my mom circa 1987. I also wear them to work with wide-leg trousers.
Three quarter bell sleeved jackets. I found the yellow Laura Ashley plush one at Goodwill for $8. The tweed is a J. Crew that I got at a consignment shop for $34. The original prices was $168. I know this because it still had the tags on. Fun jackets over thin cotton/silk t-shirt sweaters from the Gap and a pair of trousers is my current work uniform.
Hunter Wellies. I've had these wellies forever and mostly worn them during trips to Alaska. They are getting a lot more play this fall, especially out in the yard or walking by the river. They actually make fleece liners for Hunter wellies now, so with a pair of those, I can wear these in snow season, too.
Sunday, November 1, 2009
- Doing math homework with Ellis - telling time, counting money, addition and subtraction facts that we make into a game by timing it.
- Charlie's ways - hearing him say "Hi, Mama," doing high fives, how he grabs his sock doll Nik (made with love by Mama) and his blankie and lies down on the floor when he's tired.
- Working out at the YMCA. My father-in-law gave us the gift of a family membership. This is almost completely wiping out the blues that come from the shortened days and a stressful work schedule.
- Watching the Vikings play (and mostly win) every week with Josh. Keeping running commentary and giving each other "High Favres" when good things happen.
- Slowly making progress on house projects that have been on the waiting list for a long time. Looking forward to this month's bathroom remodel (so long nasty floor!)
Saturday, October 31, 2009
Thursday, October 29, 2009
All this makes me think about holidays. Starting now and into the dead of winter it will be one thing after another. I'm sure that the idea behind having holidays when the days were growing short and cold was meant to be a way to take the edge off the bleakness. Unfortunately, the chance to celebrate and take a break is often replaced by expending energy and cash in large amounts at the exact wrong time of the year. About five years ago, I made it a policy not to travel to see relatives during the holidays and not to buy presents for anyone who was not my child. In the void grew a series of traditions for my own little family that really amount to enjoying time off at the darkest lowest energy point of the year. Furthermore, what I find is that because I don't feel like I have to do anything, my feelings of love and generosity are actually able to surface and we have had some of the most fun Halloweens, Thanksgivings and Christmases that I have ever had (although the bar was pretty low on that one as most of my childhood memories of these days are not so fond).
So here's to the beginning of the season of slacking and snoozing and eating and loving and numerous other non-goal-oriented, non-perfection-driven things.
Friday, October 23, 2009
Monday, October 19, 2009
Sometimes you get cut a break. Sometimes the kicker on the other team misses the kick in the last seconds of the game so that your team wins. Sometimes it snows on Monday and is sixty degrees the following Sunday. I don't want to ask too many questions. I know enough to take advantage a gift when it's given.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
I hesitated as to whether to call this post "Snowtober" because, yes, it snowed here this week and there's possibly more coming tonight. Look! Here's the proof:
What is the same as usual is the deep sluggishness I feel this time of year when the amount of daylight rapidly decreases. Without a few sunny golden red and orange autumn afternoons to help me store up the last bits of energy this year, I'm feeling like I'm moving in molasses. I want to spend my days inside eating, drinking wine, sleeping, watching movies, reading books, and generally not moving very much until the northern hemisphere is in a better position to see the sun. I wonder why life doesn't just shut down this time of year. Instead it tends to be a time of greater obligation. Help! I'm stuck in slooooowwww moooooootion while the world keeps moving at its usual pace.