Friday, December 31, 2010
January: Did anything happen last January? It was cold. We watched the Vikings in the playoffs and had our hopes crushed in the NFC Championship game. We shopped for items for the bathroom remodel.
February: We finally bid goodbye to our nasty bathroom and remodeled it into a beautiful new space. I traveled to Austin, TX for an old friend's wedding. Nate began a journey of healing after some tumultuous years.
March: Ellis turned seven. We tried our hand at starting seeds for garden plants indoors for the first time (it worked!). We began the acquisition of various musical instruments to support Josh's music-making and integrate the family into it.
April: Alaska grandparents came to visit and grandpa helped us clear new garden beds and plant potatoes.
May: I dug up the grass on the boulevard and planted prairie plants, starting a season-long attempt to transform our front yard.
June: I got a promotion at work, which meant moving up to a four-day weekly schedule. Charlie turned two and then Nate turned sixteen a week later.
July: We travelled to Chicago to visit family and to Duluth for weekend trips. We fixed my old clarinet and Josh and I began adding a little music playing to our wine drinking evenings.
August: We spent two weeks in Alaska. It was Charlie's first time. I fell in love with being able to walk out the door right into nature.
September: I got sick on Labor Day weekend. Charlie, Nate, Ellis, and Josh followed close behind. We coughed the whole month. Alaska grandparents visited, but we hardly saw them because we were sick and grandma had eye surgery.
October: Everything glowed this month in orange and red and yellow. I tried to get outside as much as possible with the little boys. We travelled to Blue Mounds State Park for my thirty-seventh birthday.
November: Josh turned forty-five. We finally fixed the water-damaged ceiling and painted the little boys' room reclaiming yet another space in the house. Ellis started taking Aikido lessons and piano lessons. Josh took a second job.
December: It snowed. Then it snowed again. Then it snowed some more. Then it really snowed. Josh was buried under work and I was too until my holiday vacation time. We looked back on a year that was so full of activity and love and the pursuit of dreams.
Thursday, December 30, 2010
Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Right before this picture was taken, we had been outside watching Nate set off fireworks in the warm June night. 2007 was the year we began working on the house to make it into what we want it to be. The house project can only be described as glacial, since we are still at it 3 1/2 years later. In 2007, we cut through the floor between the upstairs and downstairs of the house to turn the duplex into a single family home. Judging from the paint cans on the floor, 2007 was also the year I scraped all the wall paper out of the bathroom, painted, and began to rip up the floor (I called uncle on this project this year and paid to have it done right). A couple months after this picture was taken, we painted the living room and dining room and got some new furniture.
I like this photo because it helps me check my perspective. First of all, when I struggle with the slow process of transforming this house, I can think back on the time when the living room walls had a mauve and blue country-themed stenciled border or any of the other atrocious things we've changed over the years. More importantly, I look at this picture and I see that things were never quite as bad as I thought they were in my quest to complete the vision I have for our living space. There always was and always is a lot of warmth, love, and happiness - in short a lot of loveliness in the space because of who we are. I am grateful for the reminder when focused on the house that the thing I really love is the home.
Tuesday, December 28, 2010
On the bright side, I've gotten to look back on our everydays for the past four years. I'm so grateful to dip back into these memories - some so sweet, they make my heart ache. The photo above is from early 2008. Charlie was born mid-year 2008 on the summer solstice, but before that, there was that special time when Ellis had his moment as the littlest member of the family. On a cold February night, Josh and Ellis played rock stars (the paper in the lower right corner is their set list that Ellis wrote with songs titles like "Hi" and "Rock Paper Scissors"). Behind the camera is me with Charlie tucked in my belly, growing away.
More to share in the next few days as 2010 winds down. I guess this is the time of year for memories.
Friday, December 24, 2010
Monday, December 20, 2010
Sunday, December 12, 2010
Saturday, December 11, 2010
As predicted, we are having an early December blizzard. In fact, I can't remember the last time there was this much snow in one storm. Later tonight after the plows clear the night plow route, we will dig out our cars and move them around the corner to make way for the city of St. Paul's snow emergency. All our busy weekend plans were curtailed. Ellis' aikido and science museum classes were cancelled and there is no way we'll be able to go bowling tonight at Charlie's request. Instead, I made sweet potato pies and jello with my little kitchen helpers and Josh has some bread baking in the bread machine. The little boys are jumping from the footstool onto the couch and making beds on the floor.
I am grateful that Charlie and I ventured outside yesterday in advance of the weather. It was mild and pleasant walking in the snow. I always think I don't like going outside in the winter, but the truth is, winter is better if you go outside every so often. In the context of blizzards and below zero temperatures, a twenty degree day with a little sun feels great and it's good to see it as an opportunity to be outdoors for a change. I'm looking forward to seeing some of my favorite natural spots in winter this year (see Harriet Alexander Nature Center above).I want to know them as they are all year round in order to deepen my affection for them and keep myself grounded in the natural world.
Sunday, December 5, 2010
The snow came and that was all it took for me to get over that final hump and embrace the coming of winter. The transition into the dark season presents a challenge for me each year - I get tired, I get blue, and I feel claustrophobic as things move indoors. December is new, but there is already so much to love:
- Last night we slept in our brand new bed for the first time. We have been sleeping on a crappy old mattress forever with its attendant hip pain and back pain and sliding helplessly into the middle. Actually, I don't think I've ever slept on a really nice bed - from crappy futons to various hand-me-downs. Our new bed is like being massaged all night by angels.
- The theme for the end of this year does seem to be all about comfort. It was a new strategy to manage the bumpy transition from summer to fall to winter to find things that would make the winter seem wonderfully comfortable. In addition to the bed, I got new pajamas, a new robe, and flannel sheets. The cashmere scarf is on its way so that coupled with my favorite down coat it will make me feel like I never got out of bed on those cold winter mornings when I'm scraping the windshield.
- Did I mention the snow? The snow and the sauna at the YMCA almost make me grateful for the cold instead of walking around as miserable as a wet cat.
- The beautiful, compostable swag made of winter greens and heather on my door and the amaryllis and paper white bulbs on my table remind me that the winter doesn't have to mean the end of my gardening spirit entirely. Thank you, Mother Earth Gardens.
- There's nothing like brunch to get you moving on snowy, cold Sundays. My favorite places include: Birchwood Cafe, Bon Vie Cafe, and Turtle Bread Company (hooray they are opening a new location just across the river from us!).
- Winter cooking is catching my fancy - sweet potato pie, pot roast, sausage and cabbage, oatmeal with dried cherries, and soups and stews of many kinds. As my grandma used to say, "It sticks to your ribs."
I'm hoping December continues to be a lovely as the first few days have been. I'm looking forward to time off at the end of the month - quiet time for myself and noisier cozier time with the kids. I hope yours is lovely, too!
Thursday, November 25, 2010
Saturday, November 20, 2010
Tonight was a disaster, though. All three kids were pulling in their own directions. I could hear myself being strident and angry mom, although no one listened to a single thing I said. Josh and I felt bewildered as parents. And then there was the family in the lanes next to us with the four well-behaved kids who all seemed to like each other. There we were out in public completely sucking as a family. But we will do it again. Winter is long and you need a variety of indoor activities for all those Saturday nights. The thing you learn in long-term relationships is that there will always be another time to get it right. Over time love bears fruit if you work at it.
Friday, November 12, 2010
Monday, November 8, 2010
There is something wonderful about settling in for a long winter's evening with knitting needles in hand. The repetition is meditative, like a rosary, and for me, process is definitely more rewarding than product. Although, I admit, it is cool when something turns out really well. It's even more cool when my darlings ask me to make a hat for them. They know it's really a transfer of love.
Yesterday, Charlie watched me knit and said, "Mama, are you making yarn?" The kids are interested in the process, too. They are natural little makers and they tune in when they see me making something, too. Is there anything more delightfully, naturally human than to create?
Friday, October 29, 2010
Ellis's small quiet voice say, "Charlie, that sounds beautiful, but can you please sing more quietly so I can sleep?" Sometimes a life-long friendship begins with the compassion of an older brother.
Sunday, October 24, 2010
Friday, October 15, 2010
This Friday includes:
- A crisp morning walk through Crosby Park with Charlie, checking on the marsh, picking a few asters, saying "hi" to squirrels, and quacking and flapping our arms like ducks.
- Stopping by a neighbor's makeshift pumpkin patch, putting $5 in the box for a medium carving pumpkin and three "baby pumpkins" for my own baby pumpkin.
- Cooking purple viking potato leek soup.
- Planning a possible birthday weekend trip to the southwestern Minnesota prairie.
- A backyard bonfire party at a friend's house.
Friday, October 8, 2010
Saturday, September 25, 2010
September has been a month of (rough) transition as summer (and I) frankly ran out of steam and sputtered into fall. The weekends were a blur of illness, travel, and work. I have felt like I was just barely holding on this month, drawing inward to keep a sense of equanimity as everything swirled around me. I have a rough time with transitions. I have a rough time with the growing darkness at this time of year. Nevertheless, it's time to write again or else I will lose the thread and have a really hard time getting back to it.
The photo above is from my trip to Duluth a couple of weekends ago. This was a perfect clear warm September day and the downtown lake walk was all red, white and blue. I got to share Superior with two international students that I carpooled with up to a weekend conference. I can already feel myself transitioning away from my outdoorsy summer self to my indoorsy, wintry, book-reading, nap-taking, saunaing, football-watching, soup-making dreamy drowsy self.