Fall

Life is slowing down here, after a busy season working on an outside project. It’s been a long time since I pursued something that wasn’t related to the five most important people in my life. It felt good to be appreciated the way my daily coworkers are unable to appreciate me, since they are, after all, still children, figuring out how to navigate their own worlds, not realizing that mama and daddy are just two exhausted big kids wondering what they,too, might become when they grow up.

As the season slows to a wintery pace, the earth brown and barren, the fields finally stripped of the corn after a long and soggy fall, I’m feeling called to turn inwards, to reflect and dream of who I might grow into this coming year, reminding myself to love the past versions of me, despite my habit of harsh criticism.

I feel pulled towards creating joy-filled experiences in our home each day, if not for them, for me. These are the moments I’ve waited for my whole life, the moments when we have a brood all our own to raise and inspire. So I’m taking note of their cues, trying to hear my own, and mixing them up into something that works for everyone.

Here’s a taste of what we’ve been up to this fall…..keep in mind, I don’t photograph the meltdowns or the baby- poopsplosions, just a small snippet of some of the joyous moments we’ve shared together these past few months17!!! I’m a step- mama to a young man of 17, while nursing a young boy of 11 months. What an adventure this life has in store for me.

Talk soon,

Mama of Hays

Not Back To School

I very abruptly felt the smoothness of our summer fade away.

The first day of not back to school slapped me in the face harder than I would have liked or expected.Maybe it was the end I put to the trips to town for double scoops of ice cream, or it could have been the heat that took the place of fall’s romance. I suspect the residual sludge left over from my own days of going back to school combined with our teenager completing his final year of high school might also have something to do with our life moving back into the busy lane.

Whatever the combination, I’m not sure I’m ready for it.

So I’m constructing this post out of the bits of beauty I’ve been soaking up when I take the time to notice them…the breaths that get me through the days when I’m so tired my eyes ache and my patience dwindle… I’m working on it.food rainbows

handmade soap from my best girl friend…a stolen momentmini fashionista colours on the lineand a teeny tiny faery wing….

 

Magical….

xo

HayMama

Today I Said “Yes”

Just so we’re clear, this is not a political post, not this one anyways. 

Sometimes I say “no” to adventure. Sometimes it’s because I’m tired and I’m learning to honour my body and its quiet messages. Sometimes it’s because I know our kids will benefit from the chance to stay home, and sometimes, I say “no” because it’s easier..but that’s another post because today wasn’t one of those days…

 

Today we hopped into the van and turned left into the world of flashing cameras and publicity. It helps that there were free cheese samples and ice cream to cool our tired, impatient selves…Oh…and blurry photo ops with the Prime Minister…..

 

 

 

Homeschooling rocks.

 

xo

Mama

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Build It And They Will Come

It’s the little things that light up my life. Organic cream delivered to my door step, fresh flowers, kids building projects quietly with way too much tape…sometimes that’s all it takes me make my heart sing…to remind me that my life is beautiful. Yesterday, that moment came while the kids were playing happily inside. I stepped out in the afternoon sun, feeling just a bit frustrated about the chore of picking up and putting away. The minute my soles hit the warmth of our brand new-papa- built deck, I was instantly invigorated. My arms soared above my head, finger tips kissing the sky, and I reached down for a good stretch in Uttanasana. That’s when I heard it…the quiet buzz of insect life in my flower garden. Perched on the edge of the deck, I watched as tiny bugs flitted about, performing a task much greater than they are aware of. 

And then it occurred to me…perhaps, in my daily menial, nothingness tasks, I’m contributing to something bigger, something more than I’m aware of. Just like that, the moment was gone. It’s like that as a mom. It will seem that I’m on the verge of something significant, a conscious-altering concept, and then as quickly as the child appears, the thought bubble pops and the thought dissipates. 
Wildflower pranced through the door and into the garden, gathering a bouquet of beauty as she went. I cued her to stop and observe the magic; together we watched a beautiful monarch drink nectar from the echinacea. He was then replaced by a beautiful moth whom was all too happy to pose for us. A fleeting moment captured in time. 

xo

HayMama

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Raisin’ Hays While The Rain Pours

A couple of weeks ago, our family set out on our annual festival/camping trip. Plastic drawers were released from their duties in the house, stuffed with kid clothing and packed into the tent trailer, white T shirts were stashed into our luggage in hopes of being streaked with beautifully coloured dyes, and I eagerly packed my basket with books and journals to enjoy while resting on the beach. Ahhh the beach…scantily clad in the sunshine while the kids play happily, with minimal arguing….oh the epiphanies I’ll have…the inspiration that will seep into my soul….Except that it rained. It rained for four days. It rained so hard the slugs came to visit.It rained so hard that any shred of excitement and optimism I felt, wooshed away with the raindrops, trickling from the tarps Griz strung so neatly from the branches. I turned into grumpy mommy, the woman I had tried to leave at home. It didn’t matter how hard Papa Bear tried, no amount of tarp stringing or yummy meal making broke the spell of grumpy that had been cast over me. There was just something about the combination of sand in my bed, dampened by the moist air that just didn’t help.

So to keep the kids from arguing…We played go fishand caught tiny toads…I believe Wildflower caught…72?

And on the fifth day, the sun came out, juuust in time for us to wash up, pack up, and head home.

There’s a funny thing that I learned from the camping trip from hell. All of the much needed inspiration didn’t come while it was pouring so loudly we couldn’t hear each other speak. It didn’t come when we walked to the soggy beach to be bitten by the bugs on the way. It didn’t even come when we began to pack up under the bright sun. The epiphanies came to me after we had been home for a night, with time to talk and clear my mind, time spent just with my partner in crime. The two days we spent at home after our trip felt more like holidays than the entire trip. It took looking at myself, deeply, in an uncomfortable situation, to learn the answers to some of the heavier things on my mind. Ahhhh sometimes things just don’t go as planned.

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Slow Living

I’ve been working at not being a grumpy pants. It seems it’s harder than one would think; in fact, I’m finding it difficult at times to invite more joy into my life because it seems there are so many miserable things that I’ve stamped with a big ole “important” sign…like picking up toys that will make their way to the floor again momentarily and cleaning bathroom counters. Who knew, that in a world where busy= important, I’d find myself trying to be the opposite. So, my house is no longer tidy, my gardens are dry and dusty, and my laundry is stacked in baskets, but today, I took my camera outside after dinner and snuck in a few minutes of something that makes me happy. 

I’ve found that the most difficult thing to let go of is being in a hurry, but I have purposefully cleared my schedule this summer so that I can learn to relax. Once I begin to chill, I stop raising my voice, I panic less, and it’s easier to take time to do the things that I enjoy, like sew or create. I remember, again, why it is that I wanted to homeschool my kids… Because I like them. Because I want to be there for the little things and the big things. Because I didn’t want to spend everyday yelling at them to “hurry up”, “let’s go”, “we’re gonna be late”.
Slowing down means time to appreciate the ‘look at me’s’, and the teensy faery feasts that appear on a semi-regular basis on the front step, past dark. This one’s a cake. Yum!

And it’s funny. When I take just a few minutes to do something slowly and with beauty, even if it’s as simple as preparing oats with sliced strawberries for breakfast, it fills up a part of me that I’ve ignored for far too long….a part of me that can only be filled by snippets of joy. I’ve tried to fill that hole with many things, chocolate being the most readily available…

And you? Have you stepped towards freedom lately?

 

xo

MamaBear

Brownie Camp

Last weekend, I put on my big girl pants and committed to spending the weekend amongst 50 screaming little girls, one being my own. One weekend at Brownie camp won’t kill a mama, but it will leave her exhausted and sore from being scrunched into a single bed with a baby and a Brownie. We spent the weekend together, stepping outside of my comfort zone, which consists mainly of our 7.5 acres. With a pirate-theme, we dressed up, made crafts, and sang campfire songs. I learned about the joys of swaps, tiny crafts made for pinning to camp hats to be traded with friends and I watched the girls dance the night away under the influence of ring pops. Wildflower, myself and baby spent two nights together in our little cabin, sharing snacks and staying up late, retelling stories of the day’s adventures. Watching my girl running and imagining with her little friends made the trip worth the struggle of packing for three and planning to be away from home. It’s so rewarding to see her stretch her wings with very little trepidation. In short, it turned out to be way more fun than I had imagined it would be….but I’m not going to lie, when I crawled into my queen-sized bed, complete with a papa bear beside me, I couldn’t have been more grateful. I love my life.

One of the coolest things about our weekend? The mama bird who lived right outside our door allowed us to stay in her cabin. Sure, she’d sneak away every time we came close enough to the door, but we did our best to give her a peaceful enough home while we were visiting. Three tiny eggs nestled in a moss-covered nest gave us lots of excitement. We made sure not to tell to many of the girls, to save her privacy.

As for Brownies, there’s some changes to be made to the system, changes that may take more than the letter that we plan to write, but it looks like something Wildflower is interested in sticking with for the time being. And me? I’m just happy to be home. There’s full year before we come face to face with anymore camping trips.

 

xo MamaBear

Mothering. I’m Still Learning

This post is for the moms. Mine in particular.

 

I get it now.

I know what it’s like to be tired when I need to chase children.

I know what it’s like to hear for the eighth time this morning that he doesn’t want to eat toast for breakfast even though he’s so so hungry, and it’s grocery day, and there’s not an ounce of food left in the house, and if he’d just eat his fr#cN fr@cn TOAST! We could get our shopping done.

I know what it’s like to not be able to remember my last shower, but my children are lovingly bathed several times a week, hair brushed and wearing matching clothing. I’m wearing yoga pants with holes in them because every pair of pants I own have been snagged on the lid of the metal garbage can.

I know what it’s like to dream up a colourful life for my children, implement it, and spend every day wondering if I’m just messing them up.
I know what it’s like to still feel like a child, despite being a grown up, in charge of raising four beautiful kids.

I know what it’s like to give my heart and soul to these magical beings who love me, but don’t comprehend how incredible their little lives are, so I spend the majority of my mothering feeling unappreciated.

I know the struggle of trying to balance feeding their fires without letting my own extinguish.

I know what it’s like to hear the tiny voice inside of me say “I’m still here”. In fact, occasionally, through flues that pass through 6 people, and sleepless nights with new baby teeth, that tiny voices grows. She stores up her reminders and comes out as a ferocious lion. Sometimes she spills out, like a hot July fire. She burns through me and then moves towards my children, quicker than I can extinguish her.

I know what it’s like to humbly apologize to small faces, unsure if it’s enough.

I know what you meant when you said I’d know when I got older and had children of my own.

Children who teach me about patience, everyday…

They’ve taught me lessons of kindness and self-sacrifice. They’ve taught me about generosity (you can have my last m&m mama), confidence (yes, you can do it!), and the importance of knowing the difference between equal and fair (not the same thing!).

And then there is the most difficult lesson…the lesson of self-love. If I want it so badly for them, I must model it, myself.

Frequently, I’ll catch myself uttering the words I heard you say many times while we were growing up, together…..I’m still learning.

Happy Mother’s Day

xo

MamaBear

Meaningful Work

The words meaningful work have been floating around in my mind lately. What is meaningful work, what does it mean to me?

I’ve always been a dabbler, and by that, I mean, I’ve always dabbled in many different mediums of creativity. As a child even, I was guilty of beginning several different projects, finishing only those that were exciting enough, and moving on to my next outlet. Well, my inner child is alive and well today. She’s trapped inside a 33 year old woman’s body, with silver streaks in her brown hair, tiredness under her eyes, and the desire to create beauty.Never one to replicate my work, I’m always tinkering away at something different. Occasionally, I’ve even received compliments on my resourcefulness, how lovely and thought-filled my work is, and that has always been nice…to hear kind words of appreciation. I’ve always tried to hear it as a compliment when people mentioned how great it must be for me to know how to do so many things.

But as the story goes, those with straight hair, can’t help but wonder how those with wild curls live. What must it be like to be truly great at something? To have studied and become a master. What must it be like to know something inside and out? I won’t ever be one of those people. I don’t say this with a heavy heart. I’m not looking for a pep talk, an encouraging pat on the back that says “you can do it!”. I’m merely stating a fact, the way one states that the sky is blue and that children are young. In the same fashion, I can say, “I’ll never run a marathon”, I also know I’ll never be an expert.I’ll know how to write something someone wants to read. I’ll nurse babies with difficult latches. I’ll grow my own vegetables and flowers. I’ll raise wild children. I’ll sew, bake, draw, design, and paint. I may learn about marketing, or leatherwork, or drumming. I’ll teach children to dance and to hear the beat of the music, and I’ll share my knowledge of herbal remedies. I’ll be a walking book of tidbits of both helpful and useless information, but I’ll never be the next Maya Angelou or Roberta Bondar, and I certainly won’t be the mom with a PhD. It’s not that I lack the intelligence because I don’t.

Some may call it artistry, and some may call it ADD, but I think, it’s simply a combination of the fact that I am so easily distracted by soul awakening beauty, and the awareness that there simply is not enough time while I walk this great earth to see and do all of the things that elicit feelings of awe and pure joy. I just have to dip my fingers into that cool earth and plant this tiny packet of seeds since I simply cannot wait until I get to hold the rainbow of carrots that will surely follow. I have to touch that purple satin ribbon and imagine it woven into a beautiful braid in my daughter’s hair. I must know how those colourful buttons will look strung together on a string, in just that pattern, suspended from a grapevine wreath.

I so admire my friends who have studied and pursued their dreams. I see the value in learning about one subject and becoming very skilled in one’s craft. I can imagine how satisfying it must be to have chosen a speciality, monogamously devoting oneself to a subject of expertise. I also know that meaningful work, in our society, generally implies a decent income or an income in general, a recognized career involving a higher education, and so I’ve spent a long time believing what I do is not as valuable or meaningful. So I set the projects aside that bring my spirit joy and instead I toil away at all of the things that make me grumpy. There’s sewing to be done, but for some reason, I’ve decided that it’s more important to vacuum. It’s only recently that I’m learning to look at my gifts differently. So I’m proposing this experiment to myself for myself, and I invite anyone who wants to to join me. It sounds simple, but I’m certain it won’t be.

For the next year, I’m going to fill my life with beauty. No, despite what it sounds like, I’m not beginning a one-year shopathon. I won’t be bolstering our visa with beautiful things from The Container Store or Etsy, don’t worry Papa Bear. I’m going to spend time doing, creating, and enjoying as many things as possible, in hopes of teaching myself that I have value, that my work is meaningful. . .I’ll try to make the boring bits more beautiful by believing that my time is well spent in spending an extra few minutes on details. I’ll check in here occasionally to post an update or two to keep track of what I’m working on and how easy (or not) it’s been on the journey….I mean, I do have a newborn after all. This means that I’ll have to let go of things that are not serving me….that’s the part I’m going to find tricky. Wish me luck!

 

 

xo

MamaBear

 

 

 

 

 

Pixie Dust and Turning 4

On Monday, the golden brown grass lay bountiful in front of us, and the rest of the week, well it resembled something like a snowpocalypse. That was the garden. Let’s just say its been an indoor kind of week.

One thing that we did enjoy was the celebration of our favourite 4 year old. Remember that post last year? How far we’ve come! I’m sure I’m not alone when I say that birthdays always leave me feeling as though I haven’t quite done enough. I didn’t create enough magic. I didn’t spread sparkles and pixie dust all over childhood memory of birthday number four. I’m sure it’s why so many parents spend more than they really have to in order to impress their young child who would love nothing more than a refrigerator box for a gift. I find myself dreaming up magical pinterest moments, and then Mom Of The Year fulfills son’s birthday wish for rainbow waffles…

We ate peeled waffles for lunch….somehow, he was overjoyed

A new building toy from Papa Bear

A special friend from yours truly….his name was loudly proclaimed to be “Upsidedown”. This time around, I strayed from the traditional wool doll, since Wildflower’s doll, Willow cost us an arm and a leg to supply her lovely organic wool fabric, roving, and yarn, and now we’ve realized, she can’t be washed very easily. Upsidedown has been fashioned out of a piece of organic Lyocell and cotton interlock. It’s probably not going to be used again as it seems to run quite easily, and I had to double it for strength, but it is silky and soft, and, once again, Lil Brother doesn’t seem to mind. The rest of the little friend was made with bits and bobs I’ve saved for a special, unknown purpose. That made this guy one cost effective gift, unlike the one made by Papa Bear that, although could have been inexpensive if we had the parts laying around, wasn’t since it required a trip to the hardware section of Canadian Tire.

It’s funny that until I assembled the pieces of his birthday here in this space, I still felt that I didn’t quite do enough. There were no party hats or streamers. There were no trips to indoor amusement parks, bouncy castles, or groups of children bounding through our home. These are the things that I suppose I measure birthday success against, whether or not they line up with our family culture. Whether or not they were even requested. It wasn’t until I read through this, a birthday compiled in a few quick photos, that I realized I sound ridiculous…it makes me wonder if the “Under the Sea” birthday theme-mom with the bakery-made cupcakes and the blue jello centrepieces and matching loot bags may have the same birthday-hollowness as I do.

All in all, it was a successful birthday. Some close family spent the evening with us. Papa Bear and I remembered what it’s like to start and actually complete a handcrafted item for the first time since our new babe arrived on the scene, and I received a gentle reminder that the scale for measuring birthday joy doesnt come from how much money we spend or how much work we put into it, but the smile on the birthday boy’s face. And that was enough pixie dust for me. How humbling children can be….xo

MamaH.