THE NEVER ENDING LIST OF WEEKENDRY: how we’re dealing with weekend grumbles

Every week, the kids and I count down the days until the Friday when we can all be together. After dance class on Thursdays, everything moves into a slower, more relaxed weekend pace. It’s going to be a great weekend, we’re thinking. Traditionally, when Big Brother doesn’t have to take off for a weekend at his mom’s, we eat a fun family dinner, while watching a movie together by the wood stove. The youngins head to bed slightly later than usual, since Papa Bear and I are feeling more chill than our usual weekday state. Big brother can normally be found watching a season of something he’s declared the best show ever!!! while tossing down some snacks…this week’s choice was mango and doughnuts (I’m just grateful that part of it was actually food). And me and my other half and our pint-size bundle of ‘I like to sleep between the hours of 8pm and 2am’ head off to catch up on some much needed banter that we didn’t have the energy or time to delve into earlier in the week. It’s going to be a  great weekend….
In my memory, the best Saturday and Sunday mornings are coffee and chirping birds on sunny days. It’s what I remember most about visiting this old house as a child, when I would look out from the upstairs window, out over the rooftop, and feel the warmth of weekend sun on my face. That memory, feels like happiness to me. I can remember the smell of strong coffee, the way my grandparents liked it best, and I remember scurrying down the stairs, hand sliding on the round railing handle, going so quickly that I could skip the last two steps and land with a thud at the bottom. My gramma would be there, dressed to impress, in the itty bitty kitchen with my great-aunt, making cheese and toast. I guess that’s how I fell in love with cheese and toast….

Fast forward 25 years, and here I am in the same home, with my own crazy family. I wake on sunny weekend mornings snuggled in bed with our new baby and Papa Bear, and aside from the nights when I receive very little sleep, I feel pretty lucky. We get up sometime after the usual weekday time to the sound of kiddos watching morning t.v., and head downstairs to make coffee. That’s where we seem to hop into the downward spiral. Somehow, all of the things that we, all of us, have been dreaming about doing, somehow turns into a grumpy argument, and ultimately, we spend the weekend hours in conflict resolution mode…accomplishing nothing…not even enjoying the nothingness.

And then our weekend hopes and dreams spit in our faces right before they wither and die and explode into teensy bits of shrapnel. It seems Big Brother doesn’t want to help with the family clean right now, but would rather have cleaned this morning, so he storms around muttering under his breath while cleaning the glass doors. Little Brother is whining constantly for snacks and he refuses to help pick up just one toy from the ground. Wildflower, although she finished her chores, is now bossing her brother around, who isn’t listening because he doesn’t want to take his laundry to the bathroom, and the dog, Kevin Bacon won’t stop barking or stealing the things that we have already put away. Papa Bear doesn’t know how I put up with this all week long, and since he’s so fed up with the family musical of grumbling, barking, and whining that he throws in the towel and heads upstairs to count backwards from ten before he LOSES it, and there I am, sitting in the middle of it all, nursing a baby, wondering how in the hello we will ever have a great family weekend.

Now here comes the part where I lay out the magical solution I’ve discovered. Peace has come to our family, and we hold hands and skip every weekend….only I’m not that cool.

I don’t have it figured out yet, but this weekend, this one has been …ok. 6/10 maybe? Versus last weekend’s 3/10 (no one died, we ate food…that scored us a 3). So here’s where I’m at for anyone who may be looking for a similar resolution.

There are six of us now + dog. That makes 6+dog to consider…hopes, dreams, and grumbles. Gone are the days of waking up late with just my love, myself, and Big Brother, who was then, the only brother. It’s not easy to drink coffee in peace, let alone go out for breakfast anymore. Plus, we have hopes and dreams for our home, projects to complete, art to make, and sometimes, that just sounds like work.

So we’ve realized two things….what’s been lacking, like in all good quarrels, is communication, but bringing that word up again is going to mean five sets of eyes (I threw in baby’s and Kevin’s for comedic effect) looking at me in that ‘yes dear/mom’ kind of way, so I proposed an email. Yes, amish mama has stepped into the 21st century and started a never-ending list of weekendry email thread where we each list our hopes, whether they be work-related, at home projects, family cleaning, outings, wishes for yummy snacks, and I dare say, this weekend hasn’t turned into an all out brawl. In fact, the list is currently being wrapped up by this blog post early on Sunday afternoon.

The second thing I try to keep in the back of my mind is that the times that we argue the most as a family, are the times when things are great. When we have very few worries, when everyone has everything they need and some of their wants, when our lives feel balanced, we have a tendency to knock it out of whack because I guess, we humans have a thing for self-sabtoge.

 

So there it is…a bit of honesty…me laying it all out there, so that I’m not lumped into that ‘look at me, I live a fantasy life’ kinda blogger….

 

Until next time,

HayMama

Greenery and Winterberries

It’s not that I’ve been avoiding this space entirely, it’s just that birth and everything that it brings, immediately results in my cocooning myself in order to prepare for the immense responsibility and work that I am about to undertake. It doesn’t feel like the right time to spill my guts about new life, the loss a loved one, and everything in between, so I hope you enjoy frivolous chitter concerning greenery and red berries.
fullsizeoutput_5aea Here are a few snaps of some of the work we accomplished this weekend. I didn’t pull it off alone. Luckily Papa Bear was home to snip the branches for me while Wildflower dragged them all back to the front porch, with only a small bit of complaining. She then built this entire display in the old tricycle, complete with bow.
fullsizeoutput_5ae9After snipping branches and strategically arranging them into various-sized pots, we stepped back to admire our work. It was then that I recalled, while taking Wildflower to horseback riding, that there are some beautiful red berries lining the roads along the way. So out went Papa Bear and Big Brother/ newly licensed driver (eek!) in search of winterberries. fullsizeoutput_5aeeTada!fullsizeoutput_5aecWhat I had failed to mention was that the beautiful berries were in the ditch, which actually meant swamp, and my sweet, darling man came home soaked up to the knees, through his workbooks, with icy cold water. Ah….love…or perhaps fear of pregnant-wife tears….or maybe a bit of both.fullsizeoutput_5aedOn another note, I’ve imagined giving birth when the ground is covered in white….and this morning, we awoke to just that…..fullsizeoutput_5aef

Take a peek over at Ottawa Family Living (page 41) to see my latest piece on Papa Bear.

Happy Snow day!

 

xo

MamaHay

Nature’s Solace

On a day like today, when the world could seem an impossible shade of grey, I chose to climb out of bed, get the kids to bundle up, and head out for a morning walk. fullsizeoutput_552eThe wind on our cheeks and the sunlight in our eyes has a knack of providing us with the balance that these last few days have been lacking…even the dog knows things aren’t quite right with the world.
fullsizeoutput_5530It’s as though we are meant to spend time in nature. It’s what keeps us from becoming cold and callous.  All around, tiny miracles take hold. There is beauty in the simple things; things that cannot be seen from tall towers in the concrete jungle….a flower that shouldn’t have bloomed in this cold, a tiny tree still standing after so many around it have been cut, stacked, and burned…it’s all there just being. I could say it’s waiting for us, but that’s part of its beauty. It doesn’t need us. It doesn’t care about us. It happens without us. fullsizeoutput_5534How peaceful insignificance can feel.fullsizeoutput_552f

As we trickle back into our home, the tea is poured and we head to our school work. The gentle predictability of our day brings me solace. I’m just one tiny person (technically two), and I’m not naive enough to believe that I can change the world alone, so today I’ll focus on what I can do. I take a deep breath, reminding myself that inner peace lies just beyond the threshold…and I join my children in our daily work.

peace&kindness

HayMama

Autumn’s Bounty

Last weekend, through our business, Element Studios, we were privileged to have Amber from The Wild Garden, join us at our place to teach a small gathering of lovely folks a lesson in autumnal herbs and their valuable roots. img_4582 img_4589Being the second workshop we’ve held with Amber this year, I felt a bit more prepared to handle the day and the visitors. I knew about the laid back feel of the afternoon spent with an open mind, learning valuable information that connects us to something vital, an old tradition lost. img_4591Although we have welcomed both men and women to the wildcrafting event at our homestead, this day serendipitously called together a gathering of women, and the sacred energy that comes when feminine spirits of all sorts come together. I tend to be most sensitive to this energy when I need it most, during pregnancy, while in the breast-feeding phase of life, and I suspect the need will continue as I grow and age. In a time when women are increasingly critical of each other, it can be so refreshing to be reminded that we have a lot to learn from each other. We are wise in all phases of life if our hearts and minds are open and in tune to each other. img_4590As always, Amber, poised and proficient in her field, lead us through an informative walk, pointing out some of fall’s useful roots. Meanwhile each of us, at different times, nodded in acknowledgment of the new information, excited to have a new gem to add to our own apothecaries. I can only speak for myself here, but something in me was revived after such a lovely afternoon, that I couldn’t help but indulge in a little bit of herbal gathering, organizing, and creating of our own. It feels good to be inspired by something practical.img_4617img_4620img_4632Thanks to our Amber’s wisdom, we’ve been gathering asters to make an infused honey for wintery sore throats. img_4626img_4592

I’ve made a nettle infusion to help boost my iron as well; however, most of our projects have gone undocumented, since it feels best when I’m connected to what I’m making, rather than thinking about capturing the moment to preserve forever.img_4631 What am I most excited about? Wildflower, while standing on the kitchen table, emptied out our entire apothecary; we combined all of last years healing herbs into a Mama soak for postpartum baths, ridded out anything that has been exposed to too much light, losing its colour and smell, and we made space for all of this summer’s new creations. It feels good to be re-inspired.

**you may notice, some of the photos from today’s post show faces, unlike the usual moments I capture here. Thanks to those lovely ladies who allowed me to sneak their photo to keep a record for our business **

until next time,

happy fall

HayMama

September

img_4546 img_4547 img_4548 img_4551September has passed by me in a blur, and I find myself closer to my due date than I’d like to admit. With much to be done, it’s easy to lose sight of what is right in front of me.img_4538 But worrying about the things I cannot finish, paint, bend over to pick up, and lift, is about as useful as my watching the presidential debate ( although I know it’s not a positive contribution to my emotional welfare, I tend to dabble in it anyways…what can I say? Sometimes it’s hard to look away). img_4537While Papa Bear has been working overtime, the kiddos and I have been hauling in the harvest (Big Brother does the hauling). We’ve fallen into a good routine, cleaning house together on Monday mornings, and beginning our school work daily by 9’o’clock. We finally hung our heads in shame and paid that whopping library fine so we could start taking books and movies out again, and we’re reading together everyday. So far so good. img_4532 img_4530It’s only September…
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Mabon Blessings

 

HayMama

Making Peace with Letting Go

The turn of the season is undeniably upon us, and although there are still hot humid days ahead, the nights are cold and clear, reminding me of what is to come. In the past, autumn has always been the most delightful season for me, bringing all things that I find delightful– refreshing temperatures, crock pot dinners, the first fire in the stove; however, these magical moments always seem to overshadow the memory of the difficult stuff. The business, the work that comes before winter.img_4103

The yellowing grass and the drying beans in the garden are symbolic of more than just the change of year, as we head towards the Equinox, we too, may be reminded of things that must change in our own lives. It’s funny how these traditional ways can still sneak in to our modern world, without our even knowing it. That restlessness in our souls, calling out the stream of things from the summer’s list that won’t be checked off? Those things are real, timeless, and part of the common experience. They remind us of something more than just not planting the third crop of peas or taking the kids to one more museum before the end of the summer. It’s so easy for things undone to snowball into how we see ourselves, how accomplished we believe ourselves to be, and how much greatness we are or are not offering to those around us. img_4109Historically, these feelings of dissatisfaction with our summer accomplishments were a survival instinct. If we didn’t complete all of our tasks before the first snow, our families were sure to parish. Today, the laundry lists may not be as urgent to our very survival, but they are still bound tightly to our nature.The sense of urgency is still prominent. So it only makes sense that we take this time, on a yearly basis, to step back and take stock of what’s really important and make peace with letting go. img_4111The words letting go, have been there, mockingly in the back of my mind for a few months now, as a common theme in my writing, since pregnancy, this one of several, has left me feeling tired and a bit defeated. Overall, my value, my sense of purpose, comes from what I contribute to my home, my family, my work, and the world around me, and it seems as though just creating a human, as miraculous as it may be, doesn’t resonate with the general population as valuable. I feel it.img_4112I’ve taken a good look around me, and I’ve made decisions, some conscious, some unintentional, to let things go…my garden, my chickens, my generally clean home, much of what I choose to write about here. I’ve begun to look a bit closer at relationships, those worth keeping, those worth fighting for, and those that I’ve kept at for far too long, giving more than my share, while I’m still left feeling empty. Perhaps it’s the time of year to let those go as wellimg_4113I had thought I had whittled away the list enough, until my caring midwife, began to call out everything on my list…things that I don’t even think are list-worthy, and I began to see her point when she jokingly added in the phrase all this while making my own preserves and knitting my own clothing. “But I am doing those things!” I proclaimed. She severely pointed out how it would sound to me if my good friend had repeated the same list of things to me while telling me that she didn’t know why she was so tired. I think the tears I shed following this talk were tears of relief. Relief in knowing that I’m just rightfully tired. So what else is on the chopping block? Well, those out of doors projects that I had excitedly mentioned here, they’ve almost all been set aside for next year, but after that, I’m having a hard time letting go.img_4105And then there is a much deeper, more literal form of letting go that I was reminded of this past month as my beautiful friend married her long-time partner, dressed from head to toe in lace and flowers, surrounded by a halo of joyous light. I felt privileged to be there, capturing their magical day with my lens, and I couldn’t help but notice that there is something almost relaxing about a wedding between two people who really know each other. But the moment that hit me most, was when I scooted (my pregnant version of running) behind the bride as she sped off in her best dress after her father as he made his exit from the day, much earlier than, I’m sure, he would have liked. Having been given a diagnosis of terminal cancer, he was every bit entitled to make his departure. As she stood next to him, we snapped a few photos, of the bride, on her wedding day, next to her father, tears of every emotion streaming down her face. She is letting go, much earlier than, I’m sure, she would like. Having walked in those shoes nearly five years ago with my own father, I know those feelings. The confusion of so much happiness in my own life, flipping back and forth into the terror that grief brings. I know the difficult moments that are to yet to come, and I know about the process of letting go of someone whom I’ve loved dearly. I know that sickness, hovering around my solar plexus, and I am far too familiar with the sense of guilt for the feelings of relief that flood in when it is all over. I know about the years of laying everything to rest afterwards. img_4115This Thanksgiving will mark five years that I’ve lived without my father. I wish I could say that there was something magical in the lesson, that there really was some deep and hidden meaning in the struggle, but sometimes letting go is just work. It’s hard and occasionally unfair. It’s a process, not a whim. It moves us forward, regardless of whether or not we are ready.And when it comes to letting go of control, are we ever really ready?img_4106                    The magical discovery of the spider’s art was made and captured by Papa Bear

 

 

xo Mama Bear

Introducing A New Baby…

Ladies and Gentleman…..We are proud to present…Thee one and only,img_4481

Kevin Baconimg_4482

After an unfortunate experience involving Big Brother’s adopted Christmas gift, and Kamo’s not so kid-friendly demeanour, he has since found a more suitable home. So as promised, we followed through on the we’ll buy you a puppy, since you’ve been asking all your life plan, only this time, we set a price limit, and since Kevin is super cute, the rest of his cost came out of Enee’s pocket.

Pretty cute huh?img_4137

As we’ve learned before, having someone to care for, besides himself, really helped Big Brother through the long winter months. Seasonal Affective Disorder comes on strong in our house the minute the clocks change and the sun sneaks behind the horizon by dinner time. There’s nothing that helps like good ole outdoor activity, and as almost anyone raising a teen will agree, it’s not always easy to convince them to head on outside, because “it’s good for you”. Cue cute doggy with wagging tail….Kevin…take your human for a walk!img_4490

We’ve been adapting nicely to having a babe in the home again, most days. Big brother is up during the night, and if he isn’t he’s definitely in charge of any morning mess, as well as those throughout the day. That’s the nice thing about having him home for school! Kevin truly is his responsibility. For now, we’re waiting to hear back from a few obedience schools….for Kevin that is.

More Kevin stories to come.Kevin Kevin Kevin….img_4131

Hay mama

Rain Sweet Rain

Today is the break from the storm that we so badly needed. We woke early this morning to find that rain had been feeling long enough to wet the grass, leaving water dripping from the drooping sunflowers. When sunflowers droop, it’s bad news. With a summer that is on record as one of the driest, what a physical feeling of relief to feel the rain on my tired body. My soul took a big ole sigh…Just like the wilty broccoli that grows outside the patio door, with a bit of rain, we all perked right up.IMG_4091

The cooler temps made the splitting and stacking of wood that much easier, that much more pleasant, which, for the most part, isn’t really pleasant at all, but we make the best of it. When things get rough and kids start complaining, well, today Big Brother spoke up to remind them, as we have told him several times before, that when it’s -40 degrees celsius, it will all be worth it.  IMG_4088

The other monumental happening this wood stacking season, kids who can help! Not just help, but be innovative enough to create an efficient system involving their wagon.

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And tonight? Well, there’s a roast ham, because we can bare to turn the oven on, scalloped potatoes, and root veggies with some apple cider to sip while I sit with my feet up on the couch. I can type that here, for all to see, with my head held high because hey! I’m pregnant.

 

 

xo

Hay mama

Thoughts from an Introvert:Comfort Zones

After almost two complete seasons of heading off to festivals, we’ve finally mastered the art of packing quickly and efficiently. Well, at least we’re getting better at it. So on Friday morning, after a night of preparing food, playing tetris with our luggage, and sending kids back and forth with numerous messages for each other, Papa Bear and I headed down the drive, kids excitedly prepared for adventure, knowing our home was tucked safely into the hands of some caring friends. From there, we drove quickly out of our comfort zones, entering into Quebec, where only one of five of us can speak (ish) the language. IMG_4027

Here’s the thing about comfort zones. Some folks live in a North America-sized comfort zone, while some of us, well, I’m the kinda gal who would be happy to set up camp, and never leave it. I’m happy to pick wildflowers for the stack of suitcases that work as a small table for the centre of our chair circle, read a book, knit a scarf, occasionally ducking out for a swim or a peak at the vendors. So let’s just say, my comfort zone, although it does include a piece of our French-speaking province, does not include a lot of well, people; in fact, it’s kind of barren, when it comes to crowds. I’m a fan of interesting folks who can stand to listen to what I might have to think, as well.IMG_4046

Papa Bear and I live in different sized comfort zones, his includes more people, perhaps less foreign language, but fairly equal in the amount of art and culture. The curfew in his comfort zone far exceeds the one set in my own, especially in my pregnant state, and it seems that Big Brother seems to be following in his father’s shoes. IMG_4041

Some comfort zones involve frogs but not snakes, some involve searching for pretty rocks, while others are centred around catching some sun instead. This weekend we learned that Little Brother’s zone doesn’t involve any sort of underwater stick, and that he’ll be certain everyone can hear him scream about it. Some people will try new food, like the Poulet Yassa that Big Brother bought for his dinner one night, while some of us will be lured in by something more familiar, although not without sneaking a taste of that delicious curry.IMG_4047

Some family members would prefer to drum the night away, encompassing a gigantic fire, surrounded by people letting it all go, dancing wild and free in the moonlight, while others prefer to snuggle into bed after a long day of sun and experience, enjoying the warmth that only a caring partner can bring to a very cold night. Some need to reconnect, telling tales of things observed, talking about insecurities, joys, and  lists for tomorrows.IMG_4048

There are times when our differently coloured zones cross over into each other’s, blending yellows and blues into marbled shades of mossy green, and there are times when there are large gaps and spaces in between, resembling vast grey oceans. How do we work together, ensuring that none of us are lost along the way, but still fulfilling our personal definitions of fun? Well, sometimes it looks like napping together in the afternoon, rather than travelling across the festival grounds, and sometimes it looks like climbing out of bed on a cold night, pulling on warm socks and taking the long walk to join those fire-gatherers who would rather not sleep, and sometimes it looks like Mama, convincing everyone that we should stay, stick it out, work with the language barrier, and wade through the uncomfortable bits because I know what it is like, living in a smallish festival comfort space, on a regular basis. And sometimes, it looks like Papa Bear, taking me by the hand and leading me through the throngs, encouraging me to see what lays beyond. You know what’s always there to great me on the other side of discomfort? IMG_4044Growth. (sometimes welcomed, sometimes waiting there, mocking me, but she’s always there)

xo

MamaBear

Growing Beans

Growing a baby bean has meant there has been less energy to spare on growing green beans, peas, carrots, and all other things garden. So I’ve been trying to focus on what I can do in little bits, without the added physical stress of leaning over my raised beds, not quite able to breathe properly, while baking in the day’s sun. I’ve realized that although I love cutting bits of the pioneer life and pasting them into our modern day, it is, ultimately, a choice. It’s easy for us, in the year 2016, to believe that those hard working folks had lovely lives, and to some degree, I’m sure they did, but most of all, we’d be kidding ourselves if we didn’t think that their lives were really just…hard. I’m so grateful for the luxury of choice. I’m trying to remind myself that I don’t have to have animals to care for if it’s not working for us at this time. I don’t have to grow vegetables if the work isn’t worth the harvest. What can I do to stay true to myself? Well, I’m working on buying our produce locally, and canning bit by bit each week, and we’ve been foraging….IMG_3877IMG_3882 IMG_3905
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IMG_3892Don’t worry, the toad was just for kicks. We’re not going to eat him.

 

xo

MamaBear