Hold Them Close

From the moment our first baby was born, I felt as though the world was trying to separate us. I struggled with this feeling for a long time, wondering if I was in the wrong, if my deep love and satisfaction with our being together was unhealthy. It felt as though our attachment was something that should be kept secret, that being too gentle, or giving too much attention to our sweet babe would draw attention to my parenting insecurities, but when she was placed on my belly, that moment just before our eyes met for the first time, I felt a connection stronger than any feeling I had ever felt. I was a mama. I remember how she tipped her head just so, searching for an image she had never seen, but a voice she had grown to know over the past nine months. And her sweet scent; oh how glorious it was. It wasn’t until after our eyes met, that Papa Bear and I even realized we hadn’t checked to see that she was, in fact, a she. Together, the three of us celebrated between tears and warm caresses. It’s a feeling that is forever burned into a mama’s memory, and I’ll always tell the story fondly.baby

Not long after, a nurse bustled in and hurriedly uttered “well, I’m going on my break, so if you wanna know how much she weighs, you have to do it now.” Having never had a baby before, I suspected knowing how much she weighed was incredibly important (it’s not, in most cases), so after some coaxing from our midwife, our new bundle was whisked away while I was left, arms and womb bare, and feeling rather vulnerable. There it was, the ‘hurry up, time is wasting, we have to do it now, there’s no time for connection’ ideology that is the basis of our fast paced lives. That was my first encounter with the script of parenting. I didn’t recognize it for what it was at the time. All I knew was I was half bare, laying under a god light, anticipating the return of my husband and our tiny bundle.ezra2

Our experience with our midwives was nothing short of spectacular, but once we left the shelter of their care, I was overwhelmed by the need to ‘hurry up’, get over it, and follow the script. Our first ‘well baby visit’ involved the nurse literally scooping Wildflower from my arms and carrying her out the door, while our nurse practitioner, closing the thick metal door, explained that our brand new baby would be taken to be weighed while we had a chat. My stunned silence was met with confusion, which was then further drawn out by my reciprocated confusion. ‘Is this how it’s done?’ I thought to myself. Will they think I’m strange if I want to be there to help take off her little clothes and speak to her in a calm, soothing voice while they poke at her? After all, she doesn’t have the awareness of what’s going on, but she knows I’m not there and that she is cold and naked in a strange place. That’s enough to scare any person, and that’s just what a baby is, a small person. Of course, I followed my sobbing infant and held her close, the way I knew how. I quickly began to recognize this pattern, that I was just her mother, in some people’s eyes, not her mother, her strength, her voice, her guide.kiss

Why is it that despite the studies on the importance of children being raised with a strong attachment to at least one adult, it is regarded as weak, overbearing, and strange? The majority of my new-mom worries would have melted away if I knew then what I know now. I wish I could wrap that me up with love and support and show her that her instincts were not wrong. We are not supposed to leave our babies; it’s our children who will leave us. Raising our children should mean just that; that they are never crying for their absent parents. Our children should not be unhappily subjected to parental ‘me’ time. Those twenty, thirty, forty years we had before they showed up on the scene? That was it. That was the ‘me’ time. They don’t stop needing us because we need a shower (unfortunately) or because we are headed out for the evening, or the weekend. Mother nature gave us breastfeeding, crying babies, and guilt (oh the guilt) to remind us. These are not things we need to overcome in order to convince ourselves that our lives haven’t changed. They have. And if we are ready to climb aboard, it’s the best thing for everyone. We become softer, gentler, stronger, bolder, wiser. We love deeper. Our lives becomes richer. Our connection with our children becomes everlasting. babies

Our universal need for love and attachment should trump everything else, but it doesn’t. Fear does. What are we so afraid of? Of love, itself? Of happiness and heart-felt emotion? Of sharing kindness and teaching security and reliability to our next generation? There shouldn’t need to be shelves of books explaining that ‘crying it out’ is unhealthy, that rocking your child is not just normal, but encouraged, and that pushing our kids to eat, walk, run, go to school before they are ready, is not beneficial. These experts are cashing in on something that used to be instinctual. If you hold your baby when she’s sad, feed him when he’s hungry, teach her when she’s curious, and love him when he’s hurt, chances are, you are doing a good job. belly2

At the end of the day, I can’t help but feel different. Even though I’ve surrounded myself with like-minded people, I still can remember the condescending tones that I’ve heard. My heart remembers the people who have shown me disbelief when I say that raising our children is the single most valuable thing I can do with my time here on earth. I don’t need to be a doctor or a lawyer, or log numbers on a backlit screen. I don’t want to spend each day leaving my kids to care for other people’s children. Yes, I am just a mom, and no I don’t think I’m better than anyone else for making these choices; however, I am not privileged to be able to stay at home; there are many things that we do without so that I can. We made this happen.together I have let other things, other dreams, other relationships get a bit dusty. It’s a time sensitive ordeal, this parenting thing. The time is now. And so I pour myself into homeschooling, and preparing nourishing meals, trying to be a good listener to the eleventh version of the same story I’ve been hearing all week, playing ‘royal’ AGAIN, counting down the minutes until Papa Bear comes home to join in the chaos, painting with my fingers, cleaning up paint on fingers and various other surfaces and fabrics, exploring all that Mother Earth has to offer us, studying grade nine geography (didn’t I pass this already?), balancing budgets, cleaning bathrooms, folding laundry (always folding laundry), planting gardens, chasing the potty trainee, wrestling chickens, and snuggling children, oooooh the snuggling. It’s really what makes it all worth it.nursing

Hold them close,

HayMama xo

 

Growin Veggies, While the Suns Shine

I’ve gotta special place for a good seed catalogue, the way a high school gal can’t wait to get her hands on a copy of Cosmo. Each page, so provocatively laid out, entices my summer senses. I fantasize about pumpkins, not your average pumpkin, but the huge ones, with deep colour, beautiful skin, and the ability to be mounted. Ahhh how I dream of growing Giant Atlantic Pumpkins large enough for my kids to be able to climb. Yes, I’m referring to pumpkins and only pumpkins.william dam seeds     Every year I struggle to keep my gardening plans realistic. Being a dreamer, I could easily plan where the greenhouse will be, how I’ll recreate the flower gardens that my great-aunt once doted over, and I can already hear the sound of the dump truck backing up to unload my entire savings worth of black gold, and then my loving, careful partner, reminds me of everything else I’ll be tackling, and I remember the issue of the deer, and I float down from my cloud of garden- la-la- land, and begin to make lists instead. Last year’s garden was the smallest I’ve ever taken on, but it was the most enjoyable and the most bountiful, except for that year of 72 tomato plants, although that was more bounty than pleasure.tomatoyearWelcome to the jungle, We’ve got fun and tomatoes. 

This year, I’ll be working with some seeds that I saved from last year’s produce, some that I ‘borrowed’ from places we visited…okay so I occasionally sneak the dead heads off of beautiful flowers from a garden I may be passing (probably not something you should tell my kids), not to mention, the stash that didn’t make it into the soil last May. I’ll need to order some of the staples such as tomatoes, which I think I’ve managed to locate through a local gardening mama. In an age where folks are so hurried and often disconnected, sharing something as simple as a seed is a great reminder that when one of us is prosperous, we can all benefit. It all comes from just one tiny seed,that is, unless it takes three whole packets to sprout a single carrot, but I certainly have never experienced that! Nope, not once.peateepee I’m needing some herbs to replenish what we’ve used for medicine this winter, and I’m currently searching for a recipe to make our own multi-vitamin, so I’ll have to nail that down before I can make our order official. If anyone has any tried and true recipes, this mama would love the advice.bounty

Many more tales of gardening to come,

 

HayMama

xo

February Days

We are in full- February swing, if only February had a swing, or even a sway. A nudge even. We are in full, no, not full. We are getting by in February. It’s cold. It’s snowy. We have cabin fever, and mama is feeling low on the creativity spectrum. I’ve begun half a dozen projects, and I haven’t finished one. The house hasn’t been entirely lost under unwashed laundry, so I’m pretending I’m okay with it. Hopefully I can fool myself. Here’s a glance at some of the things we’ve begun and will someday finish.quiltWildflower’s baby quilt, something I’ve been hoping to accomplish for quite some time now. It’s been a pleasure sorting through her baby clothes, bringing memories of her baby days alive and inviting her to ask more about what she was like five whole years ago. DSCN9617vdaycupcakesWildflower’s Valentine’s Day cupcakes with cinnamon hearts…Valentine nostalgia

janegoodall2A lesson in fierce women: Jane Goodall
janegoodallbuttons2Lil Eagle’s new endeavour: counting and sorting buttons.buttons
With choir practice today, geography club tomorrow, and birthday parties this weekend, we are able to appear to be motivated (we’re very very sneaky….sir), but Willow, she’s come down with an illness. She’s spent the evening resting by the fire being treated with Wildflower’s herbal treatments (there on her bedside table). Hopefully she will be in better spirits tomorrow; with the care that she is receiving, I have no doubts.willowsick

may warmth be with you,

HayMama xo

Growing up Together

I once met a woman who was sending her children off to University after having homeschooled all three of them for the entirety of their school-age days. Of all of the accomplishments they had made together, she was most proud of the relationship her three children had formed. She spoke of how her son’s acceptance to Queens prompted her children to cry. All three of them. They were happy to be moving forward, but they were saddened by the thought of not being together. She spoke about how she doesn’t share this story with just anyone, since the majority of people would think this reaction to be strange, but what is truly mystifying, she said, is that people expect the sibling relationship to be one of contention, that children should grow up to be closer to their peers rather than have their peers be their siblings. What she noticed about her kids, is that when in the midst of a conflict, there was nowhere to run; therefore, they learned to deal with the issue at hand. They learned to stand up to each other and for each other, and they became to be the best of friends.kidstogether      I think of this story often, as I watch my children play and argue and play and argue. There are times when my presence is required, when they need an adult coaching their relationship. Sometimes I help to identify emotions or recall moments from the past in order for them to engage with the present, but there are more times when I need to step back and observe in my quiet mommy way (not always an easy feat). Sometimes it’s not up to me to kick Lil E out of the comfy chair because he stole it from WildFlower. It has to be up to them. Of course, I don’t ignore the situation at hand, but I have several mom-type sayings in my apron pocket to whip out at the emergence of a squabble. You know why don’t you tell him how that made you feel? (something we should be doing more of as adults, despite it being cliché). 
I love to watch them working side by side, each working on something different, but supporting each other along the way. Normally this ‘support’ role is taken on by Wild Flower, and sure sometimes can be translated into ‘bossy’, but that’s an entirely different post.

puddleAnd then there is the relationship they share with their big brother. To them, he’s half-grown up, half kid. The best combo,really, because although he can give out instructions similar to ours, he can also welcome them into his room to pound on the drums or jump on the bed. I can’t wait to see their friendships unfold. I am so grateful for the opportunity to raise each of them.

enmagsWhen Lil Eagle was first born, Wildflower told everyone “this is my little brother. We are going to grow up together”. Every now and again we talk about what it will be like when each of our kiddos venture into the big world. What will they do? Who will they be? We tell ‘what if’ stories. Big Brother’s what-ifs tend to revolve around Porsches and lottery winnings, while Wild Flower’s dreams are related to having one hundred babies, a dream I expect to change in the near future. My favourite stories of all are the ones where we talk about having everyone come home. I hope to have a busy house, even if it involves occasional college laundry. I hope to send them off with home cooked meals and treats in hopes that they will come home a little more often. I dream of grand babies and full-house holiday gatherings. Ahhh the ‘what ifs’. They keep us dreaming, and the dreaming keeps us going.

 

xo

HayMama

Just a Regular Day

After a busy week of new activities, appointments, and catching up with friends, it was refreshing to have a relatively boring day today. Here’s a boring ole peak…

A local homeschooling mom organized a Valentine exchange via snail mail, so we’ve been preoccupied with proper printing, with mom jumping in to somewhat legibly scrawl the addresses onto envelopes. All in all, it was an enjoyable activity for us, although, next time, like most of my holiday undertakings, we’ll begin sooner. writinglettersIn case you aren’t local, it’s been snowing and snowing and snowing. For the past seven days we’ve seen snow. Today we saw the sun for the first time since… I’m not sure when. We spread our snacks out on our blanket in front of the patio doors and sat in the sun for the short while it lasted. We merged into play dough, which was gifted to us at Christmas. I tucked it away during the holiday bustle for quiet these February afternoons. PlaydoughPlay dough and a handful of buttons allowed me to make dinner uninterrupted, almost.
mirrorDSCN0001

 

Lucky for them, the fairies will be receiving a new home in our terrarium. More on that to come!sunnydayThank goodness for little rays of sun that peak through…

Hope there are many regular days in front of you!

HayMama

Graphing Data

Since we’ve spent a lot of time laying around on the couch these past few days, or weeks, (that’s how long it has taken this flu to circulate through the house) I had to find something schoolish that didn’t involve a lot of effort, on anyone’s part. We can only watch Frozen so many times, at least that’s what the grown ups think. Bring on those plastic bottle lids Mama’s been saving since September. 
capsOne might not realize how much joy can be found in some bits of plastic garbage, but I can confirm it.lidstackForty minutes of sweet, sweet quiet this gave me. Both kids played, dividing them into stacks of different colours, shapes, sizes, and marble-fun capabilities (can you make the marble circle around the inside of the lid over and over?). Of course, it all ended abruptly with an argument over whose lids were whose, but I before that point, I was convinced I was a genius. This is something that worried me about homeschooling, not my quantity of genius-like moments ;), but those little things that I remember about my primary years that made the experience enjoyable. For me, those little whispers of joy came from jars of bread tags, colourful paperclips, baskets of pinecones, sparkles, and other things we could use to create some magic, something we could become artists with, or even use to make math more colourful. And that is exactly what we used them for today. Drawing inspiration from something I saw here, we took a crack it this…

Graphing Data

     You will need: Counters

                     Graph paper

                     Markers or Crayons for Colouring

Start by asking your child how she could divide the counters into groups. She may need some prompting and you can suggest dividing by size, colour, etc., but she may surprise you and suggest her own ways: frozen colours, ugly colours, and pink. Let her run with it; it will help to keep her interested.lidIf your counters are small enough, have your child actually place the bits in each square so that she can visualize which column is larger. We also tried this project with beans from our garden.beangraphOne column at a time, start colouring, explaining that each square represents one bean. Once your chart is coloured, teach your child to label and title their graph. Take some time to talk about your discoveries together. Which kind of bean do we have the most of? Do we have more big lids or small lids?beangraph2The possibilities are endless…Next. we’ll discuss each block representing several beans/sparkles/ice cubes…you name it.

happy graphing,

HayMama

Peace and Valentines

Sometimes it can be difficult to create inspiration and this week, it seems, I couldn’t feel farther from it. It could be the residual effects of last week’s illness, and it could be the waning moon who’s fullness kept us awake several nights this weekend. It could be the fact that we are destined for many more weeks of cold and snow, but there is something else too.colouring1

There are times when the radio in the morning is what motivates me, and there are times, like this week, when my protective bubble, my layer of the- world- is- falling- to- pieces repellent has worn too thin to protect my rose -coloured heart. I normally follow my ‘no news’ rule of thumb; it drags me away from the peaceful life I am trying to create for my family. I know that there is plenty to worry about without needing to hear it on repeat: every. half. hour. This week, I’ve made that mistake. I’ve listened, and I haven’t like what I’ve heard.colouring2

The way that grown people speak to each other, mainly via social media, makes me sick. We preach messages of tolerance and peace to our children, but we behave wretchedly. We whisper sweet nothings in the ears of our babes as they fall asleep each night, reminding them of their magic. We do our best to model kindness in our everyday actions, but there is something about a glowing screen that makes us lose our connection with who we are and what we are striving for. We crucify each other for the ways they differ from us. We don’t tolerate. We don’t seek peace. We just shout from our timelines our secret beliefs and why our friends should feel the same. We don’t reach for growth. It saddens me. It saddens me that this is the way of the world.

colouring4

I can imagine our grandparents were all too familiar with this feeling. This ‘what is this world coming to’ line that we keep on repeat is something I’m supposed to say when I’m old, but I feel it everyday. Why can’t we believe in good. Why can’t we create good. Why can’t we show kindness and love. Why can’t we know freedom the way we know the months of the year. It’s something that everyone is entitled to, but very few can truly say they have.colouring3What about you? Do you know freedom?

xo

HayMama

Until then…

 

 

mulleintea
I’ve been brewing up something to cure whatever it is that’s been ailing us. The white clover, mullein, and rosemary that we harvested this summer came together nicely to create this powerful expectorant. You’ve guessed it. Upper respiratory. The flu has come to visit us, and we hope to kick its butt. Once we’re back in full swing, I’ll be back in this space. Hopefully feeling a little more creative and a little less grumpy.

xo

Haymama

Deer Spring

Beautiful sunny days encourage us to get outside and take in all that this corner of the earth has to offer us. Some days we run and jump, and other days we take our time exploring. We ask each other ‘remember when’ questions, and we talk about what each season has brought us, the changes that we notice.

deer path

Here it is, the most well-loved trail near our home. One might think we take many a trip out behind the barn, but actually, this trail belongs to another family. 
deerprint We thought about this path and came up with several ‘remember whens”. We remember how it’s worn through to the dirt, in places, as though cattle have been crossing, how the spring brings the entire deer population to the front yard to graze, and how right there, behind Papa Bear’s shop, if he is quiet, Papa, himself, might spot a doe relaxing in the afternoon shade.deertrail

Which lead me to recall this photo of myself that was taken when we first moved here. I had paid to have a large square of land tilled for our garden, and I was happily standing in the centre of it, decked out in my rubber boots and bandana, posing like a queen. I was fairly excited and possibly, certainly a little too positive about what was to come. Little did I know that while I planted our seedlings among the gravel pit we call home, the deer were watching excitedly. Anything that managed to grow among the rocks was immediately consumed by those sneaky buggers. I have no idea how our ancestors managed to survive here, but obviously, they had this figured out better than I do.

On a more successful note, I thought of the morning that Little Eagle was born. It was one of those rose-coloured glasses moments that came out a true shade of strawberry, unicorn, sparkly pink. He was born in our bedroom, after a much simpler birth than my previous experience. It was a beautiful spring morning, the spring run off was dripping from the roof while PapaBear prepared a spread of fruit and cheeses in the kitchen. While we grazed upon those delicious, well-deserved treats, the deer were grazing happily in the warm spring sun. They were celebrating the arrival of our sweet baby boy, born here, in the same place my grandfather and great aunts were welcomed into the world. There’s something about that level of awesomeness that earns a unicorn sticker.

And then our minds wander to warmer days. Days when the door can stay open and we can extend our living quarters into the sun, and it’s then that I can see them running free, hair blowing in the warm summer sun, barefoot with sun kissed cheeks. I can hear the springs squeaking on Enee’s trampoline, and I can remember the feel of dirt, fresh from the garden, under my finger nails. lanewaywillowI love winter. I love that cozy, lay by the fire togetherness. I love the smells of cinnamon and oranges, crock pot meals, sweaters, boots, and men in toques. I love being able to say “no not today” and not feeling obligated to travel. But sometimes, just sometimes, I dream of spring. Sometimes, the smell of mud appeals to me. And sometimes I can’t wait for the freedom of an open door.

 

Until tomorrow

xo

HayMama

Blogging Intentions

berriesWhen my first child was born, I started a blog. In the beginning, I loved it. It was refreshing to do something that I enjoyed each day, but after a while, it became a job that I stopped looking forward to. I felt obligated to post daily, and eventually, combined with the lack- of- sleep new mommyhood brings, I began to resent the daily grind. I started writing for the audience I was collecting rather than collecting the audience I was writing for, and that’s when I realized it was no longer authentically me. I also, after plenty of soul-searching, realized that I wasn’t comfortable with exposing my children’s faces to the world, after all, that belongs to their stories, not mine, and so, after a steady six months, I packed it in. beach
Fast forward to a few years later, and I haven’t kicked the call to write, but I do have one more sweet baby and a lot less time. I’ve decided, this time around, that blogging should be something that I enjoy, always. It won’t take away from the energy I put into my family, since that is my main priority, and instead, it should fuel me, since it’s my space for creativity. paintingI will keep the content close to my heart, always just being myself, I’ll never share more than my family is comfortable with me sharing, and lastly, I want to create a work of beauty. I hope to house a sunny space where folks, such as yourself, can come for some rays of inspiration. spring
I think, I’ve moved past the point of spending time thinking about how strange I look as the no stroller, whole foods, non-cellphone mama. Learning to love myself whether others do or not has given me a new outlook on life and on other people. It has also allowed me to appreciate the things that may not always be ideal. It hasn’t been a pocket full of jelly beans learning to accept my introvertism (which Webster created as a word .5 seconds ago), but lately, I’ve come to appreciate this woman whom I’ve seemingly forced to be different for quite some time. I like her. I’ve missed her, but sometimes, sometimes she’s a pain in my ass. I’d like her to not worry too much about writing the wrong thing. About accidentally hurting anyone’s feelings. So I’ll begin cautiously, testing my waters, knowing that there is a possibility of feeling hurt, no matter how small, it still scares me. Something else to learn about. Another way to grow.trees