Wildflower requested a fall celebration. Her description entailed food that was ‘just harvested’ and apple pie, fall decor, and all of us sharing a meal together around the table. That used to happen a lot more than it does now that Big Brother has a life all his own.
But tonight, the timing was just right, so together we all pitched in and began our meal prep at 3pm. With Big Bro on Sparrow watch, Moonchild on table decorating, and Wildflower making apple crumble, we made magic happen. I roasted a chicken with rosemary, fresh garden onions, and apple cider, cut corn off the cob to be served warm with butter, made ham and raisin sauce, and even snuck outside to dig up some new potatoes.
On the way back, Moonchild helped me salvage some of the garden’s carrots. He was excited to see how large they had become.
A little roasted pumpkin turned into a crustless pie and we were only waiting for Papa Bear’s arrival home…
Needless to say, it was a lot of work. I know I could have said ‘no’ the way I often do, but sometimes I say yes to the work for a chance of memory making. The photos displayed here are nothing but a few semi-decent phone snaps to give you a glimpse into the experience we enjoyed, but mostly the moments were preserved in our hearts and minds, and of course, with our bellies. Tonight the work was worth the win.
It’s early in the morning. The kind of early I spent my entire childhood and young adult years dreading. I drag myself out of my warm, cocooned nest and thump down the stairs, in spirit, since doing so in actual reality would likely wake the littles.
I stumble into the front room and roll out my yoga mat. Its familiar click onto the floor reminds me of a simpler time when my eyes were less tired and my hair less grey. Even if I just lay here, I think to myself, I’m further ahead than I have been. And with these words, I provide myself the comfort that comes from a lack of self-imposed pressure. I’ll just fold into child’s pose and see where this goes. Before I know it, my body is remembering the sequences of movement that provided my peace and guidance years ago…when I had time to make for self care.
All of my expertise in this area stems from a consecutive 2 days of daily exercise, meditation, and fresh air, and 9+ years of neglecting myself. I have ample experience in being too busy, in forgetting my value, something that can easily occur while providing care around the clock for others.
It is true that there are times when life gets in the way. In my case, young children mean that care for myself comes only when there is time. When our babies are very young, often the care of myself means making time to eat and to sleep while they do. The problem I’ve always run into is that this doesn’t help my spirit to thrive. Often, I spend those first 2 years in survival mode, despite the cultural belief that by 3 months, 6months, 12 months, everything should be back to normal.
Although Sparrow’s timely step towards that two-year-old mark has played a role in my ability to carve out a small piece of time for my own care, it has been a deeper understanding of self-worth that has truly lit my fire within for growth. When I remind myself that I am valuable, that I am worth a few minutes, that I am more important than the laundry being folded (though those menial tasks are valuable to me and my wellness), I begin to feel successful.
This isn’t to say that I feel that I am worthless. I have a good life. I’m a good person. I like myself a healthy amount. I’m not saying that I feel as though I lack value, but I realized that my actions were telling me this. Too many times I’d wait until I finished cleaning the kitchen before I’d take a simple bathroom break. I felt I didn’t ‘need’ new clothes because there was always something more ‘important’ for us to spend our money on. Always. I had convinced myself that I couldn’t relax until all of the work was done, so I never relaxed. I’m worthy of a break.
So Hey You! Person reading this blog of mine.
Thanks. It feels nice to know my thoughts aren’t being ignored
You are valuable and deserving of good things. Cut yourself some slack
We’ve been harvesting and drying plants…canning pickles…and enjoying the coolness of the outdoors sans mosquitos. Yesterday, we even sported our toques while visiting Papa Bear at work in the orchard.
One might imagine us picking apples, riding the wagon, and munching on donuts, but really, how we spend the majority of our time orcharding (it’s a verb right?) is…
Scaling the dirt pile.
Over and over and over again, they climb and slide
As a grown-up, it can be difficult to carve out time for things that feel frivolous. I’m no different than anyone else this way.
I can see that this type of ‘fun’ is going to be messy. It’s going to involve more work on my part to keep our vehicle clean, to shower dirty kids upon our arrival home, only to clean out the shower AND the washing machine, likely making a mud ball with the leftover dirt.
But this kind of fun is free and freeing for both them and myself. When I quiet the voice inside me, the one that drives me to tick the next box on my list, when I really connect with the outdoors, with my kids, with the moment, I quickly feel a calm sense of power rise up inside of me. I remember what’s important…not an endless nagging voice telling me I forgot to add the potatoes to the slow cooker, but things like…
“I was reading a great book at the beginning of this week…where did I put that, and how did my life become so chaotic that I forgot about it?”
“Nothing else matters more than this moment”.
You know…things that get pushed aside in the Making of Hays.
I’ve been trying to put a little extra into our mornings lately.
Anyone who knows me well, knows how resistant I’ve been to becoming a ‘morning person’. For some, they put off their minivan purchase until trying everything shy of strapping the eldest to the roof racks, but for me, waking up early is my last cling to my pre-motherhood days.
But, like so many areas of my life, I’m working on it.
I was lucky enough to convince our first two children to sleep in, but currently there are weeks at a time where my total consecutive hours of sleep, land somewhere between 45 minutes and 1.5 hours. I feel this in my body and my mind, and I can fully understand how sleep deprivation could be used as a form of torture. No amount of ‘you’ll miss this later’ will ever smooth the raw edges left by sleep-debt, and I can assure you, that of all the things I will miss after our children flee the nest, lack of hours in dreamland will not be one of them.
In spite of all of this, my latest mission has been to start the day off on the right foot. If you have read this post here, you’ll know how deeply I miss those morning moments before the house rises, when I can sort out the tangled web in my mind. Since this is no longer a possibility, in this age of toddlerus-sprintus, I just….get up. My eyes pop open the minute his little toes touch down, and mine are right behind his.
Typically, we make our way to the kitchen where we put the kettle on and begin a morning project. Fall fills my soul with an urge to create, nest, and nurture, whether or not I have to corresponding energy, so we’ve been really working on our breakfast game.
As each child rises, I’m mindful of how I greet them. I could grumble and launch into a lecture; I could look at them with discontent. But Granny says some version of “it means a great deal to a child if, when they walk into a room, they are not looked upon with disappointment, even if we are well-intentioned in the long run.” And she’s brilliant, so I’m working on it.
Ultimately, we are all more eager to listen and even comply when we feel respected, so I say good morning with love and what I hope looks like genuine happiness, even if I wish I were sleeping.
One last thing I’ve learned through this 3rd and final bout of sleeplessness, is that how we start our day is important. It’s the edge from which we jump into the next many, many, many, many, hours of the day, and if our children wake up feeling special and loved, and if I wake up giving that to them, it’s easier to pass around some positive energy, rather than spending the day trying to reclaim it.
It’s interesting, how we often don’t realize the need for a change until one is thrown upon us….
This post began as a quaint account of our day, until I realized there was something else nagging at me to be shared….
You see, I’ve been reading a lot about being imperfect, which is fitting, since we are all created this way, so you may be able to relate.
I’ve realized how many things I avoid tackling, for fear of what they may not become, and I can’t help but wonder how many of us stopped creating, around the time we began to grow breasts or speak with a crackle in our voice? If you didn’t stop, perhaps you became increasingly self-critical.
I’ve wondered how many times I’ve confused striving to be better with being perfect enough to avoid pain and hardship, and I’ve wondered how many times I’ve missed out on a truly joyful experience or an opportunity for growth because of it.
I’ve thought about all of the times that I found myself lashing out, or perhaps weeping alone because I simply wasn’t good enough.
Until I began to question what enough might look like.
And so I began the quest of seeking out role models. If I wasn’t good enough, then I must be able to find someone else who was. Only then, I found myself to be incredibly lonely, since it seems that no one met the very specific criteria I had chiselled out for myself.
Could it be that this person does not exist?
This is a question I honestly asked myself, and I have to admit that this step took me about four years of self-discovery to answer.
And then I thought long and hard about all of the people I have put up on pedestals, only to be hurt and disappointed upon realizing that they, too, are not perfect.
Where am I now you ask?
I’ve made the discovery that most of my successes are modelled after traits of people I admire. I’ve realized that mentors have been the most valuable teaching tool for me, a most wonderful treatment. Let’s be clear that no mentor will possess all of the skills or traits I’m looking for, and I’ve reached a point where I am okay with this.
Because there are so many lessons to be learned from so many people, I’ve taken to looking at myself as the end result of a recipe, with each trait I admire as one of the ingredients. Sometimes, I add the baking soda at the wrong time, or I stir too much, and my recipe falls flat, but I’m working on the ingredient of self-love , and that’s the jar that’s always the most difficult to locate.
Lately, I’ve struggled with keeping our house tidy. Of course, I’m a mom of four, so my typical day involves cleaning like it involves breathing. Now I’m sure you can imagine me in my palace, all shiny and clean, but the reality is, my home is comfortably messy, and occasionally, a disaster, despite my constant fussing.
But I find summer particularly difficult with our living area expanded out of doors. Add in two weeks of travel and some camping, luggage and laundry, a house full of people who are ALWAYS HOME, and we’ve got ourselves a good ole mess.
So on Saturday, I woke up and said “ENOUGH!”
And we went to the fair. Because life it too short to live in a house that is clean and messy and then cleaned up again, and then messy, and then cleaned again before bed only to wake in the morning to find it messy….seriously how does that happen?
We explored the fair grounds, rode some rides, including the giant slide that I never would have set foot upon without Sparrow’s plea for “more more, ya, ya, dis!” as he gestured excitedly to the rickety looking structure. So I complied. What could go wrong?!
Well, I could barely squeeze up the ladder, since it was built to accommodate small children, who are perhaps, underfed. Sparrow sensed my uneasiness. He gave me a good pat on the back as I carried him to the top and kissed me repeatedly. Upon our arrival at the top of Mecca, the other two kiddos hopped immediately into place on their felt mats while I wiggled and squished and swapped my toddler from right arm to left, trying to squeeze my mum sized bum into its rightful place at the top of the slide only to realize that I had somehow managed to entirely miss the felt mat. So while people stared up at us from below, I lifted myself up, all while holding a small human and proceeded to stuff the blanket under my backside with one hand, without slipping down the slide.
When I was finished, it was like I was sitting on a giant raisin. But I rode that slide. I rode it over the two bumps, trying not to let on like I was scared, since my five year old seemed to be rocking it. I tried reducing my death grip on my toddler to a level that allowed him to breathe, and then just as quickly as it began, we arrived at the bottom on our raisin, slid onto the felt mat at the bottom that was meant to stop us, but somehow, the raisin had moved from under the seat of my pants, to somewhere under my upper thighs, and I received some pretty decent carpet burn on my butt. I also had to check to make sure my pants were still intact, which, thankfully (seriously-thank- you- pants!!) they were. Sparrow was overjoyed, so I marked it down as a win-ish.
And then we rode/exploited a camel.
Explored the exhibits
Played a game…and brought home more crap to leave around the house.
But we were tired, and we were happy, and I didn’t really care that we were contributing to consumerism and all of the other things I work hard to avoid on a regular basis.
When we arrived home, the house was still clean. The kids were happy. I was happy. And life was good.
There are three statements I hear most frequently about homeschooling:
I wish I could homeschool my kids, but I don’t have the patience
What about socialization (a whole other post)
We couldn’t afford to homeschool.
For the sake of this post, we’ll let the first remark slide with a simple explanation of, I don’t have patience either, but this is certainly teaching me a lot about how to find them.
As for the third comment, we live on a small, well-earned income . Rather than the privilege of money, there are many skills that we’ve honed over the years that we likely take for granted (doesn’t everyone know how to build a chicken coop or harvest nettles for tea?) Creativity and thriftiness are just examples of gifts both Papa Bear and I possess that have both brought us together and moved us forward. So I thought I’d share the wealth here.
Here are 3 things lifestyle choices we’ve made to save money and live simply…
We Purchase Real Food First
The perimeter of the grocery store contains all of the food we need, while the centre of the store, typically contains our wants. In order for us to save money, to feel good, and to thrive, I try to offer us the best food we can with the dollar that we have. We buy organic when we can and when it counts the most, while the remainder of the time, we simply focus on purchasing real food as much as possible. Healthy meats, such as whole chickens and cuts with a bone in offer the opportunity for more than one meal through means of soup. Veggies can double as both snacks with dip and sides for meals. We garden as well as source items directly from farms and roadside stands to find deals on inexpensive, healthy produce.
We avoid purchasing ready-made sauces, cookies, and sugary snacks that keep us coming back for more. We are not perfect, but really, I find the less sugar we consume, the less we have empty cravings to fill. When we eat real food, we fill our bodies all of its vitamin requirements, and in return, we feel satisfied. The bottom line is, sometimes we spend a bit more on our food because it gives us more now and saves us later.
We Thrift 90% of Our Needs
By purchasing our clothing secondhand, I’m able to buy beautiful brandname items at affordable prices. I select only items that my children will wear, since purchasing things that only I like would be a waste of our money, not to mention, hinder the relationships with my children. I only choose items that are in pristine condition, though I do recognize the I’m lucky enough to have some basic sewing skills which allows me to alter items to fit and flatter.
I’ve recently stopped storing clothes for the future, since I can easily outfit our family for a small amount of money at a variety of local thrift shops as the seasons change, and the sanity I was losing over keeping clothes in a home without closets just wasn’t worth it. Anything we are finished with is then donated to continue the cycle of being re-loved and to avoid being added to the unimaginable amounts of textile waste being sent to landfills every year.
Of course, not only do we buy clothing second hand, but we also drive second hand vehicles, purchase previously enjoyed dishes, snowsuits, furniture ( mostly antiques)…the possibilities are endless.
We Keep Homeschool Purchases Minimal
If someone were to ask me about our homeschooling budget, I’d have to be honest and say that we don’t have one. I don’t purchase curriculum, but rather, piece together my own using free printables, text books I’ve thrifted, and real living books from our library. There are surprising resources everywhere, allowing us a jumpstart on topics we may be interested in, or perhaps had no idea about. The bank sometimes has activity books about finances and budgeting for kids, the vet had an animal care booklet that lead to research projects, and most recently we used a hydro dam safety activity book to jumpstart our learning about electricity.
Occasionally, we’ll subscribe to specific services for a short period of time to fill a need, but ultimately, the joy of learning comes from all around us, and I’d rather avoid recreating school at home. I have many friends who are excellent curriculum educators, but this has never been my forte, so I felt that it would cost us unnecessary money for what we would get out of it.
Today we fled from here as quickly as possible. I’ve been at home with the children for many days while PapaBear is working some extra seasonal work, and I’ve grown weary of being the only ‘at home’ parent. The messes are constant and always the same, and the daily meals are less interesting without his company around the table at night. Sometimes, it takes leaving our home to appreciate its order upon our return.
The old adage, absence makes the heart grow fonder, really sits with me these days. This isn’t my first rodeo/ orchard season; in fact, it’s about my sixth. Yes, parenting alone is difficult (single mothers, I salute you), but it’s really just being without my other half that makes life seem less colourful.
I was raised in the age of gurrlpower! I heard the shouts of the Spice Girls, and I took the mandatory self-defence course in high school, which entailed a sweaty man, twice my age, pinning me to the ground, so that I could fight my way out from under him. Although the intentions were decent, I received many mixed messages about being female. I should look hot.I should do all things alone,and I should be careful in doing both of those together, or I’d be sorry. And lastly, needing a man would make me weak.
So it seems strange to me that I ended up here, in a place where I have a husband who I lean on openly, and who I can admit to ‘needing’. We’ve grown together as partners. We’ve created this life together…one that reflects parts of each of us, but ultimately encompasses the us we’ve become together. After all, I was born from the same dirt, rather than from his rib.
Unlike the cultural teachings of my youth, I don’t do it all myself ‘just in case it doesn’t work out’, and I like it this way. I’m no less of a powerful woman because I feel better having him by my side, because I require his help (yep, I said it), or because I have changed while standing beside him. In turn, we learn to communicate, to trust, to respect,to nurture…
beautiful things can happen in partnership…and I’ll tell you….“it’s what I want, what I really really want”
We began homeschooling when our daughter was born, almost nine years ago.
When she was just a fresh, squishy faced little babe, I naively imagined shaping her into a marvellous young woman who would possess all of the traits necessary for success.
What I didn’t realize was that she was already a whole, tiny human…a complete package just waiting to burst, if we were there to help her unfold into adulthood.
I had always held a simplistic take on raising children. When faced with issues such as food, clothing, toys, childcare any beyond, I knew that less or in the case of food, the simplest, would be more, but I hadn’t realized the extent to which this was true.
When Wildflower was just ten weeks old, she turned to my mother, her own grandmother, and collided with her cheek, open-mouthed. Stunned, we both spoke out loud “did she just kiss?!”, and with that, she open- mouth smacked her again, right on the cheek. She proceeded to repeat this action ten times (which is how I remember that she was, in fact, just ten weeks). Each time the action was prompted by the word ‘kiss’ and only ‘kiss’. It sounds bizarre even as I type it, but she knew what she was doing, and she knew that this action had a specific name.
Now, we could easily have chalked this miraculous event up to foolishness. We could have agreed that she was simply ‘too young’, but we witnessed that moment, and it was beautiful.
In the months that followed, Wildflower learned to speak simple words, sit up, crawl, walk, dance, and sing. These are simple, yet valuable milestones in the typical development of a healthy child, that I didn’t teach her. I merely carried on in my everyday life, involved her, earned her trust, and she followed in my steps (which is how she also has my tone of voice at times).
This was the beginning of the most important lesson I’ve learned during our homeschool experience…the value of mentorship, and the beauty of learning to lead and follow…something one may have thought I would have learned through my first love of dancing, but something that could only truly be understood by witnessing my own heart beating outside of my body.
Mother of four, partner to one, lover of all things uniquely beautiful, follower of the peaceful parenting movement, inspired enough to think outside the box, hopeful enough that you might stick around