What January Looks Like

Well besides this:

coldJanuary in our home has been a lot like this:

blacknwhitemaggieandezraGetting serious about homeschool this month, we’ve been studying the story of Black Beauty, thanks to a generous friend who gave Miss Wildflower the novel this holiday season.monet

We’ve reproduced a little bit of Monet, and we learned about Impressionism.monet2Wildflower’s rendition of Monet’s Water Lily Pond Symphony in Rose, but then, you knew without my telling you didn’t chahat

Little Eagle needed a hat tooDSCN9614Dark nights that begin far too early, and lastly,record

Our new indulgence –vinyl. PapaBear and I have been talking for a long time about how we’d love our kiddos to grow up with actual, tangible albums in our home, but that’s something we are good at, talking. We are great dreamers. Have we travelled the countryside with nothing but a backpack, nope, but we’ve dreamt about it. Have we raised seven children while working independently as artists, nope, but we’ve talked about it. And let’s face it, the talking is the important part. Why are you wasting your time with things that aren’t worth dreaming about? So when we saw this record player at our local flea market in the last few minutes before they closed, we had a quick decision to make. Without the usual long ‘talk’ (here’s where it went wrong my friends), we quickly decided, sure, it’s a bit more than we’d like to pay, since it’s used, but if we were to buy this model new, we’d be paying a lot more. We plugged her in, checked out the record player, listened to the story about how the rest certainly works and then we gave the shifty, old man his money. Now, normally, I don’t refer to older people as old or shifty, but this guy was special, and yes, this part of my story is tainted by the outcome. See, when we arrived home, we quickly plugged her in, and since we didn’t have any records, we slid in a CD, a little Sarah Mclauchlan to be precise, and guess what. She didn’t sing. Neither did anyone else we tried to coerce into the CD player. And so, we travelled back to the flea market this past weekend to kindly explain our situation. Long story short, the shifty, old man didn’t give us back our bones; nope, but he did give us a story that changed several times, a hole in our wallet, and then, as if it didn’t hurt enough, smacked us right in the face with the lesson. Ugh.

“I’ll sell it for you” he said. Right. Well… A) I’m not waiting around for our money back, since he clearly can’t be trusted in the first place, and B) I’m not shifty enough to sell a broken product. So we picked up our socks, our broken record player, and whatever was left of our pride and headed home. “We’ve still got all of your dad’s records in the barn” Papabear reminded me once he stopped shaking with anger. Turns out, he was right. They’re musty and dusty, but there’s a new home in our house for my parent’s record collection, some with my mother’s teenage penmanship scrawled across her obvious favourites and some with my paternal grandfather’s name carefully written. I can imagine that if there ever was a time that my parents were happy together, these records could have been at the centre of it all. And Papabear and I, we’re going to let it go. We’d rather not carry around unnecessary anger, so we’ll keep her and the records. I know this because we’ve talked about it.

** since this article went live, Papabear has admitted to not being entirely ready to ‘let it go’

What does your January look like?





Icy New Year, Hopes and Dreams, Lippy

We’ve been hibernating these past few days, kind of a continuation of the last two weeks, minus the big boys. We’ve snuggled in our beds at night listening to the ice rain come down. We’ve carried buckets of water out to the chickens with the icy northern winds stealing our breath along the way, and we’ve spent time mulling over what this new year will mean for us.

birch tree snowmanIce on the chicken fence.

arrowArtwork by PapaBear

In my former life, I fell under the societal pressure to choose a new year’s resolution, only to forget about it a few weeks later, litterally. The happier, more content me knows that positive change isn’t something I can conjure up over night. It’s something that I must feel in my soul; it’s gotta be calling me. I need to be constantly listening to that voice inside of myself, and more importantly, I need to answer her more often. The hustle and bustle of caring for a family of five leaves very little time for the thoughts that are bouncing around in my busy brain, let alone the ones that are tucked into the corners of my heart; it’s not until I can steal a few minutes to myself that I can liberate those nagging feelings that just don’t make the list of essentials– make nutritious meals, check! raise intelligent, caring, clean children…workin on it, maintain a mutually respectful, loving, fulfilling relationship? Yessir. Time for a shower, more so these days. Opportunity to write the Great Canadian Novel. What? Have I really been thinking about this all this time? Sometimes I can really surprise myself with what comes up.

Back to where I was going in the first place, I’ve managed to follow through on some of my intentions for the new calendar year. The Solstice brought us two weeks of family time; we spent it doing absolutely nothing, and it was great. Having PapaBear home was delightful. He misses so many bits of watching our children grow while he is away each day, so having him with us for two weeks was really fun, but let’s get to the obvious joy. I had some relief. I had some shower- alone time. I slept in. I barely cooked or cleaned( I know, he’s amazing!). AND I heard my thoughts, not just the surface thoughts floating around my head, but even some of those deeper soul thoughts. There weren’t many shockers this time, which is a relief. In my former life, feeling unhappy or anxious with myself, I would have been overly ambitious, always pushing and striving, the way I thought I was supposed to. Maybe it’s because I’m better seasoned now, that I have a bit of experience under my belt, but my hopes and dreams are much simpler at this stage in the game. I’m pretty sure it’s actually just cause, I’m happy.This year, I’m hoping to put more heart into creating the things I keep imagining and not just thinking about them. I plan to develop this space to share them with you. I hope to make more foods myself, the way I did before I gave birth to a tiny boy who screeches every time Mama is trying to work in the kitchen. I will put energy into growing bigger and better gardens than last year, and I will start planning now!  I’ll devote our whole summer to it. We, as a family, will spend September canning. I’d like to make more of my own clothing. I’ll do those little things around here to better organize and pretty up (yep) our home. I’ll write more. Worry less. I’ll start making Christmas gifts in July when I get that nostalgic Christmas feeling that shows up once I’ve had enough of the searing, Ontario heat, and lastly, I’ll write down some of the wonderful memories (to read as a cute old woman) I’m making with these beautiful people I share my life with. Oh ya, and, I’ll try out some lipstick, or lippy as my grandmother called it.





Chez this place

I’m crawling out from our Christmas den, to sum up what’s been goin on chez this place. We followed the usual traditions that we’ve created since moving to this corner of the earth. Birthday brunch followed by an evening full of snacks, Santa tracking, shooing children off to bed and grownups filling our house full of Christmas magic. 
star ezraNormally Papa bear and I are awake until the wee hours of the morning, putting the finishing touches on our Christmas experience, but this year, this year we were on our best game. The wrapping was done, the birthday festivities out of the way, and when we climbed into bed beside our wee ones, we silently (so as not to ruin the magic) high fived it, before we slipped into Christmas Eve comas. farmhouseChristmas morning met us with happy children, coffee, and the company of Pa, PapaBear’s own PapaBear. The unwrapping occurred at a gentle pace, each of us allowing time to observe each other’s joy of both giving and receiving. We excitedly opened the gifts that Wild Flower had bought for us at the local ‘Santa shop’ event. some candles for Mama, a ball for Enee, a toy car for Eagle, and the most amazing tag for PapaBear’s backpack. After opening a few gifts, our youngest, Eagle, decided that he had simply had enough. “This one is for you!” we all tried to explain. “No”. He was adamant, so we followed his lead and left him to open at his own pace. There was a point where we watched as he used his little finger, shaped as a hook, to pick open a tiny gift for a ten minute interval. We tried our best not to rush him with our adult speed, but even grown ups can be antsy on Christmas morning.DSCN0192DSCN0194There it is…the ring she saw in the catalogue. She couldn’t believe that Santa brought it for her.DSCN0230Once the gifts were unwrapped and the bits of paper were ‘filed’, code for stashed in the wood stove, we filled our bellies with bacon and eggs and ventured outside to enjoy what Christmas had brought us, Spring of course!jeepNow, don’t get me wrong, I’ve always been a White Christmas kinda gal, but this year, being thirty and all, and a bit wiser than I was my previous green Christmases, I accepted her beauty in all her brownishness. I took our chickens some biscotti, since we haven’t eaten it in the two years its been in our pantry, and I watched them roll in the dust, scratching and pecking on this fine Christmas day. Might as well accept it, and now, as I write about this one full week later, it snows. Not just your average December snow, nope, because now it’s January, and just like she promises, it’s blizzarding. But back to Christmas joy…turkeyWe’ve spent an entire week feasting and relaxing with our house full of company. We’ve eaten until we can eat no more, and then we ate…some more. We’ve enjoyed movie marathons, short trips to the store together, and simple things around our home that we normally divide in order to conquer. I’m loving the togetherness. I love that last night we started the new calendar year celebration so early that staying up late for Wild Flower meant that after dancing and snacking and movie watching, 8:30 felt late. I love that it meant our house was quiet enough for Little Eagle to fall fast asleep quickly and that since Enee was with his mom, our house was quiet by 9. For the first time in over a week, it was just us. The lights were low, the tree was sparkling, the fire was glowing, the drinks were in our hands, sure mine was tea, but it was just us. This scene brings me back to our favourite Shrek clip…where Shrek and Fiona spend the day tirelessly caring for their kids, and when the children are finally sleeping, Shrek turns to his wife, raising his eyebrows says as suggestively as an ogre can, “so, what shall we do now”, with an immediate flash to the next scene of them laying across the bed, fully clothed and snoring loudly. There was no snoring, but our living room was cosy, the movies were bountiful, and since not one child woke up until after midnight, it wasn’t until then that we peeled our eyes from our movie and giggled that we’d missed the New Year.

Happy New Yearxo




Christmas Eve

On this fine Christmas Eve day we celebrate. We celebrate the young life of our five year old daughter. We celebrate the sleepless nights that lay in our past, we celebrate the fact that we’ve made it. We’ve laid the foundation of ‘those first five years”. We see her for who she is, all of her beauty, her creativity, her kind, nurturing self. We see it all. And while she enjoys a slice of birthday, chocolate quinoa cake  ( seriously, it’s amazing), we high five each other with a twinkle in our eyes, and we wish each other a happy birthing day, cause every parent knows, it’s not just about the kiddosshadowsdollyWild Flower’s birthday gift, made by mama. She named her “Wild Willow”. We partied this morning, our fifth birthday brunch; friends and family came and graciously gave something special for Flower to open. She thoughtfully examined each gift, something that gives me a little thrill. We’ve managed to avoid that unwrapping insanity. Her favourite gift from this morning, a chipmunk in a tutu card, and she’s been toting around her 5 candle, adding it to the top of all birthday snacks.  The innocence of 5. It excites me.
DSCN0053See that wee car? That’s us. The Hayswold’s family Christmas. Embarrassed teenage son..check! More about that next time.

How are you spending Christmas Eve….


Happy Christmas,



Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

IMG_3681 IMG_3674
This time of year always brings nostalgia. I remember being young and learning about the joys of Christmas discovery, unpacking the decorations with my mom and hearing the stories that accompanied each one. It’s a time to reflect on the year that has passed. A time to take stock of all that has been endured, the warm memories, and maybe some things that could have been improved upon. The thing thought that occupies my mind most is how much our lives have changed in these two short years since we first moved here. What I really remember is how difficult it was. How jobs didn’t pan out the way we had expected them to, the way it felt to be so very pregnant and to feel quite useless having given up my modern gal career to stay at home and do what we knew was best for our growing family while contributing zero dollas to our family situation (something I’ve since grown to see in a new light), and I can recall, most vividly, the memory of hearing the  ever so melancholy voice of Judy Garland singing “next year all our troubles will be miiiiles away“. That sentiment carried me through the holiday that year, knowing that next year we would be a little bit further ahead. We had to be. And now, two years later things are moving along nicely. Although there have been no lottery winnings, we have managed to pay down some crippling debt, Papa is a little bit more secure in his position at work, and we’ve begun to adapt the way of life here at MoonHayven. This year’s firewood…practically free, versus the whopping $1200 we paid the first year, which, by the way, was wet and not nearly enough for the winter. We’ve found a great little produce market where we stock up on veggies for the winter, and we put enough venison (thanks Papa Bear) and home grown chicken in the freezer to last. The lessons we’ve learned are not just about survival, but of what we can give, how open we are to receiving, and about simplicity. I can’t help but feel so deeply grateful for all of the wisdom we’ve absorbed throughout that shittacular experience. Which leads me to part two of this post.IMG_3697

My occasional browsing of the local Facebook groups allowed me to help out a local mama this evening. She is living alone with her sweet two-year-old baby girl in a small one bedroom apartment. She’s giving it her best. She’s all in. Self-employed and twenty years old, does not your every day mama make. She loves her blonde cherub with every fibre of her being, which I could tell even before I met her for the first time today. She had posted in a local group, that she was in trouble this holiday season, that she had lost her Hydro privileges, and she was keeping warm with a small heater and one light. She was looking for candles; that’s it, candles.  And so, with the spirit of the Yuletide season wrapped around me, recalling Christmas of 2012, which I have most certainly minimized in order to preserve Papa Bear’s embarrassment (although come on honey, you were not to blame), I reached out my hand to her, and lucky for me, she accepted. Wild Flower and I picked up this mummy and her babe this afternoon and brought them home to sit by the fire. The kiddos played, the mamas got to know what rocks each other’s souls, and then we ate some free-range chicken. It doesn’t get better than that, except maybe with coffee. We ate veggies and cheese and all things delicious; needless to say, they left with full bellies and a bag full of treats, but more importantly what we are left with is a feeling that cannot be described.that christmas

that christmas

When I tucked my child into bed tonight, only then was it that I briefed her on their situation, “Maddie’s mom couldn’t pay to keep their lights on anymore, so we brought them here to play and have fun even though it is dark at their house”, and Wild Flower replied ” I’m happy I danced with Maddie, Mama.” Success. There may have been squabbles over whose toys were whose, there may not be anything left here for lunches tomorrow (Enee will delight in cafeteria lunch), but I know that there is some money left to buy what we need, and most importantly, I know what it felt like to share some kindness with a stranger. And to that wonderful mama, “next year all your troubles will be out of sight“…or at least fewer and farther between.


Much love and kindness,


Mini Spring

The back to homeschool routines have come and gone, the deer hunt is behind us (and our freezer is full!); we’ve come around to the idea of winter with last week’s freeze. With temperatures of -5 and a wind chill of -15, we had accepted that we may never see our hose again until the winter’s snow had melted. Those last carrots in the garden that we had hoped to cover and save for Christmas have spent the past week buried beneath a layer of icy snow, and family trips in the van have required some preheating. With the cold comes a feeling of closeness for our family. In this old farm-house, winters are warm when we spend it together, in front of the fire. Just as we’ve left our summer rhythms, we’ve also left behind some of our solitude, as we join each other in the living room at the end of the day, avoiding the chill that lingers in the far corners of our home. We pay attention to the movement of the sun, spending our mornings on the east side of our home and afternoons facing westward. Lucky for us, the afternoon sun leads us into our homeschool space, where we spend plenty of time crafting and creating. After all, what’s a year of ‘kindergarten’ without the experiences attached to scissors and glue and other odds and ends.pouring flowersflowers2

flower4 flower3And then Sunday happened. The snow left us as quickly as it came. The grass is back to  remind us that although this winter will be trying, spring will come again. And so we ventured outdoors, wound up that hose, covered those carrots, and attempted a lettuce transplant.

carrotsJust as quickly as it left, the snow and cold will find us again. For the remainder of the week, we will have green(ish) grass and moderate temps. We will continue to bring in those few things that we may have forgotten, hang our Christmas lights, and spend a little bit of time working on individual projects in our own corners of the home, while the warmth lasts.

witchesballUntil the snow flies,





Jackfrost and The First Snow

On Saturday morning, we woke up to see that we had been visited by a familiar friend. Jackfrost had been lingering while we slept, which meant that our morning routine, for all that it is (or isn’t!) was put on the back burner, and the kids and I headed outdoors to explore our wintery land.

the last of summer’s lettuce…



frosty peas…

frosted glass, and fairy houses

We thought we had received our fair share of nature’s beauty until we woke up Sunday morning. With sheer joy, WIldFlower screeched at the top of her lungs “SNOW!”. Atleast that is how it would have worked in another home, but in ours, it was Mama who woke the children, and possibly Papa and Enee as well, to experience the wintery fun!


So while the boring people in our house slept, out we snuck again to take a better look. DSCN0302 DSCN0299 DSCN0297 DSCN0296




It seems as though not everyone was as eager to venture out of doors.



And so we joined them on the inside…DSCN0290

Many more great adventures to come!
firstsnowsweet snowflakes,



Blue Shag Carpets and Sweet Memories

DSCN9718My childhood memories are simple. I can remember, before the age of five, being happy. I remember how in the 80s, we had a shaggy, royal blue carpet that was always clean. My mother cleaned our house endlessly, and my most vivid memory is spending the day along side her while the tv hummed in the background. I can remember the afternoon sun streaming in our westward windows and the shapes it left across our kitchen floor. I can remember feeling warm and safe; I knew I was loved. I knew what came next. I knew that later, there would be dinner at the coffee table together, just the two of us. I was 4.


Today, I am the mother to a 4 year old of my own. She is everything I wish I could be. She runs barefoot in the summer sun, collecting all things beautiful and interesting. She asks her own questions, and she gives me wise answers. She is so much cooler than I could ever be. She inspires me to be wild and free. She inspires me to let go of all that has ever held me back. She challenges me everyday to become more understanding, more patient, more open, more loving.


And then I remember that little girl sitting on the blue shag carpet, and I can’t help but think about my own mother, and how history has a notorious tendency of repeating itself; maybe not in every detail, but certainly in the grande scheme of things kinda way. Did I help her the way my WildFlower helps me? Did I challenge her the way I am challenged? Did she grow the way I am growing everyday?

 And my young daughter, will her memories be sweet and simple? Will she remember how she delighted in the small things? Will she someday wonder while looking at her own child, if she is doing all that she can? I can only hope that she will know the kind of love I know.