I can remember our first Christmas in this house after Papa Bear and I packed our little family and all of our earthly possessions into our vehicle only to drive 4 hours away from our life.
I can remember how tough it was.
How work was scarce, and how our plans hadn’t worked out the way we imagined. I can remember the worry over how we’d make magic for our children while we were just starting out, again. But we did. There were valuable lessons learned here.
I was so eager to return to this homestead, where I remember family gathering together as a child. I can remember the familiar sound of the back door, and the buffet with the tiny Nanaimo bars that different family members kept passing to me, likely thinking it was my first one of the evening. I remember the smell of toast and coffee in the mornings while my grandparents were visiting…that’s the smell of joy!
I can remember the long walk up the laneway from our home across the street. I remember the cold air and the snow fluffing at my feet. I remember the quiet. I also remember the feeling of being pulled behind my mother on a toboggan. It felt a little unstable at first, but it was alway better than walking.
I remember the way my Great Aunt would greet us at the back door, leading way to the cookie jar in the kitchen, the same kitchen I prepare our daily meals in now (only sadly, with fewer walls as our home has an open concept to it. There was something special about that tiny room. There was a legitimate reason to kick extra bodies out of the kitchen because it simply was too crowded).
These moments are magical to me now as a grown up. I remember very little about the gifts I received at Christmas. There were some spectacular ones, for sure, but what I remember most were the times that I was made to feel special. And sometimes just the normal moments of time together, that no one else likely recalls, but they were important to me.
Perhaps the magic we give our children requires a whole lot less than we think?
I’ve known it was coming for a while, but in an unusual fashion, I found myself scrambling when the snow finally began to fall this weekend. I’m unprepared for many things, but winter is never one of them. There were still toys in the yard to be put away, a laundry list of chores for Papa Bear to tick off the list, and even cold- hardy produce left to harvest….which made for an interesting afternoon, while we, and by we I mean, he, shovelled carrots from partially frozen soil.
But of course, no one enjoys a fresh foot of snow like our youngest three. Sparrow is fascinated and equally disgusted by the ‘no’ that has covered the ‘eees’, which, of course, are trees. To watch him discover the snow for what feels like the first time was really, quite emotional. I can’t remember feeling this way with the other kids about the first dusting, but the last baby has brought many new sentimental feelings.
The snow- ventures have been plentiful these past few days, alongside with the need to retreat indoors to warm drinks and snuggling fireside. Ultimately, I can’t wait until we can turn inwards completely, working on creative endeavours inside of our home…. I can feel the holiday spirit starting to sneak in wherever it can…more on that to come…
A little bird landed in the palm of my hand. At first, I admired its beauty. I noticed the sheen of its black cap, and I fell for his little eyes, flitting back and forth. I could tell that he trusted me.
Quickly and momentarily, my adoration crossed over into greed, and for just a split second longer than I’d like to admit, I wished this bird were mine. I imagined scooping him up, and carrying him home with my hands closed tightly.
This was until I considered the view from his perspective. How would he feel, squeezed between my human-scented grasp, in the darkness, alone? How would he get along in my home, in the best, sweetest little cage I could find? Would he grow to love me the way he loves his little mates?
And then he flew away.
And I realized just how many times I’ve applied this theory to people, trying to save the best out of them by squishing them too tightly. I haven’t always set them free. And then I thought about all of the times that I have because I am learning and evolving.
My children are my greatest teachers.
May you always know freedom,
Connection is on my mind almost all of the time.
How can I find time each day to connect with my children? How can I carve out a few minutes that feel genuine, rather than offering ten minutes that work for me to cross ‘connect with kid #3’ off the list? You’d think it would be easy, having all day everyday with these incredible humans, but often things get in the way.
I’ve also been working tirelessly on connecting with my own purpose, especially since my years of growing babies have come to a close. Mothering is my jam, and I hadn’t planned much else. To me it is Everest– alluring, challenging, and rewarding. It’s almost enough, but as much as I will always be a mother, I will also be a woman who needs to do, to help, to contribute as my children move out of our home. As one little bird hovers on our doorstep, about to take flight, I’m reminded of this….
And then that leads me to my partner. After months of his working over time, and then there was winter prep (still), and the needs of our kiddos…before we knew it, our connection had been stretch and pulled and weighed down by all of the moments of missed opportunity…
So it’s traditional for us with November days, when we turn to each other and promise to take a little better care of this foundation that everything is built upon. We remind each other of things we likely said to each other last year, but they help to bring us back to what’s important….to ask each other for help when needed, to offer up a little more than the other expects, to feed this fire first…something that is difficult with babies running around stealing acorn squash from the front room and flushing the toilet for fun.
So if you haven’t had the reminder in your own life, lately, here it is…tell your spouse you appreciate them, love them, listen to them, hold them, spend time with them…whichever language works in your favour.
Autumn months bring the chance to retreat, to circle around the fire together and reflect. What can I do to improve my family life, my relationships, my self? Work upon the latter typically helps in all other areas.
I’m appreciative of time spent indoors, despite being a lover of the natural world. Colder, darker days give a busy woman permission to pursue projects with her hands, projects of sewing and of needle work, or making new clothing and creative writing. The gardens can wait.
The darkness gives way for work on our inner foliage. What have I neglected during life’s busiest season? How can I ensure to keep all areas nourished, moving forward, and what signs are going to present themselves to let me know when that balance has tipped? After all, a balance isn’t a very stable thing.
Here’s what we’ve been balancing lately:
Our ceiling will never be free of cobwebs
The idea of being caught up on the laundry is actually impossible, unless we become nudists.
The floors are maintained at a level of ‘clean enough’, which to me means, go ahead and eat that strawberry you dropped…
There will always be smudges on the cupboards, even though I wipe them
There will always be bathrooms that could be cleaner because we use them
There will always be toys on the floor because we play here
I might not always make the best choices or say the right things
I might not always be the ideal role model
And while these things are important in running a home and raising children, focusing on them too intently, takes my eye away from the prize.
Sometimes it’s important to remind myself what that is….
As previously mentioned here, we enjoy a first- snow- of- the -season- hot- chocolate tradition in our home. It dates back to Big Brother’s childhood nights, almost 10 years ago.
It was December. It was days before Christmas, and it was finally snowing! We had tucked our 10 year old into bed hours ago, and being the excellent sleeper that he has always been, he was more than likely, sleeping soundly.
I’ve always held a special love for the Christmas season and the romance that a first snow brings (perhaps because my future self would have two Christmas babies!) So when those fat, white chunks fell from the sky, and the brown earth slipped away under the floof, I ran into his bedroom, summoning E from under his warm, horse-print sheets and dragged him out to enjoy the late-night snowfall.
“Come on!” I shouted out the front door that was reserved for the kind of company that didn’t know us well. I ran and jumped through the snow, feeling so grateful for the opportunity to feel childlike again.
Of course, having been woken from his slumber, the child stood in the doorway beside his father, staring. They muttered things like “well, she’s lost it”, and “what the?”
Eventually, I was cold and wet enough to come indoors, only slightly disappointed that no one shared my joy. As he turned to head back to bed, I asked Big Brother the 4 magical words that seem to have stuck over the years… want some hot chocolate? And just like that, a tradition was born.
I’m sure at this point, I pulled down some sort of ‘Nestle’ crap in a tub, boiled water and mixed the marshmallows- included powder together, but it was the beginning…
We’re 4 kids into this tradition now, and everyone seems to enjoy it. Here’s the recipe I’ve perfected over the years…PNourishing Hot CocoaPrep Time5 minsCook Time5 minsTotal Time10 minsCourse: DrinksIngredients
- 2 cups Milk of Choice I’ve used 2%, cashew milk, or even heavy cream
- 4 tbsp Fairly Traded Cocoa Powder
- 1 tbsp Organic Collagen optional for added protein
- 1 tbsp Raw Honey or Coconut Sugar or to taste
- 1 tsp Salted Butter
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- .5 tsp cinnamon
Combine ingredients and heat slowly, whisking always.
Be careful not to overheat. This is most important if you are using raw honey and wish to preserve the beneficial bacteria.( If you enjoy your drink extremely hot, save your honey on a spoon to dip and stir as your beverage cools.)
Once heated, pop into blender for 30 seconds to create a yummy frothy texture.
Add optional whipped cream topping.
Enjoy with garnishes such as chocolate curls, coconut, sprinkles etc.
I’m thinking this evening, about my choices and how they’ve lead me here
….here to my home where I grew up, home to my partner who always supports me even though he may not agree, with my children who believe I’m special even when I can’t understand why.
Of course, there were other hands involved in this journey, the hands of luck and of privilege, not to mention the hands of those who helped me up…for them I am grateful.
Though there are things to work on, I’m content. On a daily basis I experience happiness. My life is full, my home is warm, and there is food in my fridge. I really couldn’t ask for much more.
wishing the same for you,
Wonder is all around me.
It’s knocking on my door whether or not I’m here to answer…
It seeps through the cracks between hustle and hibernation, calling for me to take notice.
It. Knows. My. Name.
Will I choose to accept its calling?
Or will another moment whither away, my hands deep in the dish water, my mind wracked with thoughts of lists and things that are, in fact, quite important.
Or will I crouch to greet the face who clings to my legs, calling out ME! ME! MEEE!!!
The least helpful advice to give to a mother with young children is to forget the dishes, these years pass too quickly.
Though the message comes with good intentions, believe me, she already knows. She can see how quickly the moments stack up like bills, debts she hasn’t yet paid to herself or her children. Those pants she meant to sew for the last baby didn’t meet the sewing machine and now he’s teetering on two. Despite all of the times she turned away from the soapy water to pull his small face into her hands, kiss his marshmallow cheeks, and toss him up to the counter to help, time slipped on by.
And besides, who IS going to do those dishes?
Somedays, I’m obliged to choose the sudsy sink, but today I chose wonder.
Wishing you wonder and someone to mop your floors,
I can feel the change in the air.
I haven’t worn my sandals for several weeks now, and we’ve turned the heat on long ago.
Rather than living outdoors, we simply visit.
Need I say it? Fall is here, leading us quickly towards winter.
I haven’t put my gardens to bed yet, and I still have to pick up my winter veggies from the local farm. I haven’t washed and sorted through the hats and mittens yet, nor have we piled the wood into the shed. But we’re feeling the sense of urgency that comes with a chill in the air. This weekend better watch out!
Suppers have transitioned from greens to roots and we’ve trimmed our smoothie making habits way back. Lately we’re making hot chocolate, my famous recipe I’ve mastered over the years. Some days we even have it with breakfast.
But I’m not sad about this shift. Though I love the feel of the sun on my body, I equally love the sound of the wood stove’s fan and the smell of the chimney smoke while we play in the woods.
This life is always changing– one season gives way to the next, one year into another, one child into a grown man (18 next month!)…it doesn’t make sense the try to stop it, squeezing it so hard the juice spills over our hands. I’m reminded of this each time I dig my heels in shouting “I’m not ready yet!”
…..it’s better just to flow.