Saturday, December 20, 2014

.this moment.

Right now I am

• thankful for the brightly wrapped surprises hidden in my closet. If they were under the tree, Aoife would've opened them all by now.

• sipping hot coffee

• curious how best to help my coughing, hacking cat

• enjoying a winter-like day in Texas with overcast skies, drizzle, and a high in the low 50s.

• debating which of my favorite treats to bring along to our Yule celebration tonight.

• listening to the chirping of cardinals and sparrows as they enjoy the safety of our yard

• grateful Hawk has not gotten any of them or my chickens yet this season though she is also in my yard every cloudy morning

• hoping everyone's mailed treasures arrive to the destinations when expected

• wondering how my cat manages to open the closet 

• about to finish the annual card mailing

• loving the stillness before the children stir

• snuggling my furry friends

• wishing you all a joyous and safe season of celebrating. May blessing find you throughout the year to come!

Sunday, November 16, 2014


At our house, Sundays are our family day. I would say "day off" but what does that mean to parents? We don't turn off our alarms or the chickens would remain locked in without access to food or water, so someone has to get up and take care of the animals. We don't seem to ever turn all screens off for a whole day. Pete never truly has a day off from work; people are always calling, reporting how tests went, complaining about a broken plane, adjusting schedules. The children stay by our sides throughout the day.

Sundays are the day when we get 2-person fixit jobs completed. For example, I clean the hen house, he keeps the toddler from eating the poop. He mends the pergola while the older one hands him screws and I keep the little one inside. He replaces insulation in an outside accessed closet that a squrril fell through. (That's a fun story!)

Some Sundays we go to the pool because the indoor slide is open. Some Sundays we bake or visit the library or a park and we all go together. Sometimes I wish Sundays happened on Wednesday and we could visit a zoo or an art museum as a family.

Sundays are usually free of time constraints and outside demands. We pick what we do or don't do. We eat an awesome brunch because we tend to go back to sleep after feeding the hens. Apart from the occasional work call, we have time to slow down, to look each other in the face, to be completely engrossed in play, to read not just at bedtime, to be together. 

Sundays are my favorite. I actually feel more On on a Sunday. If my Sunday is stressful or my Monday morning solo time is messed with, I feel Off the rest of the week. I have become a fan of slow living. And you know what? I'm okay with that.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

There's always more paper

So i used to write a blog, fairly regularly even. This blog to be precise. I know I warned you it might be quiet for a bit while I tended to other creative areas in my life, but I didn't mean to go dark! Sorry!! 

I did put a pause on practicing my photography skills and since the painting class has an online discussion forum, I've been focusing my energies there and completely blowing off this space. The baby has hit that toddler phase when all photos are blurry anyway and the big girl has been in school so when she's home she's been painting with me and we haven't had much to share here. 

I did want to share about a recent project we completed. Our library sponsors a preschool art workshop once a month that currently doesn't allow paint brushes. Basically, the librarian reads a book about brushing your teeth and we paint with toothbrushes. That sort of idea. This time we heard a story about a girl who doesn't want to comb her hair and then we used combs to paint with. As we sat waiting for our turn with the bowl of purple paint, I decided to follow my intuition and just grab the bottle and squirt a glob on each of our papers and see what happened. I noticed some of the other participants were having a hard time releasing the need to make recognizable shapes with the edges of the comb in a similar fashion to using a artist's brush. I grabbed the nearest comb and said loud enough for the frustrated patents to hear "let's see what happens when we use this side of the comb. There's plenty of paper." My daughters and I started combing the paint up and down and back and forth across the page watching deep lines appear. On a hunch I grab a few other colors and squirted more globs on the page and combed the colors together in a square fashion. As I did this I double checked that my oldest had enough paper and was okay staying firmly in her Purple Phase and that my youngest hadn't eaten any of the tempura. As I glanced between the two I noticed the little boy sitting near us abandon his need to make purple stars and blue rectangles. He grabbed a new piece of paper and used a spoon to slap down a glob of red paint and began to experiment. The stress that had been building in his mom's shoulder melted as she noticed him engaging thoroughly into the activity. We kept adding more colors and started swirling the colors in a big circle. I stopped just before everything completely mixed to brown and began washing all the chairs that bore the mark of a visit from my youngest.
 Something about that experience didn't agree with my typical recycling of my paper afterwards- discarding coffee filter hats and recycling ice paintings usually leave me guilt-free but this one wouldn't let go. So I brought it home with me to find that the assignment for my painting class was to paint from my center, or from my natural state. 

I believe my natural state is one of curiosity as I find peace, joy and fulfillment in searching for answers to questions, even unspoken questions. I also enjoy watching children explore, guided by their curiosity, uninhibited by what they "should" be discovering. That said, I used the piece we started at the library for this project. I sat down at the kitchen table and just began to fill in the empty spots with whatever color called to me. My oldest came up to me and started suggesting which shapes to include, saying it needs more pink. I followed her lead and when she asked if she could help me paint I knew we were on the right track. 

I have a hard time letting her help me with my creative projects. I wasn't encouraged to explore painting or other drawing activities as a kid and so I am conscious of accidentally discouraging her creative interests. I want her to feel free to express herself however she needs to but at the same time I want to own my own creative needs and paint according to my own intuition and spirit. So when she asks' "mama, can I help you?" I have to answer carefully. "What shapes should I paint?" "Would you like to try this on your own paper?" But in this case, i let her help make some embellishments and this was our result

And so with that, I want to encourage you to try something new guided by that little voice that says "do it!" Some times it's hard to hear this voice under all the negativity and demands on your time, but it's there. Trust it. Amazing things are inside your spirit waiting to get out. And there is always more paper.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Around here lately

Again, the craziness of life had me believing this posted 2 weeks ago... Oops! Here we go again!

Monday, September 29, 2014

A beautiful mess

"What a beautiful mess. What a beautiful mess I'm in." ~ Diamond Rio

Lately I'm finding myself feeling comfortable in the fullness of motherhood. I do miss the free Maiden of my youth from time to time but I'm willing to bet this is normal, healthy even. Every so often tapping into that youthfulness helps me remember to laugh, puts household stress in the appropriate place and renews my creativity and playfulness so I can better connect with my children, my partner, my Self. 

But ah motherhood. The nurturing of others, the constant raw emotions that hurt for children the world over, the moving into wisdom that only comes through experience. I do have to remind myself to let my inner Crone, that contentment with staying home and doing things my way all that time and getting stuck in routines, I have to let her stay asleep just a bit longer. My children are small. Yes, they benefit from routines and wisdom and the security of knowing momma has done this before, but I benefit from not getting stuck.

I am curious how, now that I have two, I feel more comfortable with this role. With the coming of motherhood and my first child I was not comfortable being at home all the time, allowing boredom to sneak in and force inner quiet and personal creativity. Now that my second child has enter toddlerhood and doesn't need me as much as she did in infancy (and boy do they NEED you then!) I feel a little more space in my days. A little more spontaneity returning. A healthier blend of maiden and mother energy. It's freeing, like the feeling of coming of age with new horizons to explore. 

So, with this new accepted growth comes a new adventure. I'm taking an online painting course that is challenging not only my creativity but also my psyche. We are exploring metaphysical themes, having philosophical discussions and painting through our questions to our answers.

It has already been a beautiful experience highlighting just how unbalanced my home life truly  is! Food is being prepared, laundry and chores are being maintained, sick children are being tended to, but yet the house is a constant disaster. I'm taking a few minutes to read assignments in the morning, Emagene and I paint and create through Aoife's nap, and then I join in the online discussions while Pete bathes the girls. All times when I used to run around putting up toys and folding other people's laundry and other general tidying. You can imagine the state of my house! Why does including daily self care mean the highlighting of everyone else's need for MY care? Ah motherhood. 

I wish you could see the state of my soul! 

It is healing. Reconnecting my maiden and mother, searching for a way to include the crone so the rest of my family doesn't implode from the stress of living in chaos.  It is a beautiful mess. I may be absent a bit from here and from Facebook during this month-long class but I will return, hopefully full of bliss and ready for a more balanced, creative approach to life, especially now that the weather has changed to perfect and the children have learned how to play together.  

May your soul find wings and laughter in every day!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

It's been busy!

Oh August! It would appear that the month of Leo will consistently bless us with the fullness of life. We've filled the last remaining "free" days of warm (read hot) weather with birthday parties, pool parties and birthday-pool parties. We've stayed up late around the firepit just because we know our mornings of sleeping late are numbered. We met Emagene's new teacher, shopped for school supplies and planned a fall vacation. We went to a few museums, started a new dance class, added soccer into our weekly lives again and made plans to head back to the pool once we get this school schedule thing under our belts. We got the kids passports and have planted the seed of a long boat trip and swimming with dolphins into their imaginations. But as our sleep patterns struggle to adjust and little bodies keep growing, I have had to put you, dear reader, on the back burner. I am sorry! I do so enjoy sharing tiny treasures of my life with you. I am full with my own learning agenda and the promise of weekly solo time! Mommy alone time is a family need that gets lost in the fullness of summer. It's the little things that refill me and keep my head from exploding as I go through life here in this strange land of Texas (who just voted to change the school history books to align with Republican Party agenda. *sigh*). On a brighter note: the Harvest Moon has visited. My favorite time of year! I will now go eat a moon cake and thank the autumn rains for their blessings, among other moments of thankfulness.

The harvest season is upon us. What are you thankful for?

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Fostering a Love of Food

I think I've written about Food as Fuel here before. The concept that the quality of your fuel can help maintain the life of your machine, in this case the machine is your body. If not, I know I've had long conversations with some of you on the subject. Doing a basic Google search these days, you'll find multiple sources saying eating well is not only good for you, but it can help fight off cancer, maintain hormone levels, ensure longevity, and any other sort of positive attribute you can think of. In my opinion, all this awesome preventive medicine ingested by eating well starts with a healthy love of food. (I define food as "minimally processed edible matter that comes from plants and animals.") As a parent I strive to instill a love for healthy food in my kids.

 I recently read French Kids Eat Everything by Karen Le Billon (available here). I finished the book feeling reinforced in the methods and attitudes already in place regarding mealtime in our house. We eat 4 times a day, within a half hour start-time window depending on if we are/can wait for Pete to join us for dinner. Everyone has to take a bite of new foods, everyone has jobs to help prep and clean up, we eat at the table whenever possible, etc. This mindset had gotten slightly offtrack when we lost complete control of our schedules by adding preschool (and a new baby) to the mix. After reestablishing this mindset, we have decided to experiment with new foods. I checked out a couple children's books from our library


I Can Eat a Rainbow by Annabel Karmel

Which included several items we couldn't pronounce, had never seen at the grocery or had not presented to Emagene that she could remember.

Naturally, we made a list of these items and stuck it on the fridge. 
We hope to try all of these at least once when they come in season at our local farmers market. 

We also have this look and find farmers market book that helps us remember which items to lookout for according to season. I bought it through a booksale on but now I can't find the link to it anywhere. Its called: At the Farmers Market and doesn't list an author. The illustrator is Staffane McClary.

We started our food journey at the beginning of summer by purchasing some rhubarb and a kohlrabi. We smelled some endive and held a few chocolate peppers (not on the list, and were sadly done for the season). Taking a lesson from Karen's book, I had Emagene help me prep the new veggies. We each held, smelled, and tasted them raw and cooked. We looked for how they changed when heated. And everyone tried a bite! We sliced the kohlrabi, tossed it with oil and salt and then baked it it like potato chips (preferred over raw). We only got through half our cabbage cousin that night and made plans to cook up a batch of roasted roots before the weather turned into full-blown Texas summer sauna. Apparently the kohlrabi goes great with potatoes and beets. Good thing, because there were beets!
The rhubarb was baked in a strawberry rhubarb crumble that everyone (even Pete) ate seconds of. Sometimes I wonder if its harder to get him to try new foods or Emagene. They both put up a meager fight with wrinkled noses as they toy with the first bite on their forks. They eventually eat it. I on the other hand take a lot of deep breathes to avoid snapping at them to "just eat your food!"
I had a bit of rhubarb left over so I tried this rhubarb syrup recipe I found linked at The soda was excellent. I must try the gin version soon!

Next we reintroduced the girls to artichokes. Just plain, steamed artichokes, dipped in butter and scrapped across the teeth.
Followed by homemade lemonade.
Anyway, that is what we are doing over here. At this point we have tried purple cauliflower, grapefruit (the Texas pink was a huge hit!), guava (fresh and raw, no thanks - but seeded and blended in a smoothie, yes please!), figs (all we had were dried and they were not hit) and jicama.  I think endive and pomegranates are next. I'll keep you posted. We are having the hardest time finding starfruit out here. I used to eat it all the time in Oregon, and Emagene is really intrigued by a star-shaped food!

What new foods have you tried? 

Most of my recipes come from iPhone Google searches. When I find one I like, I email myself the link from my phone. If you ever want to know which ones I prefer, shoot me a note in the comments and I'll drop you the link.

This blog was drafted in June of 2014. Sadly, I became a bit behind in my editing when Aoife started walking. Now she is trying to run. *sigh* I may be able to knock out one decent post a week again soon. Here's to hoping!

Thanks for sticking around during my drier writing spells. I appreciate it.

Friday, August 15, 2014

More Birthday Goodness

We went into the city today to spend some time doing things Aoife loves. We ran through bead and fabric curtains, emptied bins of toys and refilled them, climbed things, chased birds and played in water. If you have not checked out the Dallas Museum of Art, especially the kids creative connection area, and you live in the area, it is a must! General admission is free and the place is amazing!  Pair up some art time with a splash pad, some sno-cones and good buddies* and you can't have a better day! Unless an awesome jazz band is playing in the museum cafe...

The only complaint was the amount of gentle bees trying to steal anything wet or sweet we were trying to eat. Not bad for a 6 hour getaway!

*Thank you so much to those who made the drive in awful Friday afternoon traffic to giggle with her and watch her explore her world. We are all extremely exhausted!