Bonfire!

We had a lovely neighborhood outdoor potluck and bonfire this weekend. I am so lucky to have kind, friendly neighbors.

Here are some pictures I took as we prepared for our get together:

20150518-125730.jpg

Here is River, cozy by the fire, with her doll, my doll from childhood.

20150518-125906.jpg

20150518-130011.jpg

Our fire pit

20150518-130149.jpg

Our best boy.

Posted in animals, Family, home, parenting, toddler | Leave a comment

May 12th, 2015

20150512-112450.jpg

20150512-112537.jpg

20150512-112639.jpg

20150512-112709.jpg

20150512-112721.jpg

20150512-112758.jpg

20150512-112825.jpg

20150512-112958.jpg

Posted in uncategorized | 2 Comments

The Balance

I try to be laid back about things we encounter when hanging out with people. Some sugary food gets offered, ok. A gift gets given that’s not my favorite, ok. I can always donate extra toys to goodwill and explain that some things we just do once and awhile for a special treat.

When activities go beyond my comfort level I kindly let folks know of our family ways of life: ‘River doesn’t watch much TV, so we’ll just skip it’ or ‘we don’t play violent games, let’s choose a different thing to play’ or ‘she’s already had enough sugar, so we won’t be eating any more tonight.’

I believe that the ways that we live life day in and day out matter much more than things we may do on occasion, like eat birthday cake or get a bunch of photos taken of ourselves, or stay up late. Being mellow when we come up against other people’s worlds allows them to feel accepted, as well as allowing us to experience something different.

The slippery slope is when we start allowing certain things in to our life more and more while still believing that they are not, in fact, a part of our life.

My own personal example of this is TV. Or videos as it may be, since we don’t technically have a TV.

I’ve started letting River watch some Mister Roger’s every day. This began, and still functions, as a way to let me have some free time. Most often I cook dinner and clean the kitchen. It is wonderful to have some time to think. However, we have now reached the stage where River screams if I say no to letting her watch an episode. It has gone too far apparently. It is exhausting to think of giving up this hour a day when I don’t have to be actively parenting. Must I? Maybe so. We have slid from a place of rarely watching TV to a place where River sings the theme song and pretends we are characters from the show.

I already wake up before anyone else in my household. I wake early and make coffee, breakfast, and lunch for those of us that will be gone for the day. I take nap time to read or clean. And sometimes I even set an alarm and wake up after River is asleep to clean or read. I work to accomplish my tasks, and I aim to give myself time for self renewal. But maintaining this balance takes continual thought, planning, and effort.

We do all the good things: we spend lots of time outside, we read books, River helps me with household chores, we bond with our animals, and we have play dates with friends. I aim at a balance of at home time and socializing.

But even with all this intention I feel the need for more alone time. River sometimes needs more attention than I can give. We caretakers get tired.

Any advice mamas and papas? What do you do? What is your balance?

Posted in compromise, Family, parenting, struggles, toddler | 4 Comments

A Little List

20150408-135047.jpg

Being a mom at home, there is so much to do. Some people may picture it being easy, and for sure there are days when it is relaxing, but I wear so many hats, and do so many different tasks, that I find it helpful to make lists for myself.

Above is a list of tasks I hoped to get accomplished yesterday. By the end of the day almost everything was crossed off, and the items that lingered I am working on today.

Lists can help me to organize my thoughts. I can solidify and lay out my plans on paper, instead of constantly needing to remind myself what I meant for this day to hold. They keep me focused, and help me not to feel overwhelmed. When you look at a physical list you can also gain satisfaction from the items that have gotten crossed off. Your accomplishments don’t fade away; you can see what you have already done.

20150408-135559.jpg

I make meal plans to guide me through the week. I use my meal plan to write my grocery list. I use my grocery list to guide me through the grocery store. I make lists of places I need to go when I am out running errands. This keeps me efficient and assures that I don’t have to make another voyage out. I’ve even made a weekly chore plan for myself before, which is incredibly helpful.

For me, lists help me to gain organization. They keep me focused. And who doesn’t love to cross off a completed item?

Posted in organizing | 1 Comment

Mellowly Preparing For Easter

Today the main focus around here is preparing for tomorrow’s festivities.

20150404-131417.jpg

My focus with holidays lately is simplification, and a return to family, community, and the Earth.

This year for Easter we will have a lovely family breakfast. My husband will make crepes, and each family member will get their beautiful yet simple Easter basket. The baskets will contain homemade cards telling each person why I appreciate them. The handles of the wicker baskets will be twined with ribbon and colored wool will lie on the bottom. Inside there will be a beautifully decorated egg (made in years past), a few homemade sweeties, and a small handful of natural jelly beans inside a plastic egg.

As the day progresses, we will have some friends over for an outdoor potluck lunch in our backyard. We’ll all go on a small egg hunt in the backyard, and fill out baskets with found goods. The eggs will be filled with homemade sweeties.

Later we will walk to our local creek and give thanks for fresh water. Will we throw lilac blossoms in and watch them pass under a bridge and cheer.

20150404-132113.jpg

The homemade sweeties are made and tucked away (thank you nap time). I used mini cupcake wrappers and layered up inside each one a chocolate melting wafer, unsweetened coconut, hazelnut spread, and another chocolate melting wafer. I melted them in the oven at 225 degrees for about 15 minutes. One baking tray full had peanut butter instead of hazelnut spread.

Here you can see the step by step layering process:

20150404-132409.jpg

20150404-132417.jpg

20150404-132424.jpg

20150404-132435.jpg</a

And here are the peanut butter ones:

20150404-134306.jpg

Now we need to decorate our baskets…

20150404-134408.jpg

Hang flags around the yard…

20150404-134509.jpg

Decorate our astara tree with eggs…

20150404-134630.jpg

And make our potluck dishes for tomorrow.

Hope you have a lovely holiday!

~Erin

Posted in crafting, Family, home, parenting, simplifying, toddler | Leave a comment

The Ever Changing Garden

20150325-151210.jpg

The peas have sprouted. They are reaching toward their strings.

20150325-151502.jpg

In a week of heat the arugula flowered. Some of it I am letting go to seed so it will drop its seed and reseed. Others I have pulled and replanted their habitations with new greens. All of the flowered arugula plants were beautiful.

20150325-151830.jpg

The parsley is huge. It is prolific. It goes in soups, in stews. It goes into my mouth when I am wandering the garden.

20150325-152130.jpg

It is a changing garden this time of year. Many of our winter greens flowered over the last few weeks. If I was a more savvy gardener I would have seen it coming and harvested and frozen all of their leaves. But I cannot help it; I think of them as beings. I cannot strip them bare…

Our Lady the Collard Green, who we brought with us from our old house a year and a half ago, decided to bolt. She is lovely, as always. I will miss her.

And in go the new plantings, seeds and starts. In go new hopes and dreams of the garden still to come; of my spring garden, my summer garden.

Here we go, as we round the bend from the spring equinox. Let the gardening continue. May growth flourish.

20150325-152757.jpg

20150325-152808.jpg

Posted in garden, harvest | Leave a comment

The Sleeping Child

I share a bed with my husband and our toddler. Last night she slept until 5, when I woke, then she fell back to sleep. Nights like this give me vitality for my early wakings and the day that follows. But many nights she wakes 3-5 times a night, needing a bit of my effort and energy to fall asleep once more.

At two and half years of age she still nursing, not by some great plan of my own, but because I am not quite sure how to stop. It takes so much energy to divert her from nursing, so going with it is just easier on me. Or is it? I am ready for solid nights of sleep. I am ready to call my breasts my own again.

Everyone in our house has slightly different schedules. My step step son sometimes settles down to sleep just hours before my husband and I wake. We also have the amazing knack of choosing homes where you have to walk through our bedroom to reach the bathroom. And our bedroom door doesn’t close or open without a small squeak, or a low and solid ‘pop.’

20150321-075040.jpg

So how do I transition from fearing the creaky door, the loud breakfast making noises, the night time chatter, to enjoying life while my little one sleeps?

We will see, my friends. I have been relying largely on life’s changing stages, which occur with or without our input. Baby to toddler, toddler to small child. Teenager to adult. Life moves us along our path. I just need to walk this path now holding my toddler’s hand, not nursing her. So I may have more morning solitude. More yoga. More deep breaths.

20150321-075609.jpg

Wish me luck.

Posted in compromise, Family, parenting, struggles, toddler | 3 Comments