Wednesday, January 28, 2009

More Good Times

I've once again posted way too many photos. It couldn't be helped. Not only are Danielle and her kids our favorite farmer-unschoolers. In addition, I thought I had erased all of these photos from my camera so am so thankful to all of them for still being here.

As soon as they arrived, the new art room was officially opened! They pretty much lived here, making and trading A.T.C.s for the next few days, except for breaks to play the "Harry Potter scene-it" game and to eat the fabulous food that Danielle brought with her from her farm - raspberry preserves, loaves of artisanal bread, cheese from her cow Bella and the best roast pig I've ever had. Wow.
Among his many talents, Sam was far better at using the dog door than our dog.
We also left the art room to go to the farm. While Danielle got her hands back in the dirt with Nicolas (it's too cold for much farming at her place) I followed the kids to the back fields to collect crystals.

There was a fierce game of "predator" - one cheetah chasing lots of gazelles.Tribal red soil paint:
We miss them all already.

Sunday, January 25, 2009


Right before leaving Chattanooga, we visited their Creative Discovery Museum. Jesse spent a long time making a stop action film, something he has been trying to do at home but without the fancy equipment and background scenery. It was an exciting story about a space cow surviving a dinosaur attack.
There was lots more water play:

Jesse bravely teased the T. Rex with his hand, wondering out loud if "Night at the Museum" could ever be real?While Jesse, looking into a widening mirror, got to take a look at what it would be like to take up a lot more space, I took this shot and saw myself taking up very little space on the left.This brought back a childhood memory for me. I was seven years old, the youngest camper at an overnight camp. I remember closing my eyes to go to sleep and having the sensation that my body was growing to take over the whole room, that I was a huge presence. It was scary but I also knew that if I opened my eyes I would be small again and I liked feeling so big for a change.

I've been thinking about what it is that makes us, as children and as adults, feel fully present in a strong, confident, big way. But that's for another post (or maybe part of a talk at a conference in New England :) Now, back to the Chattanooga scrapbook.

Gillen discovering the power of defying gravity, or just the power of a pulley?Though I took only one picture of our time with Mindy's family and of the sustainable farming conference which brought us there, these were major highlights of the weekend.

SSAWG, the southern sustainable ag. conference, was HUGE! It was exciting to see how big this group has gotten since the first time I went to one, while pregnant with Gillen. There are a lot of eager new farmers.
Here is sweet beautiful Sophie, after swimming with us at our hotel, suited up for her basketball game. She'll have to represent the whole wonderful family, for now, until our next visit.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Tennessee Aquarium

I am in a nice hotel room, alone, with true high speed internet (which is giving me new perspective on my home's "high speed"), good reading and a room coffee machine equipped with Starbucks beans. Nicolas is very excited to be going to some very interesting farming sessions and the kids are at Mindy's, where they spent the night. Leaving their home at 11pm last night, with us, was just way too early for them. Who can blame them.

It is so quiet and I have to say I'm enjoying it. But I'm glad they'll all be here soon to swim with me in the hotel pool.

Yesterday the kids and I went for the first time to the TN Aquarium. It is fantastic. There were many unexpected sites.

A sea dragon:

A duck, hitching a slow ride:
In the beautiful butterfly atrium Gillen easily attracted many of these owl eyed wonders.
Jesse tried for about fifteen minutes and was getting really frustrated when finally,not only did one rest for a while on his finger, it even traveled for several minutes on his head:

There was a narrow escape from a shark attack:

I have to put in a plug for my favorite animal. Maybe I can follow up the bee book with one about the frogs.
Time to go get in the water ourselves!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Farm Photos

This isn't a very frequent site in GA. Ice, in the middle of the day. The kids were hoping for snow but breaking or eating all of the ice they could find brought some fun.

The hoop houses were all closed up against the cold. I peeked through the plastic.
We are leaving today for the southern sustainable farm conference in Chattanooga, TN where we'll get to also visit Mindy and family. When we return, Danielle and her kids are coming for a visit. These pictures are a warning to her that there will be even less farming to see than the last winter she visited. sigh. But there will be more dark farming-free hours to talk shop with the farmer while I hang out with her kids in the new art room. We're very excited to reunite with all these good friends.

The Inauguration

We taped the inauguration and all watched it together last night. I'm so glad that the kids were old enough to appreciate what this moment means and that we have tivo so that we could pause frequently during the speech when they had a question or we wanted to clarify something further. Yay tivo. And hallelujah America! Yes, it is an overwhelming task before us but for this moment, I am filled with hope and joy.

Jen Lemen has a beautiful, intimate picture of President Obama and his wife on her blog, with Obama's poetic description of their relationship.

Monday, January 19, 2009

the Undoing of Neatly Folded Laundry Costume Parade

I came here to write about how well I've done over the past few months with my de-cluttering, about how clear I feel with less piles, more restful blank space and rearranged furniture that gives us a fresh perspective.

Before I could take myself too seriously, the high-pitched boy team of Gillen, Jesse and (spending-the-night-friend) Logan enthusiastically burst my superficial bubble - all clad in costumes they'd created from Nicolas' boots, coats, glasses and the newly folded laundry and racing through the room in a loud parade. My moment of false organization pride threw itself into the pile up of superheroes and joyful noise.

Because (like everyone) I have presidents on the brain this week, I thought of a better picture that shows a child's joyful grandiosity - the one of John Kennedy in the oval office with his young son John-John underneath the desk at his feet. I have a feeling Obama's kids will be allowed to visit the Oval office too. And what could be better while making majorly important world-affecting decisions than to be reminded of what is at stake by the presence of a child.

Sometimes it's really loud around here. Sometimes it makes me a bit crazy. But, as parents of older kids remind me, the joyful, chaotic noise of these years will be gone all too soon and oh how I'll miss it.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

What I love, right now

-That the kids and I got to go on two adventures with friends this week - to the Atlanta History Museum and then yesterday to visit Kelli, Kyra and Alec. It was good to go somewhere, driving in the GA winter sunshine, to reconnect with Jim Henson's muppets and to hang out with good friends.

-That we get to stay home tomorrow and not go anywhere. It's so cold that there won't be a farmer's market this Saturday and therefore, Nicolas doesn't have to work too much tomorrow and can hang out part of the day with us here! Finally, a farmer's day off.

-That it is winter and we are hanging out upstairs again with books (right now, the one I wrote this summer) and legos.

-That we can hang out downstairs near our wood stove and be warm, now that we have insulation.

-That other than my toe, I feel healthy!

-That my rubber stamps are standing up (spread out like a small city) on a shelf in our new art room cabinet, calling out to be pounded into ink.

-That Gillen and Jesse are laughing in the next room, and not at each other.

-That one time out of twenty, every day, Tuki-dog actually uses her new dog door instead of scratching to be let in.

-That I am sitting under a beautiful handmade throw (my Christmas present from Dina) that is keeping me warm and stylish on our new couch.

-That I am happy with the white couch.

-That we have "The Sopranos" (the beginning of the last season) coming to our mailbox tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Between the Ages

While Kenneth, Naomi and Zoe were here we visited Ms. Whit, our 104 year old friend who accompanied us (mostly my brother and father) on trips when we were young. It was a very nice visit. The highlight was her reading to us from a journal she kept while visiting Mykonos, Greece with them, about thirty-four years ago.

It was also fun to see she and Zoe together, Ms. Whit supported by her walker and Zoe supported by her parents. One is so close to the beginning and the other is inching her way towards the end. I was struck by their shared lack of worry. They are both more laid back than most and they easily roll with the punches, trips and falls.
Last New Year's, in Sydney, I was inspired by the Aussie word for whine - "whinge" - to use it in my one New Year's resolution - not to "whinge" all year. I think I did pretty well. But to be honest that wasn't really such a big challenge for me. I took on the big one this year - "No Worries", also inspired by the Aussies. I'm (hopefully) moving through the middle of my life and it feels like a good time to start more fully embracing risk, joy and sleep. Worrying can get in the way of all of that. When I'm tempted to go towards the worries, I'll think of these two inspirational females and of the unique way in which they each laugh - Ms. Whit, like a woodpecker and little Zoe, softly, like a whispering fairy - and I'll try for a giggle instead.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Zoe and the boys

Kenneth, Naomi and Zoe left a few days ago. The lump in my throat came when she hugged Gillen and Jesse goodbye. She lay her head down softly on each of their shoulders, as they hugged her for a long time. I have loved watching how gentle they were with her, and how rambunctious she became after two weeks of idolizing them.

Driving Miss Zoe:
Nicolas was even inspired to play "Ring around the Roses":
And he took her on long walks in her "wagon".
With her favorite guy:

Reinhabiting my shell

I have a pretty great family. They're funny, direct, creative, helpful and honest. I always come away from full family reunions a bit more self-aware (did I mention our honesty?), and grounded and happy for having laughed so much...and sick. When I am hosting, I always end up sick.

This year was going to be different. I was organized. I made lists of menus and decorating ideas and then willingly threw most of them out. I didn't do too much - well, there were the three parties to be hosted but I had help. I let my pregnant sister cook and clean for God's sake, a lot!

And still, I got sick. Annoyingly, lingeringly, still not over it sick. It started with a bad cold and then a feverish chilly flue and now it's a cough, rash, stomach ache and week-long head ache. In addition, over a week ago, with lots of possible good playing with Zoe days left, I broke my toe.

I have been feeling so pathetic, and insubstantial. I am ready to move back into this too skinny body and fill it up with passionate eating, with dancing and new art projects in our newly finished art room! I want to take long walks with the kids at our local nature center. Right now, I'd be thrilled with a walk around the neighborhood with Tuki. But instead, I will try to embrace this forced time of inactivity and just be still. Just be. Still, I sure do wish this all meant that I was due a rain check on Zoe time and that her parents had to bring her back sooner than later.