Saturday, April 30, 2016

New Week, New Rhythms

I accidentally took a week off of blog-writing.  It's funny how that happens, about how busy life can feel. The added issue is that I am diligently attempting to get to bed in the 10:00 hour every night, and because my children typically go to bed in the 9:00 the time I have had a shower, prepared my tea items for morning, and brushed my teeth, bedtime is upon me.

The plus side is that I am transitioning to very early mornings (for me).  We have moved Annie from our bedroom to her own room, and my husband leaves for work around 4:30am (I don't get up then! but I get up not too long after).  So after he leaves, but before my children rise around 8:00, I have a delicious chunk of time all to myself. I'm so much fresher in the morning than I am late at night!  My new routine is to creep to the kitchen, prepare my tea or coffee in the dark, and then take it back to my room. I get back into bed and sit with my hot beverage, the lamplight, and my books and journal.  It is a blissful way for this introvert to begin her day, particularly as I revisit how to structure our home life to best fit the rhythms and needs of our priorities right now. In the past I have used very early wakeup calls for time on the elliptical trainer, but now I'm allowing myself some yoga at the most.  Morning is about nourishment/filling, not expenditure, during this season of my life.

Yesterday my husband surprised me with my Fifth-Annual-Spa Day. Since Annie was born, he has sent me on a spa day each spring, but I never know when it will be (or IF it will be! but it always is). This consists of going with my mother-in-law to breakfast, then going to a spa (generally: manicure, pedicure, and facial, but sometimes massage is also on the agenda), then lunch, then a movie, then home for a takeout-food dinner.  It is such a kind gesture that I deeply appreciate.  

Yesterday's spa day was so well-timed because at 11:38 last night, Finn woke me up with chills and body aches and a fever.  Thus commenced a few hours of feverish shivering in our bed, vomiting, and generalized misery.  Poor Finn!  His fever broke in the middle of the night, and he has alternated sleeping and sickness all day long.  I have been--what else?--rearranging furniture to keep myself occupied, yet available....

Supper tonight is leftover curried red lentil soup (best ever, a family staple) and leftover dairy-free spinach-artichoke dip. Easy, delicious, and warm on a chilly, rainy day of playing nursemaid. Here's to a new week....and I hope Finn is restored to health, too. 

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Celebrating 400 Years of Shakespeare

We celebrated Shakespeare's birthday/death day today! We had an easy dinner (hummus & veggies, chips & salsa, cheese & crackers) and black bean brownies (thanks, Rose!!).  

Yesterday for our freewriting time the children and I wrote/drew on our favorite characters from "Midsummer Night's Dream."  Finn wrote about Demetrius, Annie wrote about Queen Titania, and I wrote about Puck.  So before dinner tonight we each dressed up as our chosen character.  I literally threw together our costumes without any forethought, right before dinner.  It was fun! Here's part of my Puck interpretation....

After dinner I read to everyone from Bruce Coville's retelling, and assigned parts to the other people with us--Mr. Polly was Lysander, my sister was Hermia, my father was suitably cast as Nick Bottom. The acting out was hilarious.  Then we used the insult generator to learn some excellent Shakespearean insults. Finally, Finn and I recited Puck's monologue from the end of the play together. 

The best part of this was that my children were thrilled at the fact that I was dressing up with them and participating as well.  They loved the leaves in my hair, my green glitter (you really can't see much of it here), my leggings and sarong (made in two seconds by wrapping a yard of lightweight forest green jersey around my waist!).  Their happiness was priceless.  

Happy birthday to the Bard of Avon!

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Ocellated Turkey Portrait

The ocellated turkey lives in the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico.  

Finn painted one for his grandfather, an avid turkey hunter who has completed the "World Slam" of turkey hunting--including acquisition of an elusive ocellated turkey.  Finn decided to paint the ocellated for his grandfather because, let's face it, this is one gorgeous bird. 

Well done, Finn!!

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Finn's New Desk

The boys were on a camping trip last weekend--two nights in the woods. Canoeing, fireside songs, archery, ticks....the whole nine yards.

While they were away Annie and I had a girls' weekend, and I painted Finn's bedroom.  Now we are slowly moving furniture back in, and tonight we moved his new-to-him desk into place. It's solid walnut, belonged to an engineering/surveying company, and was $35. 

With his $5 vinyl chair, it's looking like a good place to Do Art. 

(Yes, that's Finn. He's growing his hair out!)

The Personal Adventure

A few years ago an astute friend of mine, who has no children, made an observation about children: "we can't expect kids to come to the same answers and conclusions as their parents, but we can expect them to ask the same questions."  I thought this was a brilliant observation. If we aren't asking questions, they might not, either; but if we are, we have to respect that they will form their own conclusions.  

This morning I was reading a book about adventure, and the author notes that when children want to wear different hairstyles, different clothes, go to different places--basically not do what their parents are always doing.....

"Parents call it a fashion.  It is much more than that. It is the instinctive craving for adventure, the search for that feeling of really living which only adventure affords. It is a hunger for an adventure that will be personal to oneself--a hunger, that is, to be oneself and not a copy of someone else, to become a person."  (Paul Tournier)

This dovetails perfectly with my own personal parenting goal: to help my children become who God created them to be!

Saturday, April 16, 2016

At the Playground

In Charleston, of course--where even the playgrounds are picturesque and oozing with Southern charm.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Butterfly Cookies

Twice a year I make butterfly cookies for a spiritual retreat, and the fun of it is in letting Finn and Annie decorate them.  This year it was mostly Annie, because Finn was otherwise engaged at the swingset outside. 

I mix the cookies and cut them out and bake them, and then I whip up the icing and let her have at it.  I love all the color and craziness of these cookies.

Annie is such fun these days.  I just love her sparkling spirit, her precious personality, her determination, her fierce tenderness.  And her cookie aesthetics!

Finn Composes

On our first morning in Charleston, Finn diligently began writing music.  Before I'd even had my coffee, I had to email a question to his teacher about eighth note rests.  He finished the song (which was written in three movements) the first day we were there, and now he's playing "Fairy Song" as his solo piece at his spring piano recital in a few weeks.

(And for his duet, we're playing Tchaikovsky's "Sleeping Beauty Waltz" which I confess I am having to read, pick apart, and uncle told me in Charleston that this means I cannot sight-read music, and he's right! I have an ear, not an eye, for music.) 

Not bad work for an 8-year-old!  Nice work, Finn. 

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Eating Vegan in Charleston, South Carolina

The land of the best barbecue in the world (nay, the only barbecue in the world, in my opinion): mustard-based Lowcountry BBQ, and of shrimp and creamy grits is not what you might consider a vegan paradise, but my husband did quite well eating out on our trip and we have two new food recommendations to share. 

First, Dellz Uptown, a funky cafe at 511 Rutledge Avenue on the peninsula.  I love the revitalization happening in the slightly-upper-peninsula region.

Anyhow, Dellz is cute and noisy and happening.  They have a great selection of food--it's not just a vegan cafe, but they also have pizza (Finn got the gluten-free and said it was great, and he's particular) and meat dishes (my father got the shrimp tacos!).  My husband and I split a "chicken cordon bleu" wrap and a Thai bowl--both were so delicious. I confess I am still dreaming about the wrap, and have already made a plan to try to re-create the bowl at home. 

Second, Sesame Burgers and Beer.  Another urban revitalization story, and this one close to my heart: the old North Charleston town center, which 20 years ago was a boarded-up, depressing collection of run-down buildings, is making a huge comeback.  Back when my grandmother was growing up on O'Hear street, and taking the trolley down Spruill Avenue to Meeting Street all the way to the College of Charleston (she graduated at the age of 19 with an English degree), North Charleston was a bustling town.  Park Circle was being developed.  Then the slump hit and things were bad in the 70s and 80s...I remember driving through with my grandmother and thinking "this is horrible, what a waste." I hadn't been to old town North Charleston in two decades and was stunned by the change: it's cute, full of "watering holes" (my father likes The Digg, if you're into that kind of thing), and even has a yoga studio!  Old Town North Charleston/Park Circle is enjoying a well-deserved renaissance and I know my grandmother would be thrilled at the change!

Anyhow, we went to the Park Circle location and my husband and I both had the black bean burgers, whereas our family members had regular burgers. I love the choices of toppings (endless) and combinations--I think I got caramelized onion and avocado on mine, nothing too can get fig and bacon jam! 

I'm sure there are more great vegan spots but these are the two gems we found on this trip (we were only there for three days, after all...and one night my Dad and stepmom had to have the obligatory "gang's all here" dinner party with the relatives and neighbors who wanted to come celebrate our presence....Charlestonians are so fond of parties) and I recommend them both!

Friday, April 8, 2016

Winding Down a Wild Week

Our trip to Charleston was lovely and now I am attempting to recover from the trip + a hectic week.  We returned home on Monday evening. The children and I got up at 5:25 Tuesday to take my sister to the hospital for gallbladder surgery, which was actually cancelled six hours after we arrived (when she was in the gown....with an IV...etc.).  There's a long backstory involving cardiologist miscommunication (due to one abnormal EKG, and another clear one), but her surgeon apologetically came to find us in the cafeteria to tell us that the cardiologist had prohibited the surgery. We spent the rest of the day running errands--remember, I had just returned home from a trip!--and then I decompressed with a hilly walk in the evening.

Wednesday I did laundry and worked for a few hours in the yard--trying to get my sanity back (and transplant all my muscari).  Wednesday I also wrote my great-aunt's obituary, at my uncle's request, because she died on Tuesday.  Thursday we drove to the mountain forty-five minutes south of here for a nature walk/lunch with a couple of other families, and I had yoga and my Charlotte Mason group meeting last night. (I left the meeting at 9:50 and it was still going strong!) Finally, today we had big plans (chiropractor + science class + art lesson) which were completely thwarted because Finn had the most intense migraine I have ever seen him have.  Typically if he wakes with one, it is resolved by lunchtime; this one lasted until 4:45.  He was literally in bed, sick to his stomach, all day long.  I read lots of books to Annie, kissed my sister goodbye (she had her stress test this morning, then returned to her hometown), read even more books with Annie, and planned our last quarter for the school year. 

My inner introvert has been wilting with no time alone, so my husband is graciously taking the children to his parents' house tomorrow so they can play and (most importantly!) watch golf and I can spend some time cleaning, tidying, and organizing the house and rejuvenating, especially because Sunday will be a busy day (church plus the funeral). 

Here is a bit of happy news: my work on the pastoral search commitee is finished!  We have a new pastor! He and his wife signed the contract on the house they are purchasing last week and were introduced to the congregation while we were in Charleston. I am so thrilled!  But it's a bittersweet thrill: the pastor at our church has been the only pastor of my life.  He has been there over thirty years.  I don't even know what it will be like to attend church with another pastor, but I believe that our pastor has earned his retirement (many times over) and I liked our new pastor and his wife from the moment I met them!

Next up: a few gems from the Charleston and locations!