Picnic at the Park

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Today we met with a few other homeschooling families at the park for the first picnic of the season (for us, anyway). I thought the girls were unusually charming today, and couldn’t stop taking photos.

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Kinsley thought the idea of sliding sounded really fun, but couldn’t actually bring herself to go down the slide. “Mama!” she called to me, “Do you think I will conk my head?”. As her Uncle Eric would say, so many phobias, so little time…

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Sophie tried to play it cool.

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In reality she reminded me of Mr. Wilson from Dennis the Menace.

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Silas gave Kinsley some sort of weapon and instructed her on the art of sword fighting.

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Which seemed to bore Sophie immensely.

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The line down Kinsley’s face is the result of a run-in she had with Frances, involving the door frame. Oddly enough, that wound hasn’t been nearly the trauma as the skinned knee. I think it has to do with the fact that she can’t see the scratch on her face, where as she can look at the scratch on her knee whenever she feels like it. Poor little thing.

All in all, I think they had a great time. They both crashed as soon as we got home.

Just a swingin’

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Swinging has rapidly become the activity of choice among the daughters. I think they could absolutely live on those swings if we let them. Even Sophie seems to hold on remarkably well for a one year old.

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Speaking of Sophie, I’m really not sure what the problem is with her tongue. I think it may be actually too long for her mouth. It’s about four inches long, and she seems to have trouble containing it.

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The first strawberry of the season

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Over the weekend, I purchased a pair of shorts for Kinsley at a local yard sale. Kinsley lives in them now, even though the weather has turned cool again. She insists that these shorts are exactly what she needs to “catch frog legs with Uncle Jacob” and since you can never know when you might need to catch a frog leg, she wears them as much as she can get away with. She seems to feel light and springy in them.

On Saturday, Kinsley set off on a lone walk. Papa watched her from the yard as I hung laundry on the line. We thought that she would stop at a bench which is within easy walking distance of our house, and is usually the destination of the girls’ expotitions. Instead, she confidently strode past the bench, arms swinging carelessly at her sides, watching the birds along the creek. When she got near the bend in the pathway which leads to a bridge over the creek, Papa called to her, instructing her to turn and walk back toward our yard. She obeyed, in her dreamy Kinsley way. She was nearly home when she stumbled and fell. Both of her bare, bony knees were scraped, but I think the real injuries came from the shock of being jolted from her dreamy reverie.

Papa cleaned her wounds, explaining sadly that this was her first strawberry, and one of the first of many injuries which she would probably be inflicted with throughout her life.

On Monday, as Kinsley was going potty, she inspected her knee which has caused her much grief over the past few days. She looked up at me and said:

“We call this a strawberry. I don’t like strawberries. And anyway, I tasted it, and it’s not a strawberry – it’s just a scrape.”

Allure :: the charm of motherhood

“To live is so startling it leaves little time for anything else.”
~Emily Dickinson

This morning I took a rare moment when Sophie was down for a nap to curl up in Dan’s recliner chair with a cup of coffee and Sarah Ban Breathnach’s Simple Abundance, A Day Book of Comfort and Joy. As I read, I was aware of the sounds of the house: the dishwasher, the washing machine, the rise and fall of Sophie’s deep breathing over the baby monitor, and the faint dripping of rain on the tender new leaves of the trees outside. As always happens, something I read got me thinking, ideas ping-ponged around in my head, until I thought I’d try to chronicle them here.

“…Then, without missing a beat, you wipe a snotty nose, change a dirty diaper, defrost the hamburger in the microwave, start the spaghetti sauce, sew a button on a coat, help someone with her homework. You pause for a moment, wondering what they would do if you weren’t here and realize in the same breath that you’re awfully glad you are. Much to your astonishment it occurs to you that you must posses some aspect of allure because everybody in the house gravitates to you. In the middle of the night, they call your name.”

Somehow that exert summed up in my imagination what motherhood is. I want it to be all lace doilies and roses, and instead it seems to be snotty noses and dirty dishes. But that is exactly where the memories are to be made. While I desire that my children have a calm and orderly environment to learn and grow in, it may not come to fruition in the way that I imagine. The allure of motherhood actually lies in the acts of self sacrifice and denial. It lies in the cheerful giving of ourselves for our family.

“There is in the world no function more important than that of being charming, to shed joy around, to cast light upon dark days… is not this to render a service?”
~Victor Hugo

We find our daughters to be charming as they go about their lives being babies. When they are alert, and interested in the world around them, commenting on the things which they observe, we find them charming. When the daughter becomes obsessed with her hurt knee, or her desire to watch a certain movie, or play with a toy which her sister is enjoying at that moment, she looses her charm. The charm of childhood comes from forgetting herself and just living.

True charm and allure can only be attained by transparently being what God has made us to be. Charm and allure can be learned, in the sense that one can learn good manners or gracefulness, but it always comes from the root of self sacrifice. To sacrifice self is to esteem others as greater than ourselves, which is true Love. To truly Love, is to truly Live. As Emily Dickinson puts it, to Live is so startling it leaves little time for anything else, and that is allure.

Springish Treats

I have been a long time reader of Alison’s blog, Brocante Home Chronicles. She is a big proponent of what she calls the Puttery Treat, an idea which I find very enticing.

Then, today I was glancing over Sense and Sensibility (a message forum geared toward historical sewing), an off-topic thread entitled: Taking Care of Yourself as a Mum… got me started thinking.

The train of thought went something like this:

I have a moment every now and then to relax, and when that time comes, I’m usually so overwhelmed that I don’t know what to do, and so waste that moment staring blankly at the computer screen (sad, but true). So, if I wrote down some of the great ideas which the lovely ladies at the S&S forum had given, as well as some of my favorite puttery treats, along with a few of my very own ideas, I could put them all in a pretty jar on my window sill and draw a slip of paper out when I had the time. But next I thought that I could also keep the list right here on Gentlewood Cottage, where I could refer back to it, and add or subtract to the master list as I see fit. Then, the thought struck me, that if I had a copy of the list online anyway, I could copy and paste it into Random.org’s list randomizer, and come up with a single treat that way as well.

So, that’s the long explanation for the list which you will find below.

:: Find a pretty water glass to help motivate me to drink plenty. Add mint leaf or a slice of lemon, lime, or orange in it for prettiness and taste.

:: Go for a walk. Attempt to indulge all five senses on the walk. Watch the clouds, keep an eye out for little critters, new wildflowers, and birds, stop and breathe in the smells, touch the various barks and leaves, listen to the music of the birds and insects, pluck some of the wild raspberries along the pathway.

:: Do a workout video

:: Listen to some classical music with the girls while stretching.

:: Fold a pretty tea towel in half and sew together. Make half inch hems either end and thread elastic through, before adding a ribbon loop and feeling virtuous because now you have a pretty place to store those plastic bags which seem to multiply in our home.

:: Demote a blanket to garden duty and leave it folded in a basket near the back door for chilly Spring evenings outside. Allocate a garden pinny and hang it from a ribbon tied laundry peg on your doorknob.

:: Chill fruit tea in the fridge as you do your housework, then sit down with a pretty little cup and the morning paper as reward for scrubbing the bath so wonderfully well you can see your reflection in it.

:: Make a drama out of lunchtime…select a beautiful tray and the bestest china you own, add a napkin and a tiny bud vase, and sit quietly, meditatively, as you eat…

:: Use white vinegar and a cotton bud to clean the crevices of your phone. (The blasted things get soooo grubby don’t they?) Then give the whole thing a gentle swipe with a cloth scented with lavender or orange blossom.

:: Clean out the girls dresser drawers and add a cotton ball soaked in lavender

:: Hunt out an old fashioned enamel coffee pot and use it to water your houseplants while you wait for the kettle to boil in the morning…

:: Dust your light bulbs with a cloth infused with aromatherapy oil for a gentle scent when you switch them on…

:: Choose a pretty teacup and use it to scoop washing powder into the machine.

7 days of juice

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Dan and I (with the company of my parents) have set of on a seven day juice fast. While we’re not buying all that alkalizing, enema, dry brush, cold shower stuff (which Dan is convinced the guy made up to see what odd things he could get people to do), we are doing the juicing part. And the fasting part. We’re in day two, and it’s not going too bad. Today I have more energy than I did yesterday, at least. Food still sounds really good though. The neighbor just invited us to dinner, describing in mouth watering detail the Chicago Dogs which they would be serving.

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Yesterday we had carrot, strawberry and pear juice. It was pretty good. This morning we had apple, pear, lime and celery, which was also very good.

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I made this veggie broth stuff, which, as it turns out, is also pretty good!

Think we’ll make it seven days?