In The Middle

Soft windy air swirling feeling wonderful on my skin, not accustom to the sun.  The sky is full of billowing Spring clouds backed by bright blue.  As I walk with my dog Cinnamon around our neighborhood into balmy winds, I find myself pondering as I often do on walks.  I ponder how long we will live in our current house, thinking of the wonderful schools my children go to and will go to in the very near future.  I ponder where I lived as a child and my friends' homes, realizing that none of their parents live in my friend's childhood homes any longer. floweringtreepath

"Um, I wonder how long until we can move, if we choose to do so, until the kids are through school?"  I find myself thinking such thoughts for the first time...

And I realize that eleven years is the answer.  Eleven years until my youngest graduates from high school.  That is not really very long.  Eleven years ago I had a newborn baby, I was a new mom.  My life completely turned upside down as I started on this path of raising kids.  And it hits me, that I am in the middle.  In the middle of what I think of as hardcore parenting.  The kind of parenting when you have to literally be ready for anything at any moment.  Over the past couple of years I watched this mile stone coming.  I knew it would get here and probably arrive sooner than I wanted it too.  I still see my youngest as a very small child yet when I come home from teaching at the preschool, I can't help but see her growing into a big girl, a girl who is changing so fast, and quickly loosing all those last vestiges of toddlerhood.  My oldest is set on the edge of blooming into a teenager which is almost mind-boggling as well as completely beautiful.

I am in the middle.

The middle of motherhood.

The middle of life.



From here I can see my past particularly through the lens of my own motherhood, I see my childhood and I grow.  I learn those lessons I missed and change.  I appreciate more my own parents and my life.  Of course I can't see the future yet I feel myself letting go of the desire to fix everything and make it all as it should be.  Rather I want to let things be and experience.  I am in the middle and excited to experience the ride from here.

Shadows climb up the garden wall Upon the green the first leaf falls It's the prime of life and the king and queen Step out into the sun...

...It's the prime of life, where the spirit grows And the mirror shows both ways

~ Neil Young

Shared On: The Sunday Parenting Party

Moon Flow

Today is the culmination of many days.  A birthing of myself anew as I begin to flow into the future.

Yet this moment is uncomfortable with a burning in my belly and a head that feels full of sand.  My body feels tired and some what hard to move.  Or it maybe that my body wants to let go feeling like it almost wildly wants to relax.  I find myself forgetting to breathe deep and feeling light-headed from lack of prana.  And when I remember to breathe my body responds with desperate satisfaction yet I keep forgetting.

Many days over the past week I have writhed within myself feeling the depth of this transformation occurring within.  It has not been emotionally comfortable.  Yet the few moments of clarity that have occurred during those days have been beautiful, crystalline.  Like a ray of sunshine breaking through a fog.

I know that once my flow fully begins I will feel the energy of it and everything will be better.  Tomorrow or the next day my energy will be totally different from it is now.

Today the importance of each thing, each moment is poignant. The sun feels sickeningly hot and dazzlingly bright.  The mushrooms in my breakfast remind me of why I detested mushrooms as a child.  Each one is rubbery grey and unappetizing with a flavor reminiscent of the unique odor surrounding a wet dog.

Yet, in the next instant, a word overheard or smile flashed brings me joy and satisfaction.  And earlier the cool mountain air during my morning hike felt like heaven.  Bathing me in sweet refreshment completely washing away fatigue and care.  All while I walked among the most beautiful wild flowers with their innocent purples, yellows and pinks lining the path as sunlight filtered down through precious lofty white clouds keeping me cool.

Now the day has worn away and it is becoming late.  And I am already changed. What I thought would take until tomorrow is already happening.  I am flowing now and on my way.

The Power of a Mother's Love

When did I first learn about love? Did it happen with my baby's first belly jiggling laugh or when she first looked into my eyes and said love you? Perhaps it was when I meet my now husband over Thanksgiving break from college.  And I felt a searing pain in my heart every time we had to separate while I finished out that long school year away from home, away from him. Or was it even when a stranger passing by on the street offered me the honor of a heart-felt smile?

The love I found in all of these profound experiences was based on a foundation built long ago near the beginning of my life.  And it was my mother who taught me about love, as most mother's do.  She was my hero, my everything when I was a small child.  All that sweetness she had poured into me everyday filled me up and one day was solidified while I played in our backyard.

Nestled securely in the middle of my beloved tire swing, I was twisting the tire round and round.  With each successful turn a delightful popping kink of the hanging rope would gratify my efforts.  I struggled to keep my feet in place with each turn as the tension from the rope sought to undo all of my hard work.  Finally the rope, being all bunched up with tension, would go no further.  Looking forward to my destined ride, as I had a hundred times before, I lifted me feet from the ground, held on tight and with eyes closed I began a fast spin.  This time though, something went terribly wrong and in an instant I was slammed to the ground tangled up in tire and rope.  The rope had broken and I, being a very small child, was trapped beneath a tire to heavy to move.  Feelings of shock and pain began to consume me when an angel appeared to free me from the tire.  The angel was my mother.  I couldn't imagine where she had come from or how she had known I need help but she was there right when I needed her.  Such a feeling of love and appreciation filled my heart that I was overwhelmed.  Turns out she was folding laundry and watching me from the window that looked out underneath our porch, while I had no idea she was anywhere nearby.  This was the moment, this moment when I really needed someone and that very special someone was there.  This was the moment when I learned about love in a deep yet conscious way.  While she rescued me from the swing, I felt the world become a safe and beautiful place.  I knew that she would be there for me when I needed her, that I could trust and believe.  And, as I moved forward into my life I carried this deep knowledge and used it to recognize love everywhere.

Even now I am blessed to learn more about love everyday.  Everyday with my kids and husband there is more to learn, more to experience.  Each day I witness acts of kindness and caring in the world, cherishing even the smallest of gestures.  Mostly what I am learning about now is love for myself and appreciation for life simply as it is. With each breath and each step I endeavor to appreciate and love myself, those around me, my world and embrace being alive.

 Thanks Mom!

Shared On: The Sunday Parenting Party

Planting Peas

This is really a story about the beauty of a child.  For children can't help but be beautiful when we slow down enough to let them share that beauty.

"Where are you Vi?" "I am in here on the potty.  Will you read my bug book to me?"  Vi implores. I start to panic, it is 7am and I have my full morning of timely responsibilities pressing on me.  I know if I stop to read to Vi, everything will run late. Sadly I tell her "maybe later" feeling like I say that way to often.

Happily later that very afternoon I remember the bug book.  We snuggle up for a good read of this brightly illustrated lift-the-flap book about all kinds of bugs.  Vi is so snuggly and enjoying the book so much it is pure delight to be with her.  I suggest that we go bug hunting after reading our book.  Bug hunting will get us outside to plant the pea seeds we had planned to put in the ground that afternoon.

With the book finished we head out to the garden for good old fashion bug hunting.  At first we don't see any bugs despite Vi calling "B-U-G-S" in a sing-song voice.  I ask Vi where the bugs in the book were and she remembers that bugs like to hide.

"There's a rock Mommy!"  Vi points. We lift up the rock and are rewarded with a wriggly earthworm. "There's another!"  Vi exclaims.

On it goes until we exhaust our supply of rocks.  Now that we are outside I suggest that it is time to plant pea seeds we had planned to put in the ground that afternoon.

"That sounds great mommy!"

While I go to get the compost for amending the soil, Vi waits for me bouncing on the trampoline.  We, are as usual, are a few weeks late in our pea planting.  Sometimes it takes a while to get around to these kind of things.  And, I am feeling anxious to get the soil prepared and the seeds in the ground so we can enjoy the best harvest from our garden. Also, in that moment, I feel the lateness of the day and dinner is starting to loom as well as other things that need my attention.  I pull myself back to the moment and the task at hand.

After a bit of struggle I make it to our garden with a big bag of compost.  Vi and I start to shovel the compost into the garden.  As I had anticipated, Vi loves this.  She has a blast with each shovel full talking constantly about the dirt and how to grow plants.  After a bit she remembers two little pots which have been the focus of her attention over the past few weeks.  Into these little pots she had carefully placed soil, dug from the garden beds; planted little seeds from around the yard and two pea seeds given to her by me upon request.  She insists that these pots need compost of their own and I agree.  I get the rest of the compost into the garden while she works on her pots.  Still talking, she tells me long stories about seeds and how to keep them healthy.

After a bit I get her attention to plant the seeds.  At first it goes well.  We decide that I will poke the holes and she will drop in the seeds.  We hum along for a bit and she is pretty well focused.  But then we hit a snag and start to have an argument over how she is holding the seeds in her hand and how I am poking the holes.  Deep breath for me and I realize that I am getting grouchy and am pretty much the cause of our distress.  I look at her sweet brown eyes so earnest and loving and at her little pudgy dirt covered hands and I let go.  There is nothing here to be concerned about.  Just the beauty of a darling little girl and her desire to help, her desire to experience.  I realize that it doesn't have to be perfect and that I can't make it perfect because it already is.  We finish planting our peas and set up the sprinkler to water our new "babies."  I breathe again, a breath of gratefulness for the chance at motherhood.  With our garden started and a mommy lesson learned, I know this year the peas harvest will be the best ever.

I wrote this late last spring,  Have been waiting and waiting to share it!  Now we are close again to pea planting time and I thought the time was right at last to share this story.  In anticipation of earlier pea planting this time around, Vi and I are attempting to sprout our peas in the window before we plant them in the ground.  We took some peas left over from last year, put them in plastic bags with wet cotton balls.  First we soaked them overnight in water and then used that water to wet our cotton balls.

Then we sealed them and now they are in the window.  We will watch and wait to see how it goes.

I am hoping for little roots and leaves to show themselves soon.

When the peas are ready we can transplant to the yard.  The pea seed package I have says not to pre-sprout indoors, but I figure it is an experiment and like anything in life, you just gotta try to see what happens...

Shared On:  Sunday Parenting Party, Eco-Kids TuesdayKid's Get CraftyHome Link Up

From First Snow to Novice Chicken 'n' Dumplings

It is magic... looking out the window before bed there is nothing but Earth and Sky, or perhaps just a little bit of rain coming down. Then when you wake up piles of snow greet you while a soft pink sky glows above.

It is like someone came and brought a lovely present for everyone. I love living in Colorado. I love the changing weather, it is never one way for too long, not to mention the ever-present beauty of the mountains that we get to enjoy each day. Today is the first snow of the year and it came in overnight, just like magic.

When my daughter woke in the morning, I held her soft little hand and lead her over the window. We excitedly pulled back the thick velvety brown curtain and I showed her the peaceful beauty outside. She stood motionless and quiet for a few minutes. Then she asked if she could go out and play. It was still before dawn and we had to get ready for school. But who am I to say "no" to such a basic and justified request? If I had been 5 years old this morning, I would have asked the same question. So we got her all bundled up and off she went. She stepped into the yard and sunk in to just above her knees. There is a lot of snow out there today, way more than a dusting. With our dog frolicking around her plowing through drifts of white, Violet played for a good 30 minutes and was not ready to stop when she finally had to get ready for school. I know that she and her big sister will come home eager to play outside and enjoy this special snow, the first snow of the year.

I want to make something warm and healthy to support their bodies and spirits in their play. I am a big fan of homemade chicken soup because it too is like magic. There is something about it that really feeds the body, strengthening every part. Research has shown that chicken soup can be anti-inflammatory. But whatever it is, it seems to me that a nice bowl of soup made with love and intention is like having a warm hug for your insides. But, I really don't want to make chicken soup. I am thinking that chicken and dumplings would be fun. Maybe I can find a way to make it similar to chicken soup. I am sure the dumplings will not add to the health benefits, but I do think they will be fun and I know my eldest daughter has been craving this tasty dish. So off I go to search for a chicken and dumpling recipe that will help me on my way.

Ok, so I have done some research and found a bunch of interesting recipes.

My favorite came from Ree's site The Pioneer Woman that is filled with lots of humor and delicious looking recipes!

Here is the recipe I complied from Ree,  and about a dozen or so other places:

  • Roaster Chicken(s) equal to about 1 whole chicken that you have been waiting to make soup with, I had 2 in my freezer waiting to be used up.

  • 3 cups water
  • handful of dried nettles
  • 5 or so 2-3" pieces of astragalus

Simmer this all together until the chicken is ready to fall off the bone.

Let cool. Strain and reserve liquid. Pull chicken off the bone.

Why the nettles and astragalus you ask? What is this stuff you wonder? Nettles are a dark green highly nutrient rich plant that can be purchased dried.

Astragalus comes to us from Traditional Chinese Medicine. Astragalus builds the immune system and it great to use as a preventative during cold and flu season, though it is not to be used during acute illness. I add astragalus to anything that is cooked in liquid during the winter months to help my family, things like soup, rice and crock pot meals. You will want to remove the astragalus before eating your food.  Purchase nettles and astragalus at your local herb store or natural grocery.

Next the veggies:

  • 1 red onion chopped
  • Lots of minced garlic, to taste
  • 2 italian heirloom zucchini, chopped
  • 3 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 4 carrots, chopped
  • Olive Oil, about 3 tablespoons
  • 1/2 cup apple cider, courtesy of Ree, she says it is a great addition.

Really use any veggies you have that sound good to you.  This list is just what I had on hand in the fridge.  Cook this all up together until tender. Add salt, pepper and herbs like thyme, oregano and sage to taste.

Put the chicken and the stock (enough to almost cover the veggies and chicken, reserving about a cup) back in the pot and add the cider, you will have a very thick chicken soup at this point. I know that chicken and dumplings has more broth than this sometimes but I was scared. Scared to have a lot of broth because last time I made chicken and dumplings the dumplings dissolved into the broth and then I had a big pot of gravy stuff not really so very tasty!  Simmer to let flavors blend.

Then for the dumplings: These are right from Ree, her dumpling recipe looked great so I had to try it, plus she says to add cornmeal to the dumplings and anything with cornmeal is a winner with my family!

  • 1 1/2 cup of whole wheat flour, Ree uses all-purpose
  • 1/2 cup of cornmeal
  • 1 heaping tbsp of baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cup of milk, I used 2%, Ree uses half and half
  • 2 tbsp minced fresh parsley, if I had only had that to add... would have been yummy!

Mix together dry ingredients then add milk or half and half. Drop this by the tablespoonful onto the top of your chicken mixture. Cook, covered for about 15 minutes.

Last, I made a gravy:

  • Reserved chicken stock, I had about a cup, you might need to tweak the proportions below based on how much you have left
  • tbsp or so of butter
  • 2 tbsp of flour
  • Add salt and granulated garlic to taste

Melt the butter into the stock and then whisk in the flour. Whisk until the gravy thickens. Serve the gravy on top or next the chicken and dumplings if you wish.


My family loved this.  And it did not turn into a big gooey pot of mess.

Yummy and perfect for the end of a cold day.

Baby Tooth is MIA in Which Mommy Done Bad

Shock tingles up through my body filling me up from feet to head. My hand is in the dishwasher delivering a glass to the top shelf when the realization dawns on me. The plate which held my child's newly lost tooth has been placed upside down into the top shelf of the diswasher. Checking the plate I find my fears confirmed. Her tooth is gone and I have committed a grievous error. This is a tooth that Violet not only wanted to put under her pillow but also planned to keep forever. Violet is already off to bed and seems to have forgotten about her tooth for the moment. Knowing that time is probably short, I start frantically searching for her tooth. Pulling out the bottom rack of the dishwasher and loudly lamenting the situation, I call to Nyssa, Violet's sister, and ask her to bring me her flashlight. Nyssa comes running and we begin to search through the dishwasher. "Is that it?" asks Nyssa.

"No, that is a piece of rice." I reply.

On we go, with me getting my head as far back into the dishwasher as possible trying to keep my weight off the open dishwasher door and Nyssa examining every little thing she finds. After a while we back track to the dining room table. Do you know how many things look like a tiny baby tooth? Every little white bit of anything could be it and given that I haven't vacuumed recently there are a lot of little bits everywhere. "Um," I tell Nyssa, "Maybe it is in the garbage disposal."

By now Patrick has come downstairs from putting Violet to bed. While relating the predicament to him, I stick my hand into the disposal. Feeling a sense of protection for my hand come over me, I announce to the room that it is on it's way into the depths of the disposal. Patrick stops mid-step opting to stay out of the kitchen until I am done rumaging. Nyssa notices this and wonders what the big deal is about garbage disposals and hands. So we begin her education of this dangerous kitchen appliance. I am uncovering all kinds of things in the disposal and to my amazement find myself searching these things very, very thoroughly. It dawns on me that this is yet another of those experiences parenting has brought me. Another one of those things I never thought I would do, that I wouldn't have even imagined doing. Things like catching vomit in my hands or eagerly cleaning mucus out of a sick baby's nose. Or, more pleasantly, playing night-night in the bottom of my closet for long stretches of time laying amoungst various clothing and shoes that had made their way to the floor to create a comfy nest. And even more surprised at being glad to be involved in, if not the center piece of this activity, because as a pregnant mom I was exhausted and at least I got to rest while keeping my child happy.

"Well, the tooth isn't here. What am I going to do?"

I feel like I have failed. I meant to protect that tooth and help Violet get it under her pillow but I really just totally and completely forgot all about it. As I poke around in the kitchen I start to form a plan. In our house we often communicate with the tooth fairy, Santa Claus and even the Easter bunny by writing notes and leaving them where the visiting guest is likely to find them. So, I will leave the tooth fairy a note and apologize for losing the tooth. Maybe the tooth fairy would leave Violet an extra coin to lessen the hurt of her mommy's mistake. But, Violetreally wanted to keep all of her teeth and had planned to ask the tooth fairy to leave her each one behind, how do I deal with that?

I am trying to reconcil this in my mind when Nyssa decides to try and help me. She finds a lovely piece of stationary and writes the tooth fairy a letter telling of the lost tooth. She then makes a fake tooth out of a cotton ball on which she puts a bit of red marker to look like blood. In her letter she asks the tooth fairy to take the cotton ball as a replacement tooth. It is so sweet and cute. But Nyssa doesn't know that Violet wanted to keep her tooth. As I start telling her about this, her attention wanes. Deciding to let it go for the moment, we move on with our evening. In the end I decided to leave the tooth fairy my own note with a confession of my mistake. The tooth fairy replied on that same note and left Violet a little something extra, just this once!

And, the next morning when Violet came running down the stairs and jumped into my lap for a snuggle, I had to tell her about the tooth and the note which I had slipped under her pillow. She handled it well, in her calm, sweet Violet-like way, though she did say she was really sad I lost her tooth, which pained me. After the news sunk in we quietly made our way upstairs together to find the note complete with a reply from the tooth fairy and six shiny quarters. Then we had to count all the money in Violet's clear blue plastic piggy bank adding in the quarters. Afterwards a happy Violet stayed behind to feed her piggy bank. Phew!

But it turned out that not everyone was happy and appeased in the end. It turned out that Nyssa was sad because I didn't leave her note too. "Well Nyssa, I dont' know why I didn't leave your note too, I guess I just didn't think that it would work with the note I wrote, I'm sorry!"

And, on we move into the new day ready for whatever comes and happy for it.

Shared On:  Sunday Parenting Party