May 20, 2015

The Slacker's Garden

Each fall, as I'm savoring the last of our homegrown veggies and bracing myself for another winter of hibernation, I proclaim that next year will be 'the year of the garden'. I vow to sew seeds indoors, build that gate, and get everything planted in the right spot and on the right schedule. And then, without fail, a baby or a project sails into our lives and eclipses all those garden plans. 2015 is proving no exception, and will now officially be dubbed, 'the year of the house'. 

With my brain in a frenzy over the impending packing of boxes, steaming of wallpaper, and converting of heating systems, the attitude towards gardening has been decidedly laissez-faire. We have direct seeded this and that, not worrying about being late or planning. With everything shifting and in an upheaval, it's a comfort to know that we will keep our little community plot, and gardening is proving a great family escape. Who knows what will grow, but maybe we will get lucky and finally achieve that effortless success I've always envied. And if it goes bust, there's always 2016.

*these photos are from my iPhone, and if you follow me on instagram you have seen most of them. that's a real pet peeve of mine! but our camera lens is struggling and i thought if i didn't blog soon, this space might grow cobwebs. the one benefit of the iPhone though is the ease of taking videos. this one below just makes me happy, our girl is easily entertained.

May 3, 2015

Holidays and House Hunting

Throughout this past winter, I became more and more obsessed with the idea of buying a house. It's something we've always hoped and planned for with a deadline of kindergarten enrollment a year from now, but Little Smith is so anxious about change that I really would love a full year to get settled, and maybe launch him into grade school with a few familiar faces. I have been stalking real estate listings as a hobby for years, but my intensity ramped up so much in recent months that James had no choice but to take it seriously and climb on board.

Owning a 'single family house' has been a lifelong dream for both of us house enthusiasts, but as luck would have it, we ended up locating ourselves in an area where that is no small feat. Add an extremely hot market to an already outrageously priced locale, and it's basically stomach turning to attempt to buy anything. Houses are snapped up the moment they list for well over asking. Anything that needs work is grabbed by 'flippers' with all cash deals, anything that doesn't need work is flooded with dozens of offers. It's all fast and competitive and very intimidating for a family like ours, without a small fortune buried under the mattress.

After a few heartbreaking (perhaps a spoiled use of the word when referring to housing, but that's how it felt!) twists and turns, we were starting to lose hope and decided to run away and celebrate Easter weekend on Martha's Vineyard. We took advantage of the off-season rates and splurged on a water view suite and a fancy holiday brunch. We never stay in hotels, and Little Smith kept asking if we were going to sleep in our tent and wandering down to the lobby in his pajamas, as though the whole place was his own personal home away from home. 

We took long walks on the beach, celebrated Easter with a big island egg hunt, strolled into town for dinner and stayed out late, by some miracle the kids even slept in one morning. Everyone was happy and light and everything felt easy. I can see why people do occasionally travel without camping, what a breeze!

We came back refreshed, the way I always want to feel at the end of a vacation, but rarely do. Then predictably, once we relaxed our focus, we got the thrilling news that a house we thought had slipped through our fingers was destined to be ours after all. Or it will be, at the end of this month!

We are so excited and freaked out and overwhelmed that I am finding it hard to visit this blog. As things are looking more and more certain though, I am feeling the urge return. What better a place to voice my deep conflict over levers versus knobs and best methods for stripping copious quantities of wallpaper... this is going to be fun!

April 20, 2015


My break from this journal has been so long now that I'm not sure exactly where to pick up. There's the day to day; Roo talking and bossing all of us around from dawn 'till dusk, Little Smith shifting devotions from trains to dinosaurs to superheroes... and then back again, James and I shuffling and balancing work and play and the neverending piles of laundry. There's the hope of a big change ahead; fingers crossed and crossed again, it looks like we may be very close to buying a house... join us in thinking 'good thoughts' while we wait in anticipation through this spring. And then there's the only photographs we have bothered to capture in the last month, all from our family escape to Martha's Vineyard over Easter weekend.

After years of compulsive documentation, it's been strange to snap so few photos of the kids. I scroll through my iPhone camera, and even the shots there are few. It makes me sad, to have missed new teeth and silly anecdotes. I am a 'project driven' person, and I'm only starting to understand what that implies. When I set a goal, everything else recedes until I make it happen. I still go through the motions of the day, I laugh and listen to my children, fill all the bellies and gas tanks and forms that are in my charge... but there's a constant pull to do whatever it takes to make visible what is in my head. This relentless drive is both my best and worst quality, and it is very much active right now. I have long wondered if taking pictures and journaling distracted me from being present in the moment, but in these weeks that I have suspended documentation, I feel less present than ever.

And so we will see, maybe I will be better keeping up here, maybe I won't. At the very least, I have some more pictures from our trip to the Vineyard, which was such a perfectly timed escape for our little family. And, if all goes according to plan, we'll have a whole lot of show and tell come June.

March 24, 2015

A Little Luck

st. patrick's day 2015

Although winter temperatures linger, it's been such a welcome treat to enjoy the daylight stretching into our dinner hour. The seasons are slow to shift this year, but tonight I drove into the city to teach an evening class with the skies still blue, and even more notably, parked on the street and fed the meter without scaling a mountain of trash encrusted snow. The thaw is on, and we are patiently waiting for invitation to plant peas and shed coats. 

Life has been busy and full, and James and I have been working hard and holding our breath on a few big plans. It certainly feels as though March has been a month of looking forward, and so I am doing my best to close it out by being present and accepting in the moment. That's nearly an impossible task for me, but I'm giving it my best shot. Wish me luck.

March 14, 2015

Gramma's In Winter

Despite the challenges this winter has put on any travel, we have been finding ourselves making the two hour trip out to my mom's more often than ever. Snow just looks better in the country... or maybe we're totally desperate for a change of venue (a snowed in winter will with two small children will do that).

Little Smith has a brain that is so driven by science, it's fascinating to watch his interests develop because they are so different than my memories of my own. He is in constant search of uncovering a process; how flowers grow and bees pollinate, what everything looks like inside, and (to my occasional horror), death, rotting, and the full circle. My mom is fueled by many of the same questions, and it's such fun to see them tear apart flowers and poke at them with sticks, identifying all the pieces and consulting a tower of reference books. 

Baby Roo has proven to be an animal lover (torturer?) and is thrilled to present Blue, the dog, with apples, cookies, and hugs... again and again. She has also become such a bossy little lady, and constantly directs everyone where to sit, crying whenever anyone exits the room (the bigger the audience, the better!).

James is never happier than when skiing, and while his days on the mountain are far fewer than he'd like, and my hometown mountain is small, I think seeing his son get just a little more confident on his 80cm skis has made up for the loss of turns this season. He's also partial to my mom's selection of micro brews, and her number of televisions (4!).

My highlights are getting to sleep in late (sometimes), wearing my 'little house nightgown' (one of those purchases that has made this winter tolerable), and curling up by the wood stove with a good bar of chocolate.

This week has brought the first legitimate hopes of spring to our permafrost, sunshine and rain and even a little snow melt. I am lunging forward, towards longer days and milder temperatures... but I have to say that this winter has been a lovely one for our family. James always laments the receding snow, and I won't go that far! But I am certainly going to miss my nightgown and the wiggle room to eat an extra chocolate bar when spring does find us.

March 5, 2015


When March hands you lemons (aka 5 feet of crusty snowpack)... you freeze said lemons in blocks of ice and call them bird feeders, at least that's what we do! 

Little Smith is at an age where every moment of the day has to be filled with an exciting activity or he starts whining, and I am convinced there are few things worse in life than whining. I have been trying to step it up with some basic structured recreation, like board games (we love Wild Craft and Uncle Wiggly along with the staples like Candy Land), craft projects, and the kinds of things I mentioned here

I still do pledge my love for winter, but unquestionably, it's just way more work... especially with children. For anyone that does not have playgrounds with swings buried under the snow, it might be difficult to imagine just how huge a difference these seasons make in the work load. I delude myself into thinking that we appreciate the warmer months that much more.

There are those bonuses of living in a land of snow; the optimism of waking to a fresh white covering, that special pink light, and the novelty of making giant frozen blocks of citrus, and having them last for weeks. It's the little things.

For now I am adopting the attitude of 'enjoy it while it lasts', and we are heading to my mom's tomorrow for a weekend of skiing and snow worship. However, I fully expect to be having a different conversation by months end, one that circles around mud and green gardens rather than ice cubes. I think I can, I think I can...