Here is just a smattering of stuff that has happened since I last posted in September. Blogging has taken a backseat to life at this point, which is as it should be, I suppose.
School: We’ve been squeezing the more academic bits of school into the spaces of the day when Will sleeps or when we’re gathered together anyway (specifically mealtimes and bedtime). I find it especially helpful to associate certain things with mealtimes. We do morning prayers after breakfast, poetry at lunch, and bedtime math (using the iPhone app) with supper. We just finished up our study of Henri Matisse (we especially like the books Matisse: the King of Color, When Pigasso Met Mootisse, and Henri’s Scissors). Bea was particularly taken with Matisse’s colorful cut-out shapes and was inspired to try her hand at it on a couple different occasions. Adeline has been using Xtra Math for extra practice, which we both like. We recently watched Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit and The Nightmare Before Christmas, and now the girls have taken a fancy to stop motion animation. We’ve attempted a couple little videos of their Lego people using our Nikon. Fun! But it sure is a time-consuming process!
Halloween: We had a monarch butterfly, a bumblebee (for the 2nd year in a row), and a tiny raccoon. When I asked Bea what she was going to be for Halloween, she said, “My bumble costume that’s my Halloween costume.” As though it is customary to wear the same costume every year. Actually, I rather like that idea…
Weather: Those mums and everything else in the garden is dead, thanks to the dip in temperature to 1 degree last week. Now we’ve got snow and grayness. The sun, when there is any, has begun to slant in across the living room floor and illuminate all the dust bunnies under the couch.
Other stuff: Jake built us a table! The baby is crawling! Adeline is about to turn seven! The girls are slowly taking over responsibility of their laundry!!! (Note which of those announcements rates three exclamation points.) And so much more that I’d like to share, but alas, time is not on my side. If I don’t hit publish now, this post is likely to linger til after Christmas, when none of this would really seem relevant anymore. So here it is, half-finished (like many of the projects in my life right now – mine and my family’s – most of which are piled on the kitchen counter).
Sweet Bea turned 4 this week. I wanted to make her favorite meal for supper, but thinking about it I realized that I don’t even know what her favorite meal might be. She doesn’t ever want anything except dessert. She hardly ever eats at mealtimes. The only meal she ever requests is macaroni and cheese. So that’s what we made for her. But she was so preoccupied by the prospect of cake that she only ate a few bites of it.
Bea is the epitome of middle child. I think she was even before she actually became the middle child. She is amazing in so many ways and I love her to bits, but she can also be contrary and defiant and often we focus on trying to correct these things rather than praising the good in her. Every morning I wake up and think, today I am going to be patient with her, today I will only show her love, today I will shower her with a little extra attention. And I always fail. I’m not sure why I thought it would be any different on her birthday. I wanted to make this day really special and all about her. Of course, then in her characteristic Bea way she made carrying out that plan very difficult. She kept walking around declaring, “It’s my birthday, I can do whatever I want!” and proceeding to quite literally do whatever she wanted — to the frustration of her parents. This was compounded by a needy baby who apparently didn’t know that he was supposed to let his sister have some of mom and dad’s attention on her special day.
But she did enjoy her presents — particularly the make-up kit she got from her grandma and a My Little Pony comic book. And Jake made his signature mint chocolate cake. We had a little party with the neighbors, and I know she enjoyed playing pin the tail on the pony with her friends. (It was such a hot and humid evening, when I got out my camera to take a picture of her blowing out candles the lens fogged up and I only got one hazy picture.) I think (I hope) in her mind it was a really great day, and that she didn’t sense my own sense of failure. She’s one amazingly awesome girl, and I’m proud to be her mama.
I like to have the house all clean and tidy before we decorate for the holidays. Of course it doesn’t stay that way for long. The regular toy-book-paper-musical instrument clutter accumulates again. Decorations get arranged and rearranged and played with and misplaced. I try fairly hard for a few days to keep things organized and looking the way I would like it to look.
And then quickly I am reminded that the living we do in this house — the learning, playing, creating, and mess making that goes on here on a daily basis — isn’t going to cease just because I’ve put up some lights and garlands. The house isn’t going to stay any tidier during the Christmas season than it is during the rest of the year. And that’s fine. The nativity sets, the Jesse tree, the lights, they’re still there amidst the clutter of our everyday life. They still stand out as reminders of what’s most important. They’re no less meaningful for the mess all around them; in fact, I think perhaps there’s a metaphor in there somewhere, in the way my kids incorporate the symbols and reminders of this sacred story into our own messy, common, everyday lives. Perhaps it’s a lesson that’s worth remembering long after the decorations are packed away for the year.
And anyway, once darkness falls and the lights are sparkling, it’s much harder to see the rest of the mess.
My girls have never made gingerbread houses before – and it would never have happened without these kits.
Adding O Antiphons to our Advent devotions (free ornaments here).