The Greening

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There are now approximately two million things to do on my ‘to do’ list.

I know you can relate.

The greening of spring is here and with it comes a truckload of ideas and projects, the folding away of winter, the welcoming of a new season, and the ongoing upkeep and organization of a household.

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There is no end to the work.

Actually.

And this is why I believe it would be of some value to consider the state of our thought life as we enter into another season of so much.

{I am speaking to myself here, as I had to discipline my thoughts 100 times today already!}

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Often as I peel from one chore to another, desperate to make progress in any direction, something like this will play out:

Goal: clean mudroom.

Start by collecting all winter hats and mitts and bring to the family room to sort. While in the family room notice that someone left a muddy trail across the floor. Clean up the trail and put the boots in the garage where they go. While in the garage notice that all the other boots are in a heap right in front of the door. Remind myself to remind the children to remember to put their footwear away properly. Now I find myself sweeping the garage and tidying the recycling, while the mudroom continues to lie in shambles.

So, even though my task is to clean the mudroom, now I find myself cleaning the garage. It’s not that I can’t focus, because I can, it’s just that there is so much to do that all needs doing right now. And this unraveling state of affairs can lead to very real discouragement for even the most heroic homemaker.

What is essential, I am finding is this: do not allow any negative chatter in your mind or from your mouth about the situation. Absolutely no complaining, no comparing, no grumbling, no words of discouragement.

Simply write each thing that needs doing on a list and move forward.

You will see success.

Begin one thing at a time; get something done and move onto the next thing.

So often while we work with our hands our minds are busy tearing down the very thing we are aiming to do: build a peaceful and productive life.

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Train your brain to be thankful at every temptation to be overwhelmed or frustrated. Train your brain to focus on those you love and how your work is serving them. Pray for others that come to mind as you clean.

Choose your thoughts wisely because they establish the inner environment that you live in: the beliefs of your very own heart.  And as your heart knows peace and gratitude and love and order, so will your outer world.

Done Like Dinner

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The winter felt a little longer than usual, in part, because we had some renovations going on. However, the renovations themselves made being indoors over the winter far more entertaining for all of us.

Look at the tools!

Look at the walls and floor being hacked up!

Look at the sawdust in our supper!

Look at the mouse poop behind the walls!

Never a dull moment.  Yet, we survived and so did our wonderful work crew. We now have an additional bathroom on the main floor and an additional sink and dishwasher in the kitchen. The above photo is of the new sink.

Critical (in my mind) was a shelf that could hold pots and bowls of fermenting foods that didn’t have to be on the counter. Also essential (in Ben’s mind) was a comfortable chair to hang out on in this main hub of the house.

We worked with our old, very uncool oak cabinetry on the other side of the kitchen and made the rest of the place feel like a cozy cottage.

I’m so very grateful that we have a much more functional space to do our food work.

The kitchen really is the heart of the home.

Useful Things

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The mind is a generally useful thing.

Except when it isn’t, of course – when it floods with ideas and aspirations and wonderings that just don’t know how to hold on a decade or two until this masterpiece of children is launched.

The world just does not stop wooing my thoughts and my mind just trundles right along like a hungry little puppy dog,

“Oohh… I’d like to know more about this.  And think about that some more.  And then I should organize my whole house and then I’d like to go to a writer’s conference and then I could open a bookstore and a bakery combined and then I should write books and then I could take a few years and get good at painting and pottery, and then I’d like to learn to work with wood and then I should take voice lessons again and start up a children’s choir and then I could become a Masterchef and then I should figure out how to host permaculture workshops from our place and then I’d like to help Ben launch a business and then I’d like to be trained in that other area and host this.  And then we’ll move to India and then we’ll adopt children who have no families and then we’ll open a soap-making business and then I’d like to start up a website about this, and then I’ll become a fermented food genius…”

“Mama.  Stinky.”

Oh, yes, Poppy’s diaper.  That little thing that is never just a little thing; it represents the interrupt to my free flow of ideas, to my mind stringing four thoughts together in a row.

My mind is an opportunity generating machine.  I keep thinking of more things to do and try… and those aren’t even the ideas that I want to explore, to know about in my heart and wrestle out in my soul.  {This doesn’t even include all the ideas the children and I come up with on a daily basis!}

“My fishy cracker is squished!”

There is no time for my mind to get bored, to slow down.  In fact, I am having to go to heroic measures to tame further stimulus for ideas. No more Facebook – permanently deleted; little news, no radio, not much internet at all in fact.

I need silence, quiet, stillness.  It’s hard to find in this noisy world.

I want to hear the voice of God. 

Ultimately, I desire to follow the dreams He has put in my heart, on His timeline.  I want to think deeply about bigger things and pray without ceasing.

And yet, my actual life, the one He has so generously called me to, creates unique chaos opportunities to develop and mature in the trenches where diapers hope and fishy crackers love dwell.

Pie in the sky never tasted all that great.  I know that the good things to come are directly proportional to my commitment to learn what is right in front of me first; wisdom is not hasty in sharing her wealth. 

Time will take and multiply the tiny seeds of love I plant today even if they don’t look flashy to the world; nothing will be lost.  I’m safe in the hands of the Dream-Giver.  

The Buzz

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The excitement around here is tangible.

The Trading Post is booked for the May long weekend and we even have a few families from other cities coming to join us! So far we have 14 families represented.

It’s going to be a party!

The children are brainstorming all day long about things they can make; they are talking non-stop about their creative ideas. Sunny alone has a list of about 15 things she wants to craft for trading.

I’m telling them to start now. There is no way that seven kids will have multiple ‘trade-ables’ if we start 24 hours before the Trading Post begins.

I’m encouraging them to trade some of their junk treasures, too. {I bet you can’t even imagine how many seashells, fossils, Lego guys, and ‘cool beads’ we have hanging around in the corners of our house!}

I’m planning on trading some books, homeschooling stuff I’m finished with, and random household junk goods too. I think pulling the portable garage sale concept into the mix will keep things from becoming too overwhelming from a crafty perspective.

So bring your junk treasures too!

This very minute Sunny and Tucker are holed up in the basement with the sewing machine, cranking out the cutest…

Oh, I’m not gonna say… you’ll just have to come if you want to find out!

Chess Together

IMG_3364I generally try to cram all my errands into one evening a week.

When I get home, little crying Cotton is usually returned speedily to my arms, as she doesn’t always appreciate that the rest of the family needs food too. While I nurse her, Ben and the big kids race as fast as they can to empty the truck of all the groceries and library books.

The kids do a pretty good job of putting the food where it goes, though once I did find some cream cheese in the pantry (a week later. Suffice it to say, we didn’t use it).

Then, we’ll often stand around the island in the kitchen together, enjoying a little ‘thank you for helping’ snack, and wrap up the day.

The last time I went out, I came home to find the Piano Guys blasting from the speakers and a rigorous chess tournament in process.

It was so very thrilling to find everyone engaged in something so enticingly participatory; there was such a spirit of fun in the air.

I think it’s these kind of awake-moments-together that will nestle into the souls of our children and warm them kindly in the years to come.