Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Two Monsters

Much discussion there was about what the twins should be for Halloween this year.  Halloween costumes are so fun with twins.  Twins are so hard that anything fun with them needs to be milked for all it's worth.  

We finally decided that it only made sense for them to be monsters.  We joked that there was no need to dress them up at all, but I got these cute pink monster suits anyway.  They weren't anything extraordinary-- just the cheap stuff you find at Walmart-- but they fit the bill.  

Here was the thing about Halloween this year: it was so crazy busy that I didn't get any pictures that night.  I had to take Bean to football practice and as we were coming home the kids were just heading out to trick or treat around the neighborhood and I had to rush to catch up with them.  Then coming home we were dealing with tired twins in meltdown mode.  It's been at the back of my mind ever since, and just this very evening I put these costumes back on the twins and shot some photos.  Only a whole month late, but at least I got them.  And, gratefully, they turned out adorable.  See for yourself.  (Leaf is on the left, Twig is on the right.)

November Goes

I have had some inquiries lately... "are you still there, Birrd?  Have you given up blogging?"

Yes, I am still here, and no, I haven't given up blogging.  It's just one of the many things that I always seem to be chasing after lately, things which dance laughingly out of my grasp right when I think I finally have them cornered.  "Tomorrow, then.  Surely I can find some time tomorrow."  Was my last post really back in October?  Yikes.  Please tell me it also wasn't October when I last paid my utility bills because it probably was....

And so November has slipped past.  It's been a lovely month, despite the whirlwind tempo of my life.  I really love November.  It doesn't seem like it should be over yet, since we are having quite a lot of very vibrant late-autumn color here in Kansas right now.  The oaks and the Bradford pears right now are just glorious.  I took this just this evening in my very own backyard:

So it doesn't seem quite right that everyone's putting up Christmas trees and lights already.  I wish we could push Christmas back to the end of January to stretch things out a bit.

I shall just endeavor to savor fall and enjoy the Christmas season at the same time, weird as that feels to me.

November comes
And November goes,
With the last red berries
And the first white snows.

With night coming early,
And dawn coming late,
And ice in the bucket
And frost by the gate.

The fires burn
And the kettles sing,
And earth sinks to rest
Until next spring.

Monday, October 24, 2016

A Perfect Afternoon

Oh, these glorious October days!  How I love them!  Recently we had our second annual fall poetry reading.  It was absolute heaven.  We sat outside under the ash tree with a bowl of popcorn and read poems about fall.  When we were done, we stayed out and played in the leaves for a couple of hours.  It was just magical.

I took a ton of pictures.  You're welcome, Mom!

Here we go outside to get started...

The kids are so excited to play!

Roo settles into the leaves...

...and starts writing in her nature journal (another marvelous product from Jenny Phillips!)


And poems!

Here is Peanut reciting her caterpillar poem she memorized.

Happy Frog...

Gotta rake up a big leaf pile..

Rolling around in crunchy leaves is so fun...

Elf hair...

The light just kept getting more and more golden.  So I had to keep snapping pictures.

Frog wanted to rake the leaves off the tree.

Oh, my wonderful Frog!

"October's bright blue weather..."

Yes, I was enjoying myself!  I even had my autumn leaf shirt on.

It was just a perfect afternoon.

Twenty Three Months

Oh, the twins!

So, back when Bean was a baby I read a lot of parenting books.  One of them said you should really make an effort to never put a negative label on your kids.  Never call them mean names, you know?  I read that and I thought "of course I will never do that!!!"  And for the most part, I haven't.  However, I may or may not occasionally refer to the twins as "the monsters."  And maybe, just maybe I have called them "the evil twins" once or twice.

I'm just trying to keep it real.  Please don't judge.

They are into EVERYTHING.  Constantly!  While I am cleaning up one mess they are making another.  They bite each other and spit out their half-chewed food and empty the garbage.  I am pretty used to toddlers by now, but they have taken things to a whole new level.  Sometimes I don't handle it very well.

They are also the cutest things I have ever seen in my life.

They are snuggly and giggly and loving and lovable.  And we adore them.  Of course.  When those little arms wrap around your neck all is forgiven.

Some more recent pictures... Here, Twig has rounded up all the toy horses she can find and has carried them back to a remote corner to play with them.

Along comes Leaf with a piece of chocolate zucchini cake.

I wish I could figure out who cut Twig's bangs.  No one will confess.  It might have been Twig herself.  Yikes!  It does make it easier to tell them apart though.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Perfect for Peanut

I got an email from the Good and the Beautiful curriculum last week.  In it they announced that they had just released a Pre-K book.  I was so excited!  Just what Peanut needs!  I ordered it on the spot and it shipped to me super quick.

Peanut was so excited to have her very own Good and the Beautiful book just like her sisters.  She begged me to get started on it right then.  So we did.

And I love this book!  It is darling!  The cute pictures make the activities so engaging.  I was using Sandi Queen's Language Lessons for Little Ones to help Peanut learn her letters.  I love the fine art and poetry in that book and it is certainly easy to use, but in terms of Peanut learning her letters it just wasn't enough.  This new Good and the Beautiful book is just what we needed.

The more I use Jenny Phillips's curriculum, the more I love it.  I am so grateful that she had the vision and inspiration to create such a valuable resource for homeschoolers.

Here is Peanut working on the letter clouds activity.  Frog is helping her out.  They are loving it and so am I.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Putting Down Roots

When we first arrived here in Kansas I felt so painfully uprooted.  I knew I would need time to recover.  I have always tried to bloom where I'm planted, but one has to recover from transplant shock before one can bloom. 

I remember the first time we moved to Kansas, back in 2008.  I really liked it here then.  It reminded me so much of Minnesota,  where I grew up, only not so cold in the winter (and that was a good thing!)  At that time,  I thought we would be here permanently and I dove into making it home.  I did my best to bloom, I found lots of wonderful people and places and opportunities for my kids, and I was happy.  After only being here 19 months, the Badger suddenly lost his job and we moved back to Utah.  I was fine with that because Utah is where my family is. 

When we came back out here a year and a half ago,  it was hard to leave family.  I wasn't unhappy about being in Kansas,  but I wasn't thrilled either, after everything we had been through.

Last April, after living here for a year, we took a trip to Utah.  I was so excited to be there and see my family and hike in the mountains and eat Cafe Rio and all that good Utah stuff.  I wondered how I could bear to go back to Kansas at the end of our trip.  But, back we went.  When we arrived, I felt something unexpected: the sense of poignant relief and comfort you feel when you have come home.  Somehow, despite all our floundering and despite the damage we are still healing from, Kansas has become home to me. 

There is so much to love here, and I consciously choose to love it.  I love the trees, especially the stately oaks.  I love the farm fields.  I love the sunsets and the moon rises.  I love our ward and our neighborhood and the boys' school and the YMCA.  I love the stores I shop at, and my proximity to the ones I love best.  I love the neat grid of the roads and the slower tempo of traffic. It really is a great place to be, and I am very grateful to be here. 

For the first few months we were here I could have easily packed up and left again, going back west.  I ached still for our magical little mountain town we left behind, as well as our family in Utah.  I still ache for those places somewhat, but choosing to love and enjoy Kansas means I have been driving roots deep into this prairie soil. 

And oh, how those roots want to settle in permanently!  To be able to say, "yes, we are from Kansas, we have lived there for years."  To see all my children grow up and graduate from Plumfield.   To have years and years worth of pictures of the kids at the same pumpkin patch, at the same Fourth of July parade.  I really, really want to be done moving around.  I want stability and tradition and a geographic anchor for the family and I am fine with that being right here. 

Will we stay here? I don't know.  But I can't worry about what tomorrow will bring.  For now, Kansas is home and I am happy here. 

Saturday, October 15, 2016


I have been called mom for nearly 16 years now and sometimes it still feels weird.  What?  Me?  A mom?  I feel like I just graduated from college.

It's especially weird coming from my teenagers because I feel like one of them myself, and yet they are rolling their eyes and saying "oh, MOM" in that voice that says "stop being so lame."  And that's me.  Me! 

I hear "Mom?" approximately 85,000 times per day.  When I am not weary I remember what a beautiful sound that is.  I am very aware of some who ache to be called Mom, and that makes me very grateful.

Bean, Fish, Roo, and Frog call me Mom.  The Rabbit calls me Mama and Peanut calls me Mother in the sweetest little voice.  "Mother?"  I need to get a recording of that.  I will miss it someday. 

I love being Mom, Mama, and Mother even though I don't feel old enough or experienced enough.  It's the best thing that has ever happened to me.