Sweet Boys

Our midwives said that worry is the work of pregnancy.  When I was pregnant with Nicolas, I worried that he would never get to be the first and only child.  His experience of life in our family would always be a competition for divided attention.  The midwives smiled and reminded me that the baby wouldn’t just have our love and attention, he would have Mabel’s too.  The love wasn’t dividing; it was multiplying.

Yesterday, Nicolas was sitting in a chair reading The Gods and Goddesses of Olympus by Aliki.  Joseph decided to try and climb up to join him even though there was only room for 1 in the chair.  I asked Nico if he would go sit on the couch so that Joseph could sit next to him and look at the book too.  He was happy to, and they spent the next little while looking at the book together.  Joseph listened as Nicolas told him the stories.

This boy has such a generous, patient heart.

A Trip to the Yurts!

Last month we traveled a little way from home and had a great big adventure.  We were celebrating our girl turning 8 and went to stay a few nights in the yurts at Champoeg, a historic townsite from the 1840s.  Even though it was rainy and cold outside, the yurts kept us dry and happy!  We went for walks along the river, built fairy houses, took a daytrip to the monastery, and even roasted cinnamon rolls over the fire!

Remembering Remembrance Day

Remembering the red paper poppies that blossomed on lapels the autumn I lived in London.

Remembering bells tolling each day at parish churches during November as the the names of parishioners who had died were read aloud.  This was not an abstract remembrance.  It was rooted in place and time.

Remember the absolute hush that washed over the busy city at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.  Everything stopped.


Remembering my Shakespeare professor in London taking us out for dinner at a Korean restaurant.  When the woman came with our menus, he waved her off and began speaking to her in Korean.  He had served in the Korean War…as a code breaker.  We were totally shocked!  The woman went back to the kitchen and brought out everyone who worked there.  We smiled and looked on amazed as they talked on.  Can you imagine the meal they served us?

Remembering my 7th grade English teacher, Mrs. McGrath, teaching us “In Flanders Fields” by John McCrae.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

people CCwestkort

Remembering the nubby feeling of the blanket that always covered the crippled legs of my great grandfather, Christopher Columbus West.  He got frostbite on his legs in the trenches in France during the first World War.  He always welcomed me on his lap when I got scared as the freight trains rattled past.

sabbath rest

Ár NAthair (Our Father)

by Brian Doyle, from his collection Epiphanies & Elegies: Very Short Stories

nov 13 033

It was my grandfather who taught me the prayer

One sunny morning sitting on the front brick steps

As cars and dogs and children went passing by.


Atá ar neamh, who is in heaven he said, though

Of course He is no He at all in the general sense

But is us and everywhere and that’s a stone fact


No matter what your gramma says, don’t tell her.

Go naofar d’ainm, hallowed be thy name,

Go dtaga do ríocht, thy kingdom come, which


It is already, as we see just by paying attention.

Go ndéantar do thoil, thy will be done, ar an

Talamh mar a dhéantar ar neamh, on earth as


It is in heaven.  Tabhair dúinn inniu, give to us

Ár n-arán laethúl, our daily bread, and agrus

Maith dúinn ár bhfiacha, forgive us our debts


Mar a mhaithimidne dár bhféichiúna féin, as we

Forgive our own debtors, which huh we have none.

Well, the prayer as usually promulgated then goes


On to say agus ná lig sinn i gcathú, and lead us not

Into temptation, but that’s a cruel and foolish line

And I will not teach it to you.  So, ach saor sin ó olc,


But deliver us from evil, and right there we really

Should say please, but we are Catholics, boy, and no

Polite at all one bit.  And then we finish with amen.


Which let us say it together as men do, so amen!

We said together sitting smiling watching the parade

Which forty years later I do with him still in my heart.


Reverence and Gratitude

Rahima Baldwin said that reverence and gratitude form the basis of our spiritual lives.  That if we can approach life with reverence and respond with gratitude, we will be able to lead our children as well.

Late one night as I was sweeping up the kitchen, I realized again that I was spending my life cleaning up messes that would be made new in the morning.  But I was doing it because I wanted to show forth my thanks not only with my lips but also with my life.  I was grateful beyond words for the lives that had made this mess.  It was reverence for these lives that had me re-making our home.

No one understood the connections between reverence for life, profound gratitude, and a life given over to service better than Dorothy Day, whose birthday we celebrate today!  She made life on the edge of the Bowery in New York City beautiful by offering a cup of coffee and a bowl of soup to the least among us.

How will you and your children give thanks this year?

success momentum

Fresh off the daily writing habit from last month, I’m flush with inspiration!  I started reading again the (wonderful, transformational!) journaling workshop offered by Lori at Project Based Homeschooling.  I want to keep on writing + creating…maybe not every day in this space, but every day in my journal.


Small goals (write a few sentences each day + draw something)

Anchored to an established habit (quiet, early mornings with coffee)

Then…celebrate the small wins!

I’m planning on working with the write alm prompts and the art journaling prompts from Dawn DeVries Sokol. And I’m keeping my eyes + heart open to developing a Documented Life Journal…even bought this one at a deep discount because I don’t need the dates to be correct.  I’m trying out combining the art journal work with bullet journal style calendar + lists.

 I’ll also be working through Apartment Therapy’s Clean Your House in 20 Minutes a Day for 30 Days in preparation for the coming holy days.

What are you working on as the seasons shift + we face the darkest days?

sabbath rest

4845594689_b6f042db2c_ofor as the rain and snow come down from heaven, and do not return there until they have watered the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out of my mouth; it shall not return to me empty but it shall accomplish that which i purpose, and succeed in the thing for which i sent it.

for you shall go out in joy, and be led back in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall burst into song, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.

instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress; instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle; and it shall be to the Lord a memorial, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.

Isaiah 55.10-13


IMG_2075on Saturday AP took the oldest and the youngest to the farmers’ market to pick up our CSA share.  that left Nicolas and me alone to finish up lunch prep (salmon cakes with smoked salmon from Nana and Papa Sam!).  then we headed out to the back yard.

we ended up sitting on the edge of the deck talking about numbers–specifically 40, that big number that i’ll be turning in a couple weeks.  we did a little math, but mostly we just talked in the shade of the great horse chestnut tree.  then we came inside, and he crushed all the graham crackers for our pie crust.  we finished melting the butter and pressing the crumbs into the pie plate.  about this time the others returned home and the house filled up with all the busy sounds of five people living together.

Nicolas is the middle child.  he is quiet and speaks deliberately.  he is content and ready for just about anything.  he also happens to be surrounded by children who are louder and more dramatic than he is!  this means that in our day to day life, his voice often gets drowned out.

it was just wonderful to spend time with Nico, one on one.  it’s something that Julie Bravewriter (as we call her at our house!)  recommends.  we’ve gone out to coffee together before, but this was so much richer because we were in our own comfortable space and had work to do in common.  i overheard him tell his sister how much he liked his mama-time!  when he was born, we called him Nicolas the Wonderworker.  i want to make sure there is space + time for this boy full of wonders.