Saturday, November 28, 2015

Jethro Tull and Jabez


I'm always floored by the crazy miracle of birth. I missed it by one hour but the boys and some friends got to see the whole thing, in all its gory detail. (Which doesn't seem to disturb them. They're frankly a bit clinical about the whole life/death thing. I must be raising scientists.) But we are all swept off our feet by the sweetness and silkiness of baby goats. 

They are Jethro Tull and Jabez. We name our animals alphabetically as we acquire them, and the offspring have the same letter as their mother. "Thus Josephine bore Jabez and Jethro, whilst her daughter Jacobina bore Jorungard. " You see? It has a musical ring to it. This helps us keep the dynasties straight.

So far our bucks have all been named for literary villains: Moriarty, Ivan the Terrible, and Fosco after  Count Fosco in the Moonstone. But I drew the line at Jack the Ripper and said let's name them after a band and a family ancestor instead. I tell you, it is much more fun naming animals than humans.

A wave of jaw harp (Jew's harp) mania has swept through our house, thanks to this cool theatre duo  and this crazy guy (Ozzy Osbourne alert) and a little help from youtube. The boys have been cutting up our old health cards and membership cards for homemade jaw harps. The sound of flapping plastic isn't quite as cool as the real thing but Christmas is coming and stockings need stuffing.

We have a nearly ongoing fire outside as Will cleans the property and cares for his beloved trees. It's so lovely!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

As Many...

As many as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ....Alleluia!

Celebrating Hermione's symbolic death and resurrection in Christ, at Christ the Saviour Orthodox church in Ottawa. Her baptism was full of grace and love and the holiness of the sacrament. We were blessed to have the parish choir surrounding us with song (the musical tradition of the Eastern Church is really incredible, and this church has an amazing choir). Typically the whole parish shows up and shouts Sealed! for the chrismation...a powerful reminder that the body of Christ is a human body made of human members, as well as a mystical body. An organic unity.

Our journey to Eastern Christianity has been marked by what Will and I keep noticing as a peaceful integration between the human and divine, between tradition and charisma, between holiness and practicality, truth and love, past and present.

I would like to write more about it, but for now we are just basking in the glow of our tiny newborn saint.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Mirkwood and such

Garden man

(Don't call me garden man)

Matthias's birthday falls on the same day as Frodo and Bilbo Baggins. We are shameless Tolkien fans here. So much so, that Will would not allow me to name one of our beloved family dogs after Tolkien, because it was sacrilegious or something.

I foresee a lifetime of hobbit-themed birthday parties for Matthias. (Fortunately he is fond of hobbits so far.) Hugh made an enormous spider web out of string for the party-goers to hack down. It was pretty cool. We failed, alas, to get a photo of the Smaug that Willy painted for the partiers to shoot with bow and arrows. He also made some dangerous wooden arrows and I was terrified that one of our small guests would get shot. They kept wandering into the path of the arrows and I kept having to sweep them aside.

Will's garden was an overflowing cornucopeia of jungle this year, such a joy in late summer. As I write frost has taken down most of it, but we are still eating the kale and cabbages (yum! Or not...) calendula and cilantro. Cilantro is amazing. It makes Quick-Do-Something-With-The-Tomatoes-Before-They-Rot salsa taste awesome, and it doesn't seem to die. How does a plant that grows so happily in Mexico and Vietnam survive frost in Canada? Magic, I say.

Monday, September 21, 2015


Life with a new baby is mostly a blur, but there are many bright little moments too. Thank you, cameras, for freezing time for us so we can hang on to these for a little while.

Hermione is still tiny and precious. You'd think after five children we'd be getting tired of all this baby care, but honestly, I think it just gets sweeter. In fact, when I look back to how stressed out we were parenting our first child, I'd even venture to say that it's easier now.

Pause, to separate two screaming hellions, respectfully ask two children to return to their room for quiet reading time, and nurse starving infant.

Maybe not. 

I think that if you learn anything after 11 years, it's that time whooshes by too quickly. I'm even savouring (maybe more like toughing) the sleepless nights, knowing that all too soon Mio won't even want to cuddle any more. Rafe has already gone on strike. No more baby. Not even pats on the head. He is so cute yet so dignified, we're hard put to treat him with graveness...

I think we've permanently damaged his ego by pretending not hear him when he asks for a haircut. (This winter, Rafey, not yet...) I just can't bring myself to put scissors into his curls! Could you?

We have started home schooling again. What a monkey circus! Sometimes I wonder if I'm doing more harm than good. But Will is very encouraging, always pointing out that we have happy children. When I fret about the academics moving at a snail's pace, that is precisely the moment that a child comes to me and says, Hey mom, I'm memorizing the Periodic Table, or beg me to please, please read History to him! Or after months of fighting over math lessons, to find that a child can effortlessly calculate in real life. Then Will and I look at each other knowingly, as if to say, Don't you dare let on that this is educational! 

Will is writing his thesis proposal and cutting and stacking the winter's firewood, planning our fall renovations. (Our finances come and go in big chunks, so as soon as the student loans come in it's GO TIME). 

Real home schooling, not just pretending that creative play and all-day art is an academic achievement!

The last precious photos of Matthias pre-haircut and the first of the firewood.

Cozy log house..

Winter soon! We're learning to roll with the seasons. To acknowledge the glory of the present moment. To breathe deep when the chaos overwhelms us.

My winter's project is: learn to be a good house keeper and cut down on chaos. It's only taken eleven years and five children to realize that good housekeeping is possible, just counter-intuitive (for me). But it's never too late.

I've decided that the first step is to give away everybody else's stuff.

My other winter's project: re-visit the Plays of Shakespeare. I'm starting with Winter's Tale because there's a character named Hermione.

And speaking of Hermione...

Swoon! Sweet baby, I love you so much my heart will burst!