rainbow rainy day

lakenriver

Monday was our first day of Spring Break, and would you know? We woke up to drizzly rain everywhere. Pretty soon our backyard had a lake and river look about it, and our plans for the day set aside. While movies were definitely on the menu, I thought pulling out some of our creative activities would be a good change. You can see more of our rainy day/sick day fun here. We’ve had this rice tray for a few months, I believe, inspired by Deb at Living Montessori Now . It’s wonderful for pre-writing practice, but also for measuring and pouring and other fine-motor activities. The tray itself is actually an old thing that came with our gas grill many moons ago. After being used for a few months, it was definitely losing popularity as a choice. I remembered seeing colored rice in passing on Pinterest. The idea is simple enough- you dye the rice with food coloring. I didn’t even look it up, but just ran with the idea. All I have in the house is gel food coloring. I’m assuming you could use any type.

ricetray

I placed the rice in four separate gallon sized bags and added a few drops of Lavender essential oil (which smells absolutely yummy!) and called in a few helpers to shake it up.

shakeitup

Here it is after dyeing. They shook the bags for about five minutes, give or take. You can see how rich the gel color makes it here. Because it was gel color, I was a little concerned about the color leaching if the children’s hands were damp or wet, so I popped the whole tray into the oven at 200 F for about forty minutes, so the color would ‘set’ into the rice.

afterdye

And here it is finished. You can see with baking the dye is a little less vibrant, but still beautiful.

finished

Such a pretty rainbow on a yucky, rainy day!

closeup

Art Friday: progress, barely

A tiny bit of progress this week when I was able to steal a few minutes waiting for something to load- I’ve gotten Elliana’s birthday week into the book, but it lacks journaling and pretty-ing up.

ellybday

The following week was Valentine’s week, And you can see the beginnings of that on the right hand page. I’m not sure what I want to put in the left. There’s also that long narrow strip in the right hand (Elliana’s birthday week) and the left hand (Valentine’s week), that I’ll have to decide what to do with.

valentinesweek

I haven’t made any progress whatsover in actually cleaning up. I am not a piler by nature. A gatherer, maybe- I like being able to see things, but I also like them contained. And if I can’t find what I’m looking for, I really get frustrated. I also tend to work better standing, I think because I can see the whole thing at once and not at an angle. The desk (a very old Ikea standby) does go up to standing height (or even bi-level, like a drafting table), but the space I’m in doesn’t really work well for the standing position. I also tend to be working on multiple projects at once these days. I am only very rarely just scrapping and I need to be able to move projects in progress around. Katherine posted the other day and she happened to take shots of her raskog carts in her sewing space…That has gotten me to thinking. Regardless, there has to be a complete overhaul of the space. It is absolutely driving me bonkers at the moment. I at least tidied up the floor before I took this picture, but you can see all the piles, piled…it’s all underneath and to the side of the desk, too.

pilemess

 

dwell therein

sun_winter

I saw a sign the other day, which read thusly:

          I am ninety-nine percent angel. But oh, that one percent…

I considered for a split second having it printed on a t-shirt. My nickname in high school by my closest friends was Angel. When they were really desperate for a football win, I became Lucky Angel. It formed my email address for many years. luckyangel18, if you must know. I preferred it (and honestly still prefer it to this day) over my named emotion name, which made people demand of me constant happiness, mistaking the concept of joy for unrelenting happiness, which joy is most certainly not most of the time.

I never saw it as ironic or sarcastic that I was nicknamed so. It was an honor given out of genuine respect. People treated me differently than they did others, they cleaned up their act, so to speak, lessened their cussing and general rough-housing; they honored my different-ness from them in a way that could have gone quite opposite. I could have been precariously bullied.

I became a sister-friend to many rough and tumble boys in those years. Two of those boys (now tremendously lovely grown men, which I’d never, ever thought I’d see the day!) and their families are still to this day a regular part of my life. So often in those younger years, a boy would sidle up to me on the sidelines of the football field (I volunteered as team manager at my best friend’s request) and as he got to know me, thoughts and fears and dreams would pour out as I gained their trust. No one really knew of it, and were a boy to be asked what he spoke of to me on the sidelines while watching the plays, they would strenuously deny anything of the sort and claim they were doing something else entirely. I was not ‘one of the girls’-I had little to do with superficial backstabbing hormonal craziness; I tended to be a tomboy, but I had a quiet heart. I quickly realized I had a very quiet calling in this listening, a keeper of sorts. An encourager, certainly. An inspire-er- a beauty strewer. Not in the superficial sense of the idea, the Seventeen magazine trash; the idea of giving beauty and grace in tangible form. I probably failed as much as I tried, but I know from some of those guys at high school reunions that I did manage to make a difference for them.

Somehow I lost that calling along the way. I find myself circling back to that honorific I was given.

The thing is, I’m no angel. I never was. I came from brokenness and my childhood wasn’t the prettiest. I was just as much a mess up, a cut up, a broken loser then as the boys that would confide in me, sometimes worse! They would be amazed when I’d tell them some of the awful (and stupid!) scrapes I’d found myself in and what I’d learned from it. The thing is, we all are. The thing is, I’m less an angel than I was in those wayback years. I’ve made so many more mistakes now, so many grievous sins. Oh, that one percent. As much as my loved ones and I joke that my halo is hanging off my horns, there’s a grain of truth in it and it saddens me so very deeply. We’ve all become broken, and therein lies the need for grace and God’s great love.

I found it surprising later as people ascribed all manners of virtues to me simply because I was the mother of many. That I must somehow have a super-natural patience, a super-natural gifting, be an angel to take on such a task. Nothing is further from the truth. I am just as human and I lose my temper more times than I can count and probably more than a mama with less inducements to sin as I do. It is heart-rending, sanctifying work, yes, but angel? No. I fail and fall just as hard and have moments where I declare I am so done. I’ve never understood that misconception. I’m just me, two steps forward and three steps back, awkward, weirdo, sci-fi nerd who writes and swirls paint in the margin of my days, who happens to be the mother to six kids.

But it is in this nickname I am finding my way back to center. When I think of those times, scuffing dirt with my toes as I listened on a humid, steamy afternoon in a high school back field , un-relenting joy fills me. I am most at peace when I embrace that calling within me. How could I have known that I would later be called mama by four boys and two girls? How all that was training for the now? The life as mama, the keeper of hearts, the encourager, the beauty-strewer? And how could I have missed it, this calling to be a place of quiet peace? Of opening my heart for others to find rest and restoration in?

Now that I am understanding it, I am embracing it. Wherever I find myself, in the kitchen with the blaring whinies of four tinies and two grumpy pre-teens hungry for dinner, later in the quiet, elbows deep in dishwater, in the pick up line at school, in the waiting line at the pharmacy, in the cinnamon-scented coffee house across from a woman who feels like she’s going under…I am learning this. Open heart, listen close. Dwell. Dwell therein. The world is busting at the seams with people full of advice and ways to fix, when so much of our life is never black and white and problems stubbornly refusing to be fixed in any clear way, incredible swaths of gray. I’m remembering it’s okay to scuff my toe in the dirt and listen.

to number the days…

happyhygge I move into the rhythm of the weekend, the slow, steady down, rest beat, the Ray Le Montagne in the speakers, the stir the eggs a little longer, set a while, feel it down in your bones pull of the chicory, cinnamon, bourbon notes of the coffee percolating away. It’s raining and warm, a mean contradiction in terms on the first decently spring warm day of March. We all eye the thermometer longingly, eyeing the sky, wait for the rain to stop. It never did stop raining.

I note things for the to-do list for the week to come. Clean out and straighten the pan cabinet. Switch the children’s clothes. Plant the lavender, the rosemary, the catnip. I scribble a veritable brain dump into my Moleskine- getting all my work commitments out on paper, the home projects, the learning goals. I put all down on paper and then I walk away, curl up on the couch in between the lanky legs of preteens and rounded baby bellies of toddlers and watch Doctor Who.

I slip through the house and turn the lights off as I make my way up the stairs. All is well and all manner of things shall be well, I think to myself. The thought that Elliana and I might try to go to church for the first time in over six weeks brings a smile to my face. She is going to be all right. We don’t know, but God does, and she is getting well. How I looked forward to the Sunday to come! More rest and respite were the only things on my list for the day.

As the sun comes up on Sunday morning, I hear a peculiar sound. Moving down the spiraling stars to our first floor, the sound becomes overwhelmingly loud- it is the sound, like rain, of water cascading from our second story bathroom to our first floor kitchen. Over the pan cabinet, no less, the very pan cabinet that needed a proper organization and scrubbing out. Like cartoons, they are stacked willy nilly and overflowing with dirty water. Funny how plans change. Everything we had hoped and prepared for on Sunday is scuttled for repairs…all because of a sluggish sink and a little one who slipped into the bathroom for a drink in the wee hours of the night.

The children needed to be kept busy, and out of the second floor (where they normally play in their rooms); most of the first floor was off limits too. As I cast about to keep them busy, it dawned on me that two birds might be killed with one stone- a ‘fashion show’ in the living room as we assessed the children’s clothing for size and wear. The boys, I’ll admit, were nowhere near as enthused as the girls who twirled and twirled to their hearts delight, but with the older boys’ quick and steady hands to carry the proper clothes back to the closet, we made fast work of the chore. I still haven’t been able to get the seeds in the dirt, but starting the week with a fresh house and no looming projects was quite a treat, even if it did feel a bit odd.

Monday had its own battles; a child wasn’t feeling well, and then two, and then three, a cold brought home from school and helped along by strange spring weather. So, to, today, with a kitchen and pantry bare and in need of replenishing, a chore I usually reserve for another day of the week.

As I was stirring dinner, I thought about plans. Control. Needs. Wants. A piece on NPR was discussing a corporation and a re-structuring, and it wound into my thoughts, I guess…my own little company of merry mischief makers and the intake and the outflow. My own plans. One of the hardest things in my mothering vocation to this day is a daily letting go of my need to control, to learn that ninja like flexibility a domain such as this requires. I think, dear hearts, we spend so much time focusing on our failures, especially in this area, and oh, it’s hard, loves. It really, really is. When a family gets out of step things can really go sideways in a moment and it’s hard to deal with the ensuing chaos that usually accompany it.

But today, I’m thinking about my plans for the weekend. I’m so grateful that the damage was minimal, and I can see how God ordered it all, how He calls me to each thing in His time, and how it’s okay to lean into the dance. How I did, how we children and I, we did a little shuffle-step to the left and we ended up on Monday exactly where we needed to be- a clean house and a calm mother ready for sick children.  I memorized a Psalm of Moses a long time ago, and daily it seems to be my prayer, that I may learn to let go, learn to dance, learn to see and know.

Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations.
Before the mountains were brought forth,
Or ever You had formed the earth and the world,
Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.

 You turn man to destruction,
And say, “Return, O children of men.”
For a thousand years in Your sight
Are like yesterday when it is past,
And like a watch in the night.
You carry them away like a flood;
They are like a sleep.
In the morning they are like grass which grows up:
In the morning it flourishes and grows up;
In the evening it is cut down and withers.

 For we have been consumed by Your anger,
And by Your wrath we are terrified.
You have set our iniquities before You,
Our secret sins in the light of Your countenance.
For all our days have passed away in Your wrath;
We finish our years like a sigh.
The days of our lives are seventy years;
And if by reason of strength they are eighty years,
Yet their boast is only labor and sorrow;
For it is soon cut off, and we fly away.
Who knows the power of Your anger?
For as the fear of You, so is Your wrath.
So teach us to number our days,
That we may gain a heart of wisdom.

 Return, O Lord!
How long?
And have compassion on Your servants.
Oh, satisfy us early with Your mercy,
That we may rejoice and be glad all our days!
Make us glad according to the days in which You have afflicted us,
The years in which we have seen evil.
Let Your work appear to Your servants,
And Your glory to their children.
And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us,
And establish the work of our hands for us;
Yes, establish the work of our hands.

{Psalm 90}

beautyofthelord

art friday: a creative mess

20140328-135326.jpg
The truth of it is, it’s a total mess at the moment. I have pictures for most of February for Project Life, but I’ve only gotten as far as trimming them up from the printer. I’ve been all over the place recently, much of it work for the Restore workshop, all in a digital space- my fingers are absolutely itching to work analog. I’m coming to terms with the fact that I really need to overhaul my creative space. It’s just a piled up mess and it has been a piled up mess since we moved in. I also don’t scrapbook like I used to and some of the supplies I’ve had for-ev-er just need to go to a new home, which means happy mail giveaway soon for one of you lucky readers. :) but eesh. I’m so having creative block about what I need to do about making the space more functional.

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