mothering the mother

It seems here in Vermont during the cold months we do just as the bears do: We hibernate.  The comfort of four walls and a wood stove around us is too good and too necessary to stray far from.  But then the weather turns, and this land comes alive; both with the greenest green I have every laid eyes on and with events and parties and people everywhere.  This weekend, the solstice weekend, was no different.  And lucky for me, it was spent in the presence of the most spectacularly relaxing women, with families I truly have grown to love, and my dear sweet boys.  There was the history expo, complete with children carrying their prized chickens and ducks, and a “pig” herding event (only in VT), a blessingway for myself and my girl, and a gathering of friends at our not so well prepared, and very messy home. (A spectacular afternoon and evening none the less)

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The blessingway went beyond my expectations, I still can’t stop smiling about it.  I have not had one with my two other pregnancies and I can tell you with certainty this is not a tradition that should be limited to the hippies in your crowd.  The pressure of expensive, contrived gift giving is off, the activities planned are very meaningful, and well, the mother is treated like a queen and I can’t imagine anyone complaining about that.  (For first time mama’s, who are lacking in baby clothes and carseats and other gear they would like to start out this portion of life, why not have both a baby shower and a blessingway?  I know my shower with Miles was very wonderful and I was beyond grateful to not have to spend any money on preparations.) The blessingway lasted all day long, and I think we could all have agreed we could have continued like that for days.  Quite honestly, I have never felt so good being pregnant before.  Perhaps it is the third go at, perhaps this little soul inside me is so gentle its able to guide me on a quieter, more peaceful journey, or maybe its the beautiful, talented midwife I have by my side, or maybe its just my surroundings telling me, this is good, this is so right, your body is amazingly strong.  It is probably a combination of all of them, but I can promise you, it feels so very good.

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Even one more reason this pregnancy has been so good to me, is because of my sweet friend Caitlyn.  Instant friends she called us;  And she couldn’t have been more correct in her description.  She was the other mama honored last Saturday, and being pregnant at the same time as her has made all the little rough patches, so much smoother.


I hope your solstice weekend was filled with light and fireflies and so much joy.  

a summer time feat

I use to plop Miles in the laundry basket along with a pile of diapers to head out to the close line at our tiny duplex.  He would hold onto the edge with a toothless grin and fuzzy white hair blowing in the wind.  I would let him crawl in the dirty rocks as I quickly tried to pin-up all those colorful diapers before he decided one particular stone or rock was too shiny not to eat.  Afterwards, we would head back towards the house, boy in basket, Mama feeling accomplished, ready to start the day.  I don’t know what brought back this memory so strongly over weekend, as I witnessed the first real taste of freedom for my son, but it came back so strong it felt as if I could actually smell the air in that mountain town, and feel the pride of a girl made into Mama for the first time.

IMG_8636Though he has had a few tries on Miles bike, ones of Mama induced speed pushed down the hill and shouts of, “Pedal! Pedal” after my little Blondie, really he had not gathered up the courage needed to take the leap into the world of bike riding.  He could “bomb” it down the hill on his balance bike, as he would describe, and we full well knew he was capable of riding the shiny red pedal bike on his own.  But, he didn’t feel like it.  Not yet.  Then late last Saturday night, the neighbors were over for supper and we were participating in a just before dark marshmallow roasting dessert when I heard a joyful, “Mama! Mama!” from the top of the hill.  We all watched as he struggled and pushed, and winded and eventually got two slow wobbly pedals in.  Just like that.  We all applauded his incredible accomplishment and he stood with a grin on his face I shall never forget.  His pride was so intense all of us felt it.  And then he took off, and really hasn’t stopped pedaling since.


Sunday morning I woke up just moments before him.  I watched as he slowly opened his crescent moon eyes to the sunny world.  He looked right into mine and said, “Can you believe it Mama?”.  I knew just what he meant.  It was on my mind still too.  I was so proud he was a bike rider now.  He gave me that ear to ear grin again and suggested we ride to the mailbox right away.

Of course I couldn’t resist.


Lee and I talked about how easily he seemed to pick it up, but we both agreed it was because it was the right timing and of his own will.  It reminded me how learning to do things in this wide world is something that must come from an internal desire to do so.  Coercion rarely results in any sort of enjoyment of a subject or activity.  Well at least for me that is the case.  I can only assume it is that way for the vast majority.  I am not entirely sure Miles’ pride for his great accomplishment would have been so grand had it been something that I had coached him on for a few days, or if he had felt pressured to do something he deemed too scary too soon.  His ability to ride came only from him.

“Intrinsic motivation occurs when we act without any obvious external rewards.

We simply enjoy an activity or see it as an opportunity to explore, learn, and actualize our potentials.”

(Coon & Mitterer, 2010)

This summer we have the chance to actualize all kinds of potentials; Rowan’s keen interest in caterpillars and other insects, Miles continued mission in going fast and climbing high, my intense desire to learn to grow food for my family and Lee’s strengthening ability to build and create structures for our home that will be forever cherished.  None of these paths come from a place of necessity or are on a list of standards, but all of them are satisfying, pleasurable and will most certainly give us a sense of accomplishment and pride.  Summer is a time for free exploration.  Everything from the vivid colors to the long days say you must.

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“And that’s the sound of sunshine coming down” -Michael Franti 

love thy neighbor

Moving out to the country was a decision with many facets.  Would we be content with a rural lifestyle?  Would the long drives to desired activities be just too much?  Would we be lonely?  Would anyone even want to visit?  We thought deeply about all of these issues and clearly, we sided with the move.  So far it has proved a very, very wise choice for us.  But I don’t think we would feel so confident in our location if it weren’t for the neighbors surrounding us.  We made phone calls to all the surrounding houses before purchasing this home, to check and see if we would be a good fit for this “neighborhood”.  It makes me laugh now, for the folks we called with hopeful questioning couldn’t be more sweet, sincere and generous.

It truly baffles me to see the kindness of what should be strangers, for that they are not.  They are bright smiles, they are helping hands, they are heaps of information, and they are friends.  We are feeling so loved in this little corner.  One neighbor in particular has welcomed us with open arms to a point of no return.  After inviting us over for a delicious meal the moment our moving truck pulled in, this family has not stopped giving.  Lending a hand with a tractor, watching our boys, sharing laughs, and many meals since, we can now call these lovely folks friends.

Yesterday my mama neighbor friend called me up to help play sheep midwife and I can’t tell you how happy this made me.  To know she trusted me enough to be by her side at such a real moment filled me with joy.  I didn’t want to let her down either!  I searched my brain for memories of working on the goat farm many years ago and sure enough we did just fine.  Little Sue the Ewe gave birth to a beautiful white fluffy lamb with dark black markings around her eyes and a stong beating heart and instincts that blew my mind.  Out of breath and dirty my sweet neighbor and I high-fived and hugged recounting the event many times over as we shared yet another meal.  It was a glorious day.


My fear of being lonely has long dissipated since experiencing all there is to be done with goals as lofty as ours (or in any home owner situation really) and even more so upon the realization that we have friends so dear just around the bend.  I suppose it doesn’t matter if you live deep in the city or deep in the woods neighbors make all the difference.  Confidence that help will arrive with a late night call when a child is sick or simply borrowing a cup of milk when your batter is already half mixed is so very comforting, and these folks have surely given us this gift.  For a gift it is to feel safe and supported and loved.

eating colors

Our multi colored easter like eggs have been the focus of our days this week.  Waiting, watching, gathering and listening for the sounds of six new ladies to feel safe and comfortable enough to give us a gift has been the main attraction.  Oh, I would choose to wander off and do some other things, and we do, but the majority of yesterday and the day before were spent close to the “barn” peeping through the window, hoping.

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Coconut rice topped with fried rice and a vegetable concoction that makes me want to start the day with leftovers, was our simple supper last night, thanks to this magical field of ramps/wild leeks.  These bright green leaves are easy so spot.  They are easily the greenest things in the forest, patches of horsetail paling in comparison.  And their scent… it is undeniably of leek; A spicy, wild smell.  I have grand plans of pickling them today like this recipe calls for… but perhaps with a more readily available spice mixture.

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Immediately after I snapped this photo my sweet, innocent, little, boy announced with a smile, “This is one hell of a ramp field mama!”.  I didn’t hold back, I laughed and laughed and laughed.  I couldn’t help myself really.  This boy has some real enthusiasm and I wasn’t going to let four letters that were unknowing to him “bad” to him stomp that out.  Besides, he picked that up from somewhere.  I am going to blame the latest pop pop visit 😉

There is so much blooming in the forest.  Some things I can easily look up, or sometimes when I am lucky already know the name, like this trillium…


But others keep me up at night…. This one which so looks like nightshade, isn’t.  But of course being that it is dispersed amongst our treasured field of ramps, I can’t help but fixate.  Anyone familiar?  It has six petals, where nightshade (according to my ID books) has five….  Guesses and leads are very much appreciated!! ***UPDATE***  I think that it is blue cohosh!


Have a beautiful day!




one small step

There has been a lot of additions to this address lately.  A lot of firsts and a lot of oldies but goodies too.  There are the things we have boxed up and brought here ourselves and there are the things that seem to magically appear before our eyes.  The greening of the land is in full force, outdoor time is at a maximum, and we are full to the brim with the happiness of spring.

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Yesterday marked the first day of dance class at a new studio for my oldest.  Miles showed so much interest in tour jete’s and plies at a small art and dance center that when the session ended I asked him if he wanted more, and indeed he said, he did.  So yesterday, after much deliberation about the distance from our new home to this little yellow building in the “city”, we decided it was without a doubt worth while.  (Of course we almost didn’t make it, for five minutes before leaving it came to my attention that our newly acquired chickens had escaped and were being chased by my ferocious twelve pound southern dog… but I was able to let that one go and just drive off.)  My little boy showed only a nonchalant excitement for the class on the drive, filing me with dread at the possibility of a lot of car time for nothing more than a peek in to a dance class.  We arrived and wandered in finding a seat amidst the thirty or so little girls in every type of frilly tutu imaginable, dance moms gabbing and texting and the chaos of teenagers scrambling to finish homework before their dance class begun.  My little boy in his “street clothes” as I heard one mama say, (orange corduroys, a t shirt and batman socks) sat patiently holding my  hand, eyes fixed on the floor.  When his class was called in, I walked him to the door.  He pleaded for me to come in through forceful whispers in my ear, but this is a closed-door class, I really couldn’t.  I told him I would be right outside with a hope so strong that he would accommodate, be brave and take the bold leap alone.  He instructed me on the precise location that he felt comfortable with me standing and of course I abided.  The teacher quickly ushered him in and the door shut before either of us could get in another word.  Much to my surprise a live video of the class was projected right above my head for me watch with a nervous eye.  I just so wanted him to enjoy himself.  And enjoy himself he did!  It didn’t take long for my shoulders to loosen up, and a deep sigh of relief to leave my lungs.  I settled in for the hour with a bucket of legos and my little Rowan glancing at the television every now and then with a sparkle in my eye.  It seems the power of independence is nothing to scoff at.  That little boy shined and I was one proud mama. I didn’t snap a single photograph for fear of doing anything to embarrass, deter, or distract my boy from the task at hand.

When it was all said and done, I asked Miles how it went.  He told me they got to do moves on their own, “Free dance” he said.  To see him reenact the precise hip sway and shuffle that I had seen him do on the big screen for some reason put me over the edge.  He was proud so of himself.  Truly proud.  He walked out of that studio just a bit taller, with a bit more confidence, and some little bear stamps on his hands to prove it.  These first children, it seems they test us.  I am learning so much about parenting from him; Experiencing the bubbling over emotion of joy, as well as the immeasurable amounts of frustration by his side.  It feels a little less daunting with the second, and I can only hope by the third I take things with a bit more equanimity too.  But for now, I will still gasp at the teetering grand battements and tear up at the bravery of a little boy growing up.


And now, we have been watching Baryshnikov videos since the crack of dawn, with the occasional pirouette spun for good measure.