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Entries in life (170)


Sick days

The warmest room in our house is the southeast facing master bedroom. In the morning the rising sun streams through its windows and wakes us gently with a rosy orange light. Many a morning I lay in bed, basking in that benevolent glow and gathering my thoughts for the day, charging up my reserves of patience and well being. Even later, after the sun follows its daily path to the other side of the house and the light in the room becomes softer and more diffuse, the warmth there remains.

In the summer, when the air in the house is hot and stagnant and the dogs are positioning themselves wherever they can find a cool breeze, we draw our shades and wish for cloudy days and big drops of rain. In the summer we use adjectives like airy and billowing. In the summer we spend as much time as possible outside in the yard or out back on the deck. The winter, of course, is different. In the winter, especially this winter of the bitterly cold polar vortex, we throw our shades open to welcome in all the warmth the sun can muster and go in search of adjectives like cozy and enveloping. In the winter, our favorite place to be is the warmest room in the house and we spend as much time as possible wrapped in the cocoon of the bedroom.

I have been asked many times this year what we, as homeschoolers, do on snow days. It’s a valid question, usually sparked by nothing more sinister than the curiosity of parents who have struggled to entertain kids kept home from school day after day thanks to this winter’s wild weather. My answer is usually a slightly self deprecating “I think we’ve actually ‘gone to school’ more than the contemporary schoolers this year!” We don’t take days off due to snow fall or polar temperatures. On the coldest days, though, we have been known to pack our whole operation off to the warmth of the bedroom where we set up camp on the cozy bed, warming our bodies with sunlight and our minds with contemplation.

This is also where we spend sick days. Even though contagion is not an issue for our little school of two, when runny noses and nagging headaches come calling we remove ourselves again to the bedroom, that satellite classroom of our homsechool campus. There we spend our under-the-weather days reading, coloring, and playing games that keep us from suffering mental stagnation without taxing our diminished ability to focus.

These are our homeschool sick days, and, excepting the headaches and congestion, I'm rather fond of them with their slowed pace and air of indulgence.


Time to begin…again

Obviously I have fallen away from the blog for some time. When we got back from Italy it was all I could do to get the laundry done, and I fell behind on photo editing, writing, and posting so that getting caught up became quite the job. When I finally accomplished getting caught up, which took hours on end, I soon after rewarded myself with a break, only to have that break drop me back into editing, writing, and posting debt yet again.

I have no intention of abandoning this blog. It has been up and running for about nine years now. Over that life its tone and purpose have changed many times, but it has remained true as one thing: a family journal. When we had a new baby it was a baby blog. When I had lots of time for cooking there were lots of recipe posts. When we really got into the swing of homeschooling, it tilted in that direction.  Whatever our family has been doing, the blog has been capturing it, and during that time we’ve gained followers and lost them along with the ebb and flow of my own level of dedication, like the flux in the ocean tide and equally predictable.

Right now I am back. And to avoid that terrible feeling of having to get caught up, I’m not catching up, I’m just starting over, or at least restarting. I’ll eventually go back and fill in the missing December posts to bring the 2013 365 project to completion, and, because this is at heart a family journal, there are some things to note from January as well. And the flavor of the blog may change a bit, and the stories I tell will change, as they always do, as the family they are about does, as does the world outside.

But first I’m just starting from right here, right now, on a relatively warm, double-digits (above zero) day, with feet upon feet of snow outside and two cozy dogs and a cozy little boy inside, somewhere between the start of our school day, with math and spelling, and the end of our school day, which we often mark with tea and games. It’s as good a place to begin again as any.

It's the creed of the ever hopeful...the promise to always begin again.


Swinging back

Being back stateside is wasn't all it was cracked up to be, but, really, is that at all surprising?

We're reentering our daily routine, but there's laundry to do first, and dogs to reassure. Iris has learned how to get on the furniture while we were gone, but she's trying so hard to behave. 

Last week we jumped right into things with a sale at the library, the first day of classes at our homeschooling group, the fall festival in our little village, and a home football game. These are all things that we love about our home, so they were welcome diversions, keeping us from pining for vacation.

And fall is my favorite season.



Grief is a vivid, living emotion. It is not controllable, it has a mind of its own. I've heard it described as a sharp pain, or as a dull, consistent ache, and I have felt it as either, or both. Bringing a pet into your home is easy. Giving them food, shelter, and love is easy. Giving them room in your life is easy. But I'll bet few of us who bring those babies into our warmth think at that instant about the time they will leave it. We don't think, in those moments of bliss, about the pain of leaving, the feelings of regret and loss, the terrible, debilitating, breathtaking ache of seperation. Not that anyone ever said that losing them would be easy, but who could ever have guessed it would be so hard.

We lost Cookie today. She'd been with us for all of our marriage, for so many of our wonderful moments, and our darkest ones. We will remember her walking the ledge in our old house, dragging whole loaves of bread to the basement when we weren't looking, littering the house with socks rescued from the laundry during the long hours of the night, draping herself over my shoulders, my lap, my head, my computer, or any part of me just to be closer, regardless of my feeling about her plans.

We will remember with geat tenderness the way that she let Calvin climb all over her, drag her around, tackler her, and still come back for more.

She was not your typical cat. She greeting strangers with aplomb, she came when she heard her name, she was always present. One of our old neighbors described her as "more friendly than a woman on elimidate". She was so present in our lives that she leaves an immense, gaping hole in her absence. Healthy until her last week, when a tumor closed her throat and began depriving her of breath, the most we could give her in the end was her freedom from suffering, as graceful a retreat as possible, and that is always a difficult gift to give. As I discussed with Calvin, when her suffering ended, that was when ours really began.

It is not for her that we weep, but for ourselves.



...that appeared around the house at various times this week.