Monday, August 10, 2009

The sort-of post-vacation post, and a little bit more.

So I probably shouldn't have said "big announcements" because they aren't so big (as in, no, mom and dad-- I'm NOT pregnant);). They are more like "big to me" things, but still, I'm glad you care...and I'll tell you all about them at the end of this post. How's that for suspense??

I am never very good at post-vacation postings. Remember last year and my promised-but-never-materialized post on our North Channel trip? Well, I'm thinking this year's trip is going to shape up the same way. I have tried all day, sitting in front of the computer-- but aslo while doing the laundry, making dinner and swimming in the lake-- to figure out why I'm brick-wall blocked when it comes to writing about our trips on the water. Maybe it is because there are so many moments that make me sigh deeply and feel so full of the good stuff of life that I just can't reproduce those experiences with words. Even on a trip that included some very big waves and some very non-sleeping children, the memories that shine through look more like this:

and this:

and this:

While I can't show you some of my favorite snapshots, or share the coolness of the uninhabited islands we explored--one complete with an old Native American burial ground, spirit houses still intact-- (sorry, Traverse Magazine has the rights to share those next July),

I can offer up some generalities-- afternoons spent exploring new places, discovering old fish towns,

breathing in the life of the lake,

finding the perfect walking stick,

and discussing the ingenious nature of nature (and in particular, of spit bugs).

And of course, I can share our out-takes-- those family moments that I saved just for here.

Sometimes, even as a writer, I understand that a picture can say more than a bunch of words. I think that's the case here. I'll let the sweet expressions and never-ending blue waters speak for themselves.

Our last night was spent anchored in the middle of a quieting harbor.

Port side facing the thick pines on shore, bow pointed at the horizon created by lake meeting sky, the five of us sat, still, and comfortable, together. The sun was setting in both places, water and air, blue, gray, orange, pink, and yellow bleeding into each other and rippling around us.

Soon, it was just four of us. The baby asleep, the boys and I hunkered below together, sharing a bed and sharing blankets, as I read to them from Grayson, a lovely little book about a girl, a baby whale, and well, so much more. As the boys began nodding off, I tuned in to the sounds of the lake lapping against the boat's hull. There was something about the noise-- about its closeness-- that humbled me. I crept up the small set of stairs alone, where I was able to catch the moon rising.

The moon and its reflection. Really, need I say more?

Okay, all....on to the not-so-big announcements.
1) We are-- after a panic-attack-induced-but-great-year-at-our-public-school-- returning to the rhythm and life of a homeschooling family. And I'm so looking forward to sharing that journey, and our way of learning, in this space.
2) Speaking of this space:: it is going to change come September. I'll be moving to a new blog format, one that I think will feel just right for our growing experiment of choosing joy, living with purpose, and learning together (and I say together, because certain family members will, on occasion, take my place-- adding, a new and appreciated dimension to this little world).
3) Gearing up for that change, I will be around these parts a whole lot more. And once September hits? You'll find me here everyday. Yup, every. single. day (a new post up each morning, by 9 a.m., to be precise). I do so hope you'll follow me on this new adventure.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

In this moment:: weekend nine

I have so much to tell you, but it is late and we're fighting the sicks over here and I want to be forming coherent sentences when I put my fingers on the keyboard. So really, this is just to say we've returned from vacation (not to be confused with staycation)...a week spent on Lake Michigan, getting reacquainted with its beautiful, messy nature, and in the process, with each other as well. So this weekend, my in this moment is simple::

I am:: ever so very grateful for these people and these moments.

And I'll be back, tomorrow-ish, with some big announcements, and plenty of words.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

in this moment:: weekend eight (or nine...I've been slacking)

In this moment::

I am:: spending a lot of time in our rocking chair.

I am:: trying to soak up the simple pleasures of summer, like reading outside in a warm breeze

and taking time to notice the beauty of bubbles that climb the stems of pansies in glass

and watching my children watch the rain come down.

I am:: all about the mini dress. Because, well, just look!

I am:: grateful for the abilities Noah and Max and Lizzie have for reminding me how to play.

I am:: amazed that it is almost August.

I keep coming back to this awareness or understanding or prayer, this knowing of life gliding by so quickly. Because of that, we must be willing to stop and notice-- no, more than notice-- to stop and breath deeply and appreciate the simple and lovely, like the dance of wind on a blade of grass.

Saying goodbye

A few nights ago, I sat at the edge of Noah's bottom bunk. His sheet was curled around him, a shroud covering even his head. He was so still, like he was already asleep. I waited, listening to sounds outside; the slow buzz of a bee at dusk, the building winds whispering rumors of a storm sitting somewhere on Lake Michigan; a motorcycle revving miles away. I waited, because I knew at some point the rock still lump beneath the sheet would give itself away. There would be a shudder or a swallowed onset of tears.

One of Noah's best friends moved away on Sunday. And by away, I mean a distant island called Unalaska, in Alaska.

Google it-- distant is probably an understatement.

We did the sleepovers and the as-much-time-as-possible play-dates in the weeks leading up to Liam's departure. We did the reminders of emails and skype accounts and summer-time visits. We even got a blank book out and had them start writing a story together, to be mailed across the miles and written in by each of their hands.

Still, the first time you have to say goodbye to someone so important is never easy.

Slowly, the sheets began to rustle. My boy's sandy blonde head appeared, tears welling in his eyes.

"I miss him already," was all he said.

Curling up beside my firstborn, I tucked his head beneath my chin and sighed.

I said nothing. I just tried to get our breathing in sync, a trick I learned was so calming to him as a baby. His legs stretched so far down the bed our toes almost touched. I realized just how big he was getting. I realized how soon I might be grieving miles of separation with those I am raising to go their own way. And I tried my hardest to let those thoughts pass with the billowing clouds outside. I tried to go back to our breaths, to be there in a way that said nothing, and everything.

Because sometimes, it is the silence we need the most.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Upon Returning

Today, Max and Lizzie both curled up with me-- one on each leg-- and rocked on the front porch. The air smelled like rain and felt like the after steam of a good bath. Weighty clouds hung lazy in the air as pockets of blue began opening around them.

We were waiting for Noah to return from sailing and stretching the post-nap wake-ups with the rhythm of the chair and the sound of its rocking against the wood boards beneath us.

It was quiet. It was unhurried. It was just enough time for me to listen to both children, their breaths and slight sighs. I noticed the way Max's legs nearly reached the ground as they dangled over mine. I smiled at how Lizzie's hair was indistinguishable from my own. We rocked and we watched the world without a place to go or a thing to do.

And that, my friends, has been our motto these last few weeks.

Where I live, the Fourth of July draws more folks into town than any other time in the year. We have parades and art fairs, huge fireworks and lots of friends from afar in town. It is a non-stop party, for the kids and adults alike, and by around July 7, we all very nearly fall apart.

So we go on stay-cation.

We hunker down, we hang out, we make last minute plans and plenty of trips to the beach. The laundry piles up and then dwindles down. The dishes get done in the morning, maybe. We eat with friends and we let bed time roll around when it seems right-- which sometimes means 7:30 and sometimes borders on 10 p.m.. For me, this deviation from routine can be tricky. I've been known to fret about what it says about my mothering or my ability to stick to the rules.

And then it only takes on evening of flipping through photos from the last few weeks to realize that these are the moments that are defining our lives. Little laughs and late nights, quiet glasses of wine on the porch and noise-filled evenings with friends-- this is the stuff of being, the joy of raising a family.

Just take a look:

These pictures make me realize that my children are so in-tune with stay-cation rhythms. They know when to speed up.

They know when to slow down. Um, okay, that might be a stretch.

They know when to go wild (as in, bumper cars a-la cozy coupe action)

and when to hang out with a board game or a book.

Nothing stands in the way of them living in the moment and they remind me of the bliss that comes with doing the same.

It makes you smile, doesn't it? It makes me celebrate the choices we make, big and small, that allow us to live in this place. It makes me look forward to what tomorrow will bring-- but more importantly-- it makes me soak in right now (soaked is a very literal term, as I've just returned from dinner via a friend's boat and am truly sopping wet. to. the. core. Presently am ringing out my ponytail. Thank you, Lake Michigan).