a woven life

a parenting and lifestyle blog


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Meditating on Love [With a Capital L].

WaterInPlant“To love people we need a loving mind more than we need people to act lovably.” -Sarah Napthali


The above quote. It is wonderful. It is taken from a book I thumb through every third day or so, The Complete Buddhism for Mothers. This quote speaks volumes of truth. For me it  is put most easily into practice with my child, for though he is 97% lovable joy, he is 3% frustration, and I love him no less for this 3%. This practice is difficult with strangers, acquaintances, spouses, friends, family. We can’t surround ourselves with only those who fit a profile we deem worthy. I’m not suggesting that we be okay with surrounding ourselves with those who are toxic to our lives. I am trying to express, however, that we shouldn’t wait about for people to be lovable to be worthy of our love. 

If we aim to view the world through a lens of compassion (a practice every wisdom tradition advocates) then we can begin to open our lives to the cultivation of a loving mindset. Do try. As an illustration: I don’t always turn right on red, I don’t find it mandatory and I don’t like to creep into crosswalks. Yesterday, a person driving a truck felt the need to honk at me for this. As in, “hey, right on red, it’s a given, go”. It wasn’t an angry honk, it was an encouraging honk, really. None the less, my heart rate elevated. Instead of becoming angry at this fella (an inwardly selfish reaction), I meditated on loving-kindess for him, an act that forces one outside of their self. I am pro-selfless, but it is a battle that I am working on, and I want to share it.


In life news, the weather here is giving me whiplash. Snow. Sun. Wind.

What am I to do when I need both a sun hat and ear coverage? I become more aged every day.

And my fingers are cracking from winter again, I thought we were past this (right thumb, I’m talking to you). I am embracing that this rough-handedness is a sign of their use, I am letting go of the dream of hand modeling (my sister is cackling).

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Oren and I went out in the above photographed weather, wind and sleet pounding our faces. We didn’t last long, but in those twenty minutes Oren encountered his first puddle. As we walked along the sidewalk, he pointed it out. He vacillated between crouching down and splashing with his mittens, and stomping through it. He opted for testing the waters with his feet. So. Pleased. He would walk away from it, satiated, only to turn around, proclaim it’s wonder, and head back in for another splash.

 

 

Some pictures of or row markers: sticks and cut-out plastic shapes covered in electrical tape. So far, it is working. As for the heavy-duty machinery, the garden received a grant, thanks to our members in taking the initiative to locate and apply to said grant. We are putting in a fence, a shed, accessible beds, and some beds that will grow food for local shelters and food banks.

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Mister grin. Mister sun hat. Mister wind breaker. I really have no idea how to dress a tot for this season. Layers. If I could have fit a stocking cap under or over his sun hat, I would have. Though it nearing  the sixties yesterday, we had wind gusts of 40 mph. Oh, Kansas.

It smells like I need to change a diaper, and Oren is looking for somewhere to plug in a defunct coffee grinder.

With love,

Nicole

 

 

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It is happening: Spring.

I’ve been reluctant to shed the winter layers. Matter of fact, here in Kansas it became abruptly warm, as in I couldn’t cope with one day wearing thermal underwear and the next (so literally) a sun hat. We had a harsh swing to warm for a few days and I had no idea how to dress my child. It’s mellowed out again, it feels more spring-y, there is a chill. I’ve coaxed myself out of  a coat most days. It’s very difficult to believe that this was the scene weeks ago:

In the name of warmish days, we’ve done some planting. How is it spring again, already?/Thank goodness it’s already spring. A dear friend suggested a barter and she sent me a wonderful stash of heirloom seeds in exchange for a little-sewn-something that looked a little like this:

Scrappy Clutch.

So planting we have been. Our community plot is sown with kale, spinach, onion, radishes, fava beans, and peas. We are also starting an herb garden in a bed in front of our house. I’m hoping to have some luck starting thyme from seed, but also in the works is calendula, cilantro, and perhaps some parsley. Oren has been enjoying trips to the garden. He has partaken in some digging, pulling up of plant markers, and much running off. Toddlers are hard to contain, this is fact.

Michael took Oren home one afternoon for a snack and I had a little under two hours (two hours) to myself to rake seed beds, sow, and water. The sun was warm , the breeze cool, the birds a euphony of calls. I had more than one silent moment of gratitude; every moment was a moment of quiet devotion. I don’t recall the last time I was solo for so long a stretch.

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And these are the things I am feeling so hard right now:

“Accustom yourself to continually make acts of love, for they enkindle and melt the soul”. -Teresa of Avila

“After all, I don’t see why I am always asking for private, individual, selfish miracles when every year there are miracles like white dogwood”. -Anne Morrow Lindbergh

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It is my deepest hope for you that you are encountering renewal in this season.

Yours regardless,

Nicole


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The joy of a different day.

Yesterday was a most pleasant day. Filled with most pleasant moments. It was a day of fresh experiences. One needs to have their routine shaken up from time to time, yes? Well, shake it up baby now, yesterday was refreshing.

Oren and I had a very quick breakfast of peanut butter toast and apple sauce so that we would have time to run down to the garden before morning nap. Our melon leaves are crumbling under the presence of squash beetles; these invaders strike again. This is okay though. Michael and I do not have our fingers crossed that the four remaining melons will even come to full ripeness. They are a good 15 inches in diameter, but previous experience has taught us that our melons don’t ripen until they are much larger. We are ready to begin clearing the garden bed, and soon. We are really looking forward to planting cover crops for winter. I am thinking to use crimson clover and cornflowers as a pretty yet effective green manure. We will turn the plants under in early spring.

It seems that everyone at the garden is in our boat, ready for the season change and change of garden bed. One rather proactive gardener has already cleared a good portion of his plot. Our tomatoes are still yielding quite a bit, and we are about to embark upon chopping down our basil shrubs and making a freezer full of pesto. For your viewing pleasure:

Oren and I strolled home, with a hatful of tomatoes. After nap time, we went to one of my most treasured places in all of Lawrence, Kansas: the Social Service League. The SSL is the oldest running service organization operating in Lawrence, dating back to 1863. Proceeds from this thrift shop go back into the community to provide eye exams and glasses for children and adults, as well as other daily necessities. Have an interview? Need a suit? Can’t afford one? They got your back. It’s a great shop, stocked full of pure treasure, and operated by an enthusiastic and loveably quirky individual.  I have yet to leave this place with less than two bags of loot. I’ve never spent over four dollars at time. I can dig that.

So we did this. We thrifted. It was our first visit since the SSL moved to a temporary location while their previous building undergoes renovation. I put Doug on my back in the Ergo and off we went. I found a hardly worn pair of gray Keds. Some clothes for baby. A cowboy hat cookie cutter. A small fork for baby. A way cool winter hat. And this print:

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You never know what will wash up. Oh, I also purchased a photo album, you know, to start actually organizing every picture of me pregnant and of Oren since he was born because I have not done that yet. I’m behind. Oren and I then sat in the shade and ate some crackers, drank some water, took a photo for you.

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We came home. Papa came home. He had played a show the previous night. He needed rest. Because. Drum roll. We made new friends. And we went to their house last night. And they don’t have children. And they live around the corner. We were so pleased to be embarking on such merriment. We loaded the stroller with beer, banana bread, and roasted chick peas. And walked 2 minutes to new friend’s house. It was delightful. Michael got to geek about metal (music, not element). I got to geek about quilting. They have chickens. And cats. It is hard enough to make friends with the common ground of child-rearing between both parties. But to make friends out of shared interest, well that’s just damn lucky. It was a much needed reminder that we are not just parents and it isn’t impossible to create new ties as adults. We are so looking forward to our next meetup.

Our walk home was memorable. So much so. A storm came out of nowhere last night, the radio promised us it wouldn’t be heading our way. And while we were on the other side of the block from home, we weren’t prepared for a walk home in rain. But that is what we did. We thought we hit a pause in the down pour. No less than three side-walk squares on our way, the skies opened. The scene unfolds: I was carrying Doug, his stroller being drenched.  I wrapped the tea towel used to transport the banana bread around his shoulders like a cape. Michael is pushing the stroller. Both of use are soggying our leather and cork sandals. Oren is laughing like a mad man. Water is pouring down our faces. We round the corner and head into the alley. The sky rips further and suddenly the rain is torrential. Oren stops laughing and begins whimpering. I am giddy and laughing. I make it to the porch, dripping, Michael leaves the stroller in the rain. When was the last time you ran home in the rain? Not a common occurrence for me.

Oren was desperate for bed. I dried him. He whimpered. Cold little thing. He was relieved that his night time routine still existed, he seemed to become uneasy around 6pm when he found himself tired and in a strange environment. I’ve never witnessed him so content to be getting into pajamas. Down he went, out like a light. Michael and I had breakfast for dinner. Him, a fried egg. Me, a hot bowl of cream of wheat. We crashed. Drank tea. Watched Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, the first forty minutes. So cozy. So ideal. It thundered and rumbled.

We made it home with these beauties safely intact:

A dozen eggs from the dutiful chickens our new friends keep. Such dark yellow creamy yolks. So satisfying.

What could make such a day even more fulfilling? This sight:

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Autumn officially begins this weekend. This is my season. I spotted this tree on our walk from the garden yesterday AM. I began to explain chlorophyll B to Dougie before stopping myself. Seriously, self? He is one. I instead told him that yellow leaves meant the seasons were changing. A good sign indeed. He was all, mmmhm, yeah, I’m ready for milk, yo.

I wish I could tell you that such a fulfilling day was topped off with a full night of uninterrupted sleep. But this is the stuff of fairy tales. Between Oren coming to snuggle (nurse) at 3am, and being unable to get myself back to sleep, creepily day dreaming about how awesome our new friendship with our neighbors is going to be, I’ve effectively been awake for seven hours already, at 10am.

Another day of many plans. A lot of chores to accomplish. I will be mindful to take a moment to sit and meditate. Maybe Oren will even climb into my lap and enjoy a silent moment with me. If we are going to be honest though, he will either be tearing the house down or slapping my chest and signing for milk while I practice my ujjayi breath.

Beams of rainbow rays shooting out of my love cannon,

Nicole


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The beginning of Summer’s end.

Today is a hott’n. I heard tell of a heat index of 100+ degrees F. Maybe even actual temperatures above a hundred. I’ve heard rumors that it’s a record-setting heat wave. Let me tell you, I promise, this “wave” has absolutely nada on last summer. Last summer was brutal. It was suffering. Oppressive heat waves that make this current spike in temperatures for three straight days (in August, shocking) look like an amateurs mic’ night. Last summer was days and days on and on forever and ever well above one hundred degrees. And I was horribly pregnant through it all. And swollen. Housebound. Whimpering. I couldn’t spend any amount of time outdoors without having to lay down afterwards. Bad. Bad. Bad heat. Back on the thought train, brain. I’ve let George in the house, because it’s hot and you know, we’ve finally cleared up the flea thing inside, so why not reintroduce a few of our jumpy friends?

He is such an affectionate beast, and so under-loved since becoming infested.

Michael is adjusting to a hectic class load and work schedule, and I am settling into a routine where co-parenting occurs in bursts. It is hard. Shout out to all my single parents, you are brave and solid human beings. My days can be exhausting, like every other person’s out there. I woke at a silly place in my sleep cycle this morning after having a hard time falling asleep last night due to members of the KU marching band. That frequent the bar around the corner from me. With their instruments.

Tired today, yes. Thoughts are bumbly-jumbly. Every day is good, and every day is bad, no? On my spectrum includes: a hysterical baby thrashing about at being told something was off limits, and a candle-lit dinner date with my Dingo, just the two of us. He held my hand as I said our blessing. So. Sweet. Cavity sweet. He then proceeded to devour two pieces of quiche and some blueberries. I even experienced one of those moments in parenting where one has to chuckle inside at the hilarity and tenderness wrapped up in one moment. In my case, it was Oren’s head on my shoulder as I held him before dinner (after he melted down due to pure starvation). I was sending a text message, he was watching from the crook in my neck, his big toe twirling about my nether regions.

I tried really hard to get a good picture of him today, here lies the progression (and success) of that:

Our first melon has been harvested with unbelievable success. We may never have the space to grow melon again and I’m pleased as punch we did so this year. We hauled in our largest melon off the patch last night. It weighed no less than 30 pounds. The anticipation as Michael cut into it was nuts. He sawed through the outer rind, and all I could see was white flesh and I murmured that if this melon wasn’t ripe that I was going to need sessions with a therapist. Fear not, the pink flesh of the melon appeared fast enough, and I squealed about the house, flailing and hunting for my camera. After Michael successfully halved the monstrosity, I plunged right in with a spoon. Warm. Sunny. Sweet. So unreal. So holy. Have you ever eaten something straight from the ground/vine/stem/stalk? It is truly holy. It is, I promise you, like eating sunshine directly. That is the only apt description.

Our entire bottom shelf of the fridge and both produce drawers plus two large tubs are all brimming with melon. Tomorrow we will be distributing it to our fellow gardeners and friends. I may lose sleep I’m so excited.

I did some re-arranging in my house. Mostly, my motivation was a photography styling challenge I am participating in, but my sad dining room was inspiration. I’ve been meaning and meaning to do some sprucing. Well, now that my dining room is more balanced my living room is missing a piece of furniture. It’s so off. And so funk. But the dining room is a dream and it makes everything okay. I’ll just drag the sofa into the dining/sewing/record player room. I’ll be doing more of a reveal of this space on the 1st of September. Reveal. Ha. Like the state of my dining room is causing you fitful moments.

I also received some highly anticipated mail today. I secretly daydream that our mail carrier delights in the volume of genuine correspondence coming and going from this house. I hope and hope that he relishes that our house utilizes the mail service for more than bills and recycling facility fodder. A friend from Chicago sent me a well-stocked envelope. This gal is the queen of the goody bag. Pure tiny-gift-giving royalty. I practically begged her to be pen pals with me after she moved north.

What loot! Every one needs one snail mail buddy, at the very least. It is essential to the soul. If you or someone you love is in need of a pen-pal, please, with all sincerity, send me a message. I would be so glad to write you/them.

Michael will soon be hopping onto his bicycle and heading home after his second shift of work today. There was a class in there too. So I should wrap this up and make sure the quiche that has been kept warm in the oven hasn’t gone to rubber.

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Readers, thanks for being here. Thank you for you support.

Take care, comb your hair,

Nicole


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Moose, Goose, Boof.

Oren’s favorite words right now: “Moose (msse), Goose, (gsse) and Boof (bfff)”. They are sounds rather than words, but are such declarations. They almost always come out in a string together. It is pure baby poetry. He has also started socializing with strangers (heavily) since learning how to wave. Michael is working in the kitchen today, stocking the freezer with meals in preparation for this semester. So far: calzones and ravioli. He has also baked a batch of buttermilk biscuits. The calzones made it to the freezer before I could photograph them and the ravioli are under construction. He needs to get a move on and start whipping up some dinner (this is a joke, sort of).

While all of this cooking was under way, I engaged in some paper crafting and Dingo-Bologna placed every item at his level onto the floor (placed, threw, tomayto, tomahto). He received an abundance of wonderful books for his birthday, but he seems to be favoring Brown Bear, Brown Bear in board edition while I am unable to read On the Night You Were Born all the way through without suffering some form of emotional trauma. So Ogie read, I pasted, papa chopped.  A busy day.

Some other moments from this day include:

Morning garden baby, Lima beans and peppers drying in the sun, and an incredible skunk mask crafted by hand for Oren’s birthday (a shout out and thank you, Davidge!).

That is all for today and for now.

Moose. Goose. Boof.

Nicole

 

 


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A fail and a brag.

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We lugged our first melons out of the sprawling jungle. All of the advice we found about when these would be ready to pluck came down to this: knock on ’em, do they sound hollow? Pick ’em. Is the bottom yellowed? Pick ’em. I’ll be damned. We picked ’em. We gave one away. The one we brought home we so excitedly cut open. Not. Ripe. It took all evening to shake the disappointment. My husband, Michael, took this photo of Oren and I, he was SO thrilled to touch the melon. This photo was snapped with a cell phone, forgive the blogging sin I have committed.

Pictured in my husband’s hand are our first few lima beans! We have decided to let them dry in pod, on the plant. When they rattle like maracas, they are ready to pluck. We at least got this part correct. In other disappointing gardening news, The Squash Beatles have killed killed killed our plant. We were yielding foot long zucchini, the envy of the garden. Then, after two days of rain and no visits to the garden, the lush, tall, proud, green, blossomy, squash plants were clinging to the ground, browned. Like, hungover on the bathroom floor near the toilet, clinging.  I wept. Douggie stared at me. One week, one week and he will be a one year old. I am going to create the fattest (phattest?) post of all that I have created for this event.

I have a confession: Michael and I are going on our first real, actual date this weekend. This is a confession because it’s been a year and we’ve not gotten away for more than a quick lunch or some errands together. So. I may try to channel some sewing blog juju and whip up a dress in the next couple of days….because…nothing fits me, save a couple of wrap around skirts. Not a single dress I own, from before I birthed my baby (a year ago, I mentioned this, right?) fits my frame. Huzzah for breastfeeding weight loss, huzzah for first dates.

For some scope on the shedding of pounds: this photo is from this past November. The baby is tiny. I was embracing a fuller frame, not entirely content, but not miserable as a size 12 either. Just happy for a healthy baby doting husband. Refer to the above photo. The baby has transferred all of my extra juice to his own frame. Notice how large he is? He is nursing it off of me. I suppose that spending the entire spring/early summer walking for all of his naps (one hour each, three times a day) also aided this process. Perhaps I can get my life back into yoga gear and tighten up this new shape I am rocking.

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Another rainy day in the Midwest. I swear, the sun may never appear again.

Nicole


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Where is Emily?

I know. Tuesday came and went, and our friend Emily did not show up on this blog. Don’t storm out on me! I assure you that I saw her this week and there are photos from our adventures. Due to her midwifing, we rescheduled this week’s date for a Wednesday. And I’ve not yet told you about all of the goodness we embarked upon because, well, Ogie-Bogue is cutting 5 teeth (at once) and is an endless ball of need, so I’ve been tending needs of the boy with shark mouth. It is worth mentioning that he was born right after Shark Week (and will somehow be turning one whole year old very soon).

Emily and I intended to make a tomato project, however, her garden had yielded only one large bowl of tomatoes so far. Can you believe her? This was a complaint. Only one very large mixing bowl of tomatoes. 

While we don’t have a fun recipe or concoction for the day, we do have some sage advice from the lady who knows her herbs. And today, this one goes out to the babes. The babes with the bottoms. What bottoms? The bottoms with problems (dance magic dance). If you’ll recall our adventure making the green salve for baby’s bottom, we are going to be utilizing a dallop of that and a few drops of Extract of Oregon Grape Root to cure the gnarliest cases of yeasty diaper rash. Emily swears that this has cleared her bub right up. Right up!

So. We muddled around the garden. Planted some fall greens of the Asian variety. Some beets. We heckled the utility workers trimming trees in the neighbor’s yard for the fallen limbs (think: autumnal fire pit fodder). We consumed a feast. We sniffed some tinctures-in-progress. We made plans for future projects. We swore to dig through fabric stashes, which didn’t happen because all three children simultaneously melted down and nap time ensued.

I leave you with a bit of Emily’s space. I can’t resist the tiny beautiful things in other people’s homes and have full permission to let you peek at them.

I leave you inspired:

“Really, all you need to become a good knitter are wool, needles, hands, and slightly below-average intelligence. Of course superior intelligence, such as yours and mine, is an advantage.”
― -Elizabeth Zimmermann

Her knitting books are a joy to read. I have laughed out loud on multiple occasions.

Adios.