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Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug 4|52 Fun in the snow. We have been getting our fair share of the white stuff this winter. To be honest, Miles isn’t much of a cold-weather person. So we venture out into the snow for short little trips, and it grows on him a little each time. The new woolen mittens help too (cold hands are the number one complaint).

4|52 Little music-maker. Zeke loves music. Singing, dancing, playing. Every day.

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February snippets

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug Lillian and I have been battling over this most coveted spot as we have been experiencing one of (if not the) coldest winters I can remember since moving to Arkansas. I’ve never lived in a house with wood heat before (This is supplemental; we also have a furnace), and I LOVE it! We didn’t have much time to stock up on firewood this season with the move, so we only use the woodstove on the coldest nights (and when the furnace was out!), but I see lots more of this in the forecast for next winter!

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug Fireside. Knitting. Heaven. Enough said.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug 2nd bunny done, for my new neice, Veronica. (Pattern is little cotton rabbits by Julie Williams on Ravelry)

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Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug Some warm woolen thrummed mittens to keep tiny hands warm in the snow. (My own variation on a basic mitten pattern)

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug Sunrise over the coop.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug The empty lots next to us and the woods behind were a maze of animal tracks to explore. We have deer in our yard every day, and have seen lots of other wildlife as well, including a coyote the other morning.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug This one loves the snow.

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Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug Woolen mitts in action. A long morning in the snow and zero complaints of cold hands. I think we have a winner.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug Lots and lots of legos lately.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug Books too. We keep a stack of little Golden Field guides in the dumptruck, and Zeke loves to thumb through the little Zeke-sized pages.

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3|52 This boy. He’ll be five tomorrow, and all those cliches about how it feels like he was born just yesterday but how, at the same time, It feels like he has always been part of our lives? Yeah, that. Five feels so different, so big. It’s a tough one, folks. This picture was snapped during our almost-a-week of huddling by the fireplace in our master bedroom while our furnace was out. Lots of reading, board games, knitting, movies… Which was just fine with Miles! He’s a pretty laid back fella, this one. (Zeke,however, had cabin fever bad!)

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3|52 little mess-maker. I have been making a point to involve Zeke in more of our messy art-making adventures lately. Our homemade playdough was an instant hit! He loved squishing, rolling, and stamping the dough, and spent a good hour playing the first day we had it out. I love the way this kid radiates excitement and joy in nearly everything he does. He wakes up with a smile on his face each day, and greets me with giggles and hugs when I go to get him out of his crib.

More about this week

I have really been trying not to let the winter doldrums win. But then our furnace went and quit working on us. This is Arkansas, Y’all (me trying to emphasize the southern-ness of my state for effect). It is not supposed to get this cold here! I mean, single digits? Zero??? (I realize my Wyoming family has no sympathy. None).

So here I am, camped out by the fireplace that warms, oh, a five foot radius of this drafty old house. Blogging and knitting into the wee hours of the night because it is warmer than going to bed.

Really though, it has been a good week. A few snaps of our week:

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug More of Zeke and his train book, because this might be the cutest thing I have ever seen.

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Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug Never mind. Zeke + train book + kitty snuggles is definitely cuter.

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Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug Pretty birthday sunsets.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug I think I am going to like thirty-one.

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Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug Zeke at the Crystal Bridges kid’s studio. There were elementary, middle and high school field trips going on the day we visited, so it was NUTS, but we did have a few quiet moments between throngs of kids.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug Zeke was especially fond of the puppet theater. This kid is an animal sounds whiz!

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug Miles was more interested in art-making, and spent a good 45 minutes crafting an elaborate collaged bookmark.

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Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug My museum fave. Of course.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug A little project Miles and I worked on this week. Wooden coins, acrylic paint, typewritten words and phrases, and mod-podge. I made a similar set of “art-starters” for my classroom back when I was teaching, but they work equally well for storytelling or writing prompts. Each color is either a “who,” a “what,” or a “where.” Just pick one of each to get your story rolling! Miles LOVES them!

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Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug 2|52 Choo choo! I love that everything about this picture says “Zeke.” From the stripey socks to the hat (always in a hat. always.) to the puckered lips of a little boy “choo choo” sound. He is facinated with trains at the moment and loves the train page in his Richard Scarry Best Ever Word Book (his favorite book). We have other train books, but doesn’t like them nearly as well as this one. He will bring it to me and say “choo choo” when he wants me to find the page for him, then drag it back to his favorite reading nook. We happen to live near the tracks too, so he can hear the train when it passes by. The conductor even waved to him one day when we were downtown!

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug 2|52 TVbot. We went on an impromptu museum visit last Friday to Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. Miles was mesmorized by this sculpture. If you know Miles, you know he has a bit of a screen addiction. To the point that we have to set strict limits on the amount of time he spends watching programs on TV or playing games on the iPad. He thought it was pretty neat to see screens in a different context. I love that he is old enough to visit the museum and really take interest in the artwork. He was full of questions and commentary about what he saw while we were there, and is still bringing it up in conversation.

Lately

Hello, little neglected blog. I’ve missed you. I’ve got so many thoughts swirling around in my head; so many little details of these precious days that I want to document and remember. When life seems hectic and overwhelming, it’s easy to get in the habit of a little picture post-and-run (hello, instagram! Which I love, btw, but which also has caused my to put aside my real camera for days (weeks?!) at a time, and which has also contributed to the lack of writing going on in my life). Writing has always been theraputic for me. I remember as a shy and very socially awkward teen writing letters that would never be sent, to people I would never have the courage to confront myself. I guess there is still a bit of that girl in me. There is something about the act of writing that helps me articulate myself in a way that Is otherwise difficult for me. On this blog, I have written my way through some of the most heartbreaking times of my life, and found healing. I have written through some scary times and found a network of support. I have written through confusing times and found clarity. And I have written through some beautiful times and captured fleeting moments that I will cherish always. So anyways, I miss writing. And I want to make it part of my life again.

So where to start? Well, how about with right now and what I know best. These boys of mine. These boys that are growing, learning, and changing daily. Hourly, even. It’s facinating to me, watching them explore the world around them as they start to figure it out. That moment when something clicks and you see it in their eyes, their smile? Yeah, that. Motherhood is hard and often frustrating, exhausting, confusing…. but those moments are my fuel and my reward.

I have decided (because everyone else is doing it! But really, because it’s a good idea) to do a little 52 photo/writing project about my boys. A (real camera!) portrait ever week for a year, capturing them right now. What they love, what they hate, what they are learning and doing, a funny story perhaps… I want to pay more attention to those little quirks that make my boys their wonderful unique little selves and document them before they move on to some new thing and I forget…

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Shape stamping with Zeke. This one is constantly surprising me with what he knows. When did he learn shapes? “Shays,” he calls them. I don’t know, but he knows them. Ask him for a circle, square or triangle, and he’ll reach for it. I only recently began painting with Zeke, which I feel incredibly guilty about since I am a former art teacher, and especially since Miles has had a paintbrush in his hand since before he could walk. I guess since it’s easier to supervise one messy art-maker at a time, I have just got in the habit of waiting for Zeke’s nap to get out the paint. Not anymore.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMugMiles’s newest adventure? Piano lessons! He got a bunch of beginner books for Christmas, and we finally had a chance to start working on a few lessons this week. He’s had three so far, and is doing great. He even practices on his own initiative. He was practicing after his very first lesson, and he came running for me. “Mom, I can play Canon D!” (Pachabel’s Canon in D is his favorite request for me to play) he had picked out the first several notes of the bass clef completely by ear! Talk about a proud mama moment! I can’t wait to see where this goes!

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A few other random moments:
Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug Thrifting. It’s my thing.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug I have a love-hate relationship with winter. I’m really bad about the short-days winter doldrums. Every year they get me. Over the years I have learned that the only way to beat them is to get outside. Everyday, even for a minute. Even if it’s cold and you don’t want to. Especially if it’s cold and you don’t want to. Just. Do. It. Winter may not have all the fresh new-ness of spring, the long, lazy, sunshiny days of summer, or the colorful splash of fall, but it has a beauty all it’s own if you choose to look for it. Tree sillhouettes, the tingly nip of cold that makes me feel awake and alive, the way the flash of a red cardinal in the trees looks unrealistically bright against the monochromatic backdrop of the forest… beauty.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug Just one of the girls. I must say, I am really enjoying having chickens in my life again, even if these will be the most expensive eggs we’ve ever eaten.

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Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug I need to get back into documenting my projects with the real camera too! This is just one of many WIPs i have going on: knit bunnies for my two newest neices, adopted into my sister’s family next month, if all goes smoothly! The pattern is Little Cotton Rabbits (on Ravelry), knit with Hobby Lobby brand 100% cotton yarn. One down, one to go!

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Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug and a little re-visit to a long neglected quilt, the grandmother’s flower garden I started last summer on our road trip. Only floral prints, only stash fabric (other than the yellow centers. I will also eventually have to purchase some more background white)

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I have several other projects that need photographing, but I was interrupted by the end of naptime.

Until next time!

A Very Merry Christmas

This year’s Christmas moments bullet list:
• I thought the boys would rush out to the living room to open toys at the crack of dawn- but they didn’t. Instead, they climbed up in bed with us and snuggled (and jumped and rough-housed) for a good half hour before we finally practically dragged them to the tree. Good stuff:)
• When we finally got them out to the living room, they both went straight for the desks that were made for them by a sweet older man at our church. Just because. I was super excited about this gift, both because of the sentiment with which it was given, and the fact that the tops lift up so we could stuff ’em with art supplies (of course!)
• Stephen and I spent the two nights before Christmas (and several other nights over the past month) up till well after midnight putting the finishing touches on the chicken coop so that the boys could help up move the hens out on Christmas morning. I told Stephen that if moving the chickens out of my bathroom was the only present I got this Christmas, I would be happy. He took me up on that. And I am happy:) To be fair, he did get me a handsaw for our anniversary (which I used to cut every piece of trim on the darn coop!) I am superwoman. Also, power tools make me nervous.
• The boys LOVE the chickens (which my sister gave us as a surprise housewarming gift) and were excited to help us move them into the coop. Zeke has little conversations with the hens, and it is the cutest thing to watch!
• After moving the hens out, we spent Christmas lunch with Stephen’s family at his (maternal) grandparents’ house. I always love watching Miles around his older cousins; he adores them! This year, cousin Veronica let him play on her iPhone. They are best buds now:) We still have two more Christmas get-togethers before the season is over: one at Stephen’s other grandparents’, and one at his sister’s. Big family get-togethers were new for me when we were first married– and I love them! I grew up in a military family and extended family was always far away. These celebrations with Stephen’s family always make me miss having my family nearby. One of these days, if I can convince Stephen to head north into the brutal cold that is winter in Wyoming, we’ll spend Christmas with my family, until then I will settle for the Fourth of July;)
• This year we were more grateful for one another, and mindful of how fleeting this life is, as we learned that a dear friend of our family passed away just before Christmas. Joe Terry was a wonderfully kind and sweet man; a friend and mentor to Stephen (they were always scheming up some grand car or woodworking project idea!), and an honorary grandpa to all the kids at our church, ours boys included. Papa Joe, as we all called him, will be greatly missed.

And now, a few pictures from our Christmas:

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Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug annual reading by the tree shot

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug this was our first Christmas in the new (old) house, and I had fun decorating (around the rennovations-in-progress). I love my newly finished linen drapes!

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug desks for the boys, made just for them by our friend Don

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug always lots of books under the tree

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Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug love, love, LOVE this picture of the boys!

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Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug I ran across these Nativity finger puppets from last year (that I didn’t finish until after Christmas) at the last minute, and stuffed them in the stockings.

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Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug the big day; moving day for the chickens! We have 11 Americaunas and one lone Barred Rock

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug this is Bruce, the Barred Rock. She’s my fave. So sweet and docile, even when the boys are not-so gentle with her. (We’re working on that, btw)

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Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug if only you could hear Zeke giggling at this chicken as she peeked out at him!

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Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug actually, its not quite finished- still missing a few trim pieces, a final coat of paint and a few shingles. But the chickens are out of my bathroom! Progress, folks…

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug Zeke. Always a blur. Always.

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Hope your Christmas was filled with goodness and light, joy and gratitude, and may your New Year be your best one yet!

Jodean

The calm after the storm

Last Thursday brought a major (for Arkansas anyways) winter storm that dumped 10 inches of snow over a layer of ice and sleet, and sent our low temperatures plumetting below zero (-1! Felt like I was back in Wyoming. Minus the wind of course.)

And although it upset the (ever growing and seemingly endless) to-do list and threw a wrench in our renovation/repair plans, it turned out to be a blessing in disguise. You see, I have been struggling since the move with this feeling that I just can’t keep up with the frantic, frenzied pace of my life right now. There is always something else that needs to be done, something else that needs to be fixed, something else that demands attention right now… Between all these and the day-to-day work of being Mom, and Wife, and Homemaker– well, it has really been taking it’s toll on me. Sometimes it’s hard to admit when we don’t have everything under control (surely I am not the only one!), but here I am admitting it. I don’t. Not even close. I’ve been letting those negative feelings creep in—those “I’m a bad mom beause my kids have been watching Curious George all morning and they’re still in their oatmeal-covered pajamas and I snapped at them when they got in the pantry and started eating sprinkles for a snack and then gave in and let them have them because I realized that the pantry is, in fact, empty of healthful snacks and it’s actually lunch time,” or the “I’m lazy because I didn’t cross off every one of the 413 items on today’s to-do list,” feelings. Here’s the deal. The kitchen is half-painted, the wall paper is half-stripped, the oven half-working working (we’re having the safeties rebuilt), the yard is half-fenced, and there is a half-built chicken coop in the backyard while12 chicks (thanks a lot, Katie!) not-so-patiently occupy one of the bathrooms. In the midst of it all, Stephen has been working lots of extra hours and Miles has started having some behavioral issues that concern me, so yes, I have been feeling overwhelmed. And then the storm blew in, blanketed us is white, and brought everything to a halt.

I woke up last Friday to quiet. Fresh, pure, clean, white, still quiet. I watched the boys’ awe-filled faces as the looked out the window at the winter wonderland surrounding us. I was reminded that there is and always will be, one thing on that to-do list that trumps all others. I apologized to my boys for not always keeping my priorities straight, then promptly bundled them up and enjoyed some good old-fashioned, to-do list-free fun. Sledding, snowmen, Christmas carols on Pandora, living room dance parties (waxed hardwood floors + woolly socks= pure fun!), Christmas crafts, creative puesdo-baking (who needs an oven?)…

No, I don’t have everything under control. Not even close. But you know what? I’m learning to be okay with that.

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