Oats, Corn, and Barley Grow

I read in a magical book about gardening that I could use oats and clover in the walking paths and over the areas waiting to be planted.  That sounded so eco-brilliant to me at the time, that I did just that - I sowed my oats throughout the lower half of my garden, and dispersed clover seed in between the spring beds, and everywhere else that looked to be needing groundcovering.

Course, I always get so excited to find little sprouts poking through the ground but I was doubly excited when I imagined a thick short clover carpet for my toes and knees, and tall stalks of oat grass protecting the soil for pumpkins.   Not to mention the added bonuses of less weeds to pull, clay soil being broken up by long reaching clover roots, and the nitrogen they would put back into my soil when all was said and done.

My father, a sage in gardening, thought I was crazy but was careful to inform me that clover comes back as a weed as does oats.  (He knows that if it ain't my idea, I ain't buyin'.)  My kids cautioned me against clover and bees.  Dru entertained my fancies and I danced a happy dance when them oats and clovers started in to grow.

Brilliant would have been to make the pathways large enough for the lawn mower to get through.  Brilliant also would have been to have owned a weed whacker.   As it was, the clover grew and grew and grew and then they flowered and bees came in droves - many, many happy bees.  (Too bad they weren't any of them my bees.)  We had to carefully pick our way to the sweet peas and no one dared walk barefoot through, or even on, my carpet of clover.

The oats grew too.  I'd mow them when I'd mow the grass but they still managed to go to seed and eventually had to be pulled, not rototilled in at the end of the season as I had ideally imagined.   But I loved them even as I pulled them and sent the seeds scattering as each was uprooted.  I loved my clover even as I eventually went to work pulling them out as well creating a new kind of carpet in my wake.

So my thoughts while pulling was that some day I'd like to grow my own wheat, to take it from seed to flour to bread.  Just to see, to try my hand at it.  To really take something from beginning to end.  To appreciate it because I sweated over it.

I also dream of some day owning chickens, so I can gather their eggs and send my strapping boys out to pluck one for dinner.  A cow for beef.  Goats for milk and specialty herbed cheese.  And for climbing the cow.  Maybe some sheep for wool and lambs for my girls to bottle feed.  My own honey bees for to pollinate my clover - and for the honey, of course.  There's got to be some magical books out there that can teach me everything I need to know 'cuz I honestly don't have a clue.

Meanwhile, I was thinking today of the folks who were buying our home - all the money we sank into it, the sweat we put into it.  I was thinking about the garden they'd get and I'd miss.  And then I thought about what would be sprouting right now, volunteering itself, and I'm thinkin' with all the clover and oats they'll be pullin' maybe I ain't missin' much.


Good Morning

My mornings go as follows:
Dru is out the door before I'd like to be up.  Or maybe I'd like to be up and have fanciful ideas of having gone for a jog or even taken a shower, but I can't will my body to do it so, Dru is out the door before I finally pop out of bed.  And most mornings, that's how it is.  I pop.  I do it out of necessity because by the time I pop, I'm usually late. 

My mother was one of those stellar ladies who got up way before her children to take a walk and make breakfast.  She was always dressed and ready to go.  Me?  Not so much though I'd like to be. . . still working on it.

Mondays are pancakes, Tuesdays are hot cereal, Wednesdays are eggs, Thursdays hot cereal again, and Fridays are hot chocolate and toast.  At least that's the plan.  I mix them up in accordance with how many minutes I have to pull it together before Boy needs to be shooed out the door.  And when I say shoo, I mean that too.  I tell him I'm kicking him out with much love at his backside 'cuz without the kick and the love, but mostly the kick, I don't think he'd ever leave.  He likes school well enough but he likes home more.  No complaints here that he prefers us but a motivation for punctuality would be nice.

Before breakfast can be served we gather to sing and pray.  Some mornings I'm singing solo with occasional breaks to remind the kids what their duty is at the moment - sing.  Each month, we rotate to choose a song from a hymnal.  I love singing with my children; better yet, I love to hear them singing these songs throughout their day.  Then prayer.  Prayer for safety and health, for wisdom as they make their choices and kindness towards others.  Then eat.  Then send Boy off. 

Then each of the boys reads to me.  Then they each play the piano for me and we mutually agree, it's time well spent.   I change diapers - they number 2 - and remind Lil' Miss that it's in her best interest to get dressed and brush her own hair.   I do a page or two from a workbook with Lil' Miss, dress myself and sometimes steal the time to shower.   And then, where has the time gone?  It's lunch and I need to send boys off to school. 

Last week the landowner dropped by.  Time was about 11am and I was mixing bread for dinner.  Breakfast was still on the table and the living room had toys strewn about it.  (Which, come any time of the day and breakfast may still be on the table.  And toys in the living room is just part of living in a room round this joint.)  As good fortune would have it, we kept our conversation to the deteriorating porch, unsightly bushes in the front, and the overhanging tree that needed trimmed, and as she left I sighed with relief that she hadn't asked to come in.  Because although I'd been busy most the morning, I really had nothing to prove for it.  Nothing except for happy kids and a happy mama.  That's a lot of proof if you know what to look for, and past.


6 Months

I had Lil' Miss just shy of my twins turning 18 months.  This was done whilst my husband finished grad school, working under a professor who didn't believe in weekends and holidays, and believed less in families.  Then, just as soon as she was born, it seems I was packing up to move our family across the country.  Dru finished up his dissertation, defended, and days after Christmas, we loaded up a truck, hopped into our minivan, and drove to live with my parents 'til we could find a job.  

I don't remember being terribly unhappy or overwhelmed though.  But what a difference it made living with live-in help!  I went from having Dru home very little, to having him home all the time;  from me getting kids to bed by myself, to having my mom and dad and brother and sister helping out.    I know I went from stressed and constant, to still and calm.  The six months we lived with my parents are still some of the best times, for me. 

There was plenty of space for us all but we made a home of our own in a small 11X14 basement room.  Boy slept in a top bunk with the twins below him, Lil' Miss slept in a pack-n-play in the closet, and Dru and I shared a double bed.  And my mom would remind us that we could spread out, and laughed that we were keeping a child in the closet, but that was how I wanted it.  Not the kid in the closet per se, but all my family close and together. 

My little family would go upstairs to breakfast on the table and happiness and more family.  And Boy would go off to kindergarten where my mom worked and they'd get to wave to each other every day.  And in the afternoons, I'd leave Dru with the younger 3, and walk down the street to pick Boy up.  Then mom would get home and we'd talk about what to make for dinner and we'd all sit around the table to eat that dinner and I had many helping hands all the time.  Bedtime was play and then visiting.  And we had our hiccups, but mostly, it was good.

I remember this time because of the many times I felt joy.  I would be watching my children play together and the world and all it's elements would suddenly feel in balance and, right.  Everything around me would become vibrant and alive and I would be overwhelmed with love and gratitude and peace, all at once. 

And it's not to say that I hadn't felt that before but if I had, I don't remember it and I think the reason was was because I had no reason to remember it.  The contrast of going from grad school to living with my parents was stark enough that I noticed, and I've remembered.

I don't look at life in grad school as being awful - I actually have wonderful memories and fond feelings for the time spent there, but I do think that when life is glossy and without struggle, we don't notice it for what it is.  We can see it more clearly when we can compare it to the difficult.

Eve left a Garden, a garden that was supposedly perfect.  Then she took of the fruit and was sent out to be mortal and to experience mortality.  I think she looked back often but I also think she continued to look ahead.  She had become aware of what perfect was because she was tasting imperfection.  Now, she could truly feel joy and recognize it, and remember it.

I don't want my life to be difficult.  Heck, I'm a wuss when it comes to many things, but I do want to be aware of the joy and so I'll take life as it comes to me.


Eggs for Breakfast

We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.                                                   - Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
On any given day, at any given time, I either have more than enough little helpers or absolutely no helpers at all depending on what I'm doing or what I've asked them to do.  Cooking tends to draw my children to the kitchen.  They pull up their chairs to the bar and ask if they can help and usually I'm in such a hurry or feeling so particular I can't see how their help will really help.  Sadly, I'll dismiss them or have them watch only.  (Then I wonder why it is that when I want their help they're nowhere to be found. . . )

I am making cinnamon toast and scrambled eggs this morning and my 2-year old Ally excitedly asks if she can help.  But Boy has to get off to school and I'm in a bit of a pinch for time, and I just don't see how she can help.  She pushes her chair up to the bar and skibbles herself up to stand on it.  "Can I pour the sugar, please?"  I let her sugar one piece of bread and before I know it the bread is buried in a mound of white and the nearly full sugar shaker is nearly empty.  I rescue the bread and finish the rest myself.  "Can I do that?" she asks as I sprinkle on the cinnamon.  "Already done," I announce as I quickly finish the last one.  "Can I help?" she repeats.  "I do need some eggs," I sigh.  "I'll get them!" she chimes as she hurries to the fridge, grabs the new carton, and carefully carries my 18 eggs to the stove.  "Can I crack them?"  And this is where I would normally say "no" and quickly crack 12 eggs, relagating her to stirring with an added caution to please be careful and not spill.  But today I paused. I paused long enough to let go of my control and allow my little Ally to really feel like she was helping.  I quickly gave her a small bowl and an egg and told her she could crack the egg for me and I went back to cracking eggs into a larger container.  I sensed her watching me tap my egg on the counter and crack the egg into the bowl, then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw her try to duplicate what I had done.  And she did just fine!  A bit of cracked yolk and quite the mess comparitively, but, only a small shell landed in her bowl and she was oh, so pleased with herself!  "I did it," she said tentatively, looking at her hands and the crumbled shells she held with the yellow yolk dripping.  "Oh, Ally!  Look at you!  You did GREAT!!" I praised as I threw away the shell, scooped out the broken piece, added her egg to my container and handed her another egg.  Well, that made her morning.  She cracked two more eggs by herself before I finished mine, excitedly exclaimed "I did it again!" each time, and happily watched as I added each of hers to my bowl.

My little people are learning about and experiencing life everyday.  That's one of our purposes here on earth - to learn its physics, its laws of being - to experience it.  I know that my little girl would have eventually had the chance to crack eggs later on but the fact that I let her do it today, and I didn't breathe over her shoulder or caution her at every turn, to have her be able to do it and do it well, hopefully empowered her today.

What I get out of it is 3 cracked eggs, a happy child, and a touch of joy.


Of Molars and Marraige

When I miscarried some years ago, I frantically searched for answers to my diagnosis: partial molar pregnancy.   I came across a fascinating study written about the characteristics of egg and sperm sex chromosomes.  You can find the complete article here.

Although the article's conclusion leans towards the complications of cloning and imprinting a human being, it is the differences between maternal and paternal chromosomes, as seen in the development or termination of an embryo, that intrigues me.

For any baby to grow and develop normally, there needs to be a set of maternal chromosomes (23 autosomal plus one X chromosome from the mother's egg) and a set of paternal chromosomes (23 autosomal plus an X or Y chromosome from the father's sperm).

And the two sets of chromosomes must come from both parents: one paternal and one maternal.

This is due to something called imprinting which allows or inhibits certain genes to "turn on" or "stay off" depending on its parental or maternal source.  Even if the embryo were to have its full two sets of chromosomes, but had obtained both from a maternal source or both from a paternal source it would fail to reach a stage of viability.  Variations outside of the traditional maternal/paternal pairing causes the development of the embryo impossible, as in the case of a partial or full molar pregnancy.

"The biological logic behind imprinting is far from clear.  One appealing theory is that it reflects a conflict between the goals of the mother's and father's genes: the genomes have different agendas and are, in fact, 'at war' - the battlefield being the fetus growing within the mother.
"The idea is that the genes from the father are trying to drive the fetus to be big and strong by extracting as many nutrients as possible from the mother - for example by maximising the size of the placenta.  Meanwhile the maternal genome is defensive, taking care of the fetus developing now but safeguarding the mother to produce and feed further offspring.  The characteristics of the hydatidiform mole - a massively proliferating placenta - are consistent with two sets of paternal genes furiously driving development without the balance of the maternal genome."

(That last example is what I had, except I also had a separate viable, yet malformed, fetus that eventually died.  Both the mole (cancerous placenta) and the fetus were naturally aborted and I miscarried at around 10 weeks.) 

In contrast, when two sets of maternal chromosomes come together, the zygote becomes a benign tumor, grows, but no placenta develops.  It is eventually and naturally aborted.

Isn't that interesting?  I think it's awesome.

The author says "at war", but they're not at war at all.  The maternal and paternal sets of chromosomes are keeping balance - a perfect balance of progressing one life while preserving the other.  Together they do not take more than can be given; they do not cease to exist for fear of taking what is being offered.  They combine, create, and cooperate to become something perfect - a living soul, a baby, one.

And do you know what comes to mind?  Marriage.  Marriage not in the sense that the man takes 'til he kills and the woman gives 'til she dies, but marriage in which it takes two - a man and a woman - to create the perfect balance that will progress to become something perfect into the eternities.  Awesome.


Simply Eve

Genesis 1:26-31 (KJV)
  26 ¶ And God said, Let aus bmake cman in our dimage, after our elikeness: and let them have fdominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

  27 So God created man in his own aimage, in the image of God created he him; male and bfemale created he them.

  28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be afruitful, and bmultiply, and creplenish the dearth, and subdue it: and have edominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

  29 ¶ And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for ameat.

  30 And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for ameat: and it was so.

  31 And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very agood. And the evening and the morning were the bsixth day.


Quietly gushing

Read Andrea's post today about her twins turning 1, today.  She is a beautiful woman.  I can only guess how busy she must be and yet she remains so positive and full of love.

So then I look at myself and have to ask why I don't gush over my children.  Isn't that what mothers do. . . they gush?

I took a bible study class regarding the Spirits Fruits, and one of the principles was that you have to "act" it before you can "become" it.  If you want to be more forgiving, act it, and the forgiveness will come genuinely later.  If you want to be more grateful, act it, and gratitude will come.  If you want to love more, act it and the love will come.

I want to be the Mom who quietly gushes - but gushes none-the-less.   I want to gush, because inside, I can't help but not gush.

Having twins was hard for me.  But now, I think I've told myself it was hard so many times that I say it without thinking and fail to share with people that it was worth it.  I catch myself sweeping my boys to the side because they were "hard" when I should be gushing.  (Words and decriptions aren't coming here, bear with me.)

Example:  At the park, a mother was saying how she was a twin and how she was sooo grateful she had two, one at a time.  I then shared with her that I had twins and then couldn't stop myself as I went on to say that I never wanted twins, that they were hard work, that people who want twins have no idea what they're wishing for. . . and somebody should stop me.  Because while I'm on my soapbox I've forgotten to say how worth it they are, how I'd do it again, how much joy they bring to my home, how much they were meant to come together, how much I love them.  And I wonder if the lady walked away knowing how much they mean to me.  And I start to wonder if the boys heard, and how sad that would make me if they ever heard and thought, that because they were twins, they were loved less.

Being a mother is work.  But once, before Lil Miss was born, I sent my children to visit with Gramas while I took some much needed time to myself.  I got a lot done, a lot accomplished.  I did just what I wanted to do, ate when I wanted to eat, went where I wanted to go and stayed for as long as I pleased and at the end of the day, for all that I had checked off my to do list, I felt unfulfilled.   I was happy, but I did not feel joy.  Because joy is being a mother.  Joy is being the mother to 6 children who make every day completely worth it, even when nothing gets done.   Sometimes, I need to say it, to "act it", to remember how much I love them.  Because, I do.


Dinner Guests

Tonight we had company for dinner.  Company for dinner means that I spend the bulk of my day counting down the minutes to their arrival.  Because inevitably, no matter how early I clean or plan or prepare, really?  I'm not the one in control.  I like to think I am.  I act like I am.  I tell my kids I am.  But they are.  They can make or break me.

Because at any time, while I busy myself getting ready for company, my children can be magically undoing what I've already done or creating more for me to do.  Like today.

Today, 'Lil Miss put a dandilion in a cup on the table and Ally tipped it to the floor, dipping her plush unicorn (already dyed with green chalk - which, chalk, by-the-way, never gets used as chalk at my house.  never.).  Dipping her plush unicorn and then placing her now dripping unicorn randomly around the house.   

And that really was it. 

Really, when I look at the day and how it went, it went unpredictably well.

But it was me.  I'm the one who gets put out because I expect it.  I expect the baby to cry just when I cannot hold her;  I expect the youngest two to need diaper changes when I feel I can't stop to get away; I expect the bathroom to flood, somebody to find the permanent markers and then to color on anything and everything, the DVD's to be strewn about adding to a pile of toys and banana peels; half eaten apples to be abandoned in the bathroom along with the unflushed toilet, and everyone wanting me to help, watch, read, hold, listen, be, be, be.  And just the thought of it causes me to be counting the minutes the night before.

And I yell a little more.  And my daughter asks me why I'm mad at her when I didn't know I was.  And I manage to offend my boys.  Both of them.  On different occasions.  And I snip at my husband. And I'm a jerk, but I don't mean to be.  It happens.  It happens every time.

Today, we had company over for dinner and the floor was swept and mopped, and the living room was vacuumed, and a warm nutritious meal was placed on the table, and my family sat around the table with our company and listened to nice adult conversation.  

And what I really want is friends that come to dinner and they bring with them a heaping helping of grace.  Grace to see past the disasters and land mines and under cooked rice and overcooked pasta and hardened oatmeal on the metal folding chairs.  Friends with the grace to see me for who I am and love me for who I am trying to be, and then, come again.

I needed a little grace today for myself, huh.  And for my kids.  And for my husband and my company.  A little grace could have gone a long way.   Just a little.  Today.


A chance to walk with Eve

To me, Eve is a beautiful woman.  She embodies strength, femininity, empowerment, vulnerability, grace, hope, and integrity.

To me, she is complete by herself; she chooses to be one with Adam.

I imagine her experiencing life - its raw harshness and its fulfilling joy.

She was first because she was supposed to be.   Because somewhere in the beginnings of worlds, she was just as important, and just as worthy as Adam.

I feel a bond with her, imagined or real, I cannot say.  But I love her.  I love her for being the first woman.  I love her for eating that fruit that brought death upon this world.  I love her for loving Adam.  I love her for having a family.  And, it's true, I project my own trials, my own joys, my own needs, upon her.  I do it because I want to believe that she knows perfectly, what it's like to be, to exist as, to experience this thing, called woman.  I like to believe she chose it, that we all did.

I'd like a chance to walk with Eve.  To listen to her tell her story, to learn from her, to laugh at her foibles and cry with her pain, to rejoice in her joy.  I'd like to get to know her.

And someday I may.  I may. . .

But while I wait, I like to think that I am surrounded by Eves.  Beautiful women who have the qualities of my Eve.  Women who do the best they can with the information and resources they are given.  Women who experience life with all it's facets.  Beautiful, beautiful women.