Friday of February Vacation

Laundry story: I am going ‘cowboy’ in yoga pants and yesterday’s work-dirty sweatshirt, while my youngest daughter just threw the shirt she wore for an hour this morning, into the washing machine. The oldest has dressed the middle child in her ‘make over’ clothes for the second time today. And I am washing three basketball jerseys, three shorts and six pairs of socks, along with three pairs of ballet tights, four leotards and two pairs of jazz/yoga pants in preparation for the coming week.

Food episode: they are officially tired of mac and cheese, but refuse to try a tuna melt. We have gone through three jars of pickles and two gallons of milk in seven days. A Valentine’s cake covered in more sprinkles than frosting, and made the day after Valentine’s Day, is half eaten on the kitchen counter. And I am eating a homemade  pulled pork sandwich for the third day in a row, but at least on homemade bread. 

Outside clothes tales: two pairs of mud covered snow pants hang on the clothes line over the stove. Three pairs of boots stuffed with newspaper adorn the woodstove hearth along with a few stray mittens and a scarf. The entryway is a landmine of high heels, pink crocs, sneakers, and water stained Bear Paws. And a pair of LL Bean mittens is frozen to the front steps next to a ‘balloon luminary’ remnant. 

Living room report: Lego castles have started to crumble into the ‘nail salon’ laid out this morning. The whiteboard has math problems intermingled with princess dresses and tic-tac-toe. The bunnies are resting in the corner of their cage after days of cuddling, carrying, and being dressing up like babies. And the sofa has become a library of Fairy Magic, Magic Tree House, and Warrior books along with Bad Kitty picture books and fancy coloring books.

So let’s go visit Papa at work.
Some slight exaggeration for effect, as these did not all happen just today…

Vacation planning 

I am a planner. I don’t write my plans out in a three ring binder, or keep meticulous notes on what chores are assigned to each day of the week. But, I like to have a plan (when I can), I like to follow the plan (when I am uninterrupted), I like to see the plan come to fruition (when everything goes ‘right’).

This week is vacation from school. This week I tried to not have plans. This week’s plans were to sleep, fold laundry and recharge. In the back of my mind I still thought of skeletal plans. I still saw all the vacation activities around town that I should take my girls to see. I still remembered the great vacations we have had other February vacations. I tried hard not to plan. I tried to go with the flow. 

   

So, I cleaned and organized this fallen disaster that I did not plan. This is a ‘shoe holder’ that is used for art supplies, small toys, little games, play phones, and…junk. I did not plan to organize this catastrophe. 

I planned on organizing my eldest’s sweaters. I planned on sorting through bathing suits and mittens. I planned on getting all the sheet sets organized and folded into their matching pillow cases like the picture on Pinterest. I planned on sledding in the backyard or basketball in the driveway.

The universe had other plans. 

(So far, the universe’s ‘other plans’ have worked out pretty good. And THIS is an important life lesson I am trying to learn: a plan is a guideline, not a formula. There are still many days of vacation left, much laundry still to fold, and new things to not plan for that have yet to unfold.)

Snow gathering

I stand by my chicken coop in the gently drifting evening snow, listening to my children squeal with laughter and delight as they run through the snowy darkness. At the top of the hill, I briefly see my husband’s silhouette stacking wood, more and more wood.

  
In two days building supplies will be delivered to update his woodworking shop. Today it snowed. I didn’t expect it to ‘really’ snow, or accumulate until well into the night. The weather had other plans. The weather thought it would be fun to cover the world with wet, packable, slippery snow accumulating on roads and cars as the work day drew to a close. 

We still had the last, small pile of wood on the far edge of the driveway to stack, somewhere. In October and November, we stacked as much seasoned wood as we could, into our pallet made wood crib. The remainder was pushed off to the part of the driveway we don’t use for parking or playing. 

Now, as the (late) dinner hour approaches, and animals need tending, and the children begin to run wild, my husband is finishing the job he set out to do, not just hours ago, but weeks and months ago: clearing the driveway of all the wood and straggling summer paraphernalia. He has meant to work on this project after work, Saturday afternoon, next weekend, or after we get the kids to bed. Something always came up, or we otherwise changed the plan. Now with this heavy snow falling and piling up quickly, the plow man will be here soon. The driveway needs to be plowable: cleared of wood pieces, sand buckets, bicycles, and lumber supplies. 

     

I paused from helping stack the wood to finish my first evening chore and have tucked the chickens into their cozy little coop. Their curtain is drawn and their food and water are refilled for the night, and ready for the morning. A glimmer of light sneaks out the edge of the door and from around the curtain. The world around me is quiet, full, peaceful, vibrant  and yet fleeting. We work, and toil, and try, but still more squeezes out the edges of our life. More chores, more piles of things, more things we must do, more and more. I cannot hold it all. I cannot do it all.

The children’s laughter pulls me back to the moment. Dinner must be made, I should help him move the wood, laundry needs to be washed for tomorrow’s after school activities, the cat and bunnies still need feeding up in the house. Here, now, this is where I must focus and keep trying. I must give it my best, try my hardest, juggle all the needs of the family. The children’s sheer joy at snow falling reminds me, though, that it does not all have to be hard, grueling and exhausting. Although I struggle to do it all, I need to also see the joy in the moment. I need to let some slip around the corners and out into the world. I need to let that go, not aim for perfection. Instead I must aim for love and peace.

As I trudge through the deepening snow, I look up and see the bright light shining from the house. The love I put into my family and our life is spreading forth into the world and shining as a beacon bringing me back…home.