Monthly Archives: February 2012

the tale of three rings

I think we would have been engaged sooner had Mike believed me the first time I said I didn’t want a traditional diamond engagement ring.  Everything about it seemed ridiculous so it was a no-brainer for me.  Although Mike agreed with all the reasons I was against a diamond, he didn’t want me to feel ripped off or resentful.

Shortly after we began talking about marriage, a patient came into our dental office with a lovely hammered silver and gold saddle ring on and I fell in love.  She explained it had the Hebrew blessings: mazel tov, love, health, and prosperity engraved into the spinner.  I knew I wanted it as an engagement ring so informed Mike that when the time came here was the ring, where to get it (I don’t think the company is still around, but Tinahdee carries similar styles) and my finger size.  Romantic, I know, but he was grateful for the information.  We’ve always been excessively practical.

It was months later when we were celebrating our 2 year dating anniversary in his hometown in Newfoundland.  He was having the ring shipped to his mom’s house, but it didn’t arrive in time.  We spent our anniversary in St. Johns and I was a little irked that he didn’t even get me a card.  He didn’t have a back up plan so I teased him relentlessly not knowing he had the best present planned.  He felt terrible, but couldn’t redeem himself until the ring arrived.  The next day he asked me to go for a walk on the wharf  after supper.  While we stood on the pier, he pulled it out of his pocket, said something sweet that I don’t really remember.  I cried and then we hugged.  He didn’t get down on one knee; I would have giggled if he did.  My mother-in-law later asked if we’d like to borrow a nicer ring until we could afford something better.  We laughed because we were getting used to people thinking we were odd.  We liked it that way.

We didn’t get married until 2 years later.  A few weeks after our engagement I began dental hygiene school and money was tight.  After I finished school we decided that we were tired of being asked when we would be married and discussing the many different ways to get hitched; we only cared about being married to each other; the rest was just details.

We set a date in June 2007; it was a Thursday.  We bought two secondhand gold bands and had them re-sized.  We had them engraved with “tsimhtsiy 2007” or “The Spirit in Me Honours the Spirit in You”.  I still love this ring, but I can’t wear it all the time as my skin gets irritated due to its width.  It is quite bothersome when my hands swell too, which I seem to be prone to.

I wore jeans and he wore shorts.  It was under the poplars and cedars of my mom and step father’s home that we were wed by the wonderful Age Smies. who read a lovely excerpt from The Veleteen Rabbit.  We ate a simple picnic dinner of organic fare provided by my dad and stepmother and cupcakes we had made and decorated the night before.   Everyone went home with a few homemade chocolate chips cookies packaged with care. The only thing we would have changed would be to have given Mike’s mom more notice so that perhaps she could have made it in from Newfoundland.  We just feared if we waited longer it would get away on us; we wanted to keep it simple.

I couldn’t wear either rings during my pregnancies due to water retention, but it wasn’t a huge deal as Mike could never tolerate wearing his for more than a couple hours at a time.  Looking for something I could wear more permanently, I found this set of rings from Tinahdee and admired it for some time.  So when she contacted me about the blog sponsorship, I was over the moon with joy.  I now have something traditional, but a little earthy to wear everyday.  It fits my finger and personality wonderfully, I wear it all the time, and it is just the right width with the two thin bands together.  Finally, a perfect match!

Mike still doesn’t wear his ring so it keeps my other two company in their carved wooden box.  I don’t mind, I know he loves me.


go gently + be wonderful


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kicking the habit + re-engaging



It never fails; February and March always seem so endlessly mediocre.  The softly falling snow has lost its novelty and though the sun (when it does shine through) if kinder she still acts like more of a tease than a true friend.  We await spring eagerly.

We have fallen into the trap of filling our days with the same mediocrity.  Some days it feels like I do so many activities and chores with the kids only to look at the clock and find we still have 5 hours to go until Mike gets home.  I am not the fire whisperer like Mike so we sit bundled under wool and quilts venturing out to make meals, or check the chickens.  We read and watch movies and do the odd craft.  Next year will be better; we’ll have plenty of seasoned wood and maybe even some snowshoes to break out and into the forest.  But this year seems endless.

I have been sliding down a slippery slope into the interweb’s ether.  I find not having a car or a place to walk to has been tough so I compensate by socializing online.  I go to Pinterest for ideas and recipes and beauty.  I go to Facebook for connection and conversation and advice.  I read other blogs for all those things.  I check my email to keep it all in order.

I have been offered some pretty great things through the blog; book and product reviews, exciting collaborations, sponsors and trades, article submissions, wonderful whole food workshops, and incredible new people and friendships coming into my life.  I am thrilled and enlivened by it all, but at the same time it takes away from my home presence.  The kids have become whiny and clingy over the past couple of weeks, sensing perhaps, that I am not fully engaged.  I hate to admit that they are probably right; those innocent little mirrors showing me my own reflection.

Needless to say, I need to take a step or two back before it consumes me whole.  No, no, I am not going to stop writing or connecting (I promised I would write through the discomfort after all), but I will be trimming the fat and setting some boundaries.  Today was the first day.  I literally unplugged the internet this morning after a quick email check and stayed off until 8pm.

I won’t lie, I missed the old habit of the incessant checking and refreshing that happens throughout the day, but I made it and felt better for it.  I was downright jonesing for it at a few points, but I stayed present.  Truth be told, I felt more effective, the kids clung less and didn’t even ask to watch a movie.  They played with blocks and each other relatively peacefully.  I read Half Broken Horses (Mike’s find at the thrift store) and did a soduko or two.  We read books together.  We sang and Silas danced.  We ate crepes and Silas alone ate 5 eggs for breakfast (the ladies were kind enough to lay another 5 to replace those eaten). It was more peaceful and less mind numbing.  Even Poppy went to sleep at a decent time and  without struggle which hasn’t been happening lately.

The rules so far are that I can do a quick check of messages in the morning for no more than a half hour while Poppy sleeps and Silas snuggles and looks at a book.  Then it gets unplugged when we go downstairs for breakfast and stays off until 8pm.  There will be exceptions, of course.  I will allow myself to search for recipes and tutorials and perhaps a quick check if I am expecting an important email etc.  It will be a bit rough to kick it I think, but the soul needs a good lesson in self discipline this time of year.  The perfect season of Lent, no?  A reminder to reign it in a bit.

Soon enough (but not nearly soon enough) Spring will be calling softly to us and we will answer with eager barefeet and big plans and all of this will be a memory.  Until then, if you see me on Facebook during the day please tell me to get lost or at least make me explain myself.  This also means I will be even less prompt at returning emails and comments so I apologize in advance for that.

I am still here, but I’m just trying to be a more effective Mama.  At the end of the day, the family and home are what matter most.  Without them stretching me and taking me to my limits in both love and frustration, what would I write about?  How would I grow?  It is all about those two fiercely honest faces (not to mention the one sweet beard) up there.

Tell me what boundaries you’ve set for yourself and children.

go gently + be wonderful


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earth’s best sundays

a much needed date day

pudding painting and other good Nana time for the kids

long awaited moccasins for mama

a morning of food preparations

more wood

clingy boy

quiet girl

good friends

children in their natural state (read: wild, messy, noisy, happy)

bare bums and beautiful handmade aprons courtesy of Kira and Carefree Clothes for Girls

informal dining

4 kids in a tub

intense and enjoyable conversation



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sponsor giveaway – little prints diaper co.

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the giveaway

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to enter

Blog, Pin, Tweet or Share this giveaway

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fawned fridays

01)  So sweet.

02) I have a pretty sizable crush on this show right now.

03) I would like these words in large framed poster format for my wall.

04) This simple idea  is even better and cheaper than the bead board solution I had planned for our bathroom!

05) I think this is the sweetest little time capsule of a childhood.

06) I find it impossible to pick just one favourite from this shop.

07) Did you know Wheels died?!  Like 5 years ago!?  How sad.

08) Shut the front door.  There’s one of these in Barrie?  It’s a Canadian thing.

09) These are pretty great.

10) I am looking forward to eating here tomorrow for our first “date” in a long time.  If you’re local, you need to go.

{fawned fridays inspired by miss fawn}

*Thank you so much for your kind words, shared perspectives, and confessions on yesterday’s “mad mama liberation front” post*

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mad mama liberation front

I have had a post tumbling around in my head for a little while now and just the other night I told Mike about where I was at with it.  We had a good long conversation about it.   I like to think I have found a decent balance with my blogging.  In my experience, if I write too much for others or too much for myself, the blog and I suffer.  If I travel too far into either side I become tired, uninspired, burnt out, and overexposed.

I was wondering if I was brave enough to put that tumbling post to paper when I saw this honest post  from Stephinie of Gypsy Forest and was blown away.  I was blown away because I have many of the same confessions.  I couldn’t help but wonder how many other bloggers and women feel this way.  The most poignant quote for me was “you’re tired of being nice”.  Now I am not tired of being nice to my readers as they are a most lovely group of  supportive people, but I am tired of playing the perfect stay at home mama; I tire of playing nice all the time.  It occurred to me that the type of honesty I strive for and Stephinie spoke of could spread like wild fire through the land of blog if we were brave enough to let it.  A sort of Mad Mama Liberation Front (inspired by Mr. Berry, of course).

I think the growing circle of crunchy mama bloggers have begun to paint themselves into a  little corner, much like the one wives and mothers of the fifties were backed into.  We frame the parts of our day and lives we want others to see, but just outside the frame is the overwhelming mess and noise of real life.  We tell each other about the wonderful things we’re doing right (which is wonderful and oh so inspiring), but rarely talk about what we struggle with or go into details about how we make things work (which is frustrating and makes us wonder what we’re doing wrong).  We often fail to share the logistics of and fabric of our days.  I believe that what we focus on grows so we should focus on the good stuff, but we must also acknowledge the challenges.  You see, my worry is that instead of lifting each other up we are quietly competing with each other.  Certainly not intentionally, but through assumptions and crafty editing.   After everything women have been through we are still learning to show our imperfections; we’re still trying to prove we have it all under control in a lady-like fashion; we still fail to see each other as allies.

I am much more than my blog.  This isn’t to say I tell falsehoods or put on airs here.  No, the things I blog about are genuinely important to me.  I believe in homeschooling wholeheartedly.  I love the connection and rhythms that emerge from growing our own food and making what we can from scratch.  I believe firmly in attachment parenting and co-sleeping. I know the importance of buying ethically and responsibly made foods and goods.  It is a challenging and gratifying lifestyle and I wouldn’t trade it for anything, but it isn’t all fresh eggs and crafty goodness.  It is hard work.  It is  a lot of planning that we still struggle with.  It is expensive in many ways and frugal in other ways.  It is exhausting and invigorating.

I love the pretty and natural things in life, but I appreciate honesty and vulnerability just as much.  I like filthy humour and fast cars.  I let my kids eat sugar and kraft dinner.  I swear like a sailor and the more I try to stop, the more I seem to swear.  To be honest, I don’t think I want to stop, but think I should.  I think Louis CK is one of the funniest people EVER.  I think baking and cooking with my kids is much like cooking with an octopus with zero impulse control.  It drives me crazy and leaves me feeling frazzled.  We bought a mermaid Barbie for Poppy’s birthday because it was the toy she chose and loved most and we still haven’t got around to making that sweet wooden gnome house I told you about.  I have never found the amber teething necklaces to improve teething symptoms; I just think they look beautiful against their soft skin.  We rarely have time to set the table let alone say the beautiful meal blessing we have hanging by our table what with the cranky, climbing children hollering for their food.  My kids have a knack for finding the one non homemade, non organic food on their plate and eat only that.  I am easily frustrated and quick tempered.  Try as I might, I can’t seem to find a daily rhythm that we can stick to, so most of the time we flail around in a mess of half done laundry and books.  I love the country life, but it is by no means ‘simpler’ than in-town living.  I miss being able to put the kids in the stroller and walk downtown for a little thrift store shopping.  We don’t have cable, but we watch movies and download tv shows.  I love shopping and miss it dearly.  McDonald’s is my kryptonite.  Sometimes it takes everything inside of me to drag myself out of bed to face the same messes and bank account as the day before.  I miss having a food and fingerprint-free couch and tire of stepping on dead apple cores and dried cranberries.  I cry out of sheer frustration and exhaustion more than I would like to admit.  I have been known, on occasion, to lock myself in the bathroom with a deep and delicious chocolate cake.

I am not complaining; that isn’t what this is about.  I just want to be certain I have never given you the impression I have all my shit together.  A friend recently said that I sometimes write as though the two income family is the easy way.  That is neither my opinion nor my intention.  I simply write about what I know.  I am fully aware that we are all walking different paths and fighting hard battles for the sake of our families and what we feel is best.  To clarify, I don’t feel we are living the one righteous path and apologize if reading my posts has ever made you feel less than, or insulted in some way.

This isn’t all about apologies either.  It is about empowerment and showing the whole picture.  I struggle with Jung’s words “I’d rather be whole than good”.  Not in their meaning but in the doing.  Sometimes we leave too much of  the rough stuff on the cutting room floor in an effort to be seen as good and nice, but as I get older, I realize I would rather be whole.

Now that we have all that out in the open, I promise to continue on.  You see, this is the moment I would usually retreat from writing publicly, but this time I am forcing myself to write through the discomfort.  To be honest I feel the fire being fueled by a good challenge so I will continue on with the real and the pretty and I encourage you to do the same.

I would love to hear your thoughts on the matter and feel free to leave a link to your own Mad Mama Liberation confessions.


go gently + be wonderful


Posted in life, wellness | 88 Comments

little bird turns three

Yes, it’s true.  We are the proud and bewildered parents of a bright and wild little three year old.

The fact that we also became parents on the same day she was born isn’t lost on us.  It was by her light that we first wandered down this path and we look forward to what she has to teach and show us.  She is an adaptable and sensitive little soul who is greatly concerned when others are upset.  She was slow to talk, but is finding her way as her and Silas seem to learn more from each other than from us.  She is fiercely stubborn and refuses to even sit on the potty.  It would seem that she survives on condiments  and fruit alone (mainly organic peanut butter, jam and ketchup).  The only outfit she seems to have an opinion on are her jammies; she is a girl who likes comfort.  She prefers home, but loves a good visit to Nana and Grampa’s farm where she fearlessly pets giant horses and cows.  She is a first class snuggler who enjoys late nights and sleeping in.  She enjoys painting with watercolours, but prefers it when others draw pictures for her.  Her favourite books are Each Peach Pear Plum, Goodnight Moon, Peepo, and The Runaway Bunny.  Her favourite movies are Toy Story (she has been known to fall asleep with an old leather cowboy hat on after shrieking “Yeehaw!”), The Great Mouse Detective, Bambi and Winnie the Pooh is a constant favourite.  She loves getting mail, and doing puzzles and bath time.

We spent the day quietly and happily at home.  I made a lemonade birthday cake while Mike serenaded us all with ukulele song.  We snuggled in bed, ate apple crepes with jam, opened presents, visited the chickens and gathered eggs, moved wood, tobogganed, napped on the couch, read books, watched movies, danced and sang, warmed ourselves by the fire, made an organic roasted chicken with stuffing, potatoes, broccoli, carrots (she stayed true to her nature and ate copious amounts of organic ketchup) and finished it off with the cake and sparklers. There were phone calls and Skype visits from grandparents, aunts, and cousins.  Mike even learned “Happy Birthday” on the ukulele for the occasion.

I must say, we preferred the quiet family celebration to a party.  I found myself stopping and just looking at her in awe and retrospect rather than fussing about with guests and entertainment and doing everything at the right time.  We took our time and really honoured the birthday bird.  This isn’t to say we won’t have birthday toboggan parties as she gets older, but I think a quiet celebration is also important as we watch them step from one year to the next, so that we may all be more mindful of the passing of time.

Thank you for lighting the way little bird.


go gently + be wonderful


Posted in celebration, family, life | 10 Comments

earth’s best sundays

eggs + salsa

coffee {always coffee on the weekends}

more splits cleaved and piled

sunning in the snow with the chickens

a scale who tells falsehoods

pina colada ice pop from Ice Pop Joy {more on that later}

tasty homemade organic burgers

makeshift moccasins {I am in need of some real ones)

mopped floor {long overdue}

a hot bath

a long family day weekend

Remembering where we were three years ago tonight; anxiously waiting to welcome our Poppy Anne Bird into the world.

go gently + be wonderful


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fawned friday


01) I could look at this picture all day.  A beard + a dress.  Sweet sweet love

02) I am now on the hunt for cuckoo clocks to paint.

03) Have I ever told you how much I want a bell tent?.

04) I think I will add these to my crocheted heart garland.

05) I think Poppy needs one of these sweet skirts.

06) I am sure you’ve all seen this on SouleMama’s site, but my goodness wouldn’t I love to find this in our wee post office box!

07) I think I need this retro suit for our Gooderham beach trips.  Yes.

08) These are pretty great words to mull over.

09) I wonder how many farmers feel backed into a corner, but want to find their way back to the start.

10) I adore Liz Lemon.  Sometimes I think we were separated at birth.  Just sayin.

{fawned fridays inspired by Miss Fawn}

*P.S.  Don’t forget to enter the great  giveaway from Adirondack Patterns!  Only one day left.

Posted in fawned fridays | 8 Comments

still learning to breathe

Last night was a rough one.  I sat rumpled in the dimly lit front room after the kids had finally gone to bed.  The embers were dying down in the wood stove and I was in dire need of quiet.  Just as I was about to take a deep breath I heard Silas wake and asking to ‘nuggle Mama.  All at once, I felt like I was suffocating.  I had nothing left and needed a moment to regroup.  I needed the night air so I slipped on Mike’s big plaid coat and sat on the porch.  The night was cold, but not as cold as I needed.  I listened to the river rushing across the road and the crisp quiet until I caught my breath and dried my eyes.  Mike’s relief was tangible as my shadow entered our door frame.  With one final “mama” whimpered, Silas ‘nuggled in and played with my eyelashes until he fell back into slumber.

Sometimes it is all just too heavy and I lose myself in the muddle of cuddles, diaper changes and refereeing. I have been feeling myself slip into February’s darkness.  It happens every year and it is only the subtle lengthening of daylight and kinder sun that sustains me some days.  It is intensified by two very young and very clingy babes who climb onto the stove and counters and rifle through the cupboards relentlessly.  We have been watching too many movies and spending too much time online, though I do try to fill our days with fresh baked food, puzzles, crafts, books and time outside.  It has been weeks since we pulled up that horrid carpet or slept in our own room.  Most of our clothes are in piles and bags as I try to find the time to put 2 or 3 coats of finish on the new pine floor with 2 hours drying time between and another 72 hour wait before I can begin putting it all back in place.  Oftentimes the kids are just happiest when they sit on me for hours so instead of doing everything else, that is what we do.  A bit mind-numbing after a long winter.

All that to say, today was good.   I made a pie and a double batch of pitas (with spelt flour this time) with some fresh tzatitki.  We did some puzzles and ate our pie first.  I did some homestead dreaming and came up with a rather perfect name for the sweet lemon cuckoo orpington I have my heart set on.

Sometimes I need to reign myself in a bit and remember that me being home isn’t about me or the crafts I want to make or the home improvement projects I want to complete.  I am home for them.  And all they need or want is for me to love them.  Mike put it into good perspective when he told me he was about to get frustrated by their lack of cohesion and understanding while putting a puzzle together when he realized that it wasn’t about putting the puzzle together, but about spending  time with the kids in a moment of joy that they could understand.

Yes, we still have different ideas of what is fun or joyful.  I am still learning to slow it down for all of our sakes and sanity.

We do need to find time to breath though.  We can’t give everything without giving a little to oursleves.  The same is true when they tell you to put your oxygen mask on before you put your child’s on.  We must be fed, loved, and breathing before we can give it all back to our families.

I will let you know when I figure it out.


go gently + be wonderful


Posted in family, life, wellness | 22 Comments