our game

sometimes, every so often,  this homesteading, home educating, total immersion family life dance we do flows so perfectly. other days it can be awkward:  emotions and agendas crashing about recklessly. it all makes sense though in those moments of perfection, perhaps rare, but so flawless that it keeps me going.

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our family of five, each one of us, without a doubt agree, perfection was achieved with the chess set. this love imbued, home crafted, deeply adored and just barely finished, Egyptian themed, chess set.

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this wooden board and her 32 pieces brought together my daughter’s near obsessive adoration of ancient Egypt, her dear father’s love of woodworking, a familial commitment to recycling and re purposing wood, and all the joy that comes when a family works and plays together. this chess board embodies everything that is good about living, working and learning in our intimate, often unusual, way.

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the wood is all salvaged from our deconstruction at the farm stay. the concept is the result of endless hours of enjoyable study of upper and lower Egypt. the game itself is dad’s favorite.  in an all out effort to entice the family into chess game after chess game after chess game, father and daughter carved, sanded, painted and created this set in many a late night session. we can’t keep our hands off it. each quiet moment, whether it be dawn or dusk or sometime in between, you can find father and son, mother and daughter, brother and sister, husband and wife challenging the other to a game. the response, at least for now anyway, is ALWAYS a resounding yes!

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(un)raveled and (de)railed

IMG_6074So… I was knitting this sweater. Three-quarters of the way finished and I just didn’t like it. I wasn’t liking the way the garment was looking and feeling for awhile, but my stubbornness propelled me to continue. I’m not sure why. Maybe because I really wanted to like the pattern. Maybe because I really wanted to wear this cute little wrap-around thingie in the spring to ward off slight chills in the air, but without wearing the heft of a full-blown sweater. What the tiny-little-cher sitting on my shoulder kept whispering in my ear, however, was “Rip the damn thing out! Stop being so bloody attached!” Yes, yes, yes… I totally agreed with my inner voice. But, mercy, it isn’t always the easiest thing to unravel all of those stitches. It can feel like such a waste of precious time…

Then there came a day when the children were feeling the winter doldrums. They were sick of the same old games. Tired of the same old books. They must have been looking for any new source of entertainment because one of them unearthed the old wooden train set tote from way back in the depths under Olivia’s bed. What a find. They have spent hours upon hours this week, all three of them together (!), building and engineering, planning and executing elaborate railway systems that snake and twist all through the house. I marveled at the care and consideration that went into the building process. I didn’t even mind seeing my tidy bedroom be consumed by three little engineers that had found harmony together! IMG_6079IMG_6094But I think what caught my attention even more was their ability, after all of that thoughtful work of construction, after all of that time spent perfecting all of the track’s details, to crash a train which quickly led to a full-blown tornado-style upset of the entire track. “Geez, guys!” I heard myself saying. “All of that work!” But they didn’t seem to care; they were still having just as much fun.IMG_6092IMG_6087Then the light bulb flickered on over my head. Right. Was all of their work just a waste of time? I don’t think so. I was reminded that it is not always the finished product that is the goal. Sometimes we learn a whole lot along the way.IMG_6083After watching my children absolutely trash their train set after all of that work, I figured that surely I could unravel some stitches and not be any worse for the wear. I found my courage and started ripping. Opal, a prolific knitter herself, quickly came to my aid. The piles of accumulating yarn were irresistible to her so she took over the “frogging” (knitter’s lingo for unraveling) while I did my best to ball up the lengths of yarn before they became a tangled mess.IMG_6097 In no time at all, in fact a lot less time than it took to make all of those stitches in the first place, there was not even a hint of the previous project… just several balls of yarn eager to be transformed into something else. And do you know what? Once I got going, it actually felt good to unravel that sweater. It was just as fun as the knitting itself. To some it might seem like a giant step backwards. The reality, though, was that the entire process was a learning opportunity… I was also reminded of the liberating freedom in letting go.IMG_6100