This trip feels like a lifetime ago, and yet it’s only been a few weeks since we were lounging poolside with some of our most beloved humans in the Universe. This was our first joint family vacation with close friends, and it was a huge success. Lots of fun with the kids. Lots of good food and conversation. Lots of laughter. Lots of napping. Lots and lots and lots of swimming and biking and playing. By all accounts, two very enthusiastic thumbs up.
Here’s a snapshot of our April break in South Carolina.
This weekend was dominated by major spring cleaning. Racking. Clearing. Clipping. Fertilizing. Planting. Pooper scooping. Chicken coop cleaning. Mulching. Composting. Hauling. Dumping.
Hello backyard homesteading in spring!
James and I were grateful for temperate conditions and sunny skies to enable this yearly chore. Meanwhile, the dependents rollicked in the backyard, including Penelope Pig, who found great pleasure in the piles of racked leaves and mess from last season. I have to admit, James and I paused a number of times mid-clean up to admire the bucolic, fairytale-like scene of chickens and dogs and pig and children running on sun drenched meadow.
In this video, Penny models my attitude toward yard work perfectly. No amount of Flat Coat energy could motivate her otherwise.
A swine after my own heart. And oh how I adore those doggie zoomies.
I had relatively simple expectations for my 32nd birthday. I told James that I wanted to snuggle baby animals with the kids, and attend a concert in Northampton as our adult adventure. I had to work a long day on Wednesday, my actual birthday, so I took Tuesday afternoon off to visit Hancock Shaker Village. This followed a lovely dinner out with two of my girlfriends on Monday night that kicked off the celebrations.
By the time I arrived to my office on Wednesday morning, I felt like my birthday had been appropriately marked and was feeling quite content and ready to dive into a day of work. Upon opening my office door, I was greeted by this magical sight:
I am totally going to recreate this wonderful surprise for a loved one. My colleagues filled my office with balloons and I’ve felt like I’m working in a playful kid’s ball pit ever since. Such a simple, yet impactful, dose of fun.
But the biggest surprise was yet to come. My office picks names out of a hat to assign birthday celebrations. Everyone is responsible for one colleague’s birthday. Typically, we all sign a birthday card and gather together to eat cake, so I assumed that the 4pm hold on my calendar was for such an occasion. And it was, but it had a festive twist thanks to the coordination of my colleague, whose husband is in the all male a capella group that James was a part of while in college. The Williams College Springstreeters are the gift that keep on giving. I was serenaded on my 21st birthday and at our wedding reception by this group, and now, eleven years later, on my 32nd birthday.
A mere 30 seconds before heading into the conference room, I overhead a colleague ask another person on the floor if they were going to “watch” – I didn’t have a handle on the context but it was truly my only tip off that something unique might be about to go down. You can see from my face in the video that I was beyond surprised and thrilled and pink faced. Particularly, since they sang “Let’s Get It On” in front of my office *ahem!*. (Apparently, it was the only “love song” that could be coordinated on such limited rehearsal. I am appreciative to my colleagues who didn’t find it too uncomfortable to watch a group of college students sing a seduction song with their co-worker’s husband. *insertembarrassedemojihere*)
I feel very very fortunate every day, but this week has been a wonderful reminder of the depth and breadth of that gratitude.
Welcome, Thirty-Two. I greet you with flower crowns (that I absolutely am wearing to work to declare the occasion. I can’t help but feel like today is a special day when decked in fresh floral).
To mark this year’s birthday, I requested a day snuggling baby farm animals with my family. A sign of my age or my stage in parenting? Likely a combination. Regardless, it was the sweetest, loveliest pause I could imagine. (We’ve done it before for my birthday, but this time, we made sure to do the private farm tour for more hands on time with the babes).
I’ve spent less and less time in this space as my own children’s lives has grown more and more outward. As they become their own people and desire more from the world, I find my time is committed to that pursuit, so there’s less time for quiet reflection here (thus lots of photographs to remember the years and events by, but less language and stories to accompany and supplement those images in a critical and reflective way). And that’s okay. And likely expected. My work responsibilities are also enhanced as my position has grown and expanded over time. James is now working a 40-hour week. And so prioritizes have shifted. Time is used and delegated differently. And while I have come to terms with so much of that, I do miss a more regular writing habit. I do miss carving out that time, for it fed a part of me that is otherwise undernourished in my daily life. And so if I ask anything of 32, it’s this: To re-prioritize time for reflection and thought and putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard, as it were). To reignite that fire that kept me not just thinking but then outwardly commenting when I saw imbalance, or injustice, or fear, or critique, or stories worth championing. For my own sanity, for my daughters’ future, and for whatever audience it may impact.
But for now, the absolute deliciousness and simple joy of spending a day surrounded by new life and the life I created.
Many more pix forthcoming, and a little vid… when time and priority allow.
We spent Sunny’s April school vacation in South Carolina with one of my dearest friends from college, Sunny’s Fairy Godmother, and her family. She is expecting a baby girl this summer, so I used the scrap yarn from a cardigan I made for her son this fall to create these two itty bitty baby cardigans. They’re in their beloved Michigan colors, but can be used fairly universally throughout the early months of baby girl’s life. Seriously, I could do this pattern in my sleep, I love it so.
I had to fly home early from South Carolina for a whirlwind work weekend. James and the girls stayed south, and it sounds like they had some fairly interesting encounters in my absence. I can’t say that I am sorry to have missed seeing a Copperhead firsthand.
While four days alone in my own home has been somewhat liberating, I am so ready for us all to be back together. I miss my babies!
“A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2015.”
Sunny: Her love affair with the water continues. She’s mastered back flips under water, and I’m nauseous just watching her. Kaki: This vacation was revolutionary in terms of her comfort with the water. She used to be quite timid about jumping in, and would never put her face under. Now she leaps in with abandon, fully submerges, and surfaces beaming. We have such a fun summer ahead of us!
More details about The 52 Project here. To view all the portraits in the series visit here.