When he was small, my youngest son had a habit of filling his pockets with treasures he encountered in his daily adventures. I didn't always understand the value he saw in his chosen objects -- really, how many rocks and sticks could one boy keep? In his eyes, though, each one was beautiful and important. Life is just like that on a larger scale, isn't it? We gather up the precious bits of our experiences and save them all to learn from and enjoy later. Perhaps you'll find a little something here that you'd like to keep in your own pockets. Thanks for visiting.
Friday, September 27, 2013
As I was folding laundry in the family room one recent evening, I suddenly noticed Will nimbly climbing over the back of the big lounge chair to stuff himself into the snug little corner between the chair and the place where the two walls meet.
"Aw, Will," I said, with more than a hint of exasperation in my voice. "Please don't go back there again. You're going to knock the pictures off the wall."
"But Mom!" he exclaimed in a pleading and passionate tone. "There's something really great back here!"
Something about his enthusiasm made me relent with a shake of my head and say nothing further as I watched him disappear behind the cushioned chair back. While I continued smoothing wrinkles out of shirts and jeans and placing them in neat piles in front of me, random musical sounds drifted up from the little keyboard Will had taken back there with him and I paid attention with a sudden interest and curiosity. I remembered the many times he had tucked himself into that corner before with a book or a project, or with nothing at all but the intention of hiding on one of us and hopefully scaring us or making us laugh when we walked into the room. Although I had never thought about it before, I now wondered what everything looked like to him from his special spot back there, how it made him feel to be tucked away out of view in that quiet little corner of his own. I suddenly felt the urge to go back there myself to see if I could feel and understand the "something really great" that he had found.
I had a "corner" of my own when I was growing up; it was a narrow spot on my bedroom floor that existed between my bed and my dresser. The distance between the two pieces of furniture was just right so that I could sit comfortably on the carpet with my back pressed against the wooden waterbed frame, knees bent, with the balls of my feet pressed against the dresser. When I think about it I can still experience exactly how it felt to sit in that space; it was snug and familiar and reassuring. I spent hours there over the years, reading, thinking, talking on the phone with friends, agonizing over difficult decisions, crying, laughing, dreaming. I realize now that probably no one else in the world knows what it feels like to sit in that place like I did, and no one ever will.
We all have quiet little corners that are ours alone, don't we? They exist not only in the physical spaces we go to for personal reflection or rejuvenation, but also in the unseen folds of our hearts where we've stored all of our own individual experiences, our greatest joys and our deepest hurts. Our "corners" give us a perspective on life that is astonishing in its uniqueness; each one of us views the world and everything that happens in it from a complexly different angle. These kinds of private spaces are important -- there is comfort and meaning in their familiarity. Watching Will climb over the chair into a world completely unknown to me made me think, though, how life can be so much richer still when we wonder what it really feels like to be in someone else's little corner. There's so much potential for discovering something really great back there.
Thursday, September 26, 2013
Friday, September 20, 2013
One of the things I'm enjoying now that I have more time to myself during the day again is the chance to share stories with friends over a walk or a cup of tea. It's always so nice to catch up together on the fascinating, the important, the challenging, and the funny details of our daily lives. And because it's Friday and a good day for this sort of thing, I thought I'd share a virtual cup of tea with all of you and fill you in on some of the interesting goings-on of our family in recent weeks.
Our Little Free Library is open for business: A few months ago, I wrote here about how excited I was that the Little Free Library movement had caught on in Kitchener-Waterloo. I went ahead shortly afterwards and ordered a kit to build a library of our own, and one rainy summer afternoon, Noah and Will and I constructed it. (This was a brave move on my part, as I do not usually build stuff with wood and screws and tools, and Matt was not home to help. However, the boys and I managed very well once I got past the trip to the daunting fastener aisle of Canadian Tire to buy the right screws!)
After we built the little house, I stained it, Matt shingled it and then performed the Herculean task of driving a huge metal stake into the rock-hard ground in our front yard to hold a post for it, and our little library was born. I've filled it with a wide variety of books for young people, ones that we were willing to part with from our own collection or that I bought second-hand. It has been so much fun in recent weeks to watch curious passersby stop to find out what the little house is all about -- I've seen people cross the road to our side and take pictures of the library with their phones, and people driving slowly right up close to it so that they can read the library sign. With the exception of one neighbour who knocked on our door, asked us what the little box was for, and then when I excitedly explained the library to her, looked at me like I had six heads and asked me with scorn what I had put it there for, the response from people has been very positive. The kids on our street and some of the boys' friends have borrowed some books and left new ones in their place, and we've really enjoyed chatting with the families who have come by to tell us what a wonderful thing they think the library is. I hope word of our little library will spread around the neighbourhood in the months to come and that many people will get great enjoyment from it.
Extra-curricular activities: This past week the boys started the sports and activities they've chosen for the year, and they were both very eager to participate once again in things that excite them and allow them to grow in wonderful ways. Noah returned for another year of competitive swimming with his team, a sport which he loves. It is a big commitment for him this year, as he has six practices a week (three weekday evenings, two weekday mornings that begin at 5:30am!!!, and Sunday mornings at 7am), plus meets some weekends, but he is happy to take on the challenges that a new swim season will bring. Will has decided to take a boys' hip hop class this year, which I think is a perfect activity for him, and his report after the first class was that it was AWESOME and that he wished it was more than just one class a week. He is also doing some Saturday morning workshops in Lego Robotics (very cool!). The skills he learns there should come in handy now that he and Noah have both been selected to be on the First Lego League team at their school this fall. (I'm hoping that Will can also teach me what he learns, since I've agreed to be a parent volunteer for the school team!) I'm so glad that the boys have such engaging and fun learning opportunities ahead of them.
Stocking the freezer: I saw this little guy running around collecting nuts and things in our backyard earlier this week and had to laugh when I realized that I've been doing much the same thing recently.
Fall clothes shopping: It's funny how September goes: one week everyone is still happily wearing shorts and t-shirts and flip-flops and running around carefree in the sun as if summer weather will last forever, and then suddenly one day the temperature plummets and we all go scrambling to find jeans that still fit and sweaters that will keep our teeth from chattering in the chilly breeze. I always find it a bit daunting in the seasons that the boys suddenly both sprout up a size and they need a whole new wardrobe, especially now that they have much more particular opinions about what they will and will not wear. In my multiple trips to the mall this week to find the things we need, I came across a pullover that I just had to buy for Will:
Why this particular shirt, you ask? When Will was very young, he had an imaginary friend that we heard about all of the time, a guy who had a very full life of exciting adventures that Will made up for him. His name was Big Mike. :)
New glasses for Noah: Our annual appointment with the optometrist last week revealed that Noah's eyeglasses prescription had changed a little (for the better, actually -- his eye sight has been slowly improving as he grows taller, which is interesting and happy news!). I took him to pick out some new glasses frames and was so impressed with how mature and capable he was when he spoke with the optician. He knew exactly what he was looking for, and I smiled with a mixture of pride and wistfulness as he chose a handsome pair of frames from the adults' wall for the first time. He is growing up right before my eyes, and while he and I might not always view things in the same ways these days, I can see so very clearly what a wonderful young man he is becoming.
That's about it, in a nutshell. (Thanks to our squirrel friends, there are lots of those in our yard right now, too!) I'd love to hear what's new with you and your family this fall. Keep the conversation going by leaving me a comment below. Happy weekend, all!
Sunday, September 15, 2013
Cook pasta according to package directions, then strain.
Thursday, September 12, 2013
I'm turning 41 today, an age that is mature and dignified and does not call for crazy all-night bubble blowing contests with wads of pink gum in my parents' basement, or frenzied treasure hunts in search of the coveted Avon Hello Sunshine girls' perfume bottle prize to celebrate it properly. (Aside: My mom was one of the best birthday party planners ever! I say this in part because it's true, and in part because I am trying to ensure through flattery on days like today that the photos she took of a flat-chested twelve-year-old me wearing a black lace bra [over my shirt] that I was [un]lucky enough to pull out in her famous "Pass the Clothes Bag" birthday party game don't ever get posted publicly. Love you, Mom!) These days I prefer a more low-key birthday, with time to enjoy the company of my little family and to reflect gratefully on the many blessings that make my every day beautiful in some way.
My three guys know this about me, and their kind, sweet hearts came up with the perfect little things to put a smile on my face for my birthday. Yesterday, a few hours after everyone else had gone to work or school, I left home to go to a yoga class. When I opened the front door upon my return, I was instantly greeted by the delicious smell of sweet, chocolate-y goodness wafting through our house. My first thought was, "Mmm, baking!", followed instantly by, "Wait, did I bake something this morning?" (because I am old now, and easily forget things, as is evidenced by the facts that I had overdue library books this week for the first time in my whole life, and that I had to go back to the grocery store yesterday because I forgot to buy one of the main things I went there for). A quick investigation revealed a cake cooling on the dining room table (which I realized I had not baked), but there was no evidence of any people or messes or dishes. I realized that Matt had come home from work while I was out so he could bake me a birthday cake without me being anywhere near the kitchen. He had found the recipe for a gluten and dairy-free cake by looking through my cookbooks and, all on his own, whipped up something that looked delicious. The thoughtfulness behind his sweet gesture warmed my heart for the whole day.
This morning, I figured that the boys, in the regular school-day morning rush, would probably not remember that it was my birthday, but I was totally wrong. Noah came downstairs without saying anything, but when I handed him his toast, he handed me from behind his back a card he had made. We have a long-standing joke between us about the lunch fairy, whom I've often wished aloud would swoop in in the evenings and make lunches for the boys for the next day for school. I loved his sense of humour in his card:
Will came into the kitchen wearing a smile and holding out his own handmade card for me. I complimented him warmly on how lovely the flower was he had drawn for me, and how nice the letters were, and then burst out laughing when I read the inside of his card:
Sunday, September 8, 2013
Yesterday morning I headed out in a downpour to Martin's Family Fruit Farm to buy some freshly picked apples, one of our family's favourite early fall fruits. While I was there, I was reminded of their apple chips, a yummy, crispy little snack made only from apples and sold there in packages. I decided, once I arrived home with two large baskets of apples, to try my hand at making apple chips myself. It was very easy to do (I used just apples and a little cinnamon as ingredients), and everyone here has been enjoying them very much!
Apple Cinnamon Chips
Preheat oven to 225 F, and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Wash and dry apples. If you have an apple corer or are good with a small, sharp knife, remove the cores from the apples. (If not, don't worry -- you can do what I did and easily remove the centre from each slice of apple afterwards.)
Turn an apple onto its side and slice its top off. Keeping the apple on its side, cut it into uniformly thin slices until you get to the end of the apple. Repeat this process with the remaining apples.
If you haven't yet cored the apples, cut out the centre of each slice using very small cookie cutter. (I used a flower shape, for fun!)
Place the apple slices in a single layer on the prepared baking sheets, and sprinkle them with a little ground cinnamon. Pop them in the oven and bake them for three hours. (After an hour and a half, flip the apple slices over and sprinkle cinnamon on the second side before baking them for the remaining time.)
Remove pans from the oven and let the apple chips cool before serving. (They will get a little crispier as they cool.)
Friday, September 6, 2013
Pocketfuls has been nominated for the Circle of Moms Top 25 Canadian Moms blogger contest 2013, and I need your votes to help me rise to one of the top spots again this year. If you enjoy what you read here, please consider clicking on the pink "Vote for me" button you'll find in my sidebar, and then vote for Pocketfuls on the contest page. You may vote once per day every day between now and September 25th. The added bonus of clicking on the button is that you may also discover some other great blogs to read and enjoy! :) Thanks in advance for your support -- I really appreciate it.
I hope all of the kids have had a great first week back at school. Happy weekend all!
Wednesday, September 4, 2013
Late into the dark evening hours the night of the wedding, I sat on the beach by a crackling campfire with other guests who were singing and playing instruments, and I looked up in peaceful awe at the myriad of stars that twinkled quietly in the sky above us. I had one of those powerful moments of feeling then, a realization that I had looked up at these exact same stars in this exact same space so many years ago, and that in that time since, so much had changed, and yet in some ways, nothing much had changed at all. We are all older now, and wear on us the marks of our successes and failures in our pursuits, in our relationships, in parenthood, in life, but somehow under those stars I felt that in spirit, I was still that same fourteen year old girl who years ago was right there, finding her own way in a world full of both heartache and joyful wonder. And it was warm and comforting to be surrounded again by so many of the loving hearts and faces who have played such an important role in helping me become who I am today.
The wedding was an absolutely perfect end to the summer, and we enjoyed ourselves so much that shifting gears into back-to-school mode just two days later seemed sudden and honestly, sad. There were anxious tears, and grumblings, and butterflies in stomachs on Sunday and Monday, but the boys got off to school smoothly yesterday and now we're all (well, some of us still more than others) excited to embrace the adventures of a new season. I hope that this year will take each of the boys on the path they want to go, so that when they grow up and find themselves one night looking up at a breathtakingly beautiful sky full of stars, they too will feel a deep sense of peace and contentment.