On Sabbatical

Small Things-0083

Happy Easter! I hope you are having a happy one. We were late to Easter Mass (as usual) despite my best efforts. I didn’t get any great photos of the kids before they were out of their nice clothes and dressed to play outside. We had our traditional Easter scavenger hunt on Sunday afternoon, something we have been doing for years. I’ve never made Easter baskets, but the girls decided early on in Lent that they wanted them this year. They took matters into their own hands and I wasn’t involved other than on the frequent occasions when either Lark or Beatrix wanted to show me what they had pulled together so far. Each girl was responsible for her sister and one little brother. They (mostly) spent their own money buying little gifts at the dollar store. I did provide the baskets, new mini bolgas, a gift I had planned for the scavenger hunt anyway. They loved doing this so much that I suspect it will be a new tradition.

My sister, Abby, visited last week with four of her boys, so we had a rowdy Holy Week. So you don’t have to do the math, we had 12 kids in the house, 9 of them boys! It was a really wonderful few days despite the endlessly hungry tummies and piles and piles of muddy clothes.

Abby loves history and is a planner who likes to visit lots of places. Being a homebody myself, and totally daunted by the thought of taking 12 kids anywhere, I convinced her to stick close to home with the field trips. One day we ran around the grounds of nearby Chatham Manor, on another she took a handful of kids to a local museum while I stayed home with the younger kids. Mostly the kids played outdoors and got really dirty. Abby and I took walks together every day and talked about our childhood. We focused on the good parts, weary of all the bad. After all these years, the happy memories are the strongest. We had nighttime talks about how strange it is that we are both so close to forty now. Time to get our acts together, right?

On a self-care note, I have put myself on a mental sabbatical of sorts. I’m working hard on stress management (thank goodness my taxes are done.) I am hopeful because I feel like I am making progress. I am trying to re-program my brain. I want to learn how to relax, and let myself off the hook a little. I can’t clear my plate and schedule, but I can work on the way my brain reacts to the endless to-dos. All of the reading I have done in recent months on auto-immune disease has led me to believe that my tendency towards perfectionism and over-achievement, and all the go, go go, may be part of what caused me to get sick.

Part of my “sabbatical” is to read light(ish) fiction this year. Easy reading, and recently published (I have a tendency to only read older books, and am challenging myself to read new ones.) I picked up Lilac Girls at the library, though being set during WWII I’m not sure it’s going to be all that light. (edited to add: returning it today. Not a bad book, just not what I am looking for right now!) Any suggestions?

p.s. I forgot that this post is full of bunny photos! As much as we love him (yes, Larkspur made him an Easter basket) we think that Benjamin Bunny is lonely, so we will be bringing home a friend or two for him in a couple of weeks. I had him neutered about a month ago, and have been getting bunny socialization tips in preparation. Baby bunnies!!! So exciting!

(The photos of me were taken by my sister. Thanks, Abby!)

In the Woods (with the ticks)

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In these early weeks of warm weather, my kids have been spending much of their time in the woods. The girls have an elaborate new “home” complete with guest accommodations. We’ve all been playing along (and in) a small creek in the woods, my little boys typically ending up head to toe mud. I ordered some woodland flowers and have been planting them here and there. (I have ordered from two different licensed nurseries on ebay: this one and this one.) Exploring these new to us woods in spring is my favorite activity right now. I try to take a walk everyday to see what has changed and what is blooming. I’m spending lots of time with this field guide.

We are already finding ticks, and quite a few of them. I guess that’s expected after such a mild winter. The good news is that I made a tick repellent spray using 1/3 cup water, 1T witch hazel, and about 45 drops of rose geranium oil, and while I hesitate to say so, it seems to be working. I’ve been using it all week and haven’t found any ticks on myself. Those who haven’t remembered to spray themselves have still been finding ticks. That’s part of the trick, remembering to actually use the spray! We’ve got to make it a habit, all of us. Jonny sprayed some on his arm and then placed a tick in his hand and let it start crawling. As it approached the sprayed area it literally dropped to the floor. Could be coincidence, but we didn’t get a chance to retest, because Jonny accidentally smashed the tick when he picked it up off the floor. I’m just glad to have something natural to try, that seems to be helping so far. I’m thinking of making soap and body butter for my kids scented with rose geranium oil too!

If you have any natural tick repellent tips, please share…

p.s. Mabel’s hat is from Nova Natural. It’s great because it is made of lightweight wool, stays on, and keeps her neck warm too.