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Cabin Feverish

January 29, 2010

We’re all cabin feverish here. Col even told me this morning “I felt Rosie’s heart and it was too hot.”

It is wonderfully hot inside; our 800 square foot house is brightened and heated by a wall of south-facing windows. This morning—through those windows—I saw a mama deer and her tan-suited yearling ghosting through the alleyway behind our house, the pathway that just minutes later became morning migratory corridor for neighborhood school kids.

Col contemplating deer, magpies or perhaps existence itself

Of course the innards of our house are on display to the outside world. If you looked in during today’s sunlight you’d see me in the kitchen, a paragon of bad posture and cocked shoulders with the kids standing on a chair next to me, simmering with eagerness over making corn muffins.

After beating the eggs, Col thinks the yolks have a greenish color (storebought) and says brightly, “maybe these eggs came early, like me.”  He wishes the mixing would never end (“what else can we add in here Mama?” he asks, casting about the house eyeing bags of chips and whole bottles of olive oil). He is appalled when I mention that we have to mix the flours in gently, just enough to moisten the batter. Rose plunges her fingers into the bowl, interested mostly in what sort of salmonella-lurking globs she can race into her mouth. And even when Col overfills the muffin cups into obscene super-sized lumps of dough, ignoring my prior tutorial, I am only slightly annoyed. Slightly, because I expect it, because a mess is just something to clean up and because all this home time is breaking me in rather than breaking me.

And really, my big secret trick isn’t even mine. It’s that these kids wake up and track each other down like cops with warrants. They’re magnetized towards each other. More often than not these surreal stretches of time pass where I’m crossing two things off my list (and inevitably adding one more) while the kids are doing this:

Or this:

Col’s all into symmetry lately, which is highly unexpected because he’s usually the kid whipping up friendly chaos and inciting others (see: sister) to join in. But this new game our friend Linda got him must be activating the more anal, organized paternal genes in his little twisted helix.

Of course things do get crazy. There was the 6:45 AM fight over the drum this morning. “But it’s miiiine.” Col wails. And I can see why it feels like that. The drum was given to him while Rose was a hapless baby, thrilled simply to have her own ten fingers as entertainment. But these days we’re hard pressed to find any single possession that belonges solely to one child or another. It’s called communism and it works for us.

Thanks to the deliciously served-up Rocky Mountain sun, we do get outside everyday, even if it’s just to the chicken coop or to move snow around the yard. Yesterday we were in the slushy backyard inspecting the sunflower seed litter below our three foot long, bird, soup-kitchen. Most of the shells were empty, little black boats sinking into the snow.

the wonderful result of having a bird-loving, carpenter for husband

“Who do you think eats these sunflower seeds?” I ask my eager, young pupils.

“Um, chickadees and goldfinches and chickens.” Col replies.

“And skunks,” adds Rosie.

“And ground squirrels,” pipes in Col.

They’ve been paying attention, I think. Is this how homeschooling works?

I explaine the amazing foodchain of sunflower seeds in our yard, which always gives me a thrill. Our backyard is an ecosystem.

“We fill the bird feeder and in fly the goldfinches, house finches and chickadees, who accidentally spill seed, creating food for ground-feeders like skunks, squirrels and juncos. And chickens.”

I’m slightly enraptured with my impromptu lesson when Col interrupts to say, apropos of absolutely nothing, “want to know how to make a bunny sock puppet?”

Next, a dead female house sparrow is discovered under the feeder, her body still soft and warmish. We examine her stubby beak and streaked feathers and all minds are off bunny sock puppets for the moment.

We talk about what to do with the bird’s body: bury her in the compost, toss her in the chicken coop, leave her outside to become part of the backyard foodchain?

“I just want to hold her for a little while.” Col says.

This creates the mandatory sibling scuffle over who gets to hold the dead bird. And just as we resolve who gets to play the drum in Mama’s dark peaceful bedroom at 6:45 AM, I crank the timer in my mind and give Col five minutes.

And then Rose gets five minutes:

And they are happy, and so am I.

Have a lovely weekend!

11 Comments leave one →
  1. January 29, 2010 9:43 pm

    your little ones are darling. i look forward to the day my daughter is old enough to help with the baking. i’m sure that is quite an adventure.

  2. Caraway permalink
    January 29, 2010 10:12 pm

    Rachel, could I be one of your kids, just for one day?? Only the coolest of cool Mamas would allow the kids to hold and inspect a dead bird. And make muffins, all in the same day… with a handwash in between, I guess :) Your kids are so smart and adventuresome, and it’s easy to see why!

  3. January 30, 2010 12:41 am

    ahh that sunshine came here too.
    i love the little black boats, your children and their curiosity, and reading your words that make me always feel like i am there.

  4. January 30, 2010 1:20 am

    Wow, your house is only 800 sq feet? Tell me how you do it? My kids have all gone through the symmetry thing. Solomon’s lego’s have to be completely symmetrical. I don’t know why kids do this either but lining up things. I’ve always thought that was really interesting.

  5. January 30, 2010 9:14 am

    i’m with kyndale. more about living in 800 sq feet please!!!

    i’m working on a blog post about the cahllenges of living in 1,400 sq feet and feeling kind of lame about it after reading this.

    i loved this post from start to finish. so chock full of delicious details.

    happy weekend…


    • 6512 and growing permalink*
      January 31, 2010 10:36 pm

      Okay Erin and Kyndale, a post about living in 800 square feet coming soon(ish).

  6. abozza permalink
    January 31, 2010 8:00 pm

    My babies are like magnets for each other, as well. It makes me feel so happy to see it! Sounds like a great day at your house!

  7. January 31, 2010 9:43 pm

    i try to use baking with kids as zen meditation time — notice my racing heart, over just a little bit of spilled flour, an egg shattered in a toddler’s hand … it’s just a mess … just breathe, etc.

    were the muffins good?

  8. February 1, 2010 8:53 am

    “All this home time is breaking me in rather than breaking me.”

    Thank you for that. I really needed it.

  9. Barb permalink
    February 1, 2010 10:34 am

    so i think the reason the kids can hold a dead bird for 5 minutes each, rather than being bored after 30 seconds, must have something to do with the time spent pondering existence! Really, that’s what struck my most, the 5 minute attention span.

  10. janie permalink
    February 1, 2010 1:21 pm

    Laughing as usual, thanks for sharing a bit of your day with us. Sweetness.

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