“One half of me is yours, the other half yours,
Mine own, I would say; but if mine, then yours,
And so all yours.”

MERCHANT OF VENICE, Act III, Sc. 2

One of my best friends talks often about developing “heartstrings” intentionally among her three children and connecting them through the making of narrative and personal history—I love that word, heartstrings. It reminds me so much of Emerson’s metaphorical instrument of self-reliance, “Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string.” Newton, too, suggested that our lives were ordered by deep physical and mathematical harmonic principles with the music of the spheres.We are all patterns, probabilities, and proportions. To what extent do we influence these patterns? How much of our lives is solely probability? What is the proportionate relationship between the extent that I remember my history objectively and the ways in which it changes as soon as I fit it into a more subjective narrative?

I am reminded also of threads and textiles—and the connection between text and textiles throughout western literature and civilization, of costumes and papyrus, of both literal and thematic threads. During my Uncle Eric’s memorial in Nana’s living room, the pastor compared my uncle’s life to a tapestry that we, the survivors, could keep weaving if only we picked up the threads that my uncle had left off when he died.

We think of the Bayeux Tapestry, telling the story of events leading up to the Norman Conquest of England. Text and textiles. We have modern references to this version of heartstrings as shared history and story: Carole King’s Tapestry album (marrying song, lyric, textile, and narrative), and more recently the role of the tapestry in Disney*Pixar’s Brave, when tearing the story asunder is the only way to advance the narrative.

So heartstrings. On my mind. In the above quote from The Merchant of Venice, Portia is talking romantically to Bassanio. As so often is the case now that I have entered my family phase, I find that romantic quotes describe most accurately the romance I feel toward my role as a wife and mother. We may be divided a thousand times a day as wives and mothers in meeting the (sometimes competing) needs of our children and of our husbands and of ourselves. We must feel those divisions (I want this, but my son needs this or Eric wants to do this, but Katie wants to do this or I’d love to sleep, but I want my husband to feel loved) in order for the narrative to advance, just as Merida in Brave must take the plot step of tearing the tapestry of her family in order to start her journey of bringing her family closer together and claiming authorship of her own narrative.

How to sit inside of those moments of push and pull is something I will explore for a long time, but I do know that our tapestry is worth making. Everyday we must work at weaving heartstrings. If someone were to ask me what I do all day, it is to weave heartstrings and to help craft the family narrative. I am a writer, exploring the way living words and actions develop stories through space and time. I journal sometimes, and blog sometimes, but what amazes me is how much we have an oral tradition and culture developed in our house. At night when the kiddos and I tell and retell episodes in The Grand Adventures of Katie and Eric, we pay tribute to the heritage of the rhapsodes of Greece. Rhapsodes: those who sing stories. A combination of song and plot; the narrative as lullaby; the instrument by which I try to weave together my children not only with themselves and with their parents, but with the family arc. Heartstrings.

Life is full this week in our house.

amie and eric chicksIMG_8971

We picked out our chicks this week and are the proud parents of six new girls: three Rhode Island Reds (Peter Pan, Athena, and Ginny Weasley), a Red Rock (Lucia), and two Americana Easter-Eggers (Iris and Winnie). I grew up with chickens, birds of gentle souls and peacefulness. I could sit and watch them for hours. When I was a girl, I’d tuck myself into their run and hold them and sing lullabies to them. Their little peeps and clucking sounds bring me such warmth and happiness. Katie and Eric are tender parents and already love their chicks deeply. On today’s warm afternoon, we let them in their coop for freer movement, though they have mostly been in the lighted brooder in the kiddos’ bathroom.

cloudy with a chance

Every once in awhile, we have a McGaugh Family Book-N-Dinner event in our house. One night we made our challah and had blackberries and milk and bread for supper, along with chamomile tea (“Peter Rabbit Dinner” we call it—the kiddos ask for it now and then). We also had our borscht and piroshki with our Russian-themed FIAR book, and bibimbop with our Bee Bim Bop book. This month it was Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.

IMG_8967

Katie had her second spring season soccer game today, and I became Team Mom this week. Coach handed me the picture packets to pass out at practice, and it went from there. I don’t need to make a banner because spring season is such a short one, but I am learning quite a bit should this role ever come my way again. So far, I have completed the snack schedule task…which means my only other major duty is figuring out the team party.

michelangelos

We are continuing with our Renaissance unit. After studying a bit generally about the time period, we began to focus on some of the major artists and thinkers. We have moved onto Leonardo this weekend, but we started with Michelangelo. After reading about him, watching a Brain Pop video, and talking about his major works of painting, sculpture, and architecture, Katie and Eric had their own painting activity: The Sistine Chairs. (There is a piece of paper taped underneath). They were at it for a good half hour, and it made quite an impression on them! We are so excited about our Leonardo da Vinci lessons and are working out of a book that shows children how to make some of his inventions. I will source it when I start posting about our work. One of those library finds that I just love…

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