"Don't you stay at home of evenings? Don't you love a cushioned seat in a corner, by the fireside, with your slippers on your feet?"
-Oliver Wendall Holmes Sr.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Chickens and Togetherness

This week it is spring, edging into summer. The roses are opening...the lawn needs constant babysitting and we wake up every morning to birdsong and open windows. Its beautiful and chaotic and relieving and its smells amazing outdoors.

A is finally back home after nearly a month away from us on the other side of the country. Its been both ridiculously hard to have him gone (we're staying very connected emotionally) and also so amazing to find our stride and realize that we as a family can actually hack insane things like living on two coasts periodically. Pom misses his Daddy more than he ever has before when A travels and he during this trip he did things like breakdown sobbing inconsolably at the sound of his voice over the phone. Its touching to see him getting more verbal and also more clear about his own feelings and about intangible things like missing someone who isn't present: 3 years old approaches.

The chickens are laying well and may be driving the neighbors crazy with their egg calls which thankfully happen when people are mostly at work and houses in the neighborhood are empty. We have to remember to check the coop twice a day to make sure that we don't end up with any silly broody hens or egg eating, because there are always 6 a day now. I have started bringing the girls a cabbage a week to entertain them and give extra summer vitamins. I am also tossing any weeds from the garden into their pen for eating and am impressed with how much them do actually seem to be able to tear off and consume. Chickens are funny because they don't have any teeth or sharp cutting tools and are mostly adapted for eating loose seeds and small bugs that can be gulped whole or else ripping off bits of leaves attached to rooted plants. When I toss in whole weeds I think a lot of them just get trampled since when they pluck on them the whole plant comes along, but if they get into a tug-of-war everyone can actually pull off pieces and sometimes I see a hen use her foot for a tool to hold down the food and help tear it apart.

My sister Lockbox is engaged! That's the other bit of really exciting news around our house. Lots of our idle talk these days is diamond admiring, dress discussion and flower arrangement planning. So much ethereal planning to savor and witness. A wedding is a pretty deliciously cheery occasion, and more importantly I am so pleased for my sister and her man. They're so happy together and the new brother is infinitely approved of.

I have taken a season off of doing a lot of personal watercolor painting this past semester because I was teaching a middle and high school class for our homeschool co-op but now that the school year has ended...I'm free to paint by myself again! I'm so glad I taught, it was empowering (never taught art before!) and fun. I'm hoping to start back to my artist group that meets on Tuesdays this week and cannot wait to get back to the brushes. I might need a trip to the art store for more fresh paper!Yum!


Monday, April 27, 2015

Absence Makes The Fingers Chilly

 One of the things that's super great about A going away on these business trips to California is that we talk together after the kids are in bed in a much more engaged way. We had a great conversation recently about the value of play and experimentation for children. So delicious to get into these really meaningful topics, the kind of thing where your mind does push-ups and gets you really working....as a couple. There's a special kind of real love in that, which really speaks to me.

 We were talking about how much we want our kids to be dabblers, people who learn a little bit about a lot of things and can fit in here and there and everywhere. We want their deep interests to be portable, things that are flexible, things that they can do in lots of locations and with lots of people. We welcome activities, sports, classes and lessons but we want to leave room for fooling around, new ideas, imagination, free time and togetherness. We also have noticed that we need to reign in our own activities to these kind of standards if we expect to be able to enforce the plans for our kids. So much of parenting is like that....parenting yourself so that you can teach your kid things. Sometimes mortifying but meaty truth and solidly good.

 Its still really verging on chilly outside. I can't relax in a t-shirt yet, its still layers and sock wearing weather. The good news about that is that I have a day or two to get to mowing the lawn before it looks scary. The bad news is that the daffodils are out and the plum tree is blooming its head off in the backyard but I still don't really feel like going out. Its just freezy! We're doing a lot of read-alouds (right now One Day And One Amazing Morning On Orange Street) using the dryer even though we could be line drying and ending every day with warm baths in the tub, there is a lot of tea and coffee and we've been slow roasting meats for dinner. Please say that the warm weather comes sometime soon?

 We are all still working out, although I have been fighting my own lack of inspiration in that regard. I'm doing pretty well still with hitting my 10,000 step a day goal but actually getting a muscle building workout in is a little trickier. I have GOT to learn to workout first thing in the morning, I think that is the key. I must not and cannot leave it until later in the day, (God forbid it be the last thing to do once the house is quiet and I am exhausted!) and just hope I work it in. I will chicken out every time. Trying to puzzle over what might be motivating and how to jump-start that process.

Feel so proud of working harder on these things. Love watching the boys copycat me and start playing things together about working out and muscle strength and daring each other to push-up contests. This feels like a truly tangible good thing that we are doing together.

 I painted the kitchen all a clean white, smoothing over the bright, bright green backsplash behind my sink which so shocked many a visitor to my house. Everything is a snowy gloss now and I am trying to decide if it will stay that way or if I will paint the backsplash a soft yellow or something. Choices, choices. Next project will be pulling all the nails in my bedroom walls and spackling over the holes. I also am hoping to go get enough bricks this week to finish the ending I am doing on the front walk. Seems like a simple enough project to bang out if I got motivated....especially if it ever gets warm.


Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Cherry Blossom Haze

Just today, the cherry blossoms started opening. This next week will be stunning, the weekend may be a glowing daze. We are having magnificent weather with gentle breezes and buckets of sunshine alternating with torrential winds, chill and rain, rain, rain. The lawn is ready for a first cut and all the raised beds have been planted except for the potatoes and the children's garden. Our plum trees started opening their blossoms this morning. Must keep an avid watch on the fungus and pests and be liberal with my organic sprays and compost tea. I am also planning to order a giant dump of mulch to keep everything handily tucked in and moist for when the hot weather arrives. Its also time to divide any perennials I want to trim down and QUICK, finish the brick trim on the front walk! EEP!

 The boys are getting so panicked about being outdoors at all times that they are trying desperately to throw off the yoke of household chores. I am trying to remember to be insistent but it is SO hard! I am terrible at staying consistent and modeling the things I want them to learn. Most of parenting has been parenting myself, I swear. I must finish my chores before I get all distracted while feeding the chickens and wander over to check out the seedlings and trim the pear tree and admire the crocus and see if the grape vine is budding. Adhere! I must learn the things I am trying to teach. No time like the present. 

 This morning I gave myself a haircut. I would include a photo but I doubt it would be very dramatically visible to anyone. I cut about four or five inches off the ends but it was so stringy and brittle and damaged that there wasn't much volume left. I have to say that I love me some YouTube tutorials. That's where I taught myself how to cut my side angle bangs. That's where I learned how to cut my sister Lockbox's curly hair and that's where I went this morning when I had the itch to fix the scraggly, dried and breaking mess that was my hair. I parted and trimmed and brushed and angled and trimmed again until I had trimmed it all into gradual piecey layers, framing my face on both sides, all serious damage trimmed away and the parts that are left mostly falling in a regular and even fashion. I feel so much better. Cutting my own hair makes me feel like a dog that had all the winter mats trimmed of its paws or a sheep that's been sheared right before the June heat hits in waves. Its so relieving and freshening! Someday maybe I'll go to a salon and have them do it all for me but its hard to trust a random pair of shears when I know what I want and my own experiments are free.

 The bikes are back out and I am realizing that even though Dee is 7, I haven't really focused on working on getting him riding on a two-wheeler without training wheels very confidently. Goals for the Spring! Also, we seriously need to weed down our collection of wheeled vehicles. We do not need the gigantic fleet that we posses. Yay for the approaching neighborhood swap day!
 I am drinking a fair amount of protein shakes these days. I have decided that my new workouts and maybe just my normal activity warrants a more reliable protein supply and I have been whizzing them up when I am too busy to have a real sit-down lunch or when breakfast seemed like it had more produce than muscle feed in it. One of favorites has been a "pumpkin pie" version made with coconut milk, canned pumpkin pulp and cinnamon + vanilla protein powder. Yum! Its a treat that I don't really mind the boys indulging in with me and sometimes its serving as an ice cream substitute after dinner if I whiz in frozen fruit (Yay, new Costco membership this year!!!) and then scoop it into a bunch of tiny bowls.
 Pom is trying to potty train although I have been impossibly lazy about it. Here he is about to turn three and I am not there yet. I am embarrassed to admit that the "last baby" thing has infected me and threatens to allow me to spoil him. Argh! How can that be me? I know about that crazy stuff and I hate the idea of being like that. Its also just hard to be dedicated to the toilet cause when there is baseball practice and swimming lessons and co-op and gardening not to mention the laundry and the mopping. So much to keep on top of and his wearing diapers still seems somehow excusable. The good news is that he seems motivated himself on some level. He's doing pretty well at keeping clean at this point, telling me to take him to the bathroom when the need arises without any prompting. Staying dry is a whole 'nother story but hey....we can't ask the sun, moon and stars all at once!
I have been working on very little painting lately although I have a couple of ideas percolating and A is taking one of his necessary but unpopular trips to the West Coast again this coming week. I also hope to watch a few movies, maybe finish painting my bedroom and push a little bit of extra yoga into my life. Optimist much?

Hey, listen....its Spring!