Monday, December 29, 2008

Worst Case Scenario

Pequita has a stomach bug. So far we've had to wash puke off her car
seat, the back seat cover, many surfaces of my car, every article of
clothing we've all had on today, and as of the last hour, all the
bedding on the master bed. We are all in the living room watching the
Project Runway marathon and waiting for the kids to fall asleep and
the laundry to cycle through. We're going to need more ginger ale
before this is over. If anyone is driving by and could throw some on
the front porch, we'd appreciate it. Last time this happened, Monito
followed his sister, then I succumbed, finally H-Mama. Yuck.

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Sunday, December 28, 2008

Christmas Keeps on Giving

Grandma took my suggestion and made felt food for her grandkids. Peas with actual dried peas sewn into the felt, fried eggs, heads of lettuce, bow tie pasta and more. The kids adore it, and play with it all the time. I have eaten hundreds of bowls of veggie pasta surprise brought to me with a spoon while they look on, bright eyed and approvingly, as I blow on my bowl of felt to cool it down before pretending to eat it up.

Homestead Mama made each kid a doctor's bag, which we gave them a few days after Christmas. 26 and 18 months might seem early for them, but both kids have had semi-traumatic blood draws to check lead levels, seen their mommy in the post-op and with stitches after the gall bladder removal, and seen Grandma on crutches. They LOVE the bags. H-Mama doesn't slouch, and had on hand two actual leather gate-mouth doctor's bags, the kind Marcus Welby always carried and I've never seen a modern physician toting. She filled them with medical grade stethoscopes, tongue depressors, gauze pads, bandaids, and syringes with the needles removed. We have a lifetime supply of those from all the IVF we endured, and we use them all the time for non-injection things these days.

The kids unload all their equipment, spread it out, then play with their favorites. Bandaids are the biggest hit. Having an unlimited supply has not yet gotten tiresome for them. What a tiny investment of money for such joy. One is never enough.

Monito is giving the dogs a dose of medicine with his syringe. They are taking it like good pups.

Pequita has been asking to hear the story of her blood draw several times a day for months by pointing to the crook of her arm and asking for 'more'. Now she can really happily re-enact the whole event with her supplies. Below is H-Mama pretending to draw out the 2 vials of blood the nurse took that day. Pequita gets to talk about how scary it was, how it pinched but didn't hurt much and how we then got Pudding! in the cafeteria. Such a good idea H-Mama had.

Dive In, The Water is Great

We went back to the YMCA yesterday and went swimming, and it was a huge success. My kids have blossomed since I last took them swimming. Pequita has always loved the water, but has been - blessedly - cautious. This summer, she really loved the ocean and jumping in the waves. Today, she revelled in the baby pool. She has little fear of the water, and figured out that she can stand unattended in the shallow end of the baby pool; she loved clinging to the filter lip of the pool and moving from one side of the pool to the other all the while telling me to 'Go 'way! Go 'way!' It is a gratifying to see her develop independence like this. She loves beyond measure to jump off the edge of the pool into our arms.

Monito is still more cautious than his sister, but was game for all we did. Floating, jumping of the sides of the pool, blowing bubbles. He was content to stay in our arms while in the water, but was so very excited. We can sign up for a swim class without a Y membership; it looks like that's what we'll be doing. With a response like this, wouldn't you?

YMCA, I hardly knew ye

We have been paying for the local YMCA for several months and not going. The kids refuse to stay in the free daycare rooms; four times of being pulled out of the pool, or worse yet, the sauna, to return to an inconsolable child in the nursery was enough for me to take a break. In an effort to save money, we've cancelled it. The last few days of our membership coincide with Homestead Mama's vacation, so we've been going a lot as a family. After a couple days without leaving the house, we popped over at 6pm the night my parents left to release energy by running after basketballs. Homestead Mama was on the varsity ball team in high school, even at 5'1". She thrills the kids by lifting them up over her head and pushing the ball out of their hands towards the basket. The kids feel like they're shooting the ball, and they get it in a surprising percentage of the time.

And I am on the varsity nursing team, and did what I do best. In public. The teenaged boys also on the court missed a lot more shots once I started tandem nursing on the sidelines.
I realized recently that I am one of a very few moms still nursing a kid over 2 years old. If anything, Pequita is nursing more now than ever. I nurse both kids on demand, and it isn't unusual for me to be strolling along the main drag with one kid alongside me and the other in my arms nursing away as I walk. Or to pull over the grocery cart and let both kids tank up in the cheese isle. I barely notice, but I suspect everyone else does. I feel a bit like an ambassador for nursing; even if folks think it a bit odd, it is good for them to see it happening. I always knew I wanted to nurse the kids for a long time, but didn't realize I'd be one of a tiny constituency doing so.

My Son, David Bowie

Grandma's arrival for the holidays has brought with it the advent of nail polish to the Homestead. Both kids have embraced the toxic smells, the smears, the utter joy of altering their appearance. We bought a bottle of blue, green and turquoise at the grocery store this afternoon. The house is certainly more glamorous. Monito is particularly partial to the pedicure.
He has been compensating for any doubts about his masculinity by wrassling with his sister at every opportunity. He sets traps, piling up pillows, and then pounces.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

D-40 Love

My first day with the D-40. Still have a lot to learn. Still, compare this pic of Monito at his work bench with the last post. No comparison. And this image of Grandpa commiserating with a tired Monito. The lighting is super. The ceiling in our dining room is still plywood. This is because Homestead Mama and I are in a standoff of design - she wants a pressed tin ceiling, and I would prefer wood or drywall. Why not put in hooks for a swing, eh? Anyway, it usually sucks all brightness from a photograph taken under it. Not with my nice new external flash.

It may not show up on the blog, but wow.


Monito got his work bench. I resesearched all I could online, and am so extremely happy with the product. Solid wood, sturdy, lots of wooden bolts, nuts, and tools. While Pequita spent hours playing with her Playmobile horses and riders that I selected for her, my 18 month old son spent the day banging on his tools. Talk about gender specific behavior! We can be as neutral as we want, but nature seems to will out.

A quick glimpse of our tree, in its secure home atop a corner coffee table. A particular hit is the goldfish puppet in lieu of a star. Monito points at it and says 'blub blub'.
The stockings were sewn up, although some needle-felting embellishment will occur before next year. They were a huge hit with Pequita, who kept filling, emptying and refilling her stocking as she played with her toys and CHOCOLATE all through the day.

My photos are about to get better, because Homestead Mama did a very bad thing. Instead of the Buddha statue I asked for, she had this under the tree for me.
Nikon D 40.
I no longer want to get married to her. I am going to marry my new camera. I adore it. It is perfect.



Hammock chair: $8 used
Eye hooks for ceiling: $1.73
Swing & rings from swingset: free

Swing in dining room? Priceless.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas gift

Homestead Mama and my father took the babies to the grocery store [folly, I know, but I so needed time without them to get ready for tomorrow I didn't say anything] and mom and I finished up our holiday errands and then had lunch with no sippy cups, behavioral outbursts, or messy eating.  Thai food, no less.  It was the best gift I've had in a long time.  It didn't hurt that the errands included a trip to the fabric/ yarn store in town.  Fondling Kaffe Fasset quilting cloth and alpaca yarn was yummy.  Coming out only having spent $1 on the ribbon I needed to finish the stockings I'm making was even better.

I'll try get some pictures up soon, but we've got a couple duck to roast tonight, 18 lbs of fresh ham to cook tomorrow and now I'm going to go sort through the massive mound of outgrown clothes I have on hand to find some to donate to the single mom of three girls whose house just burned down last night.  I can't even imagine.

Happy holidays, everyone. 

Thursday, December 18, 2008

After a rest...

I slept a lot last night. Somehow, survival instincts keep a child quiet just when they need to be still. I love them most sometimes as they sleep. Or when they are channelling Henry the 8th; Monito insisted on having a whole turkey leg at Thanksgiving, and did a darn good job of finishing it.
I read my post to Homestead Mama when she came home - she doesn't always get the magnitude of the all-day effect, since she doesn't live it. After a bit of hugging and lovey stuff, I read her Becca's comment, and we both laughed. Heidi, the reminder of the post-stage amnesia was extremely helpful, as I had forgotten I had that to look forward to. No pun intended.

We're off to the indoor playground so the kids can run themselves ragged while I try to knit. Then we'll make an outing of buying a Christmas goose, with cookies and balloons and singing. [They love me at the grocery store.] Then home to make merengue snowmen cookies. Easy and yummy, and we get to use the MIXER!
I remembered this morning that the best way to keep loving them in the midst of rough patches is to look back at my pictures from previous stages. Like this Thanksgiving moment, during which I clearly wasn't stressed with either of them.
I get a lot out of posting to the blog, and get more back from comments and support. Thank you all.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Love the child, hate the child's phase

Monito is so very firmly ensconced in the terrible twos - at 18 months - that I can barely stand him. He is trying my patience with such an unrelenting vigor that I find myself yelling at him much of the day. I didn't start here, trust me. It was a natural progression of him proving that my patient, calm, playful parenting techniques are woefully insufficient in mitigating the assault that his emerging autonomy presents. My ass, figuratively speaking, has been whupped.

This morning, I left Pequita at nursery coop and took the boy to the store to return some things. He sat in the shopping cart facing me and once he got bored (42 seconds later) he started hitting me. He does this all the time, and I start out each day with a full glass of patience and over time shift to feeling totally drained of all tolerance. I've tried being loving, understanding, firm, pretend-crying to show results, and also tried angry, time outs, and a couple bad mommy moments of whacking back. Lightly, but still. Let me share with anyone reading that the concept of, "See? See how much hitting hurts?" doesn't actually help the kid learn.

So there we are in the cart. As I push him along the aisle he is hitting my hands, whacking at my chest, slapping at my face. I keep talking to him, sing a little Frosty The Snowman, and try to ignore the gleeful laughter and flashing eyes that the hits that connect with my body elicit. I finally tire of this and stop to peruse some nice dish towels, parking the cart about 2 feet away from me. He SCREAMS and sobs. People look at me funny as I calmly ignore my screaming child. I let this go on for almost 3 full minutes without a word until he starts signing 'sorry' and wailing 'oh-ree'. I quickly hug him, he stops crying and all is well. We repeated this many more times before leaving. We do this all day.

He is also back to screaming and thrashing with each attempt to dress/ undress or diaper him. (Sorry, Diva, I know that's bad news.). I now strive simply for mental calm as I pin him down with my legs on the floor and forcibly take care of business. He is fine upon being rendered upright again.

A) if you are one of the people who clucked your tongue at me upon witnessing one of these events in public, or told my children in a stage whisper - right in front of me - that 'not all mommies yell', well, may your children and grand kids have colic until they're 18.
B) if anyone has any constructive, positive advice or techniques you can suggest I welcome it. Or even better- horror stories of your own!
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Lead check update

Readers have asked how the home visit went. Good and bad, I guess. The team found no obvious hot items that we didn't know abut already with one annoying exception. My expensive Crate and Barrel pasta bowls, made in Italy and which are perfect for reheating leftovers, have a significant lead content. Over the holidays, I'll be writing a letter to them with photos of my bowls alerting them to this fact and asking them to make some kind of amends for the money spent on their unsafe product. A nice gift certificate would certainly ease the sting of knowing I've been feeding my kids off lead-ridden plates for their whole lives.

The lead team basically said that Pequita likely chewed on something with lead in it - a. Crayon, chalk, toy, etc - just enough to spike her levels. Since they were down 3 pits just 2 weeks later means it isn't something she has regular access to. The bad part of this is that we won't know the source definitively, and we'll have to assume that with her propensity to chew EVERYTHING she'll have a few more lead level spikes in her young life until she can replace her toy chewing with a healthier habit, like smoking cigarettes.
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Saturday, December 13, 2008

Montessori skills

There are a couple of blogs I read that document early Montessori-style education. I really like the activities that these moms give their kids; I find it inspiring and usually really inexpensive to keep them entertained for a significant amount of time [22 minutes or so, but that's a long time in the life of a 2 year old.]

We have a basket with several lidded jars, mostly glass, and the kids have to match the jar with the lid. They love to do this, and I usually end up emptying many different items from the jars at the end of the night, all the way from shredded paper to - ick - chewed cereal. Below, they are playing with their own lentil trays. A cookie sheet for containment, a few vessels and a few utensils in interesting shapes and we have a very popular activity. They transfer lentils from one bowl to another, use the funnel to fit them into the little jars, and try really hard to keep them all on their trays. Pequita is, understandably, totally ready for this kind of activity. She revels in it, and will pick lentils over candy most of the time. Monito isn't quite as adept, but he's only 18 months and keeping up admirably.

I am also trying to let them have more 'real life experience' = HUGE MESSES. Pequita and I separated 6 eggs tonight using the antique metal egg separator I found at the thrift store. Very fun. When I turned around next, she was cradling an egg yolk in each palm and then squished them with great joy. She did the whole bowl full, then we combined the yolks and whites and made scrambled eggs. These events are successful if I can quell my need to keep things neat.

Potties. Enough Said.

We have much excitement here at chez Homestead. Potties as communal sport. Yahoo!

Gingerbread Houses

I signed the kids up for a gingerbread house building class a few months ago. Auntie Kimmie came along to help. It was hosted by the local grocery store; I had planned to do a similar thing in my kitchen, but this was SO MUCH BETTER on so many levels. They had endless supplies, helpers running around, special HATS and APRONS which I wouldn't have thought to supply but were a huge hit. Best of all? No clean up. I let Kimmie help Pequita, as I thought she'd be a bit more excited about the event. This was the case - Kimmie had almost no creative control, and had to facilitate the OCD-like symmetry of a 25 month old. I helped Monito, who was more interested in licking each piece of candy before I adhered it to the house with frosting. There was some pulling off of candy and licking the frosting off, but we nipped that in the bud. All in all, for kids their age they did superbly. We still have the houses, and are trying to keep the picking at them to a minimum until Grandma and Grandpa arrive to admire them in a weeks time. Hansel and Gretel have done some damage, but the basic architecture is still intact.


It is 9am. I've successfully sent the kids off with Homestead Mama and Auntie Kimmie to gymnastics. I get to stay at home and work on the computer - some blogging updates, perhaps, clearing out the myriad drafts I began and couldn't finish. Also, working on a calendar for next year with our pictures from last year. Hardest of all? Narrowing down a thousand pictures or so to no more than 36.

So here I sit. It is snowing outside, but I'm warm with the fire going, a mug of French roast from our local coffee roaster, a piece of pie for breakfast made over the summer with red currants, raspberries and blackberries from our garden [a nod to PMS] and my buddy Matt James on Tivo [he reminds me of my brother, except for the accent].


Thursday, November 27, 2008

Pretend Play

Monito is such a different kid from Pequita. He pushes every button he encounters - he has reprogrammed our fridge, washer/dryer, cell phones, etc. Numerous times. He opens cupboard doors and drawers (and then rummages through the stuff inside) when Pequita barely notices them. He has hit the testing / defiant phase already, and spends a lot of his day snatching the toy pequita is actively playing with, or the Wusthoff paring knife I set down for one second, and running away with it at top speed, ignoring my cries to STOP RIGHT THERE BUDDY! Consequently, he has started having time outs a lot earlier than his sister.

This past Monday I took them to play at my sister's house. Monitor got frustrated when he was denied the toy his sister had and he yanked her hair enough times as I was using my words to get him to stop that I said, "ENOUGH" and whipped him onto a far couch to sit until I released him. Peace returned to the room, but Pequita didn't return to her toy as usual. She walked over and stood right in front of me, smiled, and yanked on her own hair. It was immediately obvious what was called for. "Oops! You BAD girl! You aren't allowed to pull hair! Time out for you!". All with a big smile on my face. She giggled all the way over to the couch and happily settled into her 'time out' as I affirmed in a stage whisper that we were just pretending. She now frequently copies exactly what her brother does that elicits a big response and demands the same (although play acting) response from us. It is a great way to explore good/ bad behavior, consequences, and to lighten up the mood in the room.

Kids are so smart.

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Sunday, November 23, 2008

Churchy goodness

Since I'm visiting my parents, we went to church this morning. Not for services, since Mom still can't sit up for that long since it is only 2 weeks after her knee replacement and I didn't think my kids could handle it and I have NO idea what the Sunday school policies for drop-ins are. There was a big Thanksgiving meal after services which we went attended. Their UCC church is amazing. I went there all through high school, and the youth group really saved my mental health a few times. The congregation there? Truly warm, wonderful and amazing. They all flocked around me and my babies and cooed, hugged us, commented on how cute and smart they were, and told me how much they value my parents in their lives. My mom believes in God, my dad's an atheist who loves community building, religious theory and volunteers many hours a week to the church. Mom spearheaded the Open and Accepting movement years ago, after which the church openly recruits and accepts GLBT members (and has several Family families who are members). The associate pastor is a lesbian. I tend to be agnostic, but have always really thought it would be cool if we could prove that there was a God. The folks I know and love who believe really get a lot out of it.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Lead, revisited.

Pequita had her two year old blood test for lead, and scored a 10.4. Any score over 10 buys you a one way referral to the health department consult. We had her retested a week later, and did Monito at that time too, since if she was spiking the odds were good that he might be too. She had gone down to 8.2, and Monito is at a lovely 1.3.

The health department nurse came with her lead-testing dudes in tow and told me a crapload of stuff I already knew. I hate suffering through someone's spiel when they are unable to edit or adapt it for a new situation. The testing dudes checked a couple pieces of furniture and surprised me when one that I thought was safe tested hot for lead. I have an appointment for them to return with a crew of consultants a week from Tuesday; Pequita scoring over 10 won us the lead lottery, and means we get a free house/yard test with the $12,000 machine which I'm totally excited to get. I want the issue resolved once and for all.

Embarassment of...not posting

Sheesh. I am in Boston at my parents. I drove with the kids on Friday, leaving Homestead Mama behind to work through Tuesday. I've been wanting to travel with the kids to see my parents & sister for months, but have been intimidated by the daunting task of parenting them by myself, nursing them both 24 hours a day by myself, tackling bedtime by myself. I could only go where I have excellent support, which is why I was thinking of Boston and not somewhere perhaps more exciting, but with no grandparents to spell me.

In the last few weeks, H-Mama and I have begun a new nighttime ritual with the babes. We've had a hijacked evening life since the kids were born, nursing them down, fetching them from their cribs to comfort them whenever they cried, and once they awakened in the night pulling them into the family bed for the remainder of the night. This system fit our desire to attachment parent, our belief that easy = best, and our complete confoundment at how to crib/sleep train two babies by two lactating women. (Usually the father or non-lactating mom goes in to comfort a kid in the night.) Firstly, we never told them that daylight savings happened; we kept their old 8pm bedtime, but it is now 7pm. They don't know the difference, and we get more evening time. We now go into the nursery and the kids pick out two books each, then we brush their teeth and pile onto our big queen bed. We turn out all the lights, turn on the white noise machine (which admittedly is mostly for me, except that it does muffle noises for the kids, too) and read our books by flashlight. We then sing about 4 songs while we nurse the kids, then we put them into their respective cribs which flank our bed. For the first few days they cried with the horror of the whole situation. We let them go for about 10 minutes, then went up and let them nurse and they crashed within 90 seconds. We then stretched out the time we made them wait for us to go up - at one point they were crying for 30 minutes or so before we'd go up. Then, kind of suddenly, they seemed to get it. They fussed, they might cry for a few minutes, but they settled down fairly quickly. Pequita has a flashlight and a few books, and she reads and sings herself to sleep some nights. Monito usually fusses a bit and then quiets down. This is a huge success! We still go up to nurse them if they wake up in the hours before we go to bed, but they are both cutting molars and are sick, so we'll stop that once their mouths settle down.

We made this shift for us, but it works well for me travelling alone with them. Tubby, books with grandma and then songs with grandpa, who has a beautiful voice and makes even a song about bloodshed and murder sound peaceful and lovely. He sang it to us when we were kids, and I have a soft spot in my heart for it. When we were just little kids, my sister and I would ride our bikes around the neighborhood bellowing lyrics like:

"As Abdul's long knife was extracting the life —
in fact he was shouting "Huzzah!"
He felt himself struck by that wily Kalmyk,
Count Ivan Skavinsky Skavar."

So H-Mama is home, admittedly lonely, but getting some things done that we haven't had time to do and really wanted to. I am having a super time here - Mom had purchased a massage for me, and the nice gay masseuse showed up with his table and heated shearling pad at 9 am this morning. Mom and Dad tended the kids while I had 17 months of co-sleeping and side-lie nursing rubbed out of my shoulders. The kids definitely miss their Mama, but it isn't as overwhelming as I had feared. Pequita has a hard time at bedtime, when she usually got her most concentrated time with Mama.

I feel quite guilty about leaving H-Mama behind. She has to pump a few times a day to keep her meager milk supply from drying up. I had forgotten this fact entirely, total humdar moment. And she is lonely. I would be too, but I think I would enjoy the time to myself a lot. H-Mama has a lot of stress on her, working full time in a job that completely overstimulates and strains her nerves, then coming home to kids who overstimulate her and strain her nerves. She maintains a higher level of frustration with the kids than I do; she prefers older kids, while I really like the baby & toddler times. I thought that the time alone in the house would help her appreciate the clutter, mayhem and cacophony a bit. It might, but for now she is rattling around in a medium-sized homestead by herself without me to entertain her, and without the babies she loves so dearly. I definitely have the better deal, I think. She'll drive out on Tues night and stay with us through Sunday after Thanksgiving, then we'll all return together. It will be amazing to be reunited. It is also a really good thing to miss the people you love. Distance certainly helps me value what I take for granted.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Embarassment of riches

I drove the babes through downtown to get them to sleep; we are parked outside the store at which we will start our afternoon errands. They fell asleep at 1 pm and are BOTH STILL ASLEEP. This is good on the one hand, since we were all awake many times last night due to one or all of us coughing, blowing our noses, smearing our copious snot on the pillows we all end up sharing*, and any extra sleep is a good thing. But long time readers know that my kids a) rarely sleep at the same time, and b) rarely nap for more than 45 mins. So today, when I fortify my morning coffee with a big diet coke to try to make it through the day with no nap of my own, today when I timed my caffeine intake (read: bladder capacity) perfectly for our standard timing, TODAY is the day they sleep on and on and on. I am sitting in my car ruminating on the fact that the bastard lawmakers who made it illegal for me to leave the kids alone and sleeping in the car for three measly minutes while I dart into a store to pee we're CLEARLY CHILDLESS.

*i hope it goes without saying that this is the kids and not Hmama or me.

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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Pequita's favorite private time

When she wakes from a nap in the car, I pull her up to the front seat and she gets to sip my drink, eat pretzels and nurse while Monito sleeps on in the back seat. She really loves her private Mommy time. I love it too.
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I'm still here. My days are jam packed, between constructive house tidying and reorganizing, canning and baking, ongoing renovations, dealing with constant strong chronic pain in my bum ankle and getting several inches of surgical records tranferred to a local new orthopedic surgeon. The knowledge that I need a third ankle fusion depresses me and activates my surgical PTSD, making me want to stay in bed all the time.

This is in addition to keeping the babes alive, fed, happy, clean, and making sure they get to playgroup on Mon, hosting playgroup at the homestead on Wednesdays. And they are both cutting molars right now, so nursing incessantly and not sleeping very well. Yawn.

H-Mama has a huge exam in early Dec to get certified to enable her to get a *much* deserved promotion and she can't find time to study. She is a little overwhelmed, as I guess I am. We aren't getting along as smoothly as usual, and had a lovely fight first thing yesterday about something stupid, but based on problematic underlying communication issues. It feels so damned impossible to make headway on our few relationship issues that linger after 8.5 years together with our breakneck speedy lives. Being busy is but one impediment, though; my style is to actively process everything quickly and with vigor right away while it is fresh. H-Mama's style is to stew about things for days before bringing it up, or not talk at all. Period. And never the twain shall meet. Sigh. To her credit, she goes to therapy with me and alone to keep working on things. And by some blessed good luck, we have a pretty good therapist who had 5 kids of her own, gets the quagmire we live in, and therefore is willing to make house calls after the kids go to sleep. So yesterday we fought in the morning, did our own thing for a couple hours, made up mid-morning, and at 9:30 pm were settling into our living room with our therapist and tea and cookies for some productive work. See - even our emotional loves are breakneck.

Clearly, both kids napped today at the same time. Pequita just awoke in a storm of snot and coughing, though, so I'll have to sign off. (I love having internet on my phone; if I didn't, you all would never be reading this, as I wouldn't have time to write it.)

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Monday, November 3, 2008

Asian pears

We picked six bushels of apples and pears yesterday. Six. I have just a tad od processing to do. We gave one bushel to my good friend with three thriving - read HUNGRY - preteen boys, and the rest I'll end up canning. Picking the asian pears was amazing. Being high up on the ladder in the sun with no one around, no souinds but the wind and fauna. The pears have withstood a couple good frosts, so the ripe ones are slightly rosy and soft, and the skin barely contains the juice. They have almost started to ferment, so when you bite into the pear the juice is cool, delicate and sweet like a liqueur. Really amazing. It seems a waste to mix them into applesauce, so I might try to make some pear jelly and maybe some juice, too.
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Sunday, November 2, 2008

Sunday Morning Rituals

Monito always wakes up early; I come downstairs with the loud boy and change his diaper. He has started asking for nay-nay time, which means he wants to feel the cool autumn air against his naked butt. Since it is now cold, I dress him in a hat, a warm shirt and slippers and leave the rest to the breeze. I have bitten the bullet and let the kids start playing with water IN THE HOUSE. No nice water table outside in the yard, no tidy hose to spray on the grass. It is in the house where tides of water splashing on the floor and cabinets have equated mess in the past; now, Mommy sucks it up and lets the kids experiment and figure out about gravity and bubbles.

I put on the coffee; he helps me measure out the grounds and fill the reservoir and push the ON button. Monito then sidles his cute, long-limbed half-naked self up to the extra-deep farm house kitchen sink, which I bought with baby baths and water play in mind. I push his tower up to the counter and he climbs up. I fill two pans with hot water and offer him many kitchen implements to play with. There is much squealing and splashing while I sit and sip coffee brewed with nutmeg and he plays. Once Pequita starts chirping upstairs - that girl wakes up happy! - I fetch her and she joins her brother at the sink. His favorite activity at this point is filling the cut up pieces of sponge with water and then squeazing them dry onto the floor while I recite my mantra - it is just water it is just water it is just water. Pequita prefers a more methodical approach, and uses the mesh ladle to scoop sponges out of one pan and transfer them to the other bowl. After everyone is thoroughly soaked and done playing, we have a hot shower and get dressed.

Today promises to be a gorgeous sunny and cool day, and we are going back to the orchard to pick apples to make into more applesauce. The end of the season means it is only ten dollars per bushel, and with the depression coming I feel like really filling the pantry now.

I Vant to Be Alone [with my pretzel]

Saturday, November 1, 2008


We have been having campfires in our backyard. We bundle up, the kids help Homestead Mama pile up the wood and start the fire while they learn about fire, heat, and safety. Then we have s'mores and hunker down and sing songs, watch the sunsets, and enjoy the fall weather.

Also, in this batch of pictures is an example of Monito's new favorite face. He does this in utter playfulness, and will scream with laughter if you mimic it back to him. He is developing quite the sense of himself and humor. He is covered in some of my applesauce that I added grapes to. It is, as Monito is pointing out, delicious.


I found a plastic carousel at the local thrift store. It was $3, and has lovely animals, lights, the horses go up and down and it plays 5O songs. On eBay it sells for $85. For Pequita and Monito, it is priceless. They sit in awe and watch it each night, taking turns manning the controls. The joy is immense. I think we will pack it away each year and bring it out for Christmas as a special toy. When I was a kid, this kind of thing was so special. I really like sharing the same kind of wonder and delights with my kids.

Lead Again

While I was having my gall bladder out, Pequita had her two year old lead check and H-Mama had her 43 year old blood panel. H-Mama's cholesterol is slightly elevated, which was a sad surprise. The doc prescribed increased fiber and a glass of red wine each night. H-Mama is diligently trying to keep up with this.

Pequita has a blood lead level of 1O.2. Can I just say goddamn it? God only knows where it is coming from now. I bought a big box of lead swabs today to start testing, but suspect I will just pay the health department to come to our house to do a thorough testing of all surfaces interior and exterior. She goes back for a retest next weekend, and I'm taking Monito in for one too. I am really surprised and irritated, and of course worried. This is such bad news.


I've been feeling very much like baking since it has gotten cold. This has matched well with the holidays and all my recent time off, a.k.a. surgical recovery. I've made brownies, finished canning [with Mom's help], two batches of cookies, and I've got a bunch of cookie dough frozen for future cookie cutter fun with the kids. Having my parents here to help with my surgery was super. Extra hands, good company, so much attention for the kids, and always someone to chat with, play with, or help me get around afterwards when I couldn't drive. I started missing them before they even left last Thursday.

Coming off of my latest surgery, I totally sold out for the easy path this year and got both kids matching pumpkin costumes for Halloween. A week ago, on Saturday night, my moms group had a party with 45 people or so in a gymnasium we rented. Good potluck food, lots of activities and toys and much jovial milling about. It *might* have been overdoing it just 2 days after my gall bladder surgery, but was a lot of fun. I made sugar cookies and frosted them with Pequita's help. She really liked it. I let the kids frost their own cookies later, which involved a bit more frosting in their mouths and a little less frosting on the cookies.
We also went to the local grocery store Halloween candy give-away where we strolled around the whole store and the babes were given handfuls of candy in their pumpkins by costumed staff. In my anticipation of their enjoyment of being in and seeing other kids dressed in costumes, I overlooked the tiny fact that they aren't really allowed to eat candy but do really like it. Once Pequita and Monito figured out what was being dropped in their buckets, all desire to admire costumes, greet their friends, even to continue walking through the store, ceased. They sat hunched next to the tomato display plunging their hands into their plastic pumpkins and coming up with fistfuls of chocolate bars, gum balls, tootsie rolls, and other items they just aren't allowed to eat. I acquiesced and let them nibble on chocolate bars for a little while, which might have had something to do with the hour of screaming I endured on the drive home, through tubby time, and didn't end until we were warm, pink, pajama-clad and settled into tandem nursing on my bed. Homestead Mama had to work late and missed the joy. It was a true delight to have her arrive and help ease the household into sleep. I think we will have no more trick-or-treating until the kids are begging for it and allowed to enjoy some of the spoils.
One pleasure we *have* been enjoying is The Gingerbread Baby, illustrated by Jan Brett. Every night we read it at least once and finally I made gingerbread cookies. We can all enjoy them, as they only have a half cup of brown sugar. Little people, cats, dogs and hammers, all with white frosting. I found the hammer cookie cutter at Salvation Army, and knew immediately that my little tool nut would love it. Right now, Monito's favorite thing is Nunu, a.k.a. vacuum cleaners. He is a bit annoying about them, kissing them goodnight before he will consent to go to sleep, asking for them immediately upon waking in the morning. His favorite activity is for me to spread shredded paper on the floor for him to suck up as he makes little slurping sounds. He is also enamored of all things construction and cleaning, toting around brooms, drills, 2x4 lengths. We have bought him his own tape measure, which he treasures. He is only 16 months old. Below, they are brandishing their gingerbread hammer cookies. They were the clear favorites.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Pumpkin Carving simulator

Since we love all things jack-o-lanterny here at the homestead, I offer this:

Friday, October 24, 2008

My Life In Pictures

My entire life has been captured in pictures.  My father has been diligent in ensuring that we have photographic records of all trips, events, daily living activities, and gatherings.  Today was no exception.

As I was recovering today after surgery, Homestead Mama and my dad brought the kids to visit.  We dutifully lined up for pictures.  They have been emailed off to the relatives already.  My family is a little nuts, but in a good way.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Job Security

Hpomestead Mama and my dad brought the kids by to visit me - they were in the hospital already getting Pequita's 2-yr lesd level checked. The kids reeked - both had full poopy diapers. H-mama forgot to bring the diaper bag when ashe left the house. I cracked up, causing serious pain. I suggested that she beg pediatrics for some, as they are righrt down the hall. They took pity on her. I have never forgotten the b ag.

The kids did charm the hell out of the nurses, even with the stench wafting after them.

Pardon the spelling. Pain meds are definitely pon board!
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Still alive

My gall bladder was chock full of stones, said the surgeon. I survived. More later.
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Maybe hospital johnnies are made of cashmere now?

My mom is driving me to the hospital right now for my 25th general anesthesia. Damned gall bladder. What I wouldn't give to be back in bed torquing my back to let Monito side-lie nurse so we all get another hour of rest.

I do surgery well. I know the routines. However, I am awash with PTSD when I have surgeries. I taste all the meds in my IV and anti-nausea patch.

Mostly I just hate waking up afterwards.

Gotta go feel nauseated - the anesthesiologist is heading my way. I've never. Blopgged in a paper johnnie in pre-op before. I guess I like my blackberry.
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Sunday, October 19, 2008

Mommy has a Grumpy Day

Pequita's 2 year checkup was on Friday morning at 9:15. My car needed a new muffler, and we had a 10:30ish appt for that. I was having an off day - hormones? Fatigue? Who knows. I have long been irritated with the office, as we have been made to wait an average of 90 minutes at our pediatrician's office for what constitutes a 10 minute checkup. This has bothered me intensely; trying to keep 2 rambunctious babies happy and entertained in a small room with no toys for upwards of an hour is not easy. I tried kindly mentioning this up the chain of management to no avail. I started bringing my own suitcase of amusements, as well as leaving the exam door open so the kids could roam around the halls a bit hoping this would make it harder to forget about us (and hopefully annoy the nurses into dealing with us). For the past few visits, if we were made to wait more than 20 minutes with no one coming to see us I strolled both kids down the hall - one of them in diaper only in anticipation of an exam - to where the nurses were clustered chatting and asked how much longer it would be. This past Friday I stood for 9 long minutes just for the receptionists to get off the phone to take my name and tell me to sit down. I was still sitting in the lobby 45 minutes after our appt was to have begun, and I snapped. I collected my kids and strode to the reception desk, interrupted their phone conversations to tell them that our time was valuable and we couldn't wait any longer. Driving to the garage, I snagged a 3pm appt with a competing pediatrician who was highly recommended and had an opening. We had a lovely day walking around town in the fall sun while my car was fixed and still got Pequita her checkup and flu shot that day. We waited 3 minutes before seeing the 2nd doc, he was lovely, AND there was a huge box of toys in the exam room. I couldn't transfer the kids records fast enough.

Pequita's stats:
33 lbs puts her in the 99th percentile for weight. 35.5" long is the 90th percentile for weight. No wonder she is wearing mostly size 3 toddler clothes!

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Wednesday, October 15, 2008


Happiness is...sitting on the sidelines while H-mama and Hottie Friend do gymnastics with the kids. Knitting! By myself! This is a prototype hat, but if it pans out it will be winging its way across the Atlantic for a very Foxy baby soon.
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Sunday, October 12, 2008


"The perfect is the enemy of the good."


Time to get up off my perfectionism and JUST DO IT.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Pequita Turns Two

My beautiful daughter is two. I am amazed. This means that we started trying to have a baby SIX years ago. Just look at her!

Thursday, October 9, 2008


I haven't been to our local nature center for a few years. It all seemed too old for my kids. Today, in a fit of not knowing what to do with us all, we went there. It sports a live animal display inside, as well as many skeletons and stuffed [eeeew] native animals. BORING. In the acreage behind the building, there is a butterfly house, a raptor cage and a 6-story tree house built by, I think, Bob Leathers. SIX stories of climbable tree house. Whatever made me think this wasn't right for a two year old?

The approach.
Climbing the ladders.In the attic six flights above the forest floor.
We all loved it. We will, I suspect, go there at least once a week through the winter in all but the coldest of times. It is relatively safe, and the babes can only fall 6-8 feet instead of the possible 6 stories. The stairs loop around all over, and there are ladders to each floor and some secret locations as well. It is all open to the outside but has 1" mesh screen cladding all exterior sides.

On the way home, we stopped at the consignment store and spent a few dollars on this very special chair. Oh, happy day. While it is ostensibly for both kids to share, Pequita didn't remove her heiny from it for almost an hour of dinner and Sesame Street musical DVD. She has found her cozy spot, and it is set for the winter. I guess I'm in the market for a wing back chair for Monito. Sigh.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

A Week in Pictures

We've been busy enjoying autumn. I realized that the Facebook status updates *feel* like I've blogged, which is bad, since I haven't.

I have, so far, 12 half-pint jars of ground cherry jam on the shelf. Homestead Mama made 10 pints of tomatilla salsa and it too is in jars. We have a half bushel of apples & pears to turn into applesauce, and a few gallons of Concord grape juice to turn into jelly and juice. Every night after the kids go to bed we get a little more food canned. It is delightful.

We've been to pick elderberries at our friend Noona's house [at least that's what the kids call her]. She grew pumpkins, and that is so very exciting! I burned the elderberries when trying to reduce the juice, so no jelly.

We went apple picking to get our applesauce supplies, and found blackberry bushes there too.
We have had a pumpkin carving binge, and sit on the front porch with popcorn most nights and watch the jack-o-lanterns glow and sing pumpkin songs. The kids like to wave good night to them from the nursery window before bed.

And this morning? I woke up to a toasty house and the stove on for the first time this season. Bliss.

My 1-month post-LEEP cervix check went well. The doc has never seen a cervix bounce back this fast, and it looks super. Great, I say. If I have to be a star in some way, why NOT a super hero cervix?

We are off now to get our farm share and gather all the green tomatoes and the last of the ground cherries since frost is wreaking havoc with the crops. Then to find more canning jars, as I've run out.