Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Equipment Malfunction

Monito's diaper fell off in a torrent of pee in the consignment store; they were in good spirits about it and dubbed him the baby who christened the new store location.  Mother's Helper Becca diapered him last. 

Pequita's diaper fell out of her shorts in the local discount store where we were buying a new food cooler to get our frozen pesto, fruit pies and assorted gourmet cheeses to our vacation destination.  Auntie Hottie Friend did that diaper. 

Remedial diapering classes start the day after our return from vacation. 


I just went to the consignment store to sell a stack of pregnancy/ breastfeeding/ how-to-keep-your-infant-alive-past-6-weeks books, since you know, now I'm an expert. I got $15 in store credit. I checked out the girls sale bin in size 3, what Pequita will be in next spring/summer. I selected:

-3 sporty dresses to wear over leggings or shorts

-2 pairs of leggings

-3 pairs of shorts

-2 skorts

-1 adorable box pleated kilt/skirt

-1 lilac oxford cloth top and bottom

-3 board books

All this, on sale, rang up at $11. I had a full stamp / bargain card which was worth $5, so the trip only cost us $6. We'll be looking awfully cute here at the Homestead next summer.

Monday, July 21, 2008

I Must Have Done Something Right

Almost all of our homestead is a work in progress. This stems from the fact that we bought an 1851 farmhouse 'as is' and still want to do so much of the work ourselves; we love gardening, woodworking, crafting things from hand and having complete creative control. When it comes to hauling cubic yards of gravel or stripping paint, I am happy to hire out, but it is hard - shockingly so - to find a skilled and honest worker to do these things.
A few years ago, I got annoyed at the overgrown hosta in our front yard and also with mowing over the roots of the massive tree in our front yard. I fixed the problem by creating a ringed bed of hosta around the base of the tree. I did it as Roger Cook recommended, and it is now growing gloriously and only requires an hour of tending once a year. If anyone is curious how to make this happen, jet me an email, as the simple yet effective manner of creating a new bed is - I can attest - foolproof. I have used it in several spots since in our yard, and they are all successful. And so, behold. My hosta ring.
I intend to do it around each big tree in the yard, as it is easy to mow up to and needs no tending.

This is in contrast with the front garden beds - the ones seen from the street that will someday soon be tidy in a country farmhouse kind of way. They are still overgrown and wild in the annoying way. By next summer, the kids will tolerate playing alongside me while I dig it all out and make it beautiful.

In all that tangle, I found a purple version of the silver dollar plant. I have never noticed one with purple stems and discs. I am really pleased, and we'll definitely keep this weed growing in the new plan.

Someone Deserves a Raise

I heard the phrase "aspirational time horizon" on NPR today on my way home. What a phrase! What a gorgeous and clever way to pander war-mongering, country-controlling swill to the people.

My heart is crying even as I admire the skilled phrasing being employed to rationalize our continued chokehold on Iraq.

From today's White House press briefing with Dana Perino:

..."Since January 2007, when President Bush announced a surge which sent more troops to Iraq and implemented a counter-insurgency strategy, we have seen a dramatic improvement in conditions on the ground. The Iraqis are increasingly able to be in the lead in combat missions, with us in overwatch. As we saw when the Iraqis security forces took back Basra, Mosul and Sadr City, they can succeed.

It is precisely because we are succeeding in Iraq that we are able to have these conversations today to set aspirational goals for time horizons when we can transition our mission to overwatch, counter-terrorism and training, which is the goal that we share. From there we'll be able to bring more troops home. This is a bilateral agreement and it is solely based on conditions on the ground -- which have improved and are likely to continue, given the trajectory -- as long as we work to cement the gains and maintain sustainable security. "

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Tower of Power

I happened upon a Learning Tower at the consignment store last week. I waffled at spending $80 on it, but it has been so worth it already. Miss Pequita LOOOOOOOVES it. She clambers up, clambers down, I can push it up to the kitchen island and she can help me cook, play alongside me, or torment her brother in his high chair. She likes to eat standing up in it, and regularly gets down to go fetch herself a bowl or spoon if she needs it.
She learned how to shuck corn using her tower over the weekend, and actually did a fair job getting the ears clean.
While I stand at the island making pies and fruit bread with all our summer abundance, she likes to mash her home made play dough into itself and move it from one container to another clearly mimicing my actions. It is an amazing structure, if you have the room in your kitchen. At the end of the day, it is super for playing forts.

Tiny Love

If you look at Pequita against Homestead Mama [who is a mere 5'] she looks like such a big girl. Put her on the counter to play with no interference from her annoying kid brother, though, and she looks like the tiny little girl that she is. She is hiding Smarties from herself and then finding them, accompanied by much squealing.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Funny You Should Ask...

That is what I heard when my office called this morning at 8:30 am.  One of my favorite co-workers phoned, and I was thrilled to chat a bit since I haven't seen her since I left 13 months ago.  I asked how they were managing with the recent departure of several competent folks on the administrative staff in our department.  They want to explore me working part time in some manner.  I told her that it would be great to use that part of my brain again, and that the money would be very helpful, but, you know, I've got this demanding full time job already that doesn't leave me enough time to shower some days.  Working from home might be manageable; I worked as the executive assistant for the chair of a world-class research department at a university.  When I say world-class, I mean it.  Our faculty are responsible for keeping the stock market secure, for international air traffic controlling safety, for the computers used on U.S. Dept of Defense equipment, and for little things like Google.  It was an amazingly rich place to work.  They also don't take care of their staff, hence the turnover.  My old job was filled after I left - it took a gratifyingly long time for them to find someone to replace me - but she is now swamped with all the annoying jobs left undone by the vacated staff.  I can think of some projects that I'd like to get my hands back on.  The drudgery she can keep.

We'll see.  They'd have to pay me very well to either take me away from my babes OR use up my only few hours of personal ME time in a given day.  It isn't like I am worried about getting hired again once I decide to go back full time.  I am good at what I do and have unique skills that fit many markets.  It will be nice to think about this from a place of no pressure and not really needing the work. 

My mother's helper is here, so I'm off to continue ordering the dressing room.  It is a wing off the master bedroom, kind of.  Momma Fox asked for pictures, which I will post after Dave the carpenter finishes the built-in storage, his project for this fall.  It is a 14' x 10' room with a window seat, a half bath, a space for a soaking tub which is currently taken up by my craft supplies, and our closets and shelves full of clothes.  It is glorious, and we *could* have made it smaller, made it a fourth bedroom on the second floor, whatever.  We treated ourselves in the renovations, since we expect to be living here for at least another twenty years or so.  The space overlooks the backyard and the sunset. 

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Busy deconstructed

Here's our schedule for today. 

*7:30 wake up, kiss Mama goodbye, play & eat breakfast
0 leave for state park with waterfalls & swimming and playground
00 lunch with friend in local collegetown.  Kids will sleep through this, likely.
0 Downtown to buy natural rubber soothies for Monito, who is getting a rash from his ones with a plastic bit
* next, the organic groc store for supplies
Next, the plumbing supply store for a new faucet gasket thing to fix a leak
*Next, the craft store at the mall to get puppet materials and picture frames
Next, go home, play with new sprinkler in the yard that is exactly butt-high for Pequita, who loves to squat over it and cackle as the ice well water hits her naked skin; I will be keeping an eye on the babes while picking red currents in our yard, as the second wave have ripened.  Next, I have to prepare some veggies for dinner, likely baby bok choy and mushroom stir fry to keep on top of our CSA veggies; I also HAVE to make 2 or 3 pies with the black currents, sour cherries and rasberries that I got in my fruit share at the CSA.  They are so very ripe!

*All starred activities involve some form of play for the kids, be it in an actual play area or merely chasing each other up and down the air conditioned aisles of a fabric store and playing hide and seek in the displays.

Off we go.

Make Love, Not War

Pequita has exited her long phase of pummeling and pushing.  She has entered the summer of love, and now wants to hug everyone.  She hugs her friends until they back away and cry.  Monito, with his older sister to observe and emulate, is ahead of the pack.  At one year old he started hugging, a long, floppy roll into your neck that inevitably gets so involved and snuggly that he ends up sliding to the floor giggling.  He also kisses, big  huge mmmmmmmm-waaaah sounds as he presses his wet slobbery mouth on various parts of your body.  We have love fests several times a day here at chez Homestead.  It is a very gratifying counterpart to the MINE MINE MINE refrain that we hear the rest of the time.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Summer days

I'm still here, trucking along.  We are busy.  H-Mama and I were just comparing our different styles of being with the kids.  I get almost nothing done in the house when I am parenting, but I spend a lot of time on the floor playing and BEing with the kids.  We are out of the house a lot, at the parks, lakes, playgroups, interacting with other toddlers and running errands.  They LOVE Home Depot.  H-Mama gets a lot of things done with the kids playing near her.  She mows the lawn with Pequita on her lap (wearing ear protection), she does the dishes with them banging away on pots and pans, she tends to her rhubarb patch in the back 40 while they crawl around in the meadow finding deer poop to point out and collecting rocks.  We each overlap a bit on the other's style.  It works for us.

Today, the mother's helper is here and she and the babes are out on the swingset in the yard.  I was going to paint, but instead think I'll organize our horribly out of order dressing room.  We still haven't gotten the turtlenecks out of rotation on the shelves.  This is entirely my domain - H-mama won't touch it.  I'll take everything that is ugly or doesn't fit to the clothing consignment store - I intend to be ruthless.  Yeah, sure, I need to lose 30 lbs and I *could* hang on to clothing that will fit me again someday, but instead I think I'll reward myself for losing weight with the joy of buying a few new things when I need them.

This afternoon, we'll go to the CSA and get our veggies and then to the park.  It is supposed to be in the 90's, and one park has a fountain to play in.  Hope you day goes well.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Contain your mercury

I knew  that CFLs had mercury, and couldn't believe that throwing them into the trash was ok.  Here's a blog that says that Home Depot will accept them for recycling.  Hooray!


Tuesday, July 8, 2008

In Brief

Pequita is clearly a kid who believes that if it is worth wearing one, it is worth wearing them all.

She tried on her new big girl p.anties from grandma today. I slipped her into the pair of her choice [actually, Monito's dump truck briefs, Mom, so much for your girly flowered ones] and then she brought me all the other pairs and had me put her in them. It was a nice bulky diaper of un.derwear, so when she p.eed later it barely leaked at all.

Thanks, mom. They are bringing much joy, if not dryness.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Mother's Little Helper

I am blogging in the middle of the afternoon. Homestead Mama is home from work today due to a car repair snafu that makes me too irritated to get into. We got a loaner for her from the shop at noon, so it was pointless for her to go into work. She's doing useful work on the house - go, Mama! Our children are outside, with neither of us with them. How, you ask? I have secured a 14 year old mother's helper named Becca. She is completely open this summer, loves kids, and is highly recommended by our very good friend who has a 2 year old.

[Insert sigh of joy here.]

I came in from gettting them settled in the pool outside and realized that I could do anything at all for a couple hours. I lived out several fantasies in quick succession: I ate lunch sitting down, I went to the bathroom ALONE, I had a quick shower. I tried to get H-Mama upstairs for a little nookie, but she was both committed to finishing the work she was doing and also worried about the kids needing us since it is, after all, the first time they've met Becca. She was right, too - they all trooped in for a comforting nurse after about 15 minutes away from us. Then, recharged, they headed back out to play on the swings.

I think I'm going to hire her to come two or three afternoons a week, and I'll do some painting, some kitchen organizing & settling, some sewing, baking, sleeping, etc.

Sadly, she is out of town this Thursday when I go in for my physical, so I may be explaining speculum to Pequita. I wonder if there's an ASL sign for that? (I just checked; no.) I guess I'll just have to wait and see what sign she makes up to go along with the action. She already can do a cute little pantomime about what to do with a tampon. Drat that lack of bathroom privacy with toddlers.

Poetry Monday

The Summer Day

Mary Oliver

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?


from New and Selected Poems, 1992
Beacon Press, Boston, MA

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Thank god they're pre-verbal

I have an annual physical soon. I will likely end up bringing the kids and hope they are sleeping in their stroller when I have to 'scoot forward a little more, please'. It is timely that I just read this post - it totally cracked me up. It is so very much what I would do. Poor doctors.

Thoughtful Friday

Thoughtful Friday at Bella Dia

"People usually consider walking on water or in thin air a miracle. But I think the real miracle is not to walk either on water or in thin air, but to walk on earth. Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don't even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black, curious eyes of a child -- our own two eyes. All is a miracle."

Thich Nhat Hanh

Friday, July 4, 2008

Mr. Big Boy

All by himself. Yowza.

Artistic Expressions

Finger painting brought so much joy... that it quickly gave way into brush painting. Ms. Pequita gets a little uppity and artistic when holding a brush. Monito? Well, he's in his blue period.

New book on my list

There are scant few parenting books that I read; even fewer that I recommend.  After reading the post below, I am intrigued about "My Mother Wears Combat Boots".  Here's the sentence that hooked me:

"Routines? Try keeping to a Gina Ford schedule when you're touring with a punk band, as this books' author, Jessica Mills, does. "

Gina Ford is like a more rigid Ferber.  She works for many parents, and I am always wondering how my life would be different if we chose a scheduled one instead of the attachment parenting/ co-sleep/ feed+sleep+play on demand one that we have settled into.  I suspect I'd be more rested.