Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Is It April ALREADY?

This post is so clearly brought to you by the sandbox I built and installed last summer.  It is about 30 feet from the new French doors, and has captivated the kids this year.  I may find time to make it prettier shortly, but who really cares?  Now that the weather is warm again, the yard is their amusement park and they can spend hours out there playing on the swing set, hammock, sandbox, deck, and gravel pit.  They paint on the easel in the grass, kick the balls that decorate the yard, and seem to be teaching themselves how to play leap frog with the most hysterical outcome.  Lots of pouncing, squashing, and reconnoitering before the next physical fiasco. 

I'm not sure I'm doing this whole parenting thing right, but the kids? They take up all my time.  Perhaps if I ignored them more, or if they liked to play by themselves more I'd get more done, but most of the time I am attending to them all day and then Homestead Mama comes home after an 11-hour work day about 10 minutes before their bedtime and reads to them, we put them through the 20 minute bed time ritual and then go downstairs, collapse on the couch together, talk about the day or how we really should submit our taxes soon and then watch a DVR show and go to sleep.  It isn't glamorous, but it does work for us.

Here's what I have been doing of late:

:: Tending to a friend's chicks and planning our own coop and flock.  We are set to order a bunch of Sussex, Black Australorps, Barred Plymouth Rock, and Silver Wyandottes.  With a couple Ameracaunas for H-Mama, as she wants the colored eggs. All hens, save for one rooster for Monito.  He wants to name it Big Shot after his favorite character in our current favorite book.

:: Easter! And the requisite lengths of rope in the baskets. What? You didn't get your kids rope for Easter?  Silly readers.  It is the new tape.  It ties in (hardy har har) with the pirate theme we are sporting in this house.  A lovely relaxing hour can be had by a mom sitting and being tied up.

:: Training the boy to not say "You IDIOTS!" to his sister when he gets frustrated.  Thanks a lot, Cruella DeVille.  He only uses it in the plural, because Cruella hurls the insult at the Badden Brothers.  The boy hasn't figured out that his sister is a singular, and this makes is just funny enough that I can't take him seriously.  I take him more seriously when he says "You ASSHOLES!" at his blocks or Playmobil vehicles.  He learned that from, um, Homestead Mama!  Yes!  That's it!  Bad, Homestead Mama.

:: Enjoying the new game my kids have developed, Shoe Fighting.  It happens in the car since we have a micro-minivan instead of the cavernous Odyssey.  When they get a little nutty they have begun pummeling one another.  It is like thumb-wrestling, but with feet, and kicking.  So much fun!  I was parked next to an Odyssey at the grocery store the other day and once I had strapped my kids in I leaned into the wide open side door while the mom-owner was returning her cart to the kiosk. Oh my goodness, we could have comfortably slept our whole family in there.  I stood half in, half out of the vehicle, mouth agape, as I mentally ticked off all the things I could fit in there.  A whole additional child + car seat!  All our vacation packing!  A stroller AND some bikes!  I was ready to sign on to a 13 mpg car right then and there.  Sigh.  Mommy porn, for sure.  I should note that except for not being a cavernous minivan, our Mazda 5 is awesome and I have NO regrets.  If we do have a third kid, though, watch out! 

::Pequita has reached a phase where she mimics a lot. Me, H-Mama, her brother.  This means that much of the time she is either swearing (us) or reduced to almost-three-year-old behavior (her brother).  Good times!  Tantrums, misbehavior, whining, she does it all with a 7-second delay after her brother.  Because is isn't enough to live through the first time!  She is potty trained during the day, and we still diaper her during nap times and night just to catch any accidents.  Today, she opted to stay in her diaper after naps until she pooped in her diaper, something we are working with her brother on.  She stalked in to the room I was in and demanded, "You will change my diaper NOW."  I snickered quietly, and tried to make it a learning experience.  Mistake.  She got increasingly upset and really just wanted the stinky dipe off right away.  I hope the experiment is over, and she won't do it again.  Her stress levels are such that when it happens, it is like a 4-alarm fire. She cannot understand her brother who still resists the change and would prefer to wear his poop around with him for comfort for many long minutes (hours) after the fact.

:: Watching the wildlife return to our yard.  Birds are flocking to the feeders and nesting bags we put out (mesh bags full of yarn & fabric scraps for the birds to use as nesting material.)  Recently a ring-necked pheasant traipsed around our yard for a while, much to our amazement and joy.  The next day, we encountered his body on the road near the house.  Someone had hit him but good with their car.  I stopped the car and let the kids see him.  Pequita remarked that her "heart was very sad".  Mine too, little girl.


:: Cooking up a storm.  I'm using up the fruit and meat in our freezer as fast as I can.  Sunday, rhubarb chutney with fresh ham.  Behold the glory of chutney spices!

Recently, several no-knead bread options, Mongolian beef, gingerbread and pies galore.  We have a half side of grass fed beef in the freezer, and are about to pick up a half lamb, and a whole young pig, all non-certified organic and really yummy.  We need to clear out as much as we can before the influx occurs.  On the list of things to tackle soon: Greek yogurt, hot dog buns from scratch, cole slaw (to use up the last of our stored cabbage), and sausage and pate with all our meat.

::Yard work!  Clearing fall brush away, landscaping when I can fit it in, raking, seeding, digging.  We'll have to start mowing this week, which takes about 2 hours at a time since we have 1.5 acres of tended yard.  Plus an extra hour if we mow the path through the meadow. We need a goat, but won't get one until AFTER we have a small barn for it.  Can't wait for the goat's milk, goat cheese, and free brush removal.

:: Double-digging my garden patch.  Last year, my six 4' x 4' raised beds were more to keep the kids and dogs off my planting area.  This year, I'll move them to the edge of the garden and they will become our dedicated strawberry and asparagus beds and I'll leave our regular garden plots on the bare ground.  This patch took about an hour to dig; three more to go this year.  I'll expand more next year; this year, three 4' x 12' beds will have to suffice.

:: Sitting watching the sky at sunset, sunrise, and any time in between.

:: Many cookouts and campfires.  Homestead Mama likes to be active, so will putter in the yard and then burn her gleanings. The kids love to cook their dinner over the campfire.  Up next: foil meals.  Wrapping a potato, some meat and veggies up in a piece of tin foil and setting it in the coals to cook.  

:: Seed starting for the aforementioned garden.  I still have to plan out my layout, companion plantings, and buy starters for whatever doesn't sprout.  This year, we saved our Easter egg shells and started sunflowers and pumpkins in the shells.  

:: Many walks on the property.  The children have A LOT OF ENERGY and need to let off steam in a large area where the creation of another game along the lines of "Shoe Fighting" can be avoided.  We go out into the field and pick weeds, look for birds nesting, track deer, play with our ever-present dogs, and throw things.  It is really fun, always different, and makes me love our investment in 10 acres.

:: Playground and friend play dates.  At least 4 times a week.  The kids are so different from last year.  Pequita was already a master at climbing and physical activities.  This year, she can (be still my heart) make it up to the tiny, bendy branches in the climbing trees before I even know she's gone.  Monito is finally, for the first time, in charge of his body in a way that clearly brings him great satisfaction.  He runs, jumps, climbs, and vaults with reckless abandon and much success, something that has eluded him until now.  He's seen his sister's mastery for a long time and now it is his turn, which is an obvious thrill.  Both kids interact in a whole new way with other little kids.  Pequita has made new friends on the playground, and will hold hands and prance off with sweet little girls to find privacy and giggle and play.  Monito seems to prefer boys he already knows, but the fact that he wants to interact with anyone other than Mommy is huge.  He loves his friends Nate and Desmond because they will rough house with him, and chase, run, sword fight and frolic with him.  He woke from his nap today saying that he dreamed of having a tea party with green balloons and cookies and all his buddies were in attendance and then they played pirates until dark, when they lit a bonfire and cooked things all by themselves.  This is such a huge developmental leap for him - it is both thrilling and heart breaking for me.  My babies are really growing up.  Yay!  (Sob.)

:: Organizing.  Purging.  Yippee!  Homestead Mama made me promise not to ever throw any of her stuff away without asking her first.  Sadly (for her), she works an hour away and I am home with the clutter of a lifetime of collecting.  I have been taking bag after bag of lovely goods to the thrift store and getting my tax deductible receipt for our donation.  In the long run, she'll be happy.  In the short run, she is thrilled at how the house is looking.  Somewhere in between she'll figure out what is happening, but I'm hoping for the best.  I made a play kitchen for the kids using some cube shelves from the local unfinished furniture store and a couple things from Lowes.  They love it, and by winter they'll probably want to be inside long enough to use it a lot.  I still have to cut a door for the 'fridge', but I have a big day of sawing planned for the near future.

:: Pirates!  Did I mention the pirates?  Pequita loves her face paints still, and chooses black and pink.  This equals 'Ballerina Pirate' for her.  Monito chooses more traditional colors, but they are still actively dressing up and whacking. 

:: Pequita is undertaking the effort of reading.  I have been resisting the urge to push them, drill letters, numbers, words.  I have been tortured in a small way by the kids who can write their names already, or write many words by the time they are 3. My mother was an amazing, patient, skilled teacher of Kindergarten through 3rd grade for over 30 years and suggested that I wait, not push them, and let them lead.  All along I've been teaching in the abstract; I read books constantly while tracing words with my finger, spell and sound out words in a general way that they haven't seemed to notice.  Both kids can count up to 30 or more with a minimum of 'five-teens' and can sing the alphabet and recognize a few letters.  Lately, Pequita has been identifying letters, asking how to spell things, and wanting to "read" to herself and her brother.  Yahoo!  I feel like the genie is out of the bottle.  We are hot and heavy into Pequita-led school now, and she loves it.  Her brother is watching and picking things up even as he ignores her.  I'm about  start having a letter per day that we focus on, which should make a proper game out of it all.  Pequita now stops me as I read so that she can 'read' to us; many times her version of the story is much more fun that what was on the page.  In the car there is always a big stack of books between their car seats in back.  She selects a books, asks Monito what page he wants to read and then narrates the pictures to him.  It is a perfectly cooperative experience that they both love.

:: ASL.  Monito asked for Signing Time, a DVD series we haven't seen in a long time.  I started checking them out of the library again and we all hunker down to learn how to sign.  The kids really like it, and practice all the time.  We are all getting better; Monito takes particular interest and pride in his signing.  I can't recommend this series highly enough.  It is wonderfully done, fun to watch, and easy to learn from.  The songs are catchy enough that I don't mind catching myself singing them in the shower.

1 comment:

Debi said...

O.M.G. Could you PLEASE just adopt my daughter and I? Really. You can't imagine how much your life makes me want to jump out of the rat race that is our life in Los Angeles.