Friday, October 31, 2008

happy halloween

Samuel is Indiana Jones and Eva decided at the last minute to be a witch (rather than a fairy princess)! Much candy was collected by all.


I took a closer look at the pumpkin this year...

and so did Agnes. Now we know what all of those black cats are really doing out on Halloween. They are eating the pumpkins!

Samuel's pumpkin! Eva opted not to carve or decorate one this year and left her pumpkin to bask in wholeness.

And finally, Samuel's Darth pumpkin. A tradition is born.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

the day before halloween

We enjoyed reading Icarus at the Edge of Time by Brian Greene about black holes and I am reading In Defense of Food by Michael Pollen, also Behaving as if the God in All Life Mattered by Machaelle Small Wright (Kerry I think you would really love this one!). I found the last book on the What the Bleep website, after watching it again recently.

Wow, today is a real humdinger. The day before a holiday is not typically the most relaxing or even flowing day around here and today is proving to be no different. It just gets so darn intense. It's that an-ti-ci-pa-tion that has everyone bouncing off the walls- again! But wait, do I hear laughter behind me! Hurray for laughter!

A little respite from the tension...

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

past the barbie barrier

So, Eva got the Barbie Bug a couple of weeks ago pretty bad. I am not entirely sure where it came from, but she was adamant about really wanting a Barbie. It is not that I was entirely opposed to Barbie. I had Barbies when I was growing up and I really believe, when i think about it, that any sort of negative body image that any of us have comes more from the adults around us and less from the Barbies in our toy boxes. That said, I know many many people who would say that Barbies can give girls bad self esteem. More than that, though, I am actively opposed to marketing to kids and generally steer clear of most stores with much of the heavily marketed toys, books, etc. I don't enjoy shopping around and it is easy for me to stay out of a lot of different stores and kind of keep some of that stuff out of the house. But I am not in a bubble and not really wanting to be, so we do have some of it and the kids have watched lots of Disney and Pixar and Dreamworks and all that. We have lots of Legos and Star Wars and let's see, there must be some other things, a few My Little Ponies, a couple of Care Bears, Transformers, Rescue Heroes... You get the idea. It is all balanced out quite nicely with lots of wooden blocks and silk scarves and waldorf dolls and such. And I love seeing Jango Fett's fortress made of wooden blocks that Eva has colored designs on. That said, I wasn't exactly rushing out to buy her a Barbie just out of the blue. But she asked and I could see it was important to her to figure out what this Barbie Thing was all about. And now that I have given my official alternative-parenting-spiel about toys, and remember I am knitting my kids hand made dinosaurs for Christmas, after all, I really don't have very much against Barbie. So after a little soul searching I bought Eva a Barbie a couple of weeks ago to go with us to the LLL Conference. And while there, as if to make another lovely point, we saw at one of the booths, a Barbie who had a baby in a sling who was indeed nursing! How fun!

Today we were at Goodwill and Eva found another Barbie and for just $.99, we brought her home. I was a little miffed about the first Barbie we bought because she is so fancy, what with singing songs (about connection, no less!) and brrrringing when you hold her hand a certain way, her skirt doesn't come off and you definitely can't take her in the bath, she is kind of a different Barbie Experience than any of us expected. But Eva turned her into this evil-fighter who, when presented with an evil Raggedy Andy, for instance, would raise her hands up in the air, brrring and sing and sway him to the lighter side of things. And then she did some lip-syncing with Aromatherapy Bear (he has a sack of aromatherapy herbs inside him and you can heat him in the microwave!), who learned how to sing Barbie's song. This new Barbie met the other Barbie and there was a bit of confusion at first, I am Barbie so-n-so and I am Barbie thus-n-such and now everyone is getting along quite swimmingly, which is great, because as it turns out, the newer of the two Barbies (in our house, at least) is a swimmer and went into the bath with Eva this evening. Now both Barbies are hidden away because Samuel's Bear was hunting down Barbies and Eva had enough of that game and is back to playing with the wooden waldof-y dolls and the new dollhouse that our friends gave us just yesterday! And Samuel is calling Barbie- Barb- instead, which, if you think about it, presents a very different picture. A doll named Barb? is not quite the same thing as a doll named Barbie. I had to laugh at the image.

Samuel and I talked quite a bit about the Barbie logistics as well.

Samuel-"So, is it like there are just all of these Barbies and they are the same person and they do all of these different things?"

Me-"Yes, that is pretty much it." Swim-With-Dolphins Barbie (no kidding!) and Smoothie-Making-Barbie (OK, but there was a smoothie maker in the Barbie aisle with a Barbie face on it!) and just plain old Swimsuit-Barbie, who you can have for a song compared to some of the other High-Tech Barbies. There is also You-Can-Have-It-All-Barbie (or some such), who has kids playing soccer, a kitchen, and a career. That is a lot of activity for one Barbie.

I was thinking just now that Barbie is maybe a little quantum. She is the particle and we are the observer and whichever Barbie we focus on is the one that collapses into our reality. Will the Real-Barbie please stand up? Too much? Well, now there are two Barbies in this house and they are definitely working on their identities, figuring out how she can be Barbie and she can be Barbie at the same time. Eva is thoroughly enjoying herself, so it seems like it was totally worth it to cross the Barbie Barrier. And it is yet another example of how creative kids can be with the stories they tell about the *toys* they play with. Are we powerless to those highly payed, extremely clever marketing people trying to sell our kids a bunch of stuff? No! Do we have to play with things the way they market to us? No! Can we still have a lot of fun? Yes!

Eva fixed Barbie's hair (which had already been cut by a previous player) and gave her a fancy hat.

OK, when searching for a Breastfeeding-Barbie image, I came across this blog, which has been tagged as objectionable. Proceed at your own risk :)

Monday, October 27, 2008

day of the dead

We got together with friends today to decorate sugar skulls for Day of the Dead. Samuel's is on the left and is a pirate with earrings and gold teeth and Eva's is on the right, with much purple frosting and shiny embellishments.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

so many dinosaur pieces

I have finished all of the pieces to the dinosaurs I am knitting for the kids for Christmas. Now I just need to match them all up and attach them! Wish me luck.

And also-
  • horse riding lessons
  • cheesy broccoli-romanesco soup
  • apple-carrot-beet-spinach juice
  • autumn leaves
  • acorns
  • block castles
  • Christmas planning
  • Halloween costumes
  • fairies
  • Star Wars
  • rose hip tea
  • Legos
  • Playmobil knights, pirates, horses...
  • apples

Saturday, October 25, 2008

goat farm

Today's photo was actually taken by a friend back in August (but I got it today!) when we went on a tour of a local urban goat farm in NE Portland. Eva is talking to her friend Esme, just outside of the picture and I am looking very pensively at something, listening intently, presumably. There is part of a goat body in the photo as well. There were crackers and goat cheese and goat milk samples on the table nearby and one or more of the goats were trying to get up on the table to join us for a snack. Goats enjoy most types of snacks!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Thursday, October 23, 2008

We have spent the last couple of days visiting with my aunt from Virginia. We had Indian food- twice!- and took her to the arboretum, of course. We take everyone who visits us to the Arboretum at some point. We talked and talked and talked. And we did a little fabric painting on some t-shirts and napkins. I did not take any pictures of Mary Jane's visit, but I did get a picture of this crazy guy-

He is a Cecropia Moth Larva and he rolls over when you touch him. He looks like this when he grows up. As far as I can tell... He is a little over 2 inches long and quite thick- thicker than my index finger. He rolls when you touch him and it makes you wonder if that is how he gets around, rolling and rolling and rolling. It is also a little like a dog rolling over to be pet, but you get the impression from this guy that it is meant to be a deflection- roll and they will miss! Roll and they will get confused! Eva and I were enamored with his rolling, however, and probably spent a little more time loving him than he expected.

And these are the kids' fabric paintings-

Samuel painted a knight fighting a monster and Eva painted a prince and princess with their intuition.

Monday, October 20, 2008


Samuel's photo of his Lego Knights in formation as King Jayco is crowned.

Sunday, October 19, 2008



The kids and I have been out of town at the La Leche League of Washington Conference in Redmond, Washington. Good fun was had by all- lots of swimming and we went in the whirl pool and ate out a lot and enjoyed just generally the fun of staying in a hotel for a couple of days. I was thrilled to see Mary Sheedy Kurcinka (author of Raising Your Spirited Child), Scott Noelle (author of The Daily Groove and my fabulous parenting coach!) and Pam Leo (author of Connection Parenting) speak at the conference. All so inspiring! Reading Raising Your Spirited Child when Samuel was a toddler fully changed my life and it was just perfect to finally get to see her speak. And I can't recommend enough the work of both Scott Noelle and Pam Leo.

The only thing(s) lacking at the conference were Kombucha :) and vegetables. There is such a dearth of vegetables out there in the world and I was happy to see the produce basket, complete with Romanesco, waiting for us when we got back. Eva and I got to work eating up cucumbers, carrots, peppers (well, me at least) and a little of the Romanesco. We did, however, have apples! I took some with us and we also went to a farmers market! right across from the hotel on the first morning. I had an awesome breakfast burrito and bought some lip balm from a honey vendor. There is just nothing like the market!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Dark chocolate and raspberry jam.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

kombucha konvert

So, I am officially loving Kombucha. When I first tried Kombucha, I really disliked it. I mean really. I gave it to Ellen so that someone would appreciate it. Over the summer, a friend (thanks Nicole) recommended a certain flavor of Kombucha and I tried it and to be honest, I still really disliked it. I kept trying it, though, and slowly slowly slowly got to the point where I didn't dislike it. But I didn't like it either. And then one day it hit me- I was looking forward to drinking some Kombucha. I was so excited. I actually liked it. I don't drink very much, certainly not a whole bottle-full. More like a couple of sips a couple of times a day. And the bottles make great water bottles on top of all that!

So funny because Matt brought me a Sambuca flavored lollypop for our anniversary and he thought it was a Kombucha flavored lollypop and was so excited- it will taste just like that stuff you like. That dern Kamchatka, oops I mean Veerboot-sa, oops I mean Kombucha :)

egg yolk

This is from yesterday but I didn't want to spoil the surprise of the meringue puffs. Eva got really involved with the left over egg yolks. I don't have a picture of what happened later, but needless to say, we did not have um frittata for dinner. I opted for spaghetti instead.

Agnes was worried about the bell sound, but other than that, a perfectly safe meditation for you and your cat :) Seriously, though, I enjoyed this man's break down of mindfulness meditation...although you may have to practice on your own for a longer meditation.

Monday, October 13, 2008

my medal

Last night, Samuel got the key for his treasure chest and brought out this medal. He put the medal around my neck and said, "Thank you, Momma, for putting together all of the Legos tonight for me. And thank you from me and Sliver and Titan (his Lego guys) for all of the Legos you have ever put together." I was so touched. And for him to give me something from his treasure chest, well, that is something very special indeed.

Earlier in the evening, Eva was spinning and after getting good and dizzy, she fell directly onto Samuel's Lego Castle (Vladek's Fortress). I put it back together for him. He had been so worried it couldn't be done and was thrilled when it was all set up again. But still, this was the hugest act of appreciation from Samuel to me. So sweet. He is turning into such a sweet little guy, it is wonderful to witness.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

We keep going places and I don't have my camera. We went to the Farmers Market yesterday and it is such a nice mix of tomatoes and squashes and apples. I bought apples and two chickens, one of which we ate yesterday (and a little more today). The kids had biscuits with huckleberry jam and cupcakes with very sweet frosting and I also bought these amazing dark chocolate covered hazelnuts because it is that time again, the time for hazelnuts.

Before the market, we took two giant bags of miscellaneous plastic and another big bag of plastic bags/plastic film to the plastic roundup. Samuel found a plastic case that he just had to have in the reuse section and now that is also in the garage. I am going to give it a little more time before I move it over into the recycling section {again- but this time for our family}. Our recycling company takes a larger variety of plastics now and I have my plastic roundup recycling down to just the miscellaneous, unlabeled plastics, which is nice and totally doable three or four times a year.

Today we stayed home and now that it is almost time for bed, I am wishing I had made more of an effort to get Eva out to the park or at least a walk because she is currently racing herself across the carpet on her knees alternately with swimming across the kitchen floor. She currently seems to have quite a bit more energy than I do. Hmmm...

Friday we went with a group of other home schoolers to the Columbia Slough classroom and learned about watersheds. Portland is one of two cities in the country that gets its water from a natural watershed source (hoping I got that fact straight). We also took a walk around Whitaker Pond, where the classroom is located, and saw signs of beavers! and frogs! and a whole berry-tree full of cedar waxwings! I am smitten with cedar waxwings after hearing their call for the first time while camping last summer. Lots of Red Alders and Black Cottonwoods.

After that we got Hotlips pizza and spent several hours at the park with our friends Nicole and Esme and Eva and Esme played and played and played. Earlier this week we spent time at another park with our friends Kate and Jack and Samuel and Jack played and played and played. Nice for me because I get to talk and talk and talk. Nice to be outside for a while during these fall days. We actually had hail on Thursday, along with quite a bit of rain. The weather was quite cold for Portland for the next two nights and it nearly froze. Today I found a garden spider inside the house, near the front door, looking for a reprieve from the cold I guess. I can't help but wonder if her luck will be as good in here as outside but I suppose she will go back outside if it isn't.
Every house should have a crochet hook. In fact, I may add it to my list of essential parental ingredients, right up there with duct tape and super glue. A little duct tape or super glue can pretty much fix anything and now that krazy glue has its new gel formula, you can take your time while you fit together those tiniest of tiny plastic pieces AND you won't have to worry {as much} about gluing your fingers to each other or to said tiny plastic pieces.

With a crochet hook, you can also, for instance, pull pieces of string through tiny holes in plastic bottles. Say, for instance, your son wants to make a jet pack for his Jango Fett costume. You find a plastic bottle left over from some sparkling water someone brought for Thanksgiving last year and are amazed that it is still there, tucked away in the dress up box, ready for this very project. You poke four small holes into the the bottle. You then figure out how to affix said bottle to your son's body, precisely where a jet pack would go, with some string that was used to tie up the Christmas tree last year. {You wonder if you would move this string if you had to move and when you think, no, you wonder if you should get rid of the rest of it. But you are using it, so there you go. Maybe you would move it.}

The string goes easily into the first set of holes on one side of the bottle but you soon see it is nearly impossible to maneuver the string into the holes on the other side, once inside the bottle. You see, the string is threaded through the bottle to make sure it stays on! There is nothing more frustrating than a jet pack that keeps falling off, slippery strings loosely fastened around the bottle, and the best way to make sure it stays on is to make it stay. And then it dawns on you! A crochet hook! The very thing to coax the string through. Within minutes {because it does take a little time, after all} you have hooked the string with the handy hook and gently pulled it through. Eh voila! A jet pack, handily, securely attached. Ready for action.

And then, fifteen minutes later, it is on the floor again. On to the next game. But the strings are still there, threaded through the bottle, ready for next time.

Yes! A crochet hook. Right up there with duct tape and super glue {gel}.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Aside from the Gravenstein apples we picked when we picked peaches in August and September, we didn't pick any apples this year. Today we went over to an apple orchard that we have picked apples at in the past and bought some apples and tomatoes and honey (from the guy who brings his bees to pollinate the apple blossoms in the spring). The best part was that they had lots and lots of Liberty apples! These are my favorite apples, particularly at this time of year and I really look forward to them.

Here are some Liberty and Jonagold apples. I got the Jonagolds for Samuel but as it turns out, he prefers the Liberties as well.

Notice also, purple hat knitting and striped dinosaur knitting. I took a break from dino-knitting to rip out a hat that was too large from last year that I never got around to.
Last night at the library, Eva picked out a book of stories from Norway called The Troll With No Heart in His Body by Lise Lunge-Larsen. This morning I was flipping through it and read a bit of the author's note at the beginning. I was so impressed with her ideas about life and staying in touch with your feelings and modeling that for children. "Children's feelings are never misplaced in troll stories, and they soon learn to trust them." So refreshing after so many stories where the child in the end "admits" their feelings were silly or they were "just" scared or whatever hold-in-your-feelings lesson is being taught.

Then she went on to list fifteen lessons common to stories that she has noticed as a storyteller over the years. I added to them. Really, the first three sum it all up pretty well!
  • Remember who you are.
  • Be true to your own nature.
  • Follow your dreams.
  • Every action has a consequence, so be attentive, be kind, and always do what is right. (I would add do what is right for you. What you feel in your heart.)
  • Life is a journey; nobody else can do that journey for you.
  • Your journey will unfold according to a pattern. the pattern is a guide.
  • Use your gifts.
  • Help will be offered when you most need it and least expect it. (I wonder about this one being a storytelling device and a mindset and if maybe we could be open to help throughout our journey. Something to think about.)
  • Despite the odds, good will triumph over evil, love over hated. (Choose love!)
  • Don't ever give up. (Although breaks can be nice and sometimes help us see another more joyful path more clearly.)
  • Be careful in what you wish for. (Or even- wish for joy!)
  • Things are not always as they appear.
  • Everything you need can be found inside yourself; it is always there.
  • Miracles happen.
  • There is magic in the world.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


Did I say we love our rat Charlie? Samuel and I took several picture tonight of Charlie looking oh so cute in his snuggly. See, he chewed a little hole out so that he could look at us and see if we have any snacks AND stay warm. The little guy gets chilly! Thankfully, Charlie's foot, which was injured just yesterday, seems to be back in working order today. We think he fell on it after climbing up his cage to get snacks. Every. Single. Time. He climbs up the cage bars to the second level and chews on the bars and waits for a treat! Every. Single. Time. Who taught him this? I do not know. Perhaps we did, inadvertently. And yet, I know it was his idea to begin with. I am so relieved his foot has healed as it doesn't look like they do casts or splints for rats. And to be honest, I am a little afraid of having to give him medicine. It's those teeth. He would never hurt me. I just don't want to test it. And besides, when I had to give Fluffy medicine, he disliked it so much, he started putting his little paws out to block the eyedropper before I could get it to his mouth. It is so sweet and I just don't have the heart to do it again. I mean, I would if I had to, I am just saying I am glad I don't have to.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

I did some cool weather planting today and was excited to see that my patron saint Kale left some ferrel kale plants outside of the raised beds! I replanted some of them next to the little plants I bought at the coop. There should be kale this winter for sure!

While clearing out the space for the kale, taking out some dried up sweet peas and queen anne's lace (carrot flowers), I found the largest big lady (genus Araneus, she's a cross spider!) that I have seen yet this season. I have to say that if I had known I would be displacing her, I would have cleared out another area in the garden. She has such a short time here and I just love her luminescent webs in the sunshine and moonlight. I am hopeful she will find another space...

Monday, October 6, 2008

Agent Samuel. He is stern.

Eva took this photo of her newest little guy- Gilbert. He is a shark's tooth and I believe I made him when I was about Samuel's age, probably a little older. She is quite taken with him and turned the doll's house into his house. Gilbert even came to the library this afternoon. He is currently out on his boat.

We made some more duct tape inventions today at a friend's house. A wallet-a purse-a doll, all out of duct tape. The pink cloth doll is Eva's newest and her name is Whirlwind. Indeed. She is technically a pocket ghost, not a doll. The bunny and rose quartz were found in my pocket. After the photo shoot, I put the bunny in the little guy basket and the rose quartz back in my pocket, but of course.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Eva asked me to do some more henna tattoos for her. This one goes around her wrist.


I am sure there are many jokes that could be and have been told about kids being raised in the Pacific Northwest just not even noticing the rain anymore. Here is Samuel playing a game with Eva (she is drying off on the patio) out in the rain. They found paper cups I had originally bought for a lemonade stand and filled them with water! and then took turns throwing them into the basket. We went to pick up the cups later on and I have to say I don't think the people at Dixie expected that they would stand up to this kind of um stress. This rain was really welcome and did a fine job of cleaning out the air and watering the roses who continue to bloom...Today it is big clouds, sunshine and clean air. I love fall!

Eva's new cart for her dolls and look who's inside...

Eva, Jack, Grandpa, Samuel at the Arboretum

Eva, Grandpa, Samuel in the back yard after one of the many treasure hunts the kids set up.
The kids have been on a Lilo and Stitch kick after Eva decided she wants to go to Hawaii. They ordered the first one and then there are two others that we found at the library. I have to say, I wasn't thrilled with the prospect of bringing Lilo and Stitch home when I first saw the cover of the video a couple of years ago, but it has since grown on me and I particularly love the end scenes in the original when the aliens and the social worker and Lilo and Stitch and her sister and her boyfriend all seem to have this lovely makeshift family. It is sweet and extremely funny.

Grandpa has come and gone and we had a lovely time visiting. He stayed a day extra this time and it was nice to have a quiet last day. Of course there was miniature golf and we took a walk at the Arboretum and ate pizza and Mexican food. Jack had daily morning walks and Samuel and Grandpa played many Shadow games with knights and legos and castles. Eva joined in some this time as well. There was a lot of checkers played and some chess and quite a bit of Uno and Go Fish.

Samuel's riding lessons have started back up after his teacher took a long family vacation over the summer. He is thrilled to be riding again and is trying to figure out how to get a horse of his own. We are going to a horse show tomorrow at the stables where he takes lessons to see some of the other people ride. Some of them are quite good and there are people of all ages and levels.

Today I made some more minestrone and some tomato dill soup- to eat and to freeze for winter. I still have a ton of tomatoes and I think I am just going to freeze them this year and not can any of them. After the peaches and pears, I am just not up for any more canning and I have my freezer in the garage that still has enough space in it for tomatoes.

I bought some kale plants and chard plants to put in the garden and can't wait until we start getting some more greens from our produce basket. I have been making lots and lots of tomato juice with my juicer- tomato and carrot and cucumber...

So that's how it is. Food and knitting and organizing. And really getting into the swing of fall. I love fall and really just cannot get enough of the clean air and the beauty of the changing leaves and the big clouds and changing sunshine to rain and back again. I miss my flip flops but have enjoyed putting on my fleece and sitting outside in the cooler air in the mornings.