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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Love and joy come to you...

Yesterday I started picking up the living room- putting away some of the Christmas toys, clearing away some wrapping paper that was still hanging around. I definitely wanted to vacuum. There had been some small efforts to pick up the last couple of days but I was feeling like something a little more advanced. I felt like clearing away at least some of the Christmas that was still lingering in the corners and crevices throughout the house, particularly in the living room. Samuel had other ideas, however, and was crestfallen when he saw me putting away legos and hauling out the vacuum. He said he really didn't want Christmas to be over, it was too soon, and if I started putting everything away and cleaning everything up, it would mean that Christmas was over and that was sad. Well, he convinced me. I did a little cleaning up when the kids were in the other room but focused most of my efforts on the kitchen and other parts of the house. It's still Christmas here, at least for a little while longer. I know from experience that Christmas will eventually go away on its own. The tree will dry up, the frost will turn to dew, new toys will be exchanged for newer, interests will march on.



Maxwell on Christmas.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

christmas eve

Shhh. Do you hear that? That is the sound of me taking a very deep breath and sighing. This day, the longest day of the year, is coming to an end. The kids are winding down with cookie decorating. The pullah is done. The other cookies are done. The knitting is {mostly} done. I am ready to watch White Christmas with the kids and finish up the knitting.

Watching Samuel and Eva as they cut out cookies and talk happily to one another about which cookies to leave out for Santa, I find myself wondering, albeit briefly, if maybe I imagined the intensity that filled the house earlier. The hippety hops were brought out and there was jousting and hopping and falling and bumping and tossing and laughing and crying and shouting and laughing and hilarity and madness. It seems inexplicable that all of that has melted away. Ha. I was here, though, so I know I am not imagining it. And I am not imagining the peace that has taken hold, at least for the moment, now. One, then the other. Both sides. All in a day- the day- before Christmas.



Eva making cookies on Christmas Eve.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

it depends

And of course no sooner did I write the last post then Eva pointed out the camera sitting 0n the nature table, completely camouflaged. I would have taken a picture and put up a sort of eye spy the camera game if it were logistically possible. The minute I let go it all falls into place. I would love to learn how to let go even sooner. Of course it I had let go sooner, I would probably have found the camera before I found the perfectionism post floating by, grabbed it and written it. One of those maybe good, maybe bad sorts of things, as usual, I guess. And it all worked out well in the end, again- as usual.

on gingerbread houses

Feeling rusty. I was just going to post a picture on this two-days-before-Christmas-sort-of-day. The camera has gone missing again, though, and while I keep wracking my brain about where it could be and have looked everywhere- the usual places and little extras like under the bed and behind the guinea pig cage- it looks like a no go on the picture posting today, at least for now. The last I remember seeing it was when Samuel was switching out the batteries to put in the wii remote. No, it's not by the wii either. We made gingerbread houses with friends yesterday and I wanted to get a picture before the decorations begin disappearing from the roof and doorway. I have to say that this gingerbread house was by far the most successful and satisfying that we have tried. The company of friends helped immensely in keeping it fun and light and doable. It was definitely a fun project for celebrating both Solstice and Christmas.

Samuel mentioned on the way home that he doesn't think a gingerbread house with a group is a good project for him because he likes things to be perfect and you can't make things perfect with three people working on the same gingerbread house. He said he had a lot of fun today with friends and also looked forward to the day when he could work on his own gingerbread without any interruptions.

I had an urge to correct him somehow. A part of me wanted to respond in my typical way- it's not about the finished product, it's about the process, enjoying yourself, spending time with friends. It doesn't have to be perfect. It *is* perfect. Everything is perfect just the way it is. And then I thought-

-including my son. And how wonderful that he already knows he likes things to be perfect. That he can look forward to a time when he will have the focus and time to work on something in a way that makes him happy. That he can embrace this part of himself. And how amazing, I reminded myself, that he knew enough to realize he couldn't make the other people involved in the gingerbread house making (namely me and Eva) do things exactly as he wanted them. That part, making people adhere to your vision, is at least half of what gives perfectionism a bad rap in the first place. Not the vision.

Let's face it- there are mixed messages about perfectionism in our culture. On the one hand, it is often forced on us- we are taught to keep pushing at ourselves at all costs to be better, do better, on and on. There is a subtle and not so subtle message that if we aren't a certain way there is something wrong with us. On the other hand, people who *are* perfectionists are often ridiculed for not being able to relax, let things go, enjoy the process. What about those who have a vision for how they want things to be and are at peace with themselves, having integrated their perfectionism into their way of being?

It's something for me to ponder a while. Perfectionism has been something wrong to fix and mock in my own life for so long (and I don't even consider myself to be that much of a perfectionist- which is met with both laughter and derision depending on who I say that to). I wonder what it would be like to simply make peace with it and the many ways it presents itself in my life. How freeing to notice when it would feel good to honor perfectionism's eye for detail, adding just a bit more garlic to soup or reworking the top of a mitten, and when it would feel better to let it all go, setting Eva up to decorate cookies without a care for how the cookies turned out. There is a time and place for both, worth to be found both in fine details and broad strokes. I am glad Samuel reminded me of that and knew enough about himself to know that someday it would feel really good to sit down with a gingerbread house and make it just the way he wanted.

Sunday, December 13, 2009



Eva in her fort behind the Christmas tree. Are those guinea pigs I see back there with her?


Eva hanging the last of the ornaments she made this year for our tree. Do you see the small, white stuffed guinea pig up near the top of the tree? A little while after we decorated the tree, the kids and I drove around the neighborhood looking at lights and listening to The Nutcracker. At one point while we looked at some Grinches and Santas and Bears, Eva said, "I wonder why more people don't decorate with guinea pigs?" Yes, the pigs have truly taken over our household. How to explain that many people don't know that guinea pigs are Christmas animals too?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Two stories from today.

The first one. This morning Samuel and I were the first ones awake. Samuel got both guinea pigs out of their cage and sat with them for a few minutes. When they tired of that, the pigs ran off to check out the house, a little piggie floor time, if you will. The funnest part was sitting with Samuel and watching the guinea pigs root around together. Terrence followed close behind Albert, as usual. Each pig had his nose out and his body low. There was an almost constant chatter between them. We talked about how Terrence's legs are much longer than Albert's and that he looks as though he has knee high socks on when he runs very very fast across the floor. The pigs moved along the wall until they reached the curtains and crawled underneath. And then- we saw first one nose and then another nudge out from under the curtains, the only evidence that guinea pigs were there at all. There were a few catalogs and pieces of paper scattered near the curtains and both guinea pigs, first Albert, then Terrence, began gently chewing on the catalogs. Samuel and I burst out laughing. What a sight. Two guinea pig noses and mouths sticking out from under the curtains, nibbling away on Christmas catalogs. Nibble nibble stop. Nibble nibble stop. Soon Maxwell and Jack sauntered over as well to have a look at the guinea pigs and what they were up to and that cracked Samuel and I up even more. There is nothing quite like Jack and Maxwell looking suspiciously at the guinea pigs, wondering what they are all about and if there is something edible there for themselves. Jack never tires of sniffing catalogs, carrots, kale, dandelion greens in a last ditch effort to find something, anything, to eat. I swear sometimes he even shakes his head at the guinea pigs and looks at me quizzically as if to say- "That's what they're eating? That's what all the commotion is about?" Thankfully he doesn't seem to consider the guinea pigs in the least bit edible, just smaller members of the pack.

And the second. I was walking up to the front door carrying sandwiches and yarn when I stopped to watch bushtits fly about on the suet. There are large flocks of them around the suet feeders everyday now. I have one suet feeder hanging in front of the living room window and one in the back yard by the other bird feeders. On a good day, the bushtits will fly back and forth from one feeder to the other, sometimes landing in the trees nearby, sometimes not. Today while I stood there watching the bushtits, a hummingbird flew up to the nearby hummingbird feeder I had refilled just yesterday. Most of the syrup was frozen inside but there was some at the very bottom that had thawed in the sunshine and the hummer sat perched on the feeder and ate for a very long time. When he was done he flew over to the laurel a few yards away and perched on a limb there. I stood very still in the cold sunshine and felt blessed at having caught all the birds at the feeders at once. I love the activity of the birds during winter- the flocking, the time spent at the feeders, the chattering to one another. All of it reminds me that while we typically think of winter as a time of rest and hibernation, there is activity here as well. Each season brings movement of its own kind, each adds to the movement of the others. And we are each a part of it all.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

When late afternoon is suddenly 3:30 pm and the light outside is casting the longest shadows of the year. We have had gloriously-cold-sunshineyness over the last several days here. The kids are talking of snow but alas, there is not a cloud in the sky, a marked contrast to the days preceding this cold snap.

Today Samuel's project was to fill up the kiddie pool outside with water from the kitchen sink. His goal is to have not one but two large containers of water that will freeze so that he can spend his mornings breaking up ice, a favorite activity for him and Eva this time of year. Eva is also dreaming of an ice rink in the backyard and is hoping at the very least to be able to stand on the frozen pool of water tomorrow.

I have been busy knitting mittens and now fingerless gloves for the kids. For some reason the mittens have not been a big hit in the choosing-to-wear-them-when-cold sense of the word. Every child in my family was choosing to wear my fingerless gloves when he or she was outside and cold instead of the mittens I dutifully carried around for them. This made for very cold momma hands and very cold other-child hands as well. So, after spending a little time feeling frustrated and considering just framing the mittens, I decided to knit both kids fingerless gloves- when in Rome, if you can't beat 'em join em, and all that. Eva was sick the other day and I knit her pair that day. Samuel's will hopefully be done today, unless I run out of yarn, which is a distinct possibility, in which case it will mean another trip to the yarn store tomorrow. I am loving the yarn I used for Samuel's mittens and now for both of their fingerless gloves. It is a worsted merino wool from Malabrigo Yarns. So yummy soft and warm. I want to knit everything in it. The mittens and gloves are knit at 6 stitches/ inch and the woman at my yarn shop showed me a shawl she knit at 4 stitches/ inch that felt very close to cashmere. Heavenly.

The other fun thing the kids and I have done was to go and see Fantastic Mr. Fox- Wow! I have an extra soft spot in my heart for foxes anyway and this movie made it even cushier. Just a lovely funny marvel of a film. I can't say enough goodness about it- about the story and the music and the details and the crazy perceptiveness of the film's creators. So many little details that made it just so.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Samuel 9 1/2

zen-y pigs



Albert and Terrence munching on a purple carrot.

outside gorgeousness

We have had the most gorgeous weekend and I am happy to have spent at least some of it outside and a lot of it simply appreciating the gorgeousness of it all. Yesterday the kids and I went to the farmers market for the first time in a long while. It had cleared out quite a bit and wasn't as crowded as it had been. I had gotten a little burned out over the summer and part of the early fall because I had to pick up my second CSA basket from the market every Saturday and when that ended in October I went a little in the other direction and simply didn't go to the market for a few weeks. I love my CSA that is delivered and I think I will probably just stick with that one in the future. It's easy to not go to the market on the weeks when it is rainy and I know the kids aren't up for trudging through the wind and rain for extra greens, even if they are for guinea pigs. This Saturday, however, was warmish and sunny-ish and I had a wreath on my mind. We ended up with a wreath (ironically- if you believe in irony- it was from the same farm that my CSA was from) for us, some carrots for Albert and Terrence, and some kale to split between the piggies and me.

Today I spent some time out in the yard raking up some leaves.



There is nothing quite like finding a treasure trove of mushrooms underneath all those leaves. If I rake very very gently, they can stay until they are ready to leave.



Some of the mushrooms we uncovered today. And these were from a couple of weeks ago!



Eva took this one and the one of the white mushrooms above. Up and Down.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

seize the day



Albert capitalizing on his situation. No nutella but he got quite a few crackers. (And yes, that's a cat's tail in the background.)
Here's the feast picture I promised from Thanksgiving-



The main table...You can see Gilbert has his own blue table to the left. The food was not yet served in this picture.



A close up of some of the players and entertainers.

Friday, November 27, 2009

feast

I have this awesome picture to post from yesterday. Eva and Samuel set up a Thanksgiving feast for the Lego guys and the Little guys. There was a table made from the wooden blocks with smaller wooden blocks pulled up for chairs. The Lego guys sat on the blocks. Several of the more important Little guys sat there as well. The Beauties (as in Beauty of the Wonders and Family) sat nearby at their own table. Some of the other Little guys did some entertaining. Samuel said there was food and wine of course and that their feast lasted much longer than ours did. They sat feasting and celebrating long after we had said goodnight and gone to sleep. In fact, they are still there now, recuperating, no doubt, readying for the next celebration to grace them.

And where was this magnificent feast? Under the table, of course. Yep. All the way through Thanksgiving dinner, their merriment floated up from under the table and out from beneath the table cloth. If I hadn't known it was there, I would have mistaken it for spider songs and whispers.

But my camera batteries were co opted for the wii remote and I am waiting for another pair to be charged. Until tomorrow for the photos.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

This year's stuffing-
sprouted grain bread
apples (Oregon)
shallots (CSA)
garlic (my garden)
celery (CSA)
thyme (my garden)
giblet broth

Also this year I am making pomegranate sorbet which is based on the pomegranate granita recipe from Chez Panisse Fruit. We love it! I am making extra because it is gone before I know it every time!

Juice of one pomegranate
1/4 cup sugar with 1/2 cup water, simmered until dissolved. Mix. Put in ice cream maker until done. You can make it into a granita by putting it into a bowl and putting it in the freezer and taking it out to break up the pieces every once in a while. Either way it is delish!

And the thankfuls? Last night I asked the kids to think of something they were thankful for. Samuel said, "I'm thankful for you guys. For making this such a great life." That about sums it up I thought.

And off the top of my head, here's what I am thankful for today- yarn and eva singing and guinea pigs, good food, plenty, now, love, friends, trees, rain, heat, pomegranates, satsumas, love, walks in the woods, upicking, berries, pie, chocolate, friends, love, joy, meditating, writing, feeling, being, alive, dreams, kale, pea shoots, reaching, growing...there's always more. The more I find to appreciate, the more there is. Cliche as it sounds these days, it is indeed true. Love and there is love. Trust and there is trust. Appreciate and there will be something to appreciate. Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

dog thoughts

I was watching my dog sitting outside on the steps this morning. I love how he goes outside and sits on the steps in the morning and just watches life around him for a while. He watches the yard and looks around at the birds. Listens when he hears another dog bark. Relaxes again. I sometimes get the feeling he is taking a deep breath, looking around him and thinking, "This is good. This is just as it should be." Then he takes another deep breath and spends some more time just enjoying life, being in his space, basking in it. When he is done, he comes inside and is just as happy to see me as he was a half hour ago when we both first woke up. There's none of this "Hurry up and let me in I have stuff to do" with him whisking past me to get down to chewing his bone more quickly so that- what? So that he can get the bone chewed and be done with it, onto another bone? He is so much about the flow and process of the moment. Even when he is thinking ahead, it usually has to do with enjoying the moment again, anticipating something wonderful about to happen, like me taking the turkey out of the oven.

What I don't imagine him doing when he goes outside each morning is going out, taking a look around, acknowledging the beauty for a second and then moving onto thoughts like this, "I really need to get out here and rake those leaves. I really need to go check on the garden and see if the cats have got in there again. I really need to stop sitting around enjoying myself like this and go inside and start doing something..." But really, it's not the thoughts, it's the thinking we have to act on the thoughts- and now.

Fall really gets me thinking about the things that we busy ourselves with. It's the leaves, I think, that do it for me. All of that moving about of the leaves that goes on. My neighbor can be so vigilant about the leaves that at any given moment I can look at her yard and not see a single- not a single!- leaf out there. Then one will fall. Then another. Then she is out there in the rain with her raincoat on, raking up the leaves. Last year she came into our yard in the rain to rake up some of our leaves. She reminds me each time she sees me of the leaf pickup that happens every other week here in the fall. I know I would be frustrated with me if I were my neighbor. I am not what you would call vigilant about the leaves.

I don't mind doing some leaf raking. I enjoy the exercise and I like to get outside. It is the attention to minutiae leaf raking that gets to me, the toothbrush cleaning under the sink kind of cleaning, that we have all somehow signed this social contract that says, "And each leaf that falls from a tree limb shall be whisked away most immediately and permanently and forever shall the grass remain leaf-free. And we shall scorn you and blow leaves back onto thine own yard if thou doest not rake thine own leaves properly and respectfully."

I felt happy for my neighbor when I saw she had finally gotten herself a leaf blower this year. It seemed like just the thing for her and I could see her shy smile, her gentle pleasure at having this bit of glory strapped to her back. At last! And then I saw her blow the leaves from her yard over onto mine where they so clearly belong. Yep. That's what I thought too. And then I had to chuckle as the wind started blowing some of those same leaves back over onto her yard again. I was spellbound. Would she blow them back over again? Would that keep her busy for the next couple of weeks until the last remnants of leaves were finally banished from our vision until next spring when we will all rejoice at seeing the light green buds appear, happy to have our trees covered in leaves again. We will allow ourselves for just that moment to love the leaves as they are and then just like that we will remember that in the fall we are going to have to rake them all up again. And again. And again. Or not. Either way, it turns out, really is just fine. At least that is what my dog says.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

mitten stains

i thought of this really lovely story today while i was knitting mittens for eva. the mittens are white with a black snowflake on the back of each hand. i was dubious about the whiteness but she insisted. whenever she wants white things- white shirts, white dresses, white mittens, i do my best to make peace with stains, because they do happen, sometimes. stains happen and while i have a killer stain remover, i still feel dread about the stains. the forever-ness of stains. so today i was knitting the second mitten and she was walking around the kitchen eating pomegranate seeds and i was feeling protective about the white yarn and then i thought about the mittens being finished and eva eating pomegranate seeds while wearing the mittens and how the mittens would be stained pink in some places and how difficult it would be to get the pomegranate juice out and how i could think about that in terms of sadness, as in, i would be so sad because the mittens would be ruined or i could think about it in terms of happiness, as in, the stains would be a reminder of this time when she was 6 1/2, flitting around the kitchen, smiling and twirling and singing about pomegranates and this being her first pomegranate in a whole year and how happy the world can be. and i liked that story so much better than the story about the mittens being ruined and i thought about how sweet everything could be and i almost wished it would happen, that the mittens would be stained with a memory in this way, something to remind me, to let me hold onto this moment of my life, of my daughter's life, forever.

happiness

Hmmmm. Going round and round and trying to figure out how to just write about this silly little article I read yesterday about the road to a happier life. There were five main points made in the article. How about a little outline to get it all out there-

1. Gratitude. Sum it all up in one word, gratitude is all about remembering what we have. Short but oh so sweet.

2. Choosing to be satisfied. Making a decision and allowing yourself to be OK with that decision rather than choosing to second guess yourself or compare yourself to others. Comparing yourself to others is a recipe for unhappiness most of the time, that is for certain. It's about making a decision to buy a certain car, going for it, and then enjoying that car rather than looking around at "better" cars for the next ten years and wishing you had one of those. Or how about just never getting around to buying one at all because none of them will ever be good enough? The grass is always greener syndrome.

3. Savor the moment. I took this to mean, be in the moment, be present. The author meant a little of that but also meant basically take time to smell the roses. Sit back and relax and while you are at it, notice that you are relaxing, enjoy it. Don't let that chocolate bar pass you by without noticing that you are in fact eating it.

4. Spread out the joy. Easy peasy. Don't *buy* every single thing at the same time and leave nothing for a rainy day.

5. Focus on your circle. Meaning, remember to spend time with loved ones. Short but sweet. Too many people spend time chasing money and things and forget to connect with others when they can.

There were two books mentioned in the article that looked interesting. The Paradox of Choice is about having more and more choices and being less and less satisfied, which seems to be a meme I have been seeing more and more of lately. The second book of interest to me was the Progress Paradox. This one is also about how we seem to be making more and "progress" but people seem to be unhappier than ever. Not sure what I think about this. I sometimes wonder if happiness is so subjective it is impossible to gauge it in others and to write a book about the seeming lack of happiness observed in others is- well- subjective as well. Still, both look like interesting commentaries on modern life.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

I just saw this and I guess I am a little slow on the uptake this month, what with my filled up hard drive issues and all. How about blogging most days from now until the end of November. I don't really think I particularly need extra inspiration to blog daily. I don't always blog daily, but I do blog fairly often enough for me to feel regular about it. Still, I liked the week-of-Albert-pictures and I like the inspiration behind NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month) for sure. Incidentally, the inspiration for NaBloPoMo comes from NaNoWriMo or National Novel Writing Month, which I am also partaking in this month and which has proven to be an amazing experience so far. I don't doubt it will continue to be so.

Now, though, the sound of my children's laughter has reached that fevered peak that only night time rough housing seems to bring and they are coming to me one after the other, over and over again, with bumped heads and sore toes. It must be that time again. Time for bed.

Samuel is literally spinning around like a top tonight because at long last the game he has been waiting and waiting for, New Super Mario Bros. for the wii is coming out tomorrow. He told me this morning that I shouldn't plan on doing very much for a few days because our days from now on will be spent mostly with this game and the wii. I laughed. This is a marked difference from his requests over the past week when he woke up every morning asking me to plan something extraordinarily fun so that the days would go by as quickly as possible. Apparently we are now approaching a time when we will want the days to s-l-o-w-d-o-w-n so that we can savor them to their fullest.

Friday, November 13, 2009

I love beets. I love knitting. I love that Eva just showed me how she likes to pound her little fists into pillows when she is upset with Samuel. I love that she tells me she is upset with Samuel. I love guinea pigs. I love fall. I that I picked mesclun and a teeny bit of kale from my garden today. I love my produce basket. I love the change in vegetables from season to season. I love chocolate. I love Eva's toe puppet show. I love that we are finally getting seriously close to Samuel's New Super Mario Bros. wii game coming out on Sunday. I love writing. I love feeling. I love being. I love tea. I love my ipod. I love digital cameras. I love hats. I love my hat on my head keeping me warm right now. I love preventing migraines. I love sleep. I love dreams. I love the little pictures of ghosts and skeletons the kids made this year and hung up for Halloween. I love spiders. I love the compost pile. I love boysenberries with sugar in the middle of the winter. I love remembering that perfect upick day last summer when I stumbled upon the perfect rows of yellow raspberries with a few reds mixed in and the kids were for once content to hang out for just long enough for me to pick as much as I wanted. I love that.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Maybe

Lovely little zen story. There are more here if you are interested.

Maybe

Once upon a time there was an old farmer who had worked his crops for many years. One day his horse ran away. Upon hearing the news, his neighbors came to visit. “Such bad luck,” they said sympathetically.

“Maybe,” the farmer replied.

The next morning the horse returned, bringing with it three other wild horses. “How wonderful,” the neighbors exclaimed.

“Maybe,” replied the old man.

The following day, his son tried to ride one of the untamed horses, was thrown, and broke his leg. The neighbors again came to offer their sympathy on his misfortune.

“Maybe,” answered the farmer.

The day after, military officials came to the village to draft young men into the army. Seeing that the son’s leg was broken, they passed him by. The neighbors congratulated the farmer on how well things had turned out.

“Maybe,” said the farmer.

I got to thinking about this particular story last night when Eva used up my shampoo in her bath. All of the shampoo. A whole bottle. Here's my version of the above story-

Eva was taking a bath. She asked me, "Momma, can I use some of that shampoo up there in my bath?" And I said yes. I left the room and came back. She said, "Momma, I love the way this shampoo feels on my legs. I used the whole bottle. Do you have anymore?"

I said, "No, there is no more shampoo. Did you really use the whole bottle?" She said yes. I thought. "Oh no! She used the whole bottle. That is horrible. That cost $10 for that bottle of shampoo. That is horrible. Now I have no more shampoo. What will I do now?"

I left the room and I thought, "Wait a second. I hated that shampoo. It made my hair feel dull and flat. This is great. All of that shampoo is gone and I didn't have to trudge through using up that whole bottle. This is great. I couldn't wait until I had finished up that bottle of shampoo. This is great!"

The next morning I got up and wanted to take a shower and wash my hair. I realized that I didn't have anymore shampoo. Eva had used up all of it in her bath. I thought to myself, "Oh no this is awful. I wanted to wash my hair and I have no shampoo. I have to make a special trip to the store to get some. This is awful. I don't feel like it. I wish she hadn't used up all of the shampoo."

And of course you know how the story goes. Once we ended up at the store to buy shampoo, the brand I had been wanting to try out last time was on sale and there was a fragrance-free variety that I hadn't seen before that turned out to be just the thing. I was so happy that Eva had used up all of the shampoo in her bath the night before...

I am really looking forward to trying out my new shampoo. I bet I am going to love it!

Maybe yes. Maybe no.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

what's dependent on what?

Stymied. Thwarted. Undone. My blogging came to a crashing halt when my hard drive filled up and I was no longer able to upload new photos and movies from my camera nor change the size of the ones I had recently uploaded. Just upload them from the camera, you say? If my tolerance for frustration were higher, I might go ahead and do that, but it isn't, so I don't.

I kept waiting for the hard drive issue to be fixed. Put the blog on hold. Everything I wanted to blog about had to do with a recent photo- the beauty of fall outside, the kids' Halloween costumes, our new guinea pig Terrence. All wonderful things to write about and I really wanted that writing to be accompanied by photos. Time on blogs waits for no one, however, and as I sit here waiting for my photos to be usable, time ticks away and now it is over a week since Halloween and two since we brought Terrence home from the humane society.

So I will start from there. We brought our new guinea pig Terrence home from the humane society hmmm a week before Halloween. He is black and orange colored, a silky guinea pig, so very very soft and much smaller than Albert. I am still wondering if he is full grown or if he is younger than the humane society thought. Albert and Terrence are doing really well together and are now sharing one cage together. We ordered a bigger, fancier cage for them which should be here next week. Dare I wish that my hard drive will have expanded by then as well so that I can include photos of their new space? I'll wish it but no breath holding. Blogging, as you can plainly see, can go on just as well with or without photos. {Mostly.}

Halloween came and went. This year Samuel was a ninja and Eva was a bunny. They were fabulous costumes, some of our best ever, and the kids had a lot of fun in them, collected a huge amount of candy, and spent the next week or so eating it up. Last night marked the end of Halloween for Samuel, at least, as he ate the last piece of candy that he liked from his bag and gave away what was left of the dregs- those last pieces that linger around but that you have no intention of eating. I have found that I actually like Almond Joy candy bars through this process. You have no idea how many Almond Joys were left over this year!

The kids have been enjoying their clay class and Eva is going to continue ice skating lessons after her current ones end in a few weeks. We went and saw Charlie and the Chocolate Factory which was put on by the Oregon Children's Theatre and we all really enjoyed that. It was a play, not a musical, and very similar to the book. Next weekend we are going to see another telling of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, this time a musical, put on by one of the local homeschool resource centers. A friend of ours is going to be an Oompa Loompa and we are very much looking forward to seeing it.

OK. Just a business as usual post but my mind feels lighter and my heart freer. I am looking forward to posting some photos of the past couple of weeks when the time is right.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

that unschooling thing

On the knitting front, things are slow moving, but that was sort of the point, wasn't it? Three days of migraines and on the fourth slicing my finger. Seems like as good of a time as any to slow down. And here I thought I had slowed down. More. Slow down more.

So my finger hurts but not as much as yesterday and I can knit, albeit slowly. I am so relieved because I am in the middle of knitting mittens for the kids. Both kids outgrew their mittens from last year. Samuel chose red again and Eva chose white with a black snowflake design in the center. We shall see.

On the video game front, Samuel has not played any of the video game from yesterday all day. Not once. All on his own. Yep- he decided he felt grumpy from playing it all day and took a break. I love it when this trust and unschooling stuff works out in real life. Things sometimes look great in theory and when they turn out, well it can be a thrill in itself. (Although I have to say here that I am parenting the way I do because it feels right, not for any sort of end-product triumph in my kids. My wish for them is that they are able to live the life they choose.) It is that whole trust thing that is really important to live by. Trust yourself. Trust your choices. Trust that all is well. Trust that everything will turn out. Trust.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Today was interesting in a couple of different respects. I sliced my finger while cutting up onions for what will probably be the last tomato sauce of the year. I am planning to freeze it. I went round and round in my head a few times about cutting my finger this badly and realized maybe I needed to slow down a bit. I thought about how I had been irritated by Samuel's whining. I thought about how I had been thinking irritated thoughts about him not taking a break soon enough from his video game, getting some food, taking care of himself. I thought about all of this and how while thinking about it I had cut my finger. Time to slow down. Take a break. Make Samuel some food. Put some of the food back in the refrigerator and work on it tomorrow. Maybe next time, stop chopping onions while my child whines at me. Take it all as a signal to stop, switch gears, connect- with myself, with my son, with right now.

Honestly, what would come of letting the onion go a little longer. Even just tossing the whole thing into the spaghetti and blending it up? or throwing it all into the compost? or putting it back into the produce drawer and simply freezing the tomatoes? Make sauce another day. So many options. So many ideas. Thanks to my sliced finger. But wow it hurts. I tell you this- I won't be doing a lot of chopping onions- or anything- for the next couple of days. It's a good thing I sliced my finger at the very end of the onion. I have enough chopped onion to last me for days!

Oh but gasp I just realized it may get in the way of knitting. Hmmm. I am thinking of cutting this blog entry short to go try out my knitting. There were a couple of more things that happened today, though, one that was particularly related to my cut finger, that I wanted to cover before I stop and go check on my finger's knit-ability.

After I had bandaged the finger, I went back into the kitchen to put some other food projects away. Obviously I had learned they could wait at this point. I put some of the onions in the pan to make the sauce and the rest in the refrigerator. I made Samuel some food. (Sliced a pear. Yep.) And then Samuel came into the kitchen and said- totally unprompted, that when he sits in front of a video game and plays all day he feels really grumpy. Imagine that. I love that he has figured this out and that now he is actually taking a break from playing all on his own. I agreed with him in a matter-of-fact tone, asked if he was still hungry, spent some time smiling at him and connecting before he wandered into the next room again.

And now off I go, wandering into the next room to check on the status of my knitting...

Thursday, October 15, 2009

transition

I spent quite a bit of time outside a few days ago doing a little fall clean-up, checking on the new plants in the garden, cutting down so many blackberry vines. Our landlord is coming over tomorrow to sign a new lease and I was hoping to take care of a few things before he comes over for his yearly inspection and it was also a good opportunity to get the yard cleaned up and ready for the leaves to falllll, for the annual raking. This year I am definitely raking the back yard as well as the front and now I can say it is ready. Maple, oak, apple, birch, let the leaves fall where they may.

While outside, Eva and I took some photos of the transitioning yard. I love this time of year for all of the amazing colors, the fall beauty just because, and the contrast between some of the summer flowers still in full bloom and the fall foliage found on the next tree over. It is simply stunning to behold and I am ga ga for Nature's show.







kale and sweet peas thriving, onions sprouting, all evidence that spring will come again, next year...

iceskate guy

I've been a lot on the grumpy side the past couple of days and I thought I could use some help shifting my perspective a bit so I tried out a meditation this morning that I hadn't done in a long while. I do the lovingkindness meditation fairly regularly and I can attest to how well this works for shifting your focus and perspective. This morning, however, I chose to do a meditation focused on compassion.

You can begin by repeating the phrase "May I be free of suffering and pain, may I be filled with peace." After you have warmed up to yourself, feel the compassion opening your heart, you can switch to someone you care about- a good friend or family member- and offer the phrase to them, "May my good friend be free of suffering and pain, may she be filled with peace." You continue with that person until you feel your heart open more and move the phrase back to yourself. You imagine your heart opening further for yourself, offering yourself an open and compassionate heart, a genuine hope that you will be free of suffering, that you will be filled with peace. From there you can continue if you choose to offer compassion to others in your life, moving out to all beings, continuing with the phrase, "May all beings be free from suffering and pain, may all beings be filled with peace."

Later on today when I took Eva to her ice skating lessons, I was having a lapse in my being-filled-with-peace-ness from my meditation earlier. I was irritated with the ice skate guy, the one who gave us our skates and helped me sign in for our lessons. My fuse has been a little shorter lately and it had already been shortened considerably on the way to the lessons.

While I was putting on my skates and feeling irritated with ice skate guy, I decided to try directing a little abbreviated compassion his way to see if I could shift my own irritation a little. So, while I laced up my skates, I thought to myself, "May ice skate guy be free of suffering and pain, may he be filled with peace." After a couple of rounds the kids were ready to go upstairs and Eva was ready to skate.

A little while later, I had to go in and talk with ice skate guy again. There was no one else around in the office and I needed his help with my guest passes. Imagine my surprise to find that he was not nearly as irritating as before. And I don't think he found me to be quite as befuddling as he had earlier either. In fact, he smiled. He gave me new guest passes after I had messed up my other ones. He offered them! The transaction with the guest passes turned out to be a breeze, dare I say pleasant? Well, maybe not pleasant, but surely far from irritating. Amazing really, particularly after my interaction with him earlier and frankly, after all of my other interactions with him over the last three weeks at the ice skating rink.

I am hooked. Convinced. A little compassion definitely goes a long way.

Monday, October 12, 2009

swingin'



Eva's ugly dolls hooked up to the disc swing today.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

saturday



Albert celebrating apples season.



Eva-bee loving Albert...

And that concludes a week of Albert photos. I have to say for a while I was loving the form requirements of posting a photo of Albert each day. I am not sure I would have gone a full week without deciding on it formally. And then at some point- on Thursday, I think, I started lagging behind. And in walks freedom. You have to have both- form and freedom. Structure and spontaneity. Each and every. Day.

Friday, October 9, 2009

friday



After this photo Eva put on her baby sling and carried Albert around in that for a while. He was still nonplussed.



And obviously Jack is concerned about this photo. He does not like the guinea pig leaning on him. I don't think Albert was too keen on the set up either. And Eva? She designed it, of course.

We got the Guinea Pigs magazine at Petco today while picking up some food for Jack. It is a hit!

thursday



Albert snuggling up on a sweater. Guinea pigs love knits.

Let's see- Thursday was a busy day. First, there were ice skating lessons for me and Eva. Our friends Dawn and Rose and Ben came to watch our lessons and join us to skate afterward. Samuel loved hanging out with them while Eva and I skated. Then the kids had clay class. This may prove to be too much for us on a single day. We shall see. I am not sure what I was thinking scheduling both of them on one day except that both of them were on the same day. Oh well. Perhaps a little Burgerville in between will be just the thing to see us through. I also have to remember to let the kids know what they can expect when we get to clay class because the last clay class was a little on the chaotic side and this definitely added to the tension.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

wednesday

Eva takes most of the photos of Albert around here, except for the ones she asks me to take while she is holding him. She posted several Albert-photos on her own blog today. We were excited to see old photos of our much loved rat Charlie there as well. Eva was so happy to see his picture that she brought Albert over to share. We wondered about what Charlie and Albert would make of one another. For the most part, I think they would be friendly with each other. Their food preferences wouldn't conflict and I think with those guys, that counts for a lot.

The kids and I took a walk at Smith and Bybee Lakes today (without Jack, I am sad to say, though I am hoping to take him out later to make it up to him). While we were there they talked A LOT about what wild guinea pigs must be like. We all had fun imagining herds of guinea pigs running wild together, head butting one another to move out of the way, purring together, munching. In point of fact, guinea pigs like Albert most likely do not exist in the wild. They are probably domesticated descendants from other cavies like this one. I have mentioned this to the kids once or twice but it doesn't seem to stick. It is far too much fun thinking about Albert and his family roaming and blipping through the Andes mountains, wild and free.



Here he is all shmooped up (as Eva says- well, I guess now as I say too). She wanted a side and front view taken.

We saw a few herons on the water today and so many Woolly Bear Caterpillars running across the path. We took several photos, of course, and then we took a video (actually two, but I will just post one for now). I will have to remember this the next time we run across a nutria!

video

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

tuesday

I'm at it early today. Guinea pig pictures abound!



Early morning snuggle with Eva.

Albert is currently making quite a ruckus behind me. His idea of how to spend time and Eva's idea of how to spend time are at odds. I think he may need a vacation. He enjoyed puttering around the living room/computer area last night. Sitting under the trampoline. Bouncing out, chutting, blipping, scavenging, sitting some more. Good times for Albert.

I must say this following your heart business, if you pay attention before, during and after, really does lead the way to some kind of goodness. But you have to pay attention! to right now. To catch it. Otherwise you might stay in the story you have already left behind by following your heart.

Monday, October 5, 2009

monday



Albert and his carrot. Every time Eva tried to move the carrot, Albert complained mightily.

And today?

Today there was time spent at a friend's house with banjo playing, song singing, costume dressing, game playing, macaroni eating, chocolate munching fun.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

sunday



About this photo- um yeah, Albert tolerated this dress up time as long as there were apple skins and cucumber slices to nibble on, otherwise there was A LOT of guinea pig complaining. All I can say is that our cats have been off the hook ever since Albert came to live with us.



Here is Eva dressed up as a dragon giving Albert lots of dragon love. He didn't fuss quite as much during this as he did during dress up. He really likes to sit and eat. Mostly. Quite a bit.

Around the day, here and there, were bits and pieces of this-

pumpkins and squash and apples on the counter
lots of dissecting talk about The Office and the hilarious characters therein
a trip to Powells to pick up a copy of Saltwater Buddha because the library wants theirs back
lolly pops at Powells
rainbow sherbet
Sunday dog walk at the Arboretum for Jack
prettiest little purply-pink flowers still blooming in the woods

Saturday, October 3, 2009

summertime

I was inspired to go through our summer pictures (most of which were of Albert) and found a few to recap the passing season. We are solidly in fall now. Here's to what fall brings...