Saturday, January 31, 2009

look momma i can fly

I'll be honest here. I've had two migraines this week and feel like another one is coming on right now (hopefully the french fries will help take care of that, for some inexplicable reason). The kids were sick and I have been sick and just when I feel like I am feeling well again, I feel sick. I have not been feeling inspired to do much but rest and make tea. Eva, on the other hand, is feeling healthy and inspired to move, photographing life, making marble art and just a little while ago she came to me and asked me to clear a space for her so that she could have somewhere to land after she flew. I looked up and saw she had feathers in her hair and feathers sticking out of her shirt and she jumped up on the back of couch and stuck her arms out (more feathers there!). I moved the Chinese Checkers and Mastermind and off she flew. This was enough to jump start at least a little creativity in me as well...

Eva's landing.

Samuel has spent the last couple of days organizing his space with his favorite things. It is a work in process and I leave most of it to him as he has very specific and particular ideas about what sort of space he is creating and how he wants to interact with his stuff. I can offer a hand here and there, an idea that has worked for me in the past, but ultimately, if I do too much of it he is frustrated that it is not really his space.

I have to say I can relate to his dilemma of wanting his stuff accessible but also feeling overwhelmed by it all. I want to see things so I don't forget them but if I see too much of it I want to leave the house. I have worked this out for myself over the years by getting rid of more and more of my stuff, whittling away at it to find what I truly love, putting away what I can in manageable and easy to access storage. I can be ruthless with my stuff and while I enjoy visiting other people's spaces that feel cozy and decorated, I definitely lean more toward the spartan, with open space being a top priority. I am curious to see how Samuel works this issue out. At the moment he seems to be using the expansion tactic rather than the whittling away tactic. He is requesting more space rather than relocating the things that don't fit. And I wonder at different tactics at different stages in our lives. Accumulation, building up, letting go...

Monday, January 26, 2009

Dressed up fingers. So fancy.

Off to the library. Hopefully there will be a new Moomin book for us today!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

today (again)

I took Samuel to his riding lesson today and when we came back he was looking for his gummy fruit slices (Those fruit shaped gumdrop things you get in the orange bags that are like $1 and mainly made of sugar and food dye? Yes, those.) and found them on the floor. And what's more, they were licked clean. All of the sugar was completely licked off and they were left as gummy shaped fruit goo on the carpet. When I examined them further, because I couldn't resist, I found strange tooth marks in them as well. Samuel looked around accusingly at us as though either Eva or I had indeed licked them clean and then left them smothered on the carpet. Or was it daddy? Who did this thing? A few minutes later Jack came in and shuffled over to the fruit goos and started licking them (again) and I heard Samuel say, "So Jack. It comes to this, does it?" and Jack stalked off, realizing he had been found out and was in the proverbial doghouse. Gumdrop fruit chews are not for dogs. Can you imagine him trying to figure out exactly what to do with them, getting them stuck in his teeth, prying them out and then resolving to just do the best he could with a confusing situation and lick them clean, carefully turning one then another over so that he could clean the other side as well?

The kids were playing a game today and this lovely set up was a part of the birthday party for Eva's little guy Lou, a little lego lady who rides a horse and who Eva carries around quite a bit. You can see nearly everyone was in attendance- Sliver and Titan and their entourage and Gilbert and his sister and R2D2 and even Dweezil (one of my own favorite little guys...) They made a playdoh cake and everyone got a little slice of green to celebrate. Eva made a balloon for Lou to hold and decorated the house and table with fish pictures because as I understand it, Lou has something to do with the pirates as well and is very intimate with water and its inner workings.

A few closeups of the birthday scene- Gilbert and his sister and Dweezil with R2. Check out the little cake R2 has in addition to the basic green. Our friend's daughter made this and Eva bought it from the homeschool bazaar back in December. Not a picnic nor party since has been without this cake.

Table top decorations and more little guys, one of whom has a little tangerine made by the same young sculptor as the cake above. And finally, a photo of Lou, the birthday girl, with her balloon, seated at the head of the table because, as Samuel said, that is where the guest of honor should sit.

Eva made a card and bookmark to send to her good friend Esme.

Samuel dancing to Feist today. He was enjoying Erasure at the grocery store today as well. Remember them?

Saturday, January 24, 2009

The kids tried out rock wall climbing yesterday.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Well we have been sick. Samuel was sick and Eva got really sick yesterday and today. I feel like I have been off and on under the weather for days and days. First I feel better then worse then better and I remember how it can be in January. Today I promised myself that next January I will not make any plans and will play things solely by ear. I play things by ear a lot anyway but I cancel a lot more things it seems in January than most other times.

Eva was up a little more today and made some more playdoh people. This one has a plate and silverware as well.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

zoo etcetera

We went to the zoo yesterday. Here is Samuel enjoying his pizza at the zoo. I am fairly ambivalent about the zoo experience and generally come away feeling very sad for at least one, oftener several animals I have seen there. I wonder why I take the kids there at all. Sometimes Eva requests it, to see the animals, and sometimes I take them because it is a place to go where we can walk around and be outside and ? Not sure. I let my zoo membership lapse and went yesterday because it was free day at the zoo. We took canned foods for the food drive and walked around the zoo with A LOT of other people. To be honest I didn't think that many people would show up because it is January and chilly outside. I sorely underestimated what people will endure for a free day at the zoo, myself included.

Today was a sort of pancake-making-playing-with-playdoh-knitting sort of day. Here are Eva's playdoh creations.

Eva's hair has grown out a bit and she has been asking for braids. I am brushing up on my french braiding skills. She likes to keep her bangs clipped very short and takes care of that project on her own.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Eva's tattoos with modifications! She added the colors!

more on kombucha

So far today has been one of those plant and fungus kind of days. I started a new batch of kombucha and decided to bury the extra mother out in the garden with the kale and sweet peas and this turned into a lovely time gardening. The sun is shining here and it is gorgeous outside! I tidied up the kale and sweet pea area and put up some stakes because the sweet peas that reseeded themselves last fall are now getting tall enough to want to climb on something. The kale is looking good and I noticed the poppies are coming up as well. There is a ton of chamomile coming up every which way. One plant in particular looks nearly ready to bloom. The chard I put in last November has been thankfully covered by some fennel that fell over (why it is sometimes better to not clean everything up) and making a comeback from the snow and doing well with the extra cold weather we have been having the last couple of days.

So I just tasted my kombucha and I have to say it isn't as bad as I thought it would be. It is not, however, something I imagine drinking with any great regularity at this stage, particularly when I have some lovely stuff in the refrigerator that I look forward to drinking every day. So I am off to read about how to fix up your kombucha to make it tastier. I ordered a book from the library by Harald Tietz, Kombucha: The Miracle Fungus. He is apparently an expert on kombucha as well as a huge fan. And the happy herbalist has quite a bit to say about how to help your kombucha taste um more palatable and many ideas on what you can do with it as well (add it to a bath, soak your pet in it...) I was reading this, also at the happy herbalist, about using different teas to make kombucha, although I think adding things after the kombucha has fermented is going to have more of an impact on its flavor, based on how this kombucha tastes. I taste nothing like black tea and sugar when I drink it. It is a lot more reminiscent of lemon juice to be honest.

OK so here are some photos of the mother and the kombucha once the mother was removed.

Top of mother; underside of mother- you can see another mother there, round and darker than the rest and that is the mother I used for the next batch I set up today. The last photo is the actual kombucha to drink, in a glass bread dish that *it* was fermented in.

As I said above, I buried the other mother out in the garden with the kale and sweet peas. I feel conflicted about this but let's be honest here, I can't keep all the mothers growing indefinitely and out with the plants seems like a lovely alternative to even the compost pile at this point. It is winter, after all.

I wanted to say too that I am getting used to the smell of the kombucha as it sits here next to me and it is like once you know that is how it smells, it isn't as bad, if that makes sense. I am thinking of adding some pear juice to it? And maybe I won't ferment the next batch quite as long. I erred on the side of caution this time because I wanted it to definitely be acidic enough. Now that I know it is definitely acidic enough I am going to taste it sooner next time.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

crayon physics deluxe

Oh I nearly forgot. We spent some time enjoying this game Crayon Physics Deluxe today. You can download it here. Really fun and worth it.
Today I learned that if you leave maple leaves on the ground, at least here in my backyard, they will not get in the way of the grass growing- if that concerns you. It vaguely concerns me in that others, like my landlord, seem very intent on it. They break down so well and so quickly there is no need to rake. The oak leaves take quite a bit longer to break down (4-5 years!) and I did rake them last fall. The apples that were left in large quantities have squashed down a part of the yard and do seem to be inhibiting the grass's growth, at least that is what it currently looks like. I am convinced that given a little time, the apples too will break down and the grass will grow back. I decided to give the grass a hand today and composted some of the extra apples.

Even as we speak the worms and slugs are helping things along as well. In fact I was thinking as I picked up some apples from the ground today that I might be able to plant primroses this year because the slugs have so much to eat they won't even think to look at the primroses. I don't begrudge them the primroses, they seem to really love them and I don't have very many issues with slugs or snails in my vegetable garden, but honestly the last time I planted primroses they ate the flowers so quickly I barely got to see them bloom and the plants were reduced to tiny stalks in just a few days. The primroses looked so pretty at the store the other day. I am still debating. I may just wait for begonias.

A few days ago we went to a newish pizza climbing place, Out of This World. I think this was the first time Samuel took off his boots to jump on one. Gosh so many firsts at age 8! Bowling, bike riding, roller skating, and now jumping things!

Friday, January 16, 2009

darkish but I am excited about my new zoom. will have to play around with it. maybe I can get a picture of the herons the next time I see them. or the raccoon! the shadows are getting longer now and the light has changed enough to talk the Christmas cactus into preparing to bloom again.
I ordered some blank puzzles from bare books and Eva and I decorated one today. Eva wanted it to be a Fairy Puzzle. After we decorated the puzzle, we put it together. I enjoyed looking at the pieces with Eva and remembering each fairy and tree and rainbow we drew in together...

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Eva as Jango Fett! She is quite convincing, isn't she?

Jack treed a raccoon tonight and I had to go outside to bring him in, so intent on barking was he that he completely ignored my calls. Sure enough, there was our neighborly raccoon all flattened out on a tree branch near the fence, having nothing but unhappy thoughts about Jack and eyeing me equally suspiciously. I finally lured Jack in with a fish stick but it was a hard bargain.

Monday, January 12, 2009

The kids and I went for a walk with Jack, it was his idea after all, and we heard an owl. I haven't heard an owl in our neighborhood before and was so excited. He was pretty close too! So I went online, where else, and looked up his hoot on and I really think he was a Western Screech Owl. So fun. I know there are plenty of mice around because I can hear them sometimes and Maxwell has caught a few. An owl's gotta eat something, after all.

We went roller skating today and I was so irritated with that gosh darn!! (smile) iron claw machine. Eva is really taken with them and while all of the video games were turned off, there was ONE claw machine filled with tempting stuffed animals, situated just so to make it look like they would just fall into the claw if you asked them. I was thinking about this line in Everyday Blessings by Jon and Myla Kabat-Zinn where Myla asks, Where are our dance halls? Where can we go to enjoy ourselves without having to consume something or other. We went to the arcade the other day and took several turns in a couple of different claw machines and finally came away with three little animal key chains and Eva was thrilled. I tell you I was just not up for it today. We tried a few times with no success and then ended up leaving the roller rink with Eva in tears, so sad and angry about the whole thing and me wondering how long the claw fascination will continue. I think she was hungry too and that certainly added to it all. Nothing like a claw machine on an empty stomach.

Here Eva has gotten her babies ready for dinner. Their cookies went missing somehow. I still don't know who ate them. I did, however, find Samuel's Hershey bar from Halloween. Eva gave it to me for Christmas. No one was the wiser. Except for me of course and Eva most likely. I got to share it with Samuel on Christmas which we both enjoyed.

I keep meaning to post pictures of Eva's little finger people. Wondering what to do with all of that leftover gum? Why not make hair for your finger people? Or a little skirt?

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Eva updated her blog today and added so many new pictures of Charlie it is hard to count. If you want to see pictures of the rat we share our time and space with you will have to check out Eva's blog.

Samuel is enjoying his time playing Mario Galaxy and Super Smash...which I got to try out today as well. There is so much going on in that game that my strategy is to just press most of the buttons over and over again in no particular order. This to be honest is my strategy in many of the games I try out. If I try to think about it too clearly I don't do nearly as well. The only time I really put thought into the button pushing is when I fall off a cliff but it doesn't seem to be helping me so maybe I should just continue with my more randomized strategy for that as well. Peach was fun to play and I also played this little vacuum guy and a big penguin? The big penguin was too unwieldly for my taste and I went back to Peach and her kung-fu kicks. Her special button reveals a little mushroom. There are so many mushrooms around, what with us reading Mr. Bass's Planetoid (the third book in the Mushroom Planet series) and all of the mushrooms popping up outside as well. Eerily ironic to be surrounded by so many mushrooms at the same time.

I am spending a lot of time copying music files back and forth to put on my ipod and my little mp3 pebble player, both of which I got for my birthday. It is like a new hobby and I am happy to say I am getting the hang of it and might be able soon to stop spending quite so much time copying files and more time listening to files. I have several "hobbies" already and am reminded of how filled up my time can be when I start a new project. Suddenly all of those quiet spaces I eeked out for myself in the day are filled up with something pressing and I long for fewer hobbies and think thoughts like, "I don't need to listen to any music ever again" or "who needs to eat local- store bought canned peaches is good enough for other kids" or "wash my hair? does that really need to be done..." When my kids were younger I gave up all kinds of niceties like wearing earrings and painting my toe nails and special care clothing and any number of extras that take up time and especially thought and I put my energy into the bare basics. I like keeping things simple so that I can give my thoughts over to what I really want to do and have enough time to do that thoroughly. But sometimes a project pops up like canning peaches or figuring out this music thing and while it takes so much time, it is in the end life-enhancing, just as long as it doesn't go on too long. If it goes on too long, chances are it will be dropped. (I dropped feeding the birds once and missed it so much I brought it back. If things start to press in too tightly, something else has to go.) When the project has ended, or normalized like I am hoping the music project will, I am reminded of how much I enjoy having bits of time here and there that are totally empty and free. And how good that feels. And how much time I really do have. And the kids come along and help me fill it up...

Saturday, January 10, 2009

I went into the bathroom tonight to brush my teeth and who should I find floating in the sink? This little turtle guy. Eva was cleaning the bathroom counter and then the kitchen counter and must have set little turtle guy up with his own pond.

Just now I found out that Eva was putting her feet in the water with the turtle and she looked down to find him crawling up her leg and she jumped a little bit and put him back in the water.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Boba Fett tackles Luke after an explosion that propelled everyone and all of their weapons in all directions, making the very air they breathe explosive. There were also little fairy goddesses watching the whole scene- check out the pocket fairy in the chair, apparently immune to the weapons and fighting. That's Leia in the background, thrown into the corner with all the guns...I don't know how it turns out as the scene is still being enacted. I do know that Boba Fett has a migraine and Samuel said his sheer force of will keeps him fighting Luke, even with a migraine. Poor guy. I can relate. He keeps banging his head against the ceiling.

Off to the arcade today with friends. Hoping for another walk as well as the weather is spectacular here. It changes so quickly back and forth and it seems each day has something new to offer. 60 degrees, wind and the sun peeking out...Oops my mistake- it is really more like 50. Warmer yesterday I guess. See what I mean, every day something different...

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

wet cat

I gave Agnes a bath today. Nearing 16 years in February (she's a Pisces...) she is doing really well but she has some difficulty reaching her back when grooming due to age and (ahem) weight issues. She has a little arthritis as well. And now she has eek! fleas to add to that. She was very upset during the bath but once it was over she started grooming herself to dry off and even stopped growling at me. This is unprecedented. I think she particularly enjoyed having the warm water run onto her back. I washed her with some lovely oatmeal-skin-healing pet shampoo.

Monday, January 5, 2009


So I have been feeling very slow and am wondering if this is winter. One of the reasons I like it here in the Pacific Northwest is that I find the rain and cloud cover to be very relaxing, soothing even at times. But even I recognize that extended periods of this weather can really slow things down. And right now I think that is just fine. Let's see what happens when we go with the flow of the seasons and let winter slow us down a little...

On another note, Facebook does not allow images of breastfeeding mothers and considers them to be "obscene, sexually explicit and pornographic". I am posting this blog here to get the word out. Obviously, pictures of breastfeeding mothers are not obscene, sexually explicit or pornographic. Facebook's attitude is unacceptable. We need to be able to see images of mothers breastfeeding their children openly, without shame, with joy and love. We need this to be commonplace! Acceptable! Applauded!

Eva and I have been doing a lot of puzzles. We were particularly proud of this one which is made up entirely of pieces shaped like little lizards (schmuzzle puzzle from when I was a kid)- except the edges, of course. She asked me to take this picture when we finished up the puzzle today. Triumphant!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

I am finding myself with quite a bit of extra energy when I am normally wanting to go to sleep and I credit the recent snow and low pressure system traveling through our area for this burst of action. Plus the kids are playing really really well together right now and who wants to put a stop to that. Why do they play best at 10:00 pm?

Overheard just now-
Eva's guy "By night I turn bear. By day I am human."
Samuel's guy "Hmmm. Good to know."

eva art- this little one is a bird

Friday, January 2, 2009

hey it's my birthday

Lovely birthday! Thank you to everyone for the happies and birthdays and gifts and love!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

happy new year!

I spent the day yesterday trimming back and cleaning out. I actually cleaned out the garage and I dare anyone to find a photo (not being viewed) that is not in a photo album. Today I finished Eva's baby book and went through some of my past journals, retiring the ones that were filled and finding a lot of space in others plus several unrecorded dreams I had forgotten about. I have been writing down my dreams for several years but sometimes they come in such a flurry that I get behind and sometimes, but not often really, I find some that I have forgotten to write down entirely. I do take notes in the middle of the night or right when I wake up if there is a chance I will forget a dream and these are some of the notes I found lingering in various notebooks.

It is so satisfying to tie up some of these loose ends, clean things up and out for the New Year. My yearly tradition of tossing all of my lists that are lying around was very satisfying as well and this morning my little to-do notebook is totally blank and clean, free and clear. Even the grocery list is cleaned up. Lots of wisdom to be found when looking back and lots of room freed up when you let it flow like it is meant to. I am reading the book The Comfort Trap and one of the chapters on letting go has the title Look Back But Don't Stare. I like to think this was my inspired tactic both yesterday and today.

Now I look ahead to the New Year and to My Birthday tomorrow! Hooray for massages and Thai food and walks in the woods! Samuel said maybe I should throw in a haircut for good measure just to make sure I get all of the momma stuff in that I can on this one special day!

Wowee! So excited! I commissioned my cousin Kristin to make a quilt for me and it arrived yesterday (last delivery of the year!). Here is Eva on the new quilt, all spread out for us to see more closely and a detail of one square on the quilt. I am so excited and can't believe I am actually going to use something so beautiful. I have a quilt that my grandmother's grandmother made (the same woman who started the Christmas cactus I have a clipping off...) and it has never been used? Is that possible? When it was offered to me I was cautioned against using it as well. Of course now it is so old it can't really be used. So nice to have such a lovely quilt! Thank you Kristin! The kids are already asking for their own :) Today we made pants for barbie out of some left over bird fabric!