Saturday, February 28, 2009

We are off tomorrow to check out Seattle for a few days. The kids are very excited and I am hoping it will be a nice diversion for Samuel and give him a break from thinking about his birthday for a few days. He is completely obsessed with it arriving more quickly, poor little guy, and it has become quite a strain on both of us. So we will spend a few jam packed days at the aquarium and the science center. Swimming. A little card playing in the hotel. Some restaurant food and lots of mango tango and chocolate pudding.

When we come back it is all about getting ready for his birthday...Samuel is asking for a DS this year and is very excited to finally be able to play a certain Kirby game. He has plans to go directly to Blockbuster on his birthday {do not pass go!} for this particular game. I am hoping it lasts a little longer than The Force Unleashed did when we were given a Wii last November for Matt's birthday. He finished that in about six hours. Surely Kirby has a few more hours to offer us? Besides the DS he is all about the Lego Power Miner sets. He is completely taken with the Rock Monsters. I have to agree they are definitely cute! I'm not sure we need all of them, but who am I to judge another's desire?

Thursday, February 26, 2009

16 today (or thereabouts...)

Today is Agnes' 16th birthday! Imagine that! I remember thinking at one point several years ago that if there was a cat who would make it to 22 years, Agnes was that cat. At 16 she is healthy, albeit cranky, and very focused on her food and my lap. She has a little arthritis in her knees and can no longer jump up or down from the counter (not necessarily a place she needs to be but certainly a place every cat wants to be). And while most would consider her to be overweight, I give credit, at least in part, to that awesome cat food she eats for her staggering good health. (If Agnes was ever going to thank me for bringing Maxwell home, and I am certainly not holding my breath, it would be for that food. All the cats eat it now but Maxwell has to eat it. There would be no Innova Evo in the house if not for Maxwell and Agnes lives and breathes that cat food! It has become the very reason she wakes me up each day...) So here's to a long and healthy life! Here's to Agnes.

Agnes today after her birthday meal.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

It looks like the kids and I are going to go up to Seattle on Sunday to see the Lucy exhibit at the Pacific Science Center on Monday. I am also hoping to go to the aquarium while we are there because Eva has been asking over and over to see the fish. I have never been to Seattle so this should be a fun adventure and with my new AAA membership (thanks dad!) I am all set to drive up there. We have music! We have space. And the hotel has a pool!

I was told today was National Pancake Day (who knew?) and that IHOP was giving away free pancakes. I can't say I am in the mood for a crowded restaurant but I like the feeling of enthusiasm I feel when I think about free pancakes. I have an amazing pancake recipe now thanks to my friend Brian and I really think we might celebrate tonight with pancakes for dinner.

All of the cats have been de-flea-ed with Advantage. I really hope this does the trick because I am tiring of Agnes being a flea hotel. The fleas are definitely testing the limits of my good will. Even the Dalai Lama said that bedbugs and mosquitos tested him. Good to know.

Saturday, February 21, 2009


Yesterday we went with ellen to Sauvie Island to look for frogs. It is almost time for the frogs but not quite. Instead we saw so many ducks and had sandwiches and enjoyed our time outside. I hope to try again in a week.

Today Eva and I pruned more roses in the backyard and I finished fixing up another flower bed. Thirteen roses pruned, fifteen to go. The wood violets are blooming well now and I found forget-me-not plants and peonies popping up as well. Samuel cut down so many blackberry vines today- he loves using the loppers that my dad bought for us last time he was out. I was sorry I didn't have more for him to cut down. Neither of the kids was particularly interested in clearing away leaves or dead vines from last fall. They do the pruning and lopping and I tidy things up behind them. It is really nice having their help and company. I love this time of year outside and the yard tidying it brings. Turns out I love to prune roses- must be that gene thing again. I look forward to the flowers popping up and enjoy seeing their plants getting set for spring time. I always forget just how many flowers there are in our yard!

Sauvie Island

Always nice to have a good stick...or two!

fairies having breakfast!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

roller skating
park swinging
dog walking
heron sighting
bird calling
crocus blooming
chocolate sipping
kind of day

crocuses beginning. they were open earlier when the sun was out and closed up when the clouds came back. brrrr...

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

out of this world

Picture this. The kids and I had just spent the afternoon at Out of This World Pizza with some unschooling friends. We said our goodbyes, Samuel showed off his new robot to everyone, and we drove home. Eva was worn out, Samuel was cheerful, and I even got to talk with the other moms today. A success story. Hooray!

When we came into the house Samuel checked his pant pockets and realized that Sliver and Titan were missing. What? Those two Lego guys travel most places with us inside Samuel's pockets and a lot of the time I thankfully have no idea they are even there. Today I definitely did not know they were there. I was busy looking after Chicky and making sure no one touched the new robot. We looked in all the usual places in the house, under his pillow, in with the other Lego guys, with Eva's Lou. No Sliver and Titan.

I called Out of This World Pizza to find out if they had them in their lost and found? No.

What to do? What to do? Of course we drove back over to Out of This World Pizza and while there we checked under every plasma car, inside both of the jumpy-slidey-bouncy things, under each tunnel and tube. We climbed inside- all of us- every square inch of the climbing sliding play structure that spans how many feet high? So many levels it is hard to count. Just when I was beginning to wonder {again} whether we would go home empty handed- imagining them lying somewhere alone and bereft, lost toys...Samuel climbed down one area and called up to me. "Momma they are here!"

And sure enough there they were! They had fallen out of his pocket and- get this- slid through the safety mesh that surrounds the whole play structure. There they lay, beyond the mesh, in a pile of heavy dust. Definitely bereft but no longer alone. I was so excited I went and found one of the employees and had him climb up and he came down smiling. Yes, he was excited too!

Then things really started to happen. He spoke with his manager and the manager was not nearly as excited as we were. Nothing they could do. We would have to wait until they cleaned the thing. How long until that happened? So I spoke to the manager. Words like "tomorrow when the owner comes in" and "liability" and "I could do it!" were spoken back and forth until finally I told the manager, "Look, their names are Sliver and Titan and we would very much like to take them home with us tonight." Deep sigh. He went and got a broom. Isn't a broom so handy? And then he found himself standing inside the play structure, underneath the area where Sliver and Titan lay in the dust while our employee friend directed him from above with the broom, which by the way would not fit through the mesh. I imagine if this structure were in our home we would have cut to the chase and simply used a Swiss army knife to cut through the mesh. I want to add that before the manager went inside the play structure and stood underneath the area where Sliver and Titan lay (and this is the house that Jack built...) he asked me if someone had put those toys inside there on purpose or if a bully or some other individual had stolen them to torture my daughter (Samuel). I didn't know which way would be better for us- would it have helped our case if some *bully* had stolen my daughter's (Samuel's) Lego guys and shoved them through the mesh?

After a little negotiating under the canvas and through the mesh popped first Sliver and then Titan. To say that I was elated is an understatement. To say that I was surprised? I was amazed. Now is the time for a big group hug is what I was thinking. Now is the time to name my first born son (well, you get my meaning) after the manager. Now is the time...but he would have none of it. I thanked him and he looked the other way, dusted himself off and left. He was quick too because I never even saw him leave. Not in his job description. The other employee was as thrilled as me and let me tell him he had definitely made our week. I thanked him profusely and we left- immediately! and quickly! with smiles on our faces! Hooray! {again} Because wasn't that where we had left off from?

Monday, February 16, 2009


Ahhh the scent of wood violets. So much lovely time spent outside today pruning some roses, tidying up around the surfacing bulbs, admiring wood violets. I trimmed back the oregano and mint from last summer and the scents were divine. Eva and I planted two packs of sweet peas and some shell peas. I transplanted several chamomile plants growing outside the box and found some more kale plants that had reseeded themselves. I must say I am completely amazed by just how many poppies there will be this year. Poppies are apparently another plant that does quite well for itself if given a good start. You could have a whole yard with just poppies and mint and buttercups. Also happy to find the chard made it and appears to be doing well so far.

We saw the first crocus budding today. Here is Eva in the magical snowdrop hideaway.

With the hidden away snowdrops. So abundant!

Eva picked a handful of snowdrops.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

balloon madness at last

We went to Burgerville today and the kids each got red and white balloons for Valentines Day. Samuel was thrilled because the balloons had enough helium in them to actually lift little Lego guys up into the air. This is Titan (I stand corrected) taking a ride on his helium balloon.

Eva hid construction paper hearts all over the house and Samuel hid them again outside in the yard. Hiding and seeking is definitely one of their favorite past times; Easter is certainly a favorite holiday because of this. Both kids are requesting that I hide their birthday gifts again this year and Samuel wants another treasure hunt on his birthday. That is a lot of hiding and seeking!

I am getting to the end of my frozen salsa and tomatoes. There are still several bowls of tomato soup that I am looking forward to. I am excited to plant peas some time in the next couple of days now that I am feeling better. It is also about time to prune the roses! Eva and Samuel are both excited about pruning as well. What a great way for me to connect with them. There is nothing like plant connection!

Friday, February 13, 2009

body art studio

Oh I nearly forgot. For the last several days Eva has had what she called first a body art shack and now a body art studio. There you can have original designs by Eva drawn onto your hands and feet, as well as temporary tattoos and other stenciled designs. Today she put up advertisements all over the house because she is feeling it isn't getting enough business. She has been thinking of setting up a stand out front and I suggested maybe doing some of her body art and tattoos at the next homeschooling market. Needless to say, we all have several designs on our hands. I have a flower, a unicorn, a butterfly, a rose tattoo and a yin/yang tattoo. Samuel has a heart on his forehead!


Six words every knitter knows by heart- Take time to check your gauge. Or even these six- Don't forget to check your gauge. If you have knit long enough you can usually gauge what your gauge will be with certain yarns and wing it with projects where gauge is not critical. Even expert knitters check their gauge on something as time intensive as a sweater or socks or gloves or anything where fit is desired. Take time to check your gauge.

I'm really loving how appropriate this is for everything else in life as well. Applying for a new job? Check your gauge. Shopping for tires? Check your gauge. Can't decide if you should go to the park or not? Check your gauge. How often do we dismiss our feelings and go right ahead with something we later regret- don't forget to check your gauge...Act when it feels right.

So we are still sick here but feeling well-er, health is now visible in the distance. Eva is roller skating and practicing throwing out hearts from her Easter basket for Valentine's Day tomorrow and Samuel is playing a little wii golf. I cut out what feels like 100's (or at least dozens) of little red and purple and yellow paper hearts and Eva decorated with some of them. The windows are a glorious display of heartness. Hoping I feel up to some baking later on for the big chocolate day to come.

We have been enjoying a couple of games lately-
crayon physics deluxe
fantastic contraption
armadillo run

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

if you stand in front of a mirror

I would say this is the question of the day. Eva asked me If you stand in front of the mirror for two hours and then stop standing in front of the mirror, how do you know what you look like later?

And I said, we don't change how we look that quickly (but do we?) and also, well I guess you don't know how you look, not exactly. And she said, Right now I am smiling and dancing and I know I am smiling, but I don't know what kind of smile it is...

Right. It can be a surprise when you look in the mirror and you think you look one way and you find out you look another. One smile to another.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Samuel learned how to blow up a balloon today and has been blowing up and deflating his red balloon all day. He is so excited about it! I am in no state to be blowing up balloons and declined when he asked me if I wanted to give it a try. My body is all about rest and sitting still and not breathing too deeply right now. It occurred to me, however, that it has been a long time since I have used my actual lungs to blow up a balloon. I usually use the bicycle pump or the mini pump that came with the exercise ball (but not the one that squeaks like fingers on a blackboard, the other one)- yet another example of letting technology take over...thinking about trying out that red balloon when I am feeling better just to make sure I still can blow up a balloon. It'd be like knowing I can still balance my own checkbook or that I can still tie my shoes (if I had any shoes with actual ties). Hmm...that is interesting. How long has it been since I have had shoes with actual ties on them? I know, two summers ago I bought some cheap tennis shoes at Goodwill to wear to the barn for riding lessons. They have ties. Ah ha! Well, at least I know I can tie the little ribbon on the back of Barbie's dress. Or the little diaper on the Calico Critters' baby rabbit. I would like to put a request in to the Barbie makers and definitely to the Calico Critter people. Those ties really need to be a little longer. Wait, are they meant to be for Barbie to tie? OK, OK that makes sense. I wish she would tie the little diapers as well.
Sick again. Must be time for more rest. Eva is learning about jumping rope and just now while she was showing me how she can skip rope across the kitchen floor, she told me about the honey bears. She said, "Momma, do you know how the honey bears do it? First they wake up in the morning and then they have breakfast and then they go outside to swing on their swings and then they go for a ride..." and off she skipped. Lovely sounding day, don't you think?

Sunday, February 8, 2009

I love it when it rains on one side of the house and not the other. I love the rainbows this brings. I have seen more rainbows while living in Portland than during the whole rest of my life combined! This is such an amazing time of year in this area. Rainbows abound!

I finished a questionnaire on Facebook today about the top ten things I have learned as a parent. The list is by no means exhaustive and in no particular order. Several other moms wrote out their own top-tens and Lyla compiled them all for this amazing blog. Such a huge amount of wisdom on this process, this practice (there it is again) we call parenting... Check it out!
1. Maybe there isn't anything I *should* be doing...
2. Kids know when you are present and when you are thinking about something else.
3. Silence is frequently the best thing. You don't have to say something every time your child does or says something and frequently what they want, what anyone wants, is for someone to listen to them or be with them. It feels really quiet at first but I think we are addicted to commenting and you get used to it.
4. Just because your child doesn't want to do what you want them to do does not make them stubborn or headstrong or anything. Maybe they just don't like your idea. It was your idea after all and we all like our own ideas.
5. Support your kids in what they want to do. Don't tell them all the awful things we think are true like artists can't earn a living and only a few people get to do what they want.
6. There are so many limits put on us by ideas about gender and age that are cultural. It is OK for kids to do things that are not within those limits. I think of a small boy loving the color pink...
7. Kids do things when they are ready to do them. We all do.
8. allow allow allow
9. You aren't giving in, you are noticing how important something truly is to your child.
10. Kids are their own people and we can support and love them and show them the way as best we can *and* they have their own loves, their own personalities, their own passions and it isn't a good idea to try and mold them. Let them be who they are and love them for that.
11. It's how I feel about myself...
12. What I want for my kids is for them to be happy and have a life they love. That is up to them. What I can do for them is love them.
I'll say this- the thing for me about Barbie, to be honest, is the little shoes. For me they are pretty much the same as finding that certain Lego in a big pile of Legos, only this is a Barbie shoe in a big pile of shoes. Or clothes. Or in the couch? Good for keeping those visual and perceptive skills loose and in shape. They don't call me the keeper-of-small-parts for nothing.

Samuel has been dictating his stories onto the new digital recorder and I have quite a bit of transcription to do. The best part, aside from the fact that he is loving it, being able to record his story ideas and his enthusiasm, is that he offered to pay me for typing out his stories. So thoughtful and aware. I was impressed and appreciative and happy to tell him not to worry about it this time.

Saturday, February 7, 2009


talk about practice. here's something to practice. practice trust, even if you are used to doubt. trust that all is well even when you don't believe all is well. this is where to practice. this is the practice.

charlotte joko beck talks about our cutoff point. everyone has a cutoff point and it is different for everyone. the cutoff point is when? where? you no longer see the perfection in everything. every. thing. this is when you practice.

if you miss it, don't worry. that takes practice too. noticing when you need to practice. noticing when you are really practicing. refining. processing. living, after all.

Friday, February 6, 2009


a game where you take two spoons and a tape roll and move the tape roll around with another person

a story about Gilbert and his family on the digital recorder

Knight Rider episodes

rearranging Legos

making valentines

giant Knight game in the living room

another game with puppies and kittens fighting and no one can go near the electrical lines (?? I never got the hang of this one but I managed to win??)

old maid, uno, go fish, crazy eights all in one hour

plus chutes and ladders and candy land and a puzzle

and then master mind

mario kart

wii monopoly

the arcade and then the park because

Eva chasing bubbles at the park

Thursday, February 5, 2009

When I was Eva's age- 5-6ish- I was in kindergarten. During coloring time I would sit next to my friend Lisa Fulton and either she or I would turn to the other and say "Copy?" If it was my turn to copy, she would draw a picture and I would draw mine as identically to hers as I could muster and when we were done coloring we would look at our pictures on the table in front of us, perfect copies of each other with trees and flowers and rainbows and houses and little people holding hands. Lots of love.

I think about this a lot these days when I sit down to color with Eva, that and the fact that if you had asked me several years ago, I would have told you that you definitely don't give children, particularly girls, coloring books because they get in the way of creativity and unnecessarily stress perfectionism. (I didn't believe in giving children apple juice at one time or another as well...) But what do you do when your daughter asks for coloring books? If you are me, you think about it a little and of course you give her coloring books, with fairies and unicorns no less, and you think and think and think some more. And you never ever tell her to stay in the lines because where is the fun in that? That would be beside the point. That would suggest a right way and a wrong way to color and I am definitely about there being so many ways to do things it takes all of us to find them out. When I color with her I practice coloring with my left hand or I practice just coloring and going against the grain of what I have been taught and I color outside the lines, without regard for the lines, any which way I can.

This is something Eva loves to do and I enjoy spending a good bit of time each week connecting through coloring. I don't worry any more about the coloring books stunting creativity, at least not with Eva, because she is always drawing on her own. Everywhere I turn there is another Eva creation, on my budget sheet, in my journal, on the grocery list, in her blank books, she fills them all up with her own drawings all day long. She brings them to me and tells me the stories behind them. She takes them with her and draws more in the car or at doctor's appointments or leaning up against me while I pay the bills or answer email, more connection with crayons and hugs. Lots of love.

Lately Eva has taken to wanting to copy the coloring book pages to match the pictures on the cover or she wants to make sure the grass is colored green or the princess' dress is white. When we sit down to color, Eva will tell me which colors I am to use and which colors she will use. It makes me wonder if this is what you do when you are this age, particularly when I think about my own experience. Copy? I notice how often we as parents decide this is "how our kids are" and suddenly a stage, something our children are learning or trying out becomes who they are forever because even when they are ready to move on to the next thrill, we hold on to what they are trying out.

Eva tries out copying, to get it just right, coloring the dragon just the right shade of green or blue, so that she can move on to the next right thing. And before that, she tried out coloring the unicorns purple. The people's hair was green. Maybe it is that there is a continuum that we all move along at our own pace, trying out what we can, when we are able. When we are through, and only when we are through, we move on to our next big thrill. I love the idea of supporting my kids, of supporting myself even, in whatever they are immersed in so that when they have mastered something, they own it for themselves and are able to let it go and move on to whatever the next thing is they need, whatever will spark their enthusiasm and help them feel complete and alive. What a wonderful world it would be if everyone were able to find out what their next big things was, if no one were held to what they have already mastered, and if we could all just let go when we were ready.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

From here to here...First snowdrops popping up in my front yard.

Imagine that. Today we did some yard tidying and uncovered snowdrops! We also made bread and enjoyed bread and jam this evening- boysenberry and strawberry. This is the time of year when I can't believe the upick is still maybe five months away and I am so happy for my homemade jam. I love the long spring here and look forward to uncovering more flowers in my yard in the weeks and months to come. So exciting thinking about the crocuses and daffodils on their way! And peonies and violets and irises and rhododendrons and columbine and roses and...

Monday, February 2, 2009

groundhog(s) day!

Fun! Phil definitely would have seen his shadow here today. It was a lovely 55-60 degrees and the sun came out to take a walk in the park with us. Of course it is truly so mild here that I know we won't really have 6 more weeks of winter. That holiday and its lore is really more about another part of the country entirely. In fact I am wondering when I will start going out to Sauvie Island to hear the frogs sing. No sign of crocuses in my yard yet but I know they are stretching down there.

The other thing I love about Groundhog(s) day, aside from the fact that it is all about celebrating little fuzzy guys (that some people actually try and harm the rest of the year....) is that it shares its day with Imbolc, the pagan holiday right smack dab between Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. I love how so many holidays have some correlation somewhere with the Earth and her time spent turning round.

After I told the kids it was Groundhog(s) Day Eva said that was great because Chicky and the bunnies were going to sing songs. She set up a lovely stage and so many animals came to watch...

Samuel's opening act and audience; Chicky and the bunny singing. See how fancy the stage is with shells and Christmas garland? Chicky and the bunny put on their best clothes just for the occasion.

We went to a bakery after spending such a nice afternoon at the park with friends and I had an amazing stuffed Florentine. Eva had a cupcake and reminded me again that she wants cake decorating supplies. Maybe for her birthday cake? There is a cake decorating place near us that I really need to take us to so that we can check out the supplies. Is there some cake decorating gene that is expressing itself now from her great-grandpa Floyd (on my mom's side- he was a baker after all...I often think I get my love of bread baking from this gene...)?

Samuel has a hard time at this bakery because he isn't a chocolate fan and he doesn't like cream cheese frosting. We decided next time he could probably get a chocolate chip cookie and be happy with that. It is funny there because for some reason the people working at this bakery really take offense at Samuel scowling over the cream cheese frosting and white chocolate coated cookies and give him nasty looks and watch him as he walks around turning up his nose at all of the cookies and cupcakes. He is totally oblivious to these looks but they irritate me. I am his mother after all. This time I told the woman who helped us that it is a real challenge for him to choose something because he doesn't like chocolate or cream cheese and all of a sudden she felt so sorry for him and loaded him up with a bag of chocolate chip and sugar cookie samples and called him "poor little dear". When we were leaving I saw her telling the other people there and they all looked after him sadly, clucking their tongues and shaking their heads. Samuel was quite pleased with how it all turned out.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

happy birthday chicky

Chicky had a birthday party today and everyone was invited. You can tell my kids are getting excited for their own birthdays in March. As they approach, the birthday parties multiply around the house. March is a big month around here with both of their birthdays within 10 days of one another and sometimes Easter! Thankfully Easter is in April this year.

Chicky the birthday girl with her birthday crown and cake. The whole celebration.

Party closeups- lego guys and dweezil and friends. Gilbert and family...Notice everyone has a small slice of cake on a little coin plate.