Friday, February 29, 2008
Thursday, February 28, 2008
Today I watched a slideshow of his baby's first year in review. I started crying and couldn't stop. Real honest to goodness tears of joy. It was a spiritual moment. Since then I've been examining why this touched me so deeply.
Nursing, diapers, sticky handprints, potty training accidents, laundry, school lunches to pack, agendas to find and sign, notes to teachers about missing homework (science fair from right after dinner til after bedtime last night), kisses, grins, hugs, searching for dry boots, baby toes to munch on, snack after snack after snack to feed little ones, an ear always on what they are up to...and through my day two things jumped out at me.
It isn't that I think a person can't have a full life without children, they most definitely can, and they certainly have time to do a lot of really wonderful things, but unless they devote themselves to a life of service there is something MISSING. There is a level of self sacrifice in parenting that I think is integral to our spiritual development. And this isn't to say that those who are childless are selfish...but they have to search pretty hard to have a relationship with anyone or anything that puts them in the same place of losing that sense of self...and then having to find it again WITH someone else attached to them
There is a special kind of mindfulness that every parent develops, no matter what our religion, we need to learn to pray while holding a child. We need to learn to recognize God's presence in the midst of a dinnertime tantrum, as well as hear God's voice in the whispery breathe of a sleeping baby.
I grew up thinking that people who were deeply religious had lots of kids because they were supposed to spread the faith through their children - the statistics of it all.. As an adult I see it differently. I think that FAMILY is at the centre of a lot of faiths because of the vital lessons we learn through the act of becoming a family. There is nothing mundane about raising a child.
And then I thought of this friend in particular and the warm and generous person he is and his search for spiritual meaning in his life - a search he's been on since I met him over 20 years ago. He's finally found it, that spiritual PLACE and sense of belonging. Its so obviously been grounded in him, nurtured, and is growing strong and lush within the shelter of the FAMILY he's been blessed to help create at the same time.
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
Nature Girl is taking 9 pointed star cookies to her class tomorrow. Always in on the action Wild Thing helped her make them.
Think this might explain the handprints all over my house?
Wild Thing's contribution. Cause nothing quite says Ayyam-i-Ha like ghosts and T-Rexs!!!!!!
Oh and here's our no fail basic soft cookie recipe "1-2-3 cookies". You can make it rich and buttery, super healthy, vegan, really you can make this basic into whatever you want it to be
1 cup solid fat of some kind - or pureed fruit - of your choice. I'm using butter right now but I'm switching to coconut oil when we go casein free, or our old standbys - apple sauce or prunes.
2 cups sugar of your choice - we used brown sugar
3 eggs or equivilent egg substitute
a heaping teaspoon of baking soda
enough flour - any kind you like - to make the kind of dough you want - for dropped cookies or for rolled out cookies - you just add it a cup at a time until the batter looks and feels right.
flavourings and additions of your choice. We added - a glug of vanilla, orange juice from two clementines, and a tiny bit of milk...kinda by accident! Then about...oh 4 or 5 cups of flour until it was stiff enough to roll out.
Our cookies are rolled, but still soft textured - not crispy.
My favorite way to do them is with apple sauce for half the fat, molasses, oats, raisins, chopped apples, lots of cinnamon, walnuts and whole wheat flour - done as a dropped cookie.
Kids can do this recipe almost entirely by themselves - with rolled cookies they will need some help getting all the flour mixed in and a flour sieve helps them not dump it all in too fast. Two kids and a mom to hold the bowl works great.
Oh yeah 380 for 8 minutes, check them - if they're dropped they will probably need a couple more minutes.
Really, I get the lovely family photos where everyone is haphazardly dressed in white shirts and pants strolling down a beach - I can keep everyone clean for a photo shoot...I think... but family living spaces?
We've lived here 3 months ...
I don't even know when this handprint found its way onto this bedroom wall. I remember a blur of 2 weeks where there was a lot of fingerpainting done but its been eclipsed by even more paper cutting, playdough making, drawing with markers, chalk, oil pastels, and jumping around in flour
Where do chic designer families REALLY live, thats what I want to know!
Monday, February 25, 2008
I think he's an absolutely beautiful baby, and not just cause he's mine. Most people meet him and say "Oh my! How long will it take you to grow into those BIG BLUE EYES!!!!????"
However this photo was hard fought for...mainly by the Sprout...why?
There's a certain HAM in our house who has a sixth sense for when the camera is out.
A less impressive shots from this photo shoot...
But both Sprout and I are tolerant.
THE BROTHERS GRINN
I found a bunch of experiments on craters and Nature Girl picked the one that was the most fun, and the messiest! She got to hurl various sized objects into a bin full of flour to see what kinds of craters they'd make. Her hypothesis was that the craters would be much bigger than the objects and that the objects would bounce away afterwards. It was a lot of fun and we threw all sorts of stuff in the flour, it got pretty silly when she and Wild Thing got in the bin themselves and walked on the moon. The serious stuff was measuring the diameter of our projectiles, and the depth and diameter of the holes they left.
Nature Girl has a lot of questions about the moon and I tried to remember and write down all of them. Then we went looking for the answers. A lot of them couldn't be answered definitively so we learned about scientific theory and how the "facts" in science are often changed as we learn more.
We talked a lot about the way the moon has looked to people over the ages and the different stories people have told about the moon. With each story, she looked at the moon with fresh eyes and imagination and found what those people saw when they looked up into the sky a man, a woman, a woman and child, the yin-yang symbol, frogs, rabbits and more!
We learned about why the moon is covered in craters but the earth is not. We also learned about why the craters don't get smoothed away over time like those on earth have. She did a very detailed map drawing of the moon's surface and included all sorts of details that we see on it's surface from earth like the "seas" which are actually large pools of cooled lava rock called basalt. She detailed craters, and the bright spots and rays, which we don't know a lot about, but the Apollo team brought back samples from one and it contained an awful lot of aluminum, and aluminum is naturally bright and shiny.
Nature Girl never once said "I forget". She finished what she started (with lots of dancing and jumping on the bed in between parts and sometimes during!). What she's taking in to the Fair tomorrow is only a fraction of what she learned in the past week at home. She is feeling really accomplished and proud of her work.
One of the nicest things I found was that with Nature Girl so wrapped up in this project, Wild Thing became interested, and he joined her in all the hands on activities. He learned how to trace a stencil and made his own map of the moon. When Nature Girl wrote, he did his own "letters". He looked at the moon and listened to stories about it and when it got too technical he went off and played with his space ship and aliens.
Moon Lore and Facts
Map and Experiment
More facts on the Moon and a Sorel boot mark that very well could be on the moon!
Toilet training continues...
He is still picking dog cookies as his treat after a poop on the potty. Despite offers of chocolate chips, cookies, and ice cream. Oh well, he won't have a tartar problem and his hair is nice and shiny.
Nature Girl lost the most annoying tooth in the world! Well, she didn't lose it, we yanked it out with a length of dental floss tied on. There was blood spray and everything! She is happy to report the tooth fairy left a twoonie and a mermaid charm.
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
Monday, February 18, 2008
Typical livingroom scene - books, card games, sippy cup, blocks, postit note with riding lesson info on it for Nature Girl, unswept hearth...the slipcover is usually on the couch but there was a poopy accident there yesterday and its in the washer. I should dry it and wrestle it back on. BUT NOT TODAY!!!!
Diningroom, not too bad.
I love my new fridge.
Okay so we went overboard on buying bananas, but the organic ones were on sale and they will get eaten! Check out the cool recycled felted wool tea cozy by Lala&Gleen. I smile everytime I make a pot of tea, which is frequently.
Friday, February 15, 2008
10 things that make me smile right now
1. Sprout's squealing laugh, and nose grabbing fascination with all our faces right now.
2. IMing with Dark Mirror and the comic he's got me hooked on - Misfile - http://www.misfile.com
3. Papa Pan reading pirate lore by the fire to everyone before bed.
4. Wild Thing's morning ritual: potty, costume, breakfast exactly like Nature Girl's, then playing with clay amidst the breakfast dishes.
5. Nature Girl reading to ME.
6. That excited and itching to paint feeling I get walking into the studio now.
7. The catfood dish (Nature Girl made it and it is perfect!)
8. Wild Thing asking me to rip open his eyeballs (clementine oranges) :-)
9. My bad job at cutting my bangs - all choppy and definitely "homespun" and I think, very cute!
10 Splashing on rosewater at noon and having Nature Girl curl up in my lap at 5 and tell me I smell good.
Thursday, February 14, 2008
Tissue paper and watercolour marker heart by Nature Girl
We're making playdough to celebrate
Gluten Free Play Dough Recipe
You can add food colouring to this, or not. If you do use it, add it to the scented water.
This dough has a nice smooth feeling texture.
1 cup cornstarch
2 cups salt
1 2/3 cup cold water
1/3 cup water 1/3 cup scented water (scent is optional) today we used rose water but its equally nice with camomile, lavender, orange, cinnamon, vanilla or chai spice. Any herbal tea will do if you don't have a floral water handy.
Put salt and 1 2/3 cups cold water into a pan and bring to a boil.
Mix the cornstarch with 2/3 cup water/scented water mix and stir well.
Add this mixture to the first and cook on low heat until it resembles pie crust.
Let it cool until you can handle it and knead into a clay.
Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
We are an impatient lot here and we like lots of sensory play so we often take it off the stove too early, play with it while its gooey and stretchy but very unclay like, then put it back on.
The trick with doing this is to respect the low heat rule while cooking playdough. But you will not ruin it by playing with it early.
We like working with ours on top of waxed paper.
There are approximately 275 blue jays roosting across the street from our house. This is just one of their trees and I counted 80 in this tree alone.
Oh and this is a colour picture - rainy days are most definitely GREY here.
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
Wild Thing this morning in the studio. He's listening to Mozart.
How did we spend our snow day, besides shovelling a lot of snow?
Papa Pan made me a giant storage organizer for the studio. We had trail mix oatmeal for breakfast, oven pizzas for lunch, apple pork chops for dinner. Papa Pan did ALL the cooking! We were busy dressing up, putting on a Carnival of the Animals play. Nature Girl has been doing these very funny dances lately, apparently crabs are amazing flamenco dancers and ostriches are just MADE or the Can Can.
The studio is almost all unpacked. It isn't pretty yet, but it is functional. I want a studio like Soule Mama's http://flickr.com/photos/22554961@N00/497915681/in/set-72157600213470413/ it is beautiful. It'll take awhile for mine to find it's "pretty", for now, I'm just happy to be able to finally find things!
Sunday, February 10, 2008
Saturday, February 9, 2008
I've noticed that I go in there in "colour moods". I wonder if other people do this? Last time I came out with all sorts of orange things. This time, I came out with all sorts of pink and green things.
Nature Girl would say our best buy was a tiny wicker pram for dollhouse dolls for .10. Wild Thing would say it was the vintage print "space rocket" jammies I found him for 2.00. Sprout would say, if he could talk, that the cool tattoo style "Hunk of Burning Love" printed red onesie was da bomb at 1.40. Personally I was thrilled to find pink and green cashmere sweaters for about 2.50 each that are felting up in the washer right now. Papa Pan would say he's glad we came out of there before his bladder burst.
Friday, February 8, 2008
They aren't disappointing me.
I'm really glad we moved to Wolfville from Chelsea for a bunch of reasons. One I hadn't really counted on, was that this little town is, thanks to a world class university - Acadia, very multicultural. Chelsea was so wealthy it was homogeneous.
Anyhow, I was thinking about this today because I make a point of exposing my children to as many cultures as possible without it being a contrived activity, and it is now a lot easier.
I just read a wonderful book with Nature Girl and Wild Thing called Beatrice's Goat written by Page McBrier. It is the story of a little girl in Uganda and how a goat named Mugisa (Lucky) totally changes her family's life. It's about (and helps fund) Heifer International, the aide project that provides families with small livestock loans and education in sustainable farming methods. http://www.heifer.org. I think donating some animals in Africa will be one of our service projects this year.
Thursday, February 7, 2008
I was catching up today, savouring a very well written series on a break up. I was feeling the same weight on my chest, the same weary eyes from crying, and the same peace when she escaped her pain to cuddle her friends little kids. I don't often think of my somewhat chaotic life as anyone's idea of an oasis, but there it was.
My kids are an oasis.
And I miss combing Darkmirror for nits while he plays on the computer. I really do. At 14 it is likely the last real hands on physical mothering I'll get to do with him. I get to be an ear to what he wants to share these days, but I don't get to clean out his ears. I really, really, miss that. And what I'm feeling is that weight on my chest, it does feel like a break up.
I really love garbage day.
Garbage is collected every second week here. I put out 2 medium sized bags of garbage, 3 or 4 bags of recyclables and returnables - seperated - and a large rolling composter filled to the brim each week. For a family our size, I think its pretty good. In a few months we have to start putting our garbage out in clear bags so we can be shamed into properly seperating our trash. I support this completely.
Our utility room is the last space to get unpacked but once it has been Nature Girl and Wild Thing will set up business with cleaning the returnables and get to keep the money. I think if we do returns where applicable we'll get our waste disposal down to a bag of garbage a week and a bag of recyclables, plus the composter.
If they'd let us compost our kitty litter I'd be able to put out one bag of garbage every two weeks!
Oh the shame my composter got a big orange sticker on it chastising me for putting some ashes in it!!! Why can't I compost our fireplace ashes, we always have? Oh well, they'll go in our "personal composter" in the spring.
Nature Girl has not been sleeping well for the past week, a few nightmares, a lot of night waking and, as it turns out, a really itchy butt. Last night she kept making trips to the toilet at bedtime. I thought it was a stalling technique and demanded that she let me come in to the bathroom.
"My bum feels all wierd" and she's dancing frenetically by the toilet.
She's pretty dramatic but this was new. My mommy brain started putting the sleeplessness, and itchy butt together. I look in the toilet and EWWWWWWWWWWWW!!!! PINWORMS.
Papa Pan went out right away and got deworming medicine for everyone (but Sprout, he's too little, pray he doesn't have them - pristine gut and all, I'd like his first food to be something OTHER than caramel flavoured worming medicine!).
It may seem strange, with five kids, but until last year and the lice I'd never gone through these routine kid infestations before. I'm proud of myself for even thinking of worms when she started dancing. I remember tons of worm medicine as a kid (it was red and it stained). Thank God for the washer and dryer, and hot running water, and all night pharmacies!
Wednesday, February 6, 2008
Okay enough bad singing for Darkmirror, this is the outside of the house, hard to tell from this but it is wooden shingles as siding. This summer we HOPE to build a cute little cottage-y sunporch/mudroom between the big window and the little jog on the other side of the front door. We need to reshingle the roof sometime in the next two years and we'll match them to the bit of red brick, then paint the house a sage green and creamy ochre and Nature Girl wants a purple front door :-)
Her desk is always a mess of letters and stuff and I WILL figure out how she can keep this tidier, probably with wall mounted folders. In the closet is her organization rack thingie - shallow shoe box sized organizers on tilted shelves - GREAT for her - I can hand her a bin and tell her "ALL THE POLLYS" and as long as we start with the dress ups she can do it in just a few minutes without getting distracted. Oh and I forgot to mention the mesh tube thingie - if stuffed toys can't fit in there we have too many and we do a purge.
In Wild Thing and the Sprout's room the same kind of organizer, but it holds both their clothes - much easier for Wild Thing than digging in drawers. I keep diapers and drying covers in the mesh tube thingie. They each have a tickle trunk and for now we have things divided up so all the soft toys go in one, all the "Wild Thing's Personal Collection of loud hard clanging things" goes in the second. When Sprout needs a space of his own I have wooden initials to put on them.
Monday, February 4, 2008
I found this while looking for quick knit books, you know the "do it with one skein" knits.
I have no time for knitting these days, my downtime has a baby in my arms and I type one handed. But I can felt old sweaters and sewing is so much faster than knitting for me.
I could just die from cuteness - look at those cupcakes!!!!
and about the boxes in a future post (I can see the future of my blogging!) ...
Grumbly, I went.
I am so glad we did.
First of all, the pancake breakfast was phenomenal - great pancakes, fantabulous preserved blueberries on top and REAL sausages, I assume from a local farm because everything else was, apple juice, and yummy fair trade Just Us! coffee. Everything was hot and well cooked and just plain finger licking good. While we ate we listened to a local harpist play and sing. Nature Girl has an incredible ear and when she wasn't focussed intently on licking up every last bit of blueberry sauce from her plate, she was watching the harpist and telling me where she'd heard each song before.
I steeled myself for our next event, eagle watching. Oh fun I thought, lets go driving around back roads looking for roosts in ravines and "my oh my" won't it be fun to look for those raptor shaped specks in the sky??? As soon as we left the community hall Nature Girl and Wild Thing started bickering over who got to hold the binoculars and Papa Pan disappeared into the community hall to get something. We went to put Sprout in the car and he balked at the idea; we went through the drumstick debaucle there on the side of the road. But I was pleasantly surprised to hear an eagle cry over the whining, and see two specks in the sky so it might not be a lost cause. But I was getting grumpy again.
Papa Pan had gotten a map and we drove 3 minutes away from the Hall and parked with about 2 dozen other people along side the road. I looked across the road and WOW!!!! There were 50 to 100 bald eagles hanging out in a field!!!!! There were atleast 30 sitting in trees around the field and just hanging out in the farm yard next door!!!! Mature eagles, juveniles, ravens, a few bold gulls were feeding in this field!!! This is where the local egg farmers "bring out their dead".
I now understand why, despite the mild weather, no one lets their chickens out in winter!!!!
We showed up late, on a good morning you can see upwards of 300 eagles at a time.
It was great!
Afterwards I had raptor eyes and noticed even more - red tail hawks and more bald eagles feeding on the mud flats (shellfish I guess) as we drove home.
So, if someone suggests bird watching as a winter activity for the whole family in the Annapolis Valley, definitely go!!!
Well for the past three days he's been screaming bloody murder in the car. I put him in his carseat, and all is fine for about 10 minutes, then he starts complaining, and nothing can distract him, it escalates til he's full on crying and arching his back to get out.
We kept pulling over and I kept cuddling him, burping him and offering to nurse and then we'd try again and the same thing would happen. Well yesterday I got so frustrated by it I yanked the carseat out of the car to see if there was something broken on it. Looked at everything and it was all fine. Felt the upholstery along the sides, and everything was fine. Felt the straps, no strange twists or bends that could be chafing. Felt down the bucket of the seat, and oh my lord??? WHAT is THAT?? I was poked hard by something long and very pointy. We pull off the cover, along the side of the road, and find that Wild Thing has secretted away a DRUMSTICK inside the carseat.
"Mine sword!" He exclaims happily.
"Great, you can have it back when we get home!" as I reassemble the carseat ALONG THE SIDE OF THE ROAD.
Sprout hasn't made a peep in the carseat since then.