Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Those delectable chocolate curls

Shower Day: freshly washed and combed

I've developed an entire routine to keep Yiya's curls looking beautiful.

It takes a lot of attention and moisturizer to keep them tame and coiled, otherwise his hair frizzes into an unsightly and enormous mouse nest. (Stretched out, his hair goes halfway down his back.)

I wash it with conditioner every few days, apply in a leave-in conditioner, then comb through it with a hair creme.  On the off days, I spritz it with water with a few drops of beard oil added in. (Thanks Uncle Erik!)  The curls tighten right up.

As you can imagine, he detests having his hair combed.  It only happens every few days, but we have a routine for that as well: we watch Convos with My 2-Year-Old on YouTube while I comb through it.  Otherwise he is completely unmanageable: squawking, crying, fighting, curling up on me.  If Convos is on, he is mild and subdued.  So much easier.

But the real inspiration for this post ...

This morning the boys are making Lego conservatories for the flies and stink bugs they find around the house.  Everyone was gathered around the table building.  Yiya was draped in his towel.  After getting him dressed, I headed back to the bathroom for the hair creme and a comb.  He knew what was happening next.

When I came back into the kitchen, he was nowhere to be seen and sweet little disembodied voice called, "Me hiding!"  I looked around for a few seconds, laughing to myself and not seeing him anywhere, then looked under the table; sure enough, the little mister was crouched down and looking sly.

Everything unfurled as usual: Convos, creme, comb. Then I rushed to write this down as soon as I possibly could.  The "Me hiding" is just such a perfect example of where he's at right now: his sweet little two and a half year old self.

Also: the picture above.  We have local friends who run an online Catholic homeschool curriculum.  We posed as models for them last month and this shot came out of it.  We were giggling at each other. Isn't he just so sweet?

Friday, January 22, 2016

Two and a half


Eliah says
  • "Shishy papo" not "fishy papo" [papo = pacifier]
  • "DungeBob" not "SpongeBob"
  • "Dushbrish" not "toothbrush"
  • "Bana chips" not "Banana chips"
  • "Sell this?" instead of "Can we buy this?"
  • Adds "butt hole" into all teases and jokes
  • Asks for me to sing "Hump-Dumpy-Dumpy"

Funny quotes
:: "You a lady, Mama" (fingering my ponytail)

:: "Me buy this one ship! Twenty Dollars." (Diego's Lego X-wing Fighter)

:: "No way hoo-zay" and "No fanks hoo-zay"

:: "Get outta here, butt - head." (to get a laugh) (always)

:: "Pumperdoll is, Pumperdoll is, Pumperdoll is" (his song) (inspired by Blaine's nickname for him) ("Pumperdoll" and often just "Pump" or "Doll")

:: "One . . . two . . . butt hole . . . three . . . butt hole . . . butt hole . . . butt hole" (counting to ten with me) (goodness) (there's obviously a lot of potty talk in a houseful of boys)

:: "So many yucky things" (surveying Gramma S.'s beautifully set Christmas spread)

Thursday, January 14, 2016

These days

I am....

....playing the "Dragon Game" with Jamie and Eliah every day before lunch in the upstairs bedroom.  Jamie gets dressed up in his dragon costume and  I am Mama Emerald, Jamie is Baby Ruby, and Eliah is Baby Opal.  I cozy up in bed and they run around and squeak. We also do a lot of fake eating, pretend sleeping, and flying practice (AKA jumping off the bed and tearing around the room).

....playing Hearts with the Big Boys in the afternoons.

....starting the evening meal at 4:00 PM, which makes the entire night easier.  I also shifted around my other regular routines, like making stock or broth-making, yogurt-making, boiling eggs for snacks, making Blaine's weekly breakfast frittata, etc. to the morning, so I am not in the kitchen until bedtime every night.

....reading Johnny Tremain aloud and really enjoying it.  And Robinson Caruso.  And 26 Fairmount Avenue.  And Poor Richard.  And the Jesse Bear books.  And always, always Mother Goose . . . I adore nursery rhymes.

....reading Big House in the Little Woods aloud on the nights that Eliah falls asleep quickly.  Blaine is reading Indian in the Cupboard at bedtime every few nights.  This is a relatively new tradition that I am so pleased about.  (Though I did read through all of Raggedy Ann and Raggedy Andy when Jamie fell asleep quickly in years' past.) (But it felt much, much more intermittent than this.)

....so pleased about Skype Story Night with my Dad.  He's reading us The Hobbit.  Every Wednesday (or Tuesday) at 8:00 PM CST.  Blaine snuggles and reads with the younger boys while the big boys and I laze and listen.  I look forward to it every week.

....surprised this post turned into raving about books.

....glad to be able to out-process this afternoon.  It is so settling and inspiring, getting a good look and a dose of perspective.  I really should post more often.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Thoughts from rest

My head is a-swirl this morning with what I've learned in recent time, both resounding and insignificant.

Blaine is home this week.  We are getting up well before the crack of dawn and enjoying the solitude; he in his nest in a lamp-lit basement with the fire blazing next to him, me on the main floor next to the piano and our enormous bookshelf, lit by the art-deco panther lamp.  The fellas haven't been waking up until 7:00 AM, even Yiya.  The space for reflection has been blissful.

He is reading Galileo's Daughter by Dava Sobel and watching Roman Polanski films on his sister's old laptop.  I am working through a book of poetry on grieving and loss and reading Jane Eyre.  Many of the poems make me cry, but it is good to connect and understand more.

But: what I have learned.

......that just because I am not doing something now, doesn't mean I won't be able to implement it in the future.  What a HUGE asset this understanding is under my belt in motherhood.  I am not sunk because I haven't read Les Miserables or [insert amazing book here] aloud, nor because I have yet to implement a two hour afternoon quiet time for reading and reflection.  Shoot, we've never even had a full-sized Christmas tree.  There is time for all of it.  So many things are worked into, not instantly implemented.  They grow and change, and so the does the rhythm and routine around them.  I am their steward and shepherd.

......that accepting children for what they are is very freeing.  I remember feeling this very profoundly when I realized that there wasn't anything wrong with Baby Truen, he simply wasn't Baby Diego. (Serious and Reserved vs. Super-smiley and Outgoing)  This was very confusing to me his first year.  They are all different; how could they not be?  And as they grow older, tactics and methods that work for one are less effective or useless with another - and that is okay.  It is up to us to figure them out.  X isn't a mutant because he doesn't respond how I would or how I've seen his brothers do it.  They are who they are and it is our job to meet him there.

and not thoughtful at all....
......that all I need to brush my teeth is baking soda and a drop of Sweet Fennel essential oil.  With maybe a little salt mixed in.  We ran out of tooth powder last week and won't be able to get it for another week.  In the meanwhile, Blaine bought a toothpaste that I find unpleasant.  I thought about it a bit, then decided to take an ulterior route and I have to say, I'm a big fan.

The snow is thick at our house and the bird feeders are flocked by squirrels and winter birds.

It feels good to be at home.  It feels good to think.

Monday, December 14, 2015

I must have been very, VERY proud


Last night I slept on my back, holding a pork belly-sized pillow in my left arm like I was carrying it.  I knew it was a pillow, but I told myself in my sleepy netherworld state that it was the bacon I finished that day.  I was clutching it in my left arm like a baby.  It was warm and I swear I could smell it.

I completed my first-ever homemade bacon experiment yesterday afternoon.  I roasted it after seven days of turning it in the brine in the refrigerator.  It looked and smelled amazing.  Un.

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Checking in . . . so cathartic

I realized last week that I haven't posted in eons.  Perhaps more than a month?  Life is too full.  I am juggling a huge array of "just life" within these four walls.

This weekend I pondered house servants after dipping my toes into The Alice B. Toklas Cookbook.  Yes.  It makes sense to me.  Who has time for pondering the mysteries of life when the realities of upkeep hammers down unrelentingly?

"To everything, there is a season."  I know.  But this season feels like a treadmill.  I hit the pillow at night, running on empty.  Morning refreshes, but not too long after waking, I'm back in the saddle again.

My beloved morning solitude was completely decimated by the time change.  Eliah has upped the ante and often rushes out of bed in the five o'clock hour to find me.  And if I'm still in bed, he's up at 6:15 AM almost like clockwork.

Uncle!  I am trying accept it graciously, taking what I can get.  But as you can imagine, it is hard. 

What the little bugger often looks like by noon,
due to his early morning habits . . . soooo sleepy.

I am also working toward eating at a more reasonable time, starting the evening meal in late afternoon to ensure it happens.  It has taken a reordering of habits and expectations, but it is worth the effort.

In other news, we are slowly simmering down into Winter Rest.  Our outside work is completely finished for the season and last weekend was the FIRST WEEKEND since last spring that we didn't have a full outdoor agenda.  It was amazing, and for Blaine, a little hard to take.  He felt lazy, spending the days resting and nuzzling with the boys.  Lazy.  But when you've been in a full-on run for months and months, it feels strange to sit for a good length of time.

I picked away at little nagging tasks, like reabsorbing last summer's clothing into storage and busting piles that have been building for months.  We also took our yearly family picture for the Christmas cards.  I might even get 'em out by Christmas this year.  Maybe.  Last year it was April.

This year was the first year that we actually have a good variety of pictures to choose from.  Most years, we've just scrounged with something mostly-suitable.  But this year?  Three or four pictures were in the running.  Wow!  It was amazing.  I was so pleased.

One of my favorites from the riff-raff

Part of the success came from switching up our positioning after the first few pictures.  It added a bit of fun for the fellas - keeping them interested while giving us a chance for something actually nice-looking.  So much better.  Note to self: do this every year.

And finally, homeschooling.  This is our fourth "official" year and I finally feel like a dyed-in-the-wool, baptized-by-fire homeschooler.  We have arrived. 

We do our morning Circle Time M-TH: Motto, Read Aloud, Hymn, Poetry, Memory Work, Plutarch, Folk Song, Shakespeare, Mother Goose.  In that order.  Read Aloud: Bible (M-T), Misc. Reading (W), Geography (TH)

Morning Lessons are also M-TH: Math, Copywork.

I have yet to implement Reading Practice, but I have plans to require it 15 minutes per day, M-TH.  Both boys are reading, but only do so when forced.  I have allowed much time for growth and developmental breadth, but I am inching towards making it more a part of their lives.  We read aloud every day, they narrate and listen to audiobooks; but I can't help wanting them to break into their own private world of book-reading.

Fridays are our more relaxed day, where I "catch up" on read alouds, ensure that the bathroom gets cleaned (by Diego and Truen), and we have even been doing "Triangle Time" (haha) with almost-weekly drawings out of Draw Write Now.

So that's it from me.  I'm feeling a bit more balanced . . . the out-processing, sharing, and life-record of putting out a blog post is so cathartic.  I really should do this more often. (Ha.)

The Littles are napping and the Bigs are listening to Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.  (We love-love-love HP on audio.) (Jim Dale is so terrific!)

Word from the mother.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Queen of Collards

I feel like I've Discovered Greens this fall.  We've been eating out of our garden for eight years now, but I don't think I've ever fully appreciated the potential for cooked greens.  They are so scrumptious and satisfying.  And so wonderfully cold-hardy.  When nothing else is left, there's always kale.

We are having an elongated autumn this year - it has been lovely. (And unusual.) (I've realized that I wish it was like this every year.)  There hasn't been a hard freeze yet, so the cruciferous vegetables are still going strong: collards, three kinds of kale, red and green cabbages, broccoli, and parsley too.  We would have probably had celery too, if I hadn't harvested it all in preparation for a cold snap.

I feel like I just can't get enough of kale and collards. How have I not flipped for them before?

Here's my favorite dish thus far.

Sauteed Greens and Squash

1 large onion, sliced
A couple of dollops of fat (goose, chicken, lard, tallow, etc.)
4-6 garlic cloves, minced
Half of a cooked, dry squash
A giant basket (or stack) of kale or collards
1 cup stock or dry, white wine
Salt & pepper to taste

:: Slice the onion and start sauteing in the fat of your choice in a cast-iron dutch oven
:: Don't bother de-stemming your greens - just chop and add the stem part first
:: Roll the greens cigar-fashion and cut into swaths, then chop the sections into smaller pieces
:: Add greens, mixing to stir with the onion
:: Add the stock or wine, then cover to allow the greens to steam
:: Meanwhile, chop the cooked squash and add it to the pot
:: Lastly, smash and mince the garlic and add it to the pot
:: Stir periodically and let simmer for 10-15 minutes

It is also very good with a grating of nutmeg added in.