Monday, December 29, 2008


I have finally reached the domain of recipe-tinkering in my Kitchen Skill Set (to slang around some corporate jargon). It feels so good! My journey to 100% scratch cooking has been in process for 4-5 years now - before that, I subsisted on bagels & cream cheese with cut-up vegetables, taco salad, the occasional baked chicken breast, and spaghetti. And restaurant food, when I wanted something warm and filling.

But no more: I can cook. I can bake. I know many of the rules therein. Looking at a recipe doesn't intimidate me like it used to.

And so, this past Christmas week, when we wanted waffles for breakfast, I tinkered with a recipe from my favorite cookbook, How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman --- and ended up with a scrumptious masterpiece. I may be bragging, but they were definitely the best waffles I've ever eaten. Period.

Fabulous Whole Wheat Waffles

2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
2 cups yogurt
2 TBSP honey
2 eggs, separated
4 TBSP (1/2 stick) butter
1/2 tsp vanilla extract


  • Mix the dry ingredients
  • Mix the wet ingredients, holding back the egg whites
  • Mix wet and dry together
  • Beat the egg whites until you see soft peaks (I used my handy-dandy non-electric hand-mixer, where I actually turn the crank - it belonged to our beloved former Minneapolis neighbor, Wilburn. The amount of tools he bequeathed us is astounding, and we use them practically every day.)
  • Add the airy whites gently to the batter
  • Cook, eat, then smack your lips and ask for more

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Monday, December 22, 2008

Nothing to see here

I have many things to say, but no time to write them up. It has been cold-cold-cold here, and it is so thrilling. The temps hover around zero, getting down to the negative teens at night. Everything is white. It is lovely.

My brother is on his way here as I type, to stay with us for the week. I'm looking forward to relaxed conversations, a dance party or two, and perhaps some new poetry. For Christmas last year, he wrote up a compilation of poems for each person in our family as well as the extended family on my mom's side. It was one of the best Christmas presents I've ever gotten. Memory and mood in written verse: what could be better?


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

I expound

I realized today that my enthusiastic ravings about No Logo the day before yesterday might be overly vague, so I wanted to follow up with some thoughts.

I have always felt extremely affronted with the breadth and depth of marketing in our lives. It is everywhere. While I don't think it is wrong to sell a product, I do think that we have reached the maxed-out level of insanity where living in an ad-saturated environment is so normal that it doesn't even phase us anymore. Or, even worse, we don't know what life is like in any other climate than this. It is normal to be advertised at, so much so, that I think a lot of the population would ask, "What is the big deal?"

Klein talks about "branding", where the product companies sell takes second place to the allure of the image they are hawking. They are selling an aura - an essence - a lifestyle. The public is being sold a dream - the promise of greater affluence, beauty, intelligence, even creativity - by a carefully crafted media blitz. What they are selling isn't even tangible, which is what makes this book so terrific: it actually provides form to the mist-like vapor of the promise of consumerism in our lives. (Even the government tells us to spend more, as an act of patriotism.) This lie is extremely seductive for all ages and people, even those who are aware of it. No one is immune.

If you have any interest in this topic at all, No Logo is an astute cultural criticism and wickedly funny. I'm about half-way through and have found myself chortling frequently. It is well-worth the read.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Culture is as culture sells

Says I,

[As in, terrific! Wicked awesome. This woman puts lays out my inklings, theoretical hypotheses and observations I've tucked away, as plain as day. She puts into words many of my gut-instincts - the very instincts that make up my inherent distrust of the system and general misgivings on authority, or "what is". Flat out, she gives billowing form and extracts a tangible grasp on what exactly we are up against: ourselves. We, as humans, make up the marketing landscape. We design it; we sell it; we buy it: hook, line, and sinker.]

The book:
No Logo: Taking Aim at the Brand Bullies - Naomi Klein

(Much thanks to my lil' bro, EDO, for pointing me towards it. I love that.)

Thursday, December 11, 2008


Diego likes to "tell time" these days. He'll look at the clock and say, "Oh - it's two-sixty-tuba" or "It's not late! It's only six-fifty-tuba!" How tubas got involved, I'll never know.

But wait: I do know. We have recently read Tiger Can't Sleep, and in it is a tiger who - you got it - can't sleep and is hanging out in a little boy's closet. He is extremely noisy and wild in there, doing everything from clicking the light bulb on and off and on and off to yes, playing a tuba. Oompa! Oompa! Oompa!

Oh my - I better get moving. It's two-sixty-tuba!

Monday, December 08, 2008

Locally produced foods

My SIL wondered how I got connected with our local food sources. This is just too good for a comment, so I am posting my answer.

  • Vegetables: Farmers' Market. I started talking to the main vegetable vendor at our local Farmers' Market, as a precursor to stocking up. When I realized they sold from their home garden, I looked her up in the phone book, called, and set an appointment to come pick up my produce. I visited their farm twice - picking up carrots, potatoes, onions, cabbage, and green peppers. She even gave me a liter of honey "because you've been such good customers" the last time I was there. This will be my root cellar back-up in years to come, after we've drained our garden's supply.
  • Beef: Small family farm in the area. My in-laws are neighbors to the farm's grand-daddy (he ran it himself before he retired and moved "to town").
  • Ham: Small family farm in the area. Ditto. The ham we ate for our Early Christmas dinner was part of a pig that they bought earlier this year.
  • Turkey: Family farm, via networking. A lady I know through a Midwifery Advocacy group sent an email letting the group know that her brother had turkeys available for Thanksgiving. I pounced on that one!
  • Real milk: Area dairy, with jersey cows. The same lady from the Midwifery Advocacy group referred me to them, after I inquired about area milk sources. I am still in the investigative process on this one.

The prominent pattern in this list: networking. Going to Farmers' Markets and talking to the vendors is probably the most important. When I lived in Minneapolis, I took it for granted - there were so many vendors that I didn't even bother talking to them much. But as I shift in my paradigm of what food is, and where I want to get it, mixed with our current locale, I can't afford NOT to network with them.

This is something Barbara Kingsolver advocates in her book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle as well. Get to know the vendors at your Farmers' Market. Buy from them. But more so, why not stock up for the winter? If you have a chilled attic space or a cool basement space, you can do it. [Read Root Cellaring by the Bubels] If you don't have either of those options, invest in a freezer. These points were a revelation in my mind (granted, I read them in conjunction with moving to a house with a root cellar, glory be). Yes! Why not?! It tastes better, you are supporting a local economy, bucking the factory-food system, and more than likely, lessening the chemical-load in your system. It is a win-win-win situation.

Online, an excellent resource is Local Harvest. You can enter your zip code on this site and get an entire list of local growers and farms. Canadian provinces are included.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Decompressing, Local Foods, Billie Holiday, and My Sweet Boys

Who would have thunk it would take me a week to recover from Thanksgiving? Granted, we did have a Holiday Blow-out and celebrated Thanksgiving, Winter Birthdays (four of them), and Early Christmas in two days, complete with large feasts of turkey and ham. And, I suppose, we did have an extra five people in the house for 3 1/2 days - ages 10-15 - but that was fun! We enjoyed our company thoroughly. I guess I've been decompressing this week. Plus, the boys came down with colds and it has been a chill 7 degrees outside.

Both the turkey and the ham for our holiday meals came from local sources. I'm starting to make real connections in this realm, which means a lot to me. I always thought it was easier to get connected to this stuff in the city (as opposed to commodity-crop ridden SW Minnesota) because there are so many organized groups, established co-ops, and glamorous farmers' markets to choose from. To me, this area felt like a barren wasteland for the first year we lived here (and we've only been here a year and a half).

But slowly, slowly I've been establishing connections to local growers: vegetables, meat like cows and pigs, the turkey, and most recently - real milk (from jersey cows, no less). I'm going to make my own butter! Sour cream! And even more thrilling, I'll have whey to work with. I can't wait to ferment my own vegetables [think pickling, only raw]. I am pleased with our progress in the realm of locally-produced foods. We may never be 100%, but are working to exist more on that end of the scale. It is all a process, right? (Why is that so hard to remember at times?)

I've also been fostering a devoted affection bordering on obsession with Billie Holiday. Everyone who has gone before me is saying, "Doi!" in unison, but man! that woman was amazing. I can't get enough of her. She is terrific. So creative - and I can finally understand how someone could get so "into it" that they could forget the crowds as they were singing. The things she does...amazing. I think it takes active listening to truly savor her greatness. A lazy listener (as I have been in the past) might never connect. I have especially enjoyed listening to her in the car [errrr...minivan] - I can almost imagine myself in a dimly-lit club surrounded by suits as I'm rolling down the road with my tots in tow.

Speaking of...both my boys have been providing me with "Awwwww!" moments the past few days. I've been trying to slow my mind down and savor them:

  1. Truen loves to dance - he always walks around be-bopping with "mom-checks" interspersed, where he toddles back to me for a quick hug before teetering off again to dance.
  2. Baby T has also given me a couple of extremely insistent kisses the past few days. I had been trying to avoid them so I wouldn't catch their cold (too late), but he cupped my huge face in his little hands and followed my mouth with his until firmly planted. I resisted, but it was hard...
  3. Today I had to run out to the chicken coop to make sure everything was properly secured during a sudden wind-storm that blew in. I took the baby out with me, but had Diego stay in the house (much safer, much faster). He watched me the whole way and had the door open for me when I came dashing back. His sweet thoughtfulness is enough to break a mama's heart.
  4. Then, walking back inside, I saw that he had hung his coat up on the hook all by himself (we had made a quick trip to the library to pick up ILLs). Just like he takes off his boots every time we go to Grandma & Grandpa's house. Awww!!!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

3 year old feetsies

I always used to wonder why 3-4 year olds always seemed to tromp around in rain boots, no matter what the weather. Aren't they for splashing in puddles? Ahem. Now that I have a 3-4 year old, I understand perfectly. In fact, this is exactly what Diego wears when we leave the house: his dino rain boots.

Why? He can put them on himself. Glory be! I love that. One less thing I have to wrestle with. They are lined with some kind of felted material, so they're warm(er) - but first and foremost, he can slip them on totally on his own (usually on the wrong foot, but that is another story - I mean, really - aren't the odds 50/50??). And they are so cute - I love seeing him traipsing around in them. I found the dino pair, a replica of his previous size, which Truen will wear next spring, at a thrift store and I snatched them up as quickly as possible, clutching them to my chest and cackling like an old hag.

While on the subject of footwear, we have inside shoes as well (or slippers, as it may be). Robeez: I still have him wearing them! They are terrific - warm (with socks), skid-resistant, adorable. Again, he is able to put them on autonomously and best yet: they keep his socks ON and CLEAN. His rain boots are a little bit big for him yet, so I usually have him slip his boots on over the Robeez - then he's always ready for a little indoor visit wherever we might go. We alternate between the blue Pirates and brown Dinosaurs I got on ebay a couple of years ago (he wore them last winter too).

The rain boots mystery has been sol-ved.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A Portrait of Pumpkin

  • 13 months old
  • 6 teeth
  • 4-6 steps at a time
  • Attempting to walk most places, smiling all the while (with plenty of balance checks, squatting, and a full-out crawl when he needs to get there fast)
  • Nicknames: Little, Diddle, Diddles, Vous
  • Says, "Tah! Tah!" when he sees our cat, Toots. Or our cat Bay. Or our outside cat, Outside Bay.
  • Gets excited about bathtime and attempts to take his Night Diaper off to get in faster
  • Waves bye-bye just a little too late (and with just his fingers curling up and down, up and down)
  • Will press his little mouth to mine when asked for a kiss
  • Small, much more petite than his chunky brother at this age
  • Doesn't take a pacifier and hasn't since August - to the point of ripping it out of his mouth and throwing it on the floor if I put it in his mouth
  • But really enjoys pulling Diego's pacifier from his mouth and rolling around on the bed with it (one of our nightly games)
  • Loves books, particularly Winnie-the-Pooh and Some Bees, a teensy-tiny boardbook, and I am a Bunny (illustrated by Richard Scarry), one of the Golden Sturdy books [I love this one especially]
  • While he's paging through them, he smiles happily and make an "Aurschhh! Aurschhh!" noise - he also tilts his face up to the ceiling and fake-laughs
  • Loves spearing food with his fork and attempting to spoon things up - drinks from his sippy cup like a champ
  • Eats table food - carrots, celery, beans, pasta, eggs, and potatoes are favorites
  • Usually goes completely nuts and cries/whines/insists on being held during mealtimes (unfortunately for us) unless he is totally immersed in his food
  • Obsessed with Diego's potty chair: OBSESSED
  • Still nursing throughout the day and night
  • Occasional Morning Naps
  • Naps is in the same bed as big brother (we read before naptime and then snuggle off into sleep)
  • Always wakes up from his nap first - I like this, though, because it gives us some sweet cuddly alone-time in the late afternoon.
  • Favorite song: When the World is Running Down by The Police. When he hears it, this baby boy will stop in his tracks to dance the entire song through.

And finally, a story:

Today this little baby boy saw our Maya Wrap hanging from a hook. He shakily toddled towards the wall and pulled on the sling, looking at me with an expectant smile on his face. I said, "Ohhh, do you want me to put the sling on, Little One?" and pulled it off the hook and handed it to him. He smiled at me some more and handed it to me saying, "Eh! Eh!"

I put the sling on and popped him into it, and I could see by the look on his face that was exactly what he wanted. Then he rubbed his mouth on the shirt over my breast like a little newborn; I obliged and he nursed contentedly. Amazing. The communication skills blow my mind. And to think: he was just a little baby. How does this happen?


Monday, November 24, 2008

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Read about ANGER - for me it has been most enlightening

I read most of The Dance of Anger: A Woman's Guide to Changing the Patterns of Intimate Relationships (by Harriet Lerner) a number of months ago and have recently checked it out again to finish it and mull things over. I will probably have to buy the book, as I want to re-read it again and again. It is filled with powerful, life-changing, and revealing information that I would recommend for anyone who struggles with anger on any level - whether it be fearing it, reveling in it, understanding it, or controlling it. Read this book. Read it!

Lerner talks anger as a signal of something gone awry: anger as warning sign that we must pay attention to, and not dismiss or squelch or feel bowled over by. Anger exists for a purpose in the human range of emotions; it is important to understand why it exists and how to deal with it. She speaks specifically to women, as our gender and cultural roles are different from men. [The more life experience I gain, the more I understand this concept. I used to think there wasn't much of a difference, and worse - that being a boy was better. As an adult, I am so very glad I am a woman.] I really appreciated her tailoring this book specifically to women: I related strongly with much of what she wrote.

Reading this book has helped me understand myself better. Throughout the text, I had many moments of clarity - realizing how and why I act or react in certain ways (or why other people do the things they do). Or why we often participate in a circular dance, the same old crap over and over and over again. She lays out a practical foundation for WHY we do this and how to opt out: though we may face resistance if we attempt to change. She encourages women to stop and reflect on their anger - give ourselves pause to fully understand what we are feeling - before taking action. Or, if giving ourselves pause isn't the problem, ensuring that we take action. She also teaches that the only person we can control is ourselves: we can change our own behavior, be it over or under-reactive.

The "dance" of anger refers to the roles we play in our various relationships - underfunctioning or overfunctioning - and that the people we are most connected with often expect us to respond in certain ways, whether healthily or not, and when change is initiated, they often try to revert back into the old, comfortable way of dealing with things with what Lerner calls the "Change back!" response. I have noticed this in my own life - when I have been able to calmly step out of the old cycles in various relationships (as I am the only person I can truly control), the "Change back!" resistance is easy to notice.

One of the biggest problems on every level of relationships in my life is that when conflict arises or anger rears its ugly head, unless I am completely prepared for that moment, I am often left speechless. I know I'm upset or angry, but I couldn't tell you why. I need time to think about things; time to connect things in my mind; time to organize what I will say. Lerner talks about this very thing. I'm not alone (or strange) in my self-perceived ineptitude. In fact, I am not inept at all. This book is extremely eye-opening to the all the different ways we deal with anger. There are many varying shades of "being", yet we all share similar actions and reactions.

All in all, wherever you land on the spectrum:
I highly recommend reading this book.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


I have only enough time to say that the Friends of the Library meeting went very well. We had a smaller turn-out than expected, but those who showed up (about 12) were extremely enthusiastic. They were also very pleased with the tea. Evening in Missoula was a smash hit.

I will write more later, but for now: survival. I have to take a show-pow [pronounce "shaow-pow"] while the boys are entangled with their father. Cleanliness is next to godliness.

What lovely man calls taking a shower a "show-pow"?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Thar she blows

Remember how I said that I was involved in a project to start a Friends of the Library group in our town? Yes, well. Our first meeting is Tuesday.

In the last two weeks, we (the librarian and I) have joined FOLUSA, conducted a pre-meeting meeting to for strategy and preparation, adapted bylaws and a mission statement for the group, written up an agenda, and tomorrow morning we are going to tour the building we have our sights set on. But perhaps more importantly, we have 20+ people signed up for the first meeting, with 5 more unable to attend. Amazing. You could definitely say that the time was ripe.

I am leading the meeting, which is a little intimidating for me; because while I am used to leading meetings within my expertise, I also expect that in a town of 703 most people will probably know each other (and not me). I'm not sure if being an outsider will play to my advantage or disadvantage. I'm not sure exactly how to approach them, or whether I should even worry about it. Whatever the case may be, I plan to make a solid showing. It will be interesting... I will report back to you on Wednesday and let you know how it goes.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

American/Canadian Gothic

Amongst the 900-some photographs taken at my brother and sister-in-law's wedding this past August, one of them sticks in my mind's eye like pollen on a bee's knees: it has captured my fancy like no other wedding portrait.


Erik n' Ash

The pitchfork even has poop and straw stuck to it. The mood, their faces, the way they're standing: it's perfect. My SIL is a 100% Dutch Canadian hailing from BC, and was unfamiliar with the acclaimed painting; but I think she did a great job nailing her own lovely rendition nonetheless. They both did.

I'm in love.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Our very first egg

Here it is: our first egg. Squeeze found it in one of the nesting boxes this morning. Isn't it beautiful? So tiny, but what a thrill it was for all of us. [Diego sucked in and gaped at it while Squeeze and I grinned from ear to ear.] I fried it in the cast-iron skillet and we shared it for breakfast. The yolk was a deep and brilliant gold - a good sign that the pullet is eating well. The brighter and deeper the yolk, the more beta carotene the chicken is eating: from greens. In addition to its beauty, it was delicious.

We've been checking the nesting boxes every day for the last few weeks, as we are aware that the pullets are approaching maturity. It will be interesting to see how things take off from here. We only have eight pullets left after our unfortunate dog attack the other week. Before that, we had twelve. Sad.

Squeeze wasn't able to go into work today because SW Minnesota was frozen in a sheet of ice. Sleet came down all morning; everything was shimmering like glass and even our gravel driveway was shiny under the layering of ice. He got ready and went, like usual, but couldn't even leave our driveway. Good thing he knows how to drive on icy roads (or as it were, long driveways).

Today was like a special treat: not only did we find our first egg, but we were able to stay home together, cozily, and see the beautiful white world outside our window. Squeeze even lit a fire. I was also able to finally finish processing our apple harvest. What a relief! I canned 6 quarts of applesauce this afternoon. That gives us a total of twelve for the winter, and there is nothing I like better than applesauce on my pancakes.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Gingerbread Baby Pancakes

Diego has been on a Gingerbread Baby binge again. We read it every day, sometimes several times a day. Interestingly, the more I read it, the less I enjoy it. The illustrations and storyline are great, but the writing is tedious. It has absolutely no rhythm and is somewhat of a drag to read aloud. I gladly plow through it, though, because Diego loves it so much (and I do love the story).

He has been talking about going to Grandma & Grandpa's house to make gingerbread babies again, and this morning I was so pleased to find a gingerbread pancake recipe in The Gourmet Cookbook. We tweaked the idea and made Gingerbread Baby Pancakes, so delicious, and extremely thrilling for my little "baker", as he calls himself. ["I am a baker, Mama" he says.]

Keeping the Gingerbread Baby Pancake under wraps
We were pretending he was going to run out of the pan --
That naughty Gingerbread Baby Pancake!

He was very excited to eat it --
We used frozen strawberries from last summer for topping.
It was delicious.
That sippy cup is actually Truen's,
but Diego is obsessed with drinking from it.

Post Script: Incidentally, The Gourmet Cookbook is edited by Ruth Reichl, author of Tender to the Bone: Growing up at the Table, Comfort Me with Apples: More Adventures at the Table, and Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise - all books I enjoyed thoroughly. So while I have no connection with Gourmet magazine, I did have a strong pull to this cookbook via my affection for its editor. I like it (and use it), although it isn't my most frequently referenced cookbook.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

A favorite children's poem (I love the 4th stanza the most)

Hide and Seek

A.B. Shiffrin

When I am alone,
and quite alone,
I play a game,
and it's all my own.

I hide myself
Behind myself,
And then I try
To find myself.

I hide in the closet,
Where no one can see;
Then I start looking
Around for me.

I hide myself
And look for myself;
There once was a shadow
I took for myself.

I hide in a corner;
I hide in the bed;
And when I come near me
I pull in my head!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Sing it, Patti

Today, while listening to the exact version of this song on iTunes, Diego asked me, "Are you fond of sand dunes, Mama?" to which I replied, "Oh yes...I am very fond of sand dunes."

And I am, extremely so - but my beaming grin was for him.

Monday, November 03, 2008


Because I love lists:

  • The two injured pullets in the hospital-box in our garage died - that means we have one survivor from our dog attack. His left wing is a little lower than the right one, but other than that he seems to be back to normal.
  • The chickens seemed to have gained a bit of wisdom since the dog attack and spend a lot of their time under trees and near cover. They are only teenagers, after all - and before the attack they ran wild in the wide-open as if they were, as my dad likes to say, 6 feet tall and bullet-proof. No more.
  • Two good friends from college were here for the weekend: lovely. We canned 8 quarts of applesauce, ate good food, danced, talked & laughed, and the domestic diva Lyndi made an attempt to quell bread-making fears for Jen and me. The loaf she made was delicious.
  • Diego got his eye pecked for the second time by a chicken this past weekend. Squeeze subsequently made the executive decision that Diego is never holding a chicken again for the rest of his life. It healed within 24 hours, but seeing the corneal abrasion right over his pupil was enough to make any parents writhe in pity and fear.
  • I met up with our little library's librarian "in town" over the weekend (while showing Lyndi and Jen around), which sparked the conversation that led to the budding formation of a Friends of the Library group. Our first meeting is November 18th and she has suggested that I take the role as president. Gung-ho, here I go!!
  • It is supposed to snow this weekend, but the past couple of days have been in the 50's and 60's - I have been taking advantage of the warmth by washing everything-I-can and hanging it out on the line to dry. Lovely.
  • Diego and Truen are playing together more and more - Diego likes to copy Truen's baby antics and they crawl together all over the house and up the stairs making baby whoops and shrieks. And they laugh and laugh and laugh together during lunch. It makes me excited about their future as friends.
  • Squeeze has been reading us Fairy Tales at night, and I must say - I really enjoy being read to. I love being on the receiving end of a story. And his old woman voices make me chortle.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

A sad report on our chickens

We had a dog attack on our chickens this week: it broke through our, albeit - rinky-dink, poultry fence and massacred our little flock. Casualties include: 2 missing, 7 dead, 3 injured, and 19 jittered. It was horrible. Two pullets are in a straw-filled hospital-box under a heat lamp in our garage with what seem to be superficial injuries. The injured cockerel is in the coop with the rest of them; he won't stay in one spot, though he does stand quietly to the side. The look and mannerisms of shock of the wounded was sobering. I can't help but look at them anthropomorphically - and my imagination ran wild last night with all the horrible things that humankind has inflicted on one another. They were completely shell-shocked.

It happened in the morning - I was here the entire time, completely oblivious. As we were leaving for the library in late morning, Diego ran out to the coop as usual. I was bringing out tomato scraps from the previous evening's tomato soup as he ran back saying, "Mama, I saw a dog!" That is when I looked more closely and saw the pluming feathers (which I previously mistook for milkweed seeds) and noticed a bird laying on its side outside of the chicken yard, another alive and just sitting by it, feathers askew with eyes staring.

Five of the seven were shaken to death; two of the seven survived, but sustained severe injuries and Squeeze had to put them down last night. Also sobering. The three remaining injured seem as if they will recover, though still extremely subdued and still: the just stand or lay and stare. It is horrible.

Dilly danders

Eric, you are correct
I love this rhyme!

We were out of town last weekend for a wedding and this weekend we have company coming [can't wait] - this is why you've heard little from me.

11/7 Edit:
This post used to contain the sad story of our chicken attack, but I'm putting it into an entirely new post - it is too morose to be a post-script under the Dilly Danders heading.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

A riddle:

Four stiff standers,
Four dilly danders,
Two lookers -
Two crookers -
and a wig-wag.

What is it?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Happy Birthday Little Pumpkin

You little darling!
Pumpkin's birth story
Now, a birthday surprise for the masses --
Pumpkin is truly one of this boy's middle names:
Truen Jules Pumpkin
(His handle is not Pumpkin for naught)
Happy Birthday Sweet One

Monday, October 20, 2008

Farmer in Chief

Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore's Dilemma, wrote an interesting article in New York Times Magazine, as an open letter to the President-Elect. [Hit 'single page' if you go to the actual article - it is too long to be continuously hitting 'next page'.]

After deconstructing the crux of the problem, he really sizzles in his three main proposals:

I. Resolarizing the American Farm
II. Reregionalizing the Food System
III. Rebuilding America’s Food Culture

Preach it, Pollan:
The sun-food agenda must include programs to train a new generation of farmers and then help put them on the land. The average American farmer today is 55 years old; we shouldn’t expect these farmers to embrace the sort of complex ecological approach to agriculture that is called for. Our focus should be on teaching ecological farming systems to students entering land-grant colleges today. For decades now, it has been federal policy to shrink the number of farmers in America by promoting capital-intensive monoculture and consolidation. As a society, we devalued farming as an occupation and encouraged the best students to leave the farm for “better” jobs in the city. We emptied America’s rural counties in order to supply workers to urban factories. To put it bluntly, we now need to reverse course. We need more highly skilled small farmers in more places all across America — not as a matter of nostalgia for the agrarian past but as a matter of national security. For nations that lose the ability to substantially feed themselves will find themselves as gravely compromised in their international dealings as nations that depend on foreign sources of oil presently do. But while there are alternatives to oil, there are no alternatives to food.

And again:

A decentralized food system offers a great many other benefits as well. Food eaten closer to where it is grown will be fresher and require less processing, making it more nutritious. Whatever may be lost in efficiency by localizing food production is gained in resilience: regional food systems can better withstand all kinds of shocks. When a single factory is grinding 20 million hamburger patties in a week or washing 25 million servings of salad, a single terrorist armed with a canister of toxins can, at a stroke, poison millions. Such a system is equally susceptible to accidental contamination: the bigger and more global the trade in food, the more vulnerable the system is to catastrophe. The best way to protect our food system against such threats is obvious: decentralize it.


You’re probably thinking that growing and eating organic food in the White House carries a certain political risk. It is true you might want to plant iceberg lettuce rather than arugula, at least to start. (Or simply call arugula by its proper American name, as generations of Midwesterners have done: “rocket.”) But it should not be difficult to deflect the charge of elitism sometimes leveled at the sustainable-food movement. Reforming the food system is not inherently a right-or-left issue: for every Whole Foods shopper with roots in the counterculture you can find a family of evangelicals intent on taking control of its family dinner and diet back from the fast-food industry — the culinary equivalent of home schooling. You should support hunting as a particularly sustainable way to eat meat — meat grown without any fossil fuels whatsoever. There is also a strong libertarian component to the sun-food agenda, which seeks to free small producers from the burden of government regulation in order to stoke rural innovation. And what is a higher “family value,” after all, than making time to sit down every night to a shared meal?

Our agenda puts the interests of America’s farmers, families and communities ahead of the fast-food industry’s. For that industry and its apologists to imply that it is somehow more “populist” or egalitarian to hand our food dollars to Burger King or General Mills than to support a struggling local farmer is absurd. Yes, sun food costs more, but the reasons why it does only undercut the charge of elitism: cheap food is only cheap because of government handouts and regulatory indulgence (both of which we will end), not to mention the exploitation of workers, animals and the environment on which its putative “economies” depend. Cheap food is food dishonestly priced — it is in fact unconscionably expensive.

It is a LONG article addressing a BIG problem, but well-worth the read. Please -- indulge me.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Pictures, Em - pictures!

Emily - my new SIL just posted pictures of their wedding on her blog. [I can't link directly to the post, so find the 10/18/08 post if this is in the future.]

I'm still working on getting pictures up myself -- sheesh, what's a mother to do? It'll happen -- maybe I'll put it up in celebration of their one year anniversary. Ha!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Thank you, Barbara

Inspired by Barbara Kingsolver, I am stocking our root cellar with local produce for the winter. Considering the fact that I actually have a root cellar and the fact that I was able to go to a farm and buy the produce amazes me. We definitely weren't at this point 2 years ago, physically or philosophically - though certainly working towards it.

We bought the book Root Cellaring by the Bubels on eBay once we knew we were moving to a place that had a root cellar. It is a great reference book - filled with information about vegetables and how to keep them, but it also gives specific instruction and options for those who do not have root cellars (which would probably be the majority of the population). It is possible to "put up food" in root cellar-like conditions without a root cellar - but it does take more work. Check out the book, if you're interested. It's great.

The farm I connected with is a vegetable growing operation that is the mainstay at several of the local farmers' markets - not in our town, but in my in-laws' town. In September, I started going and buying huge canvas bags of onions, potatoes, and fabulously large and totally gorgeous celery, when I realized: hey! I should be stocking up for the winter. Another DUH! Moment.

I was fearful that I was too late in the season, but I called the farmer and made an appointment for this past Thursday morning. It was great fun - Diego loved running around the gardens and commenting on the plants he recognized [and playing with their enormous yellow lab, Tigger] and I enjoyed walking around and seeing their operation. Nestled in our root cellar is now 90 lbs of potatoes, 20 lbs carrots, and 40 lbs onions. I also bought several cabbages, as I am total sucker for cole slaw and cabbage in soups. I would have liked more carrots, but that was the last of them. Serves me right for not getting on it sooner.

From our own garden, we also have a store of 15-20 buttercup squash upstairs from (they don't like root cellars); and several flats of green tomatoes, in addition to the green tomatoes still on the vines and hanging upside-down in our garage. [Thanks Sandy!] In the freezer, we've got 20 or so quarts of frozen tomatoes and 10-15 quarts of frozen chard and spinach; two quarts each of frozen raspberries and strawberries. There is still kale in the garden ( it) and there are three enormous bunches of celery in the freezer (so fragrant). And I have two of the three quarts of lard left.

It has been so much fun! I wouldn't say it has been too much work, either. In general, it has been a this-and-there job; prepping and storing the food when it is ripe. It is so satisfying to know that we have stores of food on hand; it also makes grocery shopping so much less of a chore. It has definitely been a several-year journey to get to this point - I am so excited to see where we are at a few years from now.

I'll close with a funny note on our raspberries. We planted two raspberries last fall and three this spring/summer, so they are still very immature and generally not producing; however, two of them grew berries this fall and we have harvested -- get this -- a total of 15-20 berries over the past two weeks. It ain't many, but they are so vibrantly delicious that I get the happy shivers just thinking of their future. Both boys love to go out and check to see if there are any red berries available - Truen flaps his arms and looks very focused at getting at the bush, and Diego will search the plant to see if there are any "wipe berwies".

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Delish, and an update

I made an amazing Kale-Potato soup this evening, using a recipe from Simply in Season.

I am pretty proud of myself. It was a nice change of pace, but I was even more pleased after considering the ingredients: farmers' market potatoes & onions, kale & garlic from our garden, and homemade chicken stock with local chicken, garden carrots, farmers' market celery & onion; even better, I cooked it up in my new [birthday] LODGE cast-iron enameled dutch oven.

The non-local items included butter, pepper, pink sea salt, and WIC milk.

*** *** ***

We recommenced work on our kitchen remodel this weekend after the carpenter finished the trim and raised our front door this past week. Squeeze's parents came and the three of them finished removing the last of the wallpaper, primed the walls, and began staining while I kept the children under wraps.

Yes, this project started sometime last March: it is sloooow going with two babes and tons of outside work. Next weekend: more staining and painting. Our paint choice is a light warm yellow called 'Happy Stroll'. It should be beautiful.

Friday, October 10, 2008

CONSUMER REPORTS: Back to Basics For Safer Childbirth

I found a great article today, discussing the some of the problems with the current culture of childbirth in the US. I feel encouraged that a non-profit organization like Consumer Reports is picking this up on their radar - it is just one more spark that may ignite change.

For a more in-depth look at the problem, please read PUSHED: The Painful Truth about Childbirth and Modern Maternity Care by Jennifer Block. I was amazed to find some of my own experiences paralleled the author's descriptions. It would be a great start to sharpen some of your critical thinking skills in dealing with your view/idea and experiences with the medical model of childbirth.

CONSUMER REPORTS: Back to Basics For Safer Childbirth

Last update: 2:54 p.m. EDT Oct. 8, 2008
YONKERS, N.Y., Oct 08, 2008 /PRNewswire-USNewswire via COMTEX/ -- Too many obstetricians and hospitals use potentially harmful high-tech or invasive procedures, new study finds
According to Consumer Reports, many obstetricians and maternity hospitals overuse high-tech procedures that can result in poor results for newborns and their mothers. CR urges parents to test their knowledge of maternity care by taking a quiz available at CR's website,
A new report by the nonprofit Childbirth Connection published for the first time today on CR's Web site says when it's time to bring a new baby into the world, there's a lot to be said for letting nature take the lead. It finds that maternity care in the United States today is characterized by too many unnecessary and invasive procedures and not enough high-touch, low-tech measures that can optimize infant health. Lower tech measures can also encourage the establishment of successful breastfeeding and better mother-baby attachment.
The Childbirth Connection study analyzed hundreds of the most recent studies and systematic reviews of maternity care. It notes that the current style of maternity care is so procedure-intensive that six of the 15 most common hospital procedures in the entire U.S. are related to childbirth. Although most childbearing women in this country are healthy and at low risk for childbirth complications, national surveys reveal that essentially all women who give birth in U.S. hospitals have high rates of complex interventions, with risks of adverse effects.
To read the Childbirth Connection study or take the maternity quiz, please go to

Quiz: Maternity care, beware
Despite growing evidence of harm, many obstetricians and maternity hospitals still overuse high-tech procedures that can mean poorer outcomes for baby and Mom. Test your knowledge with our quiz below, and then learn more in our report (

True or false
An obstetrician will deliver better maternity care, overall, than a midwife or family doctor.
False. Studies show that the 8 percent to 9 percent of U.S. women who use midwives and the 6 to 7 percent who choose family physicians generally experienced just-as-good results as those who go to obstetricians. Those who used midwives also ended up with fewer technological interventions. For example, women who received midwifery care were less likely to experience induced labor, have their water broken for them, episiotomies, pain medications, intravenous fluids, and electronic fetal monitoring, and were more likely to give birth vaginally with no vacuum extraction or forceps, than similar women receiving medical care. Note that an obstetric specialist is best for the small proportion of women with serious health concerns.
Induced labor can halt fetal development.
True. The vital organs (including the brain and lungs) continue to develop beyond the 37th week of gestation. There is also a five-fold increase in the brain's white-matter volume between 35 and 41 weeks after conception. Inducing labor (with synthetic oxytocin, for example) might stop this growth if the fetus is not fully developed. Between 1990 and 2005, the number of women whose labor was induced more than doubled.
Due-date estimates can be off by up to two weeks.
True. This inaccuracy can lead to a baby being delivered by induction or Caesarean section up to two weeks earlier than its estimated due-date, cutting off important weeks of fetal development.
"Breaking the waters" helps hasten labor.
False. There is no evidence to support the fact that this common practice (about 47% of women) shortens labor, increases maternal satisfaction, or improves outcomes for newborns.
Induced labor increases the likelihood of Caesarean section in first-time mothers.
True. The cervix might not be ready for labor. Other effects of induced labor include an increased likelihood of an epidural, an assisted delivery with vacuum extraction or forceps, and extreme bleeding postpartum.
Once you've had a C-section, it's best to do it again.
False. Studies show that, as the number of a woman's previous C-sections increased, so did the likelihood of harmful conditions, including: trouble getting pregnant again, problems delivering the placenta (placenta accreta), longer hospital stays, intensive-care (ICU) admission, hysterectomy, and blood transfusion.
Labor itself can benefit a newborn's immunity.
True. When babies do not experience labor (if the mother has a C-section before entering into labor, for example), they fail to benefit from changes that help to clear fluid from their lungs. That clearance can protect against serious breathing problems outside the womb. Passage through the vagina might also increase the likelihood that the newborn's intestines will be colonized with "good" bacteria after the sterile womb environment.
Epidural anesthesia is a low-risk way to make labor easier.
False. Many women welcome the pain relief, but might not be well-informed about the increased risk of its side-effects, including lack of mobility, sedation, fever, longer pushing, and serious perineal tears.
Epidural anesthesia presents risks to newborns.
True. Babies whose mothers received epidurals during labor are at risk for rapid heart rate, hyperbilirubinemia (the presence of and excess of bilirubin in the blood), need for antibiotics, and poorer performance on newborn assessment tests.
Episiotomies reduce the risk of perineal tearing.
False. Evidence shows that routine use of episiotomy offers no benefits but rather increases women's risk of experiencing perineal injury, stitches, pain and tenderness, leaking stool or gas, and pain during sexual intercourse. Yet in 2005, 25 percent of women with vaginal births continued to experience this intervention. Episiotomy is one of several obstetric practices adopted into common usage before being adequately studied.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

He's got skillz

Baby Truen is walking behind a little kiddie car while holding onto the back of it. He just started tonight, totally out of the blue. It won't be long now - and then he'll be hitting the ground running. [He essentially does that right now, only on his hands and knees.]

The Lil' Pumpkin will be a year on the 21st.
Where did my wee babe go?

He can play the drumz too

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

In which, as it were, I rant.

I've finally had it with our little library. It is small, but worse: the selection [collection] is nauseating. I would say 60% or more of the children's library consists of bore-me-to-tears cartoon character stories from Nickelodeon, Pixar, or Disney. Sickening; enough to make me roll my eyes into an oblivion. I can't read that pap to my children! I'm so bored by the second sentence I can hardly stand it. Furthermore, it is less of a "learning opportunity", like, i.e. "Help Blue [of Blue's Clues] find the most healthy snack!" than it is one more avenue of branding their product. Complete malarkey.

The teen section is mostly grotesque novellas of jealousy, love and betrayal - certainly not worth a second glance. Think Sweet Valley High amped up to a revolting level of shallow materialism and sexual obsession. I just can't take it. It is like we are spoon-feeding our children self-absorption. As if the media isn't doing enough of this via ads, mags, television, blockbuster hits, and laughable music videos. We have to hit 'em up with books as well! Gross.

The adult section is mostly shoddy mysteries, westerns, paperback romances, and grocery store aisle best-sellers. Dull. Dull. Dull. Some of my best finds have come from simply browsing library shelves, something that is almost impossible amidst the small pond [I was going to say ocean, but then realized that, no, this library is like a stagnant pond - not the sea] of driveling dribble we have for a book selection in this little town. It is disheartening more than I can describe. There is no Great Literature in this library. It is pap. P-A-P.

I have complained of this before, but after a year - I just can't take it anymore. I'm starting to explore libraries in other towns. It almost feels like a betrayal - like I am cheating on my library. I feel like I have to be very secretive about it and hold my tongue (something that is very hard for me) when I am elsewhere, otherwise that infamous small-town talk will work it's way back to the Small Town librarian and then I am truly done for.


I've found a library that makes my heart glad. It is in the town just west of us; a bit farther of a drive, but the children's section does NOT have cartoon characters painted on the wall (ours does) and they actually have a solid selection in both the children and adult sections. It is almost as small as "my" library, but it feels like a library. It smells like a library. They have tall shelves where you can get lost in the aisle and it gets a little darker when you're in the thick of it.

This leads me to the beginning of an understanding of how much the librarian probably influences the aura-sense-feel of a library, not to mention the collection itself. This is a real DUH!! Moment for me, but being used to large libraries that employ, say, 10-15 people, and going to libraries that are run by one person and a handful of volunteers, it is quite revealing indeed. Those who run it are directly responsible for what it is.

This new library actually feels like a library instead of a book-only garage sale. They have books that are old alongside books that are new. It looks as if quite a bit of thought goes into the collection - there is more variety, more intrigue. The poetry section takes up two four-foot selves instead of a quarter of a shelf. The children's section is chock-full of literature with nary a Buzz Lightyear book in sight. [I did see a couple of Dora books, but they were off to the side and limited in number.] The librarian is a fancy older lady. She wears big jewelry! She looks at home with books! I've overheard her talking about what she is reading!! I can browse!

And now...I feel better.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008


This is a post I've been meaning to write for almost a year.

With sheer exuberance, I'd like to announce that canvas bags for grocery shopping are the BEST. Sure, I've been bringing my own bag to farmers' markets for years - but grocery stores? I am ashamed to admit it, but I've only been doing it for a year and a half. What was I thinking?! I even have good friends who have been doing it for years [LSJF fo' sho']. But me? A year and a half. Ridiculous.

There's a lot of [important] yadda yadda about reducing waste, which is one of the big reasons why I started making the initial switch. It is obvious: why use something disposable, even if it can be re-used for, say, a garbage liner, if you can use something else over and over and over and over and over again? Furthermore, I'm sure everyone else has seen the plastic bags stuck on trees and bushes and rocks and fences. Enough said. It ain't good. I'm glad that grocery stores are providing recycling receptacles for plastic bags, but I think we, as a nation, should take it a step further. BYOB - that is, Bring Your Own Bags.

[Paper isn't much better because though it biodegradable, a whole lotta energy went into making it. And, I don't know if anyone else has noticed - but grocery stores seem to be pushing the plastic. I suspect it is because plastic is less expensive.]

But the beauty of making the switch is that I've discovered a heap of benefits that are above and beyond the mantra of Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Really!

First off, you can pack more into each bag, which means: less to bring in the house. Secondly, the bags are significantly easier to carry. You can sling 2-4 over your shoulders and bring them into the house like a pack-horse, cutting out nasty things like getting the circulation cut off from your fingers or the inability to open doors. All the weight is on your shoulders, with your arms free to use as need be. This has been the most significant perk for me: I can actually bring groceries, inside, by myself, with two children, in the winter. Amazing!!

I have been converted and I am never, ever going back. When I think about all those years with Squeeze, struggling to bring groceries in - especially when we were living in the top floor of our duplex, or the third floor of our first apartment - I just think to myself, "Doh!!!" What a waste. It could have been so much easier.

Additionally, most grocery stores take off anywhere from 5-10 cents for each bag that you bring in and use. They don't seem to advertise this, and it isn't much - but whatevs. I'm not doing it for the cost savings from my bill. I've got bigger things to worry about. Like, hauling in groceries while contending with two small children. Or what to make for dinner tonight. Besides, it is the cost savings from the bigger picture that I concerns me, not the potential of 70-80 cents.

Grocery stores are selling their branded reusable bags, which work fine - but I have a better idea. Instead of paying two dollars for the synthetic bags that the mainstream grocery stores are offering, get them from thrift stores for 25 cents. I've been picking them up here and there for a couple of years now, both canvas and synthetic: they are from all sorts of conventions and company meetings and even a few from hobby groups. I have collected a whole fleet, that can handle big and small trips. They are wonderful. WONDERFUL. I keep them right by my seat in the, ahem, minivan. Squeeze has a few in his car, too. And I found a little hand-made purple one with a clown patch on it that I keep in my, ahem, diaper bag at all times for little in-and-out trips.

Finally, there is something very satisfying in re-using the same bags. I've gotten to know them and have opinions about what they are each used best for. Some of them are adorable, while others fit over my shoulder just right. My personal favorite extols the carrier as the "Number One Grandma". They are fabulous. Wonderful. Labor-reducing. Cost-effective. Fun. Cozy.


Tuesday, September 30, 2008

I'm reading instead of writing

And it feels so good.

  • Writings to Young Women from Laura Ingalls Wilder: On Wisdom and Virtues - Laura Ingalls Wilder, edited by Stephen Hines
  • The Happiest Toddler on the Block - Harvey Karp
  • Taking Charge of Your Fertility: The Definitive Guide to Natural Birth Control, Pregnancy Achievement, and Reproductive Health - Toni Weschler
  • Winnie-the-Pooh - A.A. Milne

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Beans, the magical fruit

Our dried bean harvest --
Hidatsa Shield
We let them dry on the vine, then shelled them this weekend.
There isn't a person who has been able to resist
doing just what Baby Truen is doing in this picture.
They feel so nice.

Due to the pretty consistent turmoil,
I haven't gotten many pictures of the brothers together recently
But good news:
they are starting to laugh at each other and play together!!
I am so pleased.

Lil Baby Pumpkin likes to eat pumpkins, apparently --
and Diego thinks his Dada is the funniest man alive.
Speaking of hilarious, check out that Jack-o-Lantern on the left.
That would be Squeeze's;
I've been laughing every time I look at it --
I think it looks like a robo-squash just tweaked on the bum.

And finally...
I'd like to announce that
I have a great affection for David Bowie.
It's true.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

September fruit

Watermelons and cantaloupe from our garden
They are the perfect size:
Small enough to avoid left-overs
Juicy and tasty
We are so proud.

The cross-section of our cantaloupe
Did I mention how delicious it is?
The book said it would show ripeness by:
Color change [check]
Pungency of aroma, particularly by the stem [check!]

Our apple harvest.
Baby Truen had a fun time in the back of the van
while I sorted the "keepers", i.e. for the root cellar,
from those that will become applesauce in the coming weeks.

I was attempting to snap
to coax a grin from the baby for the picture --
neither of us are really smiling but I like it anyway.
There is a whole 'nother box of apples behind me.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Participate in the drama

I have a large egg-shaped lump on my forehead. It is probably the worst injury I've had since childhood and it was inflicted on me by a Jumbo Tinker Toy storage can and my butter-fingered 3 year old.

We were playing with Tinker Toys yesterday afternoon [a stupendous toy, btw] and Diego had just attempted to see if the storage can would fit as a hat on Baby Truen's head. "No," I said, "It won't fit. And doesn't fit on my head either, or your head." I showed him and then handed the can back to him. Seconds afterward, I laid back on the floor thinking about naptime, when BAM! it hit me: right on the forehead. It was the hard metal corner of the can no less, probably dropped from 1-2 feet above my head. It definitely fell [vs. thrown], though whether it slipped out of his hand or was carelessly dropped is unknown to me.

I rolled, screaming - not even really knowing what hit me. I could hear the baby screaming in terror with me (poor thing) so I sat up and picked him up, tears streaming out of my eyes from the pain, sobbing. I felt me forehead, and sure enough - a lump not all that difference from the top of a Silly Putty egg was hot and bulging right below my hairline.

Poor Diego was stricken when he saw me crying; his little face scrunched up into a wailing mess and then I was comforting two little guys in my lap. I took a couple of pictures for photographic evidence, then we snuggled in for a nap. No time for icing! It was 3:15 and I wanted these children asleep. The first thing Diego asked me when he woke up from his nap was, "Is your owie okay?" He kept on reassuring me that it would be "awight" and that it was healing. [Healing is a concept we've been discussing recently.]

Another interesting aftershock from the Tinker Toy Debacle has been contemplating my tears. It is interesting to think about an adult crying over physical pain. Emotional pain is a given for me - but I had forgotten what it was like to get hurt and cry over it. And my goodness did it hurt.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Nothing like a little Fenix Funk 5 to swerve potential disaster

I felt trouble brewing this morning, so instead of the usual, I tossed in a little Aphex Twin and a full-out dance party ensued: be-bopping on feet and knees, respectively. I was able to get my breakfast in peace [they had already had theirs].

Monday, September 15, 2008

My babies and the schickens

Baby Truen, my little Pumpkin
This baby loves tomatoes
He signs "milk", "more", and "eat"
All subtle variations of "milk", but I know what he means

Diego, who loves "buggggzzzz"
and snakes and salamaders
He'll take anyone who is willing out for a hunt

Our "schickens", as Diego calls them
No more peeping, they are clucking like grown-ups now
They should start laying sometime in October or November

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Not healed, but healing

I'm still teetering. My patience is thin, my time is non-existent, and I have been feeling rather trapped by mothering the past couple of weeks. In no way was I prepared for the KA-BOOM that would be our life once little Pumpkin started moving around and interacting. I feel like I should have known.

I mean, really. Shouldn't I have known? It is a big time of change, for Diego especially, as we all re-organize around this new little autonomous person, our big-boy baby who loves to roll things with wheels back-and-forth-back-and-forth, open-and-shut doors, climbs stairs, crinkle books, and get into whatever-his-big-brother-is-into. So sweet, but much of it invites the Wrath [AKA jealousy] of The Preschooler.

There is no relaxing during this phase of mothering, I guess. I have to be "on" at all times, to prevent catastrophe and injury - mostly that of Diego beating on his little brother, but also keeping little brother out of big brother's business, and therefore, harm's way. Kristina talked about 2 year olds turning into 3 year olds and suddenly going bezerk. Uhm, yes. I can attest to that. Another one of my friends (before things went ka-blewy for us) said that she'd take two over three any day. I can also remember a mom [a year ahead of me in the game] saying, "I finally came to the conclusion that, yes, I do need adult conversation during my day." At the time, I thought that sounded a little dramatic, but then - I had one child who was just learning to talk at the time. He napped regularly! He went to bed early! I worked PT and Squeeze stayed home with him! The clouds are starting to part and the clarity that experience provides is dawning.

I am emotionally exhausted. I am expending way more energy with my 3 year old than my 10 month old. I almost feel like I don't get to see Truen enough, if that is possible given the fact that I am with him 24 hours a day. Food prep, not to mention the act of eating itself, is almost impossible. I feel like I spend most of my day negotiating movement: "No, you can't do that - why don't you try this instead" or "If you choose to do that, then I will take it away" or "You can do this or that - you decide" or "Come here - Stop - I need you to - Please don't - Will you? - Can you? - STOP!!!!"

Needless to say, I feel like I am a vortex of negativity. I understand that positive parenting takes practice: some of my instincts are correct while others are completely awry. I've been drowning myself in parenting books and audio discs the last several days. It has been very helpful, but frustration and anger is still at a flash-point with me. I just need to simmer down.

I guess I just feel like life threw me a curve ball; and if I've learned anything about parenting, it is that change happens in a snap and it usually takes a little time to catch up with it. I flail and fuss until I realize a re-adjustment is in order. Once things are figured out, it is smooth sailing until the next quandary hits.

Big Find:
  • Helicopters, Drill Sergeants and Consultants - Parenting Styles and the Messages They Send - [an audio lecture by] Jim Fay of Love & Logic

My aunt recommended this to me in April. I had forgotten about it, but found it through the library when I did a search for "child-rearing". LOL! I've ordered every single Love & Logic CD our system has. There are lots of books, too - but I have less time for reading than listening right now.

Sunday, September 07, 2008


I've just finished with a block of the worst two weeks of my life. I think we're in the clear (for the most part), but I'm still emotionally flinching. A tad dramatic, maybe - but terrible nonetheless.

Consider the following combination:
  • Transitioning back to "real life", with
  • An amped-up preschooler filled with overzealous jealousy of his newly mobile and interactive baby brother, resulting in
  • Attacks on baby brother and general unrest and upheaval, added to
  • Grappling with the reality of our current agricultural system and the [unfortunate] direct affect it has on our lives, i.e.,
  • My husband was misted by pesticides by a crop-duster [airplane] while standing near the back door of our home on a pleasant Monday evening, which leads to
  • The grievous questioning of our life and choices, like, "What are we going to do?" and "Why did we move here?" and "How could we have not known?" and "With a problem of this magnitude, what can one even do?"

It has been a tough couple of weeks, complete with zombie-like staring at 3:00 am and copious amounts of tears shed. This, my friends, is why you have heard little from me.

Friday, August 29, 2008

At home - and exhausted

Brother married.
At home.
Missing my family, but
Glad to be back with my main Squeeze.
Re-entry with the off-kilter 3 year old is taxing my [depleted] reserves.
Disillusionment has kicked into high gear: pesticide laden crop-dusting planes vs. us ---
This world is going to hell in a handbasket.
Buy local and/or organic: forsake your pesticide-drenched food-like substances.
This sh*t is real.

More later.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Put this one in the brain-files

If ands and buts
were candy and nuts,
we'd all have a Merry Christmas.

My brother's skipper often brings this important point up while on the fishing vessel each summer. I thought I should pass the pearl on.

Two more days and he'll be a married man: weird (and beautiful)

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Forest of Feelings and Blog-a-lot

Remember Care-a-lot, where the Care Bears lived? Remember how I said songs get stuck in my head for days and weeks at a time?

Here's my latest:

Forest of Feelings, Care-a-lot, and Earth
Aren't far apart
They differ is some ways in some ways not

Cause home is in your heart
Home is in your heart
Home is in your heart...

We've been watching my brother's Care Bears VHS tapes, saved by my mom. (He didn't even remember they were his.) And dang, has it brought back memories. Does anyone else remember the song above?

Things are good; I'm at my parents'. My brother's wedding is this coming weekend. My legs have been waxed (where I spent much time looking like a bullfrog and gulping for air, peppered with squeaks and full-body shudders). Thanks Muver!

And now, this post will be cut short while I stop my curious 3 year old from ransacking my sister's room. Wahhhhh!!!!