Main
Browse and Seek
On the Nightstand
  • Your One-Year-Old: The Fun-Loving, Fussy 12-To 24-Month-Old
    Your One-Year-Old: The Fun-Loving, Fussy 12-To 24-Month-Old
    by Louise Bates Ames, Frances L. Ilg
  • Your Six-Year-Old: Loving and Defiant
    Your Six-Year-Old: Loving and Defiant
    by Louise Bates Ames, Frances L. Ilg
  • Ragnarok: The End of the Gods (Myths)
    Ragnarok: The End of the Gods (Myths)
    by A.S. Byatt
  • The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home (Revised and Updated Edition)
    The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home (Revised and Updated Edition)
    by Susan Wise Bauer, Jessie Wise
  • The Bay Area Forager: Your Guide to Edible Wild Plants of the San Francisco Bay Area
    The Bay Area Forager: Your Guide to Edible Wild Plants of the San Francisco Bay Area
    by Kevin Feinstein, Mia Andler
Management
Meta
Wednesday
Jan012014

Pavers for the 2014 road to Hell

Happy New Year! We are sick and tired and sick of that, but eh. 

We got through our triage list okay - I’m doing the interior organizing that makes cleaning the house easier, Patrick started the backyard drainage/leveling project that has to precede all of our backyard projects this year. I got sick so I didn’t make my planned dinner, but will before Patrick heads out to CES (knocks wood).

Because it is January first, and because I love a good cliché, I have a list of stuff to work on. I’ll try to revisit it each month and update the status of each item. In no particular order, though I may categorize them later:

  1. Stop eating food that triggers my binge eating. This is not a diet, but it’s going to look a LOT like one. I can’t stop eating certain foods once I start, whether it’s making them my go to for lunches and snacks during the day, or evening-long binge eating. I know them all at this point, so it’s time to let them go before I nosh myself into one of the conditions that plagued my grandparents later in life, namely Type II diabetes and heart disease.
  2. Move more. I may schlep around more than many Americans, but it’s not enough for me to make those sweet, sweet endorphins that I need so very badly, nor is it enough to wear out the boys. This is not about going to the gym, or for designated runs, which are great personal time activities when you have personal time. I want to start the day with a kids’ yoga video, take the dog out on a long walk in the mornings, and maintain our bicycle commute. I want to show them that being active can be a structural part of their day-to-day.
  3. Stay on top of the house. The more we unpack, the easier this gets. Seamus give us a lot of push back on his chores these days, so i think staying on top of the rest of the house will provide a better model for him. We all dislike housework, child, but taking care of your space is a core competency.
  4. Make less trash. I want to reduce the amount of waste we generate. While the diapers will be with us a while longer, we have a stunning amount of packaging waste, and not all of it can be reused or recycled. I want to focus on eliminating soft plastics, which can’t be recycled.
  5. Tweak our food supply. This means more bulk shopping, more making instead of buying, more farmers markets, gardening, and possible foraging. I have a deep fascination with foraging. Seamus wants to learn to fish, Patrick wants to get a hunting license. 
  6. Make more things. For Patrick and the boys and the house, but I’d also like to make myself something this year. I never have.
  7. Finish Seamus’ school library infrastructure. We have a catalog, but now we need a LOT of documentation, which I’m drafting, and processing of the collections. If I can finish this before the next school year, I’ll be happy.
  8. Build more community. After two years in this house, I finally feel okay with letting people see it in all its “before” glory. While we didn’t entertain much in that time, we did try to invite people on our adventures, which was met with mixed results. I’d like to provide a base camp again and rebuild our tribe. I know some friends are lost to us, but that doesn’t mean we can’t make new ones.

That should keep me busy enough. I’ll check in on those in a month.

 

Tuesday
Dec312013

Semper Gumby

The working holiday is almost over, and a lot of productivity has been lost by the stomach flu (boys) and a beak injury bad enough that I’m worried that the chicken in question may not be able to eat enough, in which case I’ll have to cull her so she has a humane end.

It’s my birthday, the house is a half torn-apart wreck and the kids are cranky and clingy. How to celebrate?

1. Triage. We’ll pick the job that impacts our imediate quality of life the most and try to finish it.

2. Walk. We may not go anywhere special, but fresh air will do us all some good.

3. Decent dinner. With one kid on clear fluids/BRAT today, and the other unable to eat dairy due to wicked post-nasal drip that’s triggering vomiting, I’ll make a pureed butternut squash soup, serve it with toast to the boys, and with cheese and apples for Patrick and I. Instead of cake, I’ll see if the grocery store stll has those twee organic popsicles made from high-end chocolate and other local ingredients.

Saturday
Dec282013

Merry Christmas!

I’m avoiding doing the dishes right now, but I’m going to have to hit the kitchen shortly, as we’ve been working on a nightly routine for prepping the house for the mornings.

So, off we went one morning to hunt down our tree, using those crazy scimitar-esque tree saws:

Showing Tristan how it’s done.We went to this place, changing farms after a decade. I didn’t dislike the place we’d gone to previously, but I was desperately trying to woo folks from the island to join us on our holiday mayhem. “C’mon, I know it’s a long drive, but they have alpacas! It’ll be fun! In the end the people who joined us made for a terrific group. We got a bigger tree than usual, and even managed to get it up well in time for the holidays.

Glowing in anticipation of Movie Night.Next year we should have our projector screen mounted, so I’m guessing that this is the last ceiling-brusher we have for a while. On the plus side, if we ever do find our Flying Spaghetti Monster topper, it will fit. I hung our stockings on the bookshelves next to the tree, as we still have nothing going on in the mantel department.

There was some last minute gift making. I stenciled twelve shirts, including a very messy sugar skull  for Patrick.

 

And we walked down to Christmas Tree Lane, aka Thompson Avenue. Every house on this block does something in their yard, and the municipal power company foots the bill for the month of December. This stretch of Thompson has a grassy island down the middle of the street, planted with coastal redwoods, and kids can visit Santa under the dark trees, surrounded by yard displays. I’m not sure if that’s more or less traumatizing than a mall trek. Ah well. This is my favorite house, taken with a shaky camera while I tried to keep an eye on Tristan in the crowd.

It’s the characters from “The Nightmare Before Christmas”, and it inspires me to do a yard display featuring the snow people from “Calvin and Hobbes”. Someday perhaps.

And oh, there there was the day of presents. Tristan was good for about four of them, then he really needed some food.

New slippers for Seamus. I have no idea why this is sideways.

Ukelele, steel tumblers, and the perplexus.The macaroni case is full of thrifted LEGO, possibly sold by the kilo.

We had a nice late lunch before visiting friends, one of whom was celebrating her birthday. Their house was full of family and friends, and it was fun to visit and then return to our less chaotic space.

The next day, we swapped the dressers around as part of converting the boys’ room into a more kid-capable space, and as part of getting our own bedroom unpacked. First I painted the little dressers that used to hold art supplies.

Tristan’s is on the left, Seamus’ on the right. Shay picked out the pattern and the colors for his dresser.

Then they went into the closet in the boys room, along with a narrow hanging rack for shoes and hats. Each dresser has only three drawers, so we had to pare down Shay’s t-shirt collection, but they are so low that even Tristan can access his clothes. I want to put in a long mirror and a laundry hamper next.

I should really do those dishes. Next on our lists: leveling the backyard, and planning/building a bike shed and new coop!

Saturday
Dec142013

Holiday Updates

One of the side effects of having your living space be functional and tolerable is that you actually spend time living in it. Yippee! Anyways:

  • After a lot of head scratching (mine) and a lot of hive scratching (Tristan’s), we think we’ve figured out most of his hive triggers, and have gotten them 90-95% under control. We changed up our laundry soap, slather him with lots of moisturizer twice a day, make sure he hits the tub every other day, and vacuum the house daily. This keeps his eczema-prone skin from itching from dryness, and keeps his contact with the things he appears to be most sensitive to (Oxyclean, dander, random plant schmutz) to a minimum. In mid October Tristan was bleeding regularly from scratching his hives and I was constantly fretting over his nails, open cuts, and fresh outcroppings of itchy bumps. The pediatrician said “flea bites”, but I was slapping Frontline on the girls one schedule, and never, never saw a flea on the kids. His skin has cleared up so much in the last two months, and he’s so much happier, especially at night, since he’s not waking up scratching himself raw.
  • We had a great Thanksgiving, just the four of us. We went to my mom’s last year, but I really want to celebrate holidays in our home for a while. We’re finally making it ours, we should be able to delight in that, and holidays are a good time to do so. I can’t find the photos, but I set a pretty table, whch made Seamus happy- he likes it when we fancy up the house a bit.
  • We got our Christmas tree early this year, tried a new tree farm, and discovered that the apple farm we visit after buying a tree has shut down. The boys loved the tree farm - there were pony rides and a petting zoo. And since the living room was unpacked, we have a really nice space for the tree.
  • We got through our first all-hands cold a few days before Shay’s holiday concert. He recovered in time and played piano on stage! 
  • We celebrated St. Nicholas’ Day this year. What’s an atheist doing celebrating a Catholic saint? Teaching my kids the probable origin story of Santa, whose evolution into the dispenser of rewards for good behavior became an issue for us a couple of years ago, and showing them that the holidays are not a giant gift grab. We put one each of the boys’ rainboots out on the porch, filled with snacks for the saint’s donkey, and St. Nic gave them a small book and toy. After I picked Seamus up from school, the three of us went to Toy Safari and bought four gifts for the Toys for Tots toy drive. Eventually I’d like to ramp down what the boys get for Christmas and ramp up our giving to perhaps adopting a family. Seamus was GREAT at picking out gifts - this was our fourth year participating in a toy drive, and this year it all really clicked for him. He chose thoughtfully, understanding that the recipients might not have access to batteries or other not-included items, and didn’t ask for anything for himself. I’m so very very proud of him.
  • I do not do Black Pete as part of the St. Nicholas Day activites. Aside from the fact he gets in the way of my “pay it forward” teaching moment, the way Pete is portrayed in countries that really celebrate the saint’s day make me hugely uncomfortable. I’m looking at you, Holland.
  • We’ll be home for a quiet Christmas, aside from visiting our friends in the afternoon. Patrick has some time off, so we’ll keep doing little projects, including a new chicken coop.
  • I haven’t mentioned the chickens? Soon, I promise.

 

Monday
Dec022013

Yep

Dinner one night a few weeks ago, just me and the horde.

Seamus: What is this music, mom?

Me: It’s Dvorak.

S: It’s good torture, mom.