Thursday, September 30, 2010

Random Quote and Unrelated Photo of the Week

July 29: Detail of Red and White Quilt

You have to be impressed by a plucky Spanish provincial, in the dangerous days of Nero and Domitian, who could manage to earn a handsome living writing dirty poems for the urban sophisticates of ancient Rome.

Steve Coates
My Poetry is Filthy - but Not I

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Busy Busy Busy

Work continues to take a lot out of me, but in a good "this is exciting even if it is a lot of work" way. Apparently it isn't just me feeling this way. The Washington Post had an article last week saying that state employees are feeling the stress of implementing the federal health care reform law.

Taking advantage of the good weather on Saturday, we took the kids (including Ada's pal Lila) to the pumpkin patch. I'd show you photos but Flickr is acting up. Maybe tomorrow.

I managed to make a crumble out of the quinces that grew on my mystery fruit tree. I am not sure it is good enough to make me want to keep the tree, but it tasted reasonably good.

We celebrated my pal Susie's birthday with a fancy dinner on Saturday night. The food was good but the company was excellent. I had so much fun and laughed more than I have in a while. It was so great that it made the next morning worthwhile (I was on duty with Ian and Mira from 6am on). 

What is keeping you busy these days?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Weekend in the Woods

This past weekend Ada, Chris and I went to the woods with our pal Juniper. We were going to camp, but then it rained a lot (especially at night). We were staying near Juniper's dad's cabin, so we ditched our tent in favor of a little trailer her dad built (and lived in for a few years as a younger man).

Sleeping Trailer

It is a tiny bit longer than it is wide. Basically just big enough for the three of us to sleep on the bed platform, with a little extra space for our backpacks. It was super cozy and with the three of us was nice and warm, even as the rain pelted the roof. Plus, how can you not love a tiny wooden trailer with a wood stove and a dutch door?

Juniper's dad is a committed yoga practitioner, who has a whole set up in his cabin. This includes what looked to Ada like a swing.

Ada enjoys the yoga tools

She spent a lot of time swinging on the rope and generally acting like a circus performer. Good thing that J's dad is great with kids.

On Saturday Juniper, Chris, Ada and I went for a hike in the woods. Ada wasn't crazy about the first half of the hike (a lot of uphill) but did like the trail mix we'd brought and the beautiful setting. (If you were going to see a unicorn anywhere in Oregon, it would be in these woods.) At one point in the hike Ada and I found a tree with numerous fairy houses at its base. Ada decided to winterize the fairy houses by putting moss in the doorways.

Ada Winterizing the Fairy Houses

Do other people's kids have a thing for fairies? Ada has no doubt that fairies live in the gaps at the bases of trees. She believes it so fervently that I have started to think it must be true.

While Ada was helping the fairies, Juniper found a nice big Chanterelle mushroom. We cooked it on Sunday to eat with our eggs. In addition to hiking and sleeping in (until 8:30! unheard of at our house) we ate s'mores, fed chipmunks and enjoyed the local natural hot springs. Unlike last time we took Ada to this place a couple of years ago, she got in and enjoyed the tubs. She also loved running from the tubs to a calm place by the river and jumping into the cold cold water before running back to the tub. Clearly this girl has some of her dad's Swedish blood.

Sorry, no photos of that. But really, no one needs to see photos of me sprinting from the river back to the warm tub, yelling all the way.

Ian and Mira stayed with their grandparents, who seem to have survived fine but who may not fully recover for a few months. Actually, Grandma and Bunka were great and Mira and Ian were happy to see us but not so happy that it wasn't clear that they'd had a great weekend with their grandparents.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

It Isn't Easy Shooting Green

Green collage

Better late than never, I suppose. Green may envy the attention I lavished on the earlier months.

I am working on September: yellow.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Visiting a Bend Blogger

On Thursday I drove to Bend for work. The meeting itself was maybe not worth the trip across the mountains, but definitely worth it was my visit with Jennifer. She was kind enough to give me a call when she was in Portland at the start of the summer, and meeting her confirmed what I believed from reading her blog - that she is someone I would enjoy knowing.

I had originally suggested we meet up after my meeting, but after a busy day of work, a several hour drive and an evening community meeting I was a little toasty. Luckily Jennifer agreed to meet me on Friday. We drove to a trail just outside of town for a walk by the river. It really is gorgeous there, and it smells so good. Whenever I am in drier climes I remember how much I love the smell.

We walked quickly and talked non-stop. We talked about children, food, defensively lefty acquaintances, writing, lava, parenting, american history, travel, how our experiences in the outdoors have changed us, and of course blogging and bloggers.

When I come to a new place I tend to think about if and how I could fit in there. I instinctively conduct a mini-scan, as if I were preparing to settle there. I have momentarily fallen in love with a lot of places, from Seattle to Montpelier. Bend is beautiful and it was fun to enjoy it with Jennifer, who clearly loves living in Bend and having such easy access to the outdoors. It made me feel so warm about Bend that I was sorry to be leaving town after such a short visit. I am not moving to Bend, or anywhere, anytime soon, but I am so glad to have gotten to visit.

Sky in Bend
In characteristic fashion, I didn't take pictures of the most beautiful parts of my visit. 
The sky was nice, though.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Random Quote and Unrelated Photo of the Week

IMG_0165

Let's go to my room, pig!

Gir
Invader Zim

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Well that's settled

At a light, waiting to turn onto the freeway onramp:

Ian: Cah! Cah!

Me: Yes! So many cars! And look, a train!

Ian and Mira: (rapt attention to train passing)

Me: What could be better than a train?

Mira: Cat!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Monday, September 13, 2010

What I tell her

What I tell her, versus what I do when she is not around:

I tell her: Dessert is not every day. It is a special treat.
I do:         Almost daily indulge my desire for something sweet.

I tell her:
We don't eat in the living room.
I do:         Eat in the living room.

I tell her: No more snacks, it is almost dinner time.
I do:        Snack while making dinner. (then again, I still eat dinner)

I tell her: We are eating, so let's put away the toy/book/piece of junk holding your attention.
I do:        Read/work/text while eating.

I tell her: Go to sleep so you'll be rested for tomorrow.
I do:        Stay up too late fiddling around at nothing.

What do you tell your children and then turn around and contradict through your actions?

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Calm Before the Storm

On Sunday afternoon I was changing Mira's diaper. I saw Ian walk into the kitchen, and then it was quiet. Too quiet for my taste. As I finished up with Mira, Ian came in. I saw this:

What I saw first

Intrigued, I walked into the kitchen and saw this:

What I saw second

Needless to say, we are still getting the hang of keeping everything away from the edges of the counters. What I can't figure out is why Ian didn't immediately eat all the blueberries he spilled.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Random Quote and Unrelated Photo of the Week

Greek-Inspired Sculpture

Although there's still pain in my chest,
I still wish you the best,
with a...
"fuck you!"
Ooo ooo oooo

Cee-lo
Fuck You
NB: Do not click the link if you are at work and can not shut yourself in a room alone. The video is not safe for work, as the quote above might suggest.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Park, Preserve, Park

One day I will have stuff to say, maybe after I drop Ada off at kindergarten on Friday (YES, school does not start for Portland kindergarteners until FRIDAY. Pathetic.) In the mean time, some shots from our wanderings this weekend (park, nature preserve, park). I am just sad I don't get any photos of the amazing al fresco Japanese feast Ellen made for us on Monday night. Happily, I did take pictures at the lovely impromptu Labor Day bbq lunch we enjoyed at Mike and Steven's (grilled pineapple!). Both of which make me love my friends and neighbors and want to cry that we are near the end of the summer (as evidenced by the torrential rain that coincided with veggie pick up on Tuesday).

Oh, guess I did have some things to say.

On to photos:

Tire Swing
My big girl.

Mira and Watermelon
Never have a bummer with...watermelon.

ian stop action
Chris thinks this is the shot Ian should use to apply to become a J Crew model. 

Mira in the Park

Face First Down the Slide
for Ian, it is face first down the slide, always

Monday, September 06, 2010

Why Going To Work Is Easier Than What Chris Did All Summer

My stay-at-home parent friends have my undying respect. Included in that group is my husband, who this week concludes his summer-long sojourn into the stay-at-home world. This is not to say that he'll never be home with the kids again, but this week he returns to work after being our children's main caretaker over the past several months.

I have a sense of what Chris dealt with while I was at the office, enjoying the comfortable chairs and the witty banter of colleagues. I am home with our children one "work" day a week. I am all the more awed by Chris' equanimity in the face of everything that goes on at our house, having lived through the chaos of one recent day at home:

5:50 am - wake up with Ian, who for some reason wakes up 30-60 minutes ahead of schedule when I am getting up with the babies.

6:30 - Mira wakes up, Ian pitches a fit when I give Mira her morning bottle. When offered his own (pretty much empty) bottle, Ian responds by screaming harder and grabbing for Mira's milk. I get Ian some more milk and calm is restored.

7:00  Ada and her friend emerge from her room. Ian sees them and goes crazy with joy. This causes the older kids to laugh and run back upstairs. I corral the kids and tell them to come down stairs so they don't wake up Chris (or at least so that he might be able to fall back asleep).

7:10 - Ada and her friend want to play with playdoh; I negotiate that they can take over the kitchen for this activity after we all have breakfast.

7:15 - Make eggs for breakfast. Respond to special order for "flat eggs" from friend because he asked so politely, everyone else gets patented "cheesy eggs."

7:30 - Help Ada and friend set up playdoh activity in kitchen. Convince the friend that we do not need to use every one of the 24 colors Aunt Karen sent Ada for her birthday. Shut gate to kitchen so that babies don't disturb older kids' Very Important Work.

8:30 - Ian is crabby crabby crabby, so Chris and I put the babies to bed before Chris leaves for work.

8:45-9:20 - Listen to Ian and/or Mira cry, talk, sing, etc instead of sleep. Once Ian finally quiets down, Mira starts chattering for a while. Consider but eventually reject idea of complaining to Chris about this by email. Instead text visiting out-of-town friend about timing of park date. Text other friend about joining us. Call parents of Ada's play date to organize pick up, thank them profusely for doing the shlepping.

9:30 - It is finally quiet. Scrape a zillion small globs of playdoh off the kitchen floor. Clean up residual Ian/Mira messes from the morning. Get text from woman scheduled to pick up kid friend for swim lesson - her keys are locked in her car, can I drop kid off at her house?

9:40-10:00 - Participate in Ada/friend's collaborative lego play. Extricate myself from this activity to clean up a little more.  Text with friends about adjusted park timing.

10:00 - Someone is awake upstairs. Ignore noise with the hope that the kid will go back to sleep.

10:15 - Noise now includes shaking that indicates kid standing and rattling crib. Knowing it is futile to expect more nap, I go upstairs, grab the two kids and take them into the bathroom so I can put my contact in. Listen to Mira complain loudly when I put her down.

10:20-10:40 - Come downstairs as Ada's friend and her father arrive to pick her up. Say goodbye to Ada, get Ian and Mira ready to go (change diapers, put on shoes and socks) and walk sleepover friend to his next engagement.

11:10 - Return home and decide to feed babies before heading to the park. Ian refuses to eat more than a single morsel, but spends his time squishing cherry tomatoes so that no one else (including his omnivorous sister) will want them either.

11:35 - Prepare to leave the house. Change diapers, put on sunscreen, collect snacks and sippy cups, check bag for other supplies, attach trailer to bike, find and dust off bike helmets, strap kids into bike, put on helmets.

11:45 - Finally leave the house. Arrive at the park as friend is leaving me a message saying "I'm here, where are you?" Play at the park with two friends I have not seen in a long time. Chase children, dole out snacks, chase children, talk to friends, chase children...

1:40 - Sense that Ian is near a melt-down and head home. At home, prepare for naps by diapering, doling out milk, putting kids in bed. Listen to chatter while I make a sandwich.

2:00 - Ian and Mira are quiet. Sit on porch playing with new software. Sign up for BTA's September Bike to Work Challenge.

3:05 - Go inside as sun is broiling the back of my neck.

3:10 - Hear kids wake up from nap. Sigh and roll eyes that nap was so short.

3:16 - Finally go upstairs after listening to kids chatter to one another on the monitor. Hope that there are no poops to deal with.

4:30 - Take Ian and Mira to pick up Ada at her friend's house. Lug the kids into the house, convince Ada to leave, and lug everyone back into the car.

5:20 - Allow Ada to visit the neighbor's house to play and remind her to tell you if she wants to go anywhere else. Start cooking dinner, while running between the kitchen and dining room in order to: (1) repeatedly tell Ian not to stand on the chair; (2) stop Ian from repeatedly climbing onto the dining room table; (3) taking the blackberry away from Ian when he climbs on the table to get it. Wonder how Ian will survive toddlerhood. Consider saying "why can't you be more like your sister?" about five thousand times.

6:15 - Put dinner on the table and gather everyone to eat. Give up trying to soothe Ian, who dissolves into a puddle of (very loud) sadness when Chris arrives home and tries to do anything other than immediately pick up Ian.

7:00  - Put babies to bed, and begin the process of helping Ada with her bedtime.

8:30 - Collapse on the couch, all children now safely in bed. Remember that there are toys all over the floor and join husband in daily maintenance cleaning/toy pick up.

* ** * ** *

I only do this stay-at-home thing once a week. I am exhausted just thinking about it. If there is any doubt in his mind or anyone else's, I really appreciate all Chris did for the kids and for me this summer. Thank you, Chris. The nanny is returning this week and now maybe we can all get some rest.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Milk and Biscuits

It was a small moment, but I was so charmed by Ada this morning: 

Ada (holding plate of jam-slathered buttermilk biscuits): can I have some water to go with my biscuits?

Me: Are you sure you don't want some milk?

Ada: Which would be better with biscuits?

Me: Well...milk goes very well with biscuits and jam.

Ada: Okay!