Monday, August 31, 2009

Sod Field Soiree

So, last week DID get better, and we all survived, and this is just a season, etc, etc, etc.

I don't have much time right now, but I wanted to swing by and share some pictures of our little ladies' get-together this weekend. We got together to honor our dear friend, who MOVED (Yes, MOVED. HOW DARE SHE???). Organized by Beautiful Neighbor (a sometimes-commenter here), we all brought a little snack-y and something to drink and headed to the sod fields.

The sod fields, owned by friends, were the *perfect* place to get together and drink some wine. It was so beautiful that I don't have words that don't make me sound 100% Pollyanna. So, here's some pictures* instead:

Those last couple of pictures were of the fog that rolled in. It was, well, fucking magical. And really hard to describe.... when we were walking through you could see the different layers of fog.
All in all.... it was lovely, perfect, blissful....

*I don't have permission from these ladies to post pictures as many of them do not read this blog. I'll be removing the pics with the most identifying shots of faces soon, but some of these I couldn't resist NOT sharing, even if just for a short time.

(Also, girls-that-do-read-here: if you want your pictures off sooner rather than later, just shoot me an email.)

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Days Of Our Lives

Man, Swistle just summed up my life for the last week or so. The kids! They are making me want to run away, never to return!

I am trying so hard over here to make the best of these last weeks of summer, to not wish away this time of spending more time with the children before school starts. But THEY are nothing but sniveling, whining, bickering, pestering, begging, FIGHTING little ingrates. THEY are obviously sick of each other, sick of me, sick of summer, ETC.

Everyday, I wake with the positive attitude that today, we will enjoy each other. Today, we will have peace. And I get out a project, say, painting rocks, and we are all quiet and happily absorbed in our creating. I feel zen-like and frankly, a little smug about being so in the moment.

And then, THEN, the very next minute, one child is grabbing something from another child, and that child is screeching and flailing about, and the third child is unable to NOT get involved, and in the time span of 3 seconds, everything is OVER.


And as Swistle said, it's so frustrating, because I KNOW I will miss their young selves, their innocent voices, their small feet, their bodies small enough to sit on my lap.

But right now? I SWEAR TO GOD if one more child insists on SITTING ON MY BODY, or WHINING IN MY EAR, or FIGHTING WITH HER SISTER, I will walk out the door and not return.

At least, that is the fantasy.

I know from past experience that when I start having real escapist fantasies, it's bad. Not fantasies like "wouldn't it be cool to sleep in a bed by myself and wake when I was ready". But ACTUAL FANTASIES, where I can feel the car keys in my hands, where I can picture where exactly I would drive, and how exactly the kids and husband would feel when they realized I really did leave, and how much they would appreciate all I do after I've left, and what exactly I would do first when I reached my destination.

Like, almost plans.

But of course I won't leave, because these people are my life, the life I chose, the life I would be longing for if I didn't have what I have now.

They are precious to me.

And also, it must be said, that raising any child(ren) is difficult. It's not as if these children are any more or any less challenging than the next family's. And while it looks like other families have it all together, and don't have moments, days, WEEKS, like the one I'm having, I know from the honest conversations I've had with many moms this is their experience too.

Some of us are more open and honest about it than others, but we ALL are living the same experience, each in our own little box, each with our own dinners to cook, fights to referee, and escaping to dream about.

Finally, I heard or read an "expert" somewhere talking about the key to a successful marriage...
(It frustrates me that I cannot remember where.)

Anyway, he (or she) said that most people would say things like "trust and love" or "honesty and devotion" arethe most important elements in a healthy marriage. HOWEVER, it's sex and money that are the two most important things.


The "expert" said that if a couple cannot master these two things, THAT is when they are in trouble.

*excuse me while I pass out from laughing so hard I inhale my own spittle*

Because? While I believe that this is quite true, there is not a whole lot of SEX or MONEY going on over here.

Marital congress? Not so much.

Agreement/teamwork about spending? NOPE.

Am doomed.

Well, look at that. The children are pulling out each other's hair. Again.

Must go! Ta!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Copied Straight From (My) Facebook

1. I am so proud of how well my kids travel in the car. Except for when they randomly puke.

2. I just discovered that I like kohlrabi, with all the alien-tentacle-thingies peeled off, natch.

3. I like eating Ovaltine on vanilla ice cream. True story.

4. I need new glasses.

5. I dreamt that Michael Jackson died, and wrote about it, a month before he actually died.

6. I often leave laundry in the washing machine over night. As long as I switch it in the morning, it's always been fine. Do you do this too?

7. Kate and Joan are such good sleepers that I routinely wait until they are asleep and then go into their room, turn on the closet light, and pack their clothes for trips. They've NEVER waken up.

8. However, if I try to sneak downstairs for a cup of coffee ALONE in the morning, no matter how quiet I am, their eyes POP open and they come bouncing out.

9. So therefore, I spend most mornings lying in bed, needing to pee, but not wanting to wake them and start the day.

10. I take a big-ass dose of iron every day because I am anemic. I play the anemia card as often as possible.

11. So be nice to me. Because I'm anemic.

12. I'm trying to think of a name for my compost pile. I sincerely enjoy "feeding" her every day.

13. I am excellent about remembering to take photos, but HORRIBLE about printing them off.

14. My favorite glass to drink out of is a jelly jar.

15. I've recently learned how to make cheese. If you come over, I'll show you too. I'm teach-y like that.

16. My favorite season is: Sleeping With Windows Open

17. I get excited when I see a bald eagle in the wild. It's happened 3 times in my life; two of which were this summer.

18. I want to grow raspberries.

19. I'm working on a Life List. It's long.

20. My laptop is currently burning my lap. (And I'm anemic.)

21. I have pink and purple hydrangea's blooming in my front yard that are as big as basketballs. I do nothing to maintain them.

22. My youngest's favorite thing to say is JUST KIDDING. Then she falls over, dead, from laughter.

23. She says this apropos of nothing.

24. I've been driving the same vehicle for 7 years. I hope to drive it a couple more, at least. It's paid for.

25. If I don't stop now, David will beat me to bed, and then I'll have to turn off all the lights. Which I hate. I'm not above diving into bed nanoseconds before him to avoid this.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Hike: Journey or Destination?

If I had to analyze whether I was a "journey" or "destination" type of person, I'd have to assign myself squarely to the "destination" camp. I like jobs that have big results, like dusting really dusty furniture, and I like to get them done quickly so that I can admire the results.

I take after my dad as a traveler: someone who stops only to eat/pee/get gas, and only if all three can be accomplished with one stop. Granted, many of the road trips of my life have been on roads that I have driven again and again and AGAIN, thereby eliminating the need for exploration. But still. Let's just GET THERE already.

My husband is more meticulous, enjoying the process and not as focused on the results. This makes us a good pair, for I am good at getting things done (like rolling paint on a wall), and he is good at attending to the details (like painting the trim).

My children, however, have taught me the beautiful art of slowing down and being present in the now, without focusing so much on the end. I think most children are zen masters, and I feel so appreciative of what I can learn from them.

Like the hike we went on, to a place where we annually hike, called (by locals) "Boulder Vista". It's off the beaten path by miles, and I don't just mean the literal distance. It's a place to hike that has a clear, yet unmarked, trail. A hike that doesn't appear on any of the tourist maps.

We love this hike for that reason. We love that we can hike a relatively short distance (kid-friendly) and get to an awesome vantage point with magnificent views. _I_ also love it because, as I take the girls there year after year, I am beginning to love the journey of the hike...

They are excited to get out of the car and apply sunscreen, divide up water bottles, strap on backpacks, and double check the snack stash; they do not view this as a chore but as part of the adventure.

They enjoy the steep trail, and the familiar rocks "where we always stop for a water break".

There are lots of water breaks, each one part of the adventure and excitement.

They enjoy stopping at various points to enjoy the view, not caring that the view is only going to get better and better. The view *now* is good, and that is all they need.

Of course they enjoy the victory of reaching the top.

And they gamely suffer through the obligatory family picture, because they love me so. (Well, and they may or may not be being threatened with bodily harm.)

The photo ops with my dad and his stupid, suicidal dog evoke true smiles though, because nearly everything my dad is involved in is truly fun. (Including trying to get this dog to sit and face the camera instead of focusing on the edge of the cliff, the very cliff he nearly jumped off of seconds before to retrieve a rock my dad threw.)

And this little one kept us all safe by her cheerful chirping from the pack on Daddy's back. "Be careful guys!" "Don't fall Daddy!" "Wait up Mommy! Don't get lost!". We let her loose for a bit once we reached the top, and she walked around with her water bottle, sighing to herself at regular intervals "What a beautiful day!".


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Blanket Party

Sometimes when we "vacation" in the Black Hill, we do lots of tourist-y things, along with trying to divide our time between all of my family that lives here. This trip, however, has turned out to be about 5 parts lounging, 1 part tourist-ing. And all-parts family-time.

Many, many hours were spent on this blanket, just lounging and being together. It was lovely, actually.

On our way here, having a "picnic" for dinner at a scenic overlook of the Missouri River. (The nice man that offered to take our photo, though, did not get any of the river in the picture.)

My mom's backyard, where my sister and I spread out a blanket and settled in with our new bookstore conquests. Soon the party grew, more blankets were added, and nearly everyone we knew joined us for at least part of the afternoon.

Leah set up a corner of the blanket as her kitchen, where she served us plastic food for hours. The big girls did puzzle after puzzle with my sister.

David joined us, with his computer, natch.

My mom's couch pillows even made an appearance (shhhh!), and Joan made herself comfortable for a little rest.

We even napped after a long, beautiful hike with my dad.

I am so proud of Kate's and Joan's mad reading skillz, and it was even cooler to see them get to read to various family members. Here Joan is keeping my sister entertained with a book.

Today we are heading home, and it will be so nice to settle into a normal routine. We are returning rested and happy and filled up with so much quality time together and with my family. We may not see them much, but we make up for lost time when we are together!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Lake Has Many Purposes

We are in Rapid City for the second time this summer, this time to celebrate my nephew's baptism and a couple of birthdays. As a bonus, there were many of our extended family members who also traveled here for the baptism. Lots of birds, one stone ETC.

Here is everyone, headed for the beach for the "Lake Baptism". (Dear concerned citizens: this was not a baptism by immersion; the babe just got his hair a bit wet in the name of God.) :

(The sky! It was even more beautiful in person!)

The pastor, sponsors, parents, and nephew in the water, at the start of the ceremony:

The sweet star of the day, eager to get wet:
(This photo is a bit out of order, and it won't move. Blogger is nearly as stubborn as my firstborn!)

Watching, and getting their feet wet so as not to be left out:

It was a beautiful day, beautiful setting, and a fun way to see so many people we adore:

We are now "vacationing" in the true sense of the word. No real plans, no schedule to follow, lots of time just lounging together. There is still a bit of tension about who we are spending time with, seeing as how I now come from a broken home and all. But we try to tune that out, and divide our time equally between my mom and dad.

David and I are on our way out the door- without children!- to have lunch with my sister. Later we'll do some hiking, or thrifting, or just lounging around. And we'll let the rest of the world melt away, for now. Because we are on vacation!

Thursday, August 13, 2009


Sometimes, thinking of the addition of anything else in our lives seems like too much. Like one teensy tiny extra step to the day and we will all fall over the cliff or into a black hole or, ah, something.

But as Marin gets bigger, and as we do this whole "parenting gig" year after year, things do start to seem easier. And there are spaces in our lives where we can add a project, a non-child related interest, or even just a new recipe.

This is how baking bread has come to be a regular(ish) part of our lives.

Friday nights have become "Pizza Night" around here, and the kids are really getting into the process of making the pies from scratch. They all love to help roll out the dough, and Marin is a huge fan of grating cheese.

I use our bread machine* (acquired years ago from a friend who no longer wanted it... thanks Slugger!) to make the dough. When it's done rising we roll it out, top it, and bake it on a baking stone.

This is the recipe we use, adapted from the recipe booklet that came with the bread machine:

Add ingredients to the machine in this order:

1 1/2 C warm water
2 Tbsp olive oil
4 1/4 C flour (I use 1 1/4 C of whole wheat flour. Any more than that, and the dough is supersticky.)
2 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar (or honey)
2 tsp dry yeast

Set machine to "dough only". Takes about 90 minutes, but if you are crunched for time, it's not necessary to let it rise.

Recipe will make 2 12" pizzas. Top and bake at 400 for 10-12 minutes, on bottom rack of oven.

Another favorite around here is this recipe for pita bread. Really, that site will give you much better instructions- with photos!- than I could. We love, love, love this bread, and it really is not possible to mess it up. (We always add a bit of whole wheat flour... but again, too much and the dough is really sticky). This recipe is done completely "by hand".

Finally, we recently tried Amanda Soule's Who Bread recipe for the bread machine, and we are in looooooooove with it. My biggest beef with a bread machine (besides the effed up shape of the loaf) is that I've never found a recipe where the bread was awesome for more than 1 hour after baking.

This recipe, though, is awesome. Sweet, soft, moist, and just as tasty the next day. Plus, I can dump some stuff in a odd shaped pan, punch some buttons, take a nap, and wake to aahhhhhh, fresh bread.

I find that baking bread is one of the household tasks that is satisfying all the way around. Easy to make, meditative to kneed, possible to have child "helpers", wonderful to smell baking, and then always tasty to eat. Add in the Smug Factor of I made this from scratch, and well, it's worth the time and mess.

*With my tiny kitchen, I am not a fan of "kitchen appliance for every occasion". However, I do make room for our bread machine (it lives on the dining room floor between uses, because we are super glamorous, OBV.)

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Simple Things: Summer


~ Cutting flowers to enjoy indoors.

~Thrifted blankets and table cloths.

~Eating outside for most meals.

~ Learning how to freeze our fresh foods for use this winter. (So far: strawberries, broccoli, and pesto).

~ Watching the kids dance to music they love.

~ Dirty children. And getting them clean again.

~ Evening walks.
~Squealing, jumping, laughing children as they try (and usually succeed) to catch fireflies.

~ Composting. Surprisingly very satisfying.

~ Growing food, even if it's just a mini-mini-mini container garden of basil, mint, and cherry tomatoes.

~ Painting old furniture to make it "new" and "ours".

~ Open windows.

~ Making bread and pizza dough out of habit.

~ Spending the morning in the woods with friends.

~ Garage sales.

~ Reading some of the same books that I loved as a child with my own children, only now they are reading to me.

~ Making my own "Life List".

~ Morning routine of watering plants and flowers. Usually in p.j.'s.

~ Thinking about the kinds of things I want to learn to sew. (So far: blankets, sundresses, skirts, curtains, and pillows/chair cushions.)

~ Holding smooshy babies and becoming more clear in my heart and mind about Possible Future Fourth Green Baby.

~ Sun tea.
What did I miss?

Thursday, August 6, 2009

CSA Week 7

Basil, kale, turnips, flowers!!, MASSIVE broccoli, zucchini, fennel
a lone cuke, kohlrabi, and purple beans

This weeks tasks: learn how to freeze broccoli, and learn how to cook with fennel.


(That is an actual question. If you have fennel recipes, please share. KTHX.)

We also received (for free, from a friend) 12 ears of sweet corn- first of the year!- and a massive bunch of garden-fresh carrots. We are bursting, happily, with fresh and local foods.

Also, because a few of you asked, you can learn more about CSA's here, as well as find one in your area. While joining for this growing season is probably out in most areas, you may want to sign up for next season. I hear in some areas that many CSA's fill up fast.

Happy Thursday!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

How To Potty Train Your Kid: Super-lazy Method

Step 1: Have potty chair out for months. Casually offer it up for use, giving praise for successes and no emotion for refusals.

Step 2: Show child Super! Cool! big kid underpants. Show no emotion when they are refused.

Step 3: Point out all the neighborhood children who already wear Super! Cool! big kid underpants. Offer again. Continue to show no emotion at diaper preference.

Step 4: Allow months to go by, casually offering underpants and potty chair usages. Try not to give one tiny little raisin poo if child has successes or failures. Remind yourself often of the silver lining to diapers.

Step 5: Finally realize that your child is ready to train, no matter how adamantly she refused to wear underwear. Have light bulb moment when she is playing with a friend and then pauses, mid-stride, and stands awkwardly frozen while saying calmly to friend "Jussa minute. I have to pee in my diaper."

Step 6: Force child into underwear. Bribe with chocolate and wipe away her tears.

Step 7: Discover a this blog: and dive in head first. Do not come up for air for DAYS. Leave child in underwear during this time, but be so involved in the new blog love that you never remind her to go potty. Blearily help with potty-ing and then go immediately back to blog.

Step 8: Realize 2 days later that she's been in underwear for over 48 hours (minus sleeping-times) and hasn't had a single accident. (This realization will likely penetrate your daydreams of learning how to sew and knit and make quilts and and and and... brain implodes due to input-overload.)

Step 9: Think to self- Huh, I guess this means she's potty trained? I think? Go back to daydreaming/overstimulated state.

Step 10: Try not to celebrate too much, realizing there's sure to be set-backs. Also, try not to panic about the fact that your "baby" is getting bigger by the day. Go back to reading the archives of above mentioned blog.

(At least she still looks like a baby whilse she sleeps, no?)