Friday, August 19, 2011

The View from Here

This is a moment for sharing , inspired by SouleMama's "This Moment".In her words,  "A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember."

Monday, August 15, 2011

Monday Morsels (better late than never)

Almost everyone we know is heading to the beach sometime this week.  Not because the weather is supposed to be amazing (mostly rain in fact) but because it starting to feel like we may not have too many more summer beach days left.  The air has shifted, its been chilly in the evenings and mornings.  Not quite sweater weather, but close.  As homeschoolers we still have plenty of beach days ahead--September is really  the best time to swim in the ocean around here, but there is still a sense of urgency that comes about with this change in temperature.  There's a feeling of having to squeeze it all in before we tuck in for the winter.  So we're squeezing:  camping this past weekend, beach this week, a week away with family next, an order of peaches to can, blueberries to pick up (luckily we don't have to rake them) and hopefully warm enough weather to do some more swimming.


*  The kids were up and outside early last week, attending to a fire pit they'd built below the tree house.  They asked me to give them a fire permit whenever it was O.K. for them to burn.  I love early mornings when they're already up and playing before breakfast.

*  Juniper picked out these shoes (above) with her birthday money from Gramps.  It was her money so I felt fairly limited in how many restrictions I could place on her choice.  Her criteria was that they be "pretty, and slip on".  My only rule was that they had to stay on her feet when she ran.  These are Bogs that she ended up with, and so far they seem great--and they're waterproof! 

*  Kale is moving into the "builder" phase that all small boys I know seem to go through.  We are reading all construction books, and tools have become a new standard around the house.  
He calls the hammer a "tap tap"  Love it!

* Wylie made his first (or one of his first) solo batches of cookies this week.  They were oatmeal raisin, and pretty tasty.  I can't wait until he is big enough to take over a dinner night.

* For our anniversary Rob sent me roses, delivered, and because he knows me so well he came home with 10 Green & Black's, one for each year.  Thanks Love!

*  The harvest seems to be rolling in a bit at a time (which is fine by me, since I'm still learning what to do with all of it).  This week from the garden:  more pesto, rainbow carrots, broccoli, chard, our first green beans, patty pans, and cukes.  Growing strong are cabbage, tiny brussels sprouts, beautifully 
variegated tomatoes, and unfortunately Japanese beetles. 
There's not one good thing about a Japanese beetle.  I hate the way they stick to my fingers when I pick them off the plant, and the way the pile atop one another in one giant beetle orgy on by bean plants.  I hate the way they seem to devour their chosen victim relentlessly, and how they drop off the plant just as your try to grab them.  Last year it was the fruit trees, this year the Rosa Rugosa and my pole beans.  
Nasty little suckers.    

 *  This kitchen has seen some years.  It was my nephew Guthrie's 8yrs ago, then his brother Oliver's.  Next it was at our little preschool for a while, then over to our house for Wylie and Juniper.  Wylie outfitted the kitchen with a real (though regrettably non-working) faucet, light switch, and various electrical components attached throughout.  Last week we brought it out of storage for Kale.  He's been cooking up a storm.  I keep having to steel my pots back when he isn't looking.

*  I feel so fortunate to live in a place where we are just minutes from beautiful hikes like this one.  This is the Little River Trail in Belfast, that walks along the public water supply.  We had a fun afternoon there with friends:  fishing, walking, building fairy houses, and collecting quartz.  The thumbs up (below) is in recognition of the "awesome" quartz to be had on site.

* I finally finished this cotton back zip hoodie for Kale.  I started it last spring with some Manos cotton from the Yarn Sale at our local yarn shop, Heavenly Socks Yarn.  We had one of these sweaters that was a gift from a neighbor when Wylie was born--but in newborn size.  And another that was Baby Gap, I think, also tiny.  They were my favorite.  I wish I had done this in a smaller needle (except then I never would have finished it).  I haven't washed it yet, so maybe it will tighten up a bit with shrinkage.  I knit Juniper a pair of pants in this cotton when she was crawling and they held up remarkably well.  Even through the regular wash/dryer--which I'm sure is not recommended.
When he saw me coming with the camera it turned into a game of chase.

*  "Kale, go to sleep baby".

* I wish I knew more about mushrooms.

 * We're enjoying the birthday decorations for a few more weeks.  Why not?

  Have a great week!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

In which Mama builds and a Happy Anniversary

I've always loved  home and furniture design and have really lucked out having a hubby who can build things. And particularly in having a father-in-law who can build things really well--and who doesn't know how to sit still.  The process usually goes something like this:  Me:  "picture x here. It would come out like this, and the lines would follow across here, imagine it darker like y..."  To which Rob's typical response is, "are you serious?" or "Its not happening anytime soon", or if I'm lucky, "build it yourself."  Well, being as he is, fairly anal about most things, I know that if I actually start building he will quickly take over.

That's how it went for the couch.  I'd been designing a built in couch to replace the old one we've had ever since we moved in together (that came from Rob's dorm, and his parents living room before that.)
I had gotten to the point of threatening to make a trip for plywood, when luck came my way, and Grampy became "trapped" at our house while his motorcycle was being repaired.  And so the couch frame was built.  Thanks Grampy!

The old couch was torn apart and sent to a friend's dumpster (I know, more waste!  But really I could see no other option for the sorry thing. Though I've saved the cushions for some possible future project).

We bought material from Fabric Depot and ordered cushions to be made to our design by Coastal Canvas , owned by our neighbors from Belfast.  And when they finally came, we loved them.

Love them.  I love the simplicity of it.  Love the single long cushion so there is absolutely nothing to shift out of place and need to be straightened.  I love the dark brown material that will hide all of our stains.  And I love the long, levitating effect of the frame, with one single leg, and a bookcase on the end to hold it up.  It may not be healthy to feel so much pride in a piece of furniture, but I'm going with it.

Rob was skeptical about the built in couch design from the beginning, and I give him credit for having so much faith in me.  He seems to love it almost as much as me (or he's pretending well, which is very much appreciated).  The one draw back is, so he says, the coffee table/yard sale chest that is now too low and not long enough.  I agree.

So, while he was away on business last week I decided to cut out the middle-man and take on the full title of designer/builder.  I got a big, slab of maple from a guy down the road with a portable saw mill.  After sanding I built a small shelf below to hold our lap top a.k.a TV, and magazines (or board books as is the case), and attached iron pipes with threaded flanges for legs.  These match the pipe railing on the staircase, and the leg of the couch.  For a first project it looks great (all modesty aside) especially if you don't lie down underneath and see the several screws I stripped and had to leave half-way out.  Oops.

Builder Mama and helpers

I "wrapped" the table and presented it to Rob as an early anniversary gift upon his return.
And, he loves it! (unless he's pretending-- still appreciated).

Happy anniversary honey!  Thanks for sharing this crazy adventure with me.  

Monday, August 8, 2011

Monday Morsels: Party Hardy

We made it through the week of two birthdays, two summer camps, and a business trip for Rob.
Somewhere it is written that if Rob is away, one or more of the children will vomit.  Last week was no exception.  Fortunately, as stomach bugs go this one was easy, and didn't really knock anyone out, as much as it became an inconvenience:
"Mama, lets go swimming!"  "Ok-- oh wait, Kale might throw up again."  
"Jump in the car, its time to go to camp."  "But what if I throw up?"  "Oh, right".  

No fevers, very little nausea or fatigue, just out of the blue vomiting on and off for about  6 hours.
I can handle that.  Especially since we had Super Mimi (aka The Meem) here for the week.
Super Mimi brings sugar cereal, art supplies, pinwheels and birthday presents.  Who could ask for more?


*  The kids though it would be funny to get a picture of Kale throwing up (there seems to be a strong interest in all things gross around here).  Fortunately they didn't, but these before and after pictures are pretty much how the afternoon went around here.

Kale immediately before vomiting

Just after vomiting
It didn't really slow him down much.

*  Its become tradition that I make Juniper a new dress for her birthday.  This year I made a skirt and top with matching headband.  The skirt was a free pattern a friend told be about on the oliver+s  blog, the "Lazy Day Skirt", and was super easy to make.  The top was a made up pattern, and my first try at shirring/smocking.   The material is from a great new store in Belfast, Fiddlehead Artisan Supply.
If you live nearby check it out!

I think she likes it.

* We have a few other birthday traditions we try to adhere to.  The kids always wear a handmade crown (I'm thinking now that Rob and I should have one as well) we hang the birthday banner, and add a handful of photos from the previous year to their photo album. Presents too of course.  Parties are typically low key affairs with a couple of close friends, and are of the beer, watermelon, and BBQ variety.  (Of course when you add friends' siblings and parents to the mix it becomes quite a crowd).   I'm not much for the big organized theme party deal, and even wondered if it would be over the top to have bubbles, until Juniper made it pretty clear:  "Mama, I don't want bubbles!" That settled that.  Of course if the kids wanted to do more we'd be all for it (or at least we'd muddle through for their sake) but this year Wylie opted for a sleepover with one friend.  Added to this is of course a small party with grandparents, another for the other set, and a cake on their "actual" day if the party could not happen on said day.  It turns into about a week of birthday--x2.  Party Hardy.

*  Somehow I forgot that all art projects are best undertaken at the picnic table.  Mimi set up this paint project and even Kale painted long enough for me to sneak out for a run without him missing me.  

* We've been making and freezing all kinds of pesto around here.  I typically use almonds rather than pine nuts, and leave out the parmesan to add when defrosted (or often not at all).  My sister shared some pesto with spicy pumpkin seeds that was dee-lish, so we made a bit of that as well.  My favorite so far has been the cilantro pesto with pumpkin seeds.  I froze one jar, and ate two.  Its great on rice wraps, toasted until crisp like chips, or dolloped on salad.

*  I just checked out "Your Eight Year Old" by Ames and Haber from our library.  I always like to read this series as the kids near their birthdays.  The descriptions of children and their behavior/thoughts etc. for each age are remarkably detailed and accurate (in my opinion), and the books were written in the early eighties so that are a hoot to read, and the photos are great.  The first chapter describes Eight as cheerful, outgoing, and quick to be helpful.  Taking on new tasks that may previously have seemed (often rightfully so) daunting.  Shortly after reading the first few chapters Wylie surprised me by washing and putting away all the dishes.  The next morning he and Juniper made me breakfast in bed!  I'm liking 8 so far.

* Sadly, both of our cats have disappeared in the past 3 weeks.  When the first one went missing we were certain that he would soon come home, but when the second disappeared we began to suspect a predator.  We have all been quietly hopeful until just this evening both kids had a spell of crying, and missing the kitties.  This prompted all sorts of printing of pictures of the cats, plans for art projects, and the setting up of a small shrine in the tree house. Unfortunately, the past two nights I've heard a great horned owl nearby.  I'm thinking the prospects are not good.

I typically love to hear the owls, and have always been intrigued by the mystery that surrounds them.  I've had a few poignant experiences with owls (dead and alive), and I would say they are one of my favorite animals.  I'm liking this particular owl just a little less however.  I have this part fear, part wonder, about possibly finding an owl pellet with our cat fur in it.  Terrible I know, but I'd like to know for sure just what happened to them.
 I've been having dreams almost every night of the cats coming home.

* So, the game at our house these days is "hit the big kids in the head" with anything hard if possible.  Obviously I try to discourage this game, as it so often ends in tears, but its a hard game to interrupt when the victims-to-be are running, laughing, and screeching "get to high ground!" (ie. anything too tall for Kale to reach them).

The weapon of choice on this occasion?  Those sweet, wooden stacking blocks from the Nova Catalog.  Hmm.

(I have to admit I feel a bit guilty taking a picture of these shenanigans before putting an end to them.  I may be as much of a culprit as the kiddos for egging him on.)

* We've been making the most of our last month of swimming.  We certainly dip here and there in September, but August is really the time to live it up at the lake.  Bittle loves his swim time.  If he had it his way (and he often does) he would leap off the dock without the gear.

Big Bro prefers to stay dry.
This photo is at a friends' camp.  Rob helped build the dock and tower.  I'm not much for a high dive, but I do a mean cannon ball every once in a while to impress the kiddos.

* From the garden this week:  garlic, rainbow carrots, onions, patty pans, and our first potatoes!

* Wylie requested a carrot cake with cream cheese frosting for his birthday.  Check.  (Not as easy as the root beer floats Juni had--but I'll take it).  The day before his birthday he added that it should be in the shape of a StarWars ship.  Right.  I was game for a while, even went so far as to print out a picture of one of the ships (don't ask me which one) and contemplate how to best recreate it in cake form.  Instead I opted for a quick trip to Reny's where I found a relatively inexpensive StarWars Lego set.  I spray-frosted the STARWARS logo across the cake and added a few gun toting Storm Troopers.
Ta-da, instant StarWars cake.

According to Wylie, "It was perfect.  Just what I wanted."  And that, is really just what I wanted.

Saturday, August 6, 2011


My boy is Eight today.  He is truly no longer a little boy.  
Since the morning he was born,  8 years ago today, Wylie has never been anyone but himself:  
Extremely focused, determined, persistent, and serious about his work, with a playful, wiley side as well. 
When we first lifted him from the water of the birthing tub he stared quietly into Rob's eyes.  In the pictures from that morning we can see he has the same deep furrowed brow and scowl he so often wears today. 

My labor with Wylie was text book.  All the early labor signs were present, contractions progressed "normally", and the pain though completely in my back, was manageable.  I was fortunate to have been present at the peaceful home births of my two nephews, and so had some idea of what to expect from labor.  Also fortunate for me (though not her) my sister labors for much longer than I do, so I had prepared myself for days of labor and was pleasantly surprised by 12 hrs. start to finish.  The morning of his birth I called my sister to say, "I think we're having a baby today".  She came right up to our house with a bouquet of wildflowers to offer support and say, "I'm pretty sure it won't be today".  

Two hours later she was doing back compression for me as I labored on hands and knees in the birthing tub. After 30 minutes of pushing Wylie was born to his chest, and then,  proceeded to open his eyes and look around under water, at which point our midwives became a little surprised and encouraged me to quickly push some more.  Rob and our midwife caught him and lifted him out of the water. Wylie squinted in the pale light, and intently focused on Rob's face.  He didn't cry at all.
I still remember the feeling of not believing this baby was actually mine.  
And in the same breath feeling as though I knew him completely.  

Happy Birthday sweet boy. 

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