us four

find the quiet to bloom

Sunflowers

Tomorrow we head up to Northern California to visit the Mister's family, leaving chickens, garden and home in the hands of the housemates and shutting down this thing called work. 

I could not be more thrilled.

Things have been intense at the theatre with three shows running at the same time, often producing a swarm of people from multiple houses all expecting to get their intermission treats at roughly the same damn time.  I can't serve 1500 people at once.  I can try, but I will fail.  Although we've been doing a stellar job and I am mostly feeling warm fuzzies for my staff, who are all doing a hell of a job. 

But enough about work.

Sunflowers - Open

Instead, I'm going to focus on the small moments of this road trip.  I'm doing to see what I pass through an open window.  I'm going to watch the children giggle from the back seat.  I'm going to settle in to life at my in-laws.  I'm going to sleep late.  I'm going to have a couples massage with my Mister and then we're going to take each other out to dinner.  We will listen to the bullfrogs and the crickets from our little guest bungalow and know our children are being cared for by their Grandmother inside the house.  We're going to feed the horses carrots and visit with Mark's 94-year-old grandfather.  We'll make the drive over to Mark's brother's house and pick berries from the bushes that grow wild by the creek and eat veggies picked straight from his garden. We will do nothing for long hours each day.

Sunflowers - wildlife

I cannot wait.

So wish us luck as we start off at 4am, just four hours from right now.  I'm off to pack and cook some food and make myself ready.  Hopefully this time, our road trip will not involve getting stitches in anyone's face (or elsewhere, really)!

baked bliss

bliss

We had the first cold spell of the season this weekend and Mark, under demands from Lily for her "comfort," pulled out down comforters for their beds.  They rolled around in all that fluff, giggling and shouting out happy cries of "comfort!" no matter how many times I tried to tell them it was actually called a "comforter".  Whatever, they were happy.  And I can't say I blame them.  There's just nothing better than the cold snap of air in the bedroom while you snuggle under piles of blankets and dream of winter.  Especially if you live somewhere where "winter" is kind of a joke and you can wear short sleeves through most of it.

Sunday we were greeted with a cold house but the sun shone brightly onto the deck and we decided to eat our waffles out there.  I don't make pancakes or waffles every week, but with our recent commitment to keep Sunday unscheduled, I've been trying to make breakfast special as often as I can. 

And it was bliss.  Which you can clearly see on Ani's face above.

What did you do to make your weekend blissful?

   

sit down. be quiet.

Recently, Mark got on me about being too quick to anger with our kids.  And I had been; totally.  Things had been stressful, I wasn't eating well (as clearly evidenced when Lily had to tell me to eat the other day when I was considerably more cranky than I should have been), I'd been sick, was having trouble sleeping... I was not being an awesome parent.  At all.  Still, I felt a wee bit of redemption when the following occurred:

Dropping off the kids at Grandma's house, Lily marched up to my mom and with a look of glee on her face announced, "This morning Anya asked for a banana and so Daddy got her one and she took one bite and then said, 'I want cereal! I want cheese! I want yogurt! I want bread! I want milk!' and Daddy yelled, 'JUST EAT YOUR FREAKING BANANA!'" Then she grinned at Grandma like it was the best thing that ever happened to her.

My mom's reply was ever so kind with, "Sounds like things were stressful at your house this morning."

Indeed.

But it does make me laugh that in the few hours he gets to spend with them each day they can drive him to yell and yet I'm the one who gets called on it after days and days of just this craziness.  I'm not saying he's wrong; I need him to call me on it when I'm getting so frustrated with the rest of the world that I let the kids get me to the crazy place.  But when I told this same story to a very dear friend of mine she replied, "Sometimes we call others on the things we are most ashamed of about ourselves."

Word.

And so we try to do better.  We try to remember that a child's work is to push and push and push until the boundaries are so clearly defined, they won't step over them in the wide world without understanding there could be consequences.  We try to remember that it is not so easy being three or five or even thirty-three or forty.  We try to remember that each day is a chance to start over, clear the slate and not allow yesterdays frustrations to make today so much harder to handle.  We try to remember to count to ten and speak calmly, especially when we don't want to.  We try to remember that the most powerful people in the world have achieved the unthinkable by simply sitting down and being quiet.  

Not that it's easy.  I know.  Trust me, I know. 


But I'm starting to think that this is my life's work: learning to sit down and shut up when all I want to do is rage like an idiot.  If only I didn't feel like I had such a long way to go.

What's your life work?

A question and a list

We're back from a very dirty camping trip and have all found our way to clean.  I have pictures from the trip.  Too many of them.  I know, a shocker, eh?  I'll try to get to them tomorrow but for now there needs to be sleep.  Which leads me to a question, which will then be followed by a list so that I can remember what to blog.

Question: what do you sleep on when camping?  Airbeds deflate and are wicked cold if you forget a wool blanket to cover them.  Therm-a-rest pads are only doable if you sleep on your back (I don't).  All other options are bulky and we try to travel light(ish).  Anyone have a new idea?

List of items to blog (all from the last week):
1.  Photos from Lily's birthday sailing trip and the story of how the boat tried to come apart in the middle of the bay.  And how we will now be selling her (the boat, not the Lily) bits for scrap.

2.  I got to meet tina.rina from the 7 Days Project and hang out with her at the zoo.  Lily is in love. Seriously, she held her hand throughout the zoo and is righteously pissed off that she can't come over and play seeing how she lives across the country.  We have to go look at her photos about once a day to see what she's doing and darn her for not updating more.  You're on notice, Tina.

3.  Speaking of "righteous", I went to the Ani Difranco concert with a pair of righteous babes and had a great time.  Also?  Ran into my arch nemesis from High School, although did not speak to her.  Crazy enough the girl still looks 16.  It kinda freaked me out.

4. We saw an amazing play that was well cast, well acted, well directed, had a brilliant set... shall I go on?  It made up for all the crappy theatre we've been seeing at another theatre in town (not mine, duh) and made me feel like there's a future for kick ass alternative work in this conservative town.  Happiness was mine.

5. We went camping.  Did I mention that?  RIGHT!  I so did.  Go answer my question from above.

Now I'm going to go sleep in my big comfy bed with all the lovely pillows and softness and no bugs to bite me or my children.  Awesome. 

PS I just saw my first June Bug of the season.  Nice, considering that it's almost July.  Carry on. 

gone camping

Tomorrow we go camping.  It should be lovely.  And probably dirty.  Maybe even uncomfortable, but don't let me build it up too much for you.  Too much to think about and pack, so no extra brain space to actually fill you in on the last couple days.  Did want to share the following:

While helping me fold clothes today Lily remarks, "Mom, your underwear is so beautiful."  Let's not tell her she was holding up my biggest, most unattractive pair.
"Are they your wedding underwear, Mama?" Anya asks, not caring to define what "wedding underwear" might actually be.
"No, Anya," Lily quickly jumps in with, "They're her everyday cooking underwear."

And that, my friends, is why I keep these kids around.  They're nothing but pure blog material, yo. 

See you all in a couple days! 

play therapy

YAY for TOYS!

Anya, Lily and their friend Porter with new orca plush toys (with which my girls are currently sleeping).

We got to spend the morning at Sea World today, checking out the new Sesame Street "Bay of Play" with rides and such.  We had just gotten the news about Bill as we entered the park and yet, put on the face for the kids and managed to have a really fun time.  Click on the photo above and check out the video below of our ride on the tea-cups.  It was a blast and exactly what we needed right now.

let the sunshine in

We've reached the other side of this chicken pox thing, where the girls no longer spend their days trying not to claw out their tender parts while I shush and gently hold them and say, "Don't scratch, sweetie" and "I'm so sorry you don't feel well" and "Here, let me run you another bath."  Anya still looks pretty amazingly miserable but Lily never got more than a few on her face and so is healing without looking like a third world victim.  Despite Anya's spots she still managers to radiate sunshine.  Today on the swing she fixed me with such and intense smile that as she drew closer and then away I could feel an energetic heat waxing and waning from her, her eyes speaking the "I love you"'s she's so fond of offering these days.  Lily pumped her feet to the sky and giggled at the rush and the three of us made up songs to sing and belted them out, praising the clouds and the grass and the palm trees and the chair and the broken bit of chalk left out on the grass.  We still have to manage a few more days of discomfort and we have to do it without Mark, but I feel like I can see the other side of this thing and that has put me in tremendous spirits.  Lucky for us we have a few other poxy friends so we don't have to be isolated at home.  I'm hoping to elect a few invitations and have some others over while we wait out the rest of the contagious period. 

Most of all, I'm just thrilled my little girls don't feel so badly anymore.


 

it suddenly got quiet 'round here

bye family!

 
I've been keeping mum about this because I didn't want to jinx it, but Mark and the girls just drove off for a couple days at Grandma's in Northern California.  I was surprisingly emotional as I watched them drive away, not feeling the freedom and joy I thought would flood over me.  Instead, I'm kinda sad and worried and just hoping everything will be OK. 

This time though, instead of Mark getting sick, it's me.  I have a sore throat, runny nose, cough; you know, all the good stuff.  Maybe after a nap, followed by a nap I'll feel better.  For now, I just want to ignore the wreckage that is my home (seriously, how do two such little people create such a big mess?) and curl up on the couch with a movie and a stack of handkerchiefs.  I can always do the laundry later, right?

Mars, meet Venus

It was all set. We had found a car we liked that got around 30mpg, fit the girls and their monster carseats, had space for the dog when needed and was within our price range. My uncle has a friend with a used car lot and so we were getting the family treatment. He had even suggested that we could just do a straight trade with our minivan and drive away for tax and licensing. It was all set. *** click over to see how it got screwed up ***

Perfection

We had one of those rare mornings today where nobody had to be anywhere.  The girls piled into bed with us around six am and we rolled around and snoozed until about eight am and then talked and played (monsters! quick hide under the covers!) until nine.  Lily was urging everyone to get up when I suggested we spend the whole day in bed, enjoying breakfast in the blankets and playing board games in our jammies.  "OK!" she yelled and disappeared.  She returned a few moments later with a bag full of tiny tomatoes and my favorite apples, Pink Ladies.  We munched and giggled and gave the dog the apple cores.  "Should I go get some games, Mom?"  By then a friend was on her way over with my niece to play so we decided to get ourselves dressed.

Now everyone is playing and Vikki brought me a Chai and the world is in the best possible way.  We're still feeling the joy of a good outcome, loving that we have a day all together.   Mark's hoping to finish up our floor in the bedroom and is puttering around fixing and cleaning up things, something that makes him so happy.  Tonight another friend is coming over to watch the girls while Mark and I go to a play. 

Perfection, methinks.

What's your idea of a perfect day? 

 

kindness and home repairs

Things have been busy 'round these parts.  Last weekend we got most of the new floor put into our bedroom but fell about a box and a half short.  Because we'd purchased everything they had at the ReStore, we had to launch an internet hunt for a couple more boxes or live with an unfinished corner for the rest of our lives (hey, it could happen).  Mark tracked down a couple boxes but we'll need our contractor friend to order them.  For some reason, normal folk ain't allowed. 

The toilet that caused the leak that caused the need for a new floor still needs replacing as well.  Instead of running upstairs in the middle of the night if I wake to pee we're still using it as it was the tank leaking, not the bowl.  In the morning we just bucket flush it, which can be a bit messy and not always successful (she says with a damp pant leg).  It was a shock to discover my husband, the rough and tumble country boy, had no idea how to bucket flush.  I stood there watching him slowly poor a pail into the bowl and asked him what the hell he was doing?  "Bucket flushing!"  Ah, no.  For those of you who don't know a bucket flush requires a bit of physics.  You have to create a sudden and heavy flow of water to get the toilet to actually flush, otherwise you're just filling up the bowl with water and creating a diluted collection of piss.  Not so helpful.  So if you find yourself in a bucket flush situation, dump a lot of water, really fast and hope none of it sloshes (ick).  It'll actually flush just like you pressed the handle.

Anya is doing really well in the land of underwear.  She has her off days for sure, but for the most part I'm feeling confident and so is she.  About every third night she asks to sleep in a diaper but is making it through every nap without a hitch. Yesterday she managed to moisten about five pair of underwear but always made it to the toilet for the main event.  Other days she goes an easy 24 hours without a single drop where it shouldn't.  She's so close, I can see a life with big kids.  Don't think I'll miss having tiny babies, not anymore.  I'm ready and so are they.

Mark and I are struggling at times, tying to find the energy and time to connect on a regular basis.  With me waking so early most days to work and he spending all day, every day working out of the house or repairing this place, we often feel like we're simply coexisting.  And with the transition our girls are going through as they bust into childhood and move away from all things baby, they are a wee bit clingy.  I often feel so touched out by the end of the day I don't want anyone to lay a hand on me.  We turn away from each other when we climb into bed at night only to wake in the middle of the night reaching out and, without knowing who started this party, connecting in the most profound way.  By morning we are confused as to how it all happened, but thrilled and connected and somehow better able to face another day of wild children and work place politics. 

Other changes are coming but I'm not yet ready to talk about or fully trust they'll occur.  Instead I'm saying a silent prayer when I take each breath, hoping that the positive change we've been working for will decide to come our way.  In the meantime, I'm going to get the kindness flowing around me with some love notes for my city a la my lovely soul sisters Krystyn and Jen.  Anyone want to play along?

maybe that's why

I'm starting to think my tired may not be totally unfounded.  I sat down this morning with a wee bit of quiet time to look at what we've been doing since the weekend.  Lemme explain.  No, it'll take too long; lemme sum up:

Saturday: After I work a couple hours in the morning we head up to the mountain to check out the snow.  We arrive to no power and a very cold cabin, but we have a blast anyway.  Snowballs are thrown, dogs play catch, hikes are taken, hot cocoa is consumed.  We race home in time to attend a 60's party and are the only ones who show up in costume.  By the time we get home, I can only manage to stumble into bed and don't recall the next seven hours.

goofy family

 

Sunday: I'm up early again to work.  Mark runs off with Milton and friends for a couple of hours while I wrangle she who whines and she who destroys.  After playing for a while at Java Mama, I pack the girls into the car and head home for naps.  Anya barfs all over herself and the car seat.  Weeee!  She gets to stay home with Daddy while Lily and I attend a potluck with Santa.  We brought spiced apples, Santa brought the candy canes.  Lily cried, but accepted her gift of a book greedily.  On the way home this conversation occurs:

Me: Did you have a good time with your friends?
Lily: Yeah.  But you know what?
Me: What?
Lily: It wasn't really fun without Anya

My little heart grows three sizes.

not sure what to do

 

Monday: I organized a craft fair.  I don't know why, I didn't have any thing to sell.  But hey, it was fun if not insane.  Afterwards we all head over to a friends house to make gingerbread houses (technically, they were graham cracker houses).  She had pre made 30 houses and then set the kids all up with candy and frosting.  It was wicked good fun but the kids were wicked good exhausted by the end and melt downs ensue. 

Tuesday:  Mostly hang out at home recovering from the last couple of days.  Towards the end of nap time, Mark comes home early and sends me out to do some shopping for the season.  I spend an hour getting together all my purchases at the first store only to arrive triumphant at the cash register to discover I have no wallet.  The cashier must have seen the panic in my eyes because she quickly offered to hold my items, told me not to cry (I was thisclose) and then sent me home to get it.  I hate malls.

Today: My mom takes the girls this afternoon after we go do a "Winter Wonderland" thingie at Java Mama's.  I will likely sleep.  Except for that I can't.  Because the mall was only a mostly successful trip yesterday and I have to go back.  Again.   

Oh, and I'll also upload the gingerbread photos later today... I'm out of time now and need to go get dressed! 

 

Maybe we should strike the "Wannabe"?

We were back from the mountain yesterday in time to make a fashionable entrance to my brother-in-laws 40th birthday party, which had a 60's theme.  We were the only people to dress up.  It took us less than 15 minutes to put together the outfits and we did so with stuff we already had.  And sometimes wear... just rarely all together.

What does this mean?  I'm thinking we really are Hippies.

 

the wannabe hippie's go waaaay back

 

p.s. Lily looks wicked happy, no?

p.p.s. Yes, I have photos from the mountain.  But Anya just threw up all over herself and I haven't the time to deal with them now.  Will return to post more when the vomiting stops. 

Right then, NEW PLAN!

So that didn't work out.

Yesterday we drove up to my Uncle's cabin on the mountain expecting to stay the night and enjoy some quiet family time.  About half way up the mountain we realized we had a problem.  We were in the minivan which, while it's sporting brand new tires, is NOT the vehicle you'd want to drive through hail and snow.  The landscape shifted from slush and ice to a stunningly beautiful blanket of snow the higher we drove.  When we reached the road to their cabin the snow was so thick that the van only made it half way before the wheels started spinning and Mark threw it into reverse to get us out of there before we were stuck.  I was thinking that at least I'd get some photos of the landscape but the camera battery was kaput. 

Yeah.

So we had a quick lunch at the only restaurant on the mountain and headed back down the hill.  The roads were already being closed down due to the recent fires in that area and the subsequent threat of mudslides so it was pretty certain that we weren't going to even come back today for a quick snowball fight and some cocoa at the cabin (and a soak in the amazing tub for me).  Ah well. 

Instead we spent the evening setting up our tree and this morning decorating it, which sent the girls into spasms of joy.   Awesome.  For more on our unexpected weekend festivities, click the photo below.

 

Cheesy grins

 

Remind me not to tell them to smile.  It's amazing the faces they make. 

 

lazy Saturday

We took the girls to see a movie today, the first time ever we've all attempted a flick together.  Anya fell asleep after insisting the whole thing was scary and about 10 minutes from the end Lily burst into tears and wanted to go home.  Nothing scary was happening so I don't know what set her off.  The movie was kinda lame as well.  I totally get that they were going for a lesson and all that, but well, it felt like all the same tricks, different species.  Nothing there was "wow" worthy.  At least we got in using two free tickets and only had to pay for Lily so it was a cheap family date. 

After the movie we opted for a carefree day at home.  Mark and I watched a bunch of TV (a month without our shows, thank you DVR!) and now I'm cooking up a roast in my nifty clay pot.  It won't be done until after the girls go to bed so maybe we'll call it a hot date and eat in front of the first roaring fire of the season in the living room fireplace while sitting on pillows.  Fancy.

The kids are currently enjoying a dinner of burritos and popcorn.  Yep, mother of the year, here I come.  

What's your idea of a lazy Saturday? 

 

Uberlist for 2007

An uberlist is an idea Krystyn borrowed from a fabulous blogger named Danielle who, of course, borrowed it from someone else. The idea is to make a big fat list of all you’d like to accomplish in the coming year. Danielle does it right proper with 107 (for 2007) items on her list, but some of the rest of us use it simply as inspiration and go for the meat of what we want to accomplish this year. See Krystyn’s list from last year for an abridged, more poetic themed version. Uberlist is also this weeks theme at Mama Says Om so I figure I ought to actually tackle it this year. Can I make it to 107 items? Unlikely. At least, unlikely today. But I do hope to add to it throughout the year.

Lucky for me, I have a little bit of a cheat sheet. We keep a “wishing book” at my house, a simple three ring binder where (when I remember to do so) I write down wishes I have for my family. I’ll start there, utilizing Danielle’s format, but with the realization that many items on the list are rather grand and will likely be on next year’s list as well:

CRAFT: Knit something hard

CRAFT: Learn to knit a pair of socks

CRAFT: Make knitting tag hits once a month (January done!)

CRAFT: Knit for Holiday 2007 throughout the year

CRAFT: Learn to crochet

CRAFT: Make at least one hat/scarf set a month

CRAFT: Make knitting needle case

FAMILY: Continue spending lots of time together

FAMILY: Cook more

FAMILY: Dinner with my mom, once a week

FAMILY: Eat out less

FAMILY: Family brunch with my dad and sister, once a week

FAMILY: Let my girls work things out between each other on their own

FAMILY: Listen more

FAMILY: Yell less

FINANCIAL: Get out of credit card debt

FINANCIAL: Make at least $XXXX outside of the home

FINANCIAL: Set up finances on the computer; keep them up to date

FRIENDS: Reconnect with someone unexpected; you know, in a positive non-stalker kind of way

FRIENDS: Spend more time with girlfriends

FRIENDS: Spend time with playgroup mamas outside of playgroup

HEALTH: Brush teeth twice a day

HEALTH: Do the 30 day cleanse you’ve been thing about

HEALTH: Floss three times a week (I HATE to floss)

HEALTH: Focus on nurishing foods, rather than weight loss

HEALTH: Get a physical, ask about XXXXX

HEALTH: Get an eye exam

HEALTH: Get into a wardrobe that fits and makes me feel desirable

HEALTH: Go see a dentist

HEALTH: Make a tincture -- I'm thinking Echinacea

HEALTH: Walk at least three times a week

HOME: Addition

HOME: Container house

HOME: Flash water heaters

HOME: Framed art on walls

HOME: Garden (container or otherwise, just put your hands in dirt)

HOME: Gray water system for the orchard

HOME: Hobbit house in hillside

HOME: Hot tub install

HOME: Landscape plan

HOME: Name this place

HOME: New windows

HOME: Organize clothing swap, donate what’s left over

HOME: Organize craft crap

HOME: Organize desk space for me

HOME: Organize office space for Mark

HOME: Paint

HOME: Solar power

HOME: Throw stuff away, for Pete’s sake!

HOME: Um, an orchard with actual trees in it

HOME: Yurt

LOVE: Make space for Mark to have time out with his friends, twice a month seems fair

LOVE: Reclaim our bedroom for ourselves. Make it an adult place with paint on the walls and everything.

LOVE: Date night, once a month

LOVE: Learn to communicate with Mark constructively, rather than just get angry and stop listening to each other

LOVE: Surprise him for his birthday with something awesome

LOVE: Anniversary trip, just the two of us

PERSONAL: Develop Bitsy into a character you’re comfortable with

PERSONAL: Don’t just take photos, DO something with them (frame, books, whatever)

PERSONAL: Get a tattoo

PERSONAL: Learn to take time for myself without guilt

PERSONAL: Thicker skin in some spots

PERSONAL: Thinner skin in others

TRAVEL: Back to La Paz, this time for a month

TRAVEL: Chicago to see XXXXXXXX

TRAVEL: China to see XXXXX & XXXX

TRAVEL: Europe to see family (and whoever else will have us)

TRAVEL: Go back to Alaska

TRAVEL: More visits with Mark’s family

WHISMY: A second XXXX in Northern California

WRITING: Find a publisher for XXXX

WRITING: Write for MSO weekly

WRITING: Write for Soccer Mom Vote once a month

WRITING: Write for Wannabe Hippie at least five times a week

WRITING: Write somewhere else, maybe for profit (gasp!)

What do you want to manifest for your future? Let me know if you do a list of your own. Submit it at Mama Says Om or leave a link in the comments here. I'd love to see what you are wishing for and may er, "borrow" list items from you as well!