sometimes loss leads you to love

A couple days ago Lily went to collect our ever growing bounty of eggs from the hen house and forgot to close the laying box door.  Her hands were full and I think she probably told herself she'd come back for it, but she didn't.  Sometime between then and the next morning, most of our newly laying hens decided to take a walk.  Seven of them were discovered by coyotes.

When I delivered this news to Lily she was in the midst of packing for the end of the year beach trip her class would take that day.  She made a sad face, asked a few questions and then got back to the task at hand.  My child, who usually reacts to all things in a deeply emotional way, showed very little emotion, pushing it off immediately.  This concerned me.  I couldn't quite figure out if she didn't fully understand her role in this or if she took all that emotion and stuffed it.  After all, she doesn't handle transitions well and it's the end of the school year.  It's possible she's simply sticking this incident aside and that emotion will find it's way out later.
Talking to her teachers (who so often double as child psychologists) Mr. V suggested that once school is over he & Ms. K should come for a home visit and talk with Lily about what happened.  Maybe, he thought, with the school transition under her belt and with someone not invested in the event Lily could talk about how this whole thing is making her feel.  And if she can talk to him about it, maybe she can process it in a healthy way.

Do you see why we love this school so much?

Today was the last day and Lily came home with a pile of stuff, workbooks and project folders, art and love notes from classmates.  Also, a class CD including liner notes, each track selected by her fellow students.  At the end are songs from her teachers, the last from a sub who filled in when Ms. K had a baby.  It's a song Mrs. L wrote and her daughter (who heads to High School in the fall) performed.  Listening to it, I found myself suddenly sobbing with the understanding of how deeply my kid is loved.  She has such amazing support all around her; the team of teachers that shepherded her through her school year are some of the more brilliant souls I've ever met.  At the beginning of the year I remember them telling the kids every day that they loved them and the cynical part of me said, "Pfft.  Love them?  They don't even know them."  But now?  Now I know.  Now I know what love really means here. Now I can see what a positive school culture, a social emotional curriculum and the love of some wonderful teachers can really mean.

There's been some major upset at this school lately, with almost half the teaching staff moving on to other opportunities and (the most difficult of it all) two teacher whose contracts were not renewed. It has divided the parents, made many consider leaving the school, and made the end of the year more emotional than anyone could expect.   And yet, I look at the year my child had and the love that has been offered her (and Anya, who was around enough to get her own dose of affection) and I can't help feeling like we're in the right place. Especially in moments of such clarity as I had this week though the kind offering of time from one teacher and song from another.

We are so damn lucky.

stinky escape artists

The latest batch of babies (see below) are growing nicely.  They are, by far, the stinkiest chickens I have every smelled, shockingly rank even.  The last batch could go a couple days with the same bedding in their box but these girls need a change every single day.  And they seem to have an odd obsession with filling their water cup as full as possible with shredded paper.  It's as though we have offended them somehow, by providing them with clean drinking water, and this monstrosity must be corrected.  Immediately.  And with lots of very loud peeping.

They are doing their damnedest to escape, as well, which could have something to do with the stink.  If you even crack the top of the box you will be greeted with the most emphatic flapping of wings and a platoon of fluff flinging itself at you.   I wonder if it's a breed thing, but really haven't a clue.  We just refer to them as the stinky escape artists.

We're heading out of town for a bit and they'll stay with Lorien, but as soon as we return it's going to be time to introduce them to the side-car coop so they can stink up the joint AWAY from the house.  They're so ready to take on the world.

Chicks hanging out on our deck, growing big and making stink.

Dorothy in the yard
Anya hanging out in the yard with the Dorothy costume we scored at a thrift store.

she's a nature lover
Lily enjoying the plants at a local nursery.

How is everyone?  I miss you.

at least it'd be harder to stick your foot in your mouth

she's enamored

While out walking on our property today, Lily trailed behind and gave me the excellent advice to watch out for gopher holes.
"Yep." I cheerfully replied.
"Why?" she asked.
"Why what?"
"Why don't you want to put your foot in a gopher hole?" she asked as though it was my idea to stay away from the darned things.
"Well, why do you think?" I shot back, turning the question back to her like I usually do.
"Because you don't want a gopher hanging off your foot."

Hey, it's as good a reason as any I've heard!

Click on over to the Garden Set to see some of the shots we captured.  Everything is so incredibly green!

pomegranate season

on deck

The pomegranates have turned a deep red on the tree and we've finally been able to put an end to our wait, plucking two ripe bells to share.  Mark splits the first in half under water and then breaks it into sections, handing one to Lily, one to me, one for himself and when Anya awakes, the final quarter goes to her. The second will be shared with friends this evening.

I love the lessons the pomegranate reminds me to heed:
1. wait - this is the most simple of lessons.  You pull the fruit too soon and it's useless.  Let them languish on the tree for a wee bit longer.  Be patient.
2. gentle hands - if you try to hurry the seeds from the flesh they will burst and release the juice all over your hands rather than in your mouth where it surprises your tongue with sweet and tart all at once.  They must be gently popped from their base to be properly enjoyed.
3. slow down - putting a single seed in your mouth will allow you to fully enjoy the flavor.  When I rush and toss a handful back at once, the favor drains quickly and I'm left with a mouthful of hard, tasteless seeds.
4. share - there's nothing more delightful than watching your children discover this fruit.  They love the hunt, the release, the burst of flavor, the chase of loose seeds across the kitchen floor, sharing with a sibling, showing mama and daddy how it's done and calling it by the wrong name (currently going by "coconut" around here).

 I'm sure there's more to these rules, but the persimmons are about to come ripe and I don't want to miss 'em.

 PS I love fall in Southern California.  It's my favorite time of year!  What fall crop to you most anticipate?


Remember my post about my little container garden? Look what it’s done!

Basil and chives pepper pumpkin

The basil and chives are going insane, the peppers are all happy and budding like crazy and the pumpkin is going to have to be moved to a place where it can sprawl because OMG it’s going all over the place. And I caught this little dude pollinating my pumpkin, so it looks like we may actually get one! I know, my timing is totally off and all, but who knows what could happen. Seriously. What could happen? I’m ASKING here.
The garden’s not the only thing growing around here. Look who is sitting up!

Look who's sitting up!

She can’t get into that position on her own but now, if you set her down like that and walk away, she won’t fall down right away! If she lunges for a toy or sneezes or the moon goes all “woogie woogie” then she’s over in a heart beat, but for a while she’ll make you think she’s all styling with her sitting up brilliance.

Crawling comes next and won’t THAT be fun!

Lily is doing really well with the potty business. She’s had a bit of a set back this weekend but I thinking it’s because she’s been ill. Poor thing is all vomity and poopy and all “hold me, I’m a MESS!” So I guess she really shouldn’t be under a post about growth, but I didn’t want her to be left out. Even covered in her own sick she’s outrageously cute. And I love her big brown eyes.

OH, and Mark made Lily a tree swing! Which has turned her into even more of a whiny brat with the “swing swing swing swing swing swing” moan that does not stop. But at least while on it and someone is pushing her (incessantly) she’s happy.

And yes, I’m all hopped up on sugar. And I need to go to bed. Seriously.

Random things Lily learned today


  • Cookies should be sampled at every stage of making, despite Mama’s cries of, “NO, ick, Salmonella! GAH!”
  • Mama is insanely proud of her tiny container garden that has managed to live almost one whole week.
  • It’s OK to sniff Mama’s rosemary but if you rip the basil apart, Mama is scary.
  • Mama may just have a clue what she's talking about when she says, "I wouldn't eat that, jalapenos are spicy hot."
  • Mama doesn’t like big hairy spiders. Especially when she discovers she has laid the baby down on a blanket next to a really freaky one… ½ an hour ago.
  • Stomp is simultaneously scary and exhilarating. You cannot help but dance around like a freak when they get going.
  • Butternut squash is dinner yet dessert! YAY!
  • Tying your own shoes is damn near impossible.
  • There is nothing you can do when you start peeing unexpectedly. Even if you’re standing on Daddy’s favorite chair, ready to jump off of it at him.
  • Daddy is much nicer than Mama about peeing on favorite chairs.
  • Roaring at the cat won’t make her run away.
  • Unless you also flail your arms and scream, “Go ‘way, GO ‘WAY!”
  • Jerking your hand around just as Mama goes to trim a fingernail is inadvisable. Everybody cries.
  • Anya enjoys getting hugs, as long as she can still breathe.
  • When Mama allows you to take a picture, get as close as possible.
  • Mama is just slightly insane.
  • And finally, Mama will get really annoyed if you don’t click over and look at her pictures of the tiny container garden. Say nice things and complement her prowess as a gardener. If you don’t, she’ll cry and throw dirt… totally acceptable if you’re a two-year-old. Not so pretty at 30.

My container garden