Henry blows me away. He comes home from vision therapy, (where he goes immediately after school) and he starts drawing or cutting snowflakes or making laptops. For his latest Mac. creation he included a c.d component. He also made a hip hop c.d and a "rokn roel" (rock n roll ) c.d. That's my boy.
And that is my marshmallow. Ack. Don't get me wrong, it is yummy but I have been making enough candy to lose a limb. The best part of making brittle is stabbing the loaf of sugar and nutmeats with a knife. Awesome therapy for any tension you may have. Maybe I need another few loaves?
Please excuse the ugly pictures in this post. It is nearly dark at 3:30.
From Anna Maria Horner's 'Seams to Me', the adorable pin cushion caddy!
Okay, so don't scrutinize, my fusible webbing was not fusing very well. My sewing machine is a pain. It works until about 1/4 of the way through a project and then it gets fussy. Until I am sewing every day, which may never happen, it will do. I love this pin cushion, its big, bold and made of some of my favorite Denyse Schmidt prints. It is something that I would love to make for myself if I am ever finished making things for everyone else.
Sometimes, I think parenting is a bit like being an explorer. No matter how many "maps" or information you have about this new "culture" or "world", you are a bit lost and learning everything as if for the first time in history. It starts with labor. Just like Tina said "Labor, what the hell was that?" or something to that effect.
Yesterday was a really great day: I got something on my list done, I got out by myself, kids played outside in a brief amt. of sunshine and played inside a lot with friends, had pizza and a movie with one friend each, while I cooked with my friend Sunita and drank a bottle of wine with her (I had two glasses). Last night, not so good. Ez did not want to go to bed. With hindsight I realized that maybe I should have just sat up with him and read him a book like I have done in the past but then would he expect that every time? I had to record some reality shows for Matt at 8, because he was at Johnny's play. So, I wanted to get the kid to bed. He was not having it. Then he wanted a drink. I let him have one but reminded him that if he drank too much he might wet the bed. Well, that thought stayed with him and at 2 in the morning he was wailing about me wetting the bed. He insisted, in his soporific yet angry state that I should pee, right now. Eventually I relented, at this point I was wide awake and had to go anyway and really, I just wanted him to be quiet. It did not end there. Apparently I turned on the wrong light in the bathroom. A half hour later I have finally calmed him down by talking about nocturnal animals. Raccoons in the garbage cans outside, gentle little vampire bats nibbling at cows legs, he likes that kind of stuff. A few hours later he wakes up crying and demanding I scratch his back.
Who is this guy? What is going on? At some point in the year we plan to get him back to his own bed all night but we put that off because this year has presented so many major changes for him: preschool, weaning, sleeping in his own bed part of the night...Sometimes I am at a complete loss. And tired. And to make it worse, Matt and I don't really agree on what to do in these situations.
It is sunny today though. And Saturday. Santa is coming to the community center and I am about to finish another project.
Sometimes when I feel really busy, I want to just sleep or procrastinate. Procrastinate as in discovering my true hobbit name online: Lila Bumbleroot of Fair downs, and the names of my husband and sons: Fredagar, Minto and Gorbulas Maggot. Oh internet, you ruin me.
Annie and Asher had their baby Imri. At least we think that is his name. That little 7 lb. wonder sure took his time! 2 weeks and one day late! Welcome to Imri and congratulations to Asher and Annie. We can't wait to meet the little man.
I am in the depths of seasonal affective disorder. I am having trouble blogging about anything. Not true. I could complain. But I would have to change the title of my blog. My kids are fighting constantly, fighting. It is so dark so early. My apt. is miniscule. Enough already. Here are some cozy food pictures.
Root veggies for roasting clementines and apples... grandma and grandpas' butternut squash Matt's banana bread of which have eaten my weight
Check this out. Molly starred in a film that her friend, Colin, a student at R.I.S.D, made last year. Apparently, it is getting some recognition and they are going to NYC to some festival or whatnot. Her boyfriend Noah, wrote and performed the sdtrk.
1998 or 1999, Tina and I are walking up the hill to work out or go to dance class, did we have dance together? Probably not because I can't really dance but I tried anyway and Tina is graceful and aware of all of her body parts and how they work, anyway we are walking and discussing our future DAUGHTERS, mine Louisa and hers, Talullah and how they will be friends or maybe I will have a girl and she will have a boy and they will get married, I don't think we considered how our daughters might want to get married maybe we did. But we both had sons anyway.
Because there are no grapevines, close ups of the white caps on the lake, nor cornfields, this is an imperfect representation of the finger lakes in late November. Thankfully, I did not spend my weekend with a camera. Now I am trying to ease myself back into the swing, which is not an easy task during the holidays.
We are trying to figure out how to move back home. It's difficult. We like the Pioneer valley so much. The schools are pretty well funded, diverse culturally and socioeconomically. The valley is well known for it's large writer/artist population. We have jobs here, although the security of them is not super tight. Our insurance through the university is fabulous.
There is something to be said for having a "place" that is separate from where you grew up and where many of your people live. I can't explain it. It somehow makes one feel grown up and interesting. And yet, "home" for us still means the Finger lakes. I walk into my parent's house or my in-laws and I sigh inside. Suddenly there are 3-4 or maybe more, extra people to help me with my children. All of a sudden, we are not the only ones in charge. We have acommon history. We are understood, our jokes are funny for the right reason. The cornfields are there, the lake. Pie. My dad's ridiculous puns that require 5 minutes of brain activity to make sense of. My mom's patience and endless supply of craft supplies. Sharon's baked goods and patience. Paul's habit of calling everyone under the age of 60 "kid". Quakers. Pie.
I am finding this November to be very irritating. If it weren't for the babies that family and friends are expecting, I would be hard pressed to find much to be supremely happy about. My job is irritating. Not the actual working with little children part, but the other adults involved. It has been raining so much that I have to clean the mold off of our windowsills weekly. We have had nonstop colds. My crafting and painting has felt stagnant and almost nonexistent for some time now. I am sick of cooking in my miniature kitchen.
After that negative rant, and in the spirit of thanks I am going to force myself to list some things to be happy about.
We have an exciting and hopeful president elect.
My kids seem to be getting along better. This could be a delusion on my part, but at least it's a good one.
There is no drought in Western Mass.
Annie and Asher will be having a baby any day now.
Tina and Mark's baby is coming soon.
Going to NY on Wednesday.
Henry is reading and drawing a ton.
I have great hair and cheek bones and loads of vivacity (or so Matt says).
Bay Breasted Warbler on an Eastern Hemlock, unfinished
It occurred to me today, as I was riding home from work with Mrs. Gulch's theme song in my head, that I hadn't reached my potential yet. I know it seems obvious. There was a time in my life when I assumed that 30 was old and by then I should have things figured out, ya know, career, how to raise my kids, how to have a perfect relationship etc. I am nowhere near figuring these things out. I still don't know what I want to do when I grow up. And I am still realizing new things about myself. For some reason, I love painting birds. Maybe it is because they are small and intricately detailed. As I paint these birds, I think of trees. I think of my dad who raised us to look at trees and dirt and rocks and everything in the outside world with wonder and curiosity (with much support from my mother). None of my father's children is a science person like him but we all love the outdoors. And we all appreciate having a dad who knows why the land lies the way it does, why that rock is what it is, how that lake got there and what kind of tree that is.
This is a sculpture we found in the kitchen after Ezra had been in there for a few minutes by himself. The wineglasses are in a high cupboard out of his reach. We just never know what he will do. Right now my boys are singing Regina Spektor and illegally drinking grape juice in their room, but they aren't fighting.
It has been a crazy week. We have been busy at preschool with preparations for our "thankful" dinner, pilgrims not invited. I have a cold. All I want to do is stay home and read, drink tea, paint and make stuff. Last year, I lost my favorite pair of fingerless gloves. I miss them dearly. Having two children and being a preschool teacher demands the use of your fingers in the cold. Today I took a few minutes to sew myself some arm and hand cozies, they come in a close second to fingerless gloves. I can type with them, ride my bike to work, wear them all day . They are comforting. From the photos that Henry took, you can tell I need to snip part of them a bit, in fact I may try to re-felt them, since they could use some more shrinking. But right now, they are doing the job.
I just saw Rachel Getting Married, by myself, thank you very much. I like going to the movies by myself. I like getting my nutritional yeast popcorn and cherry vanilla cream soda at our little independant cinema. I like that it is a 5 min. drive and I did not have to put Ezra to bed or worry about Matty not getting Ez to bed ( 'cause he no longer requires mabubba aka the mammaries to fall asleep).
I am not going to even attempt to be a movie critic here, I stink at that. I will say that Ms. Hathaway blew me away with her performance of a fragile, trying to be honest, addict. She was so subtle, so unforced, in what was probably the most challenging role she has ever had. Debra Winger plays her mother and I have had a crush on Debra Winger since I saw her in the eighties in Urban Cowboy. I love the movie's treatment, rather non-treatment, of race. The wedding is biracial and that is not even mentioned, which is so refreshing. It is beautiful, not in a pastoral sense but in it's portraits of the characters and it's emotion.
Maybe the movie sucked and I was just so thrilled about getting out of the house after being inside with 3-4 kids all day long because of the torrential rain outside, that I did not notice? I don't even care.
In my never-ending quest for sanity and peace in the household, I stumbled upon this book. I think it may actually help us deal with Ezra and in doing so, ourselves. The means we had been using to try to "control" Ezra have not worked. Cajoling, pleading, time -outs, bribery, threats, and saying things that I never dreamed I would say, have not worked. Neither have the two unplanned spankings, and the screaming and crying. Surprising right?
Bailey uses "7 Basic Skills for Turning Conflict into Cooperation". I know, groan, it's a self help book. The funny thing about self help books is that the content often seems obvious and that can be sort of embarrassing and yet there you are reading it and hoping that you will get "help". Bailey's ideas are sort of obvious, in that they make perfect sense and yet they are completely different than the methods used to raise us and our parents. She insists, and rightly so, that we cannot expect from our children what we don't model ourselves, self control. Here are some of the ideas that she want you to wrap your mind around: (And I quote loosely)
The Journey from a Fear based approach to discipline, to a Love based approach...
1. Power of Perception: No one can make me angry without my permission
2. Power of Attention: What you focus on, you get more of
3. Power of Free Will: The only person you can make change is yourself.
4. Power of Unity: Focus on connecting instead of trying to be special.
5. The Power of Love: See the best in one another.
6. The Power of Acceptance: This moment is as it is.
7. The Power of Intention: Conflict is an opportunity to Teach.
These sound a bit like empty cliches when taken out of context, they are I guess. What makes her book special ( so far, I've only read the first chapter) is that she explains it all soo perfectly and it just makes sense. For instance, if Ezra is hitting Henry, I might say something like: "We don't hit in this house, you are making me nuts." when in actuality, we do hit in this house, he just did it, that's proof, and if I am going nuts, I am letting myself. I need to learn to calm down, I need to use the right words. Why is he hitting his brother? What is frustrating him? How can I model self control and help him to make the right choice. Don't ask " how do I get my child to ...? Do Ask, " how can I help my child be more likely to choose to...?
I feel that with the methods we had been using we were trying to break Ezra's will in order that he will mind our will. In fact, we should be strengthening his will and trying to teach and model good behavior.
So far this book has me feeling hopeful. I am also grateful that his preschool teachers agree with the basic premises (I chatted with them this morning about it).
I just ignored my children for nearly two hours. It helped that the neighbors daughter lied to me and said her parents weren't home when she got off the bus (I later found out they were) she played with the boys for over an hour. There is something to that "three is company" thing. I suddenly had an urge to edit a painting I started over a year ago that was just collecting dust. While I was painting and ignoring the sound of the fridge opening and closing (it's okay there is nothing poisonous in there), I was thinking about how lucky my kids are...
They never have a shortage of art supplies, in fact they are inundated with them.
I don't care if they go to bed with paint on their hands.
If I am painting/sewing or drawing they can open the fridge and eat as much as anything they want, including the cheese they pigged out on... I still don't care, I got to paint.
What other bathroom has paintbrushes and toothbrushes sitting in the same container?
A Black Apple print from Inside A Black Apple's etsy shop
When I was waxing on and on about etsy the other day, I neglected to include in my ravings, the following bloggers whose lovely blogs grace my side bar. One of whom is a friend of mine from college, a very talented artist who is committed to greyhound rescue and is also one of the funniest people I know.
That is what my dad likes to say. Maybe if you have never in your life had an appreciation for the good 'ol pbj you would not like this. Imagine two warm homemade pancakes, a thick layer of melty, crunchy, peanut butter on one side and a gooey layer of homemade concord grape jam on the other (Concord being my favorite and the grapiest of grapes). Thanks to grandma Sharon for the preserves and Matty for the famous flying flapjacks (one of which flew on the floor and two of which flew on the table).