Thursday, January 31, 2008

new day

I found a new frame for this photo. The first frame broke years ago, the second frame was a homemade affair (piece of wood I painted orange). I like the new frame.

Both of my kids are coughing in their sleep and Ezzie has a fever. Henry scraped his face on the icy pavement today. My cousin Sara' s pony had to be put down. I am so sorry Sara! I have been thinking of you all afternoon.

I did clean Henry and Ezra's closet. It took me over an hour and I don't know where the energy came from but it made me feel better than yesterday, that is until I heard about Keebler dying. I am glad you have a new filly to take care of Sara, and I am sure your dorm room will soon have another illegal batch of foster pups or something!
Check out Sara's nonprofit's website :


Wednesday, January 30, 2008

we are drinking lots of tea

Rose's sister Chrystie commented on my Rose post recently. It was really sweet and made me feel better about a lot of things.
I also finally had the nerve to check out her site with images and other things that people have added concerning Rosie. My post and photos will be on it. It made me really sad and then really grumpy and then really sad again.

The semester has begun. January left me sort of rough around the edges and now I have less of Matt and more of the kids and they are so demanding and difficult sometimes. And I love them to pieces but it is so hard. How did my mom and Sharon do it without losing their minds? Just getting groceries, dinner, bathtime, bed and some semblance of order around the house is nearly insurmountable without some sort of battle. And after all that where am I? Ezra has become a difficult toddler overnight and Henry is a very loud space cadet. All that said, I wouldn't change them. Okay I would like Ezra to get through this toddler phase A.S.A.P but Henry is Henry. And he is amazing...and sort of difficult.

Matt bought me two boxes of Herbal stress remedy tea and a bottle of wine. He will probably bring me more chocolate soon.

Sara came the other day and we all played with one of my favorite toys. Varialand. So cozy.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

robots and rose

Sometimes I think of Rose watching me. I imagine her watching me nurse Ezra to sleep and I can just imagine her saying" Kelly, girl, what are you doing? You are running yourself ragged. Take care of yourself and get yourself that damn crimson, carved ring made of bone that you have been eying for months. Get yourself a bar of organic chocolate. Stop nursing that nearly adult son of yours at night. It's okay if he cries. "

Then I think of the first time I got a little annnoyed with her. Henry was just learning to walk. I was a wreck. So sleep deprived that I spent nearly two hours of every morning cross eyed. No Joke. I was hovering around him every waking second of his day. God forbid he should fall. Rose gently told me, or maybe not so gently, that I was acting crazy. I should lighten up, relax. I am sure she wasn't the only one thinking that. But I was annoyed. What she didn't know is that most brand new mothers
(esp. those who are more on the sen.emotive side and less on the rational side of the spectrum, or maybe that is totally irrelevent) anyway most new mothers hover and are nervous. You can do almost nothing about it. If you badger them they will become more nervous or worse. They may flip-flop between extreme nervousness, guilt and intense questionging. In short , they will have a new worry. They will now worry about the inevitable tumble and the fact that they are possibly making their child neurotic like themselves. I forgave Rose almost instantly. I knew she couldn't understand. By then, I knew she would have no child of her own body and she had chosen early not to adopt, although I still thought she might possibly change her mind.

Matty made cool robots with the boys. He is very proud of them. I am too. Recycled material robot-making is not necessarily a talent among most of the doctoral students we keep company with. Be sure to compliment him.

this is where I put my rings when I bake, where do you put yours?

first day of preschool

Ezra started school today. He has been anticipating this for a long time. Today was baking day and Ezra participated with full force. He had a few almost teary moments when he lost sight of me but no big tears. He greeted everyone, students and teachers alike. He helped with clean up. It was a great morning!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

yum, leftovers

impromptu gatherings

Yesterday my friend Talaya came to visit with her wee babe Cathil (Ca- Hul, Gaelic for warrior). Incidentally, Cathil and I share the same birthday and my name is the feminine form of his. Kelly means warrior princess, or battle wench depending on the book you look in.

Talaya has been busy recently, applying for teaching positions at various universities and colleges. She, Niall and Cathil left for a few days for a some interviews. We have hardly seen eachother! She has an offer from Vassar and is waiting to hear from Yale and U.Mass. Her top choice is U.Mass and I hope she gets it. I will be so lonely if she leaves.

So Talaya and I were baking cookies. She and Niall think my cookies are amazing (thanks Michaela). Before I knew it it was 4:30 and I had to start making dinner. I had plans to make our family's favorite black beans and rice.

This beans and rice recipe is from Bon Appetit or Gourmet. Can't remember which. When we moved to Mass. I had a big beautiful kitchen and no friends so I treated myself to a double subscription ( 2 for 1). This recipe alone made it worth it. It is easy, healthy and cheap except for the avocadoes. It doesn't require much effort either.

A half hour after starting dinner I got a call from Matt requesting that I bring dinner over to the neighbors house. They had guac. and limes (which I had forgotten). It was perfect.

We had this beans and rice recipe last night with Talaya and family and our friends Dawn, Robb, and their kids Ava and Luke.

Here is a list of toppings. You can roast the potatoes while the rice is cooking. The beans will need to be started a half hour before the rice and sweet potatoes.

Cilantro, coarsely chopped
scallions, chopped
salsa verde, (or other kind but the verde is best)
plain yogurt (or sour cream)
avocados, large chunks, drizzled with lime juice
slices of lime
roasted sweet potatoes, smallish cubes, 1/2 potato per person (roast until tender and a bit browned, with olive oil, salt and pepper)

All of the above toppings can be placed in pretty bowls on the table for people to serve themselves.

Kemp's Black Beans (yields about 4-5 c. cooked)

11/4 c. dried black beans, rinsed, not soaked
I medium onion, finely chopped
2 Tbs. olive oil
4 c. water
11/2 tsp.salt
1/8 c. sherry, cream or med.dry
1-2 sauce
1-2 tbs. balsamic vinegar

Bring beans, onion, oil, water and salt to boil. Reduce and simmer till beans are tender. Check occasionaly to see if there is enough liquid in pot.

When tender, stir in sherry, vinegar and soy sauce. simmer uncovered 5 min.

If you buy dried beans and use them quickly enough they will cook in about an hour...If they are older, it will take longer. I never use the long soak method anymore. I almost never use canned beans. I just make sure I use up our dried beans and replenish them every couple months. The flavor is much better if you don't soak them all day.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

cleaning, losing teeth and those durned naked superheros

I have to clean my room and make dinner and I am getting a little tired of talking about my life ( which will pass soon I am sure) so I will make this short.

Henry lost his first tooth!! He also went on a date with Matty for hot chocolate and bookstore perusing. Apparently they were looking at comics and Henry wondered aloud why Wonder Woman was always naked. Matty told him that he didn't know but she looked like she should get more clothes on.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Long Weekend

1. Play outside
2. go to see Juno with Uncle Johnny (very good), eat lot's of popcorn with nutritional yeast and cherry cream soda
3. go to Nadov's Gymnastics birthday party
4. Football/ Appetizer party with Helen and Chris and their kids, Rosemary and Clara
5. Laundry
6. Some sleeping in?
7. Groceries
8. Finish a book

Saturday, January 19, 2008

the women before me

I am making scalloped potatoes. Whenever I cook with potatoes I think of my nana Kitty. I remember her beautiful gnarled fingers, strong yet elegant. I can hear her many silver bracelets clinking together. She always had a few carefully chosen rings adorning her fingers, always silver sometimes with a large turqoise stone. She had fabulous taste in jewelry. So we would be in the kitchen, nana and I . Maybe my sisters would be there. Nana might be performing some racy quotes of Mae West. She might be telling a story of growing up in a big family in PA. Whatever she was saying, her hands were busy with the potatoes. She must have peeled, chopped diced, mashed a million potatoes in her life. Oh nana, I miss you. I wish you were here. I appreciated you then, I have no regrets. I just have new questions. I think you would like who I have become. I know you would adore my children. We could talk about motherhood, quilting and crafts. You could teach me so many things.

I often think of the women who came before me. My other Nana, Louise (Nana Wedie) I did not know you so well but I would have liked to. I remember you telling me about your grandmother Louisa. You loved her so much and I decided if I ever had a daughter, she would be Louisa.

The pictures above are of some important ladies. My dad's mom, Kitty. My mom and her parents. My mom and her grandmother, Nen (actually her great aunt, her grandmothr died and my grandpa was raised by his mother's sister).

Thursday, January 17, 2008

P.S Sexy New Glasses

Okay, so not that sexy, I just wanted to use that word. I guess there is a teenager inside me still. The glasses are new and they are far superior to the pair I have been wearing the past two years. My Medicaid glasses have elicited far too many chuckles lately with their scotch taped lenses. The boys are blurry because as usual they can't stop moving.

The lovely Dahlia is from a calander my mum gave me. Thanks mama! Love those botanical prints.

Henry painted the portait next to this bowl of soup

quiet refrigerator soup with obscene amount of mushrooms

This morning while I was urging myself to wake up for goodnesssake, I had a crazy thought. I thought to myself that Rose should get a second opinion. On her death. Strange eh?

I have just come home from work. I can hear Ezra and Matty whispering in bed. Matt has been trying to get Ezra down for naps and occasional bedtimes. They made delicious chocolate chip cookies. I am reheating the yummy soup I made last night.

Refrigerater soup

Play some music. I was listening to The Be Good Tanyas but Wilco would be an excellent choice as well.
Drink a bit of wine. For $9.99 at Wholefoods you can purchase a decent bottle of Tariquet Suav. Blanc, which is what I drank but in retrospect I think I am starting to return to my red phase.

Are your kids fighting over trains? Is you husband leaving to pick up the single mother/student /neighbor and her young daughter from the emergency room? Now is the time to hand your young boys some butter knives and button mushrooms. Tell them to slice. Tell them it is a very important job. Watch their chests puff with pride. Have a sip of that wine.

If you don't have any cartons of stock, caramelize some onions, celery, mushrooms and carrots in some butter and oil. Douse the mixture generously ( like any good Italian's wife) with olive oil and wine. Throw in some of that kale that is threatening to turn ugly. Add some water. Now is the time to add a few dollops of mashed potatoes/other cooked roots that have been sitting around, parsnips in my case. Simmer for at least a half hour, I think. Add any cooked meat, pasta or grains to warm at the end. Pepper and salt et voila.

Eat amidst candllight with two almost quiet boys and grateful husband. Enjoy. It is even better the next day.

Monday, January 14, 2008

late jamaican christmas cake and other sweets

One of the benefits of a snow day happening on a Monday, now that I am a working woman, is that I can go to H2 (community ctr.). We have a coffeehouse every Mon. morning. They have been busy in January, I guess. Lot's of baked goods, crumbs on the floor, snotty noses, occasional tears and multiple languages. It is such a boon for us to be surrounded by other student families. I think I used to feel slightly irresponsible for having a family before being more "settled". Now it feels normal, healthy and good in a crazy kinda way. Last night Matty had a dad's night out with some North village blokes. Today the mom's and I were discussing what we will do on our night out. There is a lot of helping out with other peoples' babies. And lots of empathisizing over tight schedules and budgets.

Another boon is the food. My sweet neighbor Letha was late with her Christmas baking and just today gave me the most delectable, boozy Jamaican Christmas cake. I know what we are giving for presents next year, as long as we are not stricken with the bubonic bowel disease again like this past year!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Sunday Morning or Go To the Neighbors' House and Play While Mommy Has a Beer

Just Kidding!

I have gotten into the habit of reading a few books at a time. I did it in highschool with fiction. Now I tend to be reading/ dabbling through a reference book while reading a nonfiction book and a novel. I am really enjoying the Mill on the Floss but the reading is somewhat dense and although I am loving the story it is certainly not a page turner. I have been wanting to read Middlemarch for years and am glad that I am reading The MIll...first since Talaya told me she couldn't finish it after reading Middlemarch, which she enjoyed immensely. A month ago I began reading the second book in my informal study of the culture of motherhood. Our good friend Dawn is getting a Phd. in Comm. Her main focus is Women in Academia. Dawn is amazing. She has two fabulous kids, and a husband who manages a small antique business on the side while helping to raise the kids. Life for them is full and tough, like life for all of us families in Academia! There is a double standard because she is a mother. I think she does a lot more family stuff while being a student and teacher, than she would do if she was a dad. Dawn lent me a book similar to Judith Warner's but instead focuses on the media's portrayal of Motherhood. The Idealization of Motherhood and How It Has Undermined All Women, The Mommy Myth - Susan J.Douglas and Meridith Micheals. In the first chapter of this book, Douglas quotes Adrienne Rich from Riches' Of Woman Born: Motherhood as Experience and Institution, a book I plan to read soon and a quote I have read many times. I think that this quote, which I first read in The Mother Reader - Essential Readings by Moyra Davey, is the most eloquent summary of what it is like for me to be a mother.

"My children cause me the most exquisite suffering of which I have any experience. It is the suffering of ambivalence: the murderous alternation between bitter resentment and raw-edged nerves, and blissful gratification and tenderness. Sometimes I seem to myself, in my feelings toward these tiny guiltless beings, a monster of selfishness and intolerance...I love them. But it is in the enormity and inevitibility of this love that the sufferings lie."

It is a description of ambivalence that is seriously taboo. Can it be natural to feel this way? All of the media images we see of mothers, esp. those celebrities with their perfect pre-maternity bodies, clan of Internationally adopted and/or biologically born babies in their 100$ slings or trendy strollers, are of happy "natural" moms.

Douglas describes how Rich was not launching a critique of motherhood itself "... but of the institution it had become.

"Motherhood has been penal servitude, it need not be." -Adrienne Rich

To end on a positive note ...

"We need to imagine a world in which every woman is the presiding genius of her own body. In such a world women will truly create new life, bringing forth not only children (if and as we choose) but the visions, and the thinking, necessary to sustain, console and alter human existence-a new relationship to the universe...This is where we have to begin." - Rich

This morning there is coffee, loud boys playing with cars and almost peeing on the floor and lovely Auntie/cousin Sara.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Smuttynose Winter Ale is Good

This morning it was foggy and quite beautiful outside. There was some serious bicycling going on. Some snacking too.

I have decided to take a break from wrestling with my sewing machine. Ezzie likes to fidget with it when I am not looking and I am having trouble sewing the cafe curtains I planned to make today. Matty and I chose a white gauze fabric for the panels and for the tabs I am using strips of this lovely Japanese cloth my friend Kaori gave me.

My cousin Sara is visiting us this weekend. It is nice to have her around. When she was 13, I remember thinking she was a bit too hyperactive. Now she is 21 and still energetic. It is welcome anytime but especially this weekend. She took me to NoHo and treated me to lunch and ice cream. We have fun talking about sewing projects. She goes to Hampshire college so we tend to see her a lot during the academic year. We missed her this last semester bc she was studying in Edinburgh. I especially love seeing her because I am surrounded by so much testosterone. Sara is quite girly in many ways but also a bit like a crazy tomboy. It is a good combo.

Two important news flashes: Henry has his first loose tooth... very exciting.
Ezra has peed in his potty twice.
The first time Ezzie peed Sara was here. She was trying so hard to get him to pee. Last night she was jumping up and down and bribing him and such. I told her he probably wouldn't. But Sara really wanted to witness a crucial development like this. Then he did it and he was proud too.

Friday, January 11, 2008

8 babies

Growing up in the North Country of NYS my family was quite close to an amish family, the Hershbergers. My mother is still quite close with them. She and Mattie were very friendly. Mattie , who is a bit of a healer in her community would help my mom out with that kind of advice and my mom would offer a hand with practical things. We were often helping with canning when the time came. Mom would sneak out loads of laundry and get them done to help out a sister of Mattie's who had ten babies. My mom still sends them packages of handy things like cloth diapers and candy! I know what some may be thinking "all those babies, too much". But when I think of how they live, how little they consume, how little energy they use and the values of their community, it bothers me not at all. Besides, not all of them have 12 babies! I remember my friend Lydia's first baby Lizzie (now 8) running around, happy as a clam in soggy cloth diapers, a little dirtier than my own kids, but very healthy and happy. When I had Henry, Lydia and Matty took the time to make him a quilt. I have just heard that Lydia and Johnny have had their 8th baby. No electricity, no washer/dryer, no car, no blog to spout off

Lizzie...8 yrs.,
and Emery ...2weeks

and she is happy...or so she says....I have met all but the last three and I must say she looks good and she did seem happy.
There is no way that I would wish for 8 kids. I know Lydia has her work cut out for her but she does live next door to her parents like many folks in her community do and she is part of a community, a real community. That is rare nowadays. As an Amish woman you don't lift a finger for two months after you have a baby. You just rest, nurse, eat and sleep. You are supported, at least for two months. Most women I know have had to fight for maternity leave! I am not idealizing them at all.
I am a bit amazed though.

rainy day

I am so grateful that Matt is home and not working this January. He has always been pretty helpful domestically (thanks Paul and Sharon). When we first lived together, he bought the mop and cleaning supplies and he used them, mostly. I had chores growing up and knew how to do all that stuff but my standards weren't quite as high as his.Things have flip-flopped a little since those days in Savannah, Ga . When Matt started school he stopped focusing so much on the household stuff. I had to pick up the slack and because there was just so much stress from moving all the time and a baby and then another baby, I have become a little neurotic about somethings. Yes, I want the house clean but I also want everyone up at 7am, kids dressed at 7:15 etc. Henry is impossible to get ready for school, bed, anything. His teachers have the same problem at school. He can't seem to just get dressed, you need to stand over him and tell him every little step or you may find him a half hour later in the bedroom with his trains and nothing on his skinny frame but a red cape. You laugh, yes, it's cute if it is a weekend and nothing has to be done. I am someone who likes to be 5 minutes early for appt.s. It's a hardknock life.

So, I have been having trouble sleeping. I wake up at all hours and realize all over again that Rose is really dead and I won't see her again. This morning, Matty let me sleep in and he got Henry on the bus with almost no help from me. It is a big feat considering Henry's personality.

We have a clothesline in our hallway. We never use the dryer anymore. Yay us!

The boys have new superhero teeshirts. The hulk and Superman (Duperman). Ezra wore his 3 days straight. They are from the Salvation Army.

Also, Matt has been "nesting" he has all these ideas for making our closet more beautiful. We have some new lighting. The bathroom has a colorful paper lantern so that awful loud fan doesn't alwasy have to be on. We have other orbs throughout the apt. Some new lamps are on their way from a friend who collects/buys and sells antiques. I sometimes think matt should just quit school and start a lamp shop. I suppose there are worse obsessions.

Today, Talaya and I are going on a coffee date. My aunt and uncle are on their way to the Berkshire house and they are taking us out to dinner. That should be fun.

I have Fridays off. .It is raining. I guess I will knit.


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