Tuesday, November 25, 2008

November Rant

Detail of yet another unfinished painting.

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).

Thursday, November 20, 2008


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. 

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

breaks my he a a a a a a a aart

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.

felted sweater arm cozies

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. 

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Rachel Getting Married

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.  

Friday, November 14, 2008

Easy to Love, Difficult to Discipline- Becky A. Bailey

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). 

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Perks of having an artsy mama

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?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

etsy love part deux

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. 

bag from Maya Made
booties from tiny happy
bracelet from wise craft
greyhound print from Jennifer Zalewski

landscape from Jennifer Zalewski

It Don't Git Much Better Than This

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).

Sunday, November 9, 2008

miele a la mark

Sunday morning breakfast for the boys. Honey from uncle Mark's bees, pears from grandma and grandpa's trees, plain yogurt and two sticky faced boys who love it. 

Thanks for the honey Marko. Happy Birthday Michaela, we miss you so much it hurts. xoxoxoxo 

handmade love

The Holiday Season is upon us. Luckily, many families (both sides of mine included) have begun to pick one family member to exchange gifts with or maybe just fill stockings. For better or worse, I attempt to make my giftee's present every year. It is fun for me and my family tells me they prefer handmade. They really seem to love handmade except for the year that I made rice hotters (Rose coined that term) for everyone that had an unpleasant smell. Last year I made Amy a perfectly imperfect quilt. For those of you who don't have the time or creative energy and you still want to give gifts, shop at etsy.

These custom vegan Kimiko flats are from Hydraheart

Etsy is an online community of artists and craftspeople. It is surprising how many beautiful handmade items are out there. You can also find vintage/thrifted items at etsy.
Fingerless gloves from corpseknit
Dauphine cameo from JenniferRydineDesigns
Tote from yorktownroad
plush doll from caracarmina
felt flower headband for women and babies from louandlee

It is a wonderful thing when people start to understand the value of handmade things. We are so surrounded by mass produced everything that these homemade things of beauty really stand out. I love the idea of supporting artists. Vote with your dollar. If you don't have any money to vote, make something. 

And speaking of voting and non-mass produced items. DId any of you hear our president elect's little speech on Friday? He was asked what kind of dog he and his family wanted to get for the White House. He said that he and his family are committed to getting a shelter dog. COuld he be any more perfect? 

Friday, November 7, 2008

Check Out my New Sidebar

E. and I on the way to the polls.  
H. without front teeth.  

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


I am so relieved that I won't have to spend the rest of my life saying "zed" instead of "z", no offense Canada I still think you're awesome. Massachusetts also voted to decriminalize marijuana, protect dogs from dog racing and keep our state income tax. There is a god/goddess. Thank you to all you new voters, none of whom read my blog I am sure, thanks anyway. 

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


At least that is how I think it is spelled. It is pronounced ah-shpay-tah.  Italian for "wait" and it is the first word that comes to my mind when one of my non-English speaking students needs to be reminded to be patient, which is hilarious because none of them are or have ever been Italian. Egyptian, Chinese, Japanese, Romanian, Turkish and Israeli yes, Italian, no.  And that is what I am doing now, waiting. Only I will have to go to bed soon.  

Of Note:

Henry has lost both top front teeth.

Ezra is weaned for real ( 2+ weeks). Incidently, both of my children should be geniuses and Olympic athletes if breast milk is as good as some say. 

I only ate one sleeve of mini twix bars before the trick- or -treaters came. I know I did not need to share that fact but I felt the need. Two reasons, part of me thinks if I am honest about my sugar addiction I will be shamed into rehabilitation, and the old catholic school girl in me rejoices in confessing.

Good Night. Let's hope we will not be in mourning tomorrow and planning a mass exodus to Canada. If we have to, lets start saving towards acreage for a commune.

"Light shining on water droplets spaced out along a bamboo stalk tuns the whole structure into a flute." - Malcolm DeChazel

Monday, November 3, 2008

Maurice Sendak and ELse Holmelund Minarik

I know this is  too obvious. I think that every book Sendak has made is an important contribution to children's literature. Let's not forget his magical collaberation with Carole King (thanks Bird) Really Rosie which I can sing by heart. Our favorite Sendaks are Where The Wild Things are, which Henry at age two was recorded reciting to Auntie Michaela. The Little Bear series and The Nutshell Kids series, a set of mini books  (what is it with tiny books, I love'em) which grew out of the Really Rosie soundtrack, or vise versa. 

I would love to elaborate but I am much to distracted with thoughts of voting tomorrow. With the hope of having a decent President. I am ready to get on my knees and pray. After praying, I will finally sew together those bibs and use my snap fastener for the first time. 

Saturday, November 1, 2008

I like to ride my bicycle, I like to ride my bike...

Matt is obsessed with bikes and bike culture and it has spread, just a little, to the rest of the family. He asked me awhile back to post some photos of our bikes on my blog.  He probably won't be satisfied with the pictures I am posting and I will end up changing them, that is how nuts he is about bikes. He really loves the Peugot that my dad gave him, it is vintage and was purchased in France and brought over here. It has a working light that is powered by the wheels. Henry has a Trek, it is red. I have an old brown bike and I am too lazy to go look and see what kind it is.  Ezra has a mini two-wheeler with training wheels attached that he used to pedal on. Now he rides a motorcycle that he has learned to coast/balance on. We love our inherited bike trailer. We have used it every weekend for several weekends and Matty uses it to pick Ezra up at school, weather permitting. We just came home form the Farmer's Mkt. I hauled both kids in the trailer nearly two miles there and back again.  I feel very healthy inside after that trip and eating two gigantic carrots with my lunch. 

The kids packed their back packs for the trip. I let them each have a lolli ( from Halloween loot) on the way there on the way back they were busy consuming pear and yogurt smoothies from the local dairy farm/orchard and scones from a local bakery and sporting their new Obama pins. Lucky kids, I didn't have enough money to get myself anything but a bunch of carrots which I scarfed down with a ton of guacamole when we got home. 

Even though we live in a super liberal/crunchy area full of eco-minded people, we still get lots of smiles and comments while we are trailing along. It can be a lot of fun. Especially when I hear the kids talking about how strong I am in the back seat...

Henry: Mom is so strong and fast.

Ezra: Yeah but we go faster with daddy.

Henry: But dad is bigger and mommy made us.

Ezra: Mom  is so fast.

Me: Yes, I am and sort of magical too, like all mommies. Mommies can make people.

Henry: Cool

Ezra: Yeah, cool. 

All Hallow's Eve

Not much to say. I hadn't much sleep the night before, so I did not make my colcannon. Ezra was a grump all day and had a record three tantrums, and he made a hole in the wall at school (that's another post). Anyone have any tips on raising a defiant 3 yr. old?the costumes were great. Thanks mom.


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