Sunday, July 26, 2009
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
The weather is not any cooler, but I am. Papa's project at work is over, so there's a little breathing room coming. We've got a fun weekend planned, and today I got filled up with a chance to talk with friends, while the boys ran and ran and played and got their energy out, despite bloody noses and the heat. (Will there ever be a day Miles has a bloody nose and I don't immediately worry that he has leukemia? Why does my heart stop sometimes, watching him? He is so healthy, so VITAL, so full of life.) Then, to top it all off, my smart, funny, lovely friend Tracy made supper for us, and all we had to do was show up and eat and it was wonderful. Almost as good as a heavy summer rain. How nice to have a friend who knows just what I need, and welcomes us at our worst- cranky, sweaty, and tired, then sends us home happy and full, even with a plate of food for my husband? Tomorrow I'm making supper for all of us, and I'm thinking this is a nice thing- a night off, a night on.
Another friend and I were talking about how nice aspects of living in a kibbutz would be. Hard and monotonous work are always easier shared. Why are barn raisings such fun, or shelling peas and pitting cherries with company nicer than doing it alone?
I've been thinking I would love to have a place to spend the summer- the shore or a lake, little cottages and all the Moms and kids, Dads on the weekends, big packs of kids running around and keeping each other busy. I guess I want to live in a tender coming of age movie or something!
In the meantime I will keep living here in the desert, and I will keep counting my blessings, my friends.
Well... don't you at least like my metal TV-tray plates as much as I do?
"I need something to cool me down!" Miles cried the other day, after riding his bike around the deck a few times, "The outside has a fever, I think." In deed. The whole darn world has a fever right now, it feels like.
And I am from the land of sea and spray, foggy green and gray, rain and moss and shade. Of course it's not the weather's fault, or even this place's fault- for goodness sake, I know that!- it is my fault, I know. I should plan better, or at least not let summer take me by surprise every single year, but still, knowing it doesn't fix it, does it? For somehow I always think I'll be the winner- I'll be able to be creative enough and productive enough that summer heat won't slow me down, not this year. And then I crash right into that wall.
There was even a story recently about how temperature affects GDP- no surprise that higher temperatures mean less productivity, less money. If it happens for whole regions of the world, whole countries, I guess I shouldn't be shocked when it happens in my family, huh?
So...I'm maybe not quite over the wall yet, but almost. In the most resigned and beaten way. Today we get up, wearily, maybe, but UP, and tidy house, work on our projects, meet our friends, play, eat, relax. Try to enjoy the summer, help each other over the wall, carry on.
Monday, July 20, 2009
If you want to know the minutiae of our lives, you're in the right place. If you don't really care about that, or you're just dying to know exactly how our school days are structured, how many chapters of which book he read, how many science projects we did, or how our nature study is progressing- well, go there!
In either case, Welcome, and I'm happy to meet you and share these conversations about life, kids, and learning (theirs, and ours)!
The boys and I went to see the 3-D movie "Up". So fun! Miles had never been to a movie before, and he was amazed! Everything is so... larger than life on the big screen! He did not care for the 3-D glasses, but he did great, and had a lot to talk about after. I splurged and got a big popcorn and soda and actually bought candy instead of trying to sneak it in, and we had a respite from hot, hot glaring sunlight, for awhile. Cool, dark, sweet. The baby slept, nursed, and looked around and laughed a bunch. It was nearly $40- a huge splurge (and somehow shocking to me- has it really been THAT long since I've been to the movies?!) but it was a fine treat after another long, hot week.
You know how nice it feels, when you're out in public and a stranger compliments you on your children's behaviour and manners? It's nice, of course, for them to get acknowledgement from people outside the family that they're doing the right thing, and it feels nice, as the parent, to have your parenting choices affirmed like that. It can totally make your day.
Well, at the fruit stand near our house we received just such a compliment, followed by the gift from a stranger of box seat tickets to the Bears (our minor league baseball team)! A compliment followed by baseball tickets pretty much had us grinning ear to ear the rest of the day! what a delicious surprise! What fun! Which game to choose? The boys are already talking about nachos and ice cream sandwiches, Boomer the Bear, and ice cold sodas.
We had plans to catch up on chores, which didn't really happen, though we did get our grocery shopping done. And I used some chicken I had already cooked to make a sort of yummy sweet and sour apricot chicken with brown rice and cucumber salad on the side. We brought some in my cute metal tiffin container to Papa at the office.
Then we headed to the park, for the first night of this summer's Outdoor Cinema Series. What could be better than sitting on a blanket in the dark, in the park, eating carrots and popcorn and milk duds with your three boys, watching The Muppet Movie on a giant inflatable screen? For free? So, so fun! We got home at 11:05 pm, and were all in bed by 11:15, teeth brushed and sticky faces washed. Sweet dreams for Rainbow Believers.
Friday, July 17, 2009
Of course I didn't have all the ingredients she calls for (well, I pretty much only had broccoli, but that's the way it is when you have a meal plan and don't stick to it) so I winged it. Anyway, it was so delicious I ate a ton last night and all the leftovers for lunch today, and I want more for supper. Also, I ate it faster than I could take a picture, so you'll just have to make it yourself to see it. But it looks nice, all green and red and orange and creamy.
2 heads of broccoli, shredded or sliced in the food processor, 2 carrots, shredded, 1 sweet onion, diced, 3 stalks celery, sliced thin, a bunch of grapes, chopped, tossed all together with a dressing made of 1/2c milk, 2T. lemon juice, 2T. apple cider vinegar, 1/3c. mayo, 1t. mustard, 2T. sugar, salt, pepper, shaken or whisked smooth before being poured over. Then I topped my salad with some of that sliced cold chicken. Yum. Just how I like to eat when Papa isn't home- easy, cold, and just one dirty plate each.
Hey! Do you think it's bad to eat ice cream for supper when it's 100 degrees out? What if you eat ice cream for supper while watching Leave It To Beaver reruns with your kids AND you all just pass the carton and a spoon back and forth, instead of making dirty dishes? I'm not saying that's what supper looks like tonight... I'm just wondering... you know... for a friend....
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
This past week by the numbers:
320 books removed hastily from shelves as water seeped up through the carpet underneath. And then neatly put back, in tidy groupings which lasted about 1/2 an hour. 320 sighs from Mama.
180 pounds of cherries: picked, washed, stemmed, pitted, frozen, dried, fruit leathered, and soon to be jammed. I am SO done with cherries this year! Well, as soon as I make that jam, and some more fruit leather-it is delish, even if we are weary of cherries.
160 minutes we lasted at the Folklife Festival before we were too wilted and cranky and tired and in need of air conditioning and dim rooms and icy, slippery glasses of lemonade.
102 degrees Miles was for no apparent reason.
101 times I thought he might have West Nile Virus- all those mosquito bites on the 4th of July?
100 times I convinced myself not to freak out about it.
99 degrees when we went to Folklife this weekend. Cooler than past years, but really awful heat to bear just the same. Even with ice cream cones and a giant slip and slide powered by a fire hose and a big hill.
80 pounds of blueberries: picked, washed and sorted, frozen, jammed.
75 times I've thought about weeding the garden.
40 pounds of apricots: washed, pitted, canned, turned into syrup. More to be found, picked, dried, and made into fruit leather. Do you know anyone with an under appreciated apricot tree?
18 trips down said slip and slide.
12 pounds of raspberries: picked, washed, frozen. More to pick from our own bushes and made into jam. And dried whole, for granola. Maybe more to pick, over the mountains?
10 pm- average bedtime for boys this week of late nights, weird schedules, and innumerable chances to help Mama out!
7 tomatoes picked from our plants and eaten with silly happy grins on our faces. It's summer!
5 minutes spent weeding, er... making a completely unnoticeable dent in the overgrowth of weeds in my poor garden. Oh, it's sad. At least I had the foresight to plant the tomatoes on the edge, so they're first weeded! If that counts for anything, I don't know.
3 times our basement has flooded now, for 3 entirely different reasons. Still, it's three times pulling up carpets, getting out shopvacs and renting giant dryer-fans, pouring baking soda and vacuuming it up, tacking carpet down and putting everything away again. 3 can be a pretty big number, sometimes.
3 jars of strawberry jam eaten already. Guess I need to make more if we're to have any this winter!
3 lunches made entirely of ice cream. Shhh! Don't tell Papa!
2 plastic safari hats overflowing with candy brought home from a birthday party.
1 tired Mama.
Thursday, July 9, 2009
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
And I'm not really complaining- I love my little house and my beautiful little street and neighborhood. I love building equity, and not dealing with landlords with alcohol problems. For sure!
But still, when we're staying up all night sucking water out of the carpet in the basement and renting those giant air blowers AGAIN it's hard not to be a little nostalgic for the days when we could deal with any house problem by building up some good old righteous indignation and firmly demanding our right to live without technical difficulties. And to leave and come back and voila! everything is fixed. Just exactly the way we said it should be.
Monday, July 6, 2009
Avery's drawing of a Clover flower. It doesn't show up well in the picture, but in his book it is sweet. Diminutive, but isn't clover, really?
Miles' nature book drawing. He finished pretty quickly then spent some time moving piles of dirt around and poking them with his apple wood stick.
My page. We were sitting directly under one of those ancient apple trees, so it seemed natural to draw that. Ummm... not that I'm a fabulous artist or anything, but it's fun to all sit and draw together. And we were using these cool Lyra Aquacolor crayons, which draw nicely like rich, soft crayons, then magically turn into a watercolor painting when you brush with water!
The church building, still used for services, is simple and sweet and pure. I love little churches like this- just plain pews, altar- it feels like it's easier for God to hear our prayers than in a fancy, ornate building. Like everything is laid bare, honest and clear.
Sunday, July 5, 2009
Teaching science has always been my biggest worry point- Avery LOVES doing experiments and lab work, I don't, so much. I love going outside and watching bugs and flowers, but don't really care what they're called or why, he can barely watch for a moment without the desire to KNOW burning him up and into a book. And here we are. Fourth grade. The start of real science, not just nature stories, for Waldorf kids. The unfolding of the child's sense of inner and outer selves, of objectivity, and the BIGNESS of the world. I don't want to mess that up! And I am completely at a loss. What to do?
The Waldorf curriculum tells us that animals are specialized, one-sided. Really perfectly adapted to their task, but only made for that one thing. Animals fall into one of three categories, or embody one of the threefold human traits- they are either thinking, feeling, or willing. Humans, in contrast, are imperfect, but embody all of these traits, plus one other: we are created upright, with hands and arms that are not needed to move us, like animals, but free to turn to service for God and humanity. It doesn't sound too bad (or maybe it does, depending on your perspective) but I am having a problem taking it all in. I just don't really GET it, I guess, and I'm worried that in my attempt to teach something I don't deeply understand and believe that I will not do justice to the task, or my child. I can see a glimmer of how it might be beautiful and true taught by a real Waldorf teacher, someone trained in and understanding of this material. Unfortunately I keep getting stuck with it all feeling forced, like poor science, mixing of holy and earthly things I have no business messing with.
I feel comfortable teaching the animals in tidy groups: you know, mammals, reptiles, mollusks, birds.... I feel comfortable with the idea that humans are upright and special, able to think and feel and do, and that we have a responsibility to care for the world we've been given (or given to, maybe?). I feel comfortable saying animals embody the willing aspect of humans, but the feeling and thinking? I guess dolphins are thinkers, but aren't they still more will-full? Does the octopus, with that huge head, really think more that follow instinct? Surely the jellyfish is more instinctual, yet it is sometimes taught with the "thinkers".... I don't know, and I'm having a hard time getting comfortable with this lesson, I guess because of exactly what I don't know.
The Octopus: a classic Waldorf embodiment of the "thinking" characteristic of the human.