Thursday, August 27, 2009

No more diapers?

As the mother of an infant, diapers are always on my mind. Or in my hand. We've gone through different systems over the years, bouncing back and forth between cloth and disposable, wraps and pull on pants, all in ones and homemade felted wool covers.

This time around Avery is in on the action, too. He's a champion diaper changer (and fetcher from the laundry liner, too!). But here's his idea, better than disposables or washable cloth diapers:
A Baby Bidet! Perfect, right? Oh, wait, you can't quite picture it?
Imagine a softish vinyl or plastic "diaper" (maybe Crocs material?) with two hose attachments. When the baby messes, or just needs a clean-up, you attach the "in" hose to the sink faucet (or a water bottle if you're out) and the diaper, and you attach the "out" hose and hold it over the toilet. Picture it now?
Brilliant, eh?
You may say it's not practical. Call it the wishful dreaming of a 9 year old boy, but I say he's not the only one dreaming of a day without diapers going to the landfill OR the washing machine. And, you know, I think it's pretty cool that I even have a 9 year old boy who THINKS about diapers, you know?
And if I see this in the One Step Ahead catalog alongside the silly changing table pee-guard, at least I hope the credit goes to the right kid, okay? (And if anyone buys it, well... all parents start out as silly first timers....)

Monday, August 24, 2009

Brown Boxes

A goodly stack of them were waiting for us when we came home from a long weird weekend in the mountains. It's our favorite time of the school year- the end of summer, with last minute desperate dashes for fun all intertwined with school year plans getting more and more detailed, flushed out, projects and field trips in the works, book lists for the library getting compiled. Shelves being organized and reorganized. And boxes. Lovely brown boxes arriving in the mail, full of the things that mean school to us- some math workbooks, sometimes, sure, but a big stack of blank lesson books to fill with beautiful pictures and examples of our learning, new packages of colored pencils and beeswax crayons, lots of books to read and absorb, some games to play, a year's worth of "work".
I just realized about five minutes ago that I have a whole order, those math workbooks, three science kits, and a writing program, that I didn't put through yet! Wow! I tried, there was some problem, it slipped my mind. Oh well, I'll do it now and they'll be here eventually. It's not as if we're lacking school materials to get started with!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Free Museum Day!

Do you know about Museum Day 2009, when you can get free admission to museums just by printing off an admission ticket from the Smithsonian magazine's websitesite, right here? No, not just the Smithsonian museums- yeah, I know those are always free. If I lived in the DC kind of Washington we'd be there all the time. But we don't. We live in the other kind of Washington. Where Seattle is. Hey! Speaking of Seattle, the Experience Music Project is there, and guess what? They're participating in Museum Day! Uh, not that I'm going with the little ones, but it's a perfect kind of big kid and Papa rock and roll thing to do. For free, instead of the usual $15 for each ticket. Check it out- even if the EMP isn't your thing, there's lots of other Museums around the US participating.

Saturday, August 15, 2009


One of the things that lately makes me tear at my hair and moan "O! what is the world coming to?" is the absolute abundance of "semi-homemade" or even "not-a-bit-homemade" recipes out there. There was one in the paper this morning- a store bought graham cracker crust, cream cheese from a package, sweetened and mixed with cream, topped with sliced fruit. Seriously?
I'm sure it tastes good, but REALLY? this needs to be documented as a RECIPE?! Really?
It's like cookbooks with a "salad" section full of dishes that start with a package of JELLO. Please. Aren't we smarter than that? Can't we do better?
Don't get me wrong- I'm all for quick recipes, things that are yummy and healthy and easy for those times when we're busy and tired and still have to feed our families. Fine. I have a recipe for a gluten free 15 minute pizza crust that we all really like. But it doesn't start with opening a box of anything. Dishes like that are TECHNIQUES, not recipes, I think.
I have a bunch of ways to turn a box of Annie's mac and cheese into a meal, but, you know, Annie has the recipe, I just have some techniques to add to it. Like grating summer squash, carrots, and onions, or adding black beans, salsa, sour cream, avocado, cilantro.
For the record I also make a delicious home made mac and cheese, and I may share the recipe sometime. Rest assured it doesn't start with "open a box of mac and cheese...."

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Yogurt, Take Two

I've said before that we eat a lot of yogurt. About a gallon a week. I did a whole post some time back about making yogurt in the crockpot, which is so ridiculously easy, and so much cheaper than buying it, even in the big Nancy's yogurt containers I used to buy every week.

But then I melted the electrical cord to my crockpot, so it was out of commission for a couple weeks. Avery and Grandpa Randy fixed it, but it seemed like it was working better than it had been before- well, hotter, or faster, or something. The milk was getting cooked to the bottom of the crock. And let me tell you- yogurt with little chunks of burned milk in it is not a taste sensation you'd want to repeat! And pouring $5.49 in organic milk down the drain makes me sad. Very, very sad. Heating the milk on low worked better, but oh! so slow. So unbearably slow. So I started buying yogurt again. Ugh. I hate buying things I can make better and cheaper at home. Which is one reason why we hardly ever eat out unless we go to the city. Don't even get me started!

Then I remembered my friend Jennifer- she makes it in the cooler. So easy! Not quite as easy as the crockpot method, but more predictable, at least with my hyper-functioning crockpot. Just heat up the milk to 170, place the pot and all in the sink (or my big blue basin) and dump some ice around to cool it quickly, skimming off any skin that might form. Stir in the yogurt starter (and honey and vanilla if wanted), pour into containers, place in a cooler with jars of hot tap water. In the morning- lovely thick, creamy, smooth, burned-milk-bitless yogurt. Hooray!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Walk and Talk, Mama

I always forget to post all the silly, sweet things my kids say. The things I really do want to remember. Well, no more!
Today at the Y, waiting for Avery's swimming lesson to finish, Miles asked for a carrot, took a bite, looked up at me and said "Let's walk and talk, Mama." So, of course we did, back and forth in the hall, munching carrots. "So how are you feeling? How was your day today?" He asked me.
Little man!

Monday, August 10, 2009

First Block Done!

Well, prepared. I've been struggling all summer with this Man and Animals lesson, one of the important ones of the fourth grade , and I've finally finished up my planning, got my head wrapped around the ideas, at least to apoint that I'm happy enough with. Here it is! Hooray!
And now, on with the rest of it- Vikings, poetry, zoology, here I come!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

My Summer Boys

You probably wouldn't believe me if I told you how many hours we spend "driving" old tractors and trucks and forklifts and excavators. With permission, of course. For some reason that eludes me, this is an endlessly fascinating activity. Well, it's free, and plentiful, around here, what with all the farms and such.

Avery doing the concrete work for his play structure, at the beginning of the summer.

Amazing how gorgeous babies are, huh? It's a good talent, they have!

Miles, in a petulant pose. Or maybe it's more like a Save the Children pose or something.

Miles loves holding his baby. He is torn, always going back and forth between wanting to be a big boy like Avery and a baby like Ansel. It's a hard decision- Avery gets to use electric tools, and ride his bike in the street alone, Ansel gets to nurse and be held whenever he wants.

Miles at the Sprinkler Park- a favorite place this summer.

Baby cuteness!

A pretty typical sort of pose lately- Avery playing it cool, Miles hamming it up, front and center.

More ham!

Miles found a tree he could climb on by himself. A great day!

Next summer he'll be running around, following his brothers, getting into trouble. This summer he's still mine, and he still stays pretty much where I put him. And he's still entertained by looking up and talking to the leaves and clouds and breeze.

Beaver masks. They wear them all the time. Thank you Artsvan!

Miles at swimming lessons.

Avery's play structure, almost, almost, this close to done! Good work, eh?

Saturday, August 1, 2009


It is hot outside, still. 106 today, maybe? That was the forecast.
But all thoughts of the miserable out-of-doors are gone by the wayside, pushed out by this burning hot little one in my arms, whose own temperature is competing with the sun's work out there. He is so miserable he only wants to be held, and so hot his little curled up body leaves a heat imprint even when he's not in my arms. My chest and neck and cheek and arms feel sunburned, even though we've not been outside today.
Sometimes he tries to smile, at his silly brothers, maybe, but the weak little wobbly smile dissolves in moans. Is there anything in the entire world more heartbreaking than a baby moaning?
Well, we're home, staying away from the picnics and swimming party of our weekend plans. It is so hot out there I would be glad to stay home, in the air conditioned, drawn shade cool of my house. I would be glad, if only it weren't so hot, here in my arms.