"She refused to be bored, chiefly because she wasn't boring." Zelda Fitzgerald

Saturday, February 27, 2010


Oops! Sorry...I've been messing up my comments system a lot lately, trying to see if I could get it all straightened out. It might be good again. Do let me know!

Friday, February 26, 2010

How To Eat With Your Children and Not Lose Your Mind

Been reading about children and food and family eating politics and table ettiquette and nutrition and all the pieces that go into making sure common table time is not hell with knives and forks. Lately I've consumed:

Hungry Monkey: A Food-Loving Father's Quest to Raise an Adventurous Eater

Child of Mine: Feeding With Love and Good Sense

Real Food for Mother and Baby: The Fertility Diet, Eating for Two, and Baby's First Foods

I started all of this reading because obviously, as a mom I wanted to know what and how a child should properly eat. The thing that really drove my quest for knowledge however, was the fact that A and I come from quite different families in regards to food and we have very different priorities and ideas about how a childhood eating should be addressed. Who is right? Somebody has to be righter, right? Heh. Well, not always, sometimes it does just come down to custom and culture but, occasionally there are actual truths to be uncovered too. 

 Another factor driving my kid-food research was the fact that mealtime (particularly with respect to Ru, although I'm sure Dee's time is coming) has gotten quite stressful at our house. Now, when I say "quite stressful" I don't mean that he's limited his food to only three items or that he throws out of control temper tantrums but, I do mean that pretty much no meal was a peaceful, enjoyable experience and that eating as a practice had become more a battle of the wills and an all out war than a thing we did together to feed ourselves. Far too stressful. 

When this mommy gets stressed, she reads, looking for information, new ideas and her blind spots. It helps me get a little perspective, gives me fresh food for thought and also encourages me that there are other possibilities besides just what I'm doing or failure. I love that people invented books.

So, after a good bit of exploratory reading these are the new kid-food policies at our house.

  • There will be three meals a day, at as regular a set of times as possible (at the moment that means Breakfast 8:30AM, Lunch 12:30PM and Dinner 6:30PM) and between the meals there will be dependable and nutritious snacks (10:00AM and 3:30PM) This point may seem a bit silly or even frightening to some of you but, I have to be honest...this is a change. I've of course always targeted three meals a day and worked towards reliable serving times but, I've just come around on consistent snacks. I used to harbor this old-fashioned idea that it was good for children to learn to wait patiently for meals and not snitch in between, coupled with a very inconsistent breaking down "Oh fine, alright....if you're hungry you can have something...what do you want?" kind of attitude. Brilliant. Turns out the research I've read says that children are happier and healthier if they eat every two to three hours (honestly, so are adults says much research) and our boys are remarkably more pleasant while I'm preparing dinner if they are reasonably hungry but have had their 3:30 snack and aren't ravenous. It works.
  • Desserts will be served with the meal, in kid-sized portions and will not be given as "rewards" for eating well. Sweets will also be served in unlimited amounts as  occasional afternoon snacks. So, if I had my druthers, I'd raise my children very low sugar, possibly sugar free...but, then I live with A. We have to deal with reality folks! That's kind of one of the requirements of life. I have also wrestled repeatedly with the issue of handing my children a right attitude in relationship to sugar...restricting sugar stringently tends to make people get bingy when they end up in an unrestricted environment ( I struggle with this) but then people who grow up in sugar relaxed households tend to have sweets so built into their "must have" list that they can't imagine going without them...that worries me too. How to win? Well, truly I don't have the perfect answer here but, I do know that hardcore restriction tends to trigger the brain to go into panic gorging mode because it hits patterns in that wire us to worry about famine. Anything that our brain fears might be scarce we will be driven to binge on in unlimited exposure. That's the purpose of serving sweets in unlimited portions occasionally as an afternoon snack. Teach kids that there's no need to panic and stuff when they see sweets, sweets come along periodically and you don't have to worry about whether or not you'll get "enough." Also, the goal is to teach them to self-regulate about sweets, ("I can choose to have just one if I want to.") instead of teaching the ever driving allure of desserty foods..."You can only have one! Aren't they good??? MMmmmmm" Serving dessert at the beginning of the meal kills the undercover double push to get our kids to over-eat for the prize of a sweet: once, to finish or at least taste their meal in order to get dessert (whatever your family policy) and then the second time to eat the dessert. Kids may not be hungry enough to do either of their own will but, they might do them both if dessert is held out as the almighty prize they must obtain. The idea is to encourage kids to eat dinner for other reason than that they want to...and that they are hungry. That should be the only incentive to eat. Anything else is pretty unhealthy. 
  • No catering. You know the drill...you serve a meal and your toddler turns up their haughty little nose and refuses everything on the table as "icky" and demands a bowl of cold cereal. And really, what's the harm? Cereal is simple and it ends the whining. So you cater. It seems harmless but, what you're really teaching your kid is that they can win petty power struggles just by asserting their demands, that they shouldn't try new foods and that they can be rude if they want to be. A meal is a gift, prepared by the cook and it should be received as such. We won't make our kids eat anything but, we insist that they not announce loudly that the food is "icky" and if they're not hungry or unwilling to try what's served they will have to go without until the next meal or snack. No child will starve on this policy and eventually, kids will learn that they can try new things and sometimes they'll like them. I am also making it a policy to make sure that there are several dishes on the table for each meal and I'm trying to make sure that some of them are things that I think the children will like. (This does not meal I serve Pepperidge Farm Goldfish with every meal though...I just try to not make our meals limited to chopped liver, kimchi, wild goose eggs and radicchio.) Eating also happens at designated times, at the table, when we are all together.
  • Manners matter. Children should be expected to speak in reasonable tones of voice, use thank and no thank you, pass dishes, keep food on their own plates, eat neatly and ask to get down when they are finished as well as compliment the cook if they enjoy the food, clear the dishes from the table and help set the table. Even kids can learn to be good table-mates. If kids won't behave at the table then they leave. 
  • Everyone is responsible for their bit of the plan. Parents are in charge of what food gets served in their house (nutrition) and when the food is presented (scheduling) although of course its great for kids to mention foods they particularly enjoy and ask for it to be included in the plans if appropriate). Kids are responsible for how much they eat and what they eat. Turns out that research says, if kids aren't coerced, cajoled or plied with too many political issues and arguments...they eat what they should and have healthy food attitudes. Its okay for your kid to go vegetarian for a time if they wish (Ru is basically at the moment)...and no harm will come to them from avoiding foods that are red if that's their particular wish for the moment. Children generally will find the missing nutrition in other places and will grow out of silly food habits if they are ignored and allowed to morph on their own. As long as you are presenting healthful choices there should be no harm in letting them pick from them as they will. Part of a child's responsibility in choosing their food (once they are physically able) is to allow them to serve themselves (always monitoring as needed to ensure that they are doling out sane portions "You can have more later if you eat that much"). Its good for children to learn how to gauge their own hunger level, to feel empowered to truly choose their own eats and to learn the mechanics of lifting the ladle or serving spoon and taking part in passing dishes on to others. 
So there you have the latest and the greatest food-wise from our part of the world. So far, we're really pleased with how this is working out for us. What do you think? Anything shocking or enlightening in our ideas? What are your brilliant brainstorms for dealing with kid/food issues?

By the way...if you're looking for some good reading on this topic and think any of the ideas I presented sound appealing...I suggest you pick up Child of Mine. It was my favorite out of the books I've read so far on the topic.


Thursday, February 25, 2010

We Escape But, Are Nearly Drowned In The Process

Wet, wet, wet today. But, I was not to be deterred from our first outing to see the outside world and fairly healthy individuals. We are all tired of each other and tired of our house and tired of being cooped up together. Time for a little out and about...even if we do have to wade through knee deep puddles and drive an amphibious vehicle to get out. You do what you have to do.

So, it wasn't really that wet but, it has been raining pretty mercilessly all day long (although they forecast snow so, hey) and in some places we did find the road had started to flood over a tad. At our house it really just meant the boys were allowed to carry their umbrellas with them when we left and nobody around here really cries too much about that. I realize child-sized umbrellas are a bit of a frivolity (yea even a bit of a nuisance as you have to restrict their indoor use lest they be destroyed instantly) but, they're a really adorable frivolity. I have a similar weakness for rubber boots although they're slightly more practical as they make the inevitable puddle jumping into a less painful experience for the onlooking mommy. But yes, also umbrellas make for really cute primary color heavy pictures. Cute is worth something.

We went out prancing through the wet to the shoe store where we measured Ru and Dee's feet and bought Ru two new pairs of shoes since he has grown up a size and a half and got Dee a pair of dress shoes he was without although his current size is still just dandy. You should all be proud of me because I did not buy myself any new pairs of shoes that I do not need. (Score one for reasonability! Yes!) Shoes at amazing prices are achingly hard to pass up, even if I don't really consider myself a member of the card carrying handbag obsessed, compulsively footwear collecting set.

Speaking of collecting things....just a quick note to let you all know that Liberty of London is the new Designer on a Dime that Target will begin featuring on March 14th. For those who have a touch of the Anglophilia that tends to infect those of us following certain bloggers (exhibit a, b, and c) or reading certain books dreamily in our spare time this could be both both deadly and an astounding stroke of luck. I am plotting whether it is foolhardy to plan a trip to Target on the 14th or if I should go the 15th. Choices, choices. *sigh*

And also, speaking of window shopping and dreaming and design inspiration and spring and other such lovely things....Argh! Just discovered Modcloth!!! Love love love. Where have I been? Did you all know about it and not tell me? I suddenly feel out of the loop somehow.

So, yes...

That got a bit rabbit traily in the direction of shopping suddenly. *ahem*

Not sure what came over me.

Happy end of the week! Am brewing a good post about children and food for tomorrow! Do show!


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Enlargement, FOOD, and Kids...they say the darndest things.

We have a new computer monitor. Our old one zapped bright lights at us, made an electrical crackling noise like a small explosion and left us for good. We're now pure flat screen users. The old, gigantic box with beige plastic casing is sitting by the front door, waiting for A to tote it to the dumpster. Sometimes its nice to have a dumpster, right in your parking lot.

The new monitor came in a massive box that said boldly on the side, "LCD monitor: 'Rock solid, heart touching'" Seems a bit much to ask of a screen but, hey...I'm willing to believe in big things. Speaking of big things...its HUGE! Massive. I knew A was planning to order a "bigger" monitor but I should have suspected something extra impressive was looming when he got that geeky twinkle in his eye and set about furiously clicking away at the keyboard with hunched shoulders "just ordering up the replacement, honey!" I feel like I'm typing to you all on the side of a small high-rise or the face of a swimming pool. Its really big...or at least it feels like it me. Am a technological wimp? Maybe all the other people out there are typing on billboards too....I'll have to make it a point to spy on the computer room the next time I'm over at a house for dinner and size up the monitor in residence.

Am in a ridiculously slobbery food mode at the moment. Dreaming of baking and cooking and eating so many things. Nothing like going onto a bread and water diet to make you really want a diverse eating experience. I am making lists of all the things I want to make and all the things I have in the freezer that I need to cook with. I always make a list of seasonal food dishes (winter, spring, summer, fall)...things I want to make sure to make because they seems quintessentially of that time period. The kind of thing you'll find yourself sighing over later, "Oh sad! I never made any corn on the cob!!!" in October. Anyhow...my spring and winter seasonal lists have been getting a little over-haul and I've been adding things madly and checking off what I've made so far this winter. Food, glorious food!

In cute kid quote land....
Just yesterday Ru was saying to me, "Remember Mommy when Dee was a nightstand?" I wasn't sure what he meant and kept trying to figure out some explanation, a joke? a misheard word? some episode I'd forgotten? No dice. He got annoyed with me and began insisting..."No mommy a nightstand!!! Remember???" I finally told him that I didn't remember that, could he tell me about it? He put his hands on his hips, rolled his eyes (I swear) and said, "Moooooommy! At Halloween! I was a dragon and Dee was a nightstand." SO silly. We dressed them up as a knight and a dragon and although we talked a lot to him about dragons we never thought to explain what a knight was. The only noun that he's familiar with that sounds the same is nightstand because that's where we keep the tissues and where Daddy's alarm clock lives. I tried to explain the difference between a nightstand and a knight but he wasn't really buying it at this point. The damage may be irreparable. Yes ladies and gents, that's my child at the Ren Fair with his college buddies, dressed..... as a small end-table.


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

In Which, I Regret That I Counted My Chickens...


And then last night Ru woke up and vomited his brains out at 1 AM.

Blast. Blast. Blast.

Am very sick of everyone being sick, of the smell and the heaps of laundry and the staying in and the feeling crappy all round. Please, God....let it end. Am trying to stay un-depressed somehow in the midst of it all. Rally the simple starches and the clear fluids and the cozy couch throws for afternoon napping, we power on.

Didn't go to my painting group today for fear I make all the painterly types ill and/or expose my own children to nursery illnesses of new varieties while their thresholds are at low ebb. Instead, I put on a Kipper the Dog video and let the boys cuddle in *Uncle Bernard's recliner while I set up shop with my brushes on the dining room table. Just because we can't eat complex starches or meats or stay hydrated doesn't mean we can't have artistic pursuits that are consistent!

I loaded up the former diaper bag with all my painting equipment just so that I can have it all ready and in one place when I'm ready to go out again. I realize that I will need a diaper bag again soon but, really folks, that's 12 weeks away and for 12 weeks, I plan to enjoy a diaper-bag-less life. No toting everything known to man in that giant heavy thing while having it slip continually off my shoulder or embarrassedly pulling out old socks and half eaten granola bars while searching for crumpled diapers I have stashed somewhere in the bottom.  Just for a little while, its my painting bag, and much good may it do me.

Nutmeg, being the dearest-of-friends sort, called to check in on us and then picked up another box of Saltines, some Gatorade and a nice bundle of bananas which she handed to me quickly through the door. I, carefully grabbing the bag in a way that wouldn't possibly contaminate her, she, waving and wishing peace on our house as she closed the screen and grimaced at my wincing thanks. She's the best. I feel slightly less overwhelmed knowing that I have these sorts of people in my life, people who check in and people who really mean it when they ask if there's anything they can get while they're out. Quality stuff right there folks.

In other news...I swear, really people...either this illness has me hallucinating now or I have been hearing a lone spring peeper for about two days now in the swamp. And this afternoon I was sure I heard a robin's spring call, the kind of whinnying trill they do during soft spring rains. It was raining. Or sludging or sleeting or.... something but, at least some of the time it was rain. Maybe this is just a very serious case of spring fever, that has simply gone to all our stomachs. Am I slowly going mad?


*We always call it that. We always have. A inherited it from his deceased relative along with a giant desk our computer sits on which goes by the name, "Uncle Bernard's Desk." Creepy perhaps but, it just accidentally happened.

Monday, February 22, 2010

We Did Survive!

 deer prints in our garden

There are bird calls outside my window this morning that I don't remember the labels for anymore after a long, cold winter. Lots of singing going on anyhow, and it sure feels like there are more winged residents in the neighborhood suddenly. Lots of sunshine today and a clear blue sky, noticed the snow had melted away again when I took in the morning view from my bedroom window. I found myself squinting for the sight of skunk cabbage tips peeping through the carpet of brown leaves under the sycamore and the oaks. So far, nothing but, soon, it'll be there and for now...I'm feeling the possibility in a very hopeful way.  And wow...first big spring sighting!!! When the boys and I went outside to play this afternoon I wasn't hallucinating tiny lime green dots on the forest floor. Our local skunk cabbage crop had put out two blossoms. Woohoo!!!! You can bet the local honeybees are every bit as excited as I am. Spring flowers have officially begun.

skunk cabbage blooming!

Feels darn good to be hopeful about anything after a weekend like we've had. This stomach bug that everybody is passing around is the pits...I don't recommend trying it with a squirming person inside of you already. Thankfully, we all feel quite human this morning...the washing machine is whirring away, the dishes are pretty caught up somehow, fresh homemade bread is cooling on the counter and I have a crockpot full of chicken soup simmering away slowly next to the sink. We will make it.

 construction truck patrol across our yard
our black raspberry canes, along the garden fence

This week we get serious about talking to mortgage consultants and begin the big shop around for good rates and best deals and try to get pre-approval all sealed up and done and I get serious about our California plans. Time to compile lists and strike things off and highlight others and figure out what we'll see and when and how insane we're going to be in our quest of adventure, desire to spend time with family and love of nature. I saw another round of drive-by houses this past week and found a few more possibilities although, still nothing that's really making my heart sing any arias. Would like to get out again this afternoon to check out another round.
wild wineberry cane from the woods behind the garden
The next two big tasks on my list are, potty train Dee (he's practically teaching himself anyway) and organize and purge the children's closet in preparation for baby planning. It is suddenly now seeming like a very good idea to know what exactly we have and what we don't.
a little horticultural repose
On the potty training front, Dee as I said is practically teaching himself. I am very rarely taking him to the toilet but he asks me if he can go and I started out no longer changing dirty diapers at all and now I'm starting to have him make it all the way through the whole day with just one diaper period. Dirty or wet...diapers are clearly outmoded here. So, I need to just get it together and put him in underwear and give him the necessary instructions about keeping them dry and maybe spend a day or two down on the non-carpeted areas of the house. I hear sometimes you just luck out with certain kids like this...I'm not sure why its happening...but, I'm for it.


Friday, February 19, 2010

Teach Your Children Well

 Today is a genuine sick-day. Yesterday and the day before Ru was sick and now both boys qualify...and just minutes ago, before he headed out for a walk A told me, "I don't feel so well." *groan*

So, I'm doing lots of hugging, and changing clothes, and back rubbing and brow mopping and Saltine cracker serving and not a lot of very active anything. Leaves time for stiller projects: thinking, reading, research (houses, houses, houses...oh and California!) and laundry folding and sorting.

Seems like Ru ought to be out of the woods sometime soon and that will feel hopeful. I still feel okay and I'm hoping and praying and stubbornly believing that I'll be okay. Here's to optimism.

All that to say that one of the things I've been mulling over for a while is this list which, I thought I'd share with you since my sick bed nurse duty has given me the time to think of the last few additions. With my poor, sick boys in mind, and my thankfully, buffered and protected from illness tiny baby....I present to you:

Things I Want My Children To Learn

1. To walk with God
2. To follow their artistic urges
3. Self esteem
4. Deep compassion
5. Environmental responsibility
6. A can-do attitude
7. How to entertain themselves
8. Respect and love for elderly people
9. To be helpful
10. A love for beauty
11. A spirit of cultural adventurousness
12. Good old fashioned etiquette
13. Optimism
14. Everyday biology
15. Chutzpa
16. The value of friendship
17. Respect for and love of animals
18. Appreciation for hard work
19. Physical activity
20. How to read music and sing a part.
21. Love for books and stories
22. To value their family history
23. How to fish
24. How to keep their own houses
25. Generosity
26. Humor
27. Integrity
28. To be articulate
29. To mix with all types of people
30. Curiosity preservation
31. How to let go
32. To be a good judge of character
33. How to receive graciously
34. How to laugh at themselves
35. Patient stillness

What's on your list? Anything weird on mine?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

My Eater's Manifesto

A gave me several cookbooks for Christmas and I have been reading slowly through them, note-taking my way through a book on breastfeeding nutrition and also another on feeding children in a health manner. Yesterday I picked up a copy of Bon Appetit at the check-out. One of the things that was hardest for me about my week of spring cleaning was that I took a total vacation from the kitchen and we ate all prepared foods, by the end I was fantasizing about the myriads of things I could bake and serve when I was finished. Food matters. I know its important to everyone on some level but, clearly we're really into it at our house.
You might even call A and I foodies and get away with it. I like food, he likes food, we like exploring food and eating food and cooking food and growing food and buying food. We'll eat pretty much anything once. Still, I have a hard time with the label foodie because it gets all confused with "gourmet" (a label I once was trying on for size but have now let go). I'm no food elitist...I think homemade chicken noodle soup is every bit as wonderful as filet mignon with Bearnaise sauce. Good food is good food from the most simple, hearth cooking and the dirt-covered, homegrown carrot to the most elegant, architectural dessert plating. I don't eschew fancy food, everybody likes a treat now and then but, its not on any kind of pedestal in my world and I am not trying to pretend to be a chef in my home. I'm a housewife and a home cook and for the most part, I cook homey stuff. Simple stuff, the stuff of life. Pasta. Steak. Slow cooker soup. Homemade bread. So, only call me a foodie if you mean food lover not if you mean snooty-Francophile-chef-imitator. And please, never be afraid to serve me mac and cheese in a box or a grilled cheese on white bread, I promise, I'm not too good for your kitchen.
One of the other pieces of my food world that could get me confused with a gourmet and make people think I'm a food snob is health-foodism. I am an admittedly crunchy person. I believe in pro-biotic foods, I like to maximize my local food intake, we eat a lot of produce at our house, I try to serve fish frequently, I think honey is good and white sugar is bad, I like to buy my eggs right from the farmer, I buy grass-fed beef and free-range poultry, I drink raw milk....etc. etc. This isn't because I'm too good for such-and-such a "normal" food, its just because I care a lot about health and from my reading on nutrition these look like vastly superior choices. I realize not everyone can afford to buy these things and would never prescribe the preceding list as some kind of moral imperative. BUT....its not food snobbery either. I'm not trying to make the most elegant, expensive choices possible, I just want to serve and eat good food. Not fancy, good. They're different.
Even though I'm not obsessive gourmet type, I do find famous chefs inspiring. They are after all, some of our country's most expert food workers...they know what they're doing and occasionally, one of them changes some piece of the way I operate in the kitchen forever. Julia Child completely revolutionized my method of cooking scrambled eggs, for instance.
So, given their position of great influence, I am always excited when I hear that chefs are taking their captive audiences in hand and using their platform to teach people better ways with food. Better, not fancier. I was really excited to see Alton Brown one of the big Food Network stars lose the classic chubby chef look and pursue a new life in relationship to food. I think his perspective and dietary ideas are right on. Check out the video below and tell me what you think.


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Season of Lent

Lent begins today. We started the morning with an early morning Ash Wednesday service at church with a small group of friends and then the boys and I came home to talk it all over together through the rest of the morning. We talked about how Lent is a time like Advent when you look forward to an exciting new holiday and when you try to remember some special principles (Advent: hope, expectation, promise....Lent: how life can come from death, how loss and letting go can be good, self discipline) and we refreshed them on the story of Jesus life, death and resurrection.

At naptime we read the first story in one of their children's Bibles after the visitation of the three kings. We'll keep reading the life of Jesus through Advent until we reach the story of Easter itself.

Then we took a little break from all the chatter to dye a tablecloth to use on our dining room table during the Lenten season. The seasonal color of Lent is a deep purple, symbolic of royal dignity, solemnity and penance so, we took a white tablecloth and together the boys stirred it in the sink until it was a deep grapey shade. So pretty. They both had a lot of fun and we have a new decoration to remind us of the time of year we're going through.

I always try to give up something or things for Lent....a form of fasting (the only permissible form at the moment since I'm pregnant) and a way to give up something that in some way distances me from God and allow Him additional connection spots in my life. This year I'm giving up:

  • Stress Binging on Bad Foods: This is an embarrassingly wretched behavior I've developed. I get stressed out and instead of (or sometimes in combination with) freaking out, I down a bunch of candy, leftover dessert items, Doritos....etc. Terrible, no good, very bad way. I am going to try to replace this behavior with eating something good for me or drinking water. This is also a subtle way to bless my baby and think charitably of the little one instead of downing toxic levels of less than helpful foods.
  • Music to Fill The Spaces: I'm going to give up ambient music from iTunes and playing the radio in the car whenever we drive anywhere. The idea is not at all that music is bad (heaven knows, I love it a lot) but, I think a time of quiet is a good idea. I am hoping it will encourage us to make our own music, help me listen to my kids more and talk to them and just allow a space for peace and silence, the kind of place where scripture tells us the still small voice of God tends to show up.
I'm hoping to do a light form of food fasting and serve fish on Fridays instead of land animal protein which we have all the other nights. I am also trying to make sure to eat fish frequently now for the sake of getting all the Omega 3's that Baby needs for brain development at this stage.

One of my other goals for Lent is to try to find small ways to work charity into my life with my kids. I think there are some practical, kid accessible ways that we can participate in meaningful charity...taking gifts to neighbors, writing cards and letters for sick friends, picking out a little extra at the grocery store for the local food bank....etc. This is however, one of the weak areas of my Lenten plan. If you have ideas about how to teach kids to give to those in need, do share!


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Garden Dreams

Its a garden-dreaming day. My brain is on floral track, no question. This morning we woke up to another confectioner's sugar forecast come true. Still, crispy morning weather with silently sifting snow and everything soft-serve coated. Hard to believe that by next month we'll probably be out, digging up the garden and putting in the peas. (Note to self: must get some bags of compost and manure for the raised bed!)

This morning I went to my painting group even though I knew that there was a good chance that there wouldn't be a terribly large crowd. Sure enough, I was the only one  there with my brushes...but, no matter. I had a peaceful, quiet morning dipping into my box of watercolors and Dee played happily at my feet with a plastic dinosaur (Ru was off at a friend's house) and I painted away. It felt good to be back, even if I did miss the company. As I told the church secretary who ducked in to wave hello, it doesn't matter a whole lot that the other painters weren't around...I was there to make sure that I didn't stop painting. After two weeks off, I'm nervous to let myself slide anymore. I know how hard it is to get into a good habit and I am loathe to let it slip away now.


This morning I painted Ru as a baby, sleeping in his moses basket in the backyard where he napped often while I gardened. I used to prop an umbrella over him while he slept all the time.

Its a scene I've been imagining painting for a long time so, it felt really actualizing and inspiring to get it out of my head and onto paper.

There are a few other things besides the weather that are feeding my floral mindset. First, I've got all kinds of things blooming inside right now. A spoiled me on Valentine's Day with a couple pots of forced bulbs because he knows how much I love them. And a few of my own houseplants were blooming on their own to boot!
Secondly, the garden catalogs have arrived, with a vengeance.  There is nothing like a nice stack of slick catalogs to set me dreaming. It does make it inconveniently awkward that we have no idea when/if we'll be moving in relationship to spring planting. I have a feeling its going to be a bit of a manic rush, however it falls out. Good thing I never claimed to be organized and like spontaneous, cluttered, jumbly cottage gardens. Here are the plants that are making me weak-kneed at the moment:

Crinkly, Romantic Poppies
Old Fashioned, Scented Lilies
Bugloss (horrible name, no?)
Pocket Book Flowers
More Exotic Fuscias
Nodding Blue Lily
Lush, Purple, Double Clematis
Poofy, White Cosmos
 Glowing Bleeding Hearts
 Dramatic African Daisies
Bloodred Geraniums, Masquerading as Roses 
Sweet Heliotrope 
Butter and Honey Lantana 

And yeah....that's the short list. *sigh* Dreams have a way of mounding up higher and higher. I believe, like whipped cream...you can't really overdo it.

And then, California travel plans  for April aren't really grounding me either. It'll be high spring there....and I'm jotting things down madly in my notes like:

 *World's largest wisteria...Sierra Madre *Check out the Antelope Poppy Preserve *Wildflowers on Gorman Post Rd. *Visit the flower fields at Carlsbad Ranch *See Moreton Bay Fig Tree in Balboa Park *REDWOODS!!! *

Hee hee. Good times.


Monday, February 15, 2010

This Week, We....

Had the biggest snowstorm of the winter...
(Here's our patio garden under wraps...turn your head sideways for correct perspective. Sorry! *wince*)

 And so we took the kids to a local estate-cum-extensive park for a little late afternoon/evening sledding...
 (Cute man in snowstorm)
Three cute men, sledding...
 The snowman we built just before hustling off the car in the dark.
 Aunt Sheila came by and saved the day. Elbow grease, homey homemade lunch, listening ear and much anticipated playmate about covers it. (and doesn't she have a chic haircut?)

My house got very clean. *grin*




 We made hearts and painted them.
 We wore out one little valentine.
We met the newest calf at our local dairy farm.

And we made it more than halfway through The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe. He's riveted and every time we have to stop there are tears. Makes his mommy's heart go pitter pat.
Just another fabulous week here at the the homestead. Looking forward to another!