Friday, October 30, 2009
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
E chose the pink flower and teal tissue paper...I love that one of my kids likes something other than camouflage once in a while. Z's is the red-white-and-blue on the far right (my patriotic boy).
And, of course the soldier helmet, which M says "looks like a bowl." Hmm. I told him to pretend he'd been hit in the head by a shell, which made a perfectly flat dent on top. Stay tuned for a picture of the final, painted project on the Junior G.I.'s head.
Monday, October 26, 2009
Friday, October 23, 2009
Yesterday did not begin well. On Wednesday, E and Z had decked themselves out in several articles of M’s camouflage clothing which they mined from the foothills of Mt. Laundry. They looked cute, in a disturbing kind of way—Z in green sweat pants, with cammo shorts over them (because I wouldn’t let him out of the house in just the shorts), a cammo t-shirt, dark green button-down, Rambo belt and John Deere cammo baseball hat; E wore olive green cords (on top of plaid shorts for some inexplicable reason), a long-sleeved cammo T-shirt and a black US Army baseball hat (for the record, I want it to be known that I have in no way shape or form played a roll in bringing all of this military goodness into my home, except possibly the long-sleeved shirt and shorts, which may have come home with me from a friend’s hand-me downs).
When we all got home from parent-teacher conferences that night, M repossessed most of his gear, and Z proceeded to cry, wail and gnash his teeth for the ensuing hour, with a brief break for the reading of two chapters of The Pearl and the Pumpkin. Upon waking Thursday morning he immediately lit into his melt-down, as if the intervening ten hours of sleep had been just a hiccup in his cry-a-thon. I managed to get everyone dressed and out the door without wearing any articles of contraband (it was Pajama day at preschool and therefore should have been an easy morning for getting ready, but all of my kids unreasonably refuse to wear their jammies in public), but not without several more minor meltdowns over things like jacket choice, mitten options and car seat selection.
Needless to say we were very late and had to contend with crowded parking lot and coat room conditions at preschool, but finally I handed off my charges and proceeded to the office, only to return four hours later to retrieve said progeny for a trip to the dentist (rescheduled from last August, as it fell in the middle of our vacation). Dentist visit went well; teeth looked good (unlike M, E and Z have always been relatively cooperative about nightly brushing—I did not mention that I do not have it in me to attempt morning brushing with them…shhh). I was able to hand back the vinyl bag the hygienist handed me, taking only the tubes of Crest (which, once my kids try it, will probably turn them off of Tom’s of Maine forever), stupid flossing sticks (for teeth set widely enough apart to render flossing kind of unnecessary—besides don’t those things just spread bacteria from one tooth space to another?), and new toothbrushes. Unfortunately, on the way out, they scored Mylar Halloween bags and a couple handfuls of stickers (would our dentist bills be less if they did not buy all of this crap to hand out to our kids? Do they really need a sticker for just sitting with their mouths open for ten minutes?).
Afterward we headed to the health food store, where, when I lifted my full grocery bags off the counter after I paid, I knocked a bag of Jacob’s Cattle Beans which the customer behind me was waiting to purchase, onto the floor, and the bag split along the side seam, sending beans in all directions. After apologizing profusely and making I half-hearted attempt to clean them up, I went to the grocery store, where I was to meet C and hand off the kids.
On our way into the store the twins spied the car cart and proceeded to have a fist fight over who would get to sit in the spot with the horn on the wheel (whoever invented the car cart ought to be shot numerous times in multiple, non-lethal places). As I attempted to calmly and quietly straighten them out the people waiting to redeem their cans and bottles smiled patronizingly at me. “I have two grandkids,” one guys said, “I know what it’s like.” Fork you. I managed to sort them out, making Z who was causing all the fuss sit on the seat with no horn, and we avoided further fisticuffs as I collected my groceries and went through the express lane. C, late as usual, met us in the parking lot, I gave him the kids and the groceries, and, when informed that he would not have time to pick up milk at the farm, went back into the store for milk (running into the guy from the redemption counter in an aisle, who smiled patronizingly at me again and repeated his grandchild platitude). From there I went to the library, where I spent a quiet half hour reading Life Among the Savages by Shirley Jackson, which is most entertaining (although the regular references to full ash trays are a bit disconcerting, until one reminds oneself that this was the 1940s).
After the library closed I went to my friend’s weekly knitting and craft night, imbibed on braised greens pie, brie cheese, cookies and mulled wine, enjoyed chatting with a diverse group of women and even got two birds closer to the felted flock I’m creating for Christmas. Arriving home rather late, and feeling a bit tired and cranky, I found that only the perishable grocery items had been put away. As I rummaged in the bags, looking for the Calendula cream I had bought, a bag of popcorn fell to the floor and split up the side, emptying its contents on the floor, in an eerie replay of the earlier bean incident. I recovered about three-quarters of the bag and scooped it in a Tupperware, but swept up the rest for the compost (thinking about how if it were The Long Winter, Laura and Mary surely would have picked every kernel out of the dust and hair, and feeling guilty that I wasn’t).
I decided I may as well put away the rest of the groceries, feeling irritated that when I’m home alone with the kids I manage to cook for them, clean up and get them to bed at a decent hour, while when C is alone, he takes them out to dinner, puts them to bed late and can’t even bother to put away the groceries. As I finally crawled into bed, around 11 p.m. (which is a good two hours later than I need to go to bed in order to get up when I need to get up in order to get to preschool when I need to get to preschool in order to get to work on time), it came to me that I might have once read that Shirley Jackson, whose mysteries I read ravenously when I was younger (I only recently discovered she also wrote about motherhood) had committed suicide, and that’s why The Haunting of Hill House or maybe Come Along With Me was never finished, and this thought kept me awake and troubled—how could someone with so much talent and with four kids want to take her life? How old were her kids when she died? Was it even true? (I resisted temptation to go downstairs and turn on the computer to find out; but I did look it up today and found out that, though she did not commit suicide, she did die of heart failure at age 48, which is itself tragic, of course, and that Come Along with Me was the unfinished book published by her husband posthumously. I also found out that though I thought I had read all of her books, I only had read the ones my Mom had in our bookshelves, and that there are several more out there to add to the list).
A day that started with crying and ended with gloomy thoughts—though with a few bright spots in the middle, most notably some Me time and an evening among friends—a day not unlike many days around here.
Thursday, October 22, 2009
After Ms. N went over M's school performance and as we were preparing to leave, she said something along the lines of “keep doing what you’re doing,” which I attempted to brush off. Then she related that she hears a lot from M about spending time with his parents DOING things, and that she doesn't hear that a lot from kids, but rather about how they go home and watch TV or play video games.
She mentioned in particular how I had helped him put fabric over a helmet for his Halloween costume.
She was referring to Tuesday afternoon, when, still feeling residual crankiness from the weekend, and just wanting my kids to DO something already, without involving me, so I could make an attempt on Mount Laundry before embarking on Dinner Drudgery, I found myself instead being pulled in all directions, being begged to play and help. So I gave up on my agenda, sat on the floor and played two rounds of Go Fish with E and Z, then set them up with a game of memory and proceeded to help M with part of his Halloween costume—covering a toy hard hat with fabric to make it look like an Army helmet. The fabric he had chosen—a tan and olive ticking stripe—was not quite wide enough and we had to try piecing it together with safety pins, and the final result was less than convincing (it looked more like an old man's driving hat when we were done.
I'm afraid I went into the whole thing—Go Fish game, helmet construction—with a big sigh, probably radiating irritation that I had to actually be INVOLVED with my kids for an afternoon. And look at the impression—a memory made. Mom helped me make an Army helmet with a hard hat and safety pins. He may remember it the rest of his life, or he may forget it instantly (the way he forgot the loaves of bread that come out of the oven weekly, or the plate of popovers I had just placed on the table when, as I put a pan of chocolate cupcakes in the oven for the PTA bake sale he complained, “How come you never bake anything for US?”). Even if I can’t claim responsibility for A’s (or, as it were, E’s) in school, these moments add up to something.
I've been feeling unappreciated and sorry for myself lately, and not quite up to the task I've set out for myself of creating the kind of magical childhood I wish my kids could have. The constant war play defeats me. The fact that M wrote 'The Cartoon Network' as his favorite TV show on one of his school papers, even though we don't even have cable. My vision of how I want it and the way it really is never aligns. And I will always feel woefully inadequate compared to the homeschooling, book-writing, crafting supermoms whose blogs I torture, er inspire, myself with. Yet I can see that my efforts—even the half-hearted begrudging ones—make a difference.
So after we got home from conferences, having slunk up to my room to lie down while C made dinner (feeling ill with out-of-whack blood sugar thanks to eating an inadequate lunch and then having a cupcake and as much of a peanut butter ball as I could stuff down before my kids caught me and stole it away) when I heard C reprimand E for playing with the woodstove, I remembered that we had talked about building a house on the drive home, and came downstairs and sat on the floor for half an hour, stacking blocks into castles and barns, arranging wooden animals and knights. It kept E out of mischief and made me feel both relaxed and virtuous, and maybe, just maybe it will make a memory.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
After our dolls were complete, we hit the trail in search of accouterments (it was a beautiful day--I believe these are the days Thoreau referred to as "washing days"--although I know that only second-hand because I am far too mentally lazy to read Thoreau. I assume he's talking about how quickly laundry dries when the sky is gloriously blue, the air dry and breezy and the sun shining down as if winter were not breathing down it's golden neck). In addition to laundry, washing days are ideal for walks in the woods--completely bug free.
E took a break to build a fairy house.
Monday, October 12, 2009
Friday, October 9, 2009
I am very much a fall color person--all about the yellows and oranges (but also those bright summery greens, and also reds, blues, purples...OK I'm just a color person).
I love these sunflowers (?) that have sprung up randomly around our yard. Maybe from wayward birdseed?
And these calendula are the only success in my herb garden this year (unless you count the mammoth catnip plant I keep trying to cut back). I probably will not turn them into infusions or salves as I once would have, but I love the colors and they're so easy to grow (and even self-seed), and they last through the mild frosts right up to the brutal end.
Thursday, October 8, 2009
There were too few too small peppers for any hope of chiles rellenos (sniff, sniff), so instead I made this casserole (from this book) with rice, cheese, tomatoes and my meagre poblano supply (which were even too small to peal after roasting so I just pureed them in the blender and hoped for the best!) It was quite tasty.
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
the boys and I made our way down to a nearby state park
Monday, October 5, 2009
The Motherhood Muse has four main elements:
The literary magazine (an e-Zine) features literature on motherhood, nature, and children. This is the part that I’ll be involved with, writing a feature profiling publish authors who artfully combine writing about motherhood and the natural world.
A free e-newsletter is sent that includes blog highlights, writing contest information, features about the readers themselves, web-only deals, and more.
A website that serves as the central resource for mothers and writers, with writing contests, a fantastic bookstore with books for writers, mothers, and children, a boutique featuring items with The Motherhood Muse logo such as journals, note cards, and more.
The blog is a continually updated resource for mothers and writers to share personal stories about motherhood, nature, children and writing, as well as interviews with authors (and book giveaways), tips on writing, activities to do with children in nature, and more.
Buzz one over to the Motherhood Muse and check it out!
Friday, October 2, 2009
I've been wanting to make new living room curtains for a while, but hadn't quite gotten motivated to carry it off, until I set myself the deadline of the Solar Home Tour this Saturday. Our old curtains were floor-length gauze in a buttery yellow color from Pier 1. I liked them a lot when I bought them (seven years ago), but they are not very effective at either blocking light or keeping in heat, and they had become rather limp with age. Also, the floor length was not very practical--with furniture in front of every one of them, we rarely closed them because it was a hassle.