Monday, September 20, 2010

Truth and honesty

OK, so I think the last few posts have been a tad - ummm - positive. Let me tell you about yesterday. Yesterday, before the first cup of coffee was even consumed, Théa informed us that she had painted her lips with lipstick. OK, I thought groggily, except... I don't own lipstick. I went to the bathroom and immediately caught the scent - nail polish. Yup, she had painted purple nail polish all over her face, and the top of the toilet, too. I stood there, so bewildered by the questions - what do I do? Laugh? Cry? How do I get it off? Do I use more toxic stuff on that delicate skin or just leave it there? I pondered.
What I did was lecture her. Then, as it turned out, her face was already so greasy from breakfast that the polish came off pretty easily. Awesome. Except, she's been doing stuff like that pretty consistently for several days now. We were over at my friend Dave's house Friday night shelling a motherload of crab - ohhh so good - and Liam was off collecting raspberries and Théa was playing happily, and quiet ... too quiet. I looked over and she had found Dave's flour container and was happily white-washing the kitchen. Marvelous.
On the other hand, I also noticed that night that these children are finally getting to the point where they are comfortable in a wide variety of settings with new faces and experiences. Liam hadn't been to Dave's yurt before, though they had met, but quite happily stayed and picked berries and helped him make a pie while I went and got Théa from daycare. And even Théa, who is shy at first, quite quickly makes herself at home plenty of places. I love that. Consistency is good and important, and more often than not we eat seated around the same table with the same grace chant and the same candle routine, but it's also great to have kids who are flexible. Probably owe quite a bit of that to more communal dinners with my friends Jennifer and Mike at their homes this summer, but there are just so many new experiences happening all around those two - and I think it's to their benefit.
We had an amazing weekend on the social front. Thursday was dinner at Mike's, Friday was Dave's thanks to a big haul on the boat that day, and Saturday, after a morning cutting wood with Jennifer and Indigo, we had a party to attend for Sam Banks, Liam's buddy, which was held at the bowling alley. Liam, as it turns out, from the reports of parents who were not chasing a 2-year-old from bowline lanes, was actually very good at it - exhibiting flourishing form, they said. Hmm.
That night, Liam went to Sam's for the night, and Théa and I went home for a night of relative rest. But the next day, it was another bout of chaos - out to Sam's to pick up Liam, then home for lunch, then back into town for the second party - a skating party. Théa hadn't gotten a very good nap and was nutty from moment one, and Liam was grumpy about it all, but I dug out all our winter stuff (had to be done, anyway) and threw it all in a laundry basket and a blanket or two and off we went. Liam had never skated before (there was an incident with the zamboni years ago and he wasn't too enthusiastic after he saw it gobbling the ice....), so I wasn't sure how it was all going to go, but you never know until you try, and that was never more clear than Sunday. I put Théa in the basket all bundled up, and gave her some gum (bribes) and headed to the ice. Liam was so sure he was going to be a rock star on the ice, and I was afraid he'd be disappointed by the reality of how challenging it was, but he really surprised me. First he was all over the place, but Théa was really content in her basket and Liam started to notice the other kids whizzing around him and he got that gleam in his eye. Every time he'd fall down he'd spring back up off the ice like an electric poker was under him, and off he went. So pretty soon he was trying a few steps on his own, and splat, and he'd get right back up and go. And then a friend started working with him and a few other people came by and gave him some tips and before I knew it, he was doing better not holding on to me. Amazing. So I took Thea on a few laps, then pawned her off on a few friends in the warm dressing room and got in a few laps on my own, which felt, quite frankly, like flying. Oh the glee - I can go skating with my kid this winter.
Good stuff. Proud. Hugely proud.
no pics. sorry. maybe someone has some???

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Indian summer

The sunshine started several days ago - blazing sunshine, and the forecast calls for nothing but more and more and more. It's crazy not to be rushing to mow the lawn or weed the garden before the next wave of moisture hits. It's crazy that I'm actually doing things like finishing the insulation and sealing of the crawl space (a dark, damp, cool place if there ever was one) while this sunshine is blazing outside.

Also crazy in all of this is that I only have the kids five of the first fifteen days of September because Matt is out of town for a week and a half at the end. And at the same time, my best friend is in a new relationship (read, off the radar for the most part) and my significant other is moose hunting with his son for a week. What's a girl to do? Weatherize! Insulate! Drywall! Even have ambitious plans of cleaning up the gigantic pile O' construction crap that's been in the front yard since, oh, March. Need to get the rest of the siding and sticker it and then start staining the siding that's already been stickered. So much to do. Oh, and I'm reading a new book. That should take care of all the free time I've got until Thursday, when the children return to the mothership and the great hunters return from the northlands.

Meanwhile, big developments have occurred since the last post. Théa is completely potty trained. She has the occasional No. 2 accident when she's busy doing something else, but generally, she has it in the bag, stays dry at night, deals with the mornings OK, too. What a joy. Pretty painless transition, actually. Bribery is a wonderful thing. Now I just have to wean her off the treats. Too funny.

Liam had pinkeye last week, so was home for three days - two with me. Derailed my work schedule a bit, but c'est la vie. He's a pretty cool kid and awfully fun to hang out with. We went for walks and gathered berries and made jam. Good stuff.

A couple of weeks ago, some friends took Liam for the afternoon and when I went to pick him up, they were at a friend's house, where acre upon acre of raspberries grow. I got permission to return and picked three or four gallons of berries last week. After freezing two bags, I endeavored to make jam for the first time. Jam making proved to be one of those situations where reading the recipe was necessary. The first time I made it, it didn't set up at all - a thick syrup. I tried to follow the joy of cooking, but would have had to add 8 apples to meet their standards, and that seemed like a bit much, so I did a container of pectin and two apples. Not enough. So on the second round, I added another thing of pectin (syrup, which I've since learned you aren't supposed to cook, but add at the end of the cooking process - sigh...) and some rhubarb. It all came together into a loose jam, but so much better than the store stuff that it is still totally worth it. I hope to go back for more tomorrow and make another batch.

Another new development has been the creation of a root cellar in my crawl space. Before enclosing the entire crawl space in plastic and insulation, I cordoned off a 5x8 foot section that I built a subwall around and insulated inside. The floor is dirt, but I laid weedblocker fabric down so the cool moist air could come up, but one wouldn't have slimy sneakers to contend with every time they went down there. I still need to build a proper door-like entrance, but otherwise, it is ready to go. Which is good, because I predict frost may soon be coming. These clear nights are a little chilly, if you ask me. So if and when that happens, we are ready. Bring it on. Bushels of potatoes and beets and turnips and carrots now will have a home, and I plan to store much of the canned goods down there as well. I need to do another batch of pickled squash and a batch of pickled peas and beans. And more jam. I really like the jam. I'll read the recipe, even.

The greenhouse is still chugging along - several of my tomato plants, including one of the heirloom tomato varieties, are producing some fruit that is ripening. My pumpkin plant continues to try in vain to produce a pumpkin that won't mold - so far no dice, and cucumbers are coming in pretty well. The second planting of lettuce is coming in and so is the bok choy - yummm. I need to get in there and plant a third round of lettuce, which is already started thanks to wonderful woofers.

AND - big news! I found three eggs today! All were hidden in the back of the little straw-filled house that was part of the original coop. So now I have to figure out how to make a more attractive coop somewhere less difficult to get to. But hey, it's great to have chickens that do something other than run around and cluck - though they do that marvelously well. I gave them a huge pile of chickweed and some compost as a reward. Good girls.

Liam's been doing pretty well in school, when not sidelined by eye ailments. He still says he's bored, and I really should try to spice things up with some challenges. I have aspirations of buying him a keyboard for his birthday and am hoping to somehow arrange lessons. Or maybe we can learn together for a bit. We'll see.

Théa has made leaps and bounds, it seems, since the diaper doffing. She has started dressing herself regularly - frustrated tantrums exploding over uncooperative shirts, etc. She continues to exhibit a wildly humorous side - a bit of a mischief-loving nature that drives her brother mad on occasion. But she's not without her shy moments, either. And that's lovely, too.

This week, I meet with the energy rater to talk over what I've done on the house and what rating I can get (read-what level of a rebate I can get). I'm hoping it is a pretty easy process, but either way, I'm eager to get the ball rolling. A little more drywall, a day with a caulking gun, and it's a done deal. Good stuff. Then, I just need to get wood - aaaaaahhhhh.