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Sunday, June 30, 2013

good morning, dear earth

Good morning, dear earth
photo taken on my iphone by little man this morning :)
Good morning, dear sun

Good morning, dear flowers and fairies, every one

Good morning, dear beasts and birds in the tree

 Good morning to you and good morning to me!

Friday, June 28, 2013

in defense of the divergent mama

So, have you read the Divergent books yet? They are the PERFECT summer escapism books featuring a strong female character (Tris) her hunky stoic boyfriend (Four) and a post-apocylaptic (I had to sound that word out, HA.) America, my favorite escapsim genre.

Pause to say, if you havent read these books and dont know about them but really want to and get pissy about reveals, DONT READ THE FOLLOWING PARAGRAPH. I reveal nothing that isnt the basic plot but some people are kinda picky like that, so....

----skip this part----
Tris lives in Chicago, where the population is divided into four "factions" based on character traits. She comes from the "Abnegation"(selfless, humble leaders of the their world) but after her initiation as an adult (at 16?!) transfers to "Dauntless" the gun-toting, fighting, courageous defenders of their world. HOWEVER, in her testing to see where she belongs it is revealed her personality is not just fit for Abnegation, or Dauntless, or the farming peaceful Amity group, OR the intelligent curious bookish Erudite group, but instead she is equally THREE of the four - Erudite, Abnegation, and Dauntless. She is Divergent. Which rarely happens in her world. She ends up choosing Dauntless and becomes a selfless fighter for freedom and...etc. (Dont want to reveal too much!) I've just finished book two. Book three comes out in October. I might have to re-read one and two before then, yes, they are that fun.

----okay safe to read now, although the post wont make sense if you didnt read the above so you  might as well stop reading now, ha!---

In any case. You've read the title of this post and now that you know the plot of the books, so, well, you see where I am going with this, right?

There is something about motherhood that is so very defining, or rather, we want to define inside of it, in our little camps, so we know who we are and how we relate to each other.

Oh. You are a mom, me too. But what KIND of mom are you? Oh, you homeschool? And you, you let your kids eat McDonalds? And you let your two year old nurse, whenever she wants??? WELL you put your kid in daycare???? Oh, well then. We are DIFFERENT.

I am finding myself experiencing this within homeschooling too. Oh, you do that crazy Waldorfy thing? Oh, you do correspondence school? Via the Internet?? And you, you "unschool"???? Oh, well....

And we have this need to define, in so many facets of life. How we school. How we eat. How we parent. Whether we exercise or not. And then of course the great questions of religion, politics, etc.

You belong in that group there, I belong here. While we are at it we might as well wear armbands or various colors, like in the book, so as to more easily distinguish ourselves. The crunchy hippy mamas can wear green. The working moms can wear yellow. Paleo types can wear red. Unschoolers blue. Etc. Etc. Etc.

We have factions. And it seems sometimes in the mommying world we are particularly...particular...about them, insistent rather that we run up our flag and claim one.

I recently wrote a post for a lovely Waldorfy blog but I found myself nervous about it. I realized later it was because I felt like I was claiming that "Waldorf" label as my own, to define me. That community I have seen can be particularly, um, particular, purist rather, about what to do (fairy tales until they are 10!) or not to do (NO TELEVISION!) The other day I was reading a blog where a mother found herself having to write a confessional blog post, admiting she wasnt Waldorfy enough, and "leaving" the Waldorf world altogether.

I found myself wanting to hug her. To cry out, "BUT WHY DO WE HAVE TO BE ONE THING???" Like Tris in the book, why can't we be multi-faceted mamas, embracing our strengths with pride (I CAN CRAFT!) admiting our weaknesses too (I AM IMPATIENT!) knowing that others are there to support us. Why cant we find the things that work for us and our family (HOMEBIRTH, HOMESCHOOL, TOM AND JERRY, AND the occasional HAPPY MEAL), embrace them, discard the rest (for now) and go on with life? Why do we need the labels, the strict adherence to one set of rules or another?

Maybe I am just not an all or nothing kind of mama though, or person really.  Some mamas NEED daily trips to the gym. Some people prefer to eat GMO free all organic super duper natural all the time. Other mamas feel absolute about no television for their child.

I just cant be extreme all the time like that. Maybe its that I am just, well, divergent. I have many strengths and one is trying to understand where people are coming from, seeing their side of things.

Or maybe I am just lazy. HA. Being extreme is a lot of work.

And I'm not saying, dude, its all good, relax, man. (That is in a surfer kid voice.)

But we can stand up for things that are important to us, like Tris does by the end of the second book, without claiming one title and stridently living by that name. We can be Waldorf-y-ish mamas who love fairy tales and crafting AND listening to their children laugh watching Tom and Jerry antics. We can eat organic, because its good, but also serve grilled cheese sandwiches with American cheese because, lets face it, cheese product melts better than cheddar.

I mean, right? And this isnt about being judgy about others, though it is kinda what I am saying, I think. But its about being judgy with ourselves. Needing to fit in, find an identity. Find your thing to fight for and YES stand for it, absolutely, but dont kill yourself trying to fit that mold.

You know?

I think that is what I am trying to say.


In any case. I have come to accept my divergent personality over the years. I am ENTJ, according to the Meyers Briggs personality test, but I am barely an extrovert over an introvert, depending on the situation, and I am Judging (making decisions easily) but just barely over being perceptive (being able to adapt in situations). All this to say, I have gone nuts at one point or another, trying to be the out and out crunchy granola mom. (But you ARE Sara, you gasp) But I just cant do it. (And no, no, I am not.)

And I am not saying be like me, be like Tris, be DIVERGENT. No, I am not that cheesy (okay, yes, I am). But mostly I am saying don't kill yourself trying to fit into that mold. Wear your hair in dreads AND shop at Ann Taylor (dammit!) Go back to work, if staying at home with kids is not your thing, embrace your strengths. Take the plunge and start homeschooling, even if people think you are nuts. Dont conform to the mommyhood need to categorize the shit out of our lives. We hurt each other and ourselves doing it, I think.

Just be you. And be content! We are working our butts off to be the best mamas we can be. That is the important part.

And yes, sure. BE DIVERGENT. TRIS'S of the world, UNITE.

(Ha. I had to, you know I did. And seriously read these books!!)

...just for kicks, below photos of me over the years. WE CHANGE, is the thing, priorities and goals. And that is okay. Good even. Right?? wow. I just spent WAY too much time looking at these. Motherhood really is a precious journey, isnt it? Its fascinating to see who we were, who we have become, where we are going. Anyway. Enough of this long post. Love to you mamas! You rock.

hippy mama. my current frame of reference ;)

international adventurer lecturer girl, pre baby years.

new mama. (SKINNY! TIRED!)

grad school years (SKINNY! TIRED!)

international adventurer years, out for a run.
mama years. the only picture of me i could find in a suit. (ha! i used to wear them, and pointy toe heels too!)

super duper pregnant with little man. :)

mama to a baby girl

mama to another baby girl.

here i am a few months ago. wearing whatever the hell
i want, dreads all crazy. no wonder i get crazy lady stares
at the library.

the dreads now.

the dreads begin

early dreads.

little man took this picture. this is totally the height of my early
yoga pants years. hilarious.

fat baby (little miss) and a blue sky. the theme here now seems to be having a baby pressed to my side. who knows
what will be next? a pixie haircut and a full back tattoo - of an oak tree :)  maybe??? while i go on a book
tour and start my organic garlic and goat farm????

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

June's random thoughts in June and anti-recipe #62 homemade hummus

Our favorite new meal is hard boiled eggs, homemade hummus, fresh fruit and whatever veggies we have ready from the garden. The other day it was piles of radishes, which as you know dada and I love to eat raw with butter and salt. Bonus, little man loves them too this year. We planted a lot. Too many. 

Hummus is ridiculously easy to make. Why have I never tried before?? I just made our first batch this week. Here is how: One can garbanzo beans, one spoonful of minced garlic, two tablespoons or so of lemon juice, one teaspoonful salt, two tablespoons or so of tahini, and a glug of olive oil. I use my nifty wand bullet blender thingy. Boom. Done. Plus if you mix it up in a wide mouthed mason jar you can just leave it there, screw on the top and store it in the fridge! It keeps for weeks, a week? It never lasts long enough to find out. Having lived in the Middle East and dada having worked in a middle eastern restaurant, well, not to sound snotty but we are picky about our hummus. Store bought stuff is just too yuck. This though, seriously try, it's so good.

So I need to try and be more fun mama, trying to remember her, oh YEEEEAAA, that lady that squirts her kids with the hose and goes out for ice cream on a Tuesday, for lunch, her? Yea, she's nice. I'm going to do my best to revive her again, now that the bulk of the garden work is done, until harvest anyhow (eek!) I'm thinking splash pad, find a lake, story hour, ice cream for lunch, etc. Today we went to the park ("PLAYGROUND! Playground!"!  Says baby. "I love playground SO MUCH!!") then out to ice cream. Little man actually said "this is the best day of my life!!" which made me feel guilty but then amended to " well, the best day this week." Oh, well, okay then. Ha! 

And it's finally hot. And our rhythm seems to be extended coffee lounge and reading stories time, then outside play, then lunch, then quiet time (yay!) as it gets nice and toasty outside, then out again as it cools, and dinner and big sigh, bedtime. 

Right now the kids are watching Tom and Jerry while I hold sleepy baby girl. 

I might take her up and lay down with her. Okay, so I laid her down but now, gasp, I'm sitting down to write with a cup of tea in an intensely clean house (out of town guests coming today!) Is there anything better than afternoon tea in a cool house while the sun beats down and the whir of the fan is the only background noise?? (that sentence was too long, I know) Ah. Bliss. 

Oh summertime. I heart you.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

homemade lemon coconut sugar scrub, mouth wash, and honey lavender shampoo

I've been seeing more and more recipes around for beauty and health products and knew someday I would get around to jumping on the bandwagon. Lets face it, lots of shampoos and face scrubs and body lotions are full of crappy chemicals or are super expensive.

So yesterday, the kids, now feeling better, were playing outside and the baby was sleeping and the sun was shining in and dinner was...not made but I was I jumped on that bandwagon, full throttle.

A few years ago my sister got me a lovely smelling jar of fancy French body scrub. It was divine. I went to replace it later and couldnt believe how much a fancy French store can charge for a jar of sugar and oil.

Simple enough, right?

I kept finding these sugar scrub recipes and once looked them up but they had oils in them I dont have so, typical me I simply mixed a few thing together that I had around.

the oils I used on the left, other possibilities (lavender or ylang ylang!) on the right

Here is what I did.

A third of a cup of coconut oil.

Two thirds cup of sugar.

Several drops of lemon oil. Lemongrass oil. Geranium oil.


Store in a pint sized mason jar.


I mean, seriously, this stuff is so great. I used it on my face as a scrub too.

Now for the mouth wash. I started to make it this past winter. Its unbelievably easy and tastes much better than store bought stuff. The only catch is that I use thieves oil, which is expensive. If you dont have any get the Young Living Oil brand, its worth the investment. I say that but my mom totally gave a bottle to me. She is awesome like that. (She also handed us pounds and pounds of their own grass raised beef the other day! YUM.)

I simply take a mason jar, filled with distilled water (run through our purifier!) drop in two or three drops of thieves oil, two or three drops of peppermint oil and a teaspoon of baking soda. Screw the cap on and shake it up. Thieves oil is great for oral health and is blend of various oils. The name comes from the Middle Ages. Grave robbers were robbing the bodies of plague victims and not getting sick. Turns out they were covering their mouths with cloth soaked in a mixture of these herbs (cinnamon, clove, rosemary and others). That is the story anyhow. Ha.

In any case. This stuff is great. I mix it in small batches because after sitting too long the baking soda gets a metallic taste.

So there is that.

As far as the shampoo. This is for the kids. I wash my dreads in baking soda mixed with lemon juice in warm water with a few drops of oils - right now I am using geranium and lemongrass and teatree oils (all are supposed to repel bugs!). (This is a great clarifying treatment for any kind of hair.) I want something for the kids that is natural, cheap and easy to make. I read something about honey shampoo and thought, huh, I have honey. So I made some.

Simply mix raw honey in with warm water and a few drops of oil, for fragrance. I used lavender and geranium.The recipe I saw was 1 tsp of honey to 2 Tbs of water. Mine isnt that concentrated but I think that is fine.

Honey?? I know right? Its supposed to condition well too. I havent used it yet. Bathtime was skipped last night as we tried to get our cranky kids to bed. I will let you know how it works. Oh, and make this one in small batches too.

ETA: a week later and, YES, this stuff is GREAT! I added more water to dilute after the first wash. I think I put in too much lavender oil because it left the girls hair too oily but after that it was perfect. Yay!! I'd say next time just a drop or two if oil per bottle plus maybe two tablespoons of raw honey. Shiny, conditions and smells amazing!! 

bonus crunchy hippy granola points for using a recycled container for the shampoo!

SOOOO there you have it. One step closer to crunchy hippy granola mom greatness. "And she MAKES HER OWN SHAMPOO TOO." HA. But seriously this stuff is so easy to do, and its cheap, and better for you than the chemical crap, so, why not, right?
Tuesday, June 18, 2013

a bird craft with my little birdies

Little man has had a random fever for several days. No other symptoms. Just a fever that leaves him tossing and turning at night when it gets high.

Its kind of throwing my game off.

I HATE it when my babies are sick, and something about little man being pale and tired and cozy up to me, telling me his little thoughts, so sweet and sad.

He is leaning up on me now as I type.

"I cant wait to be nine. It will be SO fun."

So we have a snuggle morning.

The girls build block towers. We read Buscuit together, little man sounding out the words. And yes, the sun is shiney outside but, I gardened yesterday, planting more kale and peas and sunflowers and some turnips (which I dont really like but, whatever.) So today, no gardening. Today is just reading and sitting and maybe a craft, seeing as its craft Tuesday of course. Ha.

Its funny how life creeps along, and then seems to run at full pace. I cant believe this little man is going to be seven. SEVEN. Its like ten is just around the corner. Ten. And then you will start to see his little man face peek out from his child face.

Now we are talking about where the keys are on the computer and how can mama type so fast. Without looking. Did you just write that mama? Yes.

Really though. Crazy right? How quickly it goes...and how it takes forever. Like they say, the days are long but the years are short.

When I was young and adventurous I spent some time hanging out in Brazil, doing various young and adventurous things, and met this lovely lady, like a big sister to me, who had two adorable little fuzzy haired babies. We made brownies and drank coke out of glass bottles and gabbed late at night. And now her babies are graduating high school. And I think, I am that old? Those fuzzy haired little babies are wonderful teens going off and doing amazing things?? And soon too that will be me, releasing my little birdies into the sky. Hoping, praying, they fly strong, true to themselves, loving the big world around them.

And this is to say nothing about that little 18 year old I was then. Am I flying strong, true to myself, loving the world around me?

Ah ha. A tie in!

I had planned to blog about this bird craft we had done. Birds. Releasing my birdies. Ha.

Too much?? It totally is, sorry!

In any case. You know me. I am all about writing what is in me in the moment. And that is it, for better or worse.

SO. A Bird Craft.

I saw, of course, a little mobile on pinterest and fell in love. Little colorful birds made out of wool roving, hanging from a branch.

We first dyed some wool from my mom's farm. This is easy enough, if you have access to wool. Just heat some water, to boiling, pour in various large bowls, add a good glug of vinegar and several drops of food coloring per bowl. Just stick a bunch of wool in, stir it around, and wait. Its done when you can lift the blob of wool out of the bowl and the water is fairly clear. The vinegar causes it to adhere to the wool.

So, if you dont have piles of wool lying around like here, you can also buy predyed wool at JoAnns or Michaels or you can order it online at various places (just google I guess)

Now, as to the bird making part.

Basically its just folding wool around a longish piece for the wings, stuffing some extra in for the head and belly, tying off the tail and head with thread, and then adding a tiny beak and needle felting it all into place.

Here are some pictures if you cant follow that. (HA.)

Hope you and your birdies are enjoying these summer days. Just makes me more and more mindful to EMBRACE it, LIVE it, BE in it, and yea, even those crappy days like where kids fight over couch cushion forts and end up in a kicking match on the floor (this is what is going on at my house right now. HA HA HA) And, oh, yep, just took crabby little misses temperature....CRAP.

Happy crafting mommies!

soaking our wool

little man's bird...kind of duckish looking...

so first, i needle felting the wing piece to be firmer

the long piece is for the body. the shorter to stuff in the belly and head

lay the wing piece on the long piece

fold over the long piece, add in stuffing

tie off head and tail

needle felt it all into place

the finished birdie

we found a stick outside and tied the birds up with thread.
as i write they are swaying in the breeze...pretty, right?
i'm thinking of adding felted bees later this week, maybe flowers too
Thursday, June 13, 2013

a perfect country day

My internet is working again.

The sun is shining.

I spent the morning outside with the kiddos, mowing the lawn, pulling weeds in the garden.

Little man made the girls a snack and sat on the deck as I mowed.

A deer just ran through my back yard.

We saw a monarch butterfly.

Wild strawberries are growing in the front yard.

My garden is growing like crazy. Photo update post soon.

I woke up to sun streaming in the window and saw a goldfinch fly by the window, surely a good omen.

The kiddos are downstairs with our little 8 year old neighbor, watching a movie. Every family with little kids needs to have an 8 year old little girl neighbor who loves your kids, toddlers and playing big sister. Amazing.

Did I mention the sun is shining?

I sat in the garden in the sun, drinking morning coffee, and mapping out our first every Mid-summer Day / St. Johns Day / Summer Solstice celebration, set for June 24. I love planning stuff like this. I'm thinking paper sun crafts, a bee mobile, laying out a fairy tea party (for when the fairies get tired after dancing all night of course!), and a hot dog roast and bonfire.

Now its bedtime. We spent the past three hours down in our little town at a parade for the town festival. The kids were charming, not TOO obsessed with candy thrown their way, and, still, the sun was shining. We ate hot dogs and mini donuts for dinner. Baby dear marched to every band that came down the flag-decked street, holding little man's hand, and little miss waved at the dairy princesses and declared she too, one day, would be a dairy princess. One can only hope, dear girl. As baby declared on our way to the car, after brother said "that was AWESOME" "dat was a GOOD TIME!" 

And dada startled a doe down by the rasberry thicket as he checked on the chickens and the breeze is coming in the windows and the sounds of birds, calling out good night to the world and soon the fireflies will flicker around the trees as the world goes to sleep.

A perfect summer day.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

finding summertime rhythm

So, I guess it is summer, almost anyhow. So the weather has exactly 10 days to turn into proper sunshiny 80 degree summer weather. Which would be welcome after 60 degrees and rain all month. 

Pause in the point of this blog post to say 1) my girls are chasing have princess pull-ups on their heads and they are chasing around their brother trying to "crown" him with one too. This is after they took turns suggesting "games" to play. He says "let's play my planet is in my room, your planet is in the living room, and we have to stay on our OWN planets!" She counters with, "how about we play "I play in our room too"... my clever clever kids.
2) my Internet service is down. I seriously hate blogging via the iPhone. 
3) my friend on Facebook posted an article about how all pre ground coffee has ground up roaches in it. Guess what I'm drinking?? Roach coffee for me! With non-organic milk! And white sugar! Surely I'm going to seize up any moment now.
4) a glimpse of sun through the window is giving me hope. Maybe my tomatoes will survive!

Okay, thats all. And this gets me in a round about way to the point of my post. How to find a summer rhythm for your house. Not that I know how, mind you, but that I'm trying to figure it out. Clearly points 1-4 above demonstrate my brain is somewhat scattered these days by... wait! Look! Squirrel! 

Ah yes. Summer. 

I'm allowing myself this week, and possible next week, to get shit organized and figure the rhythm thing out. 

I realized the other day how little my kids actually play with toys around them. Legos. A few dolls. A box of blocks. That's really their regular go-to play things. Everything else is the occasional amusement or something for baby dear to pull off shelves and toss on the floor. So as I was picking up after one such incident the other day it occurs to me, "why not just pack it all away?!" Brilliant! And, Oh Yes, I'm going to. Yesterday I packed away a lot of books they simply don't look at very often and I got down two more boxes to slowly hide away toys from random corners. The beauty of this scheme is when we get them out in October it will be found treasure! I love rotating toys. I love even MORE having less to pick up. Oh, lazy mama! Cruel mama! But I think their play benefits too. Which is how we have all three kidlings now in the bedroom fighting over who is the king (or queen) of pee-pee castle...yes, they are all wearing pull-up crowns now. 

Ha ha ha!! 

Okay maybe I should intervene....nah.

So, once toys are simplified and the house reorganized I'm thinking of a schedule that is like this:

Coffee/writing/playtime (so the day feels lazy and summerlike) 
Circle time
Story for the girls
Morning Reading time, working through a classic like " the secret garden"
Outside for gardening/chickens
Inside for lunch 
Nap for baby / quiet time for bigs (which would be huge because this never happens but they need it as we've been staying up later than norm this summer)
Activity based on day of the week (washing/laundry, craft, baking, painting or games) (or maybe some schoolish stuff?)
Outside again
Inside for dinner prep while kids play and HELP PICK UP (I've GOT to get them doing regular chores, a post for later perhaps)
Books (reading classics with dada!)
(Glass of wine, ice cream, tv, book, collapse in exhaustion, etc)

Somewhere in there though I want to do some of his alpha phonics book, so we keep his reading progressing, and free reading, and nature journaling, and I also wanted to have maybe one morning a week where we go to a lake, if its nice, like a summer tradition with mama. And then maybe every Friday night we do a bonfire with dada? Something like this.

And somewhere in there I want to 1)keep working on my writing projects (plural!) and 2) take up oil painting... HAHAHAHAHA! Oh I crack myself up! Dada got me paints and canvases for Mother's Day. Do you think paints last 15 years? Because that's how long it's gonna take.

Phew. I think I need to start getting up early again ... which lasted one week last time I tried... Maybe the earlier sunrise in summer will make it easier?? I need to do it. Starting next week....

So those are my summer rhythm thoughts. 

It will probably end up being a week to week thing, I'm guessing, and I'm pretty sure we will be starting up full school by August. He already asked yesterday. Ha! 

But I'm actually thinking of going hard core, putting up a schedule that feels relaxed and summer like and sticking to it. How is that for ridiculous?? 

Okay, back to my roach coffee. Yum! 

Happy (almost) summer! If you have any planning tips and summer traditions let me know! 

My summer planning list, complete with books I want to read.
This is what happened while I made the above planning list...

Gardening! I'm super happy w progress, will post w pics soon!!

Friday, June 7, 2013

a dreaded updo

So we are at my parents farm with my giant family for our giant family camp excursion. Since having four babies in the family in the past two years this tradition has turned into parking campers at the farm and grilling burgers. Ha. 

One thing about having sisters, we do each others hair, still. So for those who are curious about dreads and such here is my little sisters creation, the dread crown updo. Kinda fun right? Kinda fun to take selfies too to show off, remember those days?? Ah, Cali friends and I would totally do this for hours.  And 20 years later, still at it apparently. Ha ha.


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