Showing newest 6 of 12 posts from 01.11. Show older posts
Showing newest 6 of 12 posts from 01.11. Show older posts

1.31.2011

refresh

Often I find myself wanting to mental click command + z during the day. Or, when bold Margot is trying to pick up italic Ruby and I sense imminent disaster, I think how nice it would be to command + x Margot and paste her on the couch with a book. And then open Ruby with a new application.

These shortcuts that my fingers effortlessly maneuver when I am at my computer to assist with easy and quick editing. I imagine what life would be like if we could highlight the task at hand and drag it to an earlier point in the day and then automate the batch. Or, if we could collect ideas in a trash can and then remove the contents forever never to be considered again.

Whenever we get a healthy drop of snow I feel like the universe clicked refresh. The same January page loads but there's new content and new composition.

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blizzardy walk home from the grocery store


I feel refreshed. The weekend has passed and I no longer have a fear of drowning in snot. I have wonderfully sore yoga muscles and renewed creative synapses. I am thankful to be feeling this way as I need to get on finishing work for my upcoming exhibition. It will be my first show in many years and I feel the usual recipe of emotion surrounding post-kid reentry into a passion: nervous/excited, confident/insecure.

When I struggle and have doubts, I am fueled by my kids. I think about what kind of model I want to be. I want them to know there are no guarantees when one sows a seed but that one will never realize the satisfaction and nourishment of harvest without digging, tending, cultivating, problem-solving, failing and, mostly, just trying. I am trying. Read more in this week's mama digs: making art, making home.

1.28.2011

sugar-coated snot

Our home is saturated in snot. Wednesday was one of my most challenging mama days ever. Usually, when my kids are sick, I enjoy the slow-paced, loving clip of mothering my children, making them feel better. This day was different. The air was agitated. It was the third day in a row we were socked in by the thick cold, our germs pinning us to our home. Several times, I was impatient with the relentless need of me. I took exaggerated deep breaths. Another set of arms would have been nice. And, yet, time kept ticking and we made it.

We woke up Thursday morning and the funk still gripped our stead like that Portuguese Man-of-War that lassoed my husband in the Pacific several years back. I cancelled my child care and shelved my work. I decided the day would be different. I decided we needed to laugh.

We made a cake for Andy. He loves chocolate and he had a pretty tiring work week. And, cooking always creates cheer and stories.

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We don't have a microwave and I never remember to pull butter out to soften. I discovered this method through a google search and it works wonderfully: sandwich butter between two sheets of freezer paper or wax paper and roll flat with a rolling pin.

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Soft butter!

I found a recipe that didn't involve a trip to the store for ingredients and we got to work. I doubled the recipe because desserts don't last long in our home. From now on, when I double a recipe (you are my witnesses!) I will write out the new recipe elsewhere. Every single step I had to remind myself to add another tablespoon and/or question whether I had altered the previous step correctly. It's hard to keep track when baking in fits and spurts around making peanut butter and honey burritos and wiping snot. Seriously, there was so much snot.

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This recipe is great because all the ingredients are listed in weights so we used our scale and added ingredients right from the jar into the bowl.


About three steps in I realized I didn't actually have all the ingredients. I substituted whole milk and vinegar (one cup buttermilk=one tablespoon white vinegar and enough milk to bring it to one cup, let sit for a few) for buttermilk and kept trucking. Margot is really helpful in the kitchen when she isn't licking the scale or sneaking bites of butter and teaspoons of baking powder. Ruby snaps into her spot on my left hip and dances all about with me. She makes three meals a day right there on that hip. I swear the contours of my body have evolved to accommodate my little primate. Her torso tucks against my ribs like a pillow in its case, her convex belly the exact same shape as my waist.

A minor crisis occurred when I discovered we were 1/2 cup short on the cocoa powder. Thankfully we have awesome neighbors and keys to their homes. Alice, Margot, Ruby and I set out across our slick back yard on Operation Cocoa. Our back gate was frozen in place so I dug deep into my Macgyver instincts. We have an ancient fence with a separate little elevated door to access the trash cans. Aha! I thought, feeling all clever. Margot was beyond thrilled at the idea of climbing into our alley through an oopmpa loompa portal. I lifted my knee to lock Ruby into place and hoisted Margot with my right arm, her little froggy boots reaching for the fence. I held my daughters on the uneven snow while balancing on one foot. And, just then, my bum ankle gave out. The ankle I sprained and think I may have broken on the very first day I blogged. I went down hard. It took my breath away. Amazingly, I was still holding Ruby and I had managed to set Margot down on her feet.

The pain passed pretty quickly. As I was righting myself, Margot noticed her purple octopus cup on the ground. She picked it up and said with a sincerely troubled tone, "What the hell! What the hell is going on here?!" I know I shouldn't laugh when my kid uses surprising language but as I lied on the morning-lit snow in my backyard with a sprained ankle and my daughters, this cleanly delivered sentence brought loud, uncontrollable laughter. Indeed, what the hell is going on here. I explained the cup was for the cocoa. Remember? We need cocoa.

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You know a cake is taking too long to make when the kids get bored and move onto toys.

Laura didn't have cocoa so I punted and shaved some baking chocolate into the batter. At this point our oven had been pre-heated for a solid 45 minutes. Unintentionally, I mixed everything totally out of order.  As we spooned the batter into the pans (prepared!), I thought it would be miraculous if these cakes turned out at all edible.

Like dutiful little cakes, they rose right on up and scented our home with sugar. Pshaw, I thought. Of course they'll turn out wonderfully! But then the overzealous buggers just kept rising. Clearly, my leavening was way off. Still hopeful, I slid in a pan to catch the cascading batter. Aside from the burned piles in our new oven, they looked great.

The sun came out and I tucked my girls in for their nap. It was a good morning, we had wrestled the Man-of-War and won! We had wiped pounds of mucus from sore nostrils, applied essential oils to feet, hugged and made a cake! We were unstoppable!

Ah, and then this.

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Margot said, "Whoa, mama. What happened there?"


There's a metaphor or two in there somewhere.

But, you know what? The cake is delicious, rife with love and empowerment, the sunken bellies carefully concealed against the plate. And the journey was quite fun and funny.

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1.26.2011

hump day nuggets: home bound

hump day nuggets: little bits of the season in photos and words about the last week
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There's a funk passing through our home. And, as per usual, I am not sick and probably won't be. The hard thing when both of my children are ill? Besides the regular ol' difficulty in accomplishing simple tasks (read: braless mama not-gracefully tiptoeing through the new snow in slippers to collect eggs). The hard thing for me is letting go of agenda. Because if I cling to a wee thing like writing a little something or sewing that new purse with that vintage avocado fabric I scored or the trite-as-trite-can-be-but-still-my-reality laundry tackle? I am frustrated and so are my kids.

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There are still moments of blech when I tensely wish I could have four inches of space. And yet I hold Ruby all day, hug, make tea, build towers, rub backs, read books, wipe noses, sweep hair from eyes, take deep breaths and say you bet when Margot wants to change her clothes for the seventeenth time.

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It's life, after all. And, the funk is just as important as the bling. Yes? Yes.

nuggets.

:: Our hens died last summer and I have held some guilt and sadness. We got new chicks and, recently, I realized I'm intentionally not so attached. I realized it because, suddenly, I am attached. It's winter and they are cuddley and funny just like the rest of us creatures waiting for spring.

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The girls are like a pack of teenagers chirping in the lunch room about how Mike Wineberger might be cute but is a total jerk who never repaid that two dollars. (true story. Mike? You a reader? I am waiting.)

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:: We made pumpkin muffins.

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They were good. So good that this mama managed to only snag one! The injustice!

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:: My birthday is approaching and I chatted with Margot about it a few nights ago. I said it was just around the corner. And, Margot replied, wide-eyed and pointing, "Right there? Just down the block from our house?! We should go get it!"

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Walks always do us some good. Even if only one snotty block.

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:: On the most mucusy day we cracked open our new-to-us book and made some salt dough.

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Once I was kneading and exercising my biceps (for ten minutes!) I felt the girth of that ball could spell M-A-R-G-O-T. So we did.

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And the whole who-knows-what-this-will-be project took off. We gathered whatever we could get our hands on for marking the clay. We shoved beads into the pudgey letters and stabbed, poked, marked, pressed, printed and schmushed with all manner of kitchen utensils.

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And then painted.

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Margot asked, "Ruby do you want to paint the 'R' since R is for Ruby?" 
And, after the paint dried, I coated the letters with Mod Podge and Margot applied a Mod Podge-glitter dressing.

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Finally, we baked and hung over her bed. She thinks the letters are so cool and stares at it in disbelief. Her name right there, every letter, with glitter.

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I stabbed holes into the doughy letters (to allow for nails) with a chop stick.

:: I love witnessing my kids love on our animals.

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:: Margot and Ruby were in their room and Margot was laughing and screeching, "Maaaaamaaaaaaaa! Come and see!" My camera was near so I grabbed it and was glad I did because I rounded the corner to this:

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Margot had lifted Ruby onto her bed, tucked her under covers, given her a pacifier and was reading her a book about babies. Even as I type that I am smiling. Yep, it was cool.

:: Pizza is a weekly (more? probs) occurrence in our home and being that Andy can toss a mean crust, Margot loves to mimic her papa.

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:: Rubes is sleeping much, much better thanks to Sleep Lady Kim West (and thanks to a reader who passed our sleeplessness along!). Kim and I talked over the phone and her kind, gentle, individualized approach was incredibly helpful.

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Ruby's favorite blanket made with love by Kelle.


And that concludes our week in western Montana.

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happy hump day out there

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1.24.2011

strong and vibrant

My legs are sore in that wonderful way that makes me feel alive. Andy and I had a ski date on Friday and my daughters and I had a running date on Sunday. I am not in great shape right now. But, last weekend I realized that doesn't influence the capability of my legs and lungs and heart and drive.

We skied hard, cramming in laps down the west bowl before we returned to our babysitter. My quads burned and I remembered, with fondness, how much faster and braver I used to be in that same bowl. Back when I skied five days a week and hadn't grown two humans. I was cautious and kind to my body. Andy and I talked without interruption on the long chairlift rides. For that reason, I might have enjoyed the lift rides more than skiing.

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And I surprised myself with running hard on Sunday. It started out as a mellow, gotta-move-my-legs outing and turned into me pushing my double stroller up hills while my lungs swelled with cold air and I smiled at my strength.

Running with the stroller is a wholly different experience than running with Alice. Holy cow is it entertaining as Margot narrates the entire run. Mama did you see that dog? The great, big dog? The black dog? I think she was a girl. Do you think she is a puppy? What a cute blue truck! Wish I could have a blue truck. Do you love Andy? I miss my friends. I would like to have a lot of those guys over to my house real quick. Hugo and Atticus and Moana and Eliza and Juice and Owen and Max and Graden and Amelia and Haley and Eliana and Lainey and Nella and Soraya and Cyrus and Grandma Joan and Neysa and Joey and Aida and Uncle Trav and Gram and Bakka. Just those guys. How about tomorrow? Or yesterday?


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Did you know it is totally hot to match your shirt to your stroller? Just a little
heads up. It's the new skinny jean.

Also, these two recreational experiences bookended a lovely night with lady friends. Read all about it in this week's mama digs: shimmery eyes for my ladies. It was a good weekend. Strong and vibrant in the sea of January gray. Good stuff.

1.21.2011

sweet dreams

Every night Margot falls asleep in our room, Ruby in the girls' room across the hall. When Andy and I go to bed we move our heavy sleeper into the room with the light sleeper, quiet challenged by the tiny village of blocks and books that cause open-mouthed but silent yelps. Margot rolls into her bed without notice, Ruby stirs as we take three giant steps out the door and exhale.

In the middle of the night, Margot sleepily floats across the hall and into her dad's arms. This is a new habit I love. She doesn't say a word and he doesn't wake up. I listen to them lock into place without even breaking their breathing rhythm.

Ruby wakes early. Andy fetches her and brings her to our bed where she nurses back to sleep, curled into my body. For a hot second, I remember what it felt like to be pregnant.

The four of us lay like spoons in our bed in our room in our home in the stillness before we begin a new day. I feel peaceful, warm, comfortable, confident and really happy.

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Margot added to her nest. It's our family. Andy and Ruby are the wooden, blue people. Margot is the bird and I. I am the elmo eyeballs. 



1.19.2011

hump day nuggets: partly cloudy partly sunny

hump day nuggets: little bits of the season in photos and words about the last week

The white, clean wonderland has puddled into gray slop. People like to talk about the weather around here. Every season starts out hopeful and excited. In the winter it's I can't wait to ski and Won't it be nice to slow down, cozy up and eat soup? and then, sometime around January, the conversations shift to perpetually incorrect meteorologists and the need for a decent tomato.

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Montanans bond over this dialog as we stomp our boots in the grocery store vestibule, as we shuffle our feet along the slick riverfront trail.

The Weather has been pushin' it, as my mom would say. Generally I like all weather, including extremes. But we all have our limits and melty, gray, slippery, home-bound funk gets to me after a bit. When I feel like I can't walk around the block let alone hike, ski or navigate a parking lot with two small children without looking like a total about-to-fall freak show, I get a bit over it.

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Amazingly, Margot and Ruby continue to find ways to explore our home.
The weather warmed and cooled and then hovered around freezing while it rained for three days. My parents were visiting during the dreary wet and we did what any fun-seeking family might do. We enjoyed coffee in the morning, stared at each other, played with face paint and glitter, debated dishwasher efficiency, visited the museum, went bowling and enjoyed adult beverages in the evening. And, you know, it was an excellent week.

nuggets.

:: Really, blech weather wonderfully compliments color.

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:: Lately Margot has taken to interpreting Ruby's grunts and gestures. Usually, Margot says something like, "I am pretty sure she just wants your boob and the milk in your boob." And then Ruby claps and everyone is happily understood.

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:: My mom made Margot a baby carrier that is donned immediately after the first layer of clothing first thing in the morning. It is definitely quite adorable, as you will observe in subsequent photos.

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:: We went bowling and I think vow to go more often. It's cheap and fun and totally acceptable for kids to run and slide on smooth floors, carry and throw heavy bright pink balls, screech, give high fives and eat grilled cheese sandwiches.

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Also, people get to invent alter egos in their screen names and then spend a good hour or so living that name. I was Fear Me but, unfortunately, the system abbreviated and F Me is what appeared. My family thought this was quite hilarious. And it was.

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Andy's parents owned a bowling alley way back when and I think it's in his blood. Check out that form.

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I bowled much better when Rubes napped on my back. F me.

:: As boring as it may sound, I am quite excited to get a new car seat for Ruby. And, thanks to a renewed sponsor, it's on its way! CSN has a pretty vast selection of stuff for home and the like...everything from a car seat to a dutch oven to a round chair. I am definitely looking forward to a forward-facing Rhubarb. Thanks, CSN!

:: Hot cocoa and peanut butter pretzels.

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Peeps have been asking for our hot chocolate recipe and here is our very unspecific formula: heat whole milk over low heat. When it is *just* warm, add equal parts cocoa and sugar and whisk. For one cup of hot choc, I'd guess a heaping teaspoon of each. Heat until it's the temp you want. Voila!

:: Rhubarb.

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:: We swept up our Christmas tree needles and made a nest for Margot's favorite Darker Blue Bird Daughter.

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Margot mixed glue and dried pine needles in a bowl. Any ol' clear-drying glue will do. We like Mod Podge. Then, turn a largish bowl upside down and cover with plastic wrap. Pile and shape the gluey needles onto the plasticked bowl and let dry for many hours. We peeled it off before it was totes dry because Margot wanted to add glitter.

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:: Monotone weather does make for great photo light and great opportunity to smooch gram.

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:: Twice we managed very slow walks. They were more like shuffles with swears mumbled through exhales. It's really, really icy here.

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:: Mostly we lounged about the house where Ruby balanced on furniture and Margot defied balance.

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:: Every night when Andy walks in the door, the energy of our home rolls into him. When he isn't covered in insulation, he gives in, falls to the floor and rolls with all the creatures who love him so.

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:: Even though I don't work at the museum any more, I still have such pride in that place. I love taking loved ones there. It's church.

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:: Andy makes pancakes several times a week and Margot is getting quite skilled at measuring and stirring, although she surprisingly, still likes to eat baking powder by the spoonful while squealing YUMMY and exhaling white puffs.

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Ruby can't wait until she can be up on that stool
So, the weather's been bleak and we found fun elsewhere. And then today, a bit of blue and warm pooled light awakened atrophied interests and ignited tired bodies. Amazing, the power of the sun.

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happy hump day out there.

ps Thanks for the all the notes about the bum link in Monday's post. Click here to read generations.
pps Nine new recycled skirts in my shop!
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