Thursday, March 31, 2011


I've been thinking about homeschooling a lot lately. As we approach the end of the school year, everyone wants to know what we are planning on doing next year, and honestly, so do I. We have had a few missed school days for various reasons lately, and I have really enjoyed having both kids home, just going with the flow, and not trying to get anywhere in a big hurry. It hasn't hurt that our streets are being paved this week and we have spent literally watching the crews out the front window.

The children are completely enraptured by the whole thing and we get to talk about how the crew works together. How they can tell who the foreman is. What kinds of hand signals they are using with each other. How they know the right amount of material to use. How they keep their trucks lined up the right way. Whether the asphalt is hot or cold. Why the workers wear hardhats and hard shoes. What the trucks are called. How many guys there are. What a manhole is for.
So it makes me think of homeschooling, because they are curious and interested and the directions we could go from this one event are limitless. So this week, I'm on the homeschooling train. All because of a little construction.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Tile is up!

I finally got up the courage to tile the back splash in the bathroom. I've had the tile for a while now, and had just been anxious about actually doing it. It's just the glass tile that freaked me out a bit - the adhesive has to be perfect in order for the glass to look right - any issues on the wall will be seen right through the tile. Well, it came out OK. I had some issues with the tile sliding so it is not as uniform as I'd like. I did panic at about midnight when I was sure I'd wake up to all the tiles in the sink, but it turned out better than I thought. I still need to grout, but here it is so far!

This Moment - A Friday Ritual

I'm following along with SouleMama - in her words:

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Mail Call!

Mail and mailboxes have been an ongoing theme in the house for a few months now. We finally settled down to install the kids mailbox by their rooms, and what a hit! I had help to screw it into the wall - the kids thought the drill was quite cool - and they spent about the next 45 minutes sending mail to each other. Every night since, I've been earnestly instructed to "make sure you put mail in my mailbox when I am asleep". Next is the mailbox for me and Honey so we can get little notes too!


We have a new friend in our yard, and I hope he (or she) does her job well! An owl came to see us one morning last week and was swooping down from our fence to eat some small critter that would otherwise ravage my garden I'm sure. we were all spellbound watching her until she moved on to another yard. I sure hope she stays close!


It was Pumpkin's first visit to the emergency room (well aside from when he was born) and I'm still catching my breath. Pumpkin splashed some (supposedly less toxic than the run of the mill stuff) household cleaner in his eye this morning, and after trying to flush out his eye (as it says to do on the bottle and on our handy dandy emergency card) we realized he was an uncooperative almost two year old and most likely we were out of our league. I called the doctor, who said it would probably be fine, but to call poison control. Poison control sent me to the ER.

Our morning was crazy, me on the cell phone and calming Pumpkin, Honey on the house phone making preschool arrangements and getting Peanut ready. Once everyone got where they were headed, things calmed down a bit. The ER was quiet; we barely had to wait. All of the hospital staff were patient and wonderful with us. Once we had a plan, the Physician Assistant explained what she would do and how I could help. I explained it all to Pumpkin, and helped him understand that he would be uncomfortable, but it was necessary and I'd be here the whole time. She had to put drops in his eye, stain it and then look at it with a light to see if there had been any damage. She tested the pH of his eye. She looked in there again, she put some more stain in to see the other side...

So basically, he had multiple things going in and shining in his eye for like an hour. He complained, but he bounced back after every prod with a little snuggle, binky, and a snack. Just an aside -the staff was super intrigued with his bento box lunch which I thought was pretty funny since everyone I know uses them, and were thrilled at the healthful meal choices inside. Makes me wonder what they usually see. Pumpkin was fascinated by the pulse oximeter, and loved the little red light on his toe. He kept hiding his bracelets inside each other, and he loved looking at the fun pictures on the wall, especially the monkey.

When all was said and done, he was diagnosed with a corneal abrasion - he probably rubbed the cleaner into his eye when it first hit. We were given some ointment and we have a follow up with an ophthalmologist tomorrow. As we got ready to leave, the PA complemented me on how well Peanut did, and how I interacted with him, telling him what would happen and helping him stay calm. She was effusive in her compliments, and even said what a great mom I am, which really almost made me cry. After your kid gets into cleaning supplies, you do question your ability to parent to some extent, and hearing this was just what I needed. For a day I had always dreaded, the first (and hopefully last) trip to the ER was clearly a success. I'm so glad it's over. And yes, the cleaning solution is back safely in the closet where it belongs.

Friday, March 18, 2011

This Moment - A Friday Ritual

I'm following along with SouleMama - in her words:

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see

Friday, March 11, 2011

This Moment - A Friday Ritual

I'm following along with SouleMama - in her words:

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

We Have Been Up To....

Check up at the dentist - I couldn't get a picture of Pumpkin since he was on my lap the whole time, but my little rock star was happy with her shiny teeth!
Enjoying the warmer moments outside - lots of time has been spent on the playground.

It's so fun to watch the kids learn from each other.
Look - an airplane!

Nooooooooo! My car!

Faster, faster!

We are looking forward to more of spring!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Big Dirt

When you build raised garden beds, you have to fill them with something. Dirt, actually. And while we have plenty of dirt, digging it up from other spots in the yard to fill the beds would create some serious valleys. We decided a full truckload would be plenty to fill up those beds...and it probably is, but boy is it a lot of dirt. I arrived home after running an errand on Saturday morning just having missed the dirt truck. The kids and Honey were still in the living room staring at the humongous pile on our driveway. When I walked in, Pumpkin said "Big Dirt! Truck! Outside!" and was super enthusiastic about the whole thing. Honey said the kids were enraptured by the dump truck - it had become *the* activity for the morning.

Well, we knew there was rain in the forecast, so we got right to it. I finished screwing the sides of the raised beds together while Honey started shoveling and hauling dirt to the garden. Four hours later, he had made a good dent, but we still had 2/3 of the pile left on the driveway.

The kids "planted" their own garden in one of the beds, using everything they could find. They are growing paintbrushes, boxes, and ADT sign, and garden tools.

Peanut had a grand time climbing the "mountain" while daddy shoveled, and Pumpkin loved using the socket wrench (and trying to say "ocket ench").

We went out to dinner, and when we arrived back home a kind neighbor had put a tarp over the pile for us so it wouldn't become a mud slide when the rain began. Have I mentioned that I really like my neighbors? it was early, and I had apple pie for dessert, so I went out there for another hour or so in the dark and hauled some dirt, again making some progress.

This morning, Honey was at it again - a few more hours of shoveling and another big dent in the pile.
Pumpkin watched from the window, saying "Dada work hard!". Yup, he sure is.

All of the garden beds are full, and the blocks to build the rest won't be here until Tuesday, so all this dirt is just getting piled up behind the garden now. I think we will have enough to fill all of the beds and start adding dirt around the fence line so we can plant all kinds of smelly herbs to help deter the deer.

There is still a big pile of dirt in the driveway - there's only enough room for one car right now. We had hoped to get it all in the backyard this weekend, but once it started raining in earnest, the pile had to be covered back up. This week we should see some sunshine and hopefully that pile will dry out a little so we can finish up this project and I can get to planting!

Friday, March 4, 2011


So you may have noticed that it has taken me a week to write about turning 40. It's no accident really, I'm just getting used to the idea. I did a full day at the spa which was truly lovely (thank you Honey) and then had a party thrown for me that night when I was all gussied up (thanks A!). I remember turning 30, and 25 and having big dinner parties at very hip spots, drinking a ton of wine and dancing the night away. This was a little more low key than all that, with some twists - a sushi chef in my kitchen (!) and some fabulous little cakes made to look like sushi made by a friend. I felt like a million bucks, and got to chat a little with people I barely get to finish sentences with on a daily basis. It was really lovely to see people as "friends" and not *just* moms (and dads).

40. Well, I am wise, and have some lines that tell you how much I have laughed and cried. I half joke that I have had nine lives. I can look back over the years and see the many incarnations of myself, or who I would have liked to be or who I thought someone else wanted me to be. At 40, I am me, an unapologetic me, and know enough to know that I have much to learn. There was a time when I really thought I knew it all, and now I know I'll never get there, but I will always try. In some ways I've mellowed with age and in some ways I have become more of a tiger. I can share my ideas and feelings in a way that doesn't (always) completely shut out those who might disagree. At 40, I accept that I look like someones mom, and am proud of that. I feel like I am finally settling into my groove, the real one this time, and it feels really nice.

This Moment - A Friday Ritual

I'm following along with SouleMama - in her words:

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Staples - Part 3 - Yogurt

We eat a lot of yogurt. After buying tons, and continually hearing how easy it is to make, I finally decided to give it a try. I got an inexpensive yogurt maker (which is not necessary, but makes it easier for me) and we make it about once every two weeks. I'm giving you the way I do yogurt - there a re a trillion ways and lots of opinions about why one way is better than another. This is the only way I have ever made yogurt, so I don't have any opinions about the other ways, but you can google the heck out of it and find videos and step by step instructions for just about every possible scenario. So just try it!

I use organic half and half or cream, or cream line milk, or whole milk. Anything less than whole milk makes a really runny yogurt. I prefer milk from a farm, with as little processing as possible. I have discovered the hard way and then had it confirmed by research, that ultra pasturized anything will be hard to turn into yogurt. So if you do get store bought milk, try to find one that does not say "ultra" anything.

I take about a quart of milk (or cream) and heat it on the stove (stirring occasionally) to about 180 degrees or until it starts to climb the sides of the pot. It should go without saying, but all of your cooking utensils should be really clean before you start. It would suck to add some random crummy bacteria into your yogurt.

While that is heating up, put two tablespoons or so of starter yogurt in a glass measuring cup.

This is to bring the yogurt to room temperature. You can use any yogurt, as long as it is not flavored. I prefer to use either a little of the yogurt from the last batch (which I never remember to save) or plain thick yogurt from the farmers market. I'll use Trader Joe's whole milk plain yogurt as well. I always use whole milk yogurt.

Once your milk reaches 180, pull it off the heat and let it sit and cool. I let it go to about 95-100 degrees.

Then take a cup or so of the milk and add it to the yogurt in the measuring cup. Gently mix it with a spoon or spatula, then pour the mixture back into the pot and gently stir it all together.
Pour the yogurt/milk mixture into your yogurt cups - my yogurt maker came with glass cups which again makes it easy. Load the cups into the yogurt maker and turn it on.

I leave mine for about 10 hours. Any less and it is too runny for me. I usually start yogurt at night after the kids are asleep. Then I get it into the yogurt maker before I go to bed and it is done when I get up. Once it is done, put it in the fridge with lids on the cups for a few hours - 3 or 4 at minimum.
I usually add fruit or nuts (if I add anything) when I serve it rather than try to flavor it before it gels. I would like to try adding some vanilla bean as it cooks, but I just haven't gotten to it yet. My kids eat this like crazy and it is not a sweet yogurt - it actually has quite a tang to it.

A space for me too!

A while ago, my mom's boyfriend gave us an extra computer. We had plans to set it up for Peanut, and then it just sat in the corner collecting dust. Lately, the kids had started to pretend to send email and type on the keyboard, and we finally decided it was time to get it turned on. Honey and I found a desk with adjustable legs that exactly matches our desks at the Habitat For Humanity Restore for $10 (!) so we lugged that home - well, Honey lugged it home - and got it set up in a corner of our office. The computer has a real home, and the kids can turn it on and off. It doesn't "do" anything yet, but that's the fun of it - they are imagining and expanding on their play, pretending to do their work. The height of the desk is perfect and they pulled some little stools from the playroom in to use as their desk chairs. They love it - Thanks Ron!

The seedling massacre

Part of gardening that just pains me is thinning seedlings. I know it must be done, but I really have a hard time with it. Last year, I ended up with about a trillion tomato plants because I just couldn't get rid of all the extra seedlings that came up both in my seed starting flats and volunteered in the garden. I re potted them all and tried to give away as many as I could. This year, I decided that less is more, and a sacrifice of a few small seedlings really does benefit the garden in the end. Man oh man, is it hard to actually tear those little guys out though! My seedlings are thriving, and in each pot I had two or three really good looking plants. There is only room for one, and so the others had to go. The pile of rejects was just so sad to look at, but I know it was the right thing to do. I'm growing as a gardener. Sigh.