Monday, October 24, 2011


It's fall, which means lots of fall activities around here (and everywhere!).  We went apple picking a while back at Marker-Miller Orchard with some friends and had a great time.  They use integrated pest management which means they do use some pesticides but they make a serious attempt to use every means possible to keep from resorting to them.  

The orchard itself was beautiful, clean, and chill.  They have a market with a bakery and produce area, a wine shop with tastings :) and a big playground by the picnic pavilion.  The big draw is the apple picking, which is the way it ought to be.  We got sucked into trying the big farm carnival for strawberries and it was just not my bag.  There is plenty to do here with the apple picking, wine, market, and playground - we could have stayed longer and probably come another day and the kids would have continued to have a blast.  No need for bouncy things and petting zoos...

The kids were able to play and hang out on the floor next to the tasting bar while we tried something like 25 different fruit wines!  Some were good, some pretty sweet, and some a little odd, but it was a fun time. 

We will be back here next year!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Just Doing It - The Whole 30

For the past two years or so, our family has eaten some semblance of a primal/paleo/grain free diet.  Sometimes we stick to it and sometimes we don't.  Essentially, we eat what we eat at home and when we are out everyone is free to make choices.  I don't mean to say that we don't have choices at home as well - we do of course.  But I mean that when we are out, each of us is free to choose from the dizzying array of foods that can be found on any menu or at any party.  We often feel quite awful when we choose way out of the box, but still, we choose. 

I've been noticing lately that I am reaching for more sugar and sweetened things as well as more grains when given the opportunity.  I've also not quite yet gotten the hang of menu planning with work and the kids school schedules, and whenever planning drops off, our choices get a little crappy.  Add into that this past week of really tough bedtimes, lots of pee accidents from one little person, and lots of crabbiness from one tired mommy, and the perfect storm is brewing. 

We are embarking on a food journey - The Whole 30 - starting tomorrow.  It's really no different than any of our previous paleo adventures, but the 30 day thing gives me something to wrap my head around. It really couldn't be better timing as we attended three parties this weekend, and the intake of "all things that make me feel bad in general" was quite high. And of course we are headed into the holiday season as evidenced by the Christmas displays that are now taking over the Halloween candy aisles in all of your favorite big box stores. 

So the plan is to use this month to reset our taste buds, reset mindful eating, reset the sugar cravings, and give us a little overall reminder of how seriously food can and does affect us. I'm sure there will be some great side benefits like not feeling like I have to suck in my belly, and maybe better sleep for everyone, but really I am after the emotional side of it this round.  Come and join me!

Whole9 | The 603 PTP

Friday, October 21, 2011

This Moment - Sunrise

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.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

4 going on 14

There is lots of talk in the car on the way to and from school.  So much chatting sometimes that it is really quite amusing to just listen.  If I answer or get involved in the conversation, I often get "I was talking to _____!" clearly telling me to butt out.  The other day, they were discussing the paint colors they had used at school.  Pumpkin said he used "red and jello", and Peanut said she had used "blue and lello".  They began to go back and forth with lello and jello, until Peanut finally said "It's not Jello!  It's Lello!" in a completely exasperated voice.  It was really hard to keep from becoming completely hysterical.  I thought I'd have to intervene as Pumpkin began to cry, but then Peanut says, "Forget it - I'm just doing my own thing" and flips her hair to turn towards her window.  Oy. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Rock Star

This past weekend, Honey took the kids on some errands while I was at work.  They ended up buying a toy microphone on the fly.  So it plays music, records your voice and plays it back, and will amplify your voice as well.  No biggie right?  Peanut would absolutely not put the thing down for the first 24 hours she owned it.  She took it to the bathroom with her, talking and singing into it all the while.  She brought it outside and did shows on stumps while wearing her butterfly wings.  She walked through the house recording and listening to her own voice.  At first, she did want to be alone or at least not have to see that you were right there while she was talking.  But as the day went on, she became more and more confident, and she was just singing and talking regardless of who was in the room.  My very quiet Peanut would absolutely not shut up.  Why we had not thought of this sooner I have no idea...

Monday, October 17, 2011

Why not make it better?

Somehow, we adults have decided that just because we had to deal with something as a child, it's OK for our children to deal with it too.  It's even expected, a rite of passage, or just the way things are.  So often it's "Yeah well, I had to (fill in the blank) and I turned out fine!".  Lots of people say this about spanking, which I won't go into here - there are plenty of other places to read that spanking does nothing to increase your child's ability to learn anything about right and wrong.  What I am surprised about is all the other stuff we think is fine for them to deal with - "my parents did that to/with me" or we figure "we were just like that" when we were younger.  Or "please, there are worse things!" - of course there are always worse things!  That doesn't mean we should just carry on with the OK stuff. 

Actually, I think we just don't think about it.  There are things that just *are* and we have just been so busy, tired, distracted, clueless, that we aren't paying attention to how silly or harmful these things can be.  And don't get me wrong - there are some personality, developmental, and just plain "there" traits that make up each person.  It would be sad if we were all the same, and of course, everyone should be who they are.  But sometimes, the things that come most naturally to us are things that impede our relationships.  Sometimes the things that are easier are not doing us any favors. 

I can be a perfectionist, passive aggressive, judgemental, sarcastic, and snippy.  I like to have things my way, and I like to be in control.  I'm not a bad person, but there are certainly some things I'd prefer to do differently, and I know that "letting it all hang out" is not going to win me any favors.   I know that as I have grown, and realized how my actions impact other people, I have been able to manage some of these traits better, and find that I am more satisfied with life in general when I do what is harder for me rather than go with my first impulse.  Why wouldn't I help my kids to do the same?  Why would I want them to be controlling just because "oh, that's just like me!"? 

I'm not saying our kids shouldn't have to manage and negotiate their way through life and we should pave the way completely for them. I just think we have an amazing and unique opportunity here.  Based on what we know about ourselves and what we remember from our past, we can help them deal with the world in a different way.  We can help our kids be better at conflict negotiation that we are.  We can show them that what they say and do is important to us, and that they have interesting ideas to share.

Why is this so hard?  I think it is because it forces us to take a good hard look at our own actions, faults and shortcomings.  It makes you dissect your past a bit.  Instead of just feeling crappy about our own stuff, helping your kids through things forces you to face your issues head on and deal with them.  You have to be reflective, and honest, and open, and vulnerable.  You need to identify what works and what is not working in a non-judgemental way, both for yourself and your child.  Maybe you even need to share with your kids how you screwed something up and how you could have done it differently.  No one is perfect, and we needn't expect our children to be, nor should we be stressed about our own imperfections. 

So think about your childhood and the things you wished had been different.  Think of the big things and the little ones.  How would you change them?  What could someone have done for you to make it better, easier, more fun, less scary?  Are there times or people you can remember who did make an impact in a positive way?  What did they do that was special or life changing?  What can you take away from those experiences?  What can you do for your children to make it better? 

Do one thing today.  Why wouldn't you?

Friday, October 14, 2011

This Moment - October, really

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, October 13, 2011


Somehow, I get this random parenting magazine every month.  It started showing up when Peanut was born, probably tied to a purchase or maybe even the birth record.  I called and cancelled it once long ago, and it stopped coming for a while, but now it is back like a fungus.  Every now and then there is an envelope with a big screaming ad that this COULD BE MY LAST ISSUE!!!!!!   I never believe it, so I don't send a check.  Anyway, it's apparently here to stay, so I read it. 

I'm always really put off or surprised by at least one of the articles, and the advertising, product placement, and just plain nonsense is amazing.  This most recent issue has a whole article about when kids *should* do what kind of technology.  So I'm reading along and they have it broken down by age - I'm feeling good at the mention that after 9 months most if not all of your kids toys should not require batteries.  But of course, the highlight at the bottom basically encourages the opposite.  Then 1-2 years they recommend tinkering with iPhone apps, as well as watching educational TV.  They do add the caveat that the AAP has recommended no screen time for TV until after age 2, but hey, whatever.  By 2-3 years, the article says kids should be using shape sorter apps on the iPhone and electronic toys that teach letters and numbers, 3-4 years basically using your devices as their own, and 4-5 years using the Internet and playing video games. 

I did a serious double take on this one.  My 4 year old should be well versed in application on an iPhone and be able to access the Internet herself to play video games?  For real?  Why the hell would I want her to do that?  I have no question that at some point she will want and need to know how to use technology.  I also have no question that she can easily learn anything.  I didn't have a computer until junior high, and that one was at school.  No email for me until far beyond college.  (Yes, I am old)  I have been fully capable of dealing with and using technology, and if I wanted to I could expand my horizons with a bit of effort. 

My kids love to learn about real things in a real world with real interactions and real experiences.  I like it that way, they like it that way. The technology world can add to that for sure, but there is no chance they are getting their own iPhone anytime soon.  They have plenty of time to get addicted to the net. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


It's been cool to see how the kids entertain themselves and each other as they get older.  Of course, it is also amazing to do a task from start to finish without anyone asking to help or asking for a snack or crying that they need to go potty or pretty much any interruption at all.  Sometimes I get a little concerned when I haven't seen the kids in a while, but more often I am so please to be completing tasks at what seems like the speed of light. 

It's funny, I've noticed that they don't really play with their toys, they use the objects around them to come up with really imaginative games and scenarios.  I guess that in part is that they don't actually have any toys that do stuff for them - they only have toys that require them to take some kind of action.  It is pretty cool to see all that simple toy stuff working to enhance their creativity.  I'm feeling rather validated :)

They have been spending literally hours lately playing on their own, and I can hear them discussing all kinds of amusing things.  One morning last week, they got dressed up in double layers of dresses (yes - both of them) and decided they were going to a wedding.  They had bags with their things and gifts packed up and created a car to drive in (part of the bed).  They had some time during the wedding to sit and take a break - mom and baby relaxing at the wedding in a comfy easy chair.  While they carried on, I was able to bake a ridiculous amount of muffins, clean up the kitchen, and remain fairly focused on a conference call.  Yeah.  It's pretty incredible. 

Another afternoon was a big dress up and then creating "beds and nests" out of the couch cushions.  The attention to detail in having the covers just right is pretty astounding.  I'm sure there was more to the story - there always seems to be some elaborate back story about why they are dressed a certain way and why the beds are just so... I'm not questioning, just enjoying the imaginations!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Some fun

After all the fabulous boot camp, hot yoga, and other random workouts this summer, I've been seriously slacking as I get my act together in this new transition to work and school.  I much prefer working out in the morning, and now that we leave so early, that is nearly impossible.  If I work out at night, I'll keep myself awake too late.  During the day, I'm either working or with Pumpkin, so I need something he can do too, or that i can do while he naps, or that I can do on the fly.  I don't really want to pay for anything extra, and I'd love to use what we already have (since we do have a full gym in our basement!).  I can squeeze in some standard workouts here and there, but I need something fun and easy to fit in anywhere that I will actually do.  I have a plan.  I've found two playgrounds close to the kids school, and I plan to do some playground workouts before picking them up in the afternoons!  I like playing on the playground at home with the kids, and can get pretty winded just chasing them around, so why not do the same without them?  So what if I'll look super ridiculous trying to hoist myself up on those monkey bars or lunging along the curb?  Who cares if I attract stares with sprints across the grass?  I'm up for it.  I actually think it will be a ton of fun. 

Friday, October 7, 2011

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, October 6, 2011


I've heard from many people that 4 is the age when there is lots of curiosity and discussion about death.  We have found that to be so true here - like a switch was flipped on the topic on her 4th birthday.  It has been interesting because you never know when you will suddenly be in "that discussion". 

Today was one of those days, and coincidentally, I had been thinking about how some of our family history might be shared earlier in the day.  On the radio, there was an interview with one of the actresses who played a part in the series "roots".  She was talking about how powerful it was to share the family stories with one another and pass them down through the ages, whether good or bad, happy or sad, and regardless of how disturbing they might be.

On the way home from school, the kids began to ask about my dad. 
Who is your daddy?
His name is James. 
Where is he? 
He is not alive anymore, he died. 
Why did he die? 
He was really sick. 
How sick was he?  Was he really really really really sick?
He was so sick he did not want to live anymore. 

And then it was quiet. 
I said, "Everyone worries that their moms and dads will die."  and Peanut said "I worry about that sometimes."   So we talked a bit about how we both (mom and dad) want to be alive and are healthy and will be here as long as we can be. 

And then the conversation moved on to other things like what Pumpkin ate for lunch. 

Honey and I know that we have history to share, and while sometimes it may be worrisome or scary, it is important to us to be honest and tell our stories to our children as fully as we can.  We also try hard to talk at the right level for their ages, so I know this will be a cyclical thing as their understanding increases.  Honey has already had this discussion with Peanut before, and each time a new layer unfolds.  It seems to be therapeutic for me in a way, sharing small bits of information, thinking about how best to clearly answer before I blurt my initial thoughts out.  Their curiosity helps me sort out my own self.  Parenting takes you places you didn't realize were out there, doesn't it?

Working Mama

One of the really suprising things with this new transition back into the world of work is how much fun I am having.  I really love my job.  I truly enjoy figuring out each family and child.  It's a little like a puzzle.  What works best, what does everyone really need, how will this child learn best, how can we help them, and how can we clarify what we are doing?  It's refreshing to focus on one child and one family in an objective and constructive way for an hour.  And then shift gears to the next family for an hour.  I get the chance to solve problems and bring up issues, and reflect with people all day.  And of course, I get to play with babies!  And, I'll pat myself on the back and say that I'm good at what I do. I feel competent at work, so on days when I feel like I am clueless at home, I can be good at something in the world and feel better about it all.

The bonus of all of this problem solving, reflecting, planning, and creativitiy is that I can relax at home and just have fun.  Of course, I also drive around the county all day, so I have a chance to just listen to the radio or stop and log into the free wifi at the coffee shop too.  So all my needs get met during the day and I recharge my engine.  Filling my cup makes it possible for me to be a better parent.  By the time I pick up ther kids in the afternoon, I am just ready to hear all about their day and do whatever they want to do since I've had all day "to myself".  It's so funny how that works - that having fufilling work makes the rest of the week better and easier.  So often, we assume work will be awful and boring, and for some people it really is.  I wish everyone was able to do what they love all day long.  I am so lucky really. 


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

What to do with bottle caps...

Why do we even get sucked into buying toys?  Toy manufacturers jobs are to make us parents feel as though our kids need to have this or that so they will be smarter, do more, get ahead...etc.  It's mind boggling.  This time of year, I start to get questions from clients about the best toys for their child for the holidays.  There is inevitably some relative who thinks that the child must have the latest talking robot alphabet learning signing fine motor classical music development toy. 

Day after day, we find that less is more in our house.  Magda Gerber espoused the idea that an active toy makes a passive learner and a passive toy makes an active learner.  So true.  We are a home of non-battery operated things, we have few toys out at once, all the art supplies are accessible to small hands at anytime, and the kids find ways to make complicated games out of the darnedest things.  This morning and last night the big hits were a bunch of bottle caps and sweepers.  Kept them occupied for a looooooong time.  And they were cleaning up!  Of course, dumping the caps back out again to clean them up, but still...

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Those Crazy Kids

I love my kids.  Of course I am biased, but I think they have the funniest personalities, and I love to see them let it all out. 

Monday, October 3, 2011


At the kids new school, we have community work days where some of the teachers and parents get together to work on whatever needs doing.  It seems that these days are inspiring us to finish projects at home as well!  Yesterday we worked all morning at both school sites, and got back here with energy to spare.  I cleaned up the tomato beds and finished a little planting that had been abandoned.  The garden is now somewhat ready for the onions, kale, lettuce, and whatever else I can get in before it is REALLY too late to plant.  Honey came back from the workday and completly cleaned up the utility and tool room.  Then, he put Peanut's name on her bed in wooden letters that I painted like two years ago with the intention of putting them on her door.  We felt like we had a super accomplished weekend and it was only Saturday! 

Honey went to the first work day last month, and build a bird feeder garden there that I just loved.  Of course, I wanted to build one here, and so a couple of weeks ago, we all set out to gather the supplies and build our own.  The kids worked along with us, and got so black with dirt and mulch that we had to dip them in the tub and then drain and refill it before actually giving them baths.  The garden turned out great, and we have lots of birds coming to visit.  I think we have mostly thwarted the squirrels as well since we used only seeds they don't like or feeders that shut down wne they pounce!  It's hard to see, but there is a tiny Japanese maple in the garden as well as a few herbs that needed dividing from our herb garden. 

I wonder what next months work day will inspire us to do?

Sunday, October 2, 2011


For a while, I've had the idea of blue hair.  In high school, I did the whole sun-in thing.  I sat outside with beer, or lemon, or tea, or whatever was the "thing" that would make my hair super shiny and blonder.  I used color foam with red sparkles.  I did some random highlights and even later some actual hair dyes just for something different.  I never went too far beyond my actual hair color though, which has changed naturally from strawberry blond, to blond, to red, to brown.  So I had been thinking about doing something new, and blue streaks in my hair seemed just the thing.  Months and months have gone by, and my hair dresser said no way, Honey just raises his eyebrows.  I've done nothing really to satisfy this little rebellion in my head.  Well, I did paint my nails blue and green but really.

So this week, when Pumpkin met me at the driveway of school with this fabulous blue head of hair, I was once again thrown into a spin.   He seemed pleased with it, and checked himself out in the mirror when we got home with a big smile on his face. 

I think it was the exuberance that went with the hair that I most envy.  Maybe it is not the color at all, but the excitement and boldness of just running blue paint all over his head that I need to imitate.  I was even a little reluctant to wash it out.  He told me he "painted a lot with blue!"  Yeah buddy, you sure did.