Wednesday, May 19, 2010

These Are the Days...

...when the evening is warm enough to eat dinner outside with friends...
...when the stove takes a back seat to the grill...
...when shoes are an afterthought or not even a thought at all...
...when half a watermelon is a legitimate lunch...
...when all growing things are coming to life and making their way into Spring. We spend more time outdoors than in, the boys lugging watering cans around to "help" with the watering of our ever-expanding garden, sitting on our picnic blanket with a cool glass of lemonade, watching the chickens hunt for bugs, and generally doing their best to get as filthy as they possibly can before bed. I have been reveling in the simplicity and fullness of our days; putting the boys to bed each night after a good scrub in the bath; watching two brothers become best friends; being amazed anew at the way seeds+dirt+water+sunshine=food; looking up from my work in the garden, feeling my hands in the soil and the sun on my face, seeing the boys running around the yard with the chickens, hearing Aaron's work van pull into the driveway just before dinner and thinking to myself, this is the life.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Catch Up

Life has been really full lately, and I haven't had time to keep up with my blog. I've noticed that once the weather warms up I find it more and more difficult to find myself in this space, as I'm too busy moderating fights over the hose, cutting up watermelon and trying to find a way to keep too much dirt from making its way into the house. The other day, the boys were begging me for some kind of art project. While on Whidbey for Easter, I picked up a gorgeous set of vintage linen hemstitched napkins(did I mention them already?), and wanted some napkin rings to go with them. I'm not sure why, but lots of people seem to find napkin rings a serious source of inspiration to commit really atrocious crimes of visual torture: chunky beads, gratuitous amounts of ceramic, enough metal to cover half the actual napkin. This must stop. They're just napkin rings, they don't have to make such a heavy statement. I'd love to own a beautiful silver set someday, but for now these wooden ones I picked up for $1.99 for four will do just fine. They were a great project for little hands who lack the patience for precision.
While the days have been sunny and mild, Jack seems to think the weather has been positively equatorial. One glimpse of sunlight, regardless of the temperature, and he refuses to wear a shirt.
Proof positive of Briana's accusation that I paint everything robin's egg blue.
After a lot of observation, I've come to the conclusion that Jack's skin can tolerate a little spelt. Not too much, but we seem to be able to get away with a spelt-dominated meal once or twice a week without angering his eczema. I cannot describe the joy this brings me, as I've been itching for the chance to use my new-to-me ravioli maker I bought for under $5 at a thrift store.
I think the pizza cutter method I used at Thanksgiving is actually faster, but the aesthetic pleasure I get from those zig-zag edges is totally worth the extra time. I filled these with mushrooms, mozzarella cheese, sun-dried tomatoes and fresh herbs. The boys both preferred plain mozzarella-filled. I will write a post soon on the joys of fresh pasta; not just the flavor, but the tactile joy and family involvement too. It really is fun for the whole family.
And in less picturesque news, I've been obsessed with Rubens. I loathed them as a child, but somehow I've recently developed a serious and relentless hankering for sauerkraut. Must be the 1/8 German in me.
I'm still attempting to pare down our belongings, and did a pretty good job with the toys. I decided I was going to have to be totally ruthless, and I was. The only toys in the boys' room are building blocks and vehicles. Everything else, no matter how cute or interesting, went into a storage bin and was put away for later use or donation. I've already noticed a reduction in living room clutter and am satisfied that I've reduced their playthings to a quantity they can reasonably put away on their own. Also, I vow to never ever give a child another present with multiple pieces. I will give books, art supplies or a toy that comes as a single piece, like a doll or a truck. Puzzles are dead to me, card games anger me and I hold a special place of loathing in my heart for any kind of "kit." I realize there is educational value in things like that, but right now it's more than we can use or manage. I'm still searching for my dream storage cupboard which I will hopefully discover before the start of the school year. I do want the boys to have things like puzzles and card games and "kits,"(I can't even type the word without quotation marks, so deep is my disdain)but not until we have a system for taking care of those things. Which mostly means having a place to store them where they can be easily accessed by me but not the boys.
Marathon Update: The date is closing in fast(June 26th), and I'm not ready. As soon as I began increasing my mileage two months ago, I developed knee trouble. I've never had any knee injuries or problems before, but any running over six miles brings excruciating pain. I talked to my chiropractor about it and after examining my legs he informed me that I have ridiculously tight IT bands. The IT band is a strip of connective tissue which runs from the top of the hip down the outside of the thigh to the top outside of the knee. Increasing your mileage and/or muscle mass can cause the body to store calcium deposits in this band, making it thick and tight. This puts strain on the knee cap, as it doesn't have the elasticity it needs to track properly. The solution is to use a foam roller to break down the calcium deposits and make the IT band soft again. The foam roller goes on the floor, and I lie on top of it on my side and slowly roll up and down it. It sounds easy enough, but the sensation is something like rolling on shards of broken glass(calcium deposits are hard). Realistically, I'm thinking I might have to settle for the half marathon this June and aim for a full later in the year.
Now I need to find pants for one kid, food for both of them, and track down whatever is making my bathroom smell really funky.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Orkin Schmorkin

Ever since we moved here, we've had trouble with ants. In the summertime I'd see one or two scurrying across the dining room floor, and if I left any crumbs on the counter from lunch I could be sure to see a few more in the kitchen. Ants are probably one of the less offensive leggy-crawly things I know of, but I'm not really a fan of any kind of bug in my house unless it's in a glass jar. So the ants were bugging me. I suspected that they were living somewhere in our rotting sun room, and had high hopes that after it was torn down the ant problem would die down. No such luck. I was right about them living in the rotting sun room, specifically, in a rotting beam, but after the demolition was over the ants felt displaced and decided to go looking for a new home- mine. I was not cool with this. I was really tired of sweeping the dining room floor and then having half of my dust pile get up and crawl away. Now that spring is in full swing, the boys and I have begun planting. My beds aren't ready yet, so I planned on doing some container gardening. I found one of our old ugly containers which I'd more or less neglected last year, and was not shocked to discover it had been taken over by grass. I decided to dump it out and salvage the potting soil from the bottom. Guess what I found when I dumped the container over? Ants. Hundreds and hundreds of them. "Gotcha, f***ers," I said. But very quietly under my breath, so the boys wouldn't hear me. I wasn't sure how to handle ridding myself of the ants, so I popped them back into the container while I plotted their demise. I didn't want to use any spray(it's really nasty stuff), so I decided it would be best if I simply transplanted them to our local woods. I hefted the container into the wheelbarrow and the boys and I trotted it down the street to the walking path, which was when I realized anew the disadvantage to being the family photographer. Jack is very safety-conscious, so he insisted that he and Matteas both hold my hand despite the fact that my hands were plenty occupied with large handfuls of wheelbarrow handle. We were, after all, walking down the actual street. Safety first. So there we were, the three of us trudging down the street in our galoshes(yes, even me) with a magenta wheelbarrow containing a ginormous planter full of vagrant ants, me walking slightly crouched to accommodate the hand of the boy clinging to either side of me. We found a nice rotten stump for them in a woodsy spot and unceremoniously dumped the ants on the ground, then went for a hike through the woods. I find myself learning the same lesson over and over during our Pacific Northwest Springs: go out while it's sunny, because five minutes later it could be hailing. I ran at the gym last night because it was so cold and windy, then this morning was sunny and beautiful. Now the clouds have rolled in and the wind's picked up, so I'm putting the kettle on and feeling really pleased about our morning hike and our eco-friendly ant disposal.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

When I Wasn't Busy Vomiting...

In spite of the fact that I was under the weather for the majority of our trip, we did manage to pack a lot in. Our first night in Long Beach we grilled cheeseburgers for dinner, then headed to the beach.
Matteast, meet the Pacific Ocean.
Aaron and Jack played a game where they'd walk out as far as they could into the surf, then run screaming(Jack did most of this) back toward shore when a big wave rolled in. I don't think Jack would have gone for this six months ago. He struggles with fear, but in the last year I've been blown away by how hard he works to, as he puts it, "choose courage."
After a particularly jubilant(read: lots of screaming) escape from a wave, they'd give each other knuckles. It was a casual gesture, but it kind of gave me goosebumps to see it because it marks the beginning of a new trend in Jack's relationship with is dad: one in which they can mutually acknowledge the other's manhood. I know he's only five, but every day Jack's desire to be more like his dad grows. It's the reason he wakes up at the crack of dawn every freaking day; "I'd sleep in Mom, but I have to see Dad in the morning."
After the sun went down it got a little chilly, so I loaned Matteas my hat.
Every day, Matteas would put on his boots and in spite of what else he was or was not wearing, declare himself ready to go to the beach.
Jack has been obsessed with Orcas lately. He drew one in the sand with his foot.
The boys shared a queen sized bed. It mostly worked out.
Here we see Jack discovering the "air pockets in my swim trunks" phenomenon. He thought the way the bubbles augmented the appearance of his own anatomy was absolutely fabulous.
"Matteas, look at my huge penis!!!" Gotta love boys. Which, luckily, I do.
I love this picture; it captures so well Matteas's exuberant little spirit.