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more on stuff

Pursuant to our earlier discussion, I just wanted to point out that someone else agrees with out position on stuff. The Path to Freedom family are the most hardcore homesteaders on the internet, and they recognize that you can't make stuff without a lot of other stuff. Of course, organization is good too, and Harvey and I spent an hour or so this evening trying to create a more usable space. The new combined office and sewing room here is pretty crowded and disorganized as well at present, but that's not stopping us from getting work done in it! Leah is on the verge of finishing her second project of the day, and I have no doubt that details and pictures will be forthcoming presently.

snapshots from the latest blizzard

our street sign nearly buried in snow

yes, it's a regular-height sign pole.

We didn't get nearly as much snow as was forecast, but on top of what we already had it was plenty.

Harvey on the sidewalk between two walls of snow

he's not a regular-height person, but still...

Unlike yesterday, though, Harvey was able to get out of the house a little. He's starting to get this walking on snow business. Good thing, because I hear there might be more coming on Saturday!


bits and pieces

As Dan mentioned in a previous post we recently consolidated my sewing workshop with Dan's office to give Harvey a room all his own. I haven't come close to organizing my sewing supplies yet, because every time I try to move something, I think, hey, just a few snips here and a few stitches there and this fabric will be all used up and out of this room! And then there I go, snipping and stitching, only in 20 minute bursts between child-rearing, and wouldn't you know it for a solid week there's a heaping mess all over the floor 4 times as big as when I started. But then in the end a small bit of something used up and turned into something else. So, er, progress? In our world it is.

closeup of the scrappy fleece quilt

gone with a whole bag of fleece!

My former sewing space had a whole shelf full of fleece and pieces of fleece. After making Noah's cow last week and cutting some ear-warmers for next Christmas (I know, ambitious) I realized that most of the rest of the scrap pieces were too small to be usable on their own. So I went at the whole pile, cutting what was there into strips and sewing the bits together however they would fit. The result is this rather haphazard baby quilt.

We know three babies coming in the spring, so I was hoping to add this to my pile of shower gifts. Unfortunately, I think the randomness and complete lack of form in this quilt means it needs to be destined for a particularly hippy type of family. As I was trying to put it somewhere for a photo shoot I was thinking: who has a mish-mash fug-clectic house where this would fit? And then it dawned on me. We do.

quilt staged in our living room

We have a mish-mash fug-clectic house.

Note how the huge spherical cow pillow matches the lamb toy on the floor. That was totally planned.

Still, I'm not attached to keeping this for little baby Archibald. So if anyone wants this one, please speak up.

In an effort to make something more classy for the upcoming babies I dove into my pile of patterns and put together a soft fuzzy bunny.

stuffed bunny close up

dapper bunny fuzz face

This bunny that I made for Harvey last Easter is perhaps my favorite thing I have sewn for him ... ever. It's just the perfect size for a little person to love and cuddle, and it fits so snuggly under his arm when he falls asleep. Also, it makes a nice shelf decoration in baby's room if you happen to have a certain fug-clectic hippy style. (I also made some as wedding gifts. A versatile pattern this one.) So the other night I threw this guy together out of an old cashmere-blended scarf. Nothing against this scarf in particular, I just never wore it because I have A LOT of scarves. Maybe I always thought it would make a better bunny.

bunny on horsey

ride em cowboy

The tail comes from the fringe that was originally on the scarf, which was a nice bonus. I still have more scarf left, but no more fringe, so this might become a set with a little lamb to match.

This blog post is becoming rather long, but there's still one more project I made last week. This also used up scrap, but the point wasn't so much to use up the scrap as it was to keep Harvey's pants up. I give you the frat boy baby belt:

frat boy belt on Harvey

scooter? Mary this is a vespa!

It's a little wider than I would like, but that comes from barely measuring and whipping the whole thing up in less than 20 minutes. It's got a single D-shaped loop in the front, and the rest of the belt just gets stashed under his pant loops. All in all, a big amateur act, but that's fine. The point is to hold up his jeans during the three or so weeks when his 4T Gap pants are too snug to close at the fly all the way. Pretty soon that belly fat will shoot all down his legs, he'll get an inch taller, and his pants will suddenly fit again, albeit rolled down. Life with a toddler is a moving target.

harvey in his new belt, front shot

So slowly and surely we're making progress over here. A year ago I wouldn't have thought I could have turned out 3 finished projects on the fly in one week. I also would have never believed I'd let a plastic scooter into my house, but it's been a very snowy stir-crazy couple of days here, and yesterday I found myself not only retrieving said scooter from the porch but giving it a shower to get off all the stray bits of ice. So yeah, that's a very clean scooter. It showered with me yesterday.

And here's one last picture I had to include even though it doesn't show anything particularly crafty. This is my little boy holding onto his bike in a pose that's all Dan, with a WTF expression on his face that's so familiar it's as if I'm looking into a mirror. Man I love that little boy.

harvey in a wtf pose

uh, mom? are we done here?

That dog barrooing in the background isn't too bad either.


bad week for biking

On Monday it was a beautiful day, but I wanted to get my hair cut before work. There was no other possible time to do it, and I had waited much too long already. So instead of biking, I drove to work.

On Tuesday, it started snowing before I even left home, and there was a lot of snow in the forecast. I told everyone at work that my wife told me I had to take the car, which was a good excuse and also true.

On Wednesday it was still snowing and school was canceled.

Walking the dog on Thursday I noticed that cars were being forced to cross the center line of the road by the masses of snow along the shoulder. Aside from any issues of safety, this meant that if I encountered any traffic on the bike I would be stuck in it. I don't like being stuck in traffic while cycling: it's against nature. So I elected to take the car and be stuck in traffic while motoring.

Ditto Friday. But Friday, finally, was another beautiful sunny day. Oh how I wished I could be on the bike, especially in the afternoon with the temperature above freezing and the bike path cleared again. A fitting end to a week of shame and failure (but shame and failure while staying warm, dry, and alive).

Actually the worst thing about not riding was letting down my fans. Everyone knows how crazy I am, so while all the teachers and parents who spoke to me as I directed traffic congratulated me on my good sense I'm sure they were secretly disappointed not to see my bike there perched on the snow drift. It'll be back next week!


Dada day

our snowy yard at sunrise

sunrise from the top of a snowbank

Rascal and I got up bright and early this morning, leaving Harvey and Mama abed. We wanted to make sure we got a good walk in before Mama had to leave for her big trip all the way down to Plymouth, an all-day trip that she was taking without any of us. You know what that means: a boys-only Saturday!

So what did we do? We had breakfast, we watched some computer, we read some books. But that's all the same as any other day. In order to make this Dada day any different we also had to do things like woodworking—we almost finished making Harvey a hammer, before he tired of the basement—and snow-cave building.

Harvey in a snow cave

'welcome to my bunny hole'

The big snowbanks enclosing our front walk—yet bigger now than they were in that picture—have been crying out to my long-latent snow-fort building instincts for some time, so this morning, with rain in the forecast for the afternoon, we sprang into action. I did most of the digging and Harvey did most of the sitting in the cave, which is as it should be; though I do wish he hadn't kicked me and Rascal out so vigorously when we tried to experience the snow-cave experience for ourselves. By the way, despite his considerable expertise in couch fort construction Harvey didn't feel that this particular structure was a fort, or even a cave; to his mind, it most resembled a bunny hole. He was actually a little disappointed there were no bunnies.

It was nice to see him excited to be outside again, especially when he was thrilled to be put in the backpack for a walk with Rascal. Less nice, though when I had to take him in for his nap; and also when, after lunch, he insisted on staying out in the rain to practice walking Rascal himself. He obviously didn't mind the weather a bit, because the next thing he insisted was that, instead of driving to the library, we should take the bicycle. Perhaps he read my last post and figured he he needed to take drastic steps to force me back into the saddle. It worked, and we had a delightful ride; never mind the freezing rain.

Harvey poses by the bicycle and a big snowbank

way too cool to take the car

Then dinner and playing with Rascal, rousting him up from every place he tried to settle himself. A little dancing to Win By Knockout finished out the day before Mama came home to put the tired boy to bed. I think I did a fine job.


pilgrims progress

As Dan mentioned, I carelessly left my family for A WHOLE DAY yesterday to attend a Christian women's retreat. If you had told my high-school or college self that I would one day voluntarily spend a whole Saturday at a Christian women's retreat, I would have said to you "CHRISTIAN WOMEN'S RETREAT?! HA HA HA!

cough. snort. HA HA!

Are you still here? CHRISTIAN WOMEN'S RETREAT??? HA HA HA!..."

But no, now I'm a grown up. A grown up woman, and not just a woman - a mother - who cares about topics like "fostering an environment of faith in your home."

Well, actually, not that topic. That workshop turned out to be totally lame.

The biggest leap of faith in this whole expedition was parting with Harvey for a whole 11 hours. The night before I barely slept at all. I was sure the universe would explode the second I pulled out of the driveway. That's an exaggeration of course, only to illustrate the strength of my anxiety. I actually had much more concrete things I was worried about. For instance, that Harvey and Dan would get in a car accident while going to the store to get milk, or get hit by a car while walking the dog, and I would be an hour away when the hospital called me, and then I'd be so frantic driving back that I'D get in a car accident, and then there you go: all of us dead just because I wanted to go to some stupid conference. I put the likelihood of this happening at about 50/50.

In reality no cars were wrecked over the course of the weekend. The only ill effects seem to be that Harvey didn't poop all day Saturday, and still seems to be holding out until he's sure the mama staying put situation is stabilized. I on the other hand have a stomach severely upset in the opposite direction, so jostled around was my poor belly with all the nerves of the trip. I guess I can't blame my child for having an overly emotional digestive tract. Some things just RUN in the family. ha ha, get it? RUN in the family?

That was a poop joke.

The conference was in Plymouth MA, so the highlight of my day was getting taken out to lunch by my friend Bridget in historic Plymouth center. We even made a trip down to Plymouth rock, the landing site of the pilgrims, which is, er, just a medium-sized rock encased in a cement pavilion. I had been anesthetized to this site by countless school field trips from my youth, but Bridget was like, "THAT's Plymouth Rock??? HA HA HA!

cough. snort.

Really? THAT'S Plymouth Rock???"

You have to admit, it is pretty lame.

Anyway, I'm very happy to be home again, as well as happy to have gotten in some continuing education for my soul, if only because it means I won't have to leave on such an adventure for another year or so. 2-hour long breaks are more my speed these days. Otherwise I have to be home for my little boy... if only to wipe his butt.


come and visit the tundra

Instead of writing a blog post today I made this (pdf link). Download it, print it out, and spread the word about the beauties of the tundra!

surviving without sleep - a prerequisite for parenting

We had a great start to February here in the toddler den. January seemed to find either me or Harvey sick at all times. There was a lot of throwing up, and crabbiness, and on days when we seemed kind of okay we still couldn't go outside. It was rough. But as the month drew to a close it seemed we were pulling out of a funk. Harvey spontaneously started acting pleasant and independent. I found I could actually sit down for three minutes at a time without screamed orders to stand up or get some toy or food item. Harvey learned how to play on his own in short bursts. He also magically became compliant in helping with household chores. Suddenly I could use his nap time for resting rather than accomplishing every possible thing that needed to get done in they day. It was absolutely magical.

For like a week.

Then yesterday Harvey decided to give up napping. He's just, like, over it. Only, he absolutely NEEDS to nap because by noontime I can see his brain leaking out his ears. Along with all his independence and pleasantness and anything that can do anything but hang onto my leg and whine. But despite that fact he just. won't. sleep.

My air of cool calm restedness left me this morning. Look, starting at midnight last night I was back and forth to his toddler bed three times. The third time it took me an hour to put him back to sleep. I don't remember if I slept at all after 3am. So how it felt by noon today when he refused to nap was that I'd been on the job for 12 hours straight without so much as a pee break. I mean, I peed sure, but while holding a conversation the Harvey side of which read, "mama done? mama all done? mama all done soon?"

At lunch he cried for rice in a non-stop monologue of "RICE COMING? RICE COMING?" while I was scooping out the goddamn rice, so I threw the spoon on the floor and yelled, "I'M GETTING IT! STOP SCREAMING AT ME!" When he shook the table with the lamp on it for the SECOND TIME after I ALREADY TOLD HIM TO STOP I picked him up, ran up the stairs, and threw him in his bed for a time out. I didn't do it altogether gently.

I am learning that a 30-minute break in the day goes a loooooooooong way. With it I am composed and loving caretaker, a creative teacher, a skillful housekeeper. Without it I am an authoritarian tyrant, or worse, a bipolar maniac. I give up on the concept of dinner.

Just this weekend I was telling someone how much easier life gets as Harvey gets older. Ha ha ha ha ha.

The truth is, I guess I just gotta take what I get from moment to moment. Sometimes life is lovely and sometimes it's about surviving.

Harvey is sleeping now. I tricked him into a late nap. Dan will be home in an hour. Maybe we'll go out for McDonalds, and then I'll go to bed at 7pm. For the remainder of his nap I have 3 books laid out in front of me: the bible, a knitting pattern, and a library book on backyard chickens. Hey, I'm nothing if not optimistic.


bad day update

Harvey is blessedly napping now at noon time, like a normal, happy, well-adjusted toddler. I have never been so thankful for a successful nap put-down before, and it's been a long 20 months. So perhaps the sleep strike is off for a bit (or at least picket lines have been crossed.) He woke up lots in the night, but he was cheery and compliant this morning, and we not only cleaned the kitchen but made a trip to stop&shop to redeem $80 worth of spare change and even worked valiantly on our ABCs. I'm accepting that it's okay to have a bad day now and again. This is, er, an ongoing lesson for me.

the vagaries of winter cycling

the snowy bike path again

the back trail

That was yesterday. Today was as I tweeted this morning. Conditions were suboptimal, especially alongside the landfill where a brownish sludge is seeping out, filling the space between the snowbanks, and freezing solid. I'm sure it's non-toxic—there's nothing in that dump but good old chemically-fertilized grass clippings and leaves—but it was certainly slippery.

brown sludge from the landfill frozen on the bike path

gross and very slick

I took a pretty good spill, but I wasn't hurt except for my pride and my genitals. You have to laugh at falling on your bike as an adult: it isn't something that is generally done past the age of six or so. Though I can't laugh too much, since when I fell on Monday I pulled a muscle in my ribs or something, and I notice it when I sneeze or breathe too much. Leah says it would get better faster if I took a day off of biking, but then I'd miss beautiful early-morning scenes like the one that heads this post or the photo below. Never mind that it was taken just moments after my fall: still pretty!

the scene from where I fell on the ice



let's talk about chicks, man

I just finished an enlightening book on living with chickens. For some reason I'm really jonesing to get more animals around here. It must be my, er, nesting urge. You know, diverted into something other than preparing a new baby. Because, amazingly, we have a baby coming in like three-and-a-half months and we have nothing we need to do. When the time comes closer we'll just take a ziplock bag out of the attic and dump its contents into one of my dresser drawers. I guess that's the benefit of having babies close together - everything is pretty much still on the floor of your living room. I have a meagre ikea shopping list hanging on the fridge, containing a second changing table for our bedroom in case of nighttime emergencies and then a lot of stuff for Harvey Mr. Center of the Universe. He needs more step stools and an easel and maybe some extra cups. The baby needs, er, one pack of disposable diapers for the first week. And a swift phone call to some friends holding onto hand-me-downs in case it's a girl.

Anyway, so chickens. Dan and I have floated the idea around for a while but he maintains we're not ready. After reading this very frank account of what it would take to keep several birds alive for a few years, I have to agree. As much as I'd love feeding and watering them and even mucking out the coop from time to time, I'm not ready to open up a gaping black in my bank account for the start-up costs of coop and fencing and feed, not to mention a heat lamp, water dishes, and more fencing and chicks when the first round gets eaten by some animal that found a hole in our first round defences.

I mean, we do have farm-fresh eggs right down the street.

Still, I'm holding onto the idea for a later day, when Harvey is a bit older and more inclined to help out with animal husbandry. I would so love a little flock of birdies playing outside in the lawn, but at the moment I'm not quite ready to sacrifice some said lawn to dust-bin for dirt and droppings just yet. Hopefully a new human baby will occupy my coddling urge for a while.


Useful sewing

At Dan's request I recently made Harvey a his-size apron so that he could help in / destroy the kitchen without needing a change of clothes afterwards.

Harvey in his new apron

uh, catalogue shoot director? Can we get someone from hair over here?

I fudged the pattern by putting a bigger apron on Harvey and pinning it to fit, tracing that piece onto paper, cutting out one side in the polkadot fabric, and making adjustments before cutting out the second side. All in all, it should have been a quicky-quick project. Indeed it would have been if only I had sewn on the binding the easy cheat way. But for some reason I didn't want to risk missing a curve and staring at my busted up handiwork every day for the next two years, so I sewed all the binding in regular 4-step process: pin, sew one side, pin, sew the other side. That made this silly little apron about a 4-hour project, including a full hour of Phineus and Ferb.

Oh well. At least it has a pocket.

Harvey showing of a spoon in his apron pocket

careful, he's armed

Both the fabric and binding came from scraps from other projects, which means that this project was sort of free! Well, free to an economist at any rate, because he would call fabric scraps a sunk cost. An accountant would call the fabric inventory and allocate some cost to it. Then again, the economist might assign a cost to my 4 hours of work and list it as an "opportunity cost" where I could have been acting profitably elsewhere. So like I said, sort of free. Golly, I'm sure glad I went back to school for the MBA.

The big red splotches are not part of the fabric pattern, by the way. So necessary was this apron that we had to ply it into service before mama could get in some clean daytime shots. On Wednesday night Harvey helped with the quesadilla sauce and pretty much poured salsa all down his front side.

harvey getting his apron dirty

nom nom nom

Well, that's what it's there for!


solid, liquid, or gas?

Create a quiz!

We're working on states of matter. It's tedious to come up with worksheets and quizzes—so hard to think of examples of even solids when you're on the spot!—so I automated the process. Any suggestions as to items that might be added—especially gasses that might be familiar to early elementary students—very welcome in the comments.

country mice adventure into the big city

We took Harvey to the Boston Children's museum on Saturday. The outing was the brilliant brainchild of my brother's significant other, a lovely molecular biologist who said she needed to borrow my son so she could play in a room full of bubbles. And yes, it was just as awesome as you can imagine a room full of bubbles to be.

bubble exhibit at boston's childrens museum


Not to mention fun with rolling balls.

ball exhibit at boston's childrens museum

upee unkoo Jake!

For Harvey, however the best part of the whole adventure was riding the train to and from the museum. At first he was convinced it was a bus, and at every stop he asked excitedly, "more peepoo on bus?" To which we would reply, "Yes, more people are getting on the TRAIN." I don't really understand how he got the distinction in his mind... he's never been on either a train OR a bus before, but I found myself saying things like, "Yes smart boy, the subway is a train that looks very much like a bus on the inside." For the rest of the afternoon whenever we were walking above ground Harvey would say, "More on bus? More on bus? More... on TRAIN???" Here he is holding onto the bar like a real pro:

harvey's first train ride

Havey hote.

After bidding a sorrowful farewell to Jake's girlfriend who starts a new fancy job in Israel next week, we boarded the train for home, neurons fried with all the excitement of the big city. On the way out the station Harvey called out "Bye train!" several times. Golly Harvey, at this rate you're gonna turn your mother into somebody who goes places!


If you reverse engineer the human heart, you're bound to find love at it's core*

Since Harvey was born we've had a bit of a problem in our household with leaving things on top of the car. It started with Dan's camera left up there on the morning of Harvey's baptism. Thankfully, his wallet was inside the camera case too and a neighbor returned it to our house that afternoon. Then two weeks ago Dan drove away with a pair of ski mittens on the top of the car, which I thankfully retrieved when I spied one sitting in the middle of our local thoroughfare moments later. But last week a heavy sadness came over me when Dan told me one of his favorite mittens flew off the roof of the car into the middle of the highway. Those mittens, his FAVORITE black mittens that he's had since high school, for whose sake he would never accept from me another present of mittens. Down to half a pair.

I almost started crying. Look, I'm still pregnant, okay? I'm a sentimental utilitarian at the core. For me there's nothing worse than losing something that's both loved and useful.

Dan has often extolled the virtues of these fleece mittens, the PERFECT mittens the likes of which no other mitten has ever be created. They're warm but not too heavy. They fit just right. They roll up small to fit in his pocket. They're mittens straight from heaven. So after this terrible tragedy last week he handed me the lone remaining mitten and said, "Make me a new pair like this one."

No pressure.

With teeth gritted I ripped out every stitch in those mittens, taking careful photographs of the inner seaming along the way. Then using the mitten pieces as a pattern I cut a new pair out of black fleece and stitched them together with my breath held in.

Here is the result:

dan's new black mittens

They fit at least!

They're not a perfect replica. The elastic is a bit too loose, and the old ones had a tag on the inside which helped him tell right from left. So the reverse engineering is still a work in process. I have more black fleece from the yard I bought on Friday, so I can theoretically make three more pairs with minor tweaks in them before I use up the $5 worth of fabric.

To soften the blow of less than perfect mittens, I paired them with a batch of home-made chocolates (the mold was on sale for 50 cents at the fabric store, and the candy-canes were left over from Christmas.)

mittens and chocolate

be mine?

And there you go, happy valentines day! You see, that's how we roll in our house. I make something off the request list that I was already making anyway, and then hand it over saying "happy whatever."

I also had in mind to reverse engineer a new t-shirt pattern for Harvey. My sized-up Carters pattern isn't really working now that we're into the toddler sizes, so I wanted to find a cheep 4T t-shirt to cut up and use as a template. Thankfully on that same Friday trip to JoAnnes the adjacent Old Navy provided such a product:

haloween shirt on the table

it'll be a collector's item!

Yes, the shirt says Happy Halloween 2010. I snapped it up for 47 cents.

I wanted to use Harvey's nap time today to take apart this t-shirt and make a valentines version, but unfortunately he spied me taking the photograph and immediately demanded the orange shirt go on his body. And then he looked down stroking his stomach lovingly and cooing "owange shiwt."

valentines harvey in halloween shirt

thank's mom! this is the best halloween 2010 ever!

So that's where we're at. Mitten pieces all over the office, and Harvey napping in a 47 cent Halloween shirt that I may never be able to dismember. Oh well. Happy whatever!

harvey proud in his orange shirt


*Phineus & Ferb, what do it do


pregnancy update

It's a testament to the human spirit or sleepiness that Harvey stays napping after I leave his bed. It's a very little bed, with rails on either side, so I have to sort of slide out of his hug, leaving a giant depression that he immediately falls into. Then I sit up rather ungracefully, and if one of my hips doesn't go into spasm shaking the whole bed I still shake the thing rather violently getting half my body up and over the bed rail. Then one big hoist out of the thing and maybe I smack my back into the underside of the changing table making a big crash, like I did today.

True to form and to genetics I have gained almost 40 pounds so far in this pregnancy, with likely another 10 to go before due date. I'm not too broken up about the weight gain for my own sake; I lost 50 pounds in 5 months last time, so I'm not worried about that. It is, however, a bit tricky to be hauling that much frontage plus a 30-pound toddler up and down (and up and down and up and down) the stairs. Or to and from the car, or on and off the chairs... you get the idea. Then there's trying to sit for an hour reading to him on my ever-shrinking lap, with him sliding off and climbing back on every minute or so. It's an ever-changing dance. About every contortion I ask myself, "Can I do this? Will this break me?" The answer is usually yes, I can pick him up, I can carry him here or there, I can bend down to get that toy, as long as I no longer have to sit upright after 5pm.

Sometimes I worry that it was a selfish thing to do to get pregnant so soon. Not because of the new baby; I think that will be great fun for Harvey. But I do feel bad being halfway out of commission these days. I don't know if I remembered poorly what the last three months were like, or if it really is worse the second time. I remember the last month of my first pregnancy feeling like Get This Thing Out of Me, but I feel like that now: I'm in pain and exhausted and unable to breathe and I still have over 3 months to go.

It is a testament to the human spirit that I jumped in whole heartedly to having a baby again, even though I gained 50 pounds the first time, even though I hated the entire pregnancy, even thought the first few months of living with an infant were living hell. Somehow I'm looking forward to the spring and thinking excitedly about getting to know my second child. That's the thought that makes me smile, not losing the weight and being not nauseous and getting my rib-cage back. So yeah, human spirit or whatever. A testament to that. Or sleepiness.


sweet baby melodies

So parenthood is amazing, we all know that, but sometimes something comes along and blindsides you as completely unimaginably amazing, and that's what happened about a month and a half ago when Harvey started singing. At the dinner table, in the car, sometimes just while playing with his toys. Harvey regales us with actual recognizable tunes. And enough lyrics to prove that he's been paying attention to lyrics all this time - enough to validate the hundred million hours I've already put in on twinkle twinkle. (although don't get me started on Mary had a little lamb.)

Unfortunately, it's difficult to capture the song of the Harvey bird on film, because every time the camera appears his monologue switches to a series of questions. "Cama? Havey cama? Havey hote cama?" You get the idea.

So last night after sorting through an hour of various video attempts, most of which are just clips me saying "Sing that song you were just singing" and Harvey staring blankly, I managed to extract a clips of an actual recognizable song. Here it is: Harvey's rendition of Twinkle Twinkle.



Today is apparently Fornicalia, a holiday—indeed, an entire tradition—of which I was completely unaware. It's not what you think: despite the name it's actually a celebration of bread and baking. I observed it all unknowing, baking this evening a couple sourdough baguettes (loosely defined) and some hamburger buns. How far I have come in a couple years.

a hippie by any other name...

I read several hippy mama blogs, so this shouldn't be surprising to me, but somehow it still strikes right in my cognitive dissonance center when another hippy mother makes a radically different decision from me. I just assume that if someone is crafty and eats locally that she would also, for example, I don't know, do a home-birth or home-school her kids or something like that. Then when I read an article like "Ten ways to pack an organic lunchbox" I'm all confused. Just today I was reading a blog today where the mother started by writing, "When my doctor looked at the ultrasound and told me that I was having a girl..." and I was all, "Wait what? Ultrasound? Who are you and why am I reading?"

There are many different kind of hippies, it seems, each of whom define hippiness in their own way. For example, you'll probably NOT be surprised that I, as a self proclaimed hippy:

- buy local produce
- don't wear makeup
- birth my babies at home
- hate driving
- sew and mend clothing
- support homeschooling
- nurse my toddler
- don't have a tv

You may, however, be surprised to hear that I:

- eat meat
- fully vaccinate my child
- hate yoga
- never used a baby sling
- am suspicious of alternative medicine

It's kind of fun to think of the ways one does and doesn't fit a counter-cultural sub-mold. I'm anti-circumcision but pro-birth-control. I'm environmentalist but I cherish the invention of durable plastic (like tupperware). I hate consumer culture but I LOVE IKEA. Well, I don't know if that last one is really a divisive issue. Who in the world doesn't love IKEA?

I'd hope that the salient feature of hippiedom is a spirit of free-thinking, which would imply that we're likely to reach different conclusions about many issues. It makes me wonder if there is any indivisible quality, without which hippiness is impossible. I dunno, I've never met a hippie who drove an SUV. But I could be wrong...


hippy spelling and blog tags

Leah's post yesterday reminded me that, yes, the word is officially spelled hippie. I think that's dumb. We don't write ponie, do we? Happie?! There are no sunnie days, I believe. We're taking a stand in our tags, at least, even if we do occasionally waver in our titles.

Speaking of tags, I did some work this afternoon fancying up the editing side of the blog, and I couldn't help but notice that our tagging is a little inconsistent. Why, for example, is this one post tagged with "education" and all these others with "teaching"? Is it a semantic difference, or did I just forget what tag I had been using for those sorts of posts? And don't even get me started on the "adventures"/"adventure" distinction. At least I got rid of the last few capitalized tags, which had been sorting, separately from their lower-case siblings, to the top of the list. Hippies don't capitalize their blog tags, you know.


vacation plans

I'm on vacation; tomorrow It'll start to be noticeable. Before we all left on Friday most of the teachers were cheerfully asking each other about vacation plans: Hawaii, Arizona, the Caribbean. Not bad! We can't manage that, though, and it's not just because Harvey hasn't yet shown himself to be a particularly good traveler; nor yet because we're broke. No, it's because we have too much to do at home! A week off occupied with baking, organizing, and making web sites for friends sounds about perfect for me.

Which is not to say that we won't have some culturally normative fun too. We plan to take day trips to certain notable local vacation spots: Drumlin Farm tomorrow, weather permitting, and IKEA on Tuesday. Who says we don't know how to enjoy ourselves?!


bread photography

an acceptable-looking loaf of bread

something like that

It was kind of unfair to write about Fornicalia without including any pictures. Here's a post to remedy that lack. The problem is that usually my breads are either not very photogenic (a frequent issue), or they come out of the oven after dark and prime photographing time. Or they just get eaten.

Begun last night and left to rise in the fridge until the morning, this sourdough loaf avoided the latter two problems; and it's not bad-looking either, if you ask me. Harvey—an experienced model, to be sure—was very interested in the photo shoot. "Smile, bread!" he kept saying.

a closeup of the loaf


Now the only question is how does it taste. We had to finish the other bread first, which we did on our Drumlin Farm expedition. Even if it's only passable, though, I'll still be happy: I finally made something that looks like a real bread.



Harvey under a lofted kiddy bed

he wants a cave like this at home

We went to IKEA today. I write it in all-caps because they do on the sign, and also because it's THAT AWESOME. I can't believe some people don't like it. It was Harvey's first visit as a sentient being, and he certainly had a grand time; he mostly enjoyed the lying down, as in the cute loft-bed setup pictured above. Or on this sheepskin:

Harvey on a sheepskin

more fuzzy?

Or this rug display:

Harvey on a rug display

just getting tired now...

This being vacation week the crowd was mostly young families, so no one minded his flopping around on the floor. As for the beds, he had to fight for space in those with the thousands of other kids with similar ideas of the ways to enjoy a shopping trip.

The food is also a big draw at IKEA for young and old alike:

the food at ikea

a cheap feast

Swedish meatballs for me, chicken fingers and fries for Mama and Harvey. We hit the cafe just in time, before the crowds; overall, it was a grand expedition for timing. No traffic, no waits: we were about a half-hour ahead of the rest of the world this morning.

We finished the trip off with desert of $1 cinnamon buns and frozen yogurt. Harvey approved. As we drove off, he asked us, "Ikea nother day?" Yes, my son, we will return.

Harvey in the car with his ice cream

good times!


joyous sunshine

Forgive another short post crowded with phone cam photos, but I'm having so much fun on vacation that's all I have time for!

Harvey's boots standing on actual grass

boots on the ground

The significance of this shot may be easy to miss on first glance, but on examination you will notice that there is no snow to be seen anywhere in the frame. Yes, Harvey is standing on actual grass.

Admittedly it's just a teeny area—maybe three feet square—in the lee of the hemlock trees, but still. Since the cave under the hemlocks is Harvey's favorite place in the yard, he made a beeline for it this afternoon when we went outside. How pleasant it was to sit on the grass in the warm sun! Of course, some folks still prefer the snow:

Rascal enjoying a stick in the old snow

warm on top, cool underneath

You can see that things are still mostly white. But the sun is strong and warm, and things are melting even when the thermometer doesn't make it above freezing. Harvey knows the baby is coming "when the snow melts", so he's cheering it on. And very much enjoying being outside again, too.

me and Harvey

a couple of outdoorsmen


they'll never outsource family blogging!

I'd like to turn now from vacation snapshots to the slightly weightier issue of modern capitalism and the free movement of labor. It's a given among liberals that "outsourcing" is bad; companies moving production overseas takes jobs away from Americans who would otherwise be working. But doesn't that view suggest that an American (that is, from the United States) worker is more valuable than a worker somewhere else in the world? Does social justice stop at our borders?

Maybe in an effort to get around this problem, some people suggest that working for US companies actually worsens the lot of the poor benighted foreigners. That strikes me as the subtext of the current issue of Wired magazine. (I can't link to it; it's not online yet. Wired what?) Among many many other things, it has an article on suicides at an Apple factory in China and another one about small companies finding it cheaper to bring manufacturing back to the US. See, not only will onshoring (totally a real word!) improve the lot of American workers and companies, it'll also reduce suicides in China. Which is plainly ridiculous. You could just as well argue that American employees made redundant by outsourcing are better off because they no longer have to work in dirty old factories, but instead can relax and mow their lawns and drink beer in the afternoon. As far as I'm concerned it's just as important for folks in India or Mexico to have jobs as it is for those in Indiana or Massachusetts. Am I missing something?

And as a coda: why is it all the thing to complain about jobs lost due to cheaper production facilities elsewhere, while using technology to get more work done by fewer people (productivity gains!) is roundly applauded? Do we care more about the employment of industrial robots than we do about workers in Vietnam?! In point of fact, no one has argued seriously that we should reduce mechanization in order to spare jobs since the beginning of the nineteenth century. If you were to suggest that public policy in America should be designed to ensure full employment through menial work—or even fine craft work—you couldn't even get a serious hearing. Yet increasing productivity by employing humans—poorer humans who surely need the work—who happen to live elsewhere is somehow beyond the pale? Strange days.


under the weather

Harvey holding an umbrella and looking out at the rain

a good day for ducks

We've all spent the last couple days of the vacation kind of under the weather here in the squibix family household. Harvey especially; he's on his first-ever course of antibiotics for an incipient ear infection. Besides that he's also very snotty. Leah and I have vague flu-like symptoms, which if nothing else have been sapping our energy a bit. Luckily it was raining today, so we had all the excuses in the world to sit in bed and watch tv.

Despite all that we had to make one small outing so that Harvey could get the opportunity to use an umbrella. He's a big fan, apparently. Leah ordered him one off the internet but it hasn't come yet; this temporary replacement model harmonizes very well with his outfit, though!

Harvey cheery in the rain

in blue on a gray day

Rascal didn't join us; he frankly thought we were crazy to be out in the weather. He didn't bother with the tv either, but was content to spend the rainy day the way dogs have done for centuries—but with the addition of a comfy couch, of course.

Rascal in ball formation on the couch

knows what to do when it rains

I had to drag him out on his afternoon walk, but once he was in the woods and already wet he consented to enjoy himself a little. All in all, we both enjoyed and suffered from the enforced relaxation of illness and wet. I'm not ready for vacation to be over.


bedtime novelty

This evening Harvey asked if Rascal could put him to bed. He was a little wired and off-schedule from celebrating Grandma's birthday this afternoon—happy birthday Ma!—and was bouncing around on our bed like a wild thing. I offered him the choice of going to his bed with me or Mama, and then whimsically suggested Rascal as a third option. Harvey's a clever child, and getting wise to our ways, so you can guess who he chose. Less wise was when he asked Rascal to carry him. "Rascal uppy?! I'm afraid that won't quite work, my son."

In the event, I made Rascal come in and sit by Harvey's bed while Harvey got tucked in. The poor pup was a little confused; he doesn't spend much time in Harvey's room, since he wasn't really allowed in there when it was the sewing room. He was a good sport, though, and sat patiently until he was dismissed. Now Harvey is attempting to go to sleep. Up repeatedly between 2:00 and 4:30 this morning, then slept until 8:30; didn't nap until around 4:00 (usually it's before noon)... it's chaos around here!


you sure there's only one baby in there?

So the other day when Dan was snapping fair weather photos outside I said, "Hey, take a picture of me!" Here it is... this is what I look like with three months still to go:

Leah and her belly silhouetted by the winter sun

Mama and baby take in the February sun

Yup. We just make big babies around here.

I'm feeling very excited about the spring: excited about a new baby, excited about Harvey becoming a big brother, excited about the snow melting and more frequent trips to drumlin farms and getting this thing out of me and losing 50 pounds.

I'm not so excited about recovering from giving birth, or the cat-like cries of a newborn, or subsistence nursing - those happy six months where I have three needy babies to care for: the actual baby and my two swollen breasts. I can only hope that these things will be easier the second time around. And if they're not, that I'll have a long enough view to know that they end soon enough.

I have a lot of secret other hopes for the birth of my second child, and mostly they relate to Harvey. I hope that Harvey will see the baby coming process as exciting and not scary. I hope Harvey will see his mama filled with life and not death - that the baby and his or her birth will make life new and exciting rather than difficult and broken. I hope that we'll be able to settle in and re-calibrate as a family quietly and privately and trusting our own instincts for what's right for us each day. In short, I hope everything I do for our whole independent oppositional hippy anarchist lives, crammed into a few very stressful moments. So you know, just my style.

I also have high hopes for knitting and sewing, as evidenced by not one but two hopeful library books spread out on my living room table, right under three pieces and one half-finished sleeve of a grown-up sweater that must be completed and washed by Saturday next. That's the subject for another upcoming post, so stay tuned. Exciting things happening around here!


harvey language further explored

We named Harvey after Leah's grandfather, who passed away a few years before our Harvey was born. I must say, Harvey Archibald is doing the name proud; and saying it proud too, since it's constantly coming out of his mouth. His vocabulary is amazing, you see, but his syntax is still lacking, and he also doesn't use pronouns. Put those two things together and you have some serious overuse of his own name.

Obviously, he uses it to indicate possession. You don't need me to tell you what "Harvey hatty" means. That's not the most common usage, and he also mixes things up by using the "own" for things that he's excited to have: "own bed" (still), "own umbrella". Much more usual is to show desire. Of things: "Harvey juice?" "Harvey muffin?" Or of actions: "Harvey hatty on?" "Harvey more?" Sometimes his sentences can get pretty complex: this evening's "Harvey Mama Dada hatty off" mean either that he wanted me to take Leah's hat off his head. (Note that even in his mangled syntax this is probably wrong: he should have said "Harvey Mama hatty Dada off". But who can ever tell.) Other times there's no complexity at all. Pointing and grunting "Harvey! Harvey! Harvey!" pretty clearly indicates an immediate desire for an object unnamed thanks either to not knowing what it is or greed overwhelming the vocabulary centers of his brain.

It's all very fascinating to me as a parent and a student of both education and linguistics. Also I giggle every time he says "Harvey milk!" Even if it does sound more like Ahvee Muht...


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