more than one roof

I spent most of today in a first grade classroom, and one of the things I helped the kids with was developing a programmatic understanding of pluralization in English. You know, s after most words; when a word ends with consonant-y "drop the y and add ies"; and the rule for when you need to add es. The style in schools now is to teach things like that explicitly, which is fine—there was a penguin on the printed sheet to provide a minimal amount of fun, and I don't think anyone felt their time was too much wasted. But in real life, pluralization is pretty automatic (see "wug test"). We don't really need to remember that es follows x, s, or ch... it just seems to make sense.

Of course, we learn those patterns automatically as young people, and it's possible for language learners to overgeneralize. Zion does! And when I think about it, I totally agree with him. He hears "batches" and thinks, fine, how about "pathes"? And if th, why not f as well? I'm a big fan of "roofes" (pronounced roofiz), which I think is yards better than the current confusion. Is it "roofs"? "rooves"? Horses have "hooves", right? Hmm, what was that I said about automatic pluralization? I take it all back. Can I have some direct instruction please?


our day at the surgery

We have been waiting for this day for a long time now, the day that Harvey could finally get his "teeth fixed." For over a month I have been making smoothies, offering apple sauce, and when that failed using a toothpick to extract tiny pieces of food from inside the cavities exposed on two of Harvey's molars. After the dentist's attempt to fix Harvey's cavities in an office visit failed (if you consider failure Harvey's complete refusal to get into the chair) we had to wait over a month for an O.R. date, when Harvey could be put under general anesthesia to properly fix the problem. This tells you a little something about his stubbornness. Or his pain to don't-mess-with-me ratio. Both are high.

Harvey was looking forward to eating regular food again, and for many days he was asking how soon he could get his teeth fixed. So we proceeded to the hospital in a spirit of bravery, and it wasn't until we got into the pre-op room that he remembered: 'Holy Shit.' There he acted the way he does when he gets anxious, by completely shutting down and hiding in a corner.

the dinosaur is showing how to bravely sit on the gurney, while Harvey wishes he could become a fossil

Thankfully the team at Franciscan Hospital for Children is used to this sort of behavior, and the child liaison talked to Harvey for half an hour until he calmed down enough to have his vitals taken. She won him over by gifting him a red flashlight that he could wear on his finger. She actually offered him up to ten flashlights, one to wear on every finger of both hands, but Harvey's anxiety blinded him to negotiating clearly and in the end he only took the one.

very pleased with a very small toy. I wish he'd taken more for his brothers.

I had to forcefully remove him from the corner, but once I held him on my lap he calmed down and even extended his arm for a blood pressure. This is less than I've had to restrain him for vaccines, and his compliance was quite a relief. Perhaps a little bit of physical pressure from me reassured him that he couldn't control the events of the day with his own will. Which, you know, is a good thing if you're about to get knocked out by heavy drugs.

stickers make everything better

The child liaison then led Harvey through a very impressive social story about what was going to happen next.
"Do you know why you're here today?"
Harvey's answer: "mmm."
"Are you here for your teeth?"
"mmm" but with a head nod for Yes.
"Do you know if you're going to be awake or asleep while they fix your teeth?"
"Do you think you're going to be asleep?"
Head nod Yes.
"Do you feel sleepy now?" (this made Harvey giggle.) "Do you usually fall asleep in the middle of the daytime?" (Now he was downright chuckling.) "No? So how are you going to fall asleep?" (mmm) "The doctor is going to give you some sleepy medicine, and I have a special mask right here just for you."

She showed Harvey how the mask would go over his face, and she let him pick stickers to decorate it. She told him that sleepy medicine in the form of gas would come through the mask, and it's kind of smelly, but bravely she said, "It's okay, I have a plan!" Then she let him pick his favorite flavor of chap stick and she spread some of that on the inside of the mask, for a custom olfactory experience.

Then with an iPad in hand she showed Harvey a series of photographs to illustrate what would happen after he got changed into his pijamas.

"This is a picture of the hallway outside this room. Once you get on your pijamas we will take a ride in this bed through the hallway to this big set of doors (next slide). On the other side of doors is this hallway. You can see there's a trashcan and a sink, it's just a hallway. (next slide) Then we will go into this room which is your special room while they're fixing your teeth. This is the tube your mask will attach to, and in this canister is the sleepy medicine. Your mom will stand right here next to you while you breath in the medicine, and you can play a game on this ipad while you're breathing. Now is there anything in this picture that you have a question about?"

(He shakes his head no.)

"Some kids your age wonder what about these two big circles, and I'll tell you that they're just lights and they won't even be turned on."

Suffice it to say that I was very impressed by how above and beyond this was from 'don't be scared.' Really, this woman had me at 'free finger flashlight.'

But if that wasn't enough, she gave Harvey a book with stickers in it, and we spent the next half hour reading and putting stickers in the book. Interspersed with waiting for the doctors, of course, and talking to them about the proper release forms.

being at the hospital requires a high degree of Disney brand exposure

The dentist wouldn't know the extent of damage to Harvey's teeth until he got in there, so he had me sign off on several possibilities. These included fillings, caps, extraction, and spacers, all the way up to nerve repair or removal. I wondered how we had come to this, massive dental surgery for my healthy eater who likes salads and only gets candy at parades and Halloween. Then I remembered that even our paleo ancestors suffered from tooth decay, and some things are just out of our control. As evidenced by the posed photo below.

rawr. our black teeth will cut you

Finally it was time for the surgery. Harvey was not at all nervous getting wheeled down the hall and into the O.R. because his friend was holding an iPad game over his face the entire time. Press press press, he put virtual food in a microwave in anticipation of good things to come, and soon his lids blinked heavily until he was asleep.

the best numbing agent

I gave him a kiss and was then escorted to the waiting room where I was eager to see how the rest of my family had been keeping busy for the past hour. They seemed to be doing fine.

little brothers both fit in a little car

We had decided to come to the hospital as a family so that I wouldn't be away from the nursing baby for 7 hours, and also so that Dan could deal with the driving/parking aspect of the trip. Dan says the boys were great when I was with Harvey, and Zion only became a complete pain in the ass when I came back into the room, when he screamed that he wanted a diaper and/or he had suddenly become unable to move his legs. He's like that at home too, though. Heaven forbid Harvey get something that he doesn't get, even if it's dental surgery.

Meanwhile Elijah wrecked up the room. Like you do.

survey suggestion: fewer surveys on low table.

It wasn't long though until it was time to wait with Harvey waking up. The total damage (or fixage as it were) came to: two white fillings, a silver cap on one tooth, and an extraction dash spacer deal-y on the other side. No nerve work which, I guess, is a relief. Also, the x-rays revealed an extra tooth coming in on the top. But that, the dentist told me reassuringly, is not something we have to worry about for another year.

Thank God, because this whole process is rather tiring.

waiting to wake up

I don't have any more pictures from the hospital, because Harvey liked waking up from anesthesia about as much as he likes waking up in the morning, except perhaps a million times LESS AS MUCH. There was a lot of moaning and coughing and moaning, and he wasn't really himself again until he got a nap in the car and woke up to a bowl of chocolate ice cream at home.

Then he demanded all the meals he'd missed on account of fasting. So we called his ice cream breakfast and after that served him yogurt and jam (lunch) followed by clam chowder (dinner) and another bowl of ice cream for dessert. It sure felt good to have my happy eater back again. Now fortified with bionic teeth!

silvery. On his cheek is both chocolate and blood, because that's how we roll super hardcore

I also feel like I earned some silver myself (albeit in my hair) for surviving my first hospital parenting experience. Altogether we've had an extremely healthy six years. We had three home births, no major accidents, no allergies or illnesses or hereditary conditions. As I listened to parents on the other side of the curtain rattle off daily medications, prior surgery dates, reactions to anesthesia, and behavioral concerns, I was reminded how truly easy my lot is. Even if Zion did scream half the ride home that he wanted the remainder of Harvey's blood-soaked drug-covered popsicle, and Elijah spent the pre-dinner hour playing with a biohazard bag. Most days our hardships are few and our blessings many. And for the harder days, there's ice cream.

ED UPDATE: In between finishing this post and publishing it I came down with the worst stomach flu I've ever experienced (though to be fair, I say that dramatically about every time I get a stomach flu.) Poor Dan, after spending a day at the hospital watching little kids, had to sit on the floor outside the bathroom watching me get sick because I was afraid I would pass out. As with every time I get sick I immediately started to wonder where I was at fault. Worrying so much it suppressed my immune system? Processing my post-surgery anxieties through chocolate? Or maybe it was completely psycho-somatic, and my reaction to seeing my child in pain and vulnerable was to VOID EVERYTHING.

There is something else. When Harvey was recovering from the anesthesia, and totally pathetically bewildered in pain, ("I thought they were going to FIX my teeth! Why do they hurt?") I cried out to God in the fashion of my foremothers, saying "If there's any way for me to take this pain from him, Lord, I'll do it." Now it may be all coincidence or the workings of my mind, but Harvey felt fine and nausea-free once he got home, and after the kids fell asleep I was writhing in pain on the bathroom floor.

When I shared about my prayer of transference (between sobs) Dan asked, "Is that allowed?" My imagined answer was, "Only for Jews."

Now after six hours of torment I am finally recovering and dreaming of Gatorade. The moral of the story is: don't do that guys. Ask Jesus to take your burdens like a good Christian would. And wash your frickin hands a lot when you go to the hospital. Lord have mercy.


entropy fan

I've been telling people lately that Lijah is opposed to potential energy. If he sees something standing up, he wants to knock it down. And his devotion to chaos and low-energy states also extends to wanting to take things apart; if it were up to him, no two legos would ever stay attached to each other, and any uneaten food would be reduced to the smallest crumbs and scattered all over the ground. And you should see what he does to bookshelves! I don't know if he loves bookshelves or hates them, but in either case he can happily spend a good long time patiently pulling each and every book down to the floor. Ditto for the tupperware cabinet.

So far, he's shown no impulse at all towards building. Maybe he figures his brothers have that under control; they certainly spend plenty of time on it (ideally in safe places like high tables or on another floor from the little agent of destruction). As parents we have mixed feelings. On the one hand, the mess! On the other, when provided with enough things to take down or out Lijah can amuse himself for a good long time, which is more than we could say for Harvey or Zion at this age. If you move quick you can even get some cleaning done in one part of the house while he wrecks up another: since we move slightly faster than he does, with constant work the net effect is—very slowly—a cleaner house.

And of course, whenever you want to get his attention all you need to do is set a single block up on edge, and he crawls right over: he's not going to let that stand for long!


elijah is one

In preparation for Elijah's birthday (today) I have been looking back at pictures of my other children at 1 year old. They each had their innocent round faces still, and I loved them simply as my perfect angel babies. Looking back, though, I can see the beginnings of the personalities that would so deeply identify Harvey and Zion as themselves. Harvey, for example, is shown in nearly every photograph talking.

let me tell you something about this wind, mama....

And wanting to totally be the boss of his surroundings...

there's something in my way!

... and of everyone in them.

are you for real, mom?

Zion, on the other hand, always faced the world with a face that said, "I'm thinking of a joke..."

i am thinking of something silly...

Or, "I just told myself a joke."


But his countenance still turns serious in some situations. Like when it has to do with candy.

i love candy

So it's fun to think of little Elijah, 1 year old today, and the distinctive faces he makes.

There's the getting really happy face:

lijah standing leaning on the chalkboard holding chalk

i think something good is coming, but i'm not sure, but I'm kind of ready to break into a big smile

And the really happy face:

big smile!

There's the face that says, "I'm just here chilling, just one of the boys."

we're good, no need to intervene

And then there's the face that asks silently, "Is this okay for me to have, mom?"

is this okay?

We've had a whole year now to memorize Elijah's faces. It seems like a long time, like we have this knowing-him-thing down pretty well. And yet I realize from my other two children that the first birthday is a false front of a milestone. There is still so much more babyhood to go. There are first words and first tantrums. There are favorite books to pick out and a favorite color to identify. Lord I hope he likes green, because that would forever make it easy to keep their socks separate. But I know all too well, children grow up and have minds of their own.

So there's no hurry, little Elijah, to grow up and "become" anything other than what you are right now. With that sweet smile and tiny nose and soft pillow cheeks. "Your face," I tell him all the time, "is a kissing place."


this moment

Elijah looking at a birthday candle on a pile of muffins, Zion singing in the background

Lijah's first

A moment from the week (this evening).

Elijah's first

a birthday cake in front of a chalkboard birthday message

Happy Birthday Elijah

This weekend was full of birthday fun with Lijah. Saturday we went to my parents' house for a party for him and me both—with a cake for each of us! Grandma Judy made mine (cheesecake!) and I made one for the birthday baby (applesauce vanilla cake, with peach jam between the layers and a buttercream glaze).

There were some very nice presents, but Lijah might have been more interested in the lovely—and easily reachable—appetizers.

Elijah standing at the coffee table amidst food and presents

party time

Luckily his brothers are always available to show him how to play with his toys (they even let him have a turn after a while!).

Harvey, Zion, and Elijah playing with Elijah's presents

helping hands

After a tremendous birthday dinner (thanks Mom!) it was time for cake. It was Lijah's second candle, but while he might be figuring out the routine the mechanics of candle-blowing still escape him.

Elijah in the dark looking at his lit birthday candle

will he blow it?

Then all that was left was to eat the cakes (though Lijah, healthful baby that he is, mostly stuck to the blueberries and strawberries).

Lijah and Zion at the birthday table with cake

big one-year-old and big brother

We had another party yesterday, but I didn't take any pictures of it. Leah did; I'm sure she'll post some as soon as she has a moment.


why listening to the internet is a mistake

I've had this article open in a browser tab for well over a week, so I need to write about it here to clear it off my computer and out of my mind. It's called "Why Adding Milk To Your Scrambled Eggs Is A Mistake", and in it the author states baldly that "[o]ne common mistake people make when cooking scrambled eggs is adding milk or cream. You may have been whisking your eggs with milk since you were a little kid, but we're telling you now: It's time to stop."


It may seem counterintuitive, but the addition of milk, cream or any other liquid for that matter, will actually make it more likely that your eggs will turn out dry. By thinning out the eggs, it's easier to overcook them. Most importantly, the milk dilutes the taste of the eggs. It also screws with the texture, leaving the eggs slightly rubbery — and no one wants rubbery eggs. If you're using good, farm fresh eggs, you don't need anything except maybe a little salt and pepper to make them taste delicious. A little butter never hurt anyone, either.

The author, Alison Spiegel, "is a Food Editor at the Huffington Post. She is a graduate of Middlebury College, and she currently lives in Brooklyn." I don't know part of that qualifies her to to judge egg preparation, but I'm pretty sure that her main qualification to the bosses at HuffPo is the ability to draw traffic, and she hit the jackpot with that egg post (which I got to via google news); most of her posts have maybe two comments, but that particular gem pulled in 693 at current count. I didn't read any of them.

I only hope people aren't really following her advice and leaving milk out of their eggs. I've been making eggs with milk or cream for years and they're always really good; why on earth would I change at the unreferenced suggestion of a Middlebury grad living in Brooklyn?! But I bet there are people who will: the same people who can't resist the latest weird diet trick, or believe conspiracy theories. "I hadn't thought of that before, so it must be true!"

There's nothing wrong with changing your mind about things, certainly. I've done things one way for years before realizing I was "wrong": I used shaving cream like a chump until it occurred to me that plain old soap does a better job. But when I make a change you know it's based on my own experience, a trusted friend, or a well-reasoned argument. Not some handwaving about how milk "screws with the texture".

As for milk and cream in eggs specifically, I'm going to stick with what works for me. And if I want backup justification, I'll turn to the words of Tamar Adler, also a Brooklyn resident, but one who has cooked at Prune and Chez Panisse (as well as her own restaurant):

Beat two or three eggs in a bowl, adding a pinch of salt and a teaspoon of heavy cream if you want. This is not a trick, but an expression of the fact that things taste good with cream added.

And I'll do it a lot: I forgot to check our henhouse for eggs two days ago and yesterday there were ten to bring in. Scrambled eggs with cream every morning, and never mind about that dumb bossy internet!


A lion for Lijah

Leading up to Elijah's birthday I was thinking about what I could make for him by way of a present. Suddenly I had a terrible realization. In his first year of his life I made exactly ZERO original items for him. Knitting and sewing for Lijah has been a null set, due to 1) the abundance of hand-me-downs and 2) his complete lack of giving a shit about sewn or knitted items. And it's been a hard year too - a lot of evenings punctuated every half-hour by screaming. Most rational humans would shy away from the noisy sewing machine under those conditions. Still, I couldn't let this continue past his birthday. S in 20-minute bursts (punctuated by screaming) I cut up a sweater and upcycled a cute stuffed lion.

cuddle rawr

I repurposed a sweater with a bottom ruffle that came to me used and proved completely unflattering on my body. The ruffle became the mane of the lion, which wasn't as self-explanatory as I originally assumed. Here's my tester piece for reference - you can see that sewing the ruffle on straight didn't work and I had to gather it in the final version.

lion ski bum?

Also in the final I added a tail with a ball on the end made from a button and its frog closure (which I meticulously un-picked). The second closure I unpicked to turn into ears.

loves you

Lijah liked the present just enough to drop it from his highchair repeatedly. He's not very into stuffed toys, like I said — justification for my laziness over the past year. Still, it's nice for him to grow up with homemade toys. Even if they never really PLAY with them, my older boys often ask, "Did you make this for me?" I like to pretend it's a tangible way that they know they're loved. Especially since I enjoy the challenge of making new things from unflattering sweaters.

Meanwhile, Elijah is into toys that he can gum more effectively. Here he is stealing a plastic ball from another babies at his party. Kid can stick up for himself. Nobody has to hear him rawrrr.



training, fewer wheels

Harvey riding his bike towards the camera--no training wheels!

two-wheeled sensation

Harvey doesn't like being bad at things. Rather than trying and failing like most people, he just waits until he's really ready, and then hits the ground running. Or, in this case, rolling. Yes, he taught himself how to ride a two-wheeler in one day.

Before we were buried in snow earlier this winter we'd made some half-hearted attempts at practicing without training wheels—you know, with the holding the back of the seat and running alongside—all quickly aborted when Harvey rejected my every attempt at correcting his technique. Naturally enough, I might add; I'm just the same way.

Then yesterday, beautifully warm, the boys were out riding around with the neighbor kids and he asked me to take off his training wheels. I was busy pruning apple trees so I tried to put him off—I didn't want to get involved in the emotional conflict I thought would be the inevitable result. But when he kept asking I finally agreed to do it, if he went and got the wrench. Which he did with alacrity.

Once two-wheeled he asked if he could just sit on the seat and push the bike with his feet for a bit, and I agreed that was the best way to proceed. Which he did for about two minutes, then the next thing I knew he was getting his feet on the pedals for a good five seconds at a time! And then we had to go in. Today was much cooler, but he was eager to get back to practicing... at least as long as I was out there riding with him. Which was fine with me! Before long he was racing around like he'd been doing it for years, so I got out the camera to take some video.

Of course, with me as a cycling model he wasn't content to stick around home for long. Once he showed me that he could brake under control and turn around in the width of the street, we took to the sidewalks of the wider world for some more practice. I was so impressed with how well he navigated the range of obstacles: we both laughed when he crashed into that telephone pole, sure, but he also negotiated street crossings and sharp turns like a pro. Just think how far he'll go this summer!

Is it ok to feel a little bit proud?

Harvey riding away from the camera

away he goes


this moment

all three boys, in summery clothes, having a snack on the porch

spring for a day

A moment from the week.

some changes

So it's been a while, but our blog looks different. Maybe acts a bit different too: it's now at plain old instead of (or as well as... both work now). Also some other things. Some parts might not work right yet; let me know if anything seems strange or missing. And look forward to plenty of unannounced small changes in the future!

sick days

School is dangerous. We had a homeschool gathering here this past Friday, and illness entered the house with one of the visiting children. Harvey went down first, slowly collapsing Saturday evening and throwing up all night. So the rest of us kind of knew what to expect, which is... something of a relief? What's surprising me know is how long it's taking Zion and me in particular to recover. Neither of us have gotten our appetites or energy back, and four days is an awful long time to go without eating real food. Leah's managed to mostly escape the plague, but at least one of the other kids who visited Friday also got sick, and I fell pretty bad about letting an event I planned become such a disease vector.

I'm not going to let it stop me doing something similar in future, but I might wait for the next one until it gets a little warmer, so the kids can spend a bigger part of the time outside. It's hard, hard to stay indoors this much from an activity standpoint—we've all had enough of indoor activities and indoor voices by this point, I feel—and now I think the germs need room to spread out too.


this moment

the chickens pecking in snowy straw

a little more freedom

A moment from the week.

leftover snow stories

When they looked outside this morning, the boys were delighted: "it snowed! and it's still snowing!" Isn't it lovely how they can keep a positive attitude? Actually, I was totally on board with their excitement, because the new snow was beautiful: big flakes sparkling in the air and soft whiteness covering the craggy brown and grey wreck left behind from last month's big snows. So we went for a delightful wet walk.

There was a lot of snow this winter, and I kind of got tired of writing about it (maybe after some of you got tired of reading!). So there are a few stories of this year's snow that I didn't get a chance to tell. Like the day I went up to shovel the roof!

a picture from the top of the roof, with my shadow waving far below

the view from up top

It was pretty awesome. When I was painting the house I was terrified up on the ladder up near the eaves, but with my snow gear on and piles of snow all around me I didn't mind it a bit being even higher, up to the very peak of the roof itself. Plus it was nice to move all that snow without having to lift any of it above my head. And there was plenty of snow to move!

deep snow on the roof, with the shovel for scale

shovel provided for scale

In between then and now we had some pretty warm days, and it suddenly occurred to me that one day it would be spring... and I should be thinking about starting seeds! So I had to find the cold frame. It took a little work but I was able to discover it, with only one pane cracked by its heavy blanket of snow (it's probably a really good thing I got it cleared before it rained!).

the excavated cold frame surrounded my mountains of snow

very cold frame

But mixed in with the warm days have been lots more cold ones; some of the coldest days of the year, in fact, in terms of perceived temperature! Which means that there are definitely no plants outside yet, even under the cold frame. The positive side of the temperature fluctuations is that, on the cold days, the snow is finally firm enough for kids and dogs to walk on top of. Which means that the backyard became a place to play again for the first time in a month!

Rascal digging a hole in the deep snow

when you can walk you can dig

The chickens could also walk on top of the frozen snow, but that has no appeal to them, so their day of backyard enjoyment had to wait until there was some actual dirt visible. When that day arrived they were so delighted to get out!

our blue oppington hen in the snow

chicken in the snow

Well, most of them were delighted... two of the young hens flew halfway across the yard only to land in a patch of soft snow where they stood still for half an our before I took pity on them and carried them back to the coop. They're going to wait a little bit until they can take their whole outing on dirt. Not, of course, that there's any dirt showing any longer, after this morning's snow. But not too long now!


homeschool parent nerves

When you homeschool, people are naturally interested in what you're doing with the kids. Only I always feel a little sheepish when they ask me, because my answer tends to be "not much." Or maybe that's not quite fair: it's just that most of the learning we do tends to be pretty much randomly scattered around the day, unconnected to anything we could ever hope to label as "curriculum". There's not much in the way of assessment, either. Sometimes this makes me a little nervous; as I mentioned last year, I tend to be a little competitive when it comes to the achievements of my offspring, so there are definitely days when I think that I should sit Harvey down and put a test in front of him or something. Actually, when I'm in those moods it's mostly the sitting down that feels important to me—I think of all those millions of kids learning to hold still and follow directions and wonder if Harvey needs to be doing that too.

Which of course is ridiculous. He absolutely can sit still when he wants to, and in lots of ways is basically a model student. Check out this video of him at age two to see what kind of a baseline we're working from (really, check it out: it's pretty much the best video ever made). If someone is ready with interesting content, or even a compelling reason why boring content is worthwhile, he'll be totally willing to endure the presentation. And in my more rational moments I know that what he needs isn't more sitting, it's more running around playing imaginative games.

So mostly I let him run (or build with legos or listen to music or whatever). But every once and while we throw formal schooling a bone. Here's the last formative assessment he did, back in January (formative assessment means "test" in teacher language).

a scanned math paper

the sticker is how they do it at school

Today Harvey, Zion, and I sat and drew pictures for each letter of the alphabet. That is, Harvey and I drew, and Zion looked on and told us what letter should be next. Harvey easily thought of something to draw for almost every letter (I was particularly impressed by his quick choice of "quilt" for Q) and he drew everything confidently in his own, admittedly non-standard, style. That seems like pretty fair for kindergarten if you ask me. So tomorrow if all we do is play legos, ride bikes, and read stories, I won't feel like that's any kind of a problem at all; and maybe I'll even be able to own it proudly when someone asks what we've been up to.


Where I've been.... mostly in the laundry room

I have been off the blog for a month now... it's not for lack of things to say it's just that I've been WORKING. By working I don't mean exchanging my time for money, haha. More like exchanging my time for meals and reasonably happy children and laundry-not-soaked-in-vomit. I sometimes fantasize about working elsewhere, somewhere quieter perhaps, but then I'd have to exchange money for meals and happy children and sheets and I don't think it would come out even in the end. Anyway, here are a few things I've started this past month while being completely underwater, and by underwater I mean under vomit. Can I say vomit one more time in a paragraph? No, that would be declasse. I'll say puke.

Threaded the loom, and wove a few rows because I have an undying sense of optimism even in the face of parenthood.

the loom looms

We did some literal garage banding at a friend's party. They just moved into a new house so there basement is unfinished and unabashedly loud.


I made a muslin for Harvey's Easter coat. One more week until I need to get the real things finished, not only coat but vests and ties.


Meanwhile, he hasn't taken the tester off since I gave it to him. He just keeps changing the pants to go from sailor to king to pirate. I love this boy so much, and next time I make a muslin I'm going to fully line the collar so it sticks up straight.

Okay, enough wasting time on the internet! Back to work!


this moment

Harvey and Zion playing in a snowless patch in the neighbors' yard

far away play

A moment from the week.

the hens these days

Our yard is about 25% clear of snow at this point, so the hens were able to enjoy their first full day out of their coop in, oh, a couple months. They enjoyed it to the fullest, pecking and scratching the visible grass to within an inch of its life—and probably beyond in a few spots. That's why we waited until there was as much showing as there is, since a couple days ago they would have dug a foot-deep mud puddle in the one little open spot they could find! They show their appreciation for the warmer weather and more varied diet by laying more eggs. While playing outside yesterday, the boys checked in the laying boxes and brought out a half dozen—which they then put in their pockets while they climbed over the fence to come inside. Amazingly, there were no smashes!

Our flock's laying trails off to nothing in the winter because we don't light their henhouse. As I understand it, hens need 14 hours of light a day to lay at their fullest rate. Not only did we not want to bother running electricity and hanging lights, we also aren't interested in speeding up our birds' laying life... since we're not sure what we're going to do with them when they don't have any more eggs to give. But another good reason occurred to me for the first time this morning, as I listened to them squawking and arguing first thing in the morning: it's bad enough worrying about them waking the neighbors at 5:30. I can't imagine them making that racket at, what, 4:00! No, we'll stick with things as they are!


spring cycling for Harvey

March 31 and there's still over a foot of snow across the street on our neighbor's lawn. This evening as I read to Harvey I had a sudden memory of once, some distant moment in the misty past, sleeping with the windows open as gentle spring breezes wafted the curtains and scented the air with their perfume. There are no gentle spring breezes yet; winter still has us pretty much in its grip.

That said, there was definitely some sun today, and some warm weather—and we took full advantage! We spent most of the day outside, playing in the yard, and in the street, and roaming further afield. A considerable distance of roaming, actually; counting it up afterwards I figure that Harvey rode his bike a little over six miles on outings today, not counting the innumerable times up and down our street.

Ever since got his training wheels off, a couple weeks ago, he's been pretty serious about his cycling. There was a little setback a couple days after his two-wheeler breakthrough, when a friend backed over his bike with her car and rendered it unrideable; but on the upside that led us to dig through the shed to find a replacement that ended up being a better fit for an increasingly confident rider. (His confidence also extends to not caring a bit that it's pink and Barbie-branded.) Consistent riding means his balance gets better and better, and his turns are now as nimble as mine—more so, even, with his shorter wheelbase. No more, playing bike chase, can I out-turn him to turn the hunted into the hunter.

As much as we enjoy games like that on our dead-end street, he sees me modeling cycling distances for transportation and wants to get in on the action. Sure, he wasn't enthusiastic about joining us on our family walk to Whole Foods this morning (once we got going, Leah said, "Isn't life nice when none of the adults have to work!"), but he did great once we got going. Then we joined our neighbors on a ride up to the library—but we didn't have time to go in, since we had to get home and take over the Lijah care when Leah went to do an errand. Well, that wouldn't do for my pair of library lovers, so we hooked up the trailer for Lijah and headed right back up the hill. So yeah, a little over six miles without a complaint.

Even though we're riding in mittens, getting out in the fresh air makes spring feel a little more real. And with all that good outdoor exercise, we fall asleep so quick we have less time to mind the closed windows!