Wednesday, March 31, 2010


My kind of mess!  I took a yarn spinning class last weekend and it was too-too-too fun!  (I didn't bring my camera, so these...pretty...iPhone pictures are all I have.) 
I went with my friend Monica.  She had her own spinner and used to spin a lot, like, 20 years ago.  Like falling off a log, though, she was soon enough on her way.  Spin, Mo, Spin!

Unlike me.  Here I sit, cranking away.  There were six of us, and we went to this woman's house off Grand Avenue in Oakland.  She was such a kooky hippie, and I really was grateful for her!  She knew so much, and like anyone who loves her art, she had such a gentle way of bringing us along in something that, quite frankly, is an experience of about 90% frustration.  (Yes, Kelly, I'm looking at you, too!)  It was only at the end of the three hour class that she sort of reflected out loud (and apologized) for putting on me on the hardest spinner to use.  Everyone else had essentially brand new, double treadle spinners...I had the hoopty version, wobbly wheel and all.  To be fair, it hardly mattered, as the ultimate outcome was unavoidable. 
So.  Which pile is my spun yarn, and which pile is a bunch of leftover fiber?  haha!  I know you know my "skein" (harumph) is the one on the left, but it's pretty clear that a perfectly good spinner would have been little improvement on my mad skillz.

It was so fun, and I was so jealous (in the best possible way) of her wee little log cabin, perched on the hill behind her house, that was her studio.  Oh, swoon!   And, as much as I loved the spinning experience (and will definitely have more to share, soon, on that front ~ no, I didn't buy a spinner, though!) I was especially grateful to meet her because of this:
Right there in her living room (no way to get this beast up that hill into her studio!!!) was a gorgeous leclerc loom.  And, wait for it...she gives private lessons!  Oh, yeah, and she'll come to my house to give the lessons on my own loom!  I just can't wait.  Every month or so, I try to look up the community colleges and see if anyone is offering a class on looming (or even textile arts) because I know that Kelly's college is where she did a lot of weaving.  But no, nada.  So I am so HAPPY to have found her, because I so desperately need a class.  And being a class of one?  I can tell you from experience, that works for me. 

Here she is, modeling one of the jackets she wove.  My sights are set considerably lower, honestly.  But spinning reminded me so much of looming (right down to the sore back, oh my bad posture) that I just can't wait to get started.  Make that re-started.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Hot and Cold

"It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade."
- Charles Dickens

Oh, March.  Pink shoulders on Saturday, from baseball in the sun, to freezing winds and rainy yesterday.  I love-love-love this quote from Dickens, and it just about perfectly describes the past three weeks.

Because the outside weather is so unpredictable, I decided to bring some of spring inside, where we could enjoy it at our leisure.  In your face, March.

These beautiful calla lilies were given to me by my dear friend, Linda (yes, Laurie, our Linda!) when we went on a walk at the lake.  I love her so much...this is a direct quote:  "I brought you a little something....yeah, these grow near my garbage cans.  I can't rid of them, so, I thought you might like them."  haha!  She was so right.  :)

I asked Tommy if he'd like a vase of flowers in his room too and bless his pea-picking heart, he did.  Love that kid.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Thank You, Matt!

"Character, Courage, Loyalty."
Little League Motto

As a Baseball Mom, I often get discouraged.  I feel bad when Tommy misses the big play in Left field, or when he strikes out at the plate.  I am often too hot.  Or too cold.  Or trying to watch the game and keep Scotty out of harm's way at the same time.

  Here's "Gandalf", as Erik calls him, with one of his many sticks.  
Fortunately for us,this pretty much keeps him entertained for a couple of hours.

But there is another side to this whole baseball thing, too.  For every time I wince and my heart breaks for Tommy, there is another time that my heart fills with pride for him, too.  He does plenty that makes me happy for him ~ he makes The Great Play with a diving catch, or I am amazed by his eye (he really knows hw to keep his eye on that ball!).  But I feel so much pride for him because of the way he behaves when he doesn't do those things.  I love it when he chases down a ball that just tips out of his glove, the way he pretends to catch, throw, or hit the ball when he's playing left field (always with his head in the game, even when not much is happening out there!), the way he keeps his head up and hurries back to the dugout after a strikeout, and I love it when he really plays his position by backing up the third baseman or calling out where the next play is ("second base!" while waving two fingers).  

Tommy checks the line-up.

This weekend, I finally had those same feelings of pride for the little league experience in general.  You always hear about (and I often experience) the overly enthusiastic parents (ahem) the overly aggressive coaches (oh my) or the under qualified teen-aged umpires (cough).  Each of these things makes me hold my breath for a moment.

At Saturday's game, we only had 8 players.  We have 12 players on the roster, but two were scheduled to be out for conflicting schedules and two were no shows.  You don't have to forfeit with 8 players, but it isn't that fun, either.  You basically have to play with no center fielder, and left and right have to run like bunnies to keep up with the action.  

But you know what happened?  There was a boy from the opposite team who played with our boys the whole game.  He was good, too!  He played center field, first base, and third base.  He hit too.  He had serious hustle and he played just as hard for us as he would have for his team.  His own coaches and teammates cheered for him when he got a base hit (the first base coach gave him a little fist bump as he took his spot :) and Tommy's teammates gave him a 2-4-6-8-who-do-we-appreciate style "thank you Matt!" at the end of the game.

I have to say.  The whole experience went a long way toward creating the kind of good will necessary to get me through a whole season of hard benches.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

...and then my head exploded

It's no secret than I am a complete nut about food anymore.  I work full-time outside our home, I have two growing boys, one man-child, and a cat that all require constant tending.  Yet I insist on having a vegetable garden (zone 10 willing!) in as much as I can, what with all the experimenting and not knowing what I'm doing and all.  My adventures in from-scratch-cooking are sporadically documented right here.  I don't talk so much about what I eat here (you're welcome!) but I constantly strive to do as much close-to-source eating as I can; on any given day, I vary from nearly-perfect to here-let-me-just-get-these-wrappers-out-of-your-way.  It's life.  Well, it's my life, and I just do what I can.

It's hard for Tommy to make healthy food choices.  We've been working really hard on helping him understand that just because food tastes good, that doesn't actually mean it is good.  Oh, son, I feel can be so unfair!  He's doing well, and I have reason to believe that he may actually come out the other side of this a healthy, well-adjusted young man.   Wanting him to grow up healthy and happy was actually the original impetus that spurred me to learn how to make and preserve our own food.  Well, that and the fact that I like to pretend I'm living in the Little House on the Prairie.  That's probably totally normal and not even weird.

So when he comes to me and says he likes a healthy snack, such as air-popped popcorn or fruit or carrot sticks or string cheese or my homemade granola, I don't even have to think about.  I just do it.  Yesterday, when we dashed into the grocery store for a few mid-week replenishments of some of my go-to ingredients, he asked me about bagels.  I guess they've had them for snack at school, and he quite enjoys a blueberry bagel.

Oh, yes, son!  Right away son!  What a wholesome treat!  We found the bread aisle and grabbed a package of bagels...then I read the ingredients.  Not those.  Grabbed another bag.  Not those.  Grabbed a third bag (hippie brand!  gotta be it!) and, well, no.  There was no bagel to be had that didn't list "high fructose corn syrup" as one of the first handful of ingredients.

And then my head exploded.

We didn't buy any bagels.  You could legitimately argue that I'm taking it too far (I've seen the commercials, scolding me for being reactionary and uninformed ahem) and that it doesn't matter because it's in everything anyways and okay...maybe.  Maybe.  But did you see this article?  Short version:  they fed two groups of rats the same number of calories, but one group had access to calories from high fructose corn syrup and those rats?  Those rats were fatter and unhealthier.  On the same number of calories, the high fructose corn syrup rats were fatter.

Turns out?  Bagels are not hard to make.  Turns out?  It's not possible, in my home, for a bagel to make it through the 20-minute cool down period intact.  Six ingredients (one is water!), no chemicals, perfectly delicious.  

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Flowers in the Garden

Two weekends and many after work sessions, and this year's gardens are well underway!
I keep finding little surprises all over...I planted bulbs a couple of years ago and so many are sprouting ~ and spontaneously resprouting! ~ and I love love love them.

The poppies are no surprise, at all, and I've been hovering over them for at least a month.  And they don't disappoint...they open each day and close each evening and I think, truly, our state flower is one of the happiest little blooms I've ever met.

 While Tommy will gladly shoot hoops to keep me company in the gardens, Scotty is nobody's wallflower.  That kid is just about the most hands-on fellow I've ever met.   There are so many outdoor chores that I would love some help with (dig a hole!  grab that end!  hold this!) but I have to catch as catch can... this guy will water, and he will plant.   I'm on my own for everything else.

I'll give you a dollar if you can get that hose from him, by the way.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

I Love...

...these freckles

...this kid's sense of humor

Monday, March 22, 2010


Erik's been teaching Scotty how to play chess.  There's nothing cuter than listening to Scotty recite the names of the pieces, and trying to say words like "diagonal".  He also knows how to set up the board, and, since he also knows that "white always goes first", every game now starts with the unsettling cry of "I'm white!  I'm white!!"  Settle down, aryan youth.

Does four years old seem too young to learn?  It never would have occurred to me, but Erik's own dad (a chess fanatic) taught him when he was 6 or 7, and Erik was not surprised (and happened to be totally prepared) when Scotty asked him how to play.  He taught Tommy when he was only 4 years old, too.

We're not always so highbrow around here.  Certainly this is not news to anybody who has spent more than 6 minutes with us.  In addition to learning to play chess, both of my sons were playing a card game that they had made up this weekend.  With my yoga mat rolled out on the back patio (grrrr!) they sat facing each other, taking turns flipping cards face up from two stacks.  I'm not sure how it was decided, but somehow, they were able to determine that one of the cards would be a loser, and one of them would be a winner.

After each round, the winner got to throw a ball at the loser's face.


Friday, March 19, 2010


Scotty is so busy.  I love this picture of him, exactly because it is so him. 

He's starting to have so many of his very own interests.  He called me yesterday from my mom's and told me to "come over right away" because he was getting Grandma's "birthday party ready" (she was born in September) and when I asked him if he was making her cake or cookies he replied, "I'm making shrimp."

I see.

So let's just pull back a little and see what he has in the hopper.  This looks just about right!  Legos and the castle and his "picnic" (always!) are his constant companions.  Shoes, kicked off immediately upon entering the house, the car, the restaurant (ahem) and any other time you turn your back for 10 seconds.

(I had to laugh when our friend and neighbor, Lior, invited us to come by one rainy, cold night, a few weeks ago and, when I arrived, he pointed to my barefeet and said, "Now, now we know where he gets it!")

Throw pillows destroyed, check.  Kitty companion, check.  And then there are those papers, and these are definitely a new (and oh so sweet!) development.  Scotty has recently started drawing.  His baby-scribbles have (suddenly!) bloomed into the cutest little 'potato head' drawings!  He draws his entire family (we are usually engaged in a space battle of epic proportions) as large, wobbly heads, with a minimum of two arms and four legs growing as straight sticks from various aspects of the heads.  No bodies, no thank you, but two dots for eyes and an ever-present-smile make the family resemblance unmistakable.

I have a stack of these, and I can't get enough of them!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Beginning

The sunshine finally came this week, and not a moment too soon.  That's what I say.  Last weekend, it was sunny on Saturday but bitter cold in the wind.  (Look at me, acting like I live in Green Bay...But it was!  It was cold!)

But then Sunday came and it was glorious.  I went out back and did lots of work, interspersed of course with lots of lounging about.

I had shared this scary sight a few weeks ago, when I was taking inventory of what had happened to the backyard over the winter.

And after a few short hours I had stairs again!  And a raise patio again!  And an overflowing green bin again! 

I mixed in bird watching (and listening!) and tiny white butterflies flitted around me and the yard.  And I saw a unicorn, too!  And there was glitter, everywhere! 

The hill, though...that's for another day.

Besides, the tall grass on the hill serves a purpose.  Where's Scotty?!?

There he is!!!

I checked the 10-day weather report...there's more where this came from!  And it all coincides with the clock changes and suddenly...suddenly, life is so so so good. 

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


I'm not sure you're going to believe this, but...the most ridiculous thing happened to me!  To start at the beginning, my dear bloggy-friend Linda is somebody I "met" years ago when we were both writing about running and sneaking in other stories about our charmed and over-filled lives.  Linda, who lives on a working cattle ranch in Canada, is (minus the snow! thanks, but no thanks!) living my dream life.  She is crafty and creative, saucy and spectacular, and I visit her corner of the world every chance I get because it always involves herding dogs and horses, and what could possibly be wrong with that, I ask you? 

She was celebrating her 500th post, and hosted a generous give away that, can you see it coming?  I won.  Seriously!!!  Now, if you've been reading this blog you will note, with a raised eyebrow and tongue cluck no doubt, that this is a familiar scene.  I've also won fabric from the ultra-talented Rose Hip (Beatta).  I've also won a box of goodies from dear Daisy Cottage (Kim).   I've said it before and I'll say it again, I am a seriously lucky chick.  Seriously grateful chick, I should add!

Being able to count Linda in my circle of virtual friends has always been it's very own prize, so a $50 gift certificate to is truly icing on a sweet cake.  (People, let's face it.  A cupcake.  I love cupcakes!)

I use Erik's Amazon account, so I don't have my own Wish List queued up (Erik suggested I just pick the top three off of his Wish List.  Ahem.  No.)  but no worries.  There's never a shortage of things I absolutely cannot live without and nothing makes them more pleasing than finding them on my porch when I get home from work!  Just last week, we got a box of books for Tommy and an air popcorn popper from Amazon.  I won't be doing anything nearly that practical with my surprise gift, and I'm getting very close to making a decision.  Of course I'll keep you posted!

In the meantime, if you have anything like 50 seconds to spare, I can highly recommend this short video clip of my family, meeting the popper.  We are not wordly folks, I promise you.  :)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Early to Rise

Can you see Scotty in this picture?  The sun (sun!) was streaming in through the mostly glass backdoor, and I caught a picture of it because it made me so happy.  It wasn't until I downloaded it off my camera that I got extra extra happy, though!  That little silhouette in the back of the counter stool made my morning.

This early morning picture reminds me that I used to be a total night owl.  I still am, truth told.  I have always had my best energy late in the's never been unusual for me to get that second-wind and start in on a pile of laundry or a major project after midnight.  I get caught up in a book or some yarn and, next thing you know, it's 3 in the morning.  

I can't remember when it happened , but I started getting up early.  I believe it was last summer, when the bedtimes got later and I was home with the boys for our school break.  I just loved the quietness in the was often the only "quiet" that I could catch all day!  And it kind of became a habit.  (It's a very fragile habit, as I previously mentioned, it's not my natural clock!)   I even bake in the morning, before going to work.  I love to bake (this is pumpkin bread in the back row and banana (one row with nuts, one row without) up front) and my friend Perrin told me recently that I should take advantage of my willingness to start baking at 5 am by going to work at a bakery.  He thinks I'm odd, but he also receives several loaves each and every time I bake, so he keeps it to himself...most of the time. 
And even though I get my craft on whenever, I especially love to crochet before the rest of the house wakes up.   Just a silent companionship with the kitty laying across my feet.

Other times, I'll get right to work (my favorite up-and-at-'em trick?  tie on an apron!  it always makes me productive) cleaning the kitchen, hanging a load of laundry on the line, or, it's coming...making pancakes!

And, in the morning, is usually when I blog.  I'll go through pictures of the last couple of days, and I'll think about which pieces I want to remember right now, to help me get ready for this new day.  Not ever day is good...some days are downright crappy.  But every morning, when it's still quiet and my family is still sleeping, I have the chance to say today will be a great day.  And I remind myself of that by finding whatever was good (come on, no whammy!)  from yesterday and writing about it for just a minute each morning.

So, last week, during the week-that-would-not-end, it was unusual that I found myself stripped of my quiet time.  It seemed that no matter how early I got up, or how late I went to bed, there was always somebody (ahem) right under my feet, or wriggling their toes into my leg to warm up, or "helping" me.  Keeping me "company".    The first couple of days, it kind of bugged me.  I was totally off my rhythm, and the interruptions were tiresome.  But then, it kind of became my new rhythm, and now, sitting here this morning in a completely quiet house, tapping these words out on the keyboard, I kind of feel like going back there and waking somebody up.  To keep me company.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Well, Then.

This last week has been the usual whirlwind that constitutes my life, and we can add to it a laptop that needed serious attention to be brought back from the brink of death, opening day for Little League, and three seriously time consuming consulting jobs, and well....then.

Here we are.  And here we love to be!

While we were away, Scotty had an adorable pre-school performance.  They sang a song about friendship and "It's A Small World".  He really belted it out, too!  Then they came up to the front and told everyone about what makes a friend so special.  Scotty said that friends sit nice during circle time.  What a suck up!  I happen to know for a fact that he's a fool during circle time.  I don't care.  Look!  He loves me!

In fact, I'm going to have to talk to him about sitting down with Tommy and explaining to him just exactly how to sucker a mommy.  Because, during the first game, Tommy was so serious he hardly even knew we were there!
Look at the face.  It was a pretty emotional day, actually.  He was crying at one point.  (There's no crying in baseball!!!)  But he was so upset that he didn't get a hit, and he was up at bat two whole times, and nothing!  So we had the batting average talk (again) and then I told him that his team had 24 at bats, and exactly one hit.  They won, but the first half of the first "official" kid-pitch Little League game?  Kind of brutal, dude.

I also just finished making the CUTEST thing(s) (if I do say so myself :0) but I can't share until I finish the rest of the top secret (that also happens to be an exceedingly late) project.  But for today, here I am, dipping a toe in and saying hi and dreaming of a beautiful spring week.  I'll take 7 more days, just like yesterday, pleaseandthankyou.  Here's to a dreamy week for all of us, in fact!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Letters and Numbers

After the bathroom construction, I woke up to find these letters perched above the new bathroom door:

That's...unfortunate.  It's better now:

Last night Tommy set up a game night ("I feel really good inside right now," he announced during yahtzee.  Could you die?) and it was so fun!  It's pretty challenging to have any kind of game with both Scotty and Tommy at the same time.

Part of the issue is the age difference.  Tommy is five years older than Scotty, and he can legitimately play lots of board games, keep his own score, and understand rules.  Scotty...cannot.  Not only that, but Scotty is a punk.  Honestly, he's so competitive!  And what a poor sport!  That kid can't stand to lose. 

It's funny, Tommy was never like that.  He's always been so sweet.  Even as a toddler, the typically obnoxious ego-centric stage, he was always the best sharer.  Look, Scotty is also sweet, don't get me wrong, but he just cares  about winning so much!  When Tommy was little, I used to always let him win everything.  Erik never did.  He taught him to play chess when he was four years old, and they've always played video games together.  Whatever they do, he may pull back a little, but he never 'lets' him win.  It wasn't long before Tommy was legitimately pwning him on Mario Cart and he's a pretty outstanding chess player, too.  I've always thought that Erik's gaming philosophy (encouraging, but not condescending) helped to create Tommy's balanced attitude towards playing, winning, and losing.

But now that I've met Scotty, I have to believe some of that is just hard-wired.  He's exhausting!  And 'game night' was no different.  OH DEAR.  It took us a while to find a rhythm that worked, but in the end, Erik, Tommy and I played a round of the dice game, and Scotty "recorded" scores on a scratch sheet of paper.  "That's 12 on the fours," I'd tell him, scooping up the dice and passing the cup to Tommy.  "Got it!" Scotty would report, while carefully scribing sweet little scribbles inside a random box on the scoring page. 

Good times. 

Monday, March 1, 2010

Things I have not done:
  • Charged my camera battery
  • Downloaded video and photos from the memory card
  • The dishes
  • The laundry
  • Seen my cousin in her play!  (I had wanted to sneak down yesterday for her final matinee performance, but, sigh, life does get in the way, sometimes.)

Things I have done:
  • Went with my mom to visit Mimi
  • Weeded the front yard
  • Planted the first of the veggies ~ fingers crossed I'm not too early!  (I was so late last year, I fear I may be overcompensating...)
  • Baseball practice!
  • Finished putting away everything that was displaced from the bathroom construction.  

And things I'm currently doing:
  • Worrying sick about Mimi.  After our brief (but oh-so-wonderful) overnight stay, I left with a heavy but singing heart.  I love that woman.  I thought I might head up there to keep my mom company, but you know, when I got there I realized...I went to see her for me, too.  But I feel burdened, too, by her cancer.  It takes her breath and fills her lungs and she's back in the hospital yesterday with pneumonia and the MRI shows spots on her other lung and it's such a roller coaster of hope and despair that I hardly know what to do with myself.  I'll sit tight (oh, life, it goes on) while I wait to hear from my mom, who is going up today and staying for a few days, but I feel my nerves on the edge.  I am up before 5 am every morning, and I find myself lost in thought, deep in a project, trying to keep my mind from wandering.
Hmmmm....not the most auspicious start to the week.  I'll do better.