Sunday, February 27, 2011

Sunday Morning


Would the deliciousness of Sunday morning be lost if all mornings were Sunday morning? Of course it would, at least a little. So I tell myself Monday morning. Today, though, nice to dream, what if this was everyday?

Right now, my Sunday morning looks and sounds a little like... dog sleeping at the bottom of the bed. Husband and daughter thumping through the house, accompanied by sweet, high pitched child's voice bossing daddy about. Birds chirping outside. Some knitting in front of me, Cascade Superwash on the needles, slowly becoming Child's Placket Neck Sweater. Just finished listening to Keeping Chickens on Mother Earth News radio. Rumbling tummy requests hot tea, with some yogurt and granola. Granola was a treat from our local Co-op this week; Dory carried the bag through the store with gritty, three-foot tall determination, and finally I gave in, because, honestly, it looked delicious. Turns out it is. Too pricey for an every week buy. (Add to to-do list: find good granola recipe.)

A little later today, Husband and I have plans for a rare and exciting trip to the movies, maybe even getting lunch beforehand, while Grandpa and Grante (pronounced Gran-T) Mojo look after our little girl. Movies were once an every weekend excursion for us and now I average perhaps three or four a year. Something I thoroughly enjoy regardless of film; the experience is a thrill simply for its uncommon occurence. My Sunday morning lesson; the rarity makes it more precious.

Happy Sunday to you all!

(No worries, Dory is not suddenly regressing, suffering from some kind of Merlin backwards-aging. No new pictures to show, so found one from this time last year. Can you believe the change?)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

It's Started...

We ordered seeds Tuesday night. In Friday's mail we found...

Included was a free seed packet for wildflowers and also a note apologizing for any delays as they were swamped with orders. Tuesday night order, Friday morning delivery. Concern about delay in delivery? That is good service.

On Saturday, we went to our local nursery and what an experience. Being afflicted with Budgetus tightus and so shopping very little, I've discovered walking into a store can be sensory overload. This is true especially for little ones. Dory has been to Target a handful of times in her life and the last two times, she looked around in wide-eyes wonder, and said, "Mommy, yook at all dis stuff!" I either want to flee, overwhelmed, or I want to start buying everything (its so cheap!) and so must flee, to protect our hard-earned and carefully rationed budget.

Walking into Stanley's however, was, well, lovely. It was well lit (naturally, from a durable glass ceiling), the air felt clean and clear (from the tables and tables and tables of plants), the sounds were soothing (from the many outdoor fountains, yes something ornamental, to buy, I realize). And their employees weren't just helpful, they were eager. Passionate. Excited to help.

And for someone, such as myself, who knows nothing on this matter of gardening, except what I've recently read or gleaned from conversation, this was of tremendous value. For instance, when you're filling your own beds with dirt, you need lots of dirt. LOTS. My expectation of four or five bags- I was a little off. A cheerful, knowledgeable employee, a woman, in fact, I'd seen at our downtown library's storytime with her two boys, informed me, we need a 'scoop'. She directed us away from purchasing at their store and pointed us towards two different mulch companies where we might get our scoop. The Wow-factor is high with Stanley's folks. We bought a few bags of organic compost, to complement the scoop, a bag of seed starter dirt and (here was my impulse buy) a small impatiens to tend in our window until its warm enough to transplant. That is one draw back to starting with seeds; there's no immediate green something in the house.

Grandpa Mojo kindly and generously donated time and energy into preparing wood for the boxes during the week. He came over Sunday and he and Matthew set to work. Magic happened. Our vegetable beds started to take shape.

The building of the boxes...

Just a few steps closer to our first, real garden, and my dream of a self-sufficient life.

(Somehow I failed to get a picture of the other two finished beds, in daylight, so this will suffice for now.)

There you go. Start some seeds this week indoors (luckily we are an egg eating family, so we'll get some mileage out of all these cardboard egg cartons I've saved). Get our scoop this weekend, mix dirt and let's see what happens.

I must stop here to marvel- this is, I hope, much of our vegetable and fruit consumption for the year. And it fits in a yellow manila envelope and costs less than $3 to ship. Even if half of our garden was a major flop, the money saved (not to mention other factors, fuel, cost to the environment, etc) is immense. We will come out so far ahead. This does not include the great amount of family time, sunshine and enjoyment I expect us to reap as we work this garden together. My only question: why haven't we done this sooner?

Actually, why isn't everyone doing this?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

What Will They Say About Us?

Since Dory started enjoying books (really enjoying them, not just wanting to mouth them or rip the pages) we've been reading stories at bedtime. This has been months now, maybe even a year? Hard to recall in fuzzy mama memory.

Occasionally its a quick night; on nights where she's exhausted, she's out in the middle of the first book. Most nights, its anywhere from three to eight stories and lately I've felt impatient. Impatient to finish, for her to fall asleep.

(Dory at eighteen months)

Last night, on the sofa, I performed my typical feats of nursing and reading simultaneously. Just as thoughts, that mental chatter, started to pop up ("surely it will be soon; she must be tired") and words to follow ("one last story, OK, sweetie? Last one."), an entirely new image popped into my brain. I imagined her, as an adult, relating to me how our ritual of reading at bedtime was a cherished childhood memory. I heard her, really, almost heard the words, saying she treasured that time, she felt special, loved, safe and valued. That she, as an adult, appreciated that we would read "one more story" and then "one more story" after that, that we read them gladly and with pleasure.

(Dory at two and a half)

And the words "last one, last time" disappeared. We read until she fell asleep, somewhere near the end of "The Sword and the Stone" from Walt Disney's Classic Storybook, a book she loves though I don't think she's actually seen one movie from the entire collection. And then for another half hour after that, we stayed cuddled there on the sofa, she, this long, slender toddler, sprawled across my arms and I imagined myself, saying back to her, in those later years, "Dory, our bedtime stories are some of my best memories too. Some of my very best."

(Last week, napping the day after I declared 'She's all done with naps, I think!' Ah, we wise and all-knowing parents...)

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Off the Grid-iness

What's going on around here? Something is different..

This morning, one of our first to-do's was to take our homemade chicken stock, simmering through the night, off the stove and drain it. We left a a stewing hen's carcass, carrots, onions, celery and a bunch of parsley behind as we poured out a silky, golden stock, smelling, though I say it myself, heavenly. Bone broth, as I learned from Nourishing Traditions, a cookbook I find myself pouring over the way spiritual scholars seek out the great religious texts of the world, is "extremely nutritious, containing the minerals of bone, cartilage, marrow and vegetables as electrolytes, a form that is easy to assimilate." Mary Fallon, co-author of NT, attributes "the decline in the use of meat, chicken, and fish stocks" as a "lamentable outcome of our hurry-up, throwaway lifestyle." Few of us buy meat still in tact, "on the bone" as Fallon calls it, unlike our "thrifty ancestors [who] made use of every part of the animal." Homemade chicken stock...

At the library yesterday, after making a large selection from the children's side, we stopped off in the gardening section, only to meander a few rows over, past animal care (where Dory selected a book on hamsters), before cookbooks, there! that book! Made from Scratch: The pleasures of discovering a homemade life. An unexpected find that went straight into the bag, with great delight.

A slew of books, actually, littered around the house (Handmade Home and Coop); on hold at the library (Radical Homemakers); online magazines checked on a daily basis (Mother Earth News and Mary Jane's Farm)...

Yesterday morning, awake before the rest of the family, I sat in our living room, pouring through our seed catalogue, checking and double-checking that we had all we wanted and no more. We picked Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds for delving into the world of growing our own food. Our virtual shopping cart is now full to the point of tipping over and yet I thought, I bet this is a drop in the bucket to real homesteaders...

Homesteading? Is that what we're moving towards?

Surely not. Off to a farm forty miles from anything? Hmm... I love where we live, to me centrally located to what's most important (parents within a fifteen minutes drive, our local park and library a quarter mile walk, many friends anywhere from three to fifteen minutes away, a farmer's market a three mile drive on three different days, Matthew's work and mine easily accessible). Creating our own energy... Matthew's first question: is wind-powered satellite-television possible?

Yet books about keeping a family cow and how to raise your own chickens appeal to me.

Maybe this isn't a surprise. Moving out of the mainstream appeals to me lately, not different for different's sake, but a genuine questioning of what I value and what I hope to model to our next generation. We're already parenting in mostly unheard of way (still trying to follow Dory's lead, in co-sleeping, breastfeeding, cloth diapering until potty trained, the list goes on), so its not surprising these other worlds would start to pull me in.

I would have thought this a tiny community, difficult to find and impossible to incorporate into an everyday lifestyle, available mostly through beautiful blogs and websites. Not so. In fact if I start to look around, I can see where it's been happening around me this entire time. Mental flashbacks to my parent's garden when I was three and four and my dad's stories about me picking tiny green tomatoes far too soon. Some of our first friends when we moved home, who live on a tiny farm, with goats and sheep, she spinning her own wool, both of them commuting half an hour into work everyday. Another friend who makes her own yogurt, juice, broth, dried fruit, the list goes one, while, during winter, a supermarket and interstate sit in view behind the woods and creek at the back of her house. A neighbor one street away who used to keep chickens...

I'm curious how many of us have these longings as of late? Perhaps disillusionment with work, the government, the media, stemming from a realization the promise given won't be fulfilled by that particular establishment, that their brand of happiness just doesn't do for me. Maybe a sudden longing, as generations before us pass on, a call from the past, tugging at the fingers and heart to find the same dirt that slipped through our great-grandparents hands. Or a modern concern, an understanding we don't want to be labeled the "throwaway" society, this isn't the legacy we want to leave behind...

Check "all of the above" for me.

So something is afoot, something definitely moves through the house. I have no idea what I'm doing and, because I came of age during the boom, I mostly look to books and websites for understanding. Another something on the list, sandwiched between "find raw milk source" and "learn to sew"- talk to people. Find people! Other living, breathing humans, preferably in the same room people from who to learn.

And if any of this sounds like I am disparaging technology or haranguing how life has fallen apart since the development of the internet, let me relate this snippet from moments ago. Dory, at two and a half, just plopped up on my lap to nurse, and with the laptop open in front of her announced: "Mommy, yook! I'm having bobos and pushing buttons on da internet!"

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

My Tribes

There are two groups, since I became a mama, that I joined, two groups that I now can't imagine 'mothering' without their support: the first, Attachment Parenting Int., the second, Holistic Moms Network.

I found one through the other, stumbling onto HMN after finding API. They have both been amazing lifelines to other mothers, family choices, and support.

At the start of last year, Dory turned eighteen months old and I suddenly felt a little lighter, a little freer... like someone who had some extra time. I decided I wanted to lend a hand to these groups that introduced me to women I now consider dear friends, helped sustain and uplift me during difficult times, brought me information and knowledge and empowered me in the, often unusual choices, I made as a mother and we made as a family. Turns out, what our local Holistic Moms group needed was a new chapter leader.


So after an OK year last year, I finally feel like I have started to hit my stride, organizing and coordinating this great group of women and mothers. Then February came and I realized knowing my topic for the month was not the same thing as scheduling a speaker for the month... oops.

All of this to say, we had a lovely, quiet, meet-and-greet meeting this last Tuesday, with about eight of us, four regulars and four new mamas and most of our children (a few are now in school) coming up with ideas for our group, getting to know each other, offering suggestions about local pediatricians, diaper rash, eating habits and basically bonding in that hit-the-ground running we mothers seem to do.

I like that about us mamas. I like that so many of us have lost our pretenses and come to the discussion simply, honestly, wanting to help, wanting to learn. I feel so fortunate to know so many lovely, amazing women and their bright and beautiful children.

If you're in the area and would like to catch the next meeting, mark Tuesday, March 8th on your calendar. We'll have a leader from our local Weston A. Price chapter speak about this traditional, thoughtful, healing nutrition. I will post more soon. In the mean time, be well and a lovely Wednesday to you!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

A Surprisingly Ordinary Story

As I mentioned in a recent post, Dory and I bring home stacks of books from the library. These books go many places. Different rooms in our house, our car, to my job, Matthew's car- these are books on the move. And we haven't, yet, lost a single book. Imagine that.

Until last week, when Dory picked a book to bring with her (a book we never actually read) on a trip to the park. I, theory would have it, being better prepared to look after a book than she, took the book from her before I helped her down from her car seat. I then forgot the book in the place where many of us forget things when exiting a car: on top of said vehicle.

I remembered that book about two hours after we came home from the park. I remembered it balanced precariously on the edge of the roof of the car. I remembered, if such a thing is possible, not remembering it when we left. I resigned myself to "buying" our first library book.

During my recent solo trip, the librarian and I went through the list of books and could not find this title anywhere. Not anywhere! And I realized what had happened. Allow me to enlighten you, with this quick preface: I believe (most days, I believe) we live in a kind, benevolent Universe under the influence of an unconditional, loving Spirit (I would say God, but welcome and appreciate any word of awe and magnitude that fills that space for you). I realized, somehow, this magical, almighty Power manufactured a scenario wherein this particular book missed the check-out process, that somehow we walked out of the library with a book never borrowed and it was this very book we subsequently lost. Amazing.

I told Matthew the story and began to explain what must have happened when he interrupted to say, "Someone found it and returned it to the library? That was nice."

Um, yes. Yes. Yes, it was, wasn't it? Some person at the park found our book, identified it as a library book and then took the time to return it to the library.

I like his explanation better. And I can't help but think it still works in harmony, though on a less extraordinary scale, with my story. I think, actually, its the very ordinary niceness of it that makes his story better.

Thank you, to whoever-you-are out there, with your respect for books and libraries and mostly for your simple, kind gesture.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


Today through SouleMama I stumbled across another lovely blog, MommyCoddle. Roaming around her site I came across this thoughtful, gentle explanation as to her family's choice to homeschool. And, if for no other reason than so I might remember it for later years when we are hopefully following the same path, I wanted to link it here. What a soft, tender, and heartfelt discussion for this, I'm realizing, controversial choice. Definitely worth a read and consideration for any other mamas curious on this subject.