Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Honest Scrap tag

Sarah passed along this Honest scap award - which does appeal to my need to confess all.

I am glad to have discovered Sarah's wonderful blog.

1. I cry during many movies (comedies too), during So You Think You Can Dance and even over commercials; even those on the radio. This is only since having children and especially when there is David Grey music or some other poignant soundtrack involved. I don't cry in my real life; sometimes with joy but not often.

2. I have been known to dance to the Leona Lewis song, Bleeding Love and even, a few years ago, to Roses are Red by Aqua when the kids were playing it. Dionne Warwick/Burt Bacharach-collaboration seventies pop songs get me singing passionately. I also like Regina Spektor, the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, the Weepies, Milton Nascimento... I have versatility.

3. I have a corn-syrup issue. Not that I won't drink an occasional Coke. But I do seriously resent those who created corn-syrup. I'm not so thrilled with the Wal Mart phenomenon either.

4. I can be a bad correspondent. I am getting way better since the advent of e-mail, blogging and facebook. Luckily, I have friends and family who invite us there or themselves here, or my children and I would be lacking in social interaction. Though, Gillen and Jesse would pick up the phone and call someone. Thankfully, they don't have my phone phobia.

5. A few Wednesdays ago, in the middle of a So You Think You Can Dance episode that had a disco number, while home alone, I ran into the bathroom (the only room with a mirror bigger than a tea tray) and danced full out for about ten minutes. My hips were doing figure eights, my arms were moving as fast as limbs in a hurricane, my neck and head were snaking...I was back in NYC at studio 54. I was feeling it.

This could explain why I was so intensely exhausted for the next two days.

If only my body could have stayed young while the rest of me joyfully aged.

6. I'm terrible with a ball - any kind of sport including a ball - though I did once claim to at least be good at soccer. I'm sure I exaggerated about my soccer skills.

7. Sometimes I exaggerate.

8. I have good ideas and enthusiasm, but not much staying power. Otherwise, I'd have finished several brilliant novels and my hallway would be the perfect color orange. I have a theory that once I buy idea paint and start listing my ideas, boldly, in purple and blue and orange on my wall, more of these ideas will reach fruition. Plus, the resident guys can share their visions there as well.

I love listing things I want when the tomatoes come in (our profitable season) but then change my mind and hit the thrift stores.

8. I did just follow through on a burning six-month long desire for a Blendtec blender and am making smoothies and juices and popsicles like crazy. I am a Persephone wannabe in the kitchen.

9. I am gullible and an optimist.

10. I only change sheets every three weeks, unless there has not been enough bathing going on. The guests get our best sheets - 800 thread count, a beautiful soft green and washed in lavender water... (I exaggerated about the lavender).

I would like to pass this along to the following:

1. Mindy

2. Jesse

3. Kelli

4. Laura

5. Gail

6. Claudia (who appreciates a scrap as much as I do).

7. Frank

Visit to the Haworths

We finally made it back to north GA to see Mindy and family. Rocking out to their old tape-mixes in their kitchen while they cook us up feasts and cool cocktails (mojitas and Pimms this time) is so much fun. These people can cook. Can rock out. Can laugh.I also loved watching these two European-born soccer fanatics think (for a few sweet moments) that the U.S.A. team might beat Brazil in the world final.The nerf gangstas:But the highlight was a trip to a beautiful, waterfall driven watering hole in Tennessee:Good times!

Friday, June 26, 2009

The return of old favorites

Poker (Jesse, i.e. "Lord of Diamond", got some help with his poker face):
The heirloom tomatoes with basil and buffalo mozzarella:Cucumber salad, this time made by Nicolas, with arugula, feta cheese, pine nuts and parsley:It cured me of my chronic fatigue blues last night. Well, the salad and So You Think You Can Dance.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Gifts from Gillen

Gillen has been working a lot this week at the farm. Every night he enters the house with a new "surprise" for me. The first day, he brought this beautiful bouquet that he'd picked for me. Then he brought tiny wild plums and blackberries, and a handful of blueberries, from the back fields. Today he plans to brave the back-field briars to pick more blackberries - enough for me to make a cobbler. Mmmm.

As evidenced below, Jesse and I have spent the heat wave in the art room. He has been making more cards for his Treno game. I have been playing with paper, pens and glue. Fracas has been happy to have the company, in what has very much become her room.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Father's Day

The boys are back in town! We are so happy to have them home.

It was a good week. Jesse created a video game called "Sacred" and Gillen had a blast discovering the world of Crime Scene Investigation. I didn't rewrite a book or anything but that will come. I'm taking my time on the rewrite. I did de-clutter closets, photos and my mind!

Back to the joy of baseball in the backyard followed by pool relief.
Jesse is wearing his new baseball birthday gifts - a Blue Jays hat from Poppy and cleats from us.

This is one great papa. It will be challenging to show him just how much we love him. Gillen made him meusli this morning. They both made sweet cards. I got him some new headphones. We're going to see "Up" with him later. It's not a parade, like I'd like. But it's a start.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


This week, Jesse is in a long awaited video game creating camp. Gillen is in a CSI camp. They are in Roswell at Nicolas' sister's house, swimming in a big pool every afternoon and loving their camps.

I am on retreat from my normal routine, savoring this opportunity. I've de-cluttered a closet (it took three hours), meditated every day, exercised, scrapbooked, read and written.

I'll get a date with Nicolas tonight.

Shaking up the routine makes me really happy. And, I'll be really ready for the joyful sounds of the boys to fill the house again.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Jesse is nine

In honor of Jesse's birthday, a game! It is in the spirit of his game, Creative Titles, in which everyone titles a picture and a judge gets to pick their favorite title.

So, here is the picture (just stay focused on what is in the plate):At least you don't have to eat it. ;)

Believe it or not, this is probably the hundredth cake I've made in my life. My concept may have gotten away from me.

Here was Jesse, on his birthday eve, at the end of their third performance that day of "Beauty Lou and the Beast". He is dreaming of the southern food he's about to eat at The Blue Willow Inn.
After a big southern "supper", Nicolas and Helen (who have been awake at this point since 4 am for the farmer's market) are dreaming of bed.
So is Jesse:
He is having a relaxing birthday today.

Friday, June 12, 2009

flowers, birds, and the bees

This morning at the farm, I got to spend some time making bouquets with the masters - Helen and Elizabeth. These red ones, in Elizabeth's hand, are called "Tassel" (maybe tassle, I'm not sure). They are my current favorite. I had to leave to pick up Gillen from his overnight camp, and then he came back with me to make a few more. He likes to work with flowers.

We missed him this week. He loved the camp. The best part? After he got all of his new friends' phone numbers and had gotten into our car, he said that he couldn't wait to hug Jesse hello. Sweet.

Back to the farm. Look at the beautiful bouquet that Helen made (many of them, in challengingly shaped ceramic bowls) for a wedding. She used the dill flowers as a base to hold up the other flowers. Genius.

Check out the garlic, when it goes to flower:Of course, a bee had to make an appearance, to remind me of what I should be doing (and have been, a bit, every day - rereading my bee book and being inspired again about bees, while counting on the rewriting inspiration to make an appearance next week). Here is the bird part of today's story:The Carolina Wrens have come back. Having found their outdoor annual nesting spot now turned into a snazzy room for the cat, they moved to our front porch and made themselves at home in a few bike helmets. So cool! We'll be able to see the babies much more easily.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Local meal, with a mime

A few of Gillen's poults encouraging one another that he will be back from camp soon:
They'd be glad to know that last night's dinner was meatless. It was also all local, even the wine. My cousin Lake was here, having worked all day at the farm. He helped cook the stir-fry, with lots of summer squash and zucchini, garlic, torpedo onions, turnips and eggs, all from the farm (all but the rice and soy sauce). We also ate our first green beans of the season and had our cucumbers in a salad.

Also visiting was this sweet mime:

And his darker twin:

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

To Bee or Not to Bee

I'm really pushing the Hamlet word play this week.

A year ago, while the boys were in day camps, I wrote the first draft of a novel. It is called The O'Riley Bees and is 50,000 words long. I mentioned here that after six months of letting it sit, I read it to the kids and they liked it. I marked this month, in my mind, as the time when I would write the second draft.

This morning would have been the beginning of that endeavor.

Last night, instead of preparing, I used many words becoming more transparent here on my blog. This morning, I took yet more pictures of flowers at the farm and visited with the many workers (Nicolas has four additional helpers today, so I can't use farming as a way to get out of this).

Procrastination may clean my house or inspire a dance (I am alone after all), or too much blogging.

I like my protagonist - fifteen year old Finn. I like the girl he falls for, Bea. The Irish ghosts are fun. It's just hard to cozy up to the bees. You know?

It's time to go clean or something. I definitely need to walk away from this blog.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Food freedom - no longer as scary

(It seems to be my time for confessing/analyzing/rambling. I'll get back behind the lens soon. Go have a snack and visit a concise blogger while you can ;)

This morning, Jesse went to his first day of theater camp. He goes every year and loves it. A few hours later, I dropped Gillen off down the street at Charlie Elliott Nature Center, for five days and four nights of camp. He has been excitedly waiting for four years to be old enough to go to the overnight version of his nature camp. I'm sure he'll be fine. My only concern had been that he and Jesse would get sick before these camp weeks - they also have a week of cool day camps while staying at their aunt and uncle's home next week. This "concern" of mine brings me to a past fear it's time I confessed here - the my food issue; the big source of my uncalled for, soon to be dropped for real, worrying. Worrying was the step up from more active protecting. I used to spend too much energy protecting my children from what I saw as the dangers of "bad" food. I felt that bad food had contributed to my mother's death and to my having chronic fatigue and to every bad day I still had. I had learned from my mistakes and hoped I could spare them their own "mistakes". Pretty crazy. I think on some deep level I even hoped that I was protecting them from death.

Eventually, painstakingly, finally, I saw my belief system for what it was. I got real about the fact that this is their journey. Plus, they might just have inherited the better immune systems of others in their families. It sure seems that way. I had an uncle that lived for a crazy number of decades on pretty much nothing but alcohol and cigarettes. And, I started to trust that they might even find their own way to choices that were best for them. As with their educational freedom, these are their choices to make. I can only strew lots of options.

Gillen went to an overnight birthday party this past Saturday night. The hosting mother is infamous for the large stores of Little Debbies, chips, candy, soda and other packaged food she keeps on hand - mass quantities of it that she uses to show visitors her love. She is very generous with this love. For breakfast on Sunday, they had bacon, sausage, biscuits, sweet tea (my favorite), eggs and hot dogs. Gillen came home raving about the sausage, but nauseous.

That same day, Jesse and I spent the entire day at Six Flags with his friend Logan and Logan's mom as both boys' early birthday celebration. You aren't allowed to bring food or water into Six Flags so we bought the expensive food there, all day. We rode the Mind Bender, and had loads of other looping, swirling, bumping fun. Jesse announced that this was his favorite birthday celebration ever. Over the course of the day, Jesse ate a Johnny Rocket milk shake, a cheeseburger, onion rings, a coke and ice cream. Maybe it was the sheer quantity, but I believe it was more to do with the quality, that made him throw up later that night at home.

He and Gillen were both dragging yesterday, due to their exciting Saturdays. Without my bringing it up, they both requested lots of salad and vegetables. They didn't want dessert. Today, they are going to camp fully restored.

This all goes to confirm, yet again (I seem to need lots of confirmation on this topic) that it was the right choice to start letting them make their own food choices, completely, and let them learn to listen to their own bodies. Their organic farming father, their food knowledgeable mom and, of course, their nutritionist grandmother have contributed acres of unsolicited food facts to the playing field. Gillen watched King Corn with us, they've gone to organic farming conferences, to Slow Food events, and many meals have been seasoned with our feelings about industrial farming and our country's food policies.

I no longer make frightening faces when they choose food and drink that I wouldn't choose. I have also noticed that they are less drawn to the foods that we used to ban when they were little. I think they're losing their fear that it will be the last bit of blue dye or high fructose corn syrup that they'll ever see. They choose to eat so many vegetables and fruits and love all kinds of food.

I'm sure that it's not the end of the battle, this fight with my inner demons. But for now, my more trusting side seems to be taking over the helm.

Friday, June 05, 2009

TV or not TV

That is so often the question.

It was my question, when my kids were younger and I'd watched a few too many "Barney" episodes. I also read a book with lots of articulate information about what TV does to our brains. But very shortly after that, due to an article by Sandra Dodd in a homeschooling magazine, I found myself researching unschooling, reading constantly on the old Unschooling Discussion email list, and I was introduced to a radically different way to view television. It was talked about as being just one more resource in the unschooled child's diverse world of resources. Parents talked about what had been sparked in their children as a result of seeing some TV show - not brain dead zombie behavior but rather a journey of connections that started with the excitement they'd felt while seeing an animal or hearing a song or experiencing humor in a new way.

I decided to trust my kids. They weren't the kids from that anti-TV book's studies who used TV after hours of schooling as a means to check out. I watched shows with them and we often talked about what we saw, whether it be commercials (some of which we loved) or kids being rude to one another.

Over the past decade, I've watched my kids be inspired by what they've seen on TV. Jesse loves to recap a show in its entirety and then give commentary about why it was great, or ridiculous.

Plus, they watch about as much TV as I did growing up. Not so much. I was allowed very limited TV, so watched as much as possible, fighting with my brother (while my mother was at work) over whether we got to watch "The Brady Bunch" or "Hogan's Heroes". Because my kids can watch when they want, they don't have a sense of scarcity about it. There are days when it isn't even turned on (until Nicolas or I turn it on at night :).

I'm writing about this because of my recent relapse into the consideration of no TV. This was provoked by being in a peaceful, always filled with good music, TV-free environment in Montana and by the violent (inner) reaction I was starting to have to the Sponge Bob theme music; my kids' primary choice for what seemed like the past six months.

I included them in the discussion of whether we should take a TV-break (or Cartoon Network break). I proposed different scenarios, most of which they were surprisingly open to trying. We were discussing the possibility of going several months without, with lots of netflix and TV from the computer as an alternative, when suddenly, almost mid-discussion, my show entered the dialogue. Jesse mentioned that while I'd been in Montana, So You Think You Can Dance had restarted.

I'd forgotten.

So You Think You Can Dance?


"Well, how about we just watch one episode of it and see how important it is to us?" I asked.

I watched the shows I'd missed (we love TiVo). They watched with me. Jesse started choreographing dances again in his room. Gillen asked about my old life as a dancer. We got passionately involved with the dancers' auditions. Jesse said that he wanted to try a hip-hop class. The biggest factor - we get break-dancing-in-the-living-room and dancing-on-the-couch intense joy from watching this show!

The decision is definitely to TV. Here's to hoping that our lives continue to be full and interesting as a result of all types of input and exploration, including TV.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

A day with Jesse

Gillen spent the day at the farm with his friend Jack so it was just Jesse and I for the whole day. I really like the one on one time with both boys.

We read The Golden Compass. We created our own Bananagrams word game with tiles from an old scrabble set that belonged to my parents in the sixties. We are now seriously addicted to this game and can't wait to play with more people again. We made banana bread, to eat while playing Bananagrams, of course, and ate most of it. I watched Jesse practice baseball. I am so lucky to be this yellow-Croc-wearing, super talkative, baseball-loving, game-creating, tender hearted guy's mom.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Boy friendship

Today, Gillen recruited his new friend David to help him shovel and spread compost.
Jesse and the Wilson brothers played lots of hide and seek, tag and their usual raiding game with swords and sticks - sorry, they call them "maces".

They do this for hours and rarely give each other a scratch. Last night, this brave six year old boy spent the night here, without his brothers. It was his first sleepover without them, ever. He really wanted it. It was challenging, in the dark, with so many new sounds and a new bed, but he went the distance.
Even with the constant physical play, the volume, the booger and butt talk, I really like hanging out with these boys.

Monday, June 01, 2009

A few Montana moments

The beautiful mama, Bhu. See her daughter Isha's sweet head? Doesn't it just bring you back to the smell? That new sweet smell that stops time and brings hardened men to their knees. Ahhhh.

Another bit of Isha that really got me was this sight - Isha in the Moby carrier (wish they'd made something this cool when I had babes) with nothing but her thick socks sticking out.
I really like her mama's hot pink sweatpants. Such a comfortable yet enlivening choice for those first months after having a baby. They should pass these out to new mothers.

Below - the fire starter, the dad, and one of the funniest men alive - Matt. Here he was cooking us up some Montana Rib-Eyes that Bhu's mom Elizabeth had gotten for us.
Elizabeth was fantastic. She cooked delicious meals and froze others for later. She did laundry. She even washed windows. It was really fun to be with she and Bhu for the few days that our visits overlapped. Thirty-one years ago, I was 14 years old and Bhu was still growing in Elizabeth's belly. I stayed with Elizabeth and my father that summer and was able to bond with my new baby sister for the first six weeks of her life. It is incredible to now meet her baby. sigh. If only Montana were a bit closer.

I've fallen in love.
One more thing - I just realized that two of my favorite parts of Matt and Bhu's cozy log cabin home are in this picture - the very long legged wombat that my brother and Naomi sent to Isha from Australia is to the right, and "Ashley", the red patterned octopus that my talented sister created, is to the left.

Next time I see her, Isha will probably be dragging these two around with her while she runs around exploring her world.