Thursday, December 29, 2011

A family trip to the movies.

My parents are in town, which has been lovely. We went to the movies last night to see We bought a Zoo, which I loved. The 4:20 movie was sold out, so we had to wait for the 6:45 movie, which might have been a bit too late.

During the previews, both kids screamed each time on ended. "Mom, is it over? What happened?" For every preview.

Then my dad bought the giant trough of popcorn, which immediately demanded the full attention of the children, particularly Remick, who ate twice his body weight in popcorn. Raph took him to the bathroom twice trying to ward of the inevitable, which came near the end of the movie, when Remick started screaming, "Will you wipe my bum?" At this point Makili was asleep on my lap.

So Raph took Remick, and when we found him again after the movie, Remick was at the video games, with his socks pulled up to his knees, with his little tush hanging out holding a bazooka.

I eventually couldn't carry Makili all the way to the car, so I put him down and he was walking, but I realized after he ran into a door frame really hard that he was walking with his eyes closed.

It was pretty funny.

Friday, December 23, 2011

holiday elving

Nevermind that the mess is overtaking my life. We're making stuff together! We have had such a fun time this year elving. Raph figured out that there were 24 spaces between the ballusters on the railing (who sits there and counts that?), so we made pom-poms for our advent calendar. I'm going to fancify it a bit more next year, with glittery clips and ceramic numbers, but I have really enjoyed the pompoms. And then, there are the ornaments! Salt dough and wood mostly this year. Total love.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Moments at Grammy and Opa's house.

We had a really great time in Pittsburgh with my parents. We visited a bunch of museums where we say dinosaurs, dug for dinosaurs, made our own collection (which happened to be dinosaurs that were red and yellow.)

We had mellow mornings together
Evenings of Dora and snuggles
And lots of attention for both my boys, so that their momma could put her feet up:)

All in all it was a terrific visit.


Makili just asked me how to spell "All drains lead to the ocean."

I was really pondering where he might have heard this, and it just occured to me it was probably Nemo, which he hasn't even seen lately.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Sort of how I feel at the moment

I complained enough about my missing cord that Raph went and pulled out the card reader he was going to give to me for Christmas. But I mean really, I'm a month behind on pictures. Pittsburgh, Thanksgiving, December.

This is Makili in Pgh doing a project where he tries to recreate a famous painting. Clearly this was hard work for him. That's how I feel lately. I feel so unproductive, and yet I never feel like I have any time. Viscious cycle. But I'm excited about many things too.

Friday, December 09, 2011

About the Holiday

I so struggle to walk the line of enjoying Christmas without overdoing the materialism of the holidays. Today we decorated our tree. To start with, I struggle with the tree. I know they grow the trees for the purpose, but it still seems awful to cut so many trees down for a holiday. We tried using a live tree one year, that we would later plant outside, but it died, and we still had the needles all over the ground anyway. So we got a tree this year at a farm stand of a guy we know. I don't know where he gets the trees, but he's a nice guys and works tirelessly, so I guess I felt okay about forking over the $30 for our tree. Last year's mini $5 tree was pretty awesome, but I guess that what you expect when you buy your tree a few days before Christmas. The tree we bought is already dropping needles like Makili drops changes of clothes all over the floor, but who's counting. Decorating it was SO much fun for the boys, and since we've had this tradition of each of us making an ornament for the tree since 2007, it was very fun for the boys to open the ornaments up and have us talk about why we made what we made. They loved it and were immediately obsessed with making more ornaments so their contributions would be noteworthy. I was pretty into that. The boys and Ege discussed the best distribution of ornaments, and where everything should hang. It was really cute.

I've tried to get the boys into making gifts for other people though and I haven't been as successful. As soon as I show Makili something that he could make for someone else, he immediately wants his own, and every time he does a good job on something, even a drawing, it is officially his. Every time I buy a gift for someone, wrap a gift for someone, and include him, he is immediately completely obsessed with what he is getting, where his gifts are. Which of course prompts me to use the old Santa wild card. "Santa won't bring you gifts unless you're good." And that sort of feels yucky to me, even if it does work. The truth is I enjoy getting a really thoughtful gift for someone, making gifts for people, but I don't know how to balance that with really disliking my children's obsession with MORE.

Sunday, December 04, 2011


I find it really endearing that I am listening to Raph who is downstairs reading aloud The 5 People You Meet in Heaven to my 18-year-old exchange student, stopping to make sure he understands what is being read in as sincere a way as he does with Makili.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Can't Touch This.

I can't find the cord to download picture, so I've been rather lazy. Plus I discovered cookies that you roll into dough and slice and I can't seem to control my self.

Anyway, last night, Raph is putting the kids to bed and I listened to the following conversation:

Makili: Dad, will you lay with me?

Raph: What are you going to give me?

Makili: How about that pillow?

Raph: I don't want any material things.

Makili: What are material things?

Raph: Things you can touch.

Makili: Okay. How about a sharp knife?

Raph: I can touch that.

Makili: How about a really high window in the sky?

Raph: You're going to give me a really high window to the sky?

Makili: How about the moon?

Raph: You can't give me the moon!

Makili: How about the dirt under the dirt.

This seriously went on for half an hour. It was awesome how many things Makili came up with that Raph couldn't touch.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Getting Big

Little Rudy is getting BIG! He talks and is almost acting like a big kid these days. And he's going to be a big brother! Another Matty in the mix! Unbelievable how many babies these Matty's have created in the last 5 years! I think in the last 5 years there have been 9 Matty babies and 2 more on the way! Thanksgiving was great, but I miss when all Raph's cousins used to be around for the ruckus. I hope these little Matty's will get to experience that some day.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Thursday, November 17, 2011

In November

We're in Pittsburgh right now, and just last week I sent this picture to my parents of my children naked on the beach in Maine, IN NOVEMBER! And on the plane on the way here, I removed a tick from Remick's neck. IN NOVEMBER! Why aren't those little suckers hibernating yet? I'm not complaining, but really, how lucky can you get? This kind of weather is too much to ask for. Poor Ege is already cold! Little does he know how warm this weather will feel in the spring! November is the month that my summer work is officially over. I get to visit my parents and pore over the books and photos tucked onto the shelves in my old bedroom, and poke around in closets of clothes left behind. November is the month the making goes into gear. I can start thinking about gardening again without getting nauseous. I'm neither fighting the grass, weeds, and pests nor the wood pile and snow. It is really my biggest time of rest. And I am not complaining. At ALL.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Yes, please.

I would like to make an official request for more perfect, lovely days. The kind that allow me to follow my boys up a mountain, stopping as they make a fort under a hemlock tree, soaking in sunshine that will be elusive for months. In a t-shirt. The days that they spend searching for the perfect stick and then arguing that stick's merit to the brother. The carpet of leaves on the trail, a rust-colored invitation. Silliness and happiness, even while a certain little one should be napping. Yes, I'd like more. Please.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Evidence of Makili's genius.

Makili didn't know the sounds that letters made at all a week ago, and I was slightly worried about it. Then in the course of a day he learned all the sounds and can easily tell you what letter words start with and sometimes the letters in the middle of the word too. It fascinates me how he learned. It's all or nothing. All of a sudden he just learns all at once. Interesting. So anyway, this letter learning is the backdrop for his latest evidence of genius.

So Makili came to me with the following drawing of him wearing a luchador costume with a pirate pumpkin and some letters (minus my writing) and asked me what the letters he wrote said.With a chuckle, I responded, "they spell Shitarpitarp" He seemed a little disappointed at first, but we laughed about it for a little while and then he told me he wanted me to write "This is a pirate pumpkin." As soon as I wrote it, it occurred to me that he really had a lot of the letters, though it looked like he had run out of room at pumpkin. So I started asking him about it, and seriously that was what he was trying to write and had guessed at the letters from the sound of the words and did indeed run out of room. I'm really impressed at how close he got!

Monday, November 07, 2011

Unplanned sweetness

My friend Renee called me to check in one day on her way home from work. I immediately suggested she drop off Phin, since Makili was driving me nuts and I figured he might be happier with a buddy here. Renee said they would stop by, which they did, and we turned it into a dinner date. And outdoor bonfire sort of dinner, thrown together, with really not the right ingredients for any of the dishes I tried to make. She was a good sport though and in the end dinner was pretty tasty. I can't get enough of bonfire meals. Strange to some, but this time of year, and the early spring before the buds break are my favorite times of year. The world being suspended in motion for a brief interlude before the cold sets in upon us. Everything alive, barely. Except these kids who never stop moving.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Some kids we hang with...

From a recent birthday party. Good neighborhood fun.

Thoughts on employment.

I'm feeling particularly idealistic and reflective this morning, halfway through reading David McCullough's John Adams. I also received this morning an e-mail from one of my teachers in the cooperative extension office about "The Food Movement," which made me think about my many jobs. I recently was at a party of friends and neighbors and remarked to Raph, that I was the only one there who stayed at home with my children. Sometimes I lament that I am likely not the best mother in the world, and perhaps my nature isn't fit for the role in its entirety, but still staying home with my children has been a decided commitment since the moment I learned I was pregnant with Makili. Staying home with my children, however, does not mean that I don't work however, as was implied in a slightly snarky comment by another mother recently, who told me that she didn't have time to sew as she unfortunately had to make a living. And for some reason this morning I'm at the business of evaluating my choices in life.

Staying home with my children as I mentioned, was not a conversation, but a known quantity. When we moved back East from HI, we cut our combined income by more than half. This was a choice. And we all have this choice. I have friends all the time tell me that they wish they could stay home with their children. I don't say much, but in my heart I believe that every situation is built on choice. Raph and I chose to be able to afford a very small house, and initially we weren't even sure we could do that. We chose to go without exciting vacations, new cars, etc. Luckily for us health care was secured with Raph's employment, as that is a rather non-negotiable in my opinion. Right now, our house is not "done" by anyone's estimation, but we choose not to borrow money to pay people to finish it. In fact, if we didn't have such talented and generous family members, we wouldn't have even had the choice of enlarging our house in the first place.

I have always worked, even since I've "stayed at home." The first year I was a substitute teacher, thanks to Ann's willingness to babysit. That allowed us to afford our tiny home and afford our food. When I started working for CHI, it was because it seemed like a natural fit for me, and also something I deeply believe in. I impact young people, and that matters to me. I am part of an organization that increases international understanding and tolerance, and that matters to me. The fact that I am able earn money from home while serving those ends is a complete blessing, even if the job is unbelievably stressful at times.

When I started working at the farmers' market last year, it was because I couldn't resist it. I have always loved farmers' markets, and secretly always wanted to farm. I know a LOT more now about what "farming" means, and am pretty sure the scale of farming I'm interested in is far smaller than I previously thought. Choosing to take this job has significantly limited our family time, a fact that I am constantly weighing against its positive aspects. Nonetheless, I hold farmers in the highest regard. Few people truly understand the scale of work farmers endure. Long hours, bad weather, heavy objects, tough competition, lack of available land, etc. And like mechanics, I don't know too many rich farmers, even though sometimes what they charge seems outrageous. When I started selling flowers to sell, I learned even more intimately how difficult what they do is. In my tiny gardens, I battle all the same pests, but on a scale that is manageable. It is frustrating beyond imagination to watch an entire crop being devastated by cucumber beetles, squash bugs, vine-borers (yes, it was a tough year for cucurbits), horn worms, slugs, potato bugs, grasshoppers, etc. To handle such attacks without toxic chemicals is not easy. Very, very few farmers use little or no pesticides, even though they may be organic. And let me tell you, organic chemicals can be equally toxic to their synthetic counterparts. No chemicals in our food would be best, but VERY few farms are able to do this. The education that I've received at the farmers' market is beyond compare. I am a better grower, consumer, and citizen for understanding their livelihood and its immense importance in our society.

I guess what I'm reflecting on this morning is how fortunate I feel to be involved in so many meaningful things - parenting, international exchange, and farming. I'm proud of my husband for his equally meaningful pursuits. And I'm not going to feel bad when some snarky mom makes comments to me anymore, because I'm happy with my choices, even if they aren't the most lucrative.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Brace Yourself.

The next few posts are going to be full of kid pictures. Halloween. Birthday parties. Bonfires. The kinds of landmarks that mark our days. And it just so happens that I love to photograph children. My own children get tired of my phottentions. (I just made that up. I'm so funny.) And I totally love Halloween, such that picture of my kids and others in costumes made me smile. The fact that my husband wasn't the only one who showed up to the party wearing underwear outside his pants makes me happy too. Family themes were big this year. Luchadors. Pirates. Wizard of Oz. Under the sea (mermaid, jelly fish, octopus, yellow submarine.)

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Words of Advice

At the dinner table last night, we were talking to Ege about parties, etc. He exclaimed, "I won't go to any place where there is alcohol."
Makili was listening, and added with importance, "You also shouldn't go to any place with guns!"

??? It is good advice, I suppose.

Friday, October 28, 2011

To the top

Earlier this month, we did our annual exchange student hike to the top of Mount Major, a beautiful and challenging hike. This year we had 15 or so exchange students, some host families, half a dozen of Raph's students, and my two adorable cousins, Emily and Caroline, who really came up to go to a concert with me (Slaid Cleaves) but were good enough sports to come along for the hike. Raph and I have declared them full on the most helpful cousins that ever existed. LOVE!