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