Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Notes on Christmas

We had a wonderful Christmas. Here are some of the highlights.
• Beginning with a rainy trip to San Anselmo to visit Papa and Katrina.
• A Christmas Eve of new pajamas, hot chocolate, The Nativity, and falling asleep to Swiss Family Robinson.
• Canyon sneaking into the family room to announce calmly that: “Guys…Santa did come.”
• Alice opening and loving her Princess Leia Barbie.
• Canyon jumping up and down upon opening his Star Wars lego shuttle from Nana & Papa.
• Dustin, Lily, and Canyon spending the rest of the day putting together said shuttle.
• Jane opening her dolly and within five minutes “giving” it to Alice (at least according to Alice).
• My new rain jacket I was coveting.
• Lots and lots and lots of kitchen supplies for ‘The Barn.’
• Having an amazing Christmas dinner with family and playing with our new toys with our cousins.
• Watching Wall-e that night, exhausted, but snuggly in our new pajamas.

We then had a few great days spending time with Brooke and her darling, amazing, smart boys playing outside in the sunshine, legos, a trip to the movies, and yummy sushi.

The relative calm before the storm.

Dustin and the Star Wars shuttle.

The state of the family room after.

Alice and Princess Leia.

Monday, December 22, 2008

What's a girl to do?

So Alice, yes we’re talking about Alice again, is not like Lily. Maybe that is obvious to most of you parents out there…that your kids are different. It’s adjusting to these differences that takes a little effort. So Lily is not, except for a few month stint when she was two, the girly girl type. She’s not necessarily a tom boy, but she’s just less interested in princesses and the color pink. Alice was born a princess and Jane is quietly following suit. While embracing every whim and sensibility that define what a princess is…she has recently taken an interesting turn brought about by this household's OBSESSION with Star Wars. She officially LOVES Princess Leia and just to qualify the differences between Leia and, let’s say, Sleeping Beauty—in Alice’s own words (as she’s watching Princess Leia strangle Jabba the Hut): “Mommy, Princess Leia can save herself!” So the light went on and Alice realized that she doesn’t need a prince if she’s a Leia. Let’s just say that she’s not waiting for a prince to come and rescue her.

So when Alice insisted on a Barbie for Christmas I did what every self-respecting mother of a princess would do: I went to the Disney web site and found a myriad of Barbie princesses (on sale even). As I’m browsing through the Snow Whites and Cinderellas I casually ask Alice which princess she wants and….duh…she wants Princess Leia. So, the Leia barbies are only hundreds of dollars on ebay, collectables of course. They probably haven’t made a Leia Barbie since 1979. So, what’s a girl to do? So I pooled all of my mom resources and made myself a Princess Leia Barbie. My friend Jill who also happens to be an expert on barbies, a seamstress, and a creative mastermind agreed to make the Leia costume. Then she coached me on what Barbie to try and find to substitute for Leia. Apparently I needed to find a Barbie with hair already parted in the middle (so we could make the infamous buns) because, unbeknownst to me, you can’t just part a barbie’s hair wherever you want (these are the sorts of things I need to learn). I found a perfectly respectable Dorothy (Wiz of Oz) Barbie on Amazon for $12. She passed the Jill hair test and we were in business. The dress, of course, is perfect and to add to the outfit, I raided all of my friends, who are mothers of girls, Barbie stashes and stole some Hannah Montana boots from Trisha’s daughters. In case you didn’t know, Hannah Montana boots look a lot like Princess Leia boots. And finally, my talented sister-in-law, Trieste, personalized the cardboard suitcase I got for her and her Barbie. The whole ensemble: Barbie, dress, boots, suitcase, was much, much less than the ebay Leia—and, in my opinion, better. What Alice will probably never understand, maybe until she’s a mother, is how many people and resources pulled together to get her a Princess Leia doll—in the hopes that she can one day kick some Jabba butt.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Somthing About the Christmas Season.

I know that my parents agree that In-N-Out Burger is a magical place. Well, we have proof. We went to In-N-Out for dinner the other night for dinner. It was one of those rare occasions when I didn’t make dinner and Dustin was too hungry for pancakes (usually he’s totally ok with pancakes). We got all the food and all six of us squeezed into a little booth. We were just being our natural charming selves, eating our fries, fighting over shakes and guarding our diet coke with an unrivaled passion (that last one was mostly me), when a man came over to our table. Dustin said later that he was sure that the guy was panhandling and was drumming up an excuse not to give him some money when he said: “I hope that you and your kids have a Merry Christmas,” set something on the table and jetted out the door. It took us a few moments to realize that he had so casually given us a hundred dollar bill. Wow. Dustin’s mouth was officially opened in disbelief. It was a little weird and awkward at first, I mean who gives complete strangers a hundred dollars? Don’t get me wrong…the awkwardness wore off really fast. We then became infamous to that In-N-Out crowd.

Guy at the table next to us: “Wow, what just happened?”

Us: “That guy just gave us a hundred bucks.”

Him: “Wow, what’d he say?”

Us: “He just said Merry Christmas.”

Him: “Wow, you don’t see that everyday.”

Later, Dustin and I wondered why he gave us the money. As far as we know, we didn’t look too white trash, our kids were somewhat clean and we seemed to have plenty of French fries and burgers for everyone (we were making them share milkshakes though…). We finally decided that he was charmed by our family, Dustin’s obvious love for me, Lily’s witty remarks, Canyon’s freckles, Alice’s spunk, and Jane’s pretty smile. Our friends, respectfully, disagree. They think that it was the sheer number of kids—I mean we obviously have a lot of presents to buy. I like to think that we charmed him.

Anyway, as much as I would love to spend that money on me, me, and me—we decided that the best lesson to the kids would be to pay it forward. We’re going to the police station where they have a tree hung with cards stating the needs of some of the people in our community. We’re going to pick some, all go shopping together for the items and then return the gifts to the station. I hope that, because the kids are participating in this process that they can learn something about what Christmas is really about. However, in the mean time, I am happy to admit that charity is not dead and that there are decent and giving people out there in the world. And I just wanted to thank that random stranger for his gift and wish him a Merry Christmas.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

A Conversation at Breakfast.

Alice: When I get bigger I want to have a baby in my tummy.

Me: (as I'm scurrying around trying to get kids fed and lunches made) Ok, you can do that when you get bigger.

Alice: And I want to have big bubbas too. (mama's bubbas has been our epithet for often comes up during breastfeeding)

Dad: Like mom's.

Alice: Mom's are on the small side. I want some like Libby's mom. (In my defense, Libby's mom just had a baby)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Jane Notices Things

There's ALWAYS a white butterfly in the lavender. And Jane ALWAYS finds it. I think it might live there.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Meat III: Mouth-Watering Beef from our Backyard.

So, while the actual death of the cow, next door, was easily more emotional than the deaths of a dozen roosters, the meat from that cow was…beefalicious! (That’s a made up word comprising of the root words: beef and delicious) We had our first steer steak and I am delighted to report that it was heavenly. And even though I cried when I saw the steer fall onto the carpet of straw in our neighbor’s back yard, I felt good about eating it (compared to the meat I buy at COSTCO). I know that, like our chickens, these cows quality of life was so much better than the killing fields of packaged beef. Our beef for next year is going to be an even better step forward. Instead of buying 4-H beef, we are going to be farming our beef. Farming? you say…yes, farming. Our neighbors and some other families (including us) are going to buy the steer and let them free range on some property just south of here. It will be about half the price and the cows will be grass-fed. I’m a little excited at this prospect and proud to feed my family meat that I’m raising. Besides, it just about fulfils all of my “Little House” dreams…if someone will just get me a white ruffled apron and a bonnet, I’ll be in business.

Monday, November 3, 2008

A Letter to my Son's Teachers.

Dear Mrs. X and Mrs. Z,

I am writing to you about my son, I want you to know him besides as the boy who “doesn’t like worksheets.” He was born thoughtful and respectful. He needs time at home and by himself to recharge each day. He has a very active imagination and, at home, when I can’t find him…he is usually outside, under the willow tree, experimenting with water and dirt. He loves to learn things about Vikings, scientists, astronauts, Antarctica, Greenland, ships, sailing, oceans, and spends many late-night hours in his room perusing the encyclopedias that his nana and papa sent him. He loves to ride his bike and he loves to have some sort of costume on (lately it’s a muscle shirt, an Indiana Jones hat, and a clear backpack—filled with rocks and ropes and useful things like that). He is astutely aware of his sisters and their activities and while he doesn’t enjoy princesses and baby dolls—he allows and encourages his sisters to imagine and create in their own worlds. He plays pirates and Jedi knights with his cousins and they are very talented with swords and ropes. He’s artistic with legos and has this amazing ability with constructing just about anything he needs.

You tell me that he spaces out during instruction and just sits there quietly while the other children studiously fill out myriads of answers to myriads of questions on myriads of worksheets. Most likely he is soaring through the stars in the Millenium Falcon or sailing east in search of Aslan’s country on the Dawn Treader. I’m not sure how to make him do worksheets and stay on task, but I do know that if he’s interested…nothing can keep him from finding the answers in the encyclopedias, the library, or through experiment. Just don’t make him hate learning…because, up until now, it has been the sole purpose of his life.


a concerned mother.

P.S. I will not be taking him to the doctor to have him labeled and medicated.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

They're Growing Up So Fast.

Remember these? They just started laying these...look at how tiny and cute those little eggs are. What does this mean for us? Lots and lots and lots of egg salad and scrambled eggs. (The big ones are from the mama hens)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

My Thoughts on California's Education System.

It SUCKS! Sorry, not in the mood to be more eloquent than that.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Wuthering Heights

Why do I read this book again? It is a little depressing and I don’t care how much Catherine and Heathcliff love each other, they are spoiled and annoying and so very tragic. But here I am, reading it again. I’m just about as hopeless as Catherine herself. Recommend me something that doesn’t involve soul mates, unrequited love, and death. Oh, yeah, and it can’t be about vampires.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Applesauce with the little Girls.

The spoils. Don't be fooled, those strings of skin are the best part of the day.

So this is how you make applesauce with little girls.
  1. Get all the babies, blankies, baby strollers
  2. Get all the dress-ups
  3. Get snacks
  4. Take everything to the barn.
  5. Oh, yeah, and have more adults come (thanks Trieste and Trish)
  6. One more thing...while you're making really healthy local, organic applesauce with apples that your little ones picked themselves...feed them McDonald's for lunch...because you're busy and they LOVE it more than the applesauce.

Jane sampling the ingredients.

The finished product.

Alice picking apples.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Light at the End of the Tunnel.

Jane: the spring in my step.

I am starting to get these little bursts of unexplained excitement. And I couldn’t quite put my finger on what was driving this joy into my heart, and renewed spring in my step. I finally figured out what it was on our last quick trip to Logan to see Nana & Papa. Are you ready for it? Here’s the big unveiling: we are growing out of the baby years. Whew. It’s an amazing feeling. We could drive without stopping to nurse a baby every few hours, without having to bring all the equipment that babies inevitably bring. We were all able to face forward in the van, we were all able to sleep in the same room, we were all able to eat the same food, and we only had to bring one size of diaper for a baby who can tell us when she went poo. Those of you who are entrapped in the baby years…must certainly understand my elation. I only hope the best for those of you who are immersed in it…but am happy to never look back. I will happily hold your newborns, cuddle them, feed them, put them down for naps, and then…I will hand them back over to you when it’s time for bed, or when they won’t stop crying. Please rejoice with me! (And, cross your fingers because that last 99.9% birth control method didn’t work.)

Beside this point…we had a wonderful time in Logan. The kids’ favorite part was climbing up and down papa’s mountain into the “hundred acre woods.” Alice loved some one-on-two date time with mom and dad at the Aggie/Utah game (Lily and Canyon wisely opted out). We loved playing with cousins, babies, aunts, uncles, seeing the pond at the Zollinger farm, eating tons (literally) of AMAZING nana food, going to the farmer’s market to see all the democrats assemble, and visit and laugh and talk with the Joneses. We can’t wait to come again, and should come when the hundred acre wood is covered in that white stuff (snow? is it called?).

Dustin and Alice on the "mountain"


Dr. Indie Canyon Prusso (Dr. of Archeology, of course)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Meat II: Eating My Words

Our first backyard 'rooster' dinner.

So, in a previous post I exposed my sentiments of, what Dustin and I like to call, skeptical environmentalism. In other words we are environmental because it’s practical. It makes sense that you should eat meat that comes from one animal and is raised in your backyard. Just as it makes sense to use “real” plates, instead of paper, because you have a dishwasher and paper plates cost money. So, to eat my words we bought half of the neighbor’s steer and to further make my point (and to get rid of half of the enormous monthly chicken feed bill) we slaughtered a dozen of our chickens (all roosters) on Saturday. It was, to say the least, an amazing experience. Katrina, the famous localvore blogger of Kale for Sale, came to join in the fun. I was grateful for her presence because she did bring a sense of order to the whole operation that Jeremy and I would have probably botched. Dustin suddenly had to “work” and so I was left to oversee operations on my own. The little kids were always near and interested, but not totally aware of what we were doing exactly, except that it must be fun because we were adults and seemed to be ‘playing.’

We started off with a prayer. It somehow seemed appropriate as we were about to extinguish living beings. I prayed that we were grateful for this experience, for the chickens who would provide sustenance, and very grateful that we didn’t necessarily have to rely on this as our only options for meat (read: COSTCO). I truly felt like Ma, only lacking an apron and a bonnet. Jeremy was the non-contested self-appointed chicken killer and did a great job. This time he held onto the chickens until they stopped moving…this was much less dramatic than watching them flip around without a head. We then blanched them in some almost boiling soapy water and Katrina and I began plucking. Whew, what a job. Nobody was kidding when they said that it’s time consuming to pluck a chicken. I was REALLY glad that Katrina was there then. She was great and even had a system to the plucking madness. The plucking was done in the heat of midday with our backs scrunched, most uncomfortably, over a plywood table. We had a great time visiting as we worked and Jane was good to help out. She really wanted to pluck her own chicken.

Here are the chickens--plucked but not yet gutted.

After all twelve of the chickens were plucked we began the cleaning and gutting process. I was a little nervous about this part, I haven’t opened up any kind of animal since the crayfish in seventh grade. Jeremy began with a tutorial and showed us how to cut the chicken open to pull out poop (by far the worst part), intestines, stomach, liver, heart, esophagus, to finish by scraping and cleaning any other residue that was left. At the end, they were looking like true “freezer” chickens. Katrina delved right in and was marvelous…I followed and soon began to like this process. It was kind of fun to be able to recognize the organs by touch as you’re pulling them out. Katrina and I had an easier time because our hands were smaller to get into the chicken. We then bagged and froze them. It was an exhausting, yet rewarding day.

So, I decided that we should eat a few of them for Sunday dinner. I made a brine of salt and water and let two chickens soak in it overnight. The next day Lily and I went out to the barn with some red potatoes, carrots, and red onions drizzled in olive oil and ranch seasoning. We stuffed the chickens with onions, rubbed butter all over them and sprinkled with salt and pepper. We placed the chickens on top of the potatoes and roasted them for almost two hours, rotating positions every 30 minutes. The barn smelled delicious and…the chicken was the BEST I’ve ever tasted. It just fell off the bones, was so tender and flavorful. I was so glad that, after all that work, the chicken wasn’t disgusting. We are definitely going to have roast chicken for Thanksgiving and you’re all invited. So far my experiment with eating meat out of my backyard has been successful. I’ll let you know how our first steer steak turns out.

Dustin got home just in time to see the chicken neatly lined up in the freezer, the kitchen scrubbed and disinfected, and all bloody remains carefully buried in the back. He only participated in the eating…I feel a bit like the “little red hen.”

The vegetables were delicious cooked under the chicken. The chicken drippings added so much taste.

The chickens prepped and ready.

Lily, rolling up her sleeves. She was a great helper. This is her stuffing the chickens with onions.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

On Exercise: Yoga

That, over there, is yoga instructor. Don't be fooled by that's a lot easier than it looks.

Let me preface my first “real” yoga experience with a little background info. I am a little bit addicted to exercise. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not some crazy hard-bodied, lean, and otherwise intimidating model of perfection who lives at the gym and places exercise second to none. I, on the other hand, am a soft-bodied mom who realized shortly after my first child was born that exercise was the only way for me to have a few minutes to meditate (read: check in with my brain to make sure it was still there). Since that time I have religiously exercised and have LOVED this small time away from my daily slavery as a mom. I’m a total cardio girl and my first love, of course, is swimming. I swim three days a week with a Masters’ (read: old people) swim team. I love how it pushes me, I love that I can socialize with people who don’t know me as Lily/Canyon/Alice/Jane’s mom, and I also love the quiet that being submerged under water forces (it’s very unlike the rest of my day in that regard). On the other days I run. While running is not as therapeutic as swimming (for me), I enjoy how it makes me hurt and the bonus is that I can do it at home if I have to. Anyway…that’s my exercise routine.

Recently (in the last three years) one of my best friends, Lisa, has really gotten into yoga. She has, in fact, loved it so much that she opened her own yoga studio: Cosmic Dog, just so she could do some “GOOD” yoga. She has been trying to sway me over to the dark side for some time. I tried the intro class that was delightful and fulfilling on a purely meditative level. She has since been attempting me to try something a little more advanced. Well, today was the day and being how I know and love the instructor, Mollie, a fellow mom from the charter school, and got full assurance from her that I could handle it and that she would “go easy on me,” I finally decided to take the plunge.

And “plunge” it literally was. I couldn’t of left there more wet if I had just done a masters’ workout in my clothes. Lisa assured me that Mollie always starts out easy and then moves into more difficult. I have to say, I was a bit worried…because there was nothing easy about it. It was fun to push myself in new ways and watch my body shake through these poses that I couldn’t get quite right. Yoga is definitely a strength, stretch, power type of exercise. I was happy, about half-way through the class, to hear some heavy breathing from the other students and to see Lisa and her husband, Tom, as soaking wet as I was. All in all I was satisfied, but aware that I still love my cardio. I think that it’ll be a good complement to my other routines, plus *bonus* they have a daycare for kids. Also, I have to add that I was glad I was there with some serious people because if one unruly person besides myself (…mom, you know who I’m talking about) was there…I would’ve giggled my way through it. My favorite pose/position was the one at the end where you lay on your mat, toes out, arms extended and deep breathe yourself into a nice little nap.

Anyway, I know what Lisa’s doing here, she’s going to get me hooked just when my “best friend” discount runs out. Don’t ever underestimate the power of a good business woman.

Thanks Lisa for a good sweaty day. (I hope I can lift my arms tomorrow)

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Summer Projects: Revealed at Last!

So I wasn’t a total slug this summer. I actually accomplished a few things that have been on the table for a LONG time. I finished my quilt. People seem so amazed when they come to my house and I show them progress on my quilt. They seem flabbergasted that a person with four small children could have time to make a new quilt for my bed. I just humbly nod and shrug my shoulders as if I must be the most AMAZING housewife in the world. What I don’t tell them, and would appreciate if you don’t let on, is that I have been working on said quilt for darn near a year. So don’t get all down on yourself because you aren’t making these charming heirlooms…just do it like I do—take a really, really, really long time. And then the key is to act as if you just started it last week and *sigh* the binding, that I did by hand, was painstaking work…I was able to finish it in a few hours—but no pressure. Don’t tell them that you stretched the “handwork” out into days because it gave you an excuse to sit and watch “Stargate” and “Northern Exposure.” I mean watching TV is totally justified if you’re also handcrafting a masterpiece. If anyone needs binding work done…let me know, but make sure to drop off a few DVDs with the quilt.

I also made, as Alice calls them, “Muppets” of each of the kids to play with (of themselves). They’re darn cute, but not as big as a hit with the kids as I would have hoped.

And then the pillows. I made some pillows to go with this great bench that one of Dustin’s clients gave us. I LOVE the effect. The fabric was great…I love expensive fabric…you can’t really go wrong.

As for now, I have two projects that I’m now working on. Isaac and Elise have requested a quilt for Christmas and I’ve happily aquired fabric for it and a GREAT idea. Let’s see if I can pull it off. Also I am happy to quilt and bind (again, the binding) a quilt that Marty’s wife, Bonnie, pieced. She did an amazing job…I hope that I can quilt it to her expectations. Also, I hope that she wasn’t expecting it any time soon. So, now that school’s in…maybe I’ll have time to finish these other projects.

Tell me honestly though, don’t you just LOVE the binding on my quilt?

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Aaaaaah, School.

It happens every year. One minute I’m smiling, all misty-eyed, as I watch my kids laughing and running through the sprinklers at sunset. A perfect ending to a perfect summer day. And I think, “I just want it to be like this forever and never want to send them to school.” And then, a few days before school starts, when I’m wrenching my heart out on a daily basis because I’m going to miss them so much… there’s a sudden shift in the universe, or something like that, and I’m screaming at them that I’m so glad that school is starting because I can’t stand another second of the infernal and constant noise level. Then, WHAM, perfect timing…school does start and everyone’s happy, especially me.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Christmas in August, I guess.

I got one of these.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008


While there are a lot of things that I’ve needed to address: namely stitches, homemade puppets; circa “What About Bob,” and an ‘almost’ completion of my new king-size quilt—I have neglected to write about them because, well, I’ve been feeling EXTREMELY lazy. But one thing that I’ve been thinking about has pushed me out of this malaise and this is the topic of meat. Yes, meat. Ever since my anemic pregnant days with Lily (8 years ago) I have been a veritable meat eater. I have recently decided that I would like to be a more conscious meat eater, and by that, I mean possible raising and eating my own meat. We have the space to do this…I just have to get the guts. We don’t think twice about buying as much meat as we can from Costco, and yet, at the same time spend more time and effort on animal rights than human rights. And by ‘we’ I mean the collective conscious of the American media. We will be killing some of the chickens in the next couple of weeks, and while I think that this task would be a lot easier if I was STARVING, I’m still willing to give it a try. People are shocked when I tell them this, yet they have no problem going to the grocery store and buying any type of meat. I think that by actually raising and killing your own meat…you tend to respect the process and it’s part of our nature, no matter what some psycho environmental vegan wants to tell you: we are meat eaters…it’s how we’ve survived.

Now it’s one thing to kill an ornery old rooster, yet another to kill an almost sentient cow: a mammal. This morning I was lying in bed and I heard a bang. It sounded like a gun-shot. Most people would be a little freaked out to hear a gun-shot in their backyard, but this time of year, the vineyards are CONSTANTLY shooting off cannons to scare the birds, so I didn’t think too much of it. And then, I heard it again…and it was definitely different than the cannon shots. Dustin came and I said, “Did you hear that shot?” He looked out the window and then remembered, “Oh yeah, Dan (our neighbor) said that he was killing his steers today.” Dan and his kids raise several steers every year and then sell them at the county fair. They had a few left over that they were going to send to the butcher and then sell them as meat. I looked out the window and saw the two huge animals lying on the dirt in their backyard. One of them was still twitching and I stood there and cried. I cried, but at the same time I was conscious of the fact that this is how we eat our meat. And I respected these animals and the men who were deftly skinning and sectioning them. These men worked fast and quietly and, it seemed, from my vantage point with respect. I doubt that the cattle killed in the feed lots get any kind of deferential treatment.

So what am I saying. I don’t know, except that I got real riled up after listening to a ‘perspective’ on NPR talking about how we shouldn’t eat animals at all because we shouldn’t kill animals. I’m sorry, but GET A LIFE. If you want to be a vegetarian, fine, just leave the rest of us out of it and get behind a real cause, like human rights. So, when we finally get our first meat steer, get a big freezer and then get in line for some free range, grass fed, organic beef all from ONE cow.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Little Jane

It’s always a sad day when your kids favorite aunt or uncle starts a family of their own, because, suddenly your kids take second place to their own. So unfair. However, we have a bit of an anomaly in the Prusso family. Uncle Jeremy has always been a great uncle to my kids…as well as a great dad to his own. I guess he can split it both ways. He has a special bond with Jane, though—he can get her to sleep during Sunday School in about three minutes flat and she always has a particularly special, slobbery, wet kiss reserved for him.

He called me the other night and told me he’d written a song for her. He sang it to me over the phone…and I cried like a baby. He sang it for her the next day and she danced. I want him to sing it at her wedding. What do you think? You can find it here and it’s called “Little Jane.”

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


Since my last post, we have been in a literal hurricane of events and people. Here are the highlights:

• Bringing Grandad and his chihuahua, “Precious” home with us from our Anniversary trip. He was in Tahoe at a elementary school reunion (there were only a handful of students still living).
My friend Krisanne and her three kids spending a week with us to avoid apartment living.
• Picking up my nieces Parly and Clayre at the airport to spend a WEEK! with us.
• Picking up Aunt Sadie and baby CJ at the airport.
• Nana and Papa driving up through Tahoe to spend a few days.
• Daisy & Shayne bringing my other two nieces.
• A trip to the farmers’ market with a bizillion kids.
• CJ’s dad finally showing up…can’t remember his name.
• Fireworks and a fourth of July extravaganza with volleyball, tri-tip, rootbeer floats, and freezing fog.
• Lots of open water swimming at del valle.
• Lily getting baptized by her dad with all of her favorite p people to share that with her.
• Finally getting rid of everyone, only to begin the process of packing for a week of camping at Tahoe.
• Camping at Livermore’s “Camp Shelly” in Tahoe.
• Swim, swim, swim, canoe, and play in the sand at Tahoe.
• Revel in the fact that there were NO bears this year.
• Eat some amazing food.
• Survive a hailstorm.
• Survive camping with an eighteen-month old, a three-year old, a six-year old, and an eight-year old.
• Come home to mountains of laundry, 43 thirsty chickens, and a ripe crop of tomatoes.
• Pull off an impromptu tea-party for my three-year old Princess Alice.
• Our first week of summer that’s q u i e t. Reveling in quiet time, bed time and…no that’s all.

Pictures: Alice with her birthday cake
Sadie and I with CJ
Grandad, Precious, and Jane
Jane at Tahoe
Canyon, Alice, Jane & Derek

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


Our Cabin "Pinon"

Dustin and I finally took a weekend away. It was our anniversary and we haven’t been a night away from the kids for several years. I was nervous at first, but by the end of the trip I was ready and willing and wishing that we could stay away at least a year or so longer. It was so GREAT! (no offense to the kids). We went and stayed at this little resort in the Sierras, just off of highway 88. We’ve often driven that way from Tahoe and have always wanted to spend more time there. The place that we stayed, Sorensen's, was amazing. We had our own little two-person cabin, set in the most beautiful place imaginable. We ate all of our meals out on their little deck, amidst mountain flowers and lots of butterflies, and went hiking and to some hot springs, just laid in a hammock, read, slept in, ate and ate, and even had time to fit in a movie at the nearest little town. I’m not quite ready to come back to reality, but to reality we are and we hit it HARD.

Thanks to Grandma Laurie who exhausted herself with our four angelic children…probably she didn’t even have to lift a finger, they’re so perfect. She should really be thanking us.

Where we ate our meals.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

On Farming: Of Life and Death

I am officially a very successful mother hen. Apparently it’s not easy to hatch chicken eggs, so in anticipation of being very bad incubators…we decided to start with 48 eggs. The idea being that several wouldn’t be fertilized, several wouldn’t develop right, and several would be instantly killed by curious little hands. We were thinking that we’d get, maybe, 20. So after three weeks (21 days exactly) of monitoring temperature, turning the eggs three times a day, and sleepless nights of worry because I believed that I “cooked” them—by the way, pregnancy’s a breeze—the eggs began hatching.

It began on the 20th day when I was turning the eggs and heard some distinct chirping. In surprise, I stopped turning the eggs and the sound stopped. I thought maybe there was a bird hiding out in the basement or something…but I couldn’t find one. I continued to turn and, there it was again. I thought I was a little crazy, so I called Jeremy and he said: “Oh, yeah, I forgot to tell you, you can hear the birds chirping through the eggs. It means that they’re getting close.” Minor detail.

That night, while we slept, three chickens hatched. By the time I got home from swimming there were six. After breakfast, there were eight. By that night there were fourteen. By the next morning, twenty. And throughout the day, the counting finally stopped at forty-two. So, as a mother hen, I’m 95%. The rooster, apparently, was a great fertilizer (as any who are willing to observe the chickens for more than five minutes can tell you), most developed well (we got a couple who couldn’t walk), and they weren’t killed by curious hands…oh wait, yes, they were. We lost seven after the mob of “gentle” children-handling. So. Thirty-five chicks. Anyone interested in adopting a few?

On a different note. The rooster had now fulfilled his usefulness, and seeing how he was starting to attack the children, we decided to KILL it. Jeremy came over with a hatchet and did the job. I will spare you the details, but for anyone who’s interested, I filmed it and you are welcome to view it at your next visit (no, I’m not going to put it up on youtube). Suffice it to say, chickens do really run around for several minutes after their head is severed from their body. We are expecting at least one of the thirty-five new chickens to replace him. The rest we’ll eat.

All in a days work on the farm.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Confessions of a Chart-Challenged Mother and the Permanent Repercussions to her Oldest Daughter.

Ok. So Lily’s always coming to me with these “theoretically” great ideas about how to organize things. Anything. It could be about cleaning, or cooking, or discipline, or practicing the piano, or anything, really. I usually give her a smile, a enthusiastic “Good idea” and then drop it, because, I guess I’m not much of a chart mom. Lily should’ve been born in my sister Daisy’s family…because she’s great with charts. Here’s an example of one of Lily’s charts…no kidding, she comes up with this stuff on her own. It’s pretty good. (Disregard the handwritten rules, these were written in by some unruly uncle)

So I was lamenting about this one day to my sister-in-law, Trieste, about how I was not a good mom because I couldn’t be the organized chart lady that Lily obviously thinks I should be. So Trieste decided that for Lily’s birthday she was going to make her a planner. Just something that an organized 2nd grader needs. So we had a wonderful birthday for Lily and she got, among other things, Trieste’s planner. She was polite about all her presents and thanked everyone…but I was unsure of how the planner was going to go over until the next morning. Lily was already ready for school and was waiting on Canyon to get ready and I saw her in the living room, without her knowing that I was watching, hugging her planner. I guess it’s official. Lily did inherit something, besides her freckles and red hair, from her dad.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Princess Alice

I know that Alice is much a topic of interest on this blog—but she’s at an extremely interesting age and she’s funny and difficult and she makes you want to cry with laughter or with pure frustration. This is, once again, another Alice story…so take it for what it is. We were having a particularly lovely morning which included the mandatory fits of uncharacteristic rage for dressing and combing hair and general getting readiness. However, after we were finally dressed in a pink dress and, what Alice likes to call, her glass slippers (they are really some pink ballet flats that Hannah got her for Christmas), we were ready to go to COSTCO. As we were walking in the door the lady that checks the validity of the Costco card, said: “Well, aren’t you the prettiest princess I ever saw.” Alice gasped. How could this random lady know that she’s a princess? Was this one of her secret, but loyal, subjects? Perhaps she was a lady-in-waiting who had been banished to Costco by a previous princess.

At any rate, the question begged to be asked, and so I asked it: “How did you know?”

Costco lady: “Oh, I know, I have a princess of my own. She’s thirty-nine years old.”

I got a little emotional at this admission. I’m not sure if I was nostalgic for this woman and her now grown little princess, or if I was in utter despair at the thought of waiting on Princess Alice, hand and foot, for at least thirty-seven more years.

Alice: “Look at my glass slippers.”

Costco lady, with much attention and with very accurate and majestic intonations, fit for a princess: “Those are the most beautiful glass slippers I have ever seen.”

Alice graciously beamed as we pushed into the store, talking merrily of her glass slippers and the “sprinkles” in her hair (leftover glitter from her haircut). She really is a princess. Now when do I become the queen?

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

World's Greatest Mom: Me

The Boys in their Sword Shirts.

On the Boat, ready to sail.

Demolishing the cake with any implements of destruction we can find.

So, I know you’re wondering how I managed to gain this most coveted title. Well, all it takes is to take your now six-year-old son and his boy cousins (except the Ceej and Arthur) sailing on a really, really windy day. Let’s be honest, though, they would’ve been happy to play on the boat in the marina, maybe even motor out of the marina for a bit, let alone sail with gale force winds. Wait, strike that, they were TERRIFIED of the gale force winds…they calmed down as soon as we took the sail down and started back for the safety of the docks. Besides terrifying and delighting them in one fail swoop…I managed to get even more points by making them all matching sword t-shirts, eat a pirate ship cake practically with our bare hands, and even find time to find a jelly-fish with papa Scott. A BIG thanks to papa Scott who took us out on the boat and who wins the honor of World’s most courageous grandpa…not afraid of little boys on an expensive sailboat, and a lot of white flour and sugar…along with lots of rum (root beer). That’s sort of a long title, but he deserves it. Anyway, we had a great birthday out on the bay and it was beautiful and there was, suddenly, a LOT of wind.

On a different note, Lily and Kaia spent the weekend with papa Scott and Katrina and had a wonderful time at a production of “High School Musical” in the city and learning about organic food, zero waste, composting, farmer’s marketing, eating locally, and honing their marketing ideas for their restaurant: “Cousins in the Kitchen.” Thanks to Katrina for loving those girls as much as they love her.

We’re halfway through the birthday season…sigh…just a few more to go.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Nervous Breakdown?

Why I am having a nervous breakdown now, 14 months after the second great breakdown should've occurred (9 months after the first one did occur), I don't really know. I think it has to do with this list:

Panini sandwiches and roasted red pepper and tomato soup.

Tortellini with prosciutto and a creamy pesto sauce, homemade bread, chocolate and peanut butter brownies.

Homemade chicken pot pie.

From scratch chicken tortilla soup and honey cornbread muffins.

Bacon, egg & cheese biscuits--with homemade biscuits and eggs freshly gathered from the mean chickens, just short of butchering the four-H pig down the street for bacon.

Why does this send me into a nervous breakdown? Because I spent a lot of time and effort on these meals, only to have my children inform me that they "aren't hungry."

I would like to move in with some people who REALLY appreciate my efforts.

Last night we had KRAFT macaroni and cheese. Everyone ate it.