Thursday, September 24, 2009

On Fall in Northern California

Pizza Margherita. And yes, that's an ice-cold diet coke.

Fall is an interesting time of year round here. Even though I’ve lived here over a decade, I don’t think that I’ll ever get used to it. It’s very different from the orange fire mountain autumns I grew up with, but I think I’m starting to get the hang of it. To me, fall here seems warmer than summer, I think because the marine layer is less likely to blanket us each night and the “shorts and sweatshirts” (coined by my Aunt Linda) evenings of summer turn into shorts and tee shirts evenings. But I love it. There’s so many things to love about fall here. The way the light changes, subtly at first and then forcefully as the sun shines at us more from the south. The light patterns on the hardwood floor in our south facing family room elongate a little more each day. For the first time in months I close the bright white curtains and the light filters softly through giving the house a cool glow. Another thing I love about fall here is the harvesting of the vineyard grapes. They do it at night, all night long, under bright spotlights and humming motors. There’s something about harvesting the grapes, at their peek, in the coolness of night. But the smell of fermenting grapes left on the vine, while a little strong when you’re pregnant, can be an earthy complement to the coming change of seasons. I also love the sparkling ribbons they tie to the grape vines every few feet—to ward off the birds (so I’m told), I’m not sure if it works, though, because I see all kinds of animals partaking of the steamy purple grapes. But the effect of the hills sparkling is our version of a sparkling snow covered hill.

But the very best thing about fall this year, are the long-awaited tomatoes from our garden. We planted over 20 plants and we have a veritable jungle of the red-candy goodness. The kids go out there and pick and eat them like they’re berries. Jane and Lily especially love them. So yesterday I decided to do something with these…and I was craving a pizza so I made a pizza margherita with fresh basil and steaming tomatoes. I sent Canyon out to get me ‘three large red tomatoes’ and he obliged and it was so hot outside, nearly 100 degrees. He came in with gloriously large red tomatoes and as I cut them open tendrils of steam wandered off the cutting board into the air above the mozzarella and basil. Real steam. These were HOT! So to add to my ever growing list of fall favorites: steamy tomatoes—right up there with fermenting grapes.

Post edit: I realized after reading this again that some people might think I'm pregnant. I'm not, just remembering the smell of the fermenting grapes when I was pregnant and recalling how my sister-in-law, Trieste, would get absolutely sick at the briefest smell of the vineyard in fall. She wouldn't even come over to our house.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

On Bedtime Routines.

It is 7:00 pm—the time that we officially start the bedtime routine. For the little girls it’s bath. For the big kids it’s homework—but…it is 7:00 pm and my kids are all playing, for lack of a better title: “Going on the airplane to Nana & Papa’s with a stop at a hotel in-between, because, lets face it, hotels are fun.” I haven’t the heart to break it up. Mainly because they’re downstairs and I’m upstairs and it’s quiet up here. I can barely hear their slight screaming. I’ll just turn Neil Young up louder and finish folding laundry. And then maybe sit still under a ceiling fan and contemplate the universe [nap].

Is it bad to neglect the bedtime routine on a school night?

P.S. Do you know how hard it is to clean up an entire 'cup of noodles' off the kitchen floor? I'll give you a hint: it's definitely not easy.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Ask a Parenting Expert.

Dear readers,

As you know I am a next to 'perfect' parent so this information isn't meant for me (you understand). However, many of you may be struggling with raising your children.

You know things like:
  • making your 9-year-old cry everyday when you say the most harmless words, "time to practice piano."
  • your 2 and 4-year-olds simply saying 'no' when you ask them to do things.
  • also, hearing the phrase, "I don't want to be your friend anymore." more frequently than you would like.
  • yelling at your children.
  • not really knowing what you're doing.
  • a 2-year-old that poops in her pants, but it's ok because "it's just a baby poop mommy."
  • a 7-year-old boy who refuses to cut his hair.
  • exactly four children who refuse to eat anything that requires 'time and effort' on my (I mean your) part.
  • this really high pitched screaming that only dogs should be able to hear, but unfortunately for me (I mean you), is somehow heard on a frequency that is heard throughout the neighborhood.
Like I said, I don't really know why it's so hard for some of you. I had to call some friends to get some examples of less than exemplary behavior. I know what you're thinking, quite a coincidence that the examples are all the same ages as my kids. I know, weird isn't it? Purely coincidental.

Anyway, my mother-in-law is quite a childhood development expert and is going to be participating in a teleconference. I don't know exactly how this works except that it's sort of like a podcast/radio interview that you listen to over your phone. She will be covering things like:

Participants will learn:
1. The 10 times that children are most likely to misbehave
2. Why what we say is not as important as how we say it
3. How to be Kind and Firm at the same time
4. That “inviting” cooperation is better than demanding compliance

I don't know about you, but those seem to be things that would be interesting to know, if in fact you had children who misbehaved. I'm not going to mention any names, but Sadie, this might be good for you and the Ceej. It might be time for him to start using a spoon (I was specifically thinking of Kind and Firm).

Here's the link to hook you up. You can thank me later.
Oh, yeah...and it's free.

Grandma Laurie's Sage Parenting Advice


Wednesday, September 2, 2009

What We've Been Doing.

Not necessarily in this order:

Playing Little House in the Prairie with our BFF Amy.

Playing with our new chickens Gabriella and Zena and our new baby chicks. This one is Princess Leia.

Playing outside.

Folding Laundry.

Eating cupcakes with our cousins at Baby Luke and Leia's baby shower. (a.k.a. Elise & Isaac's twins)

Alice & I on a trip to Logan for said baby shower. We had a wonderful and amazing time.

This is candy for those of you who didn't recognize it.

Enjoying the garden. I guess all that work was worth it.

The first day of school--it wasn't as painful as I thought. Actually it was pretty painless.

Enjoying our new chicken coop that our summer teenager, Jed, built. Jed was the best helper, au' pair, babysitter, chicken coop builder and golf cart wrecker we have ever had!
Canyon, on seeing the chicken coop: "Mom, I was thinking about the coup and I think it's good that it's camouflage because I think that a fox will come over here and think, 'Oh, there's just a little forest over there.' and then leave without eating the chickens."
I don't know if that's how it went down but we haven't lost a chicken since even though I have seen a fox lurking about the property.

We are happily settling into schedules but miss our summer days and especially summer nights. I guess though, in retrospect, summer wouldn't be so special if we didn't have school to attend to all the rest of the year.