Well little Norah had her second bitrthday this week, the actual day was on Wednesday and then we decided to have her friend party today (being Sunday) so she wouldn't find one day too tiring.
Here she is modeling her Diego Rescue pack that I whipped up on Tuesday night, actually dusting off the sewing machine and spending a marathon 4 hours not knitting in order to fulfill a dream. Norah loves Diego and it was well worth the time spent to see her light up over this gift, immediately shove her spotting scope and rescue rope into it and pelt off to save... something, anything, someone get this gal a critter to save!
We had a chocolate coconut sugar free cheesecake for dessert and I know you are thinking (sugar free? what the hell? must taste like regurgitatated light Philly Cream cheese when they pretend to flavour it but really it resembles gelatenous white goo) well not this cake. I found the most amazing recipe for Splenda cheesecake and it is our standby, as then we can all partake since Seth is unable to have real sugar or cake. When we had cake for Seth's birthday we had a chocolate almond crust with cherry topping, it was great.
Norah was so pleased with herself for blowing out the candles, she blew them out halfway through Happy Birthday and I relit them three times to even get a picture with flame in it. As you can see I resorted to my hand in front of Hurricane Norah to prevent the snuffing before a last desperate photo.
And she did actually get a nice sugary buttercream cake this weekend at her Party with her friends. And yes indeed that is baby Jaguar peeking at you from the top of a mountain of butter, sugar and whipping cream, I think he turned out pretty great.
This afternoon was so very tiring and Norah was done before the party even started so by the time we mistakenly left her and ABby to watch a movie at 3:30 it was far too much for the little rescuer. We came down to find her like this, curled around rescue pack, wearing her new Animal rescuer hoodie, fast sleep lying in a puddle of her own pee.
She had such a great day, used her new Diego plate set at supper, wore her hoodie until bathtime, read and reread her Diego book and took Mommy and Baby Bengal tiger for nursie time and bedtime. All in all her friends really know what it takes to make a happy little No
I'll admit it right now, Thanksgiving in November usually feels like a bit of an anticlimax.
Having been raised in Canada Thanksgiving is part of October, the beginning of the month of excess. A 31 day stretch with a tryptophan stupor in the middle and finale of diabetic coma. Then you ususally have Novermber to recuperate before revving up again for Christmas and all that beer that just won't drink itself.
Now that we live in the States we usually celebrate both thanksgivings because really, there is no better excuse for two turkey dinners in as many months. My mom and dad come for Canadian Thanksgiving in October and my mom spends the entire weekend educating any sales clerk willing to listen about that fact that " yes Canadian's do have Thanksgiving", and " did you know we are celebrating Canadian Thanksgiving", "this bag of potatos is for Canadian Thanksgiving."
And then when we celebrate again during November Seth's mom joins us, having grown up in the States herself she really feels more at home having turkey this month. And usually this second dinner feels like the great anticlimax, like a belated birthday card, or Christmas presents lost in the mail and delivered in July.
But not this year.
This year we had a great time, all crowded into the front room to watch the snow fall, and fall and fall..... we actually watched the Macy's parade on T.V. which believeyoume was the most surreal experience of my life. I felt like a kid on a tv sitcom; who was having a thanksgiving that someone had scripted to follow the classic idealistic American lifestyle as brought to you by Home and Garden magazine. We had dinner at the dining room table with a tablecloth and nice plates and a gravy boat and everything, The kids ate themselves sick and then had pie and whipped cream and ran around like crazy people. It was the idyllic American Thanksgiving... although admittedly we skipped the football.
I suppose the interesting thing about this year was that I feel like my kids are really going to have a very different cultural upbringing than I did. And I am not talking about saying zeeee and zed, or punctuating sentences with eh, or the differences between tourists and taurists (oh yes washingtonians I am onto you; as far as I can figure a taurist is someone who travels that has been born in May?)
But there really are cultural traditions that Seth and I grew up with that my kids will only learn about through collective memory, not firsthand. In Canada you are never fed that bull*%$@ story about the Indians ahem First Nations, and the Pilgrims ahem Pioneers and the great feast. Simply put Thanksgiving is exactly what it says it is; giving thanks for the bounty of food put before you and hoping like hell you aren't starving and freezing by January. Well I am thankful, and I hope I am not freezing in January.
I guess the best part is that we can do both, we can have two days for giving thanks and be extra thankful and extra full at the same time. I am thankful for my girls who make me wonder everyday if I can be big enough, strong enough, smart enough, gentle enough and humble enough to raise them. For Hubs the Great who really is the other part of me, and for realizing that even though I might be really far from where I came from I am exactly where I need to be.
Ohhh Christmas is coming, fast and furious. The bix box stores haven't even waited this year for Thanksgiving to pass before hauling out all the bell chiming, glittery, snowy marvelous Christmas crap that accompanies the season of purchasing. And I love it.
Most of my friends will have a lot to say about buying less, giving less, that children need less toys, there is no need to go wild and get them zillions and zillions of toys, and I agree... mostly. Because when it really comes down to it, I LOVE BUYING TOYS, LOTS AND LOTS OF TOYS FOR MY KIDS. This does not mean that I will dwindle my bank account to nothing this Christmas, it means that I will find the sales and indeed already have most of my Christmas shopping done. It does not mean that I will buy any toy I come across that is a low price. I will line up my children's interest with toys I think are worthwhile and at a great price. It does not mean that I will neglect making them something by hand. I have a handmade gift planned for everyone on my list and have most of them finished.
But I will refuse to feel guilty that I love to buy them things, that even though the money could be spent on a myriad of other things I will enjoy buying them something to fuel their imagination and play. I will teach them that they are lucky to own such lovely things and when the time comes when it is no longer played with we will donate it, or send it to a second hand store. This year will be the year we start buying a toy for charity, Abby can pick out a toy to donate and when Norah is old enough she can too.We are blessed enough to be able to afford new toys and I know that, I teach my kids that, we talk about how amazing our situation is all the time.
And quite frankly I love how many options for play we have in this house. Lately we have been keeping all the toys packed away in coloured bins. Everyday we pick a new bin and the kids get to play with whatever is in that bin. This means that each day there is something new and exciting, something that has not been seen before, and it fuels imagination like never before. Kids need things to play with, they need variety and they need to have the experience of deciding that they like one thing more than the other. That one item is more precious and their reasons why that item is more precious. They also need the ability to decide when to get rid of something, and how can you ask a child to get rid of a toy when they only own five or six. Preciousness increases when quantity decreases, and should we be teaching children that there are only small quantities that should be held onto forever? or that the world has bounty but we can share it, keep it for a while, covet our favorites and let the rest move on.
I read this on a friend's blog today and it really rang true, I actually wrote it down and put it on the fridge because this year I will revel in my generosity REVEL DAMNIT!
This is not advocating that the only way to do Christmas is to buy buy buy, or that the only gift is a storebought toy. And there are of course families that cannot afford to have piles of toys for their children this Christmas, but I plan to buy my kids some, and then buy some for your kids too.
It is so awesome that all my friends are on this crazy post everyday thing. Awesome that each morning I get to stall even longer upstairs and look into this house, or that house, and sometimes that house, and not often enough that house. Lately I have been struggling with the concept of this blog, how much is too much and how little is not enough. I am an intrinsically honest person... to a fault, if you've had a conversation with me you'll know that I am generally well meaning but blatantly honest. ( For future reference this is not always the easiest and most tactful way to be.. just sayin'). And it does provide a slight problem with this space as I am never sure how much information is okay and how much is too much insight into our lives, where we live, what we do, how to find us... But it is fun reading blogs of other people,. specifically people that I know in real life, then there is this teeny tiny glimpse into the background. The set as they say, the part in the dress rehearsal when they just leave the curtain up for the stage change and you can see the blank concrete back wall, the hanging wires, the old unused sets in the wings, new props waiting to be brought out. The way it really works, I like seeing that, a "How it's Made" of a family I know.
And it is even better that some of these great gals are doing it everyday, I mean when else can you work into conversation "Soooo what was a completely banal thing that happened today that spurred a memory that made you rethink your entire parenting style," yeah I know that's not really an icebreaker is it? So then really why the heck did competitive overacheiver me not jump on this NaBloPo thing? WEll for one, I didn't know what the hell it was until Ivory explained it to me. I don't feel like I have time..... but that's a lie, because I do have time. If I have time for daily puzzle, then I have time for this.
Who knows, I do know for sure that we have to go out soon, stop and pick up the pottery that Abby and I painted last week for Xmas gifts, get a new coffeemaker ( life giver) and then buy a snowblower, or shall I say budget blower for all the snow from the *&(^%& global warming trend. It is ironic that to combat the effects of global warming I need to buy something that uses non renewable resources and makes noxious exhaust.... but I'm sure I could write a college course on the amount of irony in life.
I also know that Norah is incredibly adorable in her 6-12 month sweater that fits great, and her 18 months pants that fall down because she no longer wears diapers and she is super dinky skinny. lol, and I also know that Abby is sick as a dog and has a terrible croup thing but insists complete with tears and hystrionics that she will go pick up the pottery. So off we go! maybe you'll hear from me tomorrow, but probably not, the pathological need to forge my own path and disregard all other rules is pretty strong.
I think that this Hallowe'en was my most favorite to date. Abby was amped up for a good two weeks beforehand, literally vibrating with excitement. And Norah was finally old enough to really appreciate the fact that simply walking up to someone's door and being her unbearable cute self saying "twitck o weeet" was enough for scads of candy. :) She spend the evening hefting her pumpkin bucket around all by herself smiling a cat-that-got-the-cream grin and saying "I got wots o candy!" It was marvelous. I ended up vetoing the Ponyo cotsumes that were originally requested mostly because Ponyo didn't really dress for October this far north, (a Miyazaki film about the far arctic would really help me out next year). And so the girls went as princesses, which was a sure bet with Abby as long as the costume has lots of sparkly Diva going on.
We followed up Hallowe'en with Abby starting Ballet lessons, she is completely delighted as a couple of the girls in her class take ballet and now she is just like them. She had a marvelous time at her first class despite the fact that her mom ahem.. missed the right time and she was in with the 5 year olds being slightly bamboozled by instructions she did not understand. But I have to admit that Abby is so good at being easy
going she did great and followed the best she could. So next week we'll be there at the right time and she'll do even better. The best news is that she asked to go to ballet again the very next day so I guess she really likes it.
Did anyone notice that September was a blazingly fast month? That it was over nearly before it began, and the onset of school was this amazing re-entry into a decently structured shedule that has my children acting more normal than the carefree days of summer ever allowed? We've been so busy and yet had nowhere to go and nothing to do other than the sweet nothings of everyday. Fabulous mornings filled with oatmeal, cool rainy weather, fading leaves and school afternoons. I had a number of projects due last month as well as a few deadlines for submissions and looming Christmas gift knitting so my hands have been occupied which is always a good thing to do. We started September with our annual trip to the State Fair. I always feel like this is my Americanization ritual that I must pass to remain in the country. We had a great time as always, and this year Norah got to have a Llama ride which was not only the highlight of her day but possibly the highlight of her life. :) She ended up having two rides that day both of which were punctuated by her delighted cries of "Llama ride! I'm having a Llama ride! Yay!, Yehaw Llama ride!." It was enough to make me regard my 4 city lots as Llama worthy pasture for the time it took her to ride around the llama circle a few times.
And of course there were the giant carrots from our garden. Funny thing about carrots, if you leave them in the groud with a water supply they keep growing. Felt a bit like the scene from Lord of the Rings with Farmer Maggots crop being stolen, but my little hobbits are cuter than those ones, albeit still with curly hair.
Then we had a nice trip to our favorite Fruit Ranch with Abby's school, Norah wasn't too sure why she could eat an apple right off the tree but not a pumpkin. I wasn't reallt able to explain it to her satisfaction either so she knawed on the skin for a while :)
And we cam home the other day to find this little guy on the porch. Apparantly an Orb Weaver spider it is quite frankly the coolest spider I've ever seen and I kind of hope he sticks around simply for interest factor :)
Now we have busy busy October with lots of visiting and trips for weddings and getting ready for Halloween and at least one birthday to celebrate.
I feel a bit guilty for neglecting this space so badly, I'm pretty sure that it has something to do with being fairly busy, and deciding to give the kids the attention they deserve. However I have a few garden updates: Above you see my 2.5 gallons of green beans that I picked from the garden the other day. These little guys found their way into the freezer. Please ignore the dirty dishes and vitamins and if you are saying "wha? dirty dishes and vitamins.. where?" then don't look for them, your house must be well loved and seasoned with clutter as is mine.
And at the risk of making someone too hungry I will only post one picture of one of our many fabulous stir-fry's that we've had in the past while. All veggies that have come from my garden, I think the only thing I bought was the garlic, but that will change next year.
And we finally bought some lumber to put together our yard bin that Seth received from his mom ... maybe two years ago... :) I guess the blog isn't the only neglected thing going on here :) lol
And finally Abby did turn four last month. I decided that I wasn't going to do a blog post about it as it makes me cry to think of her getting older and being away from me at some point. And she has been having a great deal of anxiety about getting big enough to move out and be away from us lately and so since she is such a perceptive little thing I decided not to dwell on the emotion. Here was her totally fabulous Cheesecake a La Splenda so her dad could eat it too :) It turned out super delicious :)
We rented Ponyo from the Library this week; hardcore Miyazaki fans we have most all of his other movies but had been putting off purchasing this one mostly because of poor reviews. However, what a surprising delight this movie turned out to be! Abigail was completely in love with it and we have watched it everyday, sometimes twice a day for the entire week. Long story short it is a retelling of The Little Mermaid, but way more adorable and with typical Miyazaki charm and strange Japanese references that still elude understanding but remain quirky and enjoyable.
As in all Miyazaki movies he never forgets to include the food ( and I have a theory about his love of cold fried eggs because he uses them a lot) but in this movie Ponyo and Soske have a bowl of Noodle soup with Eggs, Ham, and Green Onion. So imagine Abby's squeal of delight when she managed to locate the last two packages of Ichiban ( that's Ramen for the American readers) that were lurking in the cuboard. "just like Ponyo!!!!!" So off we went to recreate the noodle soup that Ponyo and Soske eat after the big storm in the movie.
Eggs, Ham and Green Onion were easy to recreate and I was delighted that Ponyo had enough good sense to mix some hefty protein in with her carbs. Also the fact that before Ponyo Abby would never ever ever have even entertained the idea of eating Ham, Green Onions or Eggs in soup, these are all things that she east separately and does enjoy but in a soup? really? well Ponyo does!
And this really took me back to being a kid, those crunchy noodles just waiting for the hot water, and the salty salty broth..mmm....
Then there was the moment I had to pretend to be the mom from Ponyo and cover the soup telling Abby to close her eyes while slipping in the eggs, ham and onion. then SURPRISE!
I guess there is such a thing as universal soup surprise look , lol.
I never got to eat my soup as Norah woke up just in time to partake in the meal. Which she also immediately knew was from Ponyo, I guess I know what Santa is bringing for Christmas:) And I hope we can last Ponyo-less until then. And one thing for sure : there were definite threats hurled against those dang Librarians who wanted their movie back today.
who knows, I remember when summer was this long drawn out ridiculous affair that was so devastatingly awesome at the beginning of July when there was no school, and then by the end of August we were bored out of our skulls and begging to go back to school. ANd really at the moment it is only the beginning of August with a good solid three weeks left until September creeps up and cooler winds crisp the air. We have birthday's coming up, successive planting to accomplish, more weeding to do, patterns to write, and we did have fun in July having a holiday with family and splashing in the pool. But I can't help but have no clue as to where the time in July actually went as it went so fast I didn't take stock.
We started the month out with some exchange students from CHina who visited with us and stayed in the house for ten days or so. Talk about culture shock, I think we had a tremendous amount of fun and it was seriously thrilling to convey the word 'cholesterol' to Meng Jiang after trying to discuss it for 38 minutes including drawings, miming and a Chinese/English dictionary. But there were a few things that definitely made me realize we live in very different places from one another, for one the utter terror that my dogs instilled in our guests. Of course I know that the Chinese do not keep dogs, for pets anyway and that they are not used to them but really who couldn't love a cute bundle of fuzzy cuddly fur that wants to lick you up one side and down the other, well the CHINESE that's who. So we started the trip with our poor young gal Tian Yu crying her eyes out in giant wracking sobs and refusing to allow the dogs into the house for the entire trip. After explaining that our dogs were part of our family we headed down the arduous road of trying to keep them contained in their own house so as not to completely terrify Tian Yu with a glance of fur. It did all come out in the wash as by the end of the visit she was petting and feeding them treats.
In the middle of July we went up to Scotch Creek with mom and dad which was a total riot of course, had lots of fun in the sun on the beach and watched Abby swim it up hardcore. That girl is going into swim lessons at the end of August because truly she can jump off a diving board into the deep water of the pool surface and swim to the edge by herself. She's not yet four and she may be part fish.
Other than that I've been gardening up a storm, lots of zuchinni, swiss chard, lettuce, peas, carrots, and beets have been eaten in the past few weeks and there are beans, tomatos, calabaza squash, buttercup squash, cucumbers, cabbage and kale to come... yummmm.....
Boy oh boy has it been wet! like really really wet, almost like we live in the pacific northwest wet. Hmmm....but it is good for the * drumroll please..*** GARDEN :) yes we do finally have a garden, pretty big and filled with nice dirt, it looks small here only because our yard is so darn big.
And we also have an herb garden, which needs some more bricks but really they can wait as I am more interested in buying plants than rocks :)
And more squash plants! I hope my friends like squash as much as I do because unless the bugs get them there should be plenty to go around.
Other than the rain and desperately trying to mow the half acre of lawn I own in-between rain storms without completely clogging the mower we haven't been up to much. A short trip to Canmore in May to meet up with family was great fun;
Tromping around Canmore with two children who have been promised Candy Apples can be fun too, sort of :) but really the mountains make it sooo nice, and the river flowing into my dad's head? hmmm
And let's not forget sleeping angels on big fluffy hotel beds that look all white and fancy and are hard hard hard with big fluffy pillows that are so very supportive you'll never lie flat again :) lol
And I include this photo of actual happy children in the car because it never ever happens until mom whips out a camera to document the gravity of the screaming and crying. So these little stinkers grin from ear to ear for the lens, well poop on them and their 9 hours of screaming minus one minute for the shot.
And then my favorite photos ever, Norah calls them Bogles :) lol
And we will end with Sluggy our friendly yard slug who is now the favorite friend of her " whole life" and 'lives in her world" , that's my girl ; pink sparkly rings and brown slimy slugs :) The high heeled entomologist, glamourous snake wrangling dress model, oh Abby I love you!
I have declared today a Mother's Day, no particular reason, we are mostly healed up from our past few weeks and despite being rather tired from all the gardening around here ( another post I promise) we are doing fine. Abby has had a few exceptional moments this week where i am really appreciating this little person that grew inside me. We will start with "Mom, what's it like being an adult?", asked on the way to the swimming pool on Sunday morning it sort of took me off guard. A pretty advanced question I think , I tried ot give it an advanced answer:
Being an adult involves being tired a lot because there is a lot to do and not a lot of time to do it in, like chasing little girls and making supper and laundry and mowing the lawn. It is fun but not as fun as being a kid because there is more responsibility and you can't really do whatever you want, in some ways you are more restricted than when you were little.But being an adult is great because you can have a loving husband and family and terrific little girls who make you smile and fall in love all over again.
But I still think about my response to this question and wonder if I would answer the same thing if asked again this sunday, or next week or next year. I guess technically I don't feel that much different than I did 10 years ago before I turned 18. Which where I grew up means : Yay! you are an adult and somewhat responsible and we'll give you keys to a car, and you can buy a house and get your own food and drink up a storm if you choose. Many things have changed since that time, I am comfortable with who I am, as a matter of fact I LOVE who I am which I don't think I ever would have said back then. I have these great girls that are amazing every single day even when I want to pull my hair our and hide on my own island . ANd a great husband who not only is my Hubs he is my friend, he is my perfect fit , the other side of the equation, really M=S in this house.
But being responsible sucks a lot of the time in other ways, no you can't play video games all day and order pizza and let the kids run wild and never wash or clean up anything. Well..... okay technically you could and I think I've seen a few "Supernanny" shows where a few if not all of those things are going on at the same time in a home. But we don't do it here. We have agonizing decisions over how to parent, what rashes to pay attention to, which are just from grass, thinking that bump in the night is a child falling from bed, a window being opened by a stranger. Wondering about nutrition, sleepcycles, weaning, nursing, weaning, nursing, about the right school for an obviously sharp little mind asking questions that should be beyond her years. So what is it like being an adult?
Abby: Mom I want to see a real live chameleon right now
Me: Well honey, I'm not in the habit of keeping real live chameleons in the car
Abby: why not?
Me: well I don't think they would like it in here
Abby: Oh, well if there was a chameleon in here it could eat some of my pretzels
Me: well I think they eat bugs Abby, but he might try a pretzel
Abby: do lizards have teeth?
Me: some do, I think Komodo Dragons have teeth
Abby: They are bad lizards
Me: No they aren't bad, they are just aggressive because they eat meat and they have to hunt it to eat it, that's all
Abby: Well do you think a Komodo Dragon would eat a pretzel?
Me: No Abby they like meat
Abby: well what if I threw it at him?
Me: well no probably not because they like meat
Abby: Well what if I threw this whole cup at him? and all the pretzels were in it?
Me: I think he might say , no thankyou I like meat
Abby: Well then I would give him chicken.
Well I've been avoiding posting about Mother's Day as it wasn't really all that great over here, actually it was downright dismal. Seth has had a headache for the better part of the last week complete with dizziness and nausea and.. well yes vomiting too. All those quirky side effects of a brain injury that no one know how, or why, or when they happen but they do. SO Sunday morning was filled with leftover coffe, make your own breakfast and get the kids out of the house so that Seth could rest. We went swimming which was pretty fun, the kids are great at the pool and we have a good time. Then back to the house, scrounge up some lunch, put Norah down for a nap.. oh wait she isn't napping this week. Anotehr fun side effect of feeling discombobulated because her dad now lives in the bedroom with the blinds closed. So get Norah up after an hour of singing the alphabet, head out to Lowes to buy myself some flowers. Okay just so everyone knows, Lowes, on Mother's Day, which was warm here in Spokane, in the Garden department with two kids both tired from swimming, freaked out from no daddy time and both napless...... bad. bad bad bad. I got tired of Abby continually running away bu hersell so I let Norah get out of the cart too so they could run away together. I figure if anyone tried to nab them they would have their hands so full by the exit they would ditch the kids and run for their lives. So we got some nice plants, and some cow crap, and the oh so nice lady at the checkout asked very sweetly how my Mother's Day was going and she got an honest answer. She may think twice about asking again, or at least check for the level of harried involved before opening her goddamn mouth.
Then we trouped home, and then voila, Norah fell asleep.. great right? Well at 3:30pm .. not so much. SO she napped for a whole 40 minutes which was just enough time for me to get elbow deep in making dinner on the barbeque because my *&%(*& oven STILL isn't working. Well that's another post entirely. And when she woke up she was oh so friendly and smiley, I mean she might have been underneath all the whining and the crying and the moaning and the cranking. I hel dher on my hip while I chopped vegtables and barbecued meat and then we all sat down to eat dinner, with the blinds closed. Not sure if the blinds were closed to keep the sun out for Seth or so I could pretend to be on an island, in the dark, by myself. BUT managed to wrangle the kids into bed so they could scream and whine for an hour before finally falling alseep. And the best part? well falling asleep at 9pm of course.
These photos are not from Mother's Day, I decided not to take any photos because something about documenting such a disaster seemed morbid. But these are some great dress up shots from earlier this week and sometimes we all need a Giraffe costume.