Parenting Thoughts

The most important thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother, and the most important thing a mother can do for her children is to love their father.

Parents who are afraid to put their foot down usually have children who step on their toes.
Chinese Proverb

The children who grow up romping outside, who know first hand where their food comes from, who get up close and personal with the birds and insects in their neighborhood and who find kinship with animals simply care—care about others, care about their community, and care about their world.
Kelly Matzen

October 27, 2010 at 1:46 pm 1 comment

Why I Love the Pacific Northwest, or, I Just Like to be Lazy Without the Guilt

It’s raining today.  It’s GLORIOUS.

Glorious? You might be thinking to yourself.  Well, as you may or may not know, I am a true Western Washingtonian.  I love that gosh darn rain.  And today is especially great because it is the first day it’s rained in MONTHS.  Okay, so I exaggerate a little and it’s probably only been a couple of weeks.  BUT STILL. 

Why do folks from the Pacific Northwest love rain so much?  Of course I’m generalizing here but I think most of us who are born and bred here have an affinity for precipitation.  For example, when I logged into Facebook this morning there were no fewer than 12 status updates from fellow rain lovers praising the soggy weather.

Joe and B playing in some spring rain at our old apartment.

At first thought, most people think rain, on a day-to-day basis, falls into the “crappy” weather category.  And that is true for those people because a gloomy, drippy day is usually not very warm.  The sun does not shine and so there is no opportunity for sun bathing, beach combing, gardening, ultimate frisbee, golfing or other such super fun outdoor activities.  What fun is it to be stuck inside anyway?  Just ask those kids from the Cat in the Hat.

Or you can just ask me.

I love being stuck inside!  Well, I love being stuck inside when I haven’t already been stuck inside for seven consecutive days.  I do need a break every once in a while to work in my garden or let my two year old run free without trailing mud and worms back into the house.  But, on a day like today, when it’s been hot and summery and sunshiney, it’s nice to have a day of cold, drizzly gray skies.

For one, I completely appreciate the rain for the fact that I do not feel guilty for not working in the garden or slathering my son in sunscreen to spend hours outdoors.  I appreciate the rain for the fact that, because I am too cheap to water my grass through the heatwaves, it is finally getting the drink it deserves.  I appreciate the rain for the fact that it gives me reason to wear cozy wool socks and a thermal long-sleeve shirt with worn out jeans around the house, instead of worrying about if my legs are shaved well enough to go to the grocery store in shorts.  I appreciate the rain and the coolness it brings for the motivation to finally use that ham in my freezer to make split pea soup.  I appreciate the rain for giving my street and walkways a good rinse and refreshing parched flower beds.

I like to be able to clean my house without breaking a sweat (no one around here has air conditioning) and watch it stay that way, because when we’re stuck inside anyway it’s easier to pick up after ourselves.  I like to bundle up in comfy, casual clothes and just hang out for a while and listen to the wind and the rain in the trees.  I like to light a candle that smells like fall and play with my son and his trucks and not worry about getting outside and taking advantage of the day.

Go ahead and call it like you see it.  I like to be lazy and the beginning of the rainy season doesn’t make me feel bad about it.

There are so many reasons I love the rain and the biggest of which is probably that it is simply comforting.  The dry summers make me feel as though I must take advantage and go, go, go.  Go work in the yard, go play at the park, go for a run, go to the library (we walk there), go get a tan, go float the river, go set up the sprinklers and fill the pool and weed the garden beds and go do this and go do that.  All the while, the outdoors is following us indoors and the mess never gets cleaned up because we just go, go, go. 

When the rain starts, that all stops.  And don’t get me wrong, I like to go, go, go by the time summer finally comes around again.  But right now, I’m ready for fall and winter to be here and the cool, drizzly, drippy, soggy and sometimes downpouring, weather to get here.

Of course, ask me all this in about ten months and I will deny all of it.

August 31, 2010 at 4:37 pm 4 comments

Bread, Lattes and Crookneck Squash

I just said a prayer to the blog gods that the blogosphere police won’t arrest me for neglect.  I think about you a lot, little bloggy.  I jot things down on scratch paper, notes to come back here and write about.  But time gets away from me almost every day.

For example, last night I decided that since I’d have the living room to myself for a few hours I would sit down and upload some photos and catch up.  The next thing I know, I’d found a great bread recipe and was dumping yeast and flour into my bread machine and although it would be four hours before it was done, I never wound up getting back here.  I’m sorry little bloggy.  I still love you.

Oh, and the bread turned out fantastic.  It was my first try in the bread machine too.  Ha!  It was super basic, but came out lovely.  Firm enough for sandwiches but very soft and not too dense or dry at all.  I plan on experimenting with extra ingredients the next time.  Honey will go first because I can’t resist a bread anything with honey in it.  I’ll also try the dough setting for cinnamon and dinner rolls.  If anyone out there has bread making/bread machine tips or recipes, I’d love to hear!

Side note:  I just looked over at the clock while wondering why my head was starting to pound.  I realized that it’s nearly 10:00am and I haven’t had an ounce of coffee.  No wonder.  I’ll be right back little bloggy.  I promise I’ll come back for you…

And I’m back.  I feel it is important to mention the fact that I had to turn on my heater while making coffee because WHERE THE HECK DID SUMMER GO?!  My feet are cold.  I have a bird I like to hold.  My hat is old.  My teeth are gold.  And now my story is all told… name that Dr. Seuss book.

A caffeinated beverage has never tasted so good as it does right now.  I believe the key is this…

That’s right.  It’s a MASON JAR.  And besides making my coffee look totally cute, it can hold a crap ton more ice and that’s the way I like my iced vanilla lattes.  Chilly.  Mmm. 

A little ironic considering what I wrote two paragraphs ago?  Yep.

Besides baking homemade bread (if you consider dumping ingredients into a pan and pushing a button “baking”) I also harvested this baby…

I’ll probably just slice it up and roast it with some other mixed vegetables.  I’ve got quite a few more on the vine but somehow this one got way bigger way faster.

I’m trying to do some research about fall planting/winter vegetable gardening in my region.  I’m zone 8 but most of the information I find applies to zone 8 down south, which is a totally different climate.  I’ve heard from a few people around the Pacific Northwest that you’ve just got to give it a try each year and see what turns out.  Our winters are generally pretty mild as far as temps go but the rain can really ravage things.  I think I’ll go for some root vegetables and winter squash and just see what happens.  I can cloche things if I need to.  In any case, I’ve got to get on it because August is nearly gone.  Some sites say I’ve missed my deadline all together, others say I still have options.  Wish me luck!

This post sure has been a mish mash of crap.  I’ve got a lot more to share as long as I can find the time and peace (’cause it’s just so easy to blog with a two year old clinging to you).  I’ve also been getting a bit more traffic from other bloggers out there, and a few comments too.  I really appreciate it!  I’ve never had high expectations as far as traffic goes but it sure is nice to get some unexpected feedback.

Stick around you guys!  And stay classy.


August 28, 2010 at 11:21 am 2 comments

It’s too Hot for Paragraphs Today.

I’m here.  I’m posting.  But I’m not gettin’ fancy today.  It’s all about the list.  The list of thoughts.  Things that I have thought about today.  And it’s only noon!

1.  I think I have seasonal affective disorder.  “They” say it’s common here.  Except, I think what I have is the opposite of most people’s.  I mean, I like me some Vitamin D but when it’s over 90 degrees for more than 10 minutes I pretty much want to curl up and die.

2.  Beef jerky chew looks like sawdust and smells like dog food.

3.  I ended up getting rid of the big food processor that I mentioned here.

4.  I always clip way more coupons than I remember to use before their expiration dates.  I do have frugal intentions. 

5.  I’ve put off painting my kitchen for three weeks now.  The supplies are sittin’ right there waiting for me but I just… I just… can’t.  As a result, my kitchen seems uglier each day.

6.  This was an amazing sunset we had a couple of weeks ago.  I’ve been meaning to share it here.

7.  This summer I’ve realized I’d like a dog.  But not a little tiny dog.  A good-sized dog like a lab or retriever.  But for some reason my significant other and I can’t come to a compromise about it.  Joe wants a little tiny rat dog and I’m just afraid that I’d “accidentally” let it out into the field where only the hawks could find it.

8.  I need to get out there and dig up the dandelions before they go to seed.  Although I’d rather have a yard with dandelions in bloom than clover in bloom.  The clover is my enemy.  My ugly, ugly enemy.

9.  We’ve been thinking about putting up some crown molding.  The texture on our walls and ceiling is so thick that it’s impossible to get a clean line between the wall color and white ceiling.  But I’m a little afraid crown molding would be too busy in our little house, we already have a lot of woodwork.

10.  I’m getting burnt out on Facebook.  It seems like one out of a hundred status updates ever have something interesting to say.  Too much whining.  Someone make me laugh.

11.  I constantly bribe my boy for hugs and kisses.  You want another graham cracker?  Give me a kiss first!

12.  My sister mentioned to me the other day that she thinks I should be a blogger.  She said “You’re a natural-born blogger.”  I do not agree with her but it made me suspicious of her.  Erin, if you’re reading this, show yourself!

I guess that’s it for now.  I’m going to go put ice cubes in the kiddie pool and climb in.

August 16, 2010 at 12:48 pm 3 comments

How do you say “Airhead” in Spanish?

… Because I think I’ll need to listen out for this phrase, I’m sure it’s how they refer to me. 

But anyway, there’s just nothing like a sticky, melty, chocolatey treat from the ice cream man in the “heat” (does 80 degrees count?  It does for me!) of summer.

Normally, I ignore the ice cream man as he rolls down the street.  I totally don’t understand why he sometimes plays “Jingle Bells” over his megaphone.  Except maybe that he wants to make me miss Christmas and dream about snow so that I can pretend I’m not drowing in my own sweat?  Of course, that’s not why I ignore him, it’s just because the last time I bought a popsicle I think I ended up having to dole out four bucks in nickels and dimes.  And that was 5 years ago, I can’t imagine how inflation has effected the mobile ice cream market.  Anywho, our sweet neighbor was buying popsicles for her kids and they asked if B could have one too. 

Unfortunately, our very kind neighbor does not speak english and I only discovered this when I said to her “Thank you very much, it’s a great treat for a hot day like this.”  She responded by nodding and hesitantly saying “me no English”.  I nervously babbled “Oh, well I’m sorry I don’t know more Spanish.  I only took French in high school but everyone told me I should’ve taken Spanish because…”  When I caught myself still chattering away I felt pretty stupid and looked at her kids, hoping they could help.  Her older boy was nice enough to translate for me and she smiled and laughed.  I’m sure she laughed for two reasons.  One, it must be pretty funny that I’m an idiot.  And two, I think she laughed because it’s probably not so hot to her family, seeing as though it was only about 80 degrees out and they’re from Mexico.  They were wearing jeans, long sleeve tshirts and tennis shoes… I was barefoot wearing mesh shorts and a sweaty tank top.

B has since made friends with their two year old daughter, who speaks very little english.  Well, she’s two so she probably doesn’t speak much Spanish either.  Anyway, it’s funny to watch them interact standing on opposite sides of our chain-link fence.  They pass pieces of grass and sticks back and forth.  She picked him some cherries last month and he passed her a “flower” (clover blossom).  She points at her puppy and says something about “Chula” (the dog’s name) and he points and answers with “Chuly Chuly!”

I would post a picture of the two awkwardly facing each other in silence at the fence, waiting for the other to initiate a “conversation” but I’m not sure her parents would not appreciate my posting her face on the world wide web.  And of course, I don’t know how to ask for their permission either.  Oh well, it would probably just end up being a crummy camera phone picture like these. 

Well y’all (I put “y’all in sentences in my head all the time, yet I think I’ll sound funny if I say it out loud, so I’m taking advantage and using it here) I’m off to make some peanut butter pie.  Happy Friday!

August 13, 2010 at 3:33 pm 1 comment

The Random Returns!

Although I’ve only done two before, I am so happy that Linda at 2nd Cup of Coffee has brought back the Random Dozen!  I imagine that it must be tough coming up with these questions every week, but she’s great at it :)  Here we go…

1. When was the last time you laughed until you cried?  While throwing around the football(s) last night with Joe, my sister and her boyfriend in the backyard.  None of us hardly know how to throw (or catch) a football and considering there were actually THREE footballs being thrown every which way to every which who, it resulted in some pretty funny moments.

2. If you found $10 today, what would you do with it?  Check out the clearance rack at Target.  I love it and I will unabashedly own the “clearance shopper” title.

3. Do you volunteer anywhere?  I do not :(  In high school I volunteered at an assisted living facility and I loved every minute of it.  I do miss it, but with no car of my own and a two year old attached to my leg I’m not sure what I could do and how I could I make it a regular thing.  It is something I definitely plan on working out in the future though.

4. What is your favorite summertime veggie or fruit, and how do you eat it?  Berries of any kind.  Strawberries and blueberries in the beginning of summer, when the prices are right.  And by the end of August we have gobs of wild blackberries ripe for the pickin’.  I love strawberries and blueberries in yogurt or with a whipped cream and cream cheese mixture.  The blackberries we pick buckets of and keep on hand or freeze for weeks worth of cobblers and pies throughout the year.  I’ve decided I will try Pioneer Woman’s blackberry ice cream this year.  YUM!

5. Is your social sphere (circle of friends) small, medium or large?  Definitely small, but I don’t mind it that way.  I do wish I had more opportunities to make similar minded friends (young moms especially).

6. When was the last time you attended a family or school reunion? How did that go?  A family reunion when I was 8 in California.  A school reunion never.  Give me 5 more years :)

7. When you’re feeling blue, what is the best way someone can cheer you up?  Make me laugh!  And bring me an iced mocha ;)

8. Have you taken a vacation this summer?  A weekend at my family’s cabin for the 4th of July is all.  It’s an annual tradition and a blasty blast of a tradition.  No big vacations though.

9. What is the most unnecessary item you carry with you all the time?  A compact mirror.  Haha!  I never (though I probably should) use it.

10. What is the best summer flick you have seen so far?  Toy Story 3 at the drive-ins!  So fun.  I cried.

11. Describe a perfect summer day.  80 degrees, a little breezey.  An open schedule to float between gardening and feet in a kiddie pool.  Maybe an aimless drive, or a nap with the windows open.  Strawberry lemonade, fresh fruit, BBQ ribs.  Pie for dessert.  A walk in the evening and a movie when the sun goes down.

12. Please a share a favorite photo from the summer so far!  Oh I have way too many to choose from!  I’ll just go with my most recent, taken just the other day.  It’s not photoshopped, mind you, so it hasn’t been touched up.  I kind of like it just the way it is :)

August 11, 2010 at 10:16 am 6 comments

Advantages of a 775 Square Foot House

Okay, I’ll admit it.  It’s 775 measly square feet.  Our new house that is.  I mentioned before that it is tiny but I have come to terms with it and more.  I have really come to love and appreciate it.  I recently visited an acquaintance at a their new home and they were a little bummed the couldn’t find a house with three bathrooms, as opposed to the two they ended up with.  They are a family of just four and I just thought to myself… why in the world would you want to clean more than two?!”  Anyway, here are my top nine reasons for adoring my tiny home.

1.  There is little room for clutter and dirtiness.  It doesn’t take much time for a mess to become overwhelming and get to the point that it must be cleaned up and it must be cleaned up NOW.  Twenty square feet of countertop only hold so many meals worth of dirty dishes and I have no room to let three baskets of clean laundry wait to be folded.  This is partly because my laundry room is also my kitchen and I only have one laundry basket.  True story.

2.  It takes very little time to clean said messes.  A dirty 3’x3′ entryway takes about 20 seconds to vacuum.  All my windows take about 10 minutes to clean.  This fact seems to make me more productive with housework because it seems much less overwhelming and I am more motivated to stay on top of chores as they come up.  Also, I can vacuum 90% of the house using one central outlet.  Beat THAT!

3.  A lack of storage forces us not to hold onto junk and unnecessary items.  I’ve always been all about letting go of excess crap but this tiny home has made even me think twice about some of my belongings.  My current dilemma is that I have two food processors.  One is cute and red but only holds about a cup and a half.  The other is full size with more options and fancy shmancyness.  I love the itty bitty red one, but do I really need to keep it?

I’ve also seen Joe changing his ways because of this.  He is a pack rat by blood and is the kind of man that pulls over on a six lane freeway to pick up a hat on the side of the road.  Seriously.  But he’s been really great about cleaning out junk and not keeping silly things like broken pocket knives and old shoelaces.

4.  It is easier to keep track of a two year old in a tiny home.  With the outside doors child proofed, there are only a couple of places he can be inside the house, let alone get into trouble.  I can almost always hear him playing in whatever room he is in.

5.  It is cheap and easy to decorate.  It took me one and a half cans of paint to paint my entire living room/dining room/hallway.  Easy peasy.  There are only five windows in the entire house, therefore making window treatments overall pretty cheap.  I don’t have to worry about furnishing an extra family room or finding big enough artwork for a large wall.  Small houses are simple and should be kept simple, as far as decorating goes.

6.  Our tiny home has forced me to be veeerrry organized.  Ev-er-y-thing has a place.  Because of the close quarters there is simply no room for piles of junk that float around because they really don’t have a home.  If it doesn’t have a home, it goes in the shed (no garage here!) and if it doesn’t have a place in the shed, chances are we really didn’t need it in the first place.  Plus, though I struggle with it sometimes, I heart organization.

7.  A little house, with updated windows and insulation all around, is inexpensive to heat.  Although we’ve only been here since May and haven’t had much of a need for our electric heat, there is no reason to think it will take much to warm up in the dead of winter.  Plus, ya know, throw on an extra pair of socks or somethin.

8.  There are fewer places for us to get away from each other.  Meaning, we spend a lot of time together as a family.  Just like the country songs goes: “Love grows best in little houses, with few walls to separate, where ya eat and sleep so close together you can’t help but communicate”.

9.  And when we’re feeling cooped up and on each other’s nerves, it forces us to get outside!  Outside we become more active, productive in the garden, and get the fresh air and sunlight we often need to renew our attitudes.

So there are some of the biggest reasons I’ve come to love and appreciate a tiny home versus a larger home.  We have just enough bedrooms and a bathroom to share and truthfully, it’s just right.  When we grow as a family, in physical size (hopefully just B!) and number of people, there will be a time when this house will be way too small and I will dream of something larger.  But for now, it’s a dream come true and I couldn’t ask for more.

August 10, 2010 at 7:46 pm 2 comments

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