Monday, June 29, 2009

Here we go again....

Farts and burps and giggles, oh my!

We've got guests from China again this summer. Guess what the fine young not-so-much-gentlemen are doing?

Burp! Beeelch! Giggle, giggle, teehee!

Not purposely. But still.

This year, I joked again, "Tolly, Cherry will go back to China thinking that little boys in America have no manners."

Cherry is such a lovely and earnest young lady. "Oh, no. You have very lovely little boys." I laughed and said, "Well, I expect little boys in China burp too."

"Oh yes," she replied, and laughed. "Yes, they do very much."

So, to all the Chinese mothers out there saying the Chinese version of "Oh for goodness sake. Say 'Excuse me' and move on," I salute you. And the gents send a little giggle to all of the gassy little boys.

Monday, June 22, 2009


6 flats of strawberries, U-pick: $70 and 4 hours
3 flats of strawberries from the farm stand: $60 and 10 minutes

New lids, freezer containers and freezer bags: $20
Processing strawberries: An entire weekend
Cleaning the kitchen top to bottom: 1 hour

Saturday night take-out pizza (because the kitchen was full of strawberries): $35
Ice cream for the children after an afternoon of picking strawberries: $9.50

Afternoons of conversation with dear friends, time for the children to play with friends in the strawberry fields, good exercise and spending time out of doors. And freezer and pantry full of a year's supply of sweet local strawberries dried, frozen and made into jam: Priceless.

Life is good.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


In Which We Attend 8th-Grade Promotion
Last night lovely lady, 13, went through her 8th grade promotion. My baby girl is in high school.

Excuse me while I catch my breath.

I don't know how this happened. Not the high school thing, even though I'm a little short of breath over it. The hair and the shoes and the black eyeliner. I'm not sure how I became the mom of that kid. The girls I saw in school who were a little rebellious and different. The girls I'd see outside the high school when my lovely lady was little, and I'd think, "No way, no how. What are their parents thinking? Maybe their parents don't really care much about them."

Heh. Life has a way of handing us our assumptions, our "not-my-kid," our "No way, No how" on a silver platter, eh?

There she is in all her pink-haired, wearing black, life is-dark, skull t-shirts, Converse-wearing glory. I paid for the hair and helped her lace up her boots. And I adore her to the ends of the earth.

I've learned from this challenging young lady to pick my battles, and more importantly that there don't need to be battles. That it's important to find ways to say "Yes." To honor her idea of who she is instead of my ideas about who she should be, no matter how cute I think she'd look in that baby pink polo. That a daughter with the confidence to be a little different is more important than what other people think.

In Which I am Shocked, or A Lesson in Appropriate Clothing for Young Teens

So, the other reason I'm not the least bit bothered by the pink hair and etc. I was shocked by what the other girls were allowed to wear to the graduation. I thought I was pushing the envelope by allowing my lovely daughter an above-the-knee dress that shows a hint of cleavage. That sparkly pink dress is conservative compared to the outfits of many of the other girls. The little black dress with a plunging neckline worn with three-inch heels was a popular choice. There were a couple girls whose dresses made me want to run out with a robe to cover them. Excuse me folks, but they're fourteen. Perhaps we could leave a little to the imagination, at least until they're in their twenties and old enough to decide for themselves if they want to dress like....well, they're only fourteen, if that, so I'll be kind.

Let's just say that the pink hair and Converse is looking beautiful to me right now.

In Which My Daughter Really Does Need Me, or Adventures in Autism, or Ways to Connect

I've shared my struggles with my lovely lady and the ways in which her disability impacts our lives. Take the surliness and emotional turmoil of a typical hormonal teen girl, throw in a good dash of My Mom is the Most Embarrassing and Unreasonable Person on the Planet, and remove the social filter, and I've got quite a parenting challenge on my hands.

Over the past spring we've had lots of grumping and fussing and "Leave me alone." A deep need for some peace and solitude after a long day of social interactions. It's heartwrenching when a young person so embedded in my heart doesn't want to have much to do with me and makes it crystal clear. I was genuinely concerned for our relationship. Until the morning the phone rang, around noon, and it was my precious lovely lady. "Mom, I was thinking about my trip to Arizona. Do you think I need a new swimsuit?" I ventured that I thought the one she had was probably just fine. "Oh. Okay. Thanks, Mom. Bye."

I realized that increasingly over the past few months the phone rings midday, and it's my lovely lady. She'll ask me a question or share a pressing thought or ask advice over a little concern, then off she goes about her day. All issues that could very well wait until she gets off the bus.

A quick connection. A "Mom, I need you." A way to reach out and preserve our relationship and still get the quiet she needs at the end of the school day.

And so I can be patient. That little phone call was all I needed to refresh my spirit and renew my faith that deep down in there, my baby still needs her momma. Pink hair and all.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

In Which I am a Really Cool Mom...

("None of my friends' moms will let them do this.")

Thursday, June 04, 2009

On the table

Dinner Menu

Fritattas, made with eggs from our own hens and my sister's:
--Baby beets, fresh onions and spinach, all from the garden
--Fresh onion from the garden, diced bacon, broccoli and tomato from the Farmer's Market

Beet greens from the garden and Swiss chard from the Farmer's Market, sauteed and steamed with fresh onion from the garden

Homemade honey whole wheat bread, made with honey purchased from a friend, served with butter and homemade strawberry jam

Strawberry-rhubarb pie, made with strawberries from the front yard and rhubarb from the neighbor
We're making the move. We avoid processed foods. Eat more fresh fruits and vegetables. We serve oatmeal instead of breakfast cereal. We're growing, picking and preserving our own food. Eating seasonally. More local foods, grown by and purchased from people in and near our community, and we're participating in Community-Supported Agriculture. We drink locally-roasted coffee instead of Peet's. Our diet is continually evolving. Ten years ago, we ate a lot of pasta and potatoes, out-of-season vegetables, store jam with all of its preservatives. We didn't read labels looking for foods without high fructose corn syrup. We didn't eat a lot of salad, not a lot of green food at all, actually.

There's got to be a balance, and we haven't dived in headfirst. We can't grow our own rice and wheat in the back yard, nor do we have any desire to do so. We love bananas and eat broccoli and salad year-round, and though we purchase less than we used to, these foods are still staples in our home. That may change as our diet continues to evolve, as the children get older and more tolerant of green food and things that taste different, and as we educate ourselves on the pleasures of eating seasonally.

When I look at last night's menu, though, turning into a "locavore" isn't really what I'm thinking of. I'm delighted by good food. I'm grateful that we have the means to serve simple delicious meals to our children. And I feel a sense of connection to my meal, satisfaction that I know where a lot of that food came from: I can look out the window at my garden and at my hens scratching in the dirt. (Around my peas!! Ack! SHOO!) My children planted seeds in the dirt and saw them end up on our table as greens. Ten minutes before I sauteed a fresh onion, it was in the ground. Some of our vegetables were bought from the people who had just harvested them from their own gardens that morning. On Wednesdays, my house smells like fresh bread. We met a new neighbor who gave us rhubarb for free simply because he had enough to give away. My children play with the children of the family who sold us our honey, and I know that the chickens that lay the extra eggs we buy live in a large and clean pen. Our scraps and discarded stalks and rinds will turn into rich soil in which to grow more food for our table.

Life is good. Food is good.

Monday, June 01, 2009

In the garden








Today, we harvested three small onions to make more space in the onion bed, thinned eight tiny baby beets, picked four heads of lettuce and a head of bok choi. Yesterday's strawberries and free rhubarb from the neighbor down the street are on the counter in a beautiful pie. It's time to harvest the rest of the spinach to make room for tomatoes and peppers and eggplant. The roses and peonies are blooming.

If you need me, I'll be in the garden.