Friday, May 25, 2012

Positively Charged [7]: My Kids

After last night, this feels intensely necessary. Always good to remember the wonderful things in life:
  • Keats is getting pretty into dancing these days
  • Frida crawls and rolls over constantly
  • Keats repeats everything and is much easier to understand
  • Frida has recovered from "stranger danger"
  • Keats understands that he shouldn't pick up chickens near the roosters (Shogun especially)
  • With the help of a prescription, Frida's eczema is clearing up enough to give her a break from intense itchiness
  • Keats is now sleeping in a "big boy bed"
  • Frida loves reading books with us
  • Keats is now drawing every day
  • Frida gets through the night without a single diaper change
  • Keats says "thank you" on a regular basis
  • Frida loves playing with Keats and is much more interested in his toys than hers
  • Keats is getting better at playing with Frida and learning how to play gently
  • Frida is super social and smiley right now
  • Keats is really interactive with his environment and points out/talks about just about everything he sees and hears

Thursday, May 24, 2012

In awe.

I am completely in awe of all the mamas around me that somehow get up each day and do way more than their fair share which is each and every one of them. With my small load, I still feel as though if anything were added, I would spontaneously combust. Somehow, I'm making it through each day, but I looked in the mirror this afternoon and my eyes were sunken, my skin pale, my hair unwashed. I was shocked at what I saw. Wasn't I just dancing and singing with both kids in my arms not two minutes ago? When I let Keats watch "Pocoyo" while he ate his snack and sat on my lap, Frida sleeping in the other room, I fell asleep. I woke up at the end of the seven-minute "episode." (Keats hadn't moved an inch.) Is my body so starved for rest that it will fall asleep within seconds and take what it can get in that ridiculous time slot? Apparently.

I've struggled to keep up with my resolution of writing each day. My brain just freezes almost with the same consistency as my computer before it completely died a few days ago. Without the use of my computer (and photo processing software) writing each day has become even more difficult. So, I put out a request on good ol' Facebook and received some responses. Chickens, babies, projects, pictures, and my lovely friends. So I'm working on it. I promise, each one will be written but it may take a bit and a while.

Like I said, I'm in awe. I watch from my little place here and I am at a loss as to how you all do it. Friends, family, strangers... bloggers everywhere seem to be doing more with their time than I can see is possible with my own. Is this simply the virtual world playing tricks? Or am I lazy? A simplistic, do-the-minimal parent? I try to make my home a beautiful place and to give my children all the love and patience I can, but what happens when I am just too tired, too exhausted to give my family my all? What do I do to combat this when "sleep more" isn't an option?

I'm more than excited to see one of my very best friends in just a few days (who I haven't seen in months), to see my dear sister in just a few months (who I haven't seen in YEARS), and to see some more dear friends in the fall (who I also haven't seen in years). That said, and please don't understand the following to detract from my joy at the previous, I am feeling a serious hole within myself. I know who I am missing. I also know there is absolutely nothing I can do to fix it. I've done what I can and in some cases it's not enough; in others, it will take months or years to know the end result. Some people are just gone.

I'll leave it there for now, but know that I'm ruminating, writing, and mulling it over here in the background in a place that is so gorgeous and fresh I can barely believe it's home with my wonderful, dear family here at my side. Do not worry. We all have these times in life, right?

All my love.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Unexpected Additions to Our 2012 Budget Plans

The Original Plan
  • Fence up an area of the yard to keep the chickens
  • Vegetable and flower garden
  • Duck enclosure in the garden
  • Kitchen storage
  • Buy a somewhat new car (!!)
  • Family visiting from the UK (!!)
  • Family road trip to Utah (!!) 
 The Additions
  • New computer (The battery on mine died forever last night and I'm not sure I want to invest in another battery for that computer as it was slow and the screen was broken.)
  • Pay off half our credit card debt (Ugh.)
  • Do not pay bogus AT&T bill and settle the insanity once and for all. I hate this company so, so much. (They put in internet to the wrong location on our property and then decided to bill us for it. Uh... no, not paying to not have internet, thanks anyway. Wonderfully enough, they've taken us to collections over it. Oh, credit score, see you later! Good times.) So this isn't so much an addition to our monthly payments but a way to help us retrieve our credit. (Oh, did I tell you that AT&T actually hangs up on us every time we call to try and settle this? Yeah. They're awesome!)
Why all this? We're gearing up to start thinking about looking for a house to buy. I'm more mentally ready than Birch. Pretty sure he thinks I'm insane. I spotted a place that I've deemed pretty much perfect for us and our budget, but as the above indicates, our credit isn't ready and the place has been taken off the market (not sure why, perhaps they're renting instead?) We've pretty much given up on buying a house with land attached as that just won't be possible for us and our finances. Not here in California, anyway. We don't want to wait years and years and I really don't want to be relying on someone else to go in on the property with us commune-style. Most people we know around here actually lease the land they farm on, so we're looking into that as an option. Buying property is so complicated. I congratulate anyone who has attempted/succeeded. Seriously, well done.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

On the Offchance Chickens Understand English

Dear Chickens,

You give us beautiful and delicious eggs every day. Each of you have gorgeous feathers and distinct personalities. Angel, you are so lovely with Keats. You're his favorite. Lucy, you love to follow me around and take treats quite gently from my hand (unlike Quince who just about murders me every time). Cider, you are intensely curious and always up for adventure. Ronin, you're a good rooster and keep excellent care of your flock. You do a stellar job of teaching Caesar the ropes, too. Poppy, you've gone broody and you're quite possessive of your space and the eggs under you. Perhaps next spring, if you're exhibiting the same behavior, we'll allow you to hatch some out and be the mother you wish to be. My love to you, sweetie.

Chickens, I love you but you're driving us crazy. It's our fault, really. We gave you full range of our entire yard. We're novice chicken owners so we're learning right along with you. I have to warn you, though, Birch has a bit of a short fuse lately when it comes to you traipsing around on the deck, pooping everywhere. I have to tell you that we're planning on enclosing the deck as well as fencing off a section of yard around your coop. You'll no longer be able to go wherever you please. Don't worry, though, you'll still have plenty of access of grass, bugs, growing things of all kinds. You won't be able to eat our blueberry bushes, pick at and destroy the one remaining and thriving container, lay eggs under the house, or jump up on the roof or window boxes. To compensate for all that, we'll give you the compost pile. Trust me, there's plenty of awesome to scratch at in there. 

Also, Shogun, you're lucky you're so pretty. Your days are numbered my friend. Although let's be real, you're kind of my nemesis.

Mama Fox

Friday, May 11, 2012

Transforming a Day

I think every one has a Day. One single day that strikes their heart like the dong of an hour they never really wanted to see. An anniversary of some unhappy event that refuses to dull its pang each following year its acknowledged.

Two days ago I celebrated the birth of my very first child, E. He's ten years old now. I'll never regret his birth or his life, but today is a much different day than two days ago. Today is my Day. It is the day I signed too many pieces of paper, held him in my arms for the last time, and watched a man strap him into a car seat and walk out the front door. I've never seen little E in person again. For the next year, I received letters and photos from his adoptive parents, but I allowed my weakness to take control and never wrote back. I never knew what to say. I thought about it too much. I wanted to write a letter a small child could understand, but I also wanted it to speak to the teenager, the twenty-something that would most likely reread it in the future as he tried to understand why I chose what I did. I stressed over it so much that I never finished a single letter. Countless first lines crossed out, erased, torn to pieces but never sent.

Every year I've wished I'd done something to commemorate E's birth instead of sulking in a corner scared of the day. This year I intend to do it. Like E, who's parents promised to always be truthful about his adoption, I intend to educate my children on the subject as well. They will always know they have an older brother.
So, "we" made a giant brown sugar cookie. We lit a candle and Keats blew it out. He's still too young to understand the meaning behind the ritual (he barely understood his own birthday party), but to him it was a Special Treat.

During nap time, I decided to get in touch with the agency I used so many years ago to find out how I could write and send a letter, etc. It's been too long. It's been too empty. It's been too quiet. It's time to get in touch. Unfortunately, with all the moving that goes on in ten years, it's proving a bit difficult to find E's family. Hopefully I'll hear back next week. My folder is out and on the counselor's desk!

Perhaps by this time next year I will have seen my son for the first time in over nine years, I will have written and received several letters, and Mother's Day will be that much brighter.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Tonight is Budget Night

Birch and I go over our budget every year. We're pretty good about planning our budget and adequate at following our budget throughout the year. This year we're deciding on some changes and discussing some issues we've had in the past:
  • Switching to nearly exclusive use of cash
  • How much to put into savings each month
  • Which denomination of bill/coin we will never spend and put into a jar instead for extra savings
  • Which credit card to pay extra on each month
  • Basic priorities when it comes to keeping each of us sane (and how money plays into it)
We've been a bit haphazard about budget planning so far in our marriage so I'm hoping this year we can have a bit more routine to it. Our initial meeting each month will be the longest. Then we'll have quick check-in's each week throughout the month to make sure we're staying on target or to discuss something that has been too difficult. 

We're hoping to accomplish a few things this year, but I think we're both stressed as to how we'll afford them all:
  • Fence up an area of the yard to keep the chickens
  • Vegetable and flower garden
  • Duck enclosure in the garden
  • Kitchen storage
  • Buy a somewhat new car (!!)
  • Family visiting from the UK (!!)
  • Family road trip to Utah (!!)
Looking at it all, it stresses me out. We can do it, though. What do you do to help yourself stay within your budget? Do you use envelopes or jars? Do you make it super difficult to get to your savings account money? 

What do you tend to break your budget over? Clothes? House decorations? Groceries?

I'll let you know how tonight goes... we're trying it a different way than usual. Should be interesting. And yeah, those last three things we're doing this year: non-negotiable and really exciting!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

"...Who Was No More Than Two"

The little man is two. Very much two. He carries that undeniable two-ness around like a super-hero cape. Every day and anywhere he rips open his Adorable shirt to reveal the secret disguise of Two. He chucks scratch at the chickens as if they were bee bees or snaps, he smacks Olive with Frida's teething toys, he screams and cries for cheddar bunnies than screams and cries at the sight of them. He kicks violently during diaper changes, he slaps Birch and I in the face when... well, anytime of day with no warning (there's no clear correlation on that one), and he snaps his toys away from Frida if she so much as lays one finger on them. He whines.

As I said to Birch the other night while trying to keep us both smiling as Keats kicked, screamed, and whined, "Whining is not sexy." That's when it hit me.

Our marriage has been a bit Two lately, too. We snap at each other, misread tired statements as resentment, forget to say "please" and "thank you," misunderstand who's doing what when, schedule appointments for the same time so that one of us has to reschedule or cancel... the list goes on. And yes, whining is not sexy. After listening to whining all day, I'm just not quite there.

Like with Keats, we know this time will pass in our lives. We're already becoming better communicators and are starting to figure out what little things we can do for one another and for ourselves in order to get through each day just a little happier. It'll take a bit more patience, understanding, discipline, and escapism to get to that beautiful place that is after Two. You know, until we face it once again with Frida. Oh heavens...

We'll make it though. We're learning so much about all this change and excitement. It's definitely hard and exhausting, but truthfully, I believe it to be worth every minute. I have a lovely family and we love each other deeply. We live in a gorgeous part of the world and are making new friends with the residents here.

It reminds me so much of my time in Virginia, being in a place where you have no history and no one knows a thing about you except for what they see. You have the chance to be only exactly who you are in that exact moment of your life without the baggage of expectation or habit. That is what Birch and I need to insert into our marriage and family life: newness. We've been married for four years which isn't long but it's definitely long enough to have established a routine of behavior. I've been working hard to initiate some more routine into my life, mostly in the ship-shape arena, but it is also so important to inject a little adventure, spontaneity, and fun into each day however it is you can get it. I look back on my time in Virginia as my true learning ground for marriage. It's where I truly became who I am purely because I was myself alone. It's fitting that within that time I met Birch. We fell in love and were married six months later. At one point we knew what "whirlwind" meant. Now we have become a bit settled and I don't think we're wearing it very well.

So here's to becoming fresh and new once more and getting over being Two.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012


Listen to the peep peep peep of the four baby ducklings snuggling up under their light. Listen to the fluffing of feathers as these balls of downy black welcome our smallest chicken, even smaller than any of them. Listen to our little lady wrestle herself in the little mirror. Listen to the little boy telling his crib friends all about penguins, doggie guitars, and mommy and daddy pigs along with their baby pigs, too. Listen to my man scraping out stinky bedding from the coop as chickens sleep on their roosts. Listen to the washer tussle and rinse the days away. Listen to the lonely peacock hoot and caw atop his high perch in the willow trees. Listen to the washer stop, the peeping subside, the boy roll a car slowly and methodically across his crib; to the soft fall of new bedding, to the suckle of mother and daughter. Listen to the lonely peacock hoot and caw and feel the warmth within these walls. Remember how to make this place again and again. Listen again and again.

Good Days

Tuesday, May 1, 2012


Keats is coming out with some good ones lately. Enjoy:

"Mommy, the red ball is not brown. It's red."
"It's a beautiful red!"
"Yes, Mommy. Bee-bull red. Yes. Right."

"No! Olive! Ottoman! Up on ottoman!" (Which, of course, fills me with shame. Poor Olive.)

"Mommy's hot coffee is hot! Too hot. No Keats--Mommy." (Pretty sure he was telling himself not to touch my recently empty coffee mug despite being seriously tempted.)

While walking around with his phone, "Daddy? Hello. Hello. Yes. Right. These are ducklings. That's a fish! No, Daddy. No, that's a bear. Not a bear. Not a bear! A panda. Panda. Yes. Right." (Words cannot express my joy that particular lesson has sunken in. Haha. It's the little things.)

"Frida, Olive, Daddy, Auntie Doody, Auntie Miriam, Uncle Ben. Uncle Ben! Uncle Ben! Oh, no! No Uncle Ben!" (None of these people except Frida and Olive dog were present. By the way, Auntie Doody? That's you, Suzie!)