Thursday, February 23, 2012

All in A Day

There comes a point during the day where I get frazzled. The living room has come unraveled, dinner is not quite started and I am left wondering what exactly I managed to do all day, because it feels like NOTHING! I know that is not true, so yesterday, as a project for myself I wrote down everything I did for the day. This Wednesday was more like a Monday... a day I dread at times, because I clean up the weekend mess that always happens despite our best efforts. Monday this week was a holiday, so everyone was home, and Tuesday morning I spent sipping coffee and indulging in pastries with a friend... so none of my usual clean up got done. So here was my Wednesday:
  • (7:00) I lay in bed. I woke up screaming a few minutes ago because Sylvan chomped down on my nipple in his sleep, and in my half sleep I was convinced that there was blood. Thankfully, it was my imagination playing tricks on me.
  • I dress myself, Ivory and Sylvan.
  • I make a smoothy: home canned peach puree, blueberries, strawberries, yogurt and bananas while Adam makes the coffee.
  • (8:30) I drive Ivory to school with Sylvan in tow. It is raining. When I get home, Adam is still around and I briefly wonder why I went through the trouble of taking Sylvan with me, in and out of the car, up the stairs and back again. Adam asks me to bring him lunch since we both managed to forget to make pasta to go with the sauce. I am slightly annoyed, but what else could I possibly be doing to might prevent me from bringing him lunch? Well nothing really, so I grudgingly agree.
    The rest of the morning happens in quick succession:
  • Take laundry out of the drier, put the next load in, wash dishes, sweep, wipe down all the counters. Sylvan is fussy, so he is riding on my back this entire time holding on to a bottle of milk.
  • (9:30) start bread dough in the kitchen aid, no time for kneading
  • sort the recycling and run it out to the curb
  • finish the dough, 1st rise 15 minutes

  • wash dishes
  • I pick out a program to listen to: Protecting the Global Food Chain. The program is about the importance of wheat breading and seed banking to sustaining the global food system. I thought it was appropriate since I am baking bread.
  • nurse Sylvan
  • start folding the laundry.

  • Make the loaves and put them in a cold oven. I add twenty minutes to the timer once it is preheated.

  • Start washing diapers and pull the clothes out of the drier.
  • Sweep bathroom
  • The program I was listening to cuts out and I pull up a new one. This one is entitled Farmer and Philosopher Joel Salatin. I make myself a mental note to check out one of his books from the library next time I am at the library without children and actually have time to peruse the shelves.
  • Fold laundry
  • pick up the living room, put away toys.
  • Pull bread out of the oven

  • put away the pans that Sylvan has pulled out of the cupboard
  • back to the living room
  • restart the load of diapers
  • start water boiling for Adam's lunch
  • vacuum the bedrooms
  • cook pasta, give Sylvan a snack
  • cut up Apples and Carrots, while I take a few bites of left over Minestrone
  • no time to wash dishes
  • gather up the library books I need to return. I grab my books and one of Ivory's books: Tadpole's Promise and throw them in a bag. Mine, because I have read them already and Ivory's because it is possibly one of the most off color children's books I have ever read and I refuse to read it to her ever again. 
  • I put Sylvan in the stroller, and then start the ballet of getting out of the door. Do I have the blanket? Nope, its still sitting next to the door. Snacks? Yes. Diapers? Yes. Adam's lunch. Yes, but it is threatening to leak so I opt to just hold it.
  • I rush to Adam's work, which is in the opposite direction of Ivory's school balancing his lunch in one hand and pushing the stroller in the other. Sylvan is asleep before we arrive. I drop off Adam's lunch grab a few bucks and then rush back across the neighborhood to collect Ivory. It is 12:00. What didn't get done in the morning, probably will not get done. We slowly walk down town to the library. It is bright and sunny. I even left my hat and gloves at home and I am hot after the quick jaunt through our neighborhood.
  • Even though Ivory still has 9 library books at home, I let her pick out 5 more. I grab 3 books for myself from the suggested reading kiosk at the front of the library. Ivory talks me into letting her play some games on the kids' computer, so I sit there clicking the mouse for her while she constructs stories and then sorts virtual recycling. She can't figure out the whole mouse thing... this is the first time I have ever let her play on the computer and it isn't much fun for me.
  • (1:00) I convince her to move on from her game and we walk to a coffee shop. My hands are cold, but I convince myself that it is just because we have been sitting in the cozy library for a while. I sip my cup of coffee and Ivory her chocolate milk as we both leaf through the pages of our books. 

    Sylvan nurses and then walks round and round the table, content and happy shoving cheerios in his mouth and chewing on apple slices.
  • (2:30) I had been hoping that both my children would fall asleep in the stroller, but since both of them are awake and now getting restless, we walk around the corner to the Children's Museum. It is cold, and windy. Just as soon as we walk in the door is ripped open and rain is flying vertically through space. It looks like it might never touch the ground.
  • I'm in trouble now. Ivory has a Dr.'s Appointment at 3:15, and in this rain, we are not going to get there. So I call Adam's boss (since Adam has, yes, once again lost his phone), figuring that the men aren't working in this weather anyway. I'm right. He gets the car and comes to get us.
  • Ivory and I make it to her Dr.'s appointment on time!
  • By 4:00 we are home and I scamper up and down the alley picking up my recycling that has blown everywhere. The cardboard is soaked and heavy and I can't find my bag of plastic bags anywhere. They are on their way to the ocean now despite my best efforts. Where was my curbside pick up I am paying for? I am unmotivated to put away the laundry I folded and cold, so instead I nurse Sylvan in front of the furnace and leaf through the pages of Signature Styles 20 Stitchers Craft Their Look by Jenny Doh. Snow is whirling out side.
  • (5:30) We make grilled cheese sandwiches out of the fresh baked bread.
  • (6:30) There is a lull in the snow and I drive across the Scott Street bridge to the Ceramics studio. I place the bowls I finished the night before on the shelf to be bisqued. 

    I mix a glaze and finally start throwing the pieces for a sculpture I want to build. A few pieces in, I almost give up, but then it just clicks and time and space suspend and hours later I have two trays full of these little mounds with holes in the middle. (Adam has picked up the kitchen, given the children baths and gotten both of them to bed.)
  • I get home a little before 11:00. I leaf through the pages of Signature Styles 20 Stitchers Craft Their Look again, waiting for Adam to finish watching Misfits. I am admiring these successful women who have managed to confidently surround themselves with happiness, beauty, inspiration and made a career of it.
  • We crawl into bed around 12:00 midnight, but I can't sleep. I have a brilliant idea for a coat rack that I want to build... well, Adam will have to build it.. it will be a collaboration really. I am cold. I haven't nursed Sylvan in hours, and I can't relax. I should have just woken him up, but instead I wait until he cries and a pull him into bed next to me and finally drift off to sleep.
I don't mind washing dishes, or folding laundry or sweeping, the constant ebb and flow of the chaos that surrounds me, but then for a bleak moment it can all seems so pointless, and I struggle find the courage sink my hands into the soapy water or lift that first piece of clothing and try to remember to enjoy the moment.  

Cuban Bread Recipe
from Bernard Clayton's New Complete Book of Breads Revised and Expanded

5 to 6 cups of flour (up to half whole wheat flour can be used)
2 packeages dry yeast
1 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
2 cups hot water (120-130 degrees F)

- measure 3 cups of flour, the yeast, salt and sugar into the bowl and mix 
- add the water, beat with 100 strong strokes (or let your mixer mix it for 3 minutes)
- add the remaining flower until it is no longer sticky and knead for 8 minutes either by hand or with your mixer
- cover and let rise for 15 minutes
- shape into two round loaves and cut slits across the top with a sharp knife
- put the loaves into an unheated oven. set the temperature to 350 and bake for an additional 20 minutes once the oven reaches temperature...   total baking time is approximately 30 to 40 minutes from the time the loaves are placed in the oven. 
- cool and then enjoy. 

Thursday, February 16, 2012

A No School Day (and contest)

     Today is a no school day. There is no school today, tomorrow, Friday or Monday. I have been looking forward to this stretch of Ivory being home. She seems to not look forward to school as much as she used to, and is often quiet and sullen when I pick her up. When I ask her about it, the most I have ever gotten out of her is: “_______ was not my best friend today”. I have to remind myself that she is only 3 ½ and that she probably just lacks the vocabulary to discuss her feelings. When I went into her classroom to get a feel for what was going on, it was fruitless. I spent the entire time reading to her and some of the other children, and that turned out to be her worst day yet. I am dreading the upcoming Parent Teacher conference.
     Today is a no school day.
We eat heart shaped pancakes.
I put away laundry, while Ivory pretends to lead her class in pajamas. She has been begging to go to school in her purple pajamas, and so I told her today she could pretend to do just that. The books are propped open, standing up on end, each book a classmate and I hear her say: “Now, brown bears....”
I wash dishes and make lunch, while she colors on her dry erase board and then starts her own project: gluing a stack of different colored circles onto a card. Sylvan is scooting around on the floor spreading the same circles all over the dining room, drooling with glee.
I pack our mac and cheese (made from scratch), roasted Brussels sprouts, apples, carrots and pears into a bag with picnic dishes. We are going to have a picnic. The only place I know that has a picnic table that is not covered in snow is at the Children's Museum. We load into the stroller and head out.

A few hours later walk along the river trying to spot the great blue heron, but today he is absent.
A short while later I am sitting, sipping coffee, while Ivory and Sylvan are snoozing in the stroller. I try not to leave the house with out a project. The double stroller doesn’t fit through my front door, so I duck into coffee shops when they drift off to sleep.
      The wind is brisk and mounds of dirty snow are all that remain of our winter wonderland. I am looking ahead to scratching the first rows in our garden beds and watching Ivory drop the first seeds in the ground. I am sure Sylvan will be in heaven, trying to shove hand fulls of black soil into his mouth.
I cut the paper into the first image that comes to mind: a blooming daffodil, a harbinger of more color to come.
Sylvan wakes up and then Ivory. We walk home.
     Tomorrow, is another no school day, (With the exception of the dreaded parent- teacher conference), and I am looking forward to it. Maybe we will visit someone, go on a walk, or maybe just stay home and bake bread.

Daffodil Card Contest:
I made another card and slipped it into my bag already filled with cards, and I had the idea to give it to one of you. So, leave a comment on this blog post by 5pm next Wednesday (22nd).. I will write all the names onto pieces of paper, and put them in a hat... Ivory will chose the winner, I announce the winner and then we will work out how to mail it to you.   

Saturday, February 11, 2012


I spent the afternoon pouring over pages of old copies of Ceramics Monthly, sketching down the forms and shapes I like, trying to find my own voice. This is a perfect use for the journal a dear friend made for me.  

I am so excited to try out some of these ideas during my class tomorrow!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

DIY: The Bird

      I really wanted to make a stuffed tree with a few little birds sitting in the branches for Sylvan's first birthday. I had finished the trunk, cut out the canopy and needed to make the birds before I sewed the rest of the tree together. So, this Saturday I stubbornly sat in front of the sewing machine and attempted to sew a bird. I was frustrated, really wanting to go outside into the sunshine, but sometimes, I just can not quit (even if I should). Try one had a small pointy head. Try two over compensated and I ended up with a bird with a giant head and small body and ugly duck bill. On the third try I finally created a little stuffed bird that was closer to what I had imagined.

      So here is the pattern I came up with:
Print onto a full sheet of paper and it should be to scale. 

This is a perfect scrap busting project. 
Cut two bird shapes, 4 wings and one belly.
Sew the pleats into the top of the bird head.

Sew two wings together leaving a small opening, right sides together, turn and press. Sew the wing to the body stitching the opening up.

Attach the belly to one side of the bird, right sides facing together.

Sew the other side of the bird to the bird/belly piece, right sides facing together. Start sewing along the tail and follow around the edge of the bird, switching to the belly, and then back to the bird and finish by sewing around the head leaving the back open.

Stuff the bird and hand sew the opening shut by hand.
Attach a beak.

The finished tree with birds.  

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Sugar, Snow and Sunshine

     For weeks Ivory has been begging for marshmallows. But, every time we have made the trip to the grocery store we somehow managed to forget to buy marshmallows. There was no ulterior I -am-going-to-save-my-child-from-excessive-amounts-of-sugar motive. I just forget. As we pull back into our drive way Ivory will pipe up in the back seat: “Mama, you didn't buy any marshmallows.” I sigh: “Oh, Ivory, why didn't you remind me at the store?”
     And then I remembered that Adam had heard a story on NPR in which they made marshmallows from scratch. It is really simple and to my amazement I had all the ingredients except for gelatin. So a quick run to the grocery store later, I finally manged to whisk together all the ingredients into the fluffy white cream, spread it on the cookie tray and tuck it away for a the short wait until the next morning we can finally sample them.

     The next morning I pulled the cookie sheet from it's hiding place and cut the fluffy mass into squares. Ivory snatched a few bites before I could make coffee much less get breakfast on the table.

     I have been dying to get into thewoods for about as long as Ivory has been begging for those marshmallows and today we are going to do something about that as well. A few hours later, after a battle with tiny snow boots, getting lost driving, and arriving half an hour late to our play date, we finally piled out of the car into the bright sunshine.
     Sylvan gingerly took step after step down the snowy path, with the biggest smile on his face. The 20 minute battle with the snow boots was worth every minute to see his delight at being able to finally walk in the snow. I never imagined I would take Sylvan on his first “hike” before his first birthday.

     Ivory ran ahead, finding her friends and a little shyly standing by as the boys pummeled each other in the snow. Even after we waved our friends goodbye she trudged on, making me read all of the signs along the path, eating hand full after hand full of snow (I finally quit arguing with her about the snow eating... it was spoiling my good mood) and, of course, we had a marshmallow snack break along the way.

     Back at the car, I peel the layers of warm clothes off of Sylvan, change his diaper and as we sit in the car nursing I realize that the clock says 1:30. We just walked a mile and spent three hours in the snow and sunshine with very minor complaints. Ivory's legs didn't start to hurt until we were in sight of the car and Sylvan's little belly held up just as long. What have I been afraid of all this time?
I hand Ivory the last marshmallow and we drive home. 
 Lets do this again next Friday.