Sunday, March 29, 2009

Let's build a tree fort!

The cast:
- 2 excited helpers
From Tree Fort 2009
From Tree Fort 2009

- and one handy Daddy
From Tree Fort 2009

- a small sturdy tree in a neglected corner of the backyard
- a strong scrap piece of plywood dug out of the garage
- assorted scrap pieces of wood purchased from Home Depot for about $5
(many hardware stores will sell you scrap for very cheap- 25 or 50 cents per piece around here, and if you are lucky there will be some good pieces to choose from)
- hammer, nails
- pen, speed square and tape measure
- power saw (only for Daddy's use)
- a basket and twine
- one jolly roger flag
- a few hours of daylight

Littleman was eager to begin, and quickly set out most of the supplies.
From Tree Fort 2009


Billy began with some supports, and soon had the floor securely nailed in place.



From Tree Fort 2009
(photo by Billy)

Next came the ladder, piece by piece. . .

(photos by Billy)

so that the kids could climb up
From Tree Fort 2009

and help build the rails.
From Tree Fort 2009

From Tree Fort 2009




(photos by Billy)

Billy toasted the ongoing project with a glass of red wine, which he thoroughly enjoyed, even after sharing it with the bugs!
From Tree Fort 2009

(photo by Billy)

The boys were enjoying themselves so much, that no one wanted to stop when night fell- Littleman least of all! Billy even held the flashlight for him so he could hammer the last couple nails in.
From Tree Fort 2009

(photo by Billy)
Everything had to be just right before they finally put their tools away and came inside for dinner. Mission accomplished!

The next day, I was able to get a nice picture of the fort- it has already become a favorite spot, of course!
From Tree Fort 2009


It's not very fancy- but it also wasn't expensive, didn't take long, and the kids are so proud of their part in building it! It's absolutely perfect.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Littleman and the Skull Riders

Littleman: "Tomorrow we might go to the studio. We might go to the studio to record!"

Me: "Oh yeah? That's cool. What are you going to record?"

Littleman: "I'll sing you what I'm going to record." (he sings an unidentifiable melody of sorts) "Do you like it?"

Me: "Yes, I think it's a great start!"

Littleman: "Hmm. No, never mind. I'm going to play drums!"

Me: "Well you know, you could play drums and sing, if you want to."

Littleman: "Really?!? How?"

Me: Well, you could either sing and play drums at the same time, or you could play drums first while Daddy records you, and then Daddy will play your drums in your headphones for you while you sing. Daddy can then put it all together so it sounds like you are playing drums and singing at the same time."

Littleman: "Wow! OK. And I want someone to play guitar."

Me: "Maybe Daddy will play guitar for you."

Littleman: "No, I'm going to have a band! A kid band!"

Me: "So it has to be a kid playing guitar?"

Littleman: "Yeah."

Me: "Do you know any kids that play guitar?"

Littleman: "Bella plays guitar!"

Me: (laughing- Bella is Littleman's age) "Bella plays guitar? OK. So you want her to be in your band, then?"

Littleman: "Yeah. I'll have just ONE grown-up in my band."

Me: "Oh, really? Who?"

Littleman: "You, Mommy!"

Me: "Me!?? What will I do in your band?"

Littleman: "You will sing!"

Me: "Oh, well I appreciate your vote of confidence sweetie, but I'm not exactly the world's best singer."
(Note: I'm terrible, actually)

Littleman: "Oh, that's OK- Daddy will fix it for you!"

Me: (laughing) "Oh, I see."

Littleman: "I'll have a kid band, and our band name will be 'Skull Riders'."

Me: "Skull Riders?" (chuckles) "That's a good band name."

Littleman: "Maybe you should write this down for me, Mommy."

Me: "Hmm- now that is an excellent idea."

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Kids and Complacency Don't Mix

Last night, I'm upstairs giving Babyman a bath. The boys had been sitting at the table coloring when I went upstairs. No problem, right? After Babyman is clean, I go downstairs to check on them. I hear the water dispenser on the refrigerator door running as I walk downstairs. "Hmmm. . .", I think. Mr. Sweetcheeks, soaked to the skin, is standing proudly in the middle of a massive puddle on the kitchen floor.
"Look, Mommy!" He says, grinning, "It's a lake!"

* * *

This afternoon I managed to put a roast in the crock pot before we left for a birthday party. When we got back home, I opened the door to a deliciously fragrant house. Just as I am basking in a self-congratulatory glow (feeling like such a great Mom and housewife), Littleman walks in and demands, "What STINKS??"

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Moontime

This post may be, by nature, a TMI sort of endeavor. (Too Much Information). If it is, feel free to duck out and come back another day for our regularly scheduled programming.

See, I'm on my moontime right now, and it has sparked some menstrual musings. This is largely because I am still adjusting to the current nature of my periods, which came back to me quite different than they'd been before my last child. I'm pretty sure this is due to my IUD, which I knew would likely cause heavier periods and increased cramping. My moontime had always been pretty easy to deal with- no more than 4 or 5 days of light flow, very few cramps and seldom any hint of hormonal mood swings. It never slowed me down. When they returned after Babyman, it was a completely different experience- no fewer than 5 days of heavy flow, plus 2 to 4 days of lighter flow, very strong cramping, pain in my lower back, all preceded by depression and headaches. It has certainly required a bit of getting used to. (I warned you about TMI!)

Despite the wonderful arrival of Spring outside, and everything I am caught up in that needs my attention, I have found myself staring into the dishwater, listening to the boys argue, and wishing quite fervently that I was part of a culture that subscribed to the practice of a red tent, moon lodge, or similar haven for menstruating women.

(I feel a need to note here, that I have not yet had the chance to enjoy reading The Red Tent, nor do I actually know very much at all about moon lodges and such. I think I will be reading up on them! For the sake of this post, I see a red tent or a moon lodge as a place apart from the rest of the community where women had to stay during their moontime, in the sole company of other women also menstruating. Childbirth with all of its mysteries was also relegated to the red tent, attended by the doulas and midwives of the community.)

Back when I enjoyed such light, convenient little periods, I didn't really understand this idea of a red tent or moon lodge. It seemed demeaning, to be shut away from society just because it was your body's time to bleed. I saw it as an expression of a society's disgust and distrust of women and menstruation.

Now, I see it quite differently. My moontime is not so easily ignored, anymore. It steps right up, takes hold of my body, and bends me to its will. "Do not pretend I am not here!" she says, "You stop what you are doing and you listen to me! I am powerful, do you see? Do you feel the moon's pull on your body? Do you feel your own power? You stop that other stuff now, and listen to the moon instead." I wish for a retreat from my other responsibilities, a separate place where I could curl up in bed to read, where I could write, where I could think and talk with other women. A place to focus on myself and my body. A place to meditate. I see now, that a red tent or moon lodge was probably just this sort of needed retreat. It served a great purpose for the women of the community- far from being demeaning, the whole idea is empowering! A place to embrace your moontime, to care for it, even to revel in it! A true retreat.

I can dream, anyway. ;)




* * *

As a sort of aside, my musings on the idea of a red tent have led me to some different thoughts- just as I used to see the red tent as demeaning to women, might it also be possible that I am misinterpreting other cultural practices with regard to women? I'm not sure if I am yet ready to accept the practice of a mandatory burka (for instance), but perhaps I need to keep a more open mind about some things that strike me initially as overly patriarchal or distrustful of women. I guess, for me, the difference would lie in choice. . . what happens if a woman wishes to go against the cultural norm?

Hmm. . .

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Back, and a moment

Yes I am quite better thank you, and (knock on wood!) everyone else is well, too. Thank goodness. I am catching up and getting into the swing of things again, and it's taking quite a lot of time. I've fallen out of practice with my blogging! So, I finally decided to simply sit down and type up whatever came to mind (which hasn't been much, lately) and throw it out there. At least it gets me started again, eh? :)

* * *

Breeze through through the open car windows. Jesse Harper's CD quietly playing, subtle snores from Babyman in the back seat. The clatter of a shopping cart through the parking lot and happy chatter from children walking with their mother. Windchimes from the sidewalk outside the grocery store. The breeze smells fresh and clean- no particular scents to speak of, just the smell of promise. Lounging in the car's front seat, I am surprisingly comfortable. The sun is just warm enough to be delicious. I check on Babyman, still fast asleep. It's OK- I have time. Time to relish having time. Time for a stretch in the sun. Time to smell the breeze, and listen to music. Time to read a novel for fun. I turn the page, and settle in more comfortably. When he wakes, we'll do our shopping. For now, I'm taking this time for myself.

* * *

And, just for fun:

Wordless Wednesday

From Snow March 2009

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

My Turn

I've caught it.
~sigh~

Monday, March 9, 2009

Whose turn is it this time?

Just want to poke my head in here to say I'm sorry I'm too busy to post- this weekend was taken with dental visits and visits to my Grandmother's and on top of that Babyman got sick (all over me) Saturday night and is still quite miserable. A miserable baby is a time-consuming, exhausting thing. And considering how yucky this continues to be, I must say that if I am never vomited upon again for the rest of my life, it will be too soon. Ick.

Thank heavens for big brothers who are old enough to put their own movie in the DVD player and help themselves to yogurt, applesauce, crackers and bananas- because I don't know how they would have had dinner tonight, otherwise. And I am also grateful for laptops and wireless, which have allowed me to pop on here for a quick word. Also thank you to Billy, who supervised some outside time for the older boys this morning while he cleaned his car, so I could tend the baby, which means that older brother are not now bouncing off the walls with pent-up energy. (whew.) Oh, and beautiful open-window weather, that's a blessing too. I'll just keep thinking of things I am grateful for, for awhile.

My poor, poor babyman.

This sick thing just doesn't seem to end!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Chicken Soup for Healing

Littleman is feeling much better, thank you! Unfortunately, yesterday Billy was laid low with a flu- really wiped out- and this morning Mr. Sweetcheeks threw up as well. Sigh. I am in full battle regalia, fending the viruses off with everything in my arsenal. In honor of this, I decided to go ahead and offer this post I've been working on- I'd intended to include lots of lovely photos of the cooking process, but that will have to wait for another day. In the meantime, I hope this is helpful to anyone else trying to be healthy in clod/flu season!

Spring is on the way. Spring is on the way. Spring is on the way. Spring. . .

~ ~ ~

Since we're in the thick of cold/flu season around here, I thought it might be a good time to talk chicken soup. Now, most of us have heard of treating the common cold with a nice, steaming bowl of chicken soup. It's an abiding tradition that dates at least as far back as 12th-century physician Moses Maimonides (according to this Google Answers thread I found, anyway), and cultures all over the world each have their own version of the healing broth. Certainly it's important to ingest plenty of fluids when we're sick with a cold or flu, and chicken soup has the added benefit of nutrition. Warm, steamy fluids can comfort us, help clear our nasal passages, and soothe a sore throat. So from this perspective, obviously chicken soup is a terrific thing to reach for when you're feeling under the weather. However many doctors would insist that this is as much truth as you will find to chicken soup's legendary reputation as a healing food.

I beg to differ. My experience has been that a good, homemade chicken stock makes soups with noticeable healing properties. It really does seem to lessen the severity and duration of colds and flu as it comforts and relieves symptoms. And increasingly, there are scientists and physicians who are finding evidence to support this idea. One study suggests that chicken soup has anti-inflammatory properties, thus helping relieve stuffy heads and swollen throats. Another found that chicken soup limits the body's neutrophils, thus limiting production of mucus. There's more information in the above linked article, and also here in an Associated Content article. I won't go into a great deal of detail on that- suffice it to say that when my family's feeling a bit sniffly, it's time to pick up a whole organic chicken at the grocery store.

Now, I have a go-to recipe for medicinal chicken stock that I like to use. I modify it as needed, depending on what I have on hand (and on how much time I want to take). Done "right", my homemade chicken soup takes 2 - 3 days to prepare. Wait, wait! It's very easy- and most of that time the stock minds itself quite happily. I picked up the original stock recipe from Nourishing Traditions, a cookbook I inherited from my mom's kitchen. I've changed a couple things, and expect it will evolve further as I learn more about nutrition and my family's tastes.



Kit's Healing Chicken Stock

- one whole chicken, preferably including the gizzards
- about 4 quarts cold filtered water (plus more later)
- 1 Tbs apple cider vinegar
- 2-4 whole garlic cloves (or more, depending on your tolerance for garlic)
- (optional) 1 tsp grated fresh ginger
- 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
- a couple carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
- 3 celery stalks, coarsely chopped
- 1 bunch fresh parsley

* Fill a large stock pot with the water, add the vinegar and vegetables (except the parsley).
* Pull the little package of giblets (the heart, liver and gizzard) from inside the carcass cavity. Go ahead and dump those in. I know, I know, eww. This is optional- toss them if you want, but they are high in vitamin A, iron, vitamin B12, and zinc, and they add flavor to your stock. You can fish them out and toss them later if you want.
* Trim the fat glands off the chicken carcass, and discard. I like to pull off most of the skin, too. Then drop that chicken into the stock pot, and bring it all to a boil.
* Skim off the scum that rises to the top, discard.
* Lower heat, and simmer for at least 5 hours. I Simmer mine over medium heat 4 to 6 hours, then reduce the heat to low and leave it overnight. I add more water as necessary.
OOOH, it smells good!

* Bring it back to a boil in the morning, and add the parsley before turning off the stove and letting it cool a bit.
* Using a slotted spoon, start fishing everything out, and separate it- keep the chicken meat and discard the bones and other stuff. This is the only part of this recipe that's a bit of a pain- I find it to be quite tedious sorting.
* Once everything is fished out, you may wish to strain the broth. You can use cheesecloth or a fine-mesh strainer. I don't usually bother.
* Place the broth in the fridge overnight. Save the chicken for making the soup later.

* Take the broth out and remove the chicken fat that's now congealed on top. Some people save it; I always toss mine.
* Voila! There's your healing chicken stock. Now, it's time to make some soup!

~ ~ ~

I don't use a recipe for the chicken soup- it's always a little of this and a little of that, tasting and adjusting as I go along. Start by heating some of the healing chicken broth mixed with water- I do roughly half of each. I usually chop up carrots, onions and potatoes (maybe a sweet potato) to throw in there, sometimes I do rice or noodles, always garlic, sometimes kernel corn or other vegetables, and some of the reserved chicken meat of course. Salt and pepper- preferably a shake of cayenne to help clear the sinuses. More fresh parsley. Almost anything can go in there- you get the idea. Simmer until the veggies and/or rice or noodles are cooked, and serve right away. Yummy, yummy and oh so soothing!

Hopefully you don't need to treat a cold or flu, but if you do then may this recipe be of healing service to you!