Archive for the ‘Sam’ Category

School has started!  Last week Sam had his first days of kindergarten, which he loved, but today is the first full day.  And, my master plan of getting Sierra to nap while he’s at school (11:20-2:05) worked! I may have over an hour+ of kid-free time at home most weekdays.   Amazing.  Look at me sitting here at my computer writing, even.  Tomorrow, I may pay some bills.  It’s exciting beyond belief.   But what is even MORE exciting is that yesterday we bought a tag-along for Sam that attaches to my bike.  It’s a nice Burley that can also accept paniers to carry groceries and stuff.  Yesterday was a beautiful sunny day which also happened to be the day of Sunday Streets, where they block off roads in a neighborhood and open them up to bikes and pedestrians.  And, it happened to be in our neighborhood this year! There was music, food and lots of people out and about.   The best part was riding up and down Hilyard, normally a busy street, on our bikes with no cars in our way.

I have been pondering how to ride with my two kids for a number of months now, and considered some fancy (and super-fun) options like an electric cargo bike.  Maybe someday, but we don’t have $3000 to put into a vehicle right now.  So I finally decided a tag-along for Sam with the front seat (goes under my handlebars) for Sierra would probably work fine.  And it does!  Though I have not tried getting groceries yet.

As usual, Sam did not want to try the shiny new bike when I petaled home from Arriving by Bike with it.  He wanted to play computer.  It was scary.  We were going too fast.  It took some serious prodding (and threats of lost computer time) but eventually we talked him into taking a short ride with us.  Ben came along, riding his bike by himself.  Well, the sea change in Sam’s attitude from start to finish was hilarious.  Once he got comfortable, he couldn’t stop talking about how much fun it was.  “Mom, this is sooooo fun!”  “Mom, can we ride this everywhere now?”  “Mom, are you having fun?”  “Mom, this is terrific!!” “Mom, you want a boost now?”  It was adorable and totally made my day.  I was having fun.  When Sam decides to petal, it really helps.  When he doesn’t I can still get us around fine.  The last hill before my house (which is very steep) I get off and push the bike up but that’s fine.  Sam gets off and walks (or runs ahead to unlock the door.)  Sierra loves biking too so I’m hoping from now on most days my car will rest in the carport while we get fresh air, exercise, and to and from our errands without expelling an ounce of carbon.

Sam was very excited to go to school today once he realized we were riding the bike.  It went so fast we took an extra spin around the block just for fun and to kill time.  Compared to walking, biking to and from school is going to save us a lot of time everyday.  Which is good since kindergarten is only 2.5 hours!  Okay, I’m off to accomplish one more thing before we pop back on the bike to pick him up.  Hopefully I’ll post a picture of us on our bike later today.


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welcome fall!

I promised myself if I ever got a good night’s sleep, I would write.  Well, it happened.  Did my beautiful little almost-one-year-old finally settle in for a full night’s slumber, you may ask?  Hahahaha!  Um, no.  But I decided it was time to close the all night diner.  To reassure myself that my baby girl would not starve or suffer horribly by a night without boobies I wrote down every time she ate food or drunk milk the day before.  She eats pretty much every hour from waking to bedtime, it turns out, with the exception that day of one two-hour nap.  So I think she will not starve.

I’m too much a softy to let her cry it out, and too much a flake to follow through with all the consistent patient steps (and routines) needed for the Elizabeth Pantley way.  So, I came up with my own plan.  It can be summed up simply as: Run away! Hide! Sleep!  I set up our little backpacking tent in the backyard and the past two nights Sam and I have snugged up in there while Papa and Sierra have had nighttime “father daughter bonding time.”  They are both taking it pretty well, considering.   Maybe tonight they will even get some sleep!?

Regardless of success or failure with our current Sierra Sleep scheme, I am relishing these precious nighttime off-duty hours.  And savoring the much needed Mama-Sam time.  He loves sleeping in the tent with me.  I love that we chat about silly things while lying there together until the conversation pauses and we (or just he) drifts off to sleep.  Sleeping in the tent on the equinox turned out to be a powerful way to honor the shift into the dark time.  Last night the clouds blew in and I enjoyed having only a piece of (waterproof) fabric between me and the first autumn rain.

Our Mabon ritual this year did not include candles or songs, but I did feel the roots of some family traditions beginning to take hold.   A giant douglas fir tree to the south of us shades the garden once the sun drops below a certain angle, and I have learned that tomatoes don’t much ripen past the equinox.   This year Sam and I gathered every last tomato, from big red to tiny green, into the harvest basket.  Then I cut down the plants and pulled up the root balls.  Sam was a great help beating the dirt out of the roots before putting the plants into the compost pile.  Then we weeded and smoothed the beds, ready to plant the winter cover crop.  With Sierra snoozed, Papa at work, the computer off, and my phone in the house- we were able to stay present with each other and the task at hand.  It’s amazing how many teachable moments occur while gardening with a four-year-old.

Later that day he was sitting on the pot and I was clipping my nails and he asks, “Mom, why do Papa and Sam have penises and Mama and Sierra have yonis?”  It took me a moment to get my bearings, but then it lead to a discussion about procreation, the differences between children and adults, men and women, and babies.  After I had done my best to answer he got very thoughtful for a moment then said, “When I grow up I’m going to be a science teacher, and I’m going to have a baby.”  He said it with so little doubt that I’m almost inclined to believe him!

That same day, Sierra did her first without-a-doubt sign.  More!  Ah, our favorite sign.  She did it so proudly.  Got herself a whole extra handful of olives at dinner, I was so tickled by it.  She gives me so much joy, that smiley little daughter of mine.  So cuddly.  So determined.  So ready to be a kid and run around with her big brother!  They pay games together now.  Simple ones, the favorite being: blow raspberries on Mama’s belly!  This game is common in the morning, or anytime I try to lay on the floor to do yoga.  I don’t totally love getting covered in baby drool, but they both find it so hilarious that I usually don’t protest much.  They also play a game that could be described as simple hide and seek / peek-a-boo.  He is getting more gentle with her.  She crawled up and gave him five hugs in a row the other day, which just about melted my heart.

It didn’t happen until the next day, but when the crimson clover seed finally entered the garden beds it did so from all four of our hands.  We all reached into the bag, felt smooth seeds between our fingers, thanked the earth for its bounty, and then sprinkled them about!  We didn’t water because I knew the rains were coming.  I figured the seeds would rather be awoken by the first sweet drops of fall rain.  Today it poured!  The topsoil is wet.  Grow little seeds, grow!

Right now life is good.  Filled with nature, children, love and for these miraculous days… sleep!  I have thoughts.  Ideas, even.  About things.  Other than my sweet babies.  Perhaps I will write them here soon.

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sweet surrender

It’s late, of course, and there’s still a list of things that need doing before I can go to bed.  But tonight, I am going to write.  If for no other reason than to prove to myself that I still exist.  Yes, ME.  Lost somewhere in that infinite abyss of non-stop mothering, there is still a me.  I’m sure there are interesting and important things going on in the world, but I must confess that right now I know nothing of them.  All I know is three sleeping beings upstairs in my house, for this rare instant needing nothing from me.  Because it is all that I know, I will tell you about my little world.

We were trying to work on the sleeping thing.  Ya know, sleep, it’s nice to get now and then.  Sierra would tell you otherwise.  When she told you about it, it would sound like “Hot hot hot!” and come with a great big smile, but what it would mean is, “Life is too exciting to waste any of it sleeping!”  One idea was that if we had more of a routine, and stuck to it, she would know better when it was time to go to sleep.  It’s a great theory and I’m sure if implemented correctly would work wonders.  But it turns out we are terrible at routines and the harder I try to structure my life the more frustrated I get.  It’s not that we don’t have routines, it just we are always making exceptions.  And then there’s that whole summertime thing, camping, bbq’s, family gatherings… really the exception is more the rule.  Life with no room to go with the flow and embark on spontaneous adventures is rather like being in jail.  (Or having a job.)  But I am not incarcerated, either for behaving badly or by trading life for money.  Apparently I will not give up my freedom for routine, or, even for sleep.

What did work was taking the little bugger camping!  A whole day of fresh air and sunshine and then snugging up together in a tent- lots of good sleeping happened.  Another plus was no bedtime struggle for either kid.  Just wait until the sun goes down, enter tent, climb in bed, sleep.  Aaaaa… can I just camp out all summer?

So I have surrendered to the notion that I have a baby who just wants me all the time.  We are getting better at co-sleeping (read: sharing the bed) and she does sleep in her bed sometimes.  I toyed with the idea of night-weening her, and told her so one evening when she got up for the third time before 10pm.  “Oh yea?” she said, and stayed up until 2am babbling and crawling about.  So I am a failure at the sleep training, and at not giving my baby everything she wants.  I am not wise enough to know if this makes me a horrible mother or a really good one, but the other night I got a little sign.  It was some wee hour of the morning and she was tucked under my arm, head on my shoulder, fast asleep.  I was awake for some reason, maybe because I wanted to flip over but couldn’t without disturbing her.  I might of felt irritated, tired, smothered even, but just then all I felt was how wonderful it was to have this little babe sleeping next to me.  And then,  the oddest thing happened.  She started laughing!  She was still asleep, but giggling and laughing just the same, and it might have been the cutest thing I ever heard.  Maybe she was dreaming of Sam.  Maybe she felt my love.  Whatever it was to her, to me it was the universe saying, “It’s OK.  Keep your baby close.  Enjoy every moment.  Sleep later.”  And so, I will.

Since he could first talk Sam has called our house, Mama’s house.  We thought it was funny at first, “It’s your house too, sweetie!  And Papa’s!”  But after careful consideration we realized he’s probably right.  Anyway, as of late, Sam has imagined himself his own house.  For a week we asked if we could go see his house but he said no, they were still building it.  One day none of the workers showed up and nothing got done.  The roof took a really reallllly long time to build, “like two hours!”  His house is 80 km from Mama’s house, and the house number is 9905  (I asked him three different times on different days and it was always 9905) however the street name keeps changing.

At Sam’s house, things often go differently.  The other day I spilled my entire cup of coffee all over the table while we were eating breakfast.   During the frustration and clean-up that followed he told me, “At Sam’s house, we only pour a little bit of coffee in our cups so it doesn’t spill.”  I believe it was that same morning when he told there are no crumbs at the bottom of the cereal container, at Sam’s house.  Another day, when we had to wait for cars to pass in a busy parking lot, he told me at his house there are no cars in the way in parking lots.   You get the idea.  It’s pretty fun that he’s reached whatever developmental milestone that allows him to have a sustained fantasy world.

And today, they finally finished building Sam’s house.  It’s all done!  I haven’t seen it yet, but I’ll let you know what it’s like when I do. 🙂

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just the two of us

Okay this is going to be a quick one because I need a bath.  Since I am a single mom this week bath times are limited to when I’m sure the little bug is asleep.  It’s past 11pm so now should count, but he just woke up screaming.  Screaming, “Throw it!” presumeably about his blanket which he threw on the ground.  When dealing with a slightly sick, half-asleep toddler the normal rules of logic simply do not apply.  I forget this, and try to ask things like, “What’s wrong?”  or “Why do you want to throw it?”  But I’m starting to adjust faster.  Tonight I said, “Okay, throw it!”  and then, after we had thrown it, “Let’s put your blankey on now, okay?”  “Okay.”  He lays down, I put the blanket on, and he’s asleep before I leave the room.  Sometimes I wonder if he’s awake at all for some of the late night scream sessions.  It is amusing, adorable and quite satisfying to successfully U-turn a toddler from what they thought they wanted to what you know they need in a short amount of time.

Its an adjustment when Ben leaves for trade shows and conferences and I become, temporarily, a single mom.   A few things become quite difficult: like taking a long bath or sneaking out for a 10 minute UV session at the tanning beds.  (It seems to be doing wonders for my skin troubles.)  Other things, get easier.  Like food.   And bedtimes.  We eat when we want, go to sleep when he’s tired.  The sacred 6:30 dinner and 8:00 bedtime become irrelevant when no one in the house has a work schedule to conform to.  Tonight I warmed up chicken soup, frozen from a couple weeks ago, and he sat on my lap picking out all the big juicy chicken bits and eating chips off the table.  It was fun.  We played with yogurt and stopped for ‘hug time’ in the middle of the meal.  I’m not sure if it’s me, knowing no shift change is coming in the evening, or him, knowing that Mama is all he gets for a while, but somehow we get along better when it’s just the two of us.  As difficult as I’m sure it is to be a REAL single mom, I can feel how it would flow.  Of course if I were a real single mom I’m pretty sure I’d need a job which would mean I couldn’t let him stay up until 10pm to hang out just because I’m feeling lonely.

The evenings are kinda lonely.  I find myself checking facebook too often.  As if the next time I log in it will actually leave me feeling like I have friends and a social life.  It rarely works.  A two-hour phone conversation with a friend is much more satisfying, and I’m thankful I got to enjoy one this afternoon.  Still.  Something about the late-night internet checking, blog reading, news scanning…. what exactly am I looking for?

Well, tomorrow morning I will make pancakes (Sam and I already agreed) and then we will go the farmers market and perhaps even the library.  And if I can pull myself away from this box anytime soon I might even get a nice 20 minute soak in warm salty water.   Sometimes its best not to worry about the big picture and focus on the little bits of sweetness right at your fingertips.

Did I mention the pancakes are gluten-free with buckwheat, cornmeal, maple syrup and turkey eggs from market last week?  Oh turkey eggs, how fluffy are thee!

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It is below 80 degrees in my house for the first time since Monday and I can feel my brain starting to work again. It’s like I’m coming out of a heat induced stupor. It wasn’t all unpleasant, but it’s nice to get a break. It’s been over 100 degrees the last three days and I think yesterday it got as high as 109. Our house, with its bank of west-facing windows, gets hot. I have been closely watching the indoor/outdoor thermometer and closing up all the doors, windows and black-out blinds as soon as it reaches the crossover point. Still, by late evening if it’s 95 outside it’s 88 inside. The fans help, but I’ve been disappointed that even if I open every window and most doors all night it’s still 10 degrees warmer inside then out in the morning.

In the heat, Sam hasn’t been able to take his afternoon nap. At first we tried and I could tell he wanted to sleep, but it was just too hot up there. I have also been unwilling to cook dinner in my hot, stuffy kitchen. (One night we went swimming until 8pm, the next we went out to dinner at Turtles, and last night we enjoyed our friend’s air-conditioned lake house.) But since it’s just as hot at 9pm as 3pm he’s also been staying up to 10 or 11 with us. He’s a trooper though, and since our days have been filled with swimming and adventures he’s kept in good spirits. Me, I miss my afternoon down-time but have enjoyed spending extra time with him. One hot night after getting back from dinner we lounged on the deck while waiting for the house to cool. Sam pushed his truck around until it was too dark to see, then climbed in the hammock with me. He fell sleep on my tummy while Ben rocked us and I watched the moon slowly disappear behind the hills.

He’s a little computer kid these days, it cracks me up. We were trying to play Wii at the lake house and he was eager to learn how. When we got to the screen where it tells you to put the strap around your wrist he did it himself while I read the instructions. Unfortunately he figured out quickly that my controller was the one that actually worked. At home he now plays the Purble Place on my computer, switching between the cake-making and the memory games. He can make the mouse go where he wants and click it and he knows what some stuff does. He doesn’t really get the overall concept of the games, but if I talk him through it he can click where I point on the screen.

In the water he is a big bundle of wildly kicking glee. We can be in the water for over an hour and he will still be smiling and laughing with delight. It’s actually been kind of a problem as far as teaching him to close his mouth when he goes underwater. He’ll dunk himself with that wide open mouth grin and then come up sputtering and coughing. Then, he’d start laughing again as soon as he stopped coughing. Crazy kid! Holding him is quite tricky. He’s strong and he wants with all his might to be able to swim away. He can’t do it, but that does stop him from trying. Sometimes I become the underwater play structure and rest my arms while he grabs on and climbs around. He knows if he lets go he’ll go under, but he also knows once he’s under I’ll pull him back up. I’ve been trying to find a floaty for him that will keep him above water, but just barely so he can swim. Life vests don’t work because they float you too high. I’ve bought a couple toddler learn-to-swim devices but so far one didn’t fit him and the other one had a leak.

The filberts are ripening and the canopy over our driveway has turned into a bird and squirrel mecca. KA-BAM! They throw the shells down on our tin roof and it’s as loud as a gunshot. Okay maybe not quite, but it is startling until it becomes a steady stream and driving down the driveway crackles and crunches like broken bones. We’ve picked several ripe blackberries. And yesterday we ate our first artichoke! Also two baby red potatoes, and I harvested my lavender which is now drying in the kitchen. I love this time of year. Even with the suffering of the heat and the ground that burns your feet. Mornings in the garden are delightful.

Speaking of which, I should get out there. We are going back to the lake house today. Although I am thankful for the cool air-conditioned house, in a way I don’t want to go. Inside yesterday I could almost forget the rest of the world was melting and baking. When you’ve suffered though the heat, jumping in the lake feels that much better.





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June 30th

I had a pile of dishes to do after lunch so I suggested Sam go build something while I worked. He pulled the front half of his mega block truck and arms full of blocks into the kitchen and worked on his project while I worked on mine. After we finished I told him I wanted to take a picture, and he pushed the little tower into the den where I keep the camera.

proud sam

I had a good time playing in the dirt during nap time. I got some of the irrigation line buried, starting digging the circle for the lilac bed, and just for fun built a little stone and earth shelf in the hill above the bench.

lillac bed started

Might be a nice spot for a candle or something.


Dry, the earth is very crumbly, and after mostly setting the stone I couldn’t resist getting it wet. A bit different then the moist, soft soil I imagined, the powdered clay turned into a sticky gooey mess that was almost impossible to pack. Felt great on my hands though, and imagined maybe Sam and I putting on some old clothes, turning on the hose and making mud pies. It’d be worth the clean-up to see Ben’s expression if he came home and found us both covered in mud!

When I went out this afternoon to snap a couple photos a cherry fell with a “splat!” onto a stone. It’s a hazard of being out there just now; overhead is layer upon layer of giant cherry branches loaded full of cherries. When they fall on wood or stone they leave a stain. I’m kinda excited to see what pattern has formed by the end of the season.

cherry splat

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June 29th





y is June 29th and it’s Monday.  In the morning I gave Sam’s hair a trim, mostly his bands. Cutting hair is not something I have any experience with, but I seem to be getting the hang of it. The plus side of learning on a 2-year-old is they don’t care what their hair looks like. The down side is they can’t sit still for longer than 10 seconds at a time. Thanks to videos and probably luck, his hair came out about the right length and mostly straight.

During Sam’s afternoon nap I put on my work shoes and gloves and headed out back to look at the fire pit & lawn area. I decided it needed work to become more level so I gathered the square point shovels and began skimming the surface. Periodically I’d stop and check level. I’d put my eye at ground level, which was easy because the ground is just about eye level from the path below. After about an hour of raking the levelness of the area was much improved. However the leveling created the need for a step up towards the fence. I began to imagine a semi-circle concrete block bed that could contain the lilac bushes and the fire pit when not in use.

There are blocks left-over from the first wall, but they were under the deck. I paused for a sip of ice water, then carried blocks around the house and up the stairs, one at a time. I’m not quite strong enough to carry two. After that I put them roughly in place, and decided to wait for Ben’s input before taking the next step.


I also played around with making a sparkly leopard fur sleeve. It’s probably for Burning man, or other festivals. I made one out of a sheet and white fir the other night that I almost like, the leopard version needs some work. Maybe white fur on the end, or a different cut. I’m not sure what the next move on that project is.


Sam and I gathered veggies from the garden for dinner and found, in addition to the usual lettuce and peas, five cherry tomatoes (he ate two) and a few beets! I boiled up the beats, the first of the season, but haven’t tasted them yet. One of the six lettuce plants was about to bolt so I cut the whole thing, washed it and spun it in the lettuce dryer. In a plastic bag it should last a week or so.


After dinner we fixed the clog in the irrigation at the blueberry bushes, and laid 50ft of 3/4″ line to replace the one we had to cut putting in the retaining wall. Now we can use the automated timer to water the backyard.

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