Welcome to day two of mama computer time during the day!  I’ve had so many brilliant blog posts in my mind over the past months, but right now I’m going to settle for sitting down and once again learning how to form sentences.  (How many times will I have to re-learn this?)  Ah well, life is a circle and some things just keep circling back.  Or, perhaps life is a spiral, we re-encounter things as if we’d traveled in a circle, but by the next pass we’re actually in a different place.

We are working toward weening this week.  I can proudly announce that it’s 1:49pm and Sierra has not yet nursed today.  First thing in the morning (read: 5:45am) is an impossible time to refuse her the boob unless we get up and start our day.  And today, that’s what we did.  Bananas, toast and diluted orange juice at 6am took her mind off the milkies and I even got a few minutes to read the paper.  I joined her for a second breakfast at 8am, along with Sam, and then she had a third breakfast at 11am over at Julia’s house.  I guess when you’re one, drinking less mama milk, and get up before 6am, three breakfasts are in order. 

I dodged the nap-time nursing today because she fell asleep in the car on the way home from getting Sam from school.  Normally I try to get lunch in them before nap/computer time, but Sam snacks at school and Sierra had three breakfasts so I figure we’ll eat when she gets up.  I’m a little hungry, but I’ve been snacking on some fabulous sprouted garbanzo and red pepper hummus Jason and Julia made.

Anyway, I am going away this weekend on Mama’s retreat.  TWO nights at Breitenbush hot springs with a friend, and no kids.  It will be Papa’s first long stretch of having two kids and no Mama around (which will be a fabulous growth experience for him, I suspect) and my first time away from the kids since Sierra was born.  (I got 17 hours at the new year, but that was pretty much it.)  I am very excited to relax, ponder, play my ukulele, soak, read, write and perhaps even formulate and articulate some goals.  Several goals are already in the works, and I’m hoping the time away will me organize them.

Also, I wonder what will happen to my milk supply after having no baby for almost three days?  I don’t think I make that much now, and when she does nurse it usually isn’t for very long.  I have loved nursing, and it is sad to say goodbye to this magical bonding phase of motherhood.  On the other hand, I am ready.   Sierra is 18 months old and I am ready to reclaim my body in a big way.  She will miss it, and be sad for a bit, but I think once we push past letting go it will open up a whole new level of bonding for us.  I long to snuggle her in bed in the morning and not have it be all about the boobs.

Okay, I’ll resist the temptation to keep rambling (wow is it easier to write mid-day rather than after the kids are asleep) but hopefully I’ll keep posting semi-daily until one of two of those brilliant blog posts accidentally pops out. 



Well, today I bought a wii. And it is no coincidence that I am posting for the first time in a long time. For better or worse, the tradition that has evolved in our house is that while Sierra takes her afternoon nap, Sam has ‘computer time.’ He plays PBS kids, watches netflix, plays coolmath games, etc. This is all well and good (I’ve made my peace with him having some screen time each day) and with simultaneous nap and computer time I sometimes get an hour plus of kid-free time. The problem that has risen to the surface lately is that sometimes I’d like to use my computer during this time. Obviously, that doesn’t work if Sam is using it. So what do to? Buy another computer? That’s pretty expensive… so I came up with the idea of getting a wii. He can play games, use the web, and watch netflix. I hope my plan works and I get some time to write during the day! Okay, there’s the wee one waking up… Not much of a post, but it’s a post! Yea me!

a moment

Look! I’m still here!

What do you know, but here I am sitting down once again to write.  It has been a while.  I was blogging everyday for a month, then I zotted off to Maui and never looked back.

Winter is fresh and only slightly damp.  No snow in the mountains, but the earth smells rich and moist.  I have arrived at a quiet moment, in my house, during the daylight hours.  These moments are so, so rare.  I am savoring the stillness like a warm bath with sweet red wine  and chocolate peanut butter fudge.  Sierra will wake up any moment, or Sam will arrive back from his visit at Kate and Derry’s house.  But right now, my thoughts are my own.

I am sipping fresh ginger-lemon-honey tea.   Looking south out the window I now see the giant orange wedge and far hills, once hidden by the old blue spruce tree.

I want hot biscuits and more tea.


no naps no laundry

<((I’m double posting this from my new blog.  My new blog is a daily ramble I’m trying to keep up.  This post is the first one I’ve felt like putting somewhere someone might actually READ.  If you’re out there, and you care, ask and I’ll tell you were my new blog is. 🙂 ))>

A full, inspiring day today.  It started out with laundry and failed nap-times (these things brought no inspiration) but the day improved.  One up-side to having Sierra not nap is instead of hanging out at the house trying to be quiet, it suddenly makes more sense to get out and do something.  Usually if she won’t nap she’s still tired and clingy, so trying to get chores done is just frustrating.  Nothing so wasteful as spending a beautiful fall day being frustrated with your kids because they won’t let you clean the house.  So out we went!

Stopped by Julia’s to drop off a couple things.  Then to goodwill to look for a new (to me) binder for my ukulele music.  I’ve decided I have to separate guitar and uke music because otherwise I spend too much time hunting for the song we’re playing.  They had a perfect one and now my uke music has a home all of its own.  As often happens at thrift stores… I came away with a few other treasures.  Two bamboo mats (for beside the tent, or the beach, or whatever) a hanging hoop herb drying thing-a-ma-doodle, a toddler costume that is a horse you stand through and look like a cowboy (or girl.)  Oh, and Sam got a little old time pocket digital game. (Old time being probably the 1980’s or 1990’s.)

After scoring all those treasures for a bargain price we were in such good spirits we decided to stop by and say hi to our friends camped out at 8th and Oak.  I was a teeny tiny nervous that it would have a weird homeless camp vibe, but not near as worried as I was curious.  We parked and walked over.  Found the kitchen, and someone was brewing a fresh cup of coffee (donated by Full City) and insisted I have one.  Hard to say no to free coffee.  “Cream and sugar?”  “Go see Big John over by the main kitchen.”  Big John was indeed a big guy, with a big smile, and besides cream and sugar he offered Sam a cup of apple juice.  I could see big pots, a double burner propane stove, lots of tables, a dish-washing station and a whole tent filled with fresh produce.  I asked Big John how it was going and he filled me in on how to prepare donated food to feed hundreds.  He cooked round after round of dinner last night, he said, up until 10pm.  After the last scoop of stir fry was dished out someone suggested he start another. “Just wait.” he said.  Sure enough, a few moments later a giant pot of steaming hot donated soup arrived, by bike!

There are a couple hundred camped out, but the organizers of this movement don’t turn away a hungry face.  Clearly, word on the street is out.  Big John said he probably served 600 street kids yesterday.  600!  “They were so, so thankful.”

Next we stopped by the info booth to ask what supplies were needed.  “Anything. blankets, jackets, propane, socks.”  John from info booth talked to me for bit about how it was going, the meetings, working by consensus.  “Do you know about consensus?”  “Only from community village meetings.”  “Ah, that’s where I learned it too.  Here we use something similar but more streamlined.”  He showed me a few of the hand signals.  I wonder if Sierra picked up any?  Oh wait, she was asleep.

On our way out a ‘blue jacket’ reporter asked if he could take footage of us.  “I GUESS so…”  I got a text from Jody this evening that she saw us on KEZI news, but I can’t find it.

We zotted off home, had some lunch, and then a second failed nap attempt.  Our lucky day!  Again, I chose adventure over frustration.  Well, during our first outing I noticed my gas light was on.  Of course there are many places I could purchase gas, but I’m rather partial to fueling up at Sequential.  I know it’s still mostly petroleum but at least a little is fermented local blueberry waste!  Plus I can say ‘Mt Pisgah’ and they donate 5% to my favorite natural area.  But even given all these things it feels wasteful to drive all the way out to I5 just to buy gas.  So, I decided, we must go for a little walk at Mt. Pisgah while we’re out there.

A little hike because Sam had swim lessons at 5:20pm.  Well, I should have known that there is no such thing as a little outing to our favorite hike spot on a beautiful sunny fall day.  I decided to let the swim lesson go and we explored every bench, tree and rotten log on our way to… wait for it… the south meadow!  Of course, unless you’re in my head you don’t know why that’s exciting, but trust me, it’s exciting.  I’ve attempted to make it to that ‘distant’ flood-plane restoration site at least five times, always having to turn back because of kid or time restraints.

So this time we made it, it was beautiful, and we had the whole place to ourselves.  I might have to post a couple pics I took of the kids because for a moment or two they were being so cute playing together with rocks and leaves.  Sometimes I think raising children must have been so much easier before TVs, computers, and plastic toys.  In the olden days (the REAL olden days) kids just had to go outside and play!  And really, how much energy are you going to put into fighting over a rock? If there’s one, there’s many more.

Came home, and Ben was actually here before six!  He hung with the kids while I made dinner… ahhh… so relaxing.  I wish I could go back to my former pre-kid self and tell me that someday making dinner will be relaxing.  At least when you compare it to making dinner while trying to keep two hungry, clingy, fighting children happy!

To top off the day I attended a talk put on by the Native Plant Society at EWEB about restoration work on an threatened checker mallow.  I learned quite a bit that could be applied to restoration in general.  And, I missed bedtime.  Ben got the kids to bed all on his own, and Sierra didn’t cry a bit!

So, I failed at laundry and do not get to put a sticker on the chore chart.  But I’m fully inspired again today by people and nature.  The feeling I got from the occupy site was energizing and powerful.  I can’t get it out of my head that they are feeding the homeless and how awesome that is.  Yes, we all deserve food.  Even if we’re slackers, druggies, have PTSD, or are mentally ill.  WE are rich enough to feed everyone.  About time someone finally gave it a shot.  Good Job Big John!  I’ll be back tomorrow with whatever supplies I can round up.  I wonder if Ben would miss the propane tank on our gas grill….? *hehe*

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.

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. 🙂


Sleep is a rare commodity these days, and with it goes brain-functioning activities like thinking and writing.  There are plenty of moments when I long for the future, but today there was one perfect moment that made me want to hit pause.  It was sunny, almost seventy, later in the afternoon after a hearty snack on the deck.  Up went the hammock, then the outdoor blinds to make a bit of shade.  I climbed in the hammock with Sierra and she instantly thought about snug-up time.  Sam crawled in too, facing the other way so we could see each other, and she nursed while he calculated and I rocked us.  The sun was shinning and the weeds were growing, but for the entire afternoon the neighborhood was quiet of lawn mowing and weed whacking.   There was a giant toy cash register on Sam’s lap, asking two-digit addition problems, which might have disturbed the tranquility if I had let it.  Instead I tried my best to solve the problems and he typed in the answers.  I got most of them right.  My brain isn’t all the way dead.  Anyway, my hearts swollen so big it’s hard to imagine there’s room for more love.  But there is!  And someday, before you know it, there will be thoughts and words again too.