And together we learn

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Racism and utensils

Conversations around here lately have been great. Case in point:

We were just talking about how to make spoons. Calvin theorized that you start with flour and butter.

Chloe corrected him, saying that you need, "some metal, and a Black Man."


Me, gently, "do you mean a blacksmith, sweetie?"

Monday, August 24, 2009

Dang language barrier!

Sometimes I forget just how confusing it must be to be little.

Exact conversation from a car ride last week.

Calvin: Mom, when are we going to die?

Me: long discussion about how no one knows exactly, but Heavenly Father is aware of us and Mommy and Daddy will keep you safe and blah blah blah.

Calvin: But what is it to die?

Me: long discussion of spirit leaving body, heaven, blah blah.

Calvin, later: Mommy, I really want you to die.

Me, slightly shocked: stay here on earth, be your mommy, love you, blah blah.

Calvin, frustrated: But then I WANT TO DIE!

Me: Why??? Life is so wonderful, it's a gift, wonderful family, mission to fulfill, blah blah.

Calvin: Because you SAID we got to dye with the kool-aid and scarves.

Oh. DYE. Gotcha. Yeah, we'll get right on that one, Calvin.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Peace, Love. Music. My backyard

We've thrown some pretty good parties around here. There was the Steve birthday party ice cream day, the poutine party, various fabulous parties with beautiful food--all delightful gatherings of friends and family. But last night might have just trumped them all.

If you haven't noticed by now, my Steve is a bit spontaneous. He thinks of something, then does it. Doesn't really accept the words 'impossible' or 'impractical'. So I should have learned long ago that what he proposes doing actually really happens.

A few months ago, he told me that it was the 40th anniversary of Woodstock, and we should have a concert to commemorate it. In my mind, that means "what a slightly random and crazy, yet fun idea. I'm glad it will just be an idea." In his mind, it means, "let's get to work."

The next thing I knew, he was auditioning bands.

So he ended up with 5 bands that agreed to come play in our backyard, on the deck. We have an acre, so can easily fit tons of people. We spread the word around facebook and the neighborhood, and soon had around 200 people wanting to come.

We got a portapotty for the weekend, because 200 people are just more than we were comfortable with using the bathroom in the house.

As luck would have it, it stormed incredibly yesterday morning. Lots of rain. Wind. The works. But by the afternoon it couldn't have been prettier. Problem is, I think that 7/8 of those 200 people had been scared off, so we ended up with a much smaller group. Oh well. If we hadn't have gotten the potty, of course there would have been 300 people in my house. It was a huge hit, however, with the 7 and under crowd. There was always a line of them waiting to use it. My favorite moment was when my 3 year old niece came out with her pants around her ankles and flashed the crowd. Woo-hoo!! Nudity! This was Woodstock, afterall.
The bands were all very gracious and understanding about the sparse audience. People just had a relaxed and wonderful time. One of the bands didn't show up--they were all under 16, and one of them ran away and was picked up by the police. He was grounded, so couldn't play. Yes, I did laugh all day about that one.

It grew darker, and people lingered and listened to the amazing music. Neighbors dropped by to listen. We barbecued hamburgers and had cookies, the kids ran through the yard and fed the chickens bits of lettuce. We built a fire in the chiminea to chase off the chill of a cold evening.
An absolutely beautiful night that I hope will become a new annual tradition.


Thursday, August 13, 2009


Dinner tonight was beets, potatoes and onions roasted with a bit of olive oil and sea salt. We had a tomato cucumber salad with vinaigrette and a plate of red peppers, cucumbers and tomatoes without dressing. All veggies. Every single bit.

The beets and potatoes were from my garden. I've come to a truce with the garden this year. It won. Or rather, the weeds did. But that's another story. The point here is that it DID produce something, and we ate it. Enough beets and golf ball size potatoes for a meal.

The cucumbers and tomatoes came from the farmer's market. Only the red pepper and onion weren't local.

I was a bit nervous to serve an all veggie dinner to the kids, but figured they could always eat bread with peanut butter, if they needed to. The rule of the house is that you take one bite, even if you think you hate it. So each one of my kids tried the beets, and each one liked them. Calvin even had thirds. They were Chiogga beets, with the beautiful candy cane stripes, so that helped immensely. They ate every morsel on their plates and were all happy and content.

Good mothering moment, that.

Of course, a veggie dinner does leave you a bit hungry 4 hours later, especially after seeing Julie and Julia. That movie is full of fabulous, glorious food. Late night ice cream with the best hot fudge sauce in history was the perfect solution. Oh, and if you make the hot fudge? Please buy Valrhona or Scharfennberger or something equally wonderful. You'll be so so grateful you did.

Monday, August 10, 2009

A place where the sun don't shine

Do you ever find yourself doing something that the sixteen-year-old you would never ever believe? Sixteen-year-old Becca would be shocked at some of the things that go on around here, but I think some of today's activities take the cake.

Calvin and I went out to check on the chickens this morning, as is our morning routine. One of the chickens wasn't doing so well, and blood was dripping down her rear feathers for some reason. My first instinct was just to run away, but grown-up Becca decided to handle this one, instead of channeling the 16 yr old.

I picked her up (gingerly) and carried her over to the faucet where I scrubbed her bloody chicken bum and examined it to see what was the problem then applied copious amounts of Neosporin. Are you getting the visual here????? I just got far more familiar with a chicken bum than I ever could have imagined. And can I just say for the record that wet feathers smell really really gross.

Don't have a clue what's wrong. I have consulted the all-knowing internet, and I'm doing all I know to do. Short of taking her to the vet. Because it's a chicken.

How differently life turns out than what you expect. Most days I'm pretty convinced that's a good thing, but I'm wondering right about now.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

The children meet Vermeer

I've been reading a fascinating book called The Forger's Spell. There are so many things in this world to know, and most of them you don't even know they exist. I had no idea about forgeries of Vermeer paintings during WWII that fooled the world. The book is a little rambling, but it's goes deep into the reasons that people could have actually believed these horrible paintings were genuine Vermeers. Basically, people wanted them to be real, so they believed. The Nazi's were 'buying' everything they could get their hands on, and the Vermeers were the jewels. Paintings were surfacing right and left, and a man named Van Meegeren capitalized on it all. Once he had one painting established as a masterpiece, it became the new standard that all future forgeries were based on.

Anyway, interesting stuff. I checked out a big coffee table size book of Vermeers, because after reading about them I wanted to know more and more. I always knew his stuff was beautiful, but wow, it's pretty amazing.

So this book was lying around, and the kids wanted me to read it to them. I pulled them all on my lap and we went through every page of this book of paintings. My kids can all (even Calvin) identify about 5 qualities of Vermeer paintings--light from the left-hand corner, blue and yellow colors, meditative women, serene settings, and pearls. We examined the different textures he shows, marveled at how fur can look like fur and satin like satin, and talked about what the women might be thinking as they read their letters or dreamed at their instruments.

Calvin asked to read it again today. How cool is that??

Monday, August 03, 2009

The bard and the babies

I'm currently somewhere in the middle of rural Utah--maybe around Panguitch. Definitely past Beaver, though. Isn't an imbedded wireless an absolutely beautiful invention? We've spent the weekend in Cedar City going to the Shakespeare Festival.

This was a really great weekend, everyone.

First of all, wonderful siblings Drea and Tyler and Jev and Em came along. Only Stephanie was missing, and missed she was indeed!! But let me tell you that when the lot of us hang out, there is riotous laughter, and lots and lots of small noisy people following.

We stayed with my dear grandparents. The relationship there hasn't been as close as it could have been, so this was a great step in bridging the gap. They were extremely hospitable to our twelve person group, and we had a wonderful time with them.

We call my grandma 'Maman' (pronounce it French). She's reading with Chloe here--a little book half in French and half in English. This picture here is worth the trip to me. It's a lucky thing to be able to have a relationship with your great-grandmother.

The six of us went to see As You Like It, which was absolutely so much fun. We were in the outdoor theater, perfect weather, great company, and how can you go wrong with a little Shakespeare?

During intermission, Tyler went out to procure refreshments for the group--tarts. 7 of them. Every good Shakespeare play needs a tart seller, don't you think? So he bought lots, passed them to Jevan who stood on a bench and made the handoff to Andrea in the theater. A daring move to satisfy our collective sweet teeth.

Tonight I took my sweet girls to see The Comedy of Errors. I wasn't too sure about how they'd do with the Iambic pentameter, but they were great. The acting was so broad and slapstick, you could follow the plot and just let the language wash over you. They were enthralled, and it was a perfect night out with my ladies.

A few more hours of driving and we'll be back in our own beds. Vacations are delightful, but so is coming home!