Monday, December 5, 2011

Notes From A Crazy Woman

Ahhh, the weekend.  Time to relax, recharge ... and re-visit the ER with your hellion 2 1/2 year old.

Yup.  Saturday we went to a Christmas parade in my parents town with a bunch of friends (Mister was working mids and sleeping).  Had a great time, then headed back to my parents house for a bonfire and playtime.  The girls had 5 of their cousins and assorted friends to play with and were having a ball, so I let Butterbean miss her usual 2 hour afternoon nap.  Later on in the afternoon my cousin stopped by and we were sitting and talking and Butterbean ran out to the other room, then I heard a crash and she started crying.  I ran out and scooped her up - she had fallen off the arm of a chair she was sitting on and hit her head on a side table (we think, no one actually saw her fall)  When I picked her up my Mom said, "Oh, she's bleeding.  Oh wait, SHE'S REALLY BLEEDING."  There was trickle of blood on the back of her head, then the back of her head was soaked in blood.  My Dad was trying to convince me it wasn't that bad but I insisted on going to the ER to get her checked out, and she needed two staples to close the cut.  Mooch was there when we were leaving for the ER and was hysterical by the time we left, she cried so hard she broke out in hives.  My Mom said she kept saying, "Is she going to die?  They're going to have to keep her in the hospital again for 3 days!"  My cousin and her daughter stayed with my Mom and helped calm Mooch down, but she's still hovering around Butterbean and taking care of her.

So the Butterbean is fine.  And still ornery.  As evidenced when she called to me yesterday and said, "Mama watch THIS!" and jumped off the couch while I had a heart attack. 

20 days until Christmas, 15 days until Hannukah, 17 days until the Solstice.  I am fantastically unprepared as always.  Although I did get Mooch the scooter she asked for and Butterbean the roller skates she asked for, which in light of recent events seems like a profoundly bad idea.
We do a "giving tree" every year at work - a tree decorated with paper ornaments, each one representing a child in need and what they want for the holidays.  You never see "I want a Wii"  the one I have is for a 23 month old girl who needs clothes, a jacket, scarf and mittens and wants a doll. 
Here's what kills me.  I work at a university.  An email went out to all employees in our department about the tree and the need for people to contribute.  Only one faculty member is participating.  Our admin staff, who make considerably less than these douchenozzles, are all participating, with one woman taking 3 ornaments for 3 different kids.  I would like to think that some of the faculty are participating in other charitable events, but I doubt it, and it makes me want to scream. 

Whatever you can afford to give back this year, please do.  The Bloggess is hosting another Christmas miracle this year, and if you were wondering about a good place to donate, she has great suggestions and you donate just by visiting her page.  So go forth and don't be douchenozzles, ok??

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Sometimes You Just Have To GTFO.

*Experimenting with leaving script black so it's easier to read - you like??*
It's been one of those weeks - Mooch is fighting off a hacking cough that just won't get away, then I got a weird flu bug yesterday, and now - horror of horrors - the Mister is sick too.  NOT THE MAN FLU!!   Baby Jesus, why do you torture me so??  Our house looks like an episode of Hoarders.  I despise clutter, I love to throw things away.  I've been fighting the urge to just wrap up everything in my sight in a trash bag and toss it.  And have I mentioned our house is teeeeeny tiny?  So you cannot escape the clutter?  Ugh.

So I had a minor breakdown while trying to figure out how to unpack Christmas decorations in a house that's already over full.  And, being the adult that I am, I decided that me, the chickens and the dog, should just run away. 

So we did.  To our favorite park with a huge expanse of hiking trails around it.

Three girls, a dog, and a dream.
Butterbean was very adamant that we try the path less traveled.  Very Robert Frost-y, that one.
This was a pond we kept seeing signs for but couldn't find, until Mooch hiked up a hill and spotted it.  This kid is kick-ass.

There is an optical illusion here that makes it look like my dog is off the leash.  I would never do that ... ahem.
My sweet babies.
Can we hike it?
Yes we can! (Thankfully, no head injuries ensued)
Butterbean was very concerned that people had hurt this tree.  She hugged it for a good long while.  It starts early.
She also claimed this rock.
Faerie - or possibly rabid raccoon - house.  Let's go with faerie.

Did you notice her wrist bands and necklace?  She cracks me up.
Butterbean gave an impromptu performance on the stage on the way out.  Mooch sang "Sea of Heartbreak" while she danced.  Mama was at peace.
We came home tired and hungry and happy.  I have never been so happy to run away from a problem.

Monday, November 21, 2011

We've All Been There, Mr. Sharp-Shinned Hawk.

We have a neighbourhood sharp-shinned hawk.  (Not this one, I don't have a clear picture of ours)  He grabs other birds mid-air and eats everything off of them except for the feet.  I'm not sure why but it's kind of disturbing to come across random dismembered bird-feet on your lawn.
I was in our backyard a few months back hanging up laundry and looked up and he was perched on our back fence, just staring levelly at me, plainly trying to convey that he could rip my face off if he wanted to.  Message received, dude.
The Mister and I were on the phone while I was in Seattle and I was telling him something completely compelling ("I watched Real Housewives of Beverly Hills last night and ate an entire bag of sour cream and cheddar chips") when he busted out laughing.
"What?!?!  Quit being so judge-y.  They're really good."
"No, no - not that.  But that is gross.  Remember those fake ravens you put all over the front of the house?"

Who could forget?

"The hawk just grabbed one off of a planter, pinned it to the ground and ripped it's feet off, and now it's looking around like, Shit.  Let's hope no one saw this."

"Did you get a picture?  Go grab the camera!"
"I'm laughing too hard.  The thing is like, This is downright unfortunate"

 So now I am inadvertently traumatizing raptors.  My reign of terror continues.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

This Post Is Not About Seattle.

Because my pictures from Seattle are on someone else's camera who is still *in* Seattle.  And I refuse to post about how awesome it was until I have pictures to back it up (complete with a picture of French Post Doc telling me to fuck off).  It was awesome, though.  Also, my mother drugged me with something other than Xanax.
FPD on plane:  What are you taking?
Me: I thought they were Xanax, but aren't Xanax blue?  These are not Xanax. (gulp)
FPD: You're taking something and you don't know what it is?
Me: I'm very trusting.  And scared shitless of this plane.
Luckily they worked anyway.

And so I will tell you about things I am doing that I have no expertise in, besides blogging.  Remember my pictures from the farm we went to?  This one?

  This farm and I have history.  My mom worked there before and after I was born.  I have memories of toddling into their farm store to get apples.  We apple pick there almost every fall, and every year I bite into one of their apples and have the same reaction - my lips and tongue get itchy and my face swells slightly.  When you pick an apple off their trees and turn it over, there is a residue of white on the bottom from pesticides.  
  I have a strong reaction to some chemicals and metals, from a rash to problems breathing.  I always thought I was allergic to apples until I had an organic one and had no reaction to it.  So it's sad to me that every year I have to feel conflicted about getting apples from a gorgeous local farm, literally right up the road from us, that has a family running it.
  This farm has a Facebook page and were advertising the start of their apple picking season, and I commented on how I wished they integrated more organic growing practices into their farm, both for health and environment's sake.  I got a comment back that their head grower would like to speak to me, and they messaged me his cell phone #.
He probably thinks I'm some arrogant hippie who's going to try and tell him how to run his business.
I got up the nerve to call him and expressed how I hoped I didn't sound rude, and asked if we could talk about farming.  He graciously agreed and we spoke yesterday for an hour, sometimes heatedly and sometimes laughing.  His stance was that organics, more than anything, are a "marketing ploy", that the benefits haven't been proven, that they cause more outbreaks of food-borne pathogens, and that they are too time consuming and expensive.  My stance is that we NEED a local organic farm (since our farmer's market is packed with people every Sunday, and most of the produce is grown at least 20 miles away), that they sit right on the Christina Watershed and are responsible for the plant and animal life in it, that they could become a role model for other small farms, and that they make such a good income on hay rides, tours, and fall activities that even if they started with only a portion of their produce being organically produced, they could still turn a generous profit.  

*I also researched his claim about food-borne pathogens in organic produce.  While it is true that manure, used commonly to fertilize organic crops, can introduce bacteria to food; properly treated and composted manure (along with other organic matter) presents little threat to crops.  The most recent outbreak of listeria in cantaloupe were from a non-organic crop that had had manure dumped near it within the last year.  Basically, don't just throw poop on your crop and expect it to do well, there is a science and a delicate balance to this*

  He was very nice but very defensive, and he has every right to be.  Farming is a hard life and he has managed to turn a little family farm into a booming business.  Then I asked the question I had been building up for :
Me: So, do you think in the spring I could shadow you for a day while you planted?  
Him: Excuse me?
Me: I mean, I'll help out.  You can put me to work.  I would just love to get more insight into this.
Him: Umm.  You mean you want to work a day for free?  This is hard work.
Me: I know.  I just want to see this better from your point of view. 
Him: Umm, ok.
So next spring I get to spend a day working a field and observing what goes on in a day on a farm.  So effing excited.
And of course it made me lust after the Plant Science courses here.  While I was planning on holding off until both kids were in school full time, I need to start taking at least one class a semester.  I need it.  I got off the phone with this man and wanted to skip down the hallway.  This is my passion.
Also, I never really have a plan for everything, which sometimes makes me feel like an impostor of an adult.  But then Jenny Lawson on  The Bloggess said something to the effect of, she never plans anything, she just does shit and some other shit happens and some is good, and some is bad.   If you would like to cross-stitch her quote onto a pillow and send it to me I will happily pass it down to my grandchildren.  

But then I continued to try and address things I have little to no expertise in.
Like this bridge:

  Our street is right off of this one.  See the little tunnel to the right?  I ride my bike through there.  I love that when they built it they kept walkers and bikers in mind, and I love that it keep huge trucks from going down our street.  Go ahead little bridge!
  The problem is that the only care the area around it ever gets is occasionally getting mowed by a work crew in the summer.  It's weed choked and ugly and gets graffiti-ed a lot.  Kind of a downer when you have to wait your turn to make it through and are forced to stare at it.  
  Last summer I said to The Mister I wanted to volunteer to landscape it and he looked at me like I was crazy, which we all know I AM.  I thought, since Home Despot is so good at throwing out perfectly good plants, maybe I can sweet talk them into donating them (and writing them off on their taxes) instead.  Maybe I can get permission from the mayor to landscape it.  And maybe I can plant mainly native plants and herbs, and maybe even some edibles (with a sign that everyone is free to pick what they want).  

So guess what?  They said I could do it.
Yup.  Mayor of our town gave me his permission.
Now to approach Home Despot and sweetly ask to raid their plants destined for a dumpster.  And try not to scream or throw things if they try that "oh but we compost it" horse crap. (Note - they do NOT)  And I guess they will probably want to know what my plan is.  Hurry up on the cross stitched pillow so I can show it to them.

Wish me luck.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Right Now Six Years Ago ....

 ... I was falling in love in a way I never knew was possible.
 ... I wasn't feeling any pain, even though 13 hours of labor had past.
 ... I was watching the Mister put his arms on either side of our tiny sleepy baby and refusing to be moved, because he couldn't stand to be any further away from her.
 Six years ago today, on November 3rd at 1:11 pm (how's that for numerology?) I became the woman I was always meant to be ... a mother.

  Happy birthday to my beautiful Mooch, the girl who says hi and smiles at every person she passes.  A friend to everyone who will change the world for the better.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

2011 Veggie Garden - Lessons Learned

First, let's look back at the pictures, shall we?  Even though it will make me miss summer.
Lil naked baby garden   


Sprouts, and the WORST pea trellis ever

Holy abundance, Batman!

And what it looks like as of this morning ....
  Super sad face.  Remember when I blithely said I wasn't planning where everything would go?  Dumb!  At least estimating the space needed around plants is verrrry important for good air circulation around the plant, which helps fend off fungal diseases and pests.  Did you know most pests and diseases need wet foliage to be able to penetrate the pant's structure?  So if some dummy (me) plants all her tomato plants with maybe 5 inches of space around them each, she (me again) will end up with tomatoes that will get wasted.  

  Also, in order to maintain a biologically diverse (and therefore more stable) soil, you need to rotate what goes where from year to year.  Great resource for this here.  If you are planning an organic garden (please, please do) this is so important, since it will negate chemical fertilizers and pest control.  

 A few more discoveries from this year :
* Pea trellises need to be bigger and stronger than you think
* IMO, the absolute BEST soil mixture for growing a culinary and herb garden is half composted mushroom soil, half organic garden soil.
* Compost, compost, compost.  Apply to the roots of your plants once a month.
* If you use the above soil preparation, and you're growing tomatoes - don't even mess with tomato cages.  You need to build big ass supports around those suckers.  Mine were over 5 feet tall by the end of the season and loaded with fruit.
* If you plant only one edible - plant lettuce!  It is so easy to grow, so easy to maintain, and it tastes so much better than what you get at the store.
* Stock up BEFORE growing season on canning and freezing supplies.  Research recipes for your produce in the off season so you're ready.
* Get a hay bale for harvest decorations, then stash it away until spring.  After you have planted your seeds and everything sprouts, spread hay around the seedlings.  It holds in moisture so you don't have to water so much and suppresses weeds.
* You need a rain barrel.  If you already have one, you need another one. :-)

And also ... growing season doesn't have to stop in the fall.

This is broccoli and kale that are loving the cooler weather.  I also have two cabbage plants that came up and are thriving (none of the ones planted at the beginning of the season survived the cabbage worms)  Now to teach myself to make floating row covers ...
One last thing, Mrs. BC has an awesome new blog, Witch In The Suburbs,and guess who she interviewed for her Witchy Mum Interview?? ;-)If you don't follow Mrs. BC, she's hilarious and smart and her emails bring me joy because she says things like whinge and fortnight and other Australian awesomeness.  So go stalk her!


Thursday, October 27, 2011

This Post is Like I'm Sorry Flowers.

As in I should post all the time JUST BECAUSE you are awesome and deserve them but I'm wrapped up in other stuff right now so this will just be hi, sorry, please continue to touch me inappropriately.

I do have things to say, including a garden-wrap up (complete with time progression photos  OOOHH AAAHHH) and to update you all on me getting up in other people's business, which is what I seem to be doing a lot of lately.  But for now this will have to suffice - a comic that made me giggle for a long time.  Santa!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Sleeping Very Well In Seattle.

I hope.  The University is putting me on a plane and sending me there in November.  With Xanax.  I mean, the University won't be providing me with drugs (but it would be totally cool with me if they were - takeoffs and landings I'm like a hyperactive Chihuahua) but my Mama has promised me some of her panic attack meds since flying is scary as shit.  And I'll be flying with grad students who probably sin their faces off nightly and are bringing a lot of bad karma with them, thus putting our plane at greater risk of falling out of the sky.

I've been dreading this trip because of 1.) plane anxiety 2.) being on the other side of the country from my babies.  It doesn't seem normal.
But I am tentatively excited because 1.) I've never been to Seattle and it will be fun to explore, 2.) FREE HOTEL ROOM!  This cannot be expressed enough.  Bed to myself and someone else has to make it every day.  3.) Quiet.  I can go into the room, close the door, and no one will be speaking to me.  I can pee without the kids banging on the door insisting I untangle Barbies' hair.  4.) Workout time.  The hotel has an awesome gym and I won't have to coordinate childcare to go.
I know the thrill of quiet will have worn off by the 2nd day - but then the next morning I come back home again to the noisy, messy, awesome place I call home.  
And if you've been to Seattle, it's time to tell me where I need to go and what to see.  I am not going to the Space Needle.  I am going to the Fish Market, and there is a sculpture of a troll under a bridge I MUST see.  But what else??

Friday, October 14, 2011

Hayrides, Goats, Big Metal Chickens.

We live literally 5 minutes away from a gorgeous family-owned farm, which my own Mama used to work at when she was younger.  Since my husband is the meanest-mean-mean man who INSISTS we follow local laws and regulations and still will not let me get chickens or goats or even two rabbits (I don't want them to be lonely) I have to visit frequently to get my farm fix.
They have fall festival weekends with all kinds of stuff going on, which we've never gone to before because they don't charge during the week and we are cheap frugal.  But the really good stuff happens on the weekends, so this past we forked it over and went.

 This was a giant moonbounce-thing that was a tunnel, the girls went through together and when I walked around to where they came out I almost died.  It looked like a giant penis.  Then again, truthfully, almost everything looks like a penis to me - unless it looks like boobs.

Pony rides.  Mooch smiled sweetly and talked to her pony and asked When can I have one of my own?  Butterbean whooped and yelled, Take off, Fleabag!

Chicken hatchery.  Yes, my 2 year old has a feather extension in her hair.  IT WAS FOR CHARITY.

Mister and Butterbean on the hayride.  His looks are the only thing that save him from getting beat to death with a frying pan sometimes, I swear.

Self portrait, me and my first baby

Wild girls in the hay maze

Mooch with the goats.  I ask her to pose and this is what she does.  I love this child.

Corn maze.  We had Butterbean yelling "Malachi!" and the Mister and I were cracking up as we fed her more lines from Children of The Corn for our own amusement, and no one was laughing other than us.  It was like we were in an alternate universe where prompting your child to sound like a murderous zombie wasn't funny.

And then we turned a corner and there stood BEYONCE.  Don't know what I'm talking about?  Here.

I did not pick the persimmons, but I wanted to.

We were all exhausted.  We ended up doing the hayrides and pony rides twice, and spent 3 1/2 hours at the farm.  And the kicker that during this fall festival day, it was in the 80's and gorgeously sunny all day.  I love the mid-Atlantic.

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