Showing posts with label Goings on. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Goings on. Show all posts


Sink or Swim With me Now

Every day for the last two weeks I've alternated feeling like I am drowning and feeling like I am making progress towards the distance coast line. It is a very spastic, unpredictable, tense dynamic going on. I have heard from seven little birdies with whom I live that I am not especially pleasant right now. I am trying to fix that. Please, God, don't let them remember the tense mother thing. Let them remember the times I was fun and supportive. Please let that part shine through.

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I need a debrief of the goings on in my head, fingers, house, whathaveyou. So let the record state that these two brothers, who pose so happily above and have so much fun together, also wake up and fight, cry and whine every morning, still. This got old more than a year ago. I could be a morning person, but we will never know because I hate waking up to the
"you're  baby!" (crying)
"No you're a baby!" (other one now crying)
"You stupid!" (louder crying)
"No YOU stupid!" (louder crying with the sound of a slap followed by the screams of one being murdered)

I hate this. I hate every morning, waking up to the stupid whining. Does my venting about their whining constitute whining? Don't answer that.

And "Wake up even earlier than them" you say? I try. But then they hear me and wake up and ruin my solitude by crying over who is the bigger baby. The irony is totally lost on them as they rub their blankies and sob. They are so cute and funny, I wish they could remember to be that way in the morning. It takes them hours to warm up to being human. They are six months apart in age, and are both age four. Can anyone with same age kids, twins, etc, confirm or deny that this will ever get better?

Moving on. We have been having predator problems lately. Our favorite duck, named after an opera character Cunegonde, was killed last week. We are not happy about it, so Hubs built with his manly hands a portable, movable chicken pen so they can have field trips outside their chicken run and stay safe. We can move it around so they don't decimate our lawn entirely and find new bugs in new spots. He was inspired by one we saw on another site, and he busted this sucker out in two or three Home Depot trips, which is really good compared to some of our other projects. I suspect sometimes he messes up on purpose so he can have an excuse to go there, alone. I also suspect he is napping in the car when he goes for so long. That is what I would do, anyway.

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She thinks his chicken tractor is sexy

Next up, I saw what I found to be a rather unhelpful parenting quote being shared on Facebook last week about how children's behavior is a measure of how much they respect their parents. I created in my poor, neglected photoshop, an answer to that sentiment. It was shared more than thirty five times and I was happy to see it resonated with people.

kids behavior

It's time to share about Blue the Wonder Dog and Tsega. How has it been going? 

For Tsega, Blue is wonderful. Blue comforts him and gives him safety and joy. Blue accepts the affection Tsega offers in its imperfection of four-year-old with anxiety and sensory issues.  He lays down and lets Tsega cover him up with tension and he takes it. He licks his toes and legs at night. He offers up the softest ears in the world when Tsega needs comfort.

Last week Blue got upset that he perceived Tsega's older brother and younger brother were hurting Tsega, his boy. And ever since we've had to figure out how to triage the whole fricking situation so that Blue loves Tsega and helps him, but must respect ALL people in this house. This requires 100% monitoring at all times from me.

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All times. It requires all members of family to work on commands, communication, body language and tone of voice so that Blue knows we are all on the same team and speak the same language and expect him to respect all the people who live here. So that is what we are doing. And some days it has felt exhausting. And other days I think, why should this be easy? Our house is complicated. There are lots of people and lots of confusion and noise, and Blue has only had a few short weeks to try and figure it all out. There are people who have been living here for a few years and still haven't figured it all out. Blue is a smart, working dog. He wants to do what makes us happy, he wants to do his job. It is my job to help him know what that is and Hubs and I are getting better at communicating about it with him. He's a stellar dog. And our job is to keep the children and dog safe. And this makes me tired a little bit.

So we are taking deep breaths. Using crate time to give Blue and me breaks from the hard work, and having faith that it's worth it for Tsega. Because, I mean. look at them up there.

I told a dear friend about our concerns and our hopes for things to settle down with Blue and how hard we've been working with our trainer to keep things moving in the right direction, and frankly, how stressful it's been. (Ok, actually, I begged her for prayers). Today she sent me this. From clear across the country. I don't want to reveal how much chocolate I ate today, but I can actually hear my butt getting bigger. Thank you, dear one. Truly. I feel so loved.


Remember the 50,000 word novel I was supposed to write in March? Well, I did get to 50,000 words by the last day of March, but the novel was not done. Two days ago this was my word count,

and after today and three hours of children playing on a homemade slip n' slide, this is where I am. And the end is in striking distance. It may be complete drivel. But it's my complete drivel and I know I will feel proud when it's done. If anything ever comes it, I will be sure to bug you about it.

Here is what kept them occupied, by the way. I highly recommend buying 6mm plastic sheeting and landscape stakes for a whopping $30 for a kick butt home made water slide. Don't forget to add a little Dawn dishwashing soap for extra slip.

Two final thoughts if you are boggled enough by life over here right now.
1) We are getting a horse. This week. I am delighted and petrified. The kids are less petrified than I am for obvious reasons.
2) There will be a post on Mike Brown.


I need a happy thought

Hubs and Mimi (or in Game of Thrones speak: "The Keepers of Sanity and Order from the House of Maturity") are gone. I am on Day Two of eight days and I ready to throw in the towel. I used to be a lot less wimpy. I think the problem is that massive anxiety from a missing parent is throwing certain people into a tail spin and I am picking up the pieces. Literally. Of broken stuff. The house is an unholy disaster and not just floors and all surfaces. Every drawer and cupboard is a mess. I have about ten days of child free cleaning and organizing I need and want to do and not a whit of it is going to happen. Because anytime I am here, they are here. My brain is fried already and that is not a good thing.

So, I need some happy thoughts.

1) The barn is so close. I mean, picking up stall mats this weekend, the milking stand arrived today, the pen is built, gates are up close. The clover would have been planted already but the hydroseeder is home to a robin's nest with little blue eggs in it right now. I am about to tell the contractor helping us get stuff done to screw the robins and get our darn alfalfa and clover planted NOW. That doesn't sound very nature friendly but darnit, this was supposed to have happened a month ago so I am kinda all done with nature. An interior stall still needs to go up and the back door of the barn needs to go up, but it is sniffing distance.

2) Cookie Monster loves baseball. And we love watching him play.


3) Brady. He turns four soon, and is getting super kissy and snuggly. He still is a little tricky to understand when he speaks, but we discovered that the repetative "honking" sound he was doing in the car was actually the opening for brilliant made up knock knock jokes. Once we asked "who's there?" just once it opened a flood gate. We can't make it stop.

Brady: onk onk!
Us: who's there?
Brady: Mimi
Us: Mimi who?
Brady: My mimi!


4) Fikir got herself on a swim team solely on her willingness to not think, not be afraid, and just GO. She threw her tall, gutsy self across the pool so fast despite her barely six swimming lessons total, ever, (from me) that now she has a club, a community, an sport where she can get away and shine and we can cheer her on. She is so proud of herself. And I am so glad. (Not about the four practices a week, I wish it were close enough to have her ride her bike because holy crap 4 days a week...) But still, so glad for her.

Um, it's sunny today? Grateful for sunshine. That's all I got today.  Those are my happy thoughts. Now that I have them, I also feel like I need a cookie. 


Why They Can't do Schoolwork and Other Gems

Fikir dear turned eight. We imported some good friends to have a dance music video party, but while I was making her numerous menu requests the children found other games and self-directed. I wish you could have been there to see me not lead a party. The children entertained themselves beautifully like this for three hours.
That night after the shindig, I was visiting Pinterest and found several friends pinning things like Plan the Perfect XZY Party with themes, decorations, costumes, themed food, favors and hours and and hours of preparation and clear cost considerations. I wanted to make a fake pin.

How to throw the perfect party!
Step 1: Invite a handful of kids over your child knows and likes. You don't have pull that "whole class thing."
Step 2: if possible, get to know and like some home schoolers to invite who are really good at making their lives happen without a parent telling them what to do
Step 3: Let them have fun. Headbanz and Kids Apples to Apples are favorites among the 5-10 crowd.
Step 4: Make or buy good food that any adults present will appreciate
Step 5: Paper plates 
Step 6: For crying out loud, request no presents. It makes every party better. I promise. Your family can give the child a gift later and they will love it. I promise.

And that's it.

Fikir got a wheat-free vanilla coconut banana cake for her birthday.
I've been feeding Tsega gluten-free foods for several months now to help nourish his brain and gut; gluten was clearly not helping mood, regulation and gave him tummy troubles. So I have gotten lots of practice avoiding certain foods and making everything from scratch if I have to. After reading this article, I decided to pull the plug on regular wheat usage for our whole family.

I am sure we will still occasionally have sprouted sour dough bread which has the most nutrition content and is the least problematic, and we will never give up injera, Ethiopian sourdough bread, but I am proud in a very nerdy way that we are now eight days wheat-free and I gotta say, it is a fun, feel good challenge. Replacement flours for the cake (and pancakes I made for her birthday breakfast) are brown rice flour, almond flour, potato starch, buckwheat and Ethiopian t'eff. With plenty and eggs and banana, all those flours stick together quite nicely and made what the children called The best cake I've ever made. So glad they are all on board.

If you don't follow the blog on Facebook, you missed this picture I posted yesterday. We have massive (80-90 lbs) coyotes. This fellow was a stone's toss away from the house, and when it saw us congregating to look at him, he didn't bat an eye. Such a cool character in day light, unafraid. We are making a plan to keep him and his pack away from the chickens. It was magical and a little frightening to see him just by that slide in the foreground. By the time I got my camera he decided to go deeper into the backyard.

Tsega's favorite food is shiro, an amazingly tasty Ethiopian dish that is kick-in-the-face spicy. This powder is not easy to find in the US and quite expensive, so on all our visits to Ethiopia we bring back kilos and kilos  packaged up so I can make it often. We have packed into the nooks and crannies of the kitchen more than a yea's worth of this shiro, and I make several times a month.
When I caught him eating it out of the container he said Dis shiro good! I think my Ethiopian mom made me like it.

This is what snow-days to do them. Future payback for all the tantrums?

And finally, our cat Lilly is the children's favorite home school companion. Every day, without fail when we pull out the books she comes and plops herself down on their work. I don't know what the sensation of paper on her belly does for her but she cannot resist making it impossible for them to write. They call her Lilly, come! Hoping they will be the one who has to postpone adjectives or fractions because simply
I can't, Mom, Lilly won't move. 
And it's true. She really won't.


Mom Is Stooped

And I mean, no one. (Mimi giving Hubs cornrows is now officially my favorite moment of 2014 so far)

I am proud of my recent, glorious success: home made kombucha. The long version of why I would do this can be found here, and I'd love to copy and paste it all but that's stealing, so go read that fabulous article.

This elixir of goodness was shockingly easy and incredibly inexpensive to make, once I stopped being a pansy about it. I was very intimidated at first but as you will see, it was no big thing at all.
IMG_8736Step one: buy a SCOBY on Amazon. It is not expensive to buy a live culture and have it shipped through the mail.  What is a SCOBY? SCOBY is an acronym for Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast. Basically, when used to brew kombucha, that stuff cleans you right out and makes your stomach, brain, liver, joints so so very happy. It is the ultimate detoxification drink.

Step two: Let the SCOBY sit for a week in the fridge, scared about not knowing what to do with it.

Step three: Read a few blogs and get brave. Follow their instructions about boiling almost a gallon of distilled water, adding sugar, 8 tea bags, letting it cool/steep for several hours until room temp. Pouring it into a big ol' jar, adding in some apple cider vinegar, the SCOBY, covering it with a tea towel and hoping for the best.

Step four: Forget how long it's been sitting in there. Five days? Six? During this time the bacteria and yeast are gobbling up the sugar and majority of the caffeine, turning a sweet tea in a power house medicinal tool that's been used for thousands and thousands of years. 

Step five: Taste it and experience bliss. It is like a tart version of gingerale. I feel better instantly after drinking it. It curbs my sugar cravings, settles my stomach, and the kid with the most tummy issues in the house craves it the way I do. I love this stuff. All professional advice says, it's best consumed in small amounts 6-8 oz a day. Don't be a hog. 

Whole Foods sells kombucha for $4+ for 8oz. I made a gallon for about $6, though now that I have my SCOBY, the next batch will cost less than a dollar to make, and I will be more clued in with safety tips this time around.

*For those contemplating making it, NyQuil has about 10% alcohol by volume, enough to show up on a breathalyzer test and higher than most beers which are around 8% by volume. Kombucha that ferments more than 8-12 days can get up to 1% alcohol content. It is sold as a non-alcoholic drink at Whole Foods. I am going to pay attention to how long it ferments, and attempt to not intoxicate my children. 

After having finished all the Little House books, our newest read-aloud heroine is Mary Lennox of The Secret Garden. I loved this story as a child but never gave the beginning about Mary's childhood before she came to Missethwaite Manor much thought. As a grown up, it is quite horrifying to read about a neglected little one with a major attachment disorder. With this read, I have a totally different kind of compassion for Mary who has no idea how to have relationships or connect to people and is totally un self-aware. So far, the kids are noticing it about as much as I did as a child which is not much. But it's eerie stuff for a parent who is too familiar with attachment issues.

Knitting lessons continue and it is amazing what a joy and real talent it is becoming for the girls. Mimi's fingers flew as I watched her do this today. I love how she remembers everything she is taught and how happy she is while working on a project.
Their teacher Nic, is gifted, kind and man, if you ever need a personalized unique gift, something you see knitted on pinterest but don't know how or have time to make, she is your girl.

Thanks for those awesome sunflower seeds. I love that snack. I blanked. What on earth was Hub's talking about? I didn't buy any sunflower seeds when grocery shopping.... Then I put it together.

He was eating non-human-grade wild bird seed. The 20 lb bag was opened up, sitting by his desk. Everyone says I am the crazy one in this house, but he just made himself a contender.

Cookie is learning how to express himself when frustrated. Unfortunately, my approval rating isn't so hot right now.
The home schooling mother in me wants to make him write it five times with 'stupid' spelled correctly.

Happy this week is over. Happy for my lovies to get onto that plane to Ethiopia. Thinking I may surprise Hubs by getting a drastic hair cut and doing laundry while he is away. It's better than the other surprise I've dreamed about twice now. Hint: it involves unauthorized ventures onto Hair cut. Much more sane to go with the hair cut option, that we can all agree on.


Fifth Night in a Row and Other Tidbits

Sleepy Confession
Every night Hubs tackles the Three-Year-Olds (capitalized because it is no small feat) for bed, and then the four older children open coloring books. Hubs lights a fire, and we sprawl out while I read to them. It is the number one treasured ritual in this house; the reading before bed is sacred, and an entitlement. If for some reason we miss it is tallied heavily against me. It is as if I am to blame for making them miss the prom. Except it's Laura Ingalls' prom. I cannot bear the wrath of these children who value our books so highly, so even when I am tired, I do my utmost to fulfill their high expectations.

To their chagrin, five nights in a row I've fallen asleep while reading and tonight, in exasperation Mimi took pictures of me zonked out in front of the fire. Worth noting: dropping off mid-sentence is far more forgivable than saying, "Kids, it's time to stop, I am tired."  Must start reading earlier, apparently.


He is my youngest, and I am assuming he will be my baby for the next seventy years. This is where he likes to be while I cook dinner. Underfoot and mopping the floor with his blankie.

Living Vicariously Confession
Not sure who loves rhythmic gymnastics more, Samantha or me.

So Very Tasty to Be Afraid
The more food we consume and make that isn't from a store, packaged, processed, etc, the harder it is to eat that stuff. I go deeper into the homesteading hole admittedly in part because I live in fear of chemicals and pesticides and additives. This week making homemade cheese was so fast and easy it makes it hard to want to buy it. I sheepishly used a cheesecloth that was packed away in my photography gear, untouched for two years. I washed it, and used it for its original purpose: straining cheese. Life sure has changed around here.

Speaking of Food
Ever since I announced via blog we were overhauling breakfast, we have stood true to the commitment. Raw milk and steel cut oats are on tap five days a week, and I sneak in gluten free pancakes on Thursdays and eggs on Sunday. We haven't bought cereal in a year. And I gotta say, we are not missing the sugar or the money down the drain. I love making a hot, healthy breakfast in the morning. There may be phases in life ahead where this routine isn't possible, so for now, I will love it and be grateful I can make it happen.

Don't Call the Cops Installment of the Week
Both cats and Tsega are thrilled about the ample opportunities for being high up in this house. I assume your children watch Sesame Street in this manner as well. I also assume Tsega is part cat since he likes to jump from this location as well.

Squeaky Wheel 
Sometimes the squeaky wheel gets the grease, and the metaphor falls apart immediately because I just want to say that the kid who takes up the most mental energy wrings every last drop of love from me and still there is more for him. He is my hero.

Halloween Confession
They chose to be a pirate crew, drawing heavy inspiration from the recently finished Peter Pan novel. The dressing up was lovely. They enjoyed trick-or-treating, and I asked them to hand over every.single.piece of candy in exchange for me making them treats upon request for the next several weeks. Not one tear, not one complaint, and I didn't have to deal with the carnage that Red Dye 40 and HFCS inflicts upon several of the more sensitive children. All I had to do was ask if they would trade, and they did. All the fun and none of the nastiness. It was a Halloween miracle.

I can't choose my favorite picture from last week. Is it Samantha stripped to the waist dealing with poison ivy whilst holding the frog Tsega brought in the house? Is it Tsega right after he kissed his "new best friend?"


Or is Mimi wanting to show me her new fashion sense?

Home school Thoughts
It's true sometimes I worry my kids are missing out on some things I had going to public school. But a few days ago I heard from the foyer: Cinderella, dressed in yella' went upstairs to kiss a fella, made a mistake and kissed a snake, how many doctors does it take? 

Then,  Doctor, doctor do your duty, here comes Fikir the Ethiopian beauty she can wibble she can wobble she can do the high kicks...

And then I know that they are gonna be just fine. Recess around here isn't all that different from what I had growing up.

Finally, today the children and I are starting a month-long Waldorf educational twist focusing on knitting and form drawing. I wanted to go this sensory education route to reach out to Fikir, who has been needing me to come at schooling from a different angle, largely one where I just shut up and stop asking her questions. We need something that helps her be present and feel good and the only way to do that is for me to talk as little as possible and her to "do" as much as possible. I figured we could all use a little of that so for the next four weeks we are going to work on knitting skills and drawing skills. I have a haunch that using our minds, and bodies in equal parts will lay a foundation for Fikir to be more involved in the work she does in front of her, and it will reinforce what the other children are doing.

It is no easy task to tackle the different levels and needs of all the big kids when it comes to school, but the great thing is, we can change directions at any point to make things more accessible and better for everyone.

We have a knitting instructor coming over in two hours to give us a lesson to get us started on the right foot. Yarn is picked out, the needles are sitting in a basket, and I even bought extra craft stuff to hopefully occupy Tsega and Brady so we have a prayer of actually having the lesson. Cross your fingers for us, and happy weekend to you all!


deer dear deere

A little backtracking is good for the soul.

Hubs recently acquired some sort of mower on steroids (Google confirmed it is called a sickle bar machine) that eats scrub brush, small trees and possibly small children. We, and of course, by we I mean "he," is slowly but surely clearing several years of overgrowth on this property. The chicken coop site is cleared, coop is full of happy chooks, and I found gorgeous chicken fencing for the run. The fencing was found by renovators in the rafters of a 100+ year old barn. They believe the fencing is as old as the barn but it looks like it was probably never used. Hubs has borrowed a table saw to work on adding reinforcements to get the party started on the run. When its all pretty and done and whatnot, I will show you the set up, and the massive back story on how truly lovely it has been raising our little flock of eight chickens, but here is your sneak preview of our ladies.

Hubs also found a sit down tractor mower. Perhaps the greatest failure of this year is that I didn't run for the camera when he asked me to "come help" and I found him sitting on a huge John Deere with large catch system on the back INSIDE our 12 passenger van. He is six feet tall, so he was sitting but leaning over perpendicularly. There were ramps set up, the thing was on filling our van with exhaust and he yelled over the deafening motor noise "Watch the ramps to make sure they don't move. I am driving this out of here!"  

It's not every day you watch someone drive a small tractor out of your van. The both of us in our pajamas at 7am with the roar of that huge machine, the shock that our van was big enough to house it, it was just one of those moments. Also, when I discovered how he mows the lawn.


Our lives are filled with the extreme and overwhelming beauty of our new home. In the few weeks we've lived here, it has undergone a complete transformation outside and inside. There remains only about ten boxes so we feel well and truly moved in. Those ten boxes are mostly my clothes and vital things that I am going nuts not being able to find, like tape and fingernail clippers and my sewing scissors. I assume these boxes will be a thorn in my side for at least six months.

When we first moved a mere four, wait, five? weeks ago, it was still summer, with hints of fall weather sneaking in in the form of magical fog in the mornings


that melted away to spectacular sunny skies and plenty of outdoor exploring for this bike gang.



And autumn has graced us. For school today Samantha announced that she wanted to spend the day writing. She chose four cousins to whom she'd write letters, and in one of them she mentioned "Fall here at our new house looks like heaven is coming." 




School is up and running and I love how it looks for our family this year. This is the year I am truly committing to not giving a crud what any one else's education for their children looks like. Ours is so different than what is "normal" and "testable" that it's not worth comparing. What we do is really good and we are thrilled with our children's development as humans who serve others and think and problem solve. Sure, our system has kinks that need to be worked out (Read: How to help Brady and Tsega be happy and calm and entertained in a non-destructive way for a consecutive ninety minutes a day with a method that does not involve dog kennels and a sedative.)

Life is on full steam ahead. But I wanted to remember for you our first dinner in the new house, which feels so much like home it barely seems "new" anymore. It was dark and the lighting leaves much to be desired, but here we are, thrilled about our new digs. Everything is so beautiful that I feel I must have everyone over immediately to join us in this relaxing, fun paradise.


Every time I pull into our long, winding driveway the weight of the world slips off my shoulders. I am surrounded by the sounds of nature, the white of deer and bunny tails streak across the lawn as I pull in, birds call and crickets chirp.

Our first night here the children huddled outside on the trampoline with Hubs to watch bats fly up to the stars. And I sneaked in a shakey -due to long shutter time- shot of this retreat that is now our home. We are so so blessed.

PS. It's worth mentioning. This is Brady with our next baby. Her name is Moxie. She is a Nigerian dairy goat. She has the temperament of a therapy dog. She is the sweetest, most gentle little thing, and we love her. She doesn't live with us yet. Stay tuned.



little things

I like fabricated percentages to help me feel successful. I begged Hubs to give me one tonight. He said he believes we are more than 50% done unpacking and moving in. That gave me some comfort, until it dawned on me that the second half is going to be so much harder than the first half. At first each box was unpacked to completion. I folded the packing paper, I broke down the box, not one item was left without a place. Those days are over, now, we take a box cutter to random boxes, rifling through them like robbers seeking specific goods, and there are about twenty or so boxes all around the house about a third the way empty and begging to either be put away quickly or burned. Sensory overload up in here.

Brady and Tsega have a lingering cough. I am so tired of children's "medicine" being filled with toxic crap, and was delighted to find this stuff with no dyes, no junk. I found this and it has worked beautifully on the boys' coughs the homeopathic way

Today there was a freak Thomas the Train accident wherein Tsega chucked with his super human strength a metal engine about three inches long and instead of landing on the couch in the "mud" it whacked Samantha on the top of her head. It was a blood bath. Hours later the bump is substantial and the shirt cannot be salvaged, the blood was everywhere. She is doing fine emotionally, and Tsega cried more than she did.

Tomorrow is another rug buying goose chase. (This house, brought to you by craigslist.) A newish, perfectly- colored wool 10x14 rug from Crate and Barrel is an hour away, and we need to go hunt it down in between Cookie's and Mimi's soccer games.

Tonight Mimi is babysitting for another family and Fikir is not doing well. Night time is a fearful time where memories flood back. Mimi cannot be the keeper of her calm forever, for she is a teenager and she is allowed to do thing with friends and have late games and practices and babysitting jobs and someday she will not live here, but it always surprises me how much of Fikir's ability to cope is largely dependent on her sister being around. She and I are have some painful work on the horizon.

- Oh look, fell asleep mid post. Mimi scored her first goal ever and Hubs and I totally blew it because he told me and she felt bad she couldn't tell me first. (I took Cookie to his game and Hubs took her to hers). We are learning how to parent a teen. I hate these moments where we accidentally burst the happy bubble. Luckily, she is forgiving.

This morning brought us sunshine, dew on the grass, Hubs a nasty case of poison ivy, heaven bless him he's miserable, Tsega finding scissors that haven't been properly put away and cutting his hair in the bathroom, and a different child admitting to a pee accident last night. Bed stripped, laundry hauled down stairs, aaaaand....

and the washing machine isn't working.

We are having a serious laundry problem. After Hubs gets back with the new-to-us rug, it's time to figure out this problem.

Just another typical day over here. Oh, and how do we know she's forgiven us for stealing her thunder abotu her goal? This:

PS. I apologize about the green links that are NOT links to my own content. I need to have a chat with the folks at my publishing company, because that's just tacky.


The Move

Thursday and Friday were brutal. Exhausting in mind and body, moving in a hurry creates the same kind of desperate fatigue I can only equate to how it felt trying to survive the flights home from Ethiopia with new children. That kind of bone and brain tired that makes you stupid and prayerful and grateful for any help. On Thursday night a team of ten women from my church descended to help throw remaining items in boxes, they dusted, the swept, the wiped, they vacuumed, they took about five hours off my work load and they did it with smiles. I was so profoundly appreciative and would not have been able to do it without them.

I felt no sadness or regret about leaving the old house. I spent the last night there, sleeping in my clothes on the floor, in an echoing empty house, from 3am to 6am, while the children, my mother and Hubs slept at my in-laws. I stayed so I wouldn't have to torture the chickens and the cats with an interim move. 6:35 the new owners arrived for a walk through and as they arrived I was carrying out the cats and their litter box. It all happened so fast. It has been a great house for our family, it served us well for five years, we have great memories in that house, but I didn't feel a thing as I handed over the key. I guess I'd mentally left a few months ago.

While moving out of the old house was rough, the flip side of moving in to the new house has been tiring but delightful. Every hour we discover some new fabulous detail we didn't realize or notice when we've been here before. Like that the kitchen boasts twenty-five outlets, lest my weary arms couldn't handle moving the stand mixer over a few inches for the plug. Or that the antique door knobs on the rooms that are so quaint and lovely are actually disastrous to try to open when children accidentally lock them, and then leave the room. (Read: Kid's bathroom is locked from the inside with no one in it right now. And Tsega's door knob had to be removed completely in the first 48 hours here.)

Saturday Mimi and Cookie had soccer games and New England showed her amazing colors with a warm and kind sunshine. Cookie is five, and has a stubborn streak a mile wide and a mile deep. His awesome attitude on the field gives me hope as a mother. He works his legs off running and trying, never giving up. I'd like to see more of that at home. Mimi, oh Mimi, blows my mind. We sneaked her onto a travel soccer team two months late, all the other girls had been practicing and playing together for weeks, not to mention she never tried out. But the coach took a chance not knowing this Ethiopian girl had never played organized soccer before. Yesterday I saw her play for the first time, and I was blown away. She was fantastic. She ran hard, she played hard, she knew what to do with her feet and where to pass. I was never that good in soccer.

In other news the chicks, in three weeks time, are no longer babies, and are in a rather "nine-year-old awkward" phase. I think the pre-teens are so ugly on these poor birds.

Verizon guy is here, setting up internet, phone etc. I have 45 emails, thus rendering our forest retreat here a little more connected than I'd like at the moment.

The kitchen and family room have wrap around windows that look out into the garden and woods and every morning begs for a tea kettle on the stove, and a blanket on the couch.

I love how still and quiet it is here. Except of course the children screaming over turns on the trampoline. Not that kind of quiet.

Fact: people selling rugs on craigslist need to find a friend with a real camera and take pictures during the day. As opposed to a crappy camera phone at night. Colors people, colors.

I managed, with GPS, to find whole foods and trader joes and I say with the most sheepish grin you can imagine: they are next to each other by about 500 feet, and are 2.1 miles away from home.


The kids are settling well, everyone is enchanted with this new place, new space. The move is framed by the fact that as of this past week, our sweet little Habesha girls have been here one year. For Fikir the pain is not diminished by time, and we are treading carefully and gently with her. To transition to a new home on the anniversary of her move to the US and new family is a little unfair, adding change to already unsteady fearful feelings, and I cannot help but be grateful we have an open adoption and yesterday to help the sad feelings the girls called their wonderful family in Ethiopia to talk. We call every 4 to 6 weeks, and every time the relief and peace it brings is palpable.

Pictures of the house are coming. Camera cord is in a box somewhere. But it will be worth the wait, I assure you. 


Country Mice?

Hubs and I live deliciously close to Boston. Like, not at rush hour, we can be downtown amid skyscrapers and three hundred-year-old cobblestone in about fourteen minutes. Our town is suburban to be sure, but we have easy access to all the pleasures of city living. We love fancy pants funky vegetarian and ethnic restaurants, we love museums, we love sports, ballet, we love diversity of people, culture, languages that all mesh together in an urban setting. We love bringing our children to the city and do so regularly often opting for sports, library visits and parks there. We love that Boston is a walking city. No matter how cold and nasty the weather, the sidewalks and city squares are flooded with people talking, laughing or grumbling, out together, often consuming ice cream in the act of brushing the snow off their windshields or front steps in a collective middle finger to New England winter.

Man I love the city. I have mastered all fear of driving in Boston and Cambridge. I have looked Boston cops in the eye whilst receiving their common belittling authority trips in front of my children. I don't even let that stuff phase me anymore. I look at parking tickets as kind of a user fee for participating in this amazing privilege of being a Bostonian.

I have often felt that anyone who lives more than twenty minutes from any of these: an airport, a Whole Foods, an art museum, a non-chain restaurant AND at least four world-class hospitals is unknowingly living in some kind of purgatory.

A few years ago I remember visiting my sister and her family who lived in Armpit, Colorado where the only store was twenty five minutes away by a highway and the it started with a W and ended with "mart." I couldn't believe her life, her only access to food, clothing and the outside world was through this retailer. The airport was more than two hours away. Hubs and I sadly shook our heads So sorry for them. (They have since moved near San Diego and we no longer hold any pity for them. I try not to think about their palm trees and weather.)

Our children love the city too. They love when Daddy plays softball in the North End so we can hear the canon boom from Bunker Hill and watch the sunset and the boats out in the harbor. They love Boston Common, the Science Museum, playing in the Christian Science fountain. We love every time we are down town running into other Ethiopians. The girls love the press of crowds, people out and about. People walking feels more like Ethiopia. It feels more comfortable. More brown people, more people. It just feels good to be in the city for them.

But we are thinking about trading in the convenience of our current location and moving from the city. We are thinking about overhauling a few things.  Those who follow on FB know that for a few months my kids have been "interning" at a farm.


Basically, they do chores (read: it's all about poop removal with animals), and we get to learn what it takes to run a farm.


They earn the privilege of learning how to take care of animals, learn where our food comes from, and it supports our raw milk habit.


 Straight from the goat, sometimes.



My kids and I are fulfilling for them a fantasy and for me, a life long dream of animal husbandry albeit on a small, practice scale.


And something magical has happened: Some days, we show up at the farm, work for two or three hours, and my kids say 'thank you' to the farmer, and then we go home. Do you get what I am saying? They are saying 'thank you' for a carton of eggs they collected, and the pleasure of having two inches of goat poop stuck to their boots and having to have ticks picked out of their hair. 

My kids are working their butts off. They are out in nature. They are are learning what real food is. They are enjoying animals, respecting them, the earth, each other and feeling grateful for it. 

It has been life changing. And I wanted to say it has been particularly meaningful and therapeutic for one or two of the kids, but I had to scrap that thought because Hubs and I have seen positive changes in every single one of the children because of this venture.

Tsega and Brady, the Dysregulated Twins, are learning, slowly, how to regulate. They know they need to be calm around animals to not scare them. They are trying. They are learning to listen, to follow rules, to pitch in and help, to remember the routine of what is expected. They can catch chickens.


It is slow work to learn to be calm, but it is happening. It is miraculous to watch.


And as each week has passed, our postage stamp back yard has felt smaller and smaller and less sufficient. We love our house. Our home. It is a very cool house and fits our family beautifully. We cannot complain. We love that we can see Trader Joes' and CVS from the front porch and that closeness to the city we love.

But the freedom, independence our kiddos feel while playing and working outdoors is magical and we just can't do that where we live. We cannot have chickens. We cannot grow a garden that would actually produce enough for this many people. Here, there isn't a remote possibility that someday we could have or ride with any regularity a horse, which is kinda an ultimate therapeutic lifestyle goal we've entertained since I was ten  since we realized anyone in this house with PTSD could benefit from it.



So we look at online listings for houses with land. Not just a big backyard. More than two acres. Room for animals if we wanted to go for it. Houses with barns. All of which means we'd be a little further from Boston. And it scares us because we want to have our cake and eat it on the T (the name for the train/subway in Boston.). We want to have it all. We don't want to move far, in fact, if we ever want to see Hubs who works downtown and our friends and family again, we must stay close.

The question that plagues these days: Can we be city mice and country mice? Can we have it all? Time will tell. The children almost dare not whisper their hope, because we very well may decide to stay put. It's hard to think about something and not get caught up in that, we are all trying to stay cautious. But they would embrace the space with the fury of children who desperately want to be out of ear shot and eye shot in woods belonging just to us, with no danger of cops being called on the mother who practices a bit o' free range parenting.

In the meantime, I am going to keep assisting with amazing feats such as sedating and debudding (burning the living snot out of horn buds) on baby goats the size of puppies.


Because I am learning too. I am grateful too. And who knows what the future holds for us?