Monday, September 28, 2009

The Homework Tango

Queue it up....can you hear it? Those melodic tones? It's the beginning bars of the homework tango. The newest contestant is Charlie the amiable 6 year old first grader, newly introduced to the concept.

What does this masterful dance entail? "Oh it's so long." " I don't wanna." "Can I finish it next day?" Hem haw, hem haw. All of this with encouraging interjections from loving parents: "you've got a word done buddy?" "Ooooh those letters look great!" " You could have been done by now if you'd just keep at it!" This goes on for 30 minutes. Keeping in mind he has 4 spelling words (3-4 letters in length) to write 10 times.

There is no reasoning with a school fatigued, homework avoider. Guess what makes the tired one even more unhappy?? Taking pictures!

Now Sidney isn't immune to the homework tango, at her age though, she just is more masterful in her excuses that become so elaborate that in the time taken to tell the tale, she could have completed the work.

I guess I deserve it though. I distinctly remember doing the tango myself! (mom laugh here :)

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Brain Drain

photo from Racine Journal Times, Sunday, September 27, 2009

My mom periodically emails me interesting articles that she comes across that she thinks are blog worthy. This week she sent me an article by Ellen Goodwin from Press Telegram which discusses multi-tasking and how those who do the most multi-tasking get poorer results on everything. So I piggy- back Ms. Goodwin's article with this article in our local paper today compliments of the AP titled "Brian overload: Pay attention multitaskers, if you can; study finds you're more easily distracted."

The former psychology major in me is fascinated by this. I've always thought of myself as a great multitasker, and why not? It was en grained as an invaluable trait when I went though loads of corporate training for Bank of America. It's something that has been looked for as a plus when listed on a resume. It is what's expected, isn't it?

In reading these two articles, I realize, I'm not a great multitasker (I can't focus 100% on watching TV while I text or surf the net). In fact I've been known to read in a room where there's music or television going, because it helps me to better focus when I actively block something else out.

So I wonder if what I've perceived in myself as multitasking is really being an expert prioritizor. Managing multile tasks, prioritizing, completing and moving on in such a way that everything flows with ease, and gets completed in its entirety.

The concern is the implications for our children, this plugged in generation that routinely thinks texting while going 70 on the highway is appropriate. I'm a deadline producer, quick efficient worker, and expert prioritizor who can wash dishes or cook while talking on the phone. So I think I'll teach my kids to prioritize to achieve, yet multitask where results aren't expected or safety isn't compromised.

Hostess with the Mostess

We love to entertain. I enjoy planning for the formal soiree, but we always let our friends know that we like to capture that college like freedom of just stopping by and creating the impromptu party. And then of course there's the in-between, planned for yet casual.

I aspire to do cool paper invites like these from Martha Stewart, but what seems to work best in this connected age is the eVite (which works great and I love as well).

We had our first Belle City Veterinary Hospital staff BBQ last night and it was a lot of fun. It's the first time since 2001 that we had the entire staff over. I wonder what took us so long to do a repeat? Well we've got the space now which helps!

Our Buffet table centerpiece dotted with fresh tomatos from the garden, and newly picked apples with a banner compliments of Sidney

You can count on two things at our Bonfire gatherings. There will be a group always around the food, and one always around the fire.

This is virtually the end of my usable pictures. Which brings me to a great blogger debate.....Canon or Nikon.

I've loved my Canon Rebel XTi, but get aggravated at how difficult it is to take photos after dark. It just won't respond. So that's a strike against it, though it has taken beautiful photos in all other circumstances. I faced off with Isaiah and his Nikon last night. I'm sure he won since my Canon turned into a pumpkin once dark! What pros & cons have you experienced?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Landscape of Happiness

Today I'm taking a breath and thinking about things that help me regain my sense of balance, peace and perspective on life.

We received this mantle clock after Brian's grandma passed last year. It chimes on every quarter hour and reminds me of the grandfather clock at my gram's house that I'd listen to when spending Saturday nights. I find great peace in listening to it.

The blanket in progress that I'm knitting. The repetition of knit and purl is meditative.

Warm,sleepy hugs from Charlie every morning.

The perfect bow stroke and ever improving and beautiful sounds coming from Sidney's violin every morning while we practice.

Though this picture is unclear, it is from a perfectly warm fall evening, that included a great dinner, good friends and U2. (I find that music is a wonderful vehicle for finding your soul, don't you?)

This is my favorite pot to cook with, it can do everything. Now that we're entering stew, soup and chili season, it will be the recepticle of much comfort food.

If I could capture the sounds coming through our window on a cool fall night, the songs of the crickets and tree frogs that serenade us to sleep, that photo would go here.

These are a few of the things that I'm thankful for. In fact just writing this post put me in a peacful mindset. When was the last time you thought about those things that are the landscape of your happiness?

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Sweet Dreams

I tried a little experiment today. I'm very excited about the result and prospect of this. It is so easy and what a wonderful outcome!
I did a little garden gathering...

Did a little dehydrator placing, and after some patient waiting....

Got a little decoration, and...
A little potpourri for giving. Anybody want some?

Monday, September 14, 2009

Budding Talent

The Budding talent here isn't just our little David Beckham in training, its the photographer, his sister Sidney!

Feeling a Bit Squirrely

It's amazing how wonderful the weather has been. We've had just beautiful days in the low 80's and nights in the upper 50's, sunny and beautiful. It's so busy for us here trying to preserve all of our garden goodies. I feel a bit like a squirrel, constantly stashing supplies away for winter, yet wanting to play in the sunshine.

We've begun visualization and work on the room in the back of the basement where we've been storing food. It's transformation into an official root celler is upon us. Since the weather has been damp with fog and heavy dews in the morning, we brought in the callypso beans to hang dry in the basement. What a perfect place, with the dehumidifier running they completely dried out in a snap and we harvested them today.

We also bought a food dehydrator this weekend, tested it out and it's been running ever since. Wow the tomatos and zucchini turn out fantastic! We're looking forward to trying to turn some our our apple picking into fruit roll ups and chips.

Finally, we weren't sure if the christmas beans were going to have enough time to fill their pods. We tested a couple and look like at least some of them will complete and be beautiful! The kids loved looking at them and Charlie immediately began talking about them being his magic beans. He went right out to plant them to grow his beanstalk! :)

As much as we love our garden and increasingly efficient lifestyle, the weekend was filled with playing outside, soccer games, dance lessons, and finished with a wonderful finale that was seeing U2 last night. Is that balance or what?!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Looking Back, Looking Forward

We had a wonderful birthday weekend for Brian. We spent Saturday with good friends at Old World Wisconsin, fantastic place! Brian spent some time riding his bike, we gardened, and had a big birthday dinner completely from the garden (well, except for the indulgent protein source....steak).

It was also a time for reflection. We began our life and journey here (the farm) just over 2 years ago. Our dream of giving our kids this idyllic life blended with simple pleasures, efficiency, learning to appreciate the land and what it provides, balanced with all of the hustle and bustle of us being involved parents helping to form the next generation.

Our first garden year was laborious, filled with reading, formulating, working, learning, trying our best to preserve. This second year was much easier. We had the hindsight of experience and the hope of our aspirations. We've produced plenty, are preserving more than last year, and enjoying it much more.

We just began watching a hilarious series from the 1970's BBC called Good Neighbors. It's about a couple who give up work and go off the grid for self-efficiency. It's funny to see the similarities in process', especially with the hindsight we've got of our own journey. Mixed also with a dose of foreshadowing perhaps....

Pause for station identification.....I just had to go out to tell Charlie (the 6 year old) it was time to stop. As he was being very helpful and watering the basil, of his own accord.

Every day we learn more about ourselves and begin to strategize how we will incorporate new and exciting things to our little experiment. Things that sustain us. Things like family dance parties, special birthday nights, drying our first beans, exploring with the kids, enjoying dear friends, watching the sumac forest turn in the fall or simply harvesting the perfect Hillbilly tomato.

Friday, September 4, 2009

They're Multiplyin'

I know I've been remiss in posting this week. It's been a crazy back to school week for all of us! One bit of quick news.... We harvested the onions today! This has been quite an adventure for us, having never tried to grow them before.

We planted 90 plants. 30 of each of three kinds: Yellow of Parma, Australian Brown & Long Red Florence. The Red onions are fairly small and delicate and sadly only about half of what we planted survived. Now for the harvest.... Drum Roll Please..... We harvested 76 of the Parma & Australian's and 16 of the Red. Now if my math is right, that's 92 produced out of the 90 planted and the 75 that survived transplant. They're Multiplyin' (picturing John Travolta in Greece singing this line)!!! We had several doubles!

Once pulled out they need to set out to cure for a little bit, but can't get wet in rain or heavy dew (which every morning seems to have here). So we've moved them to the basement. I thought our next step was figuring out how to braid them into usable and decorative onion ropes, but that process may be upstaged by a need to come up with another back up plan. You see I just moved them indoors about 10 minutes ago and the whole basement is being permeated with the aroma of onion. As the bulbs multiplied so too has their perfume, overtaking, I mean filling our house with scent. We'll see if we need to pitch tents tonight, stay tuned... Happy weekend!


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