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Thursday, November 03, 2011


Let me tell you a little something about myself. And I'm not proud. I may need medication. Or an intervention.

Every year in August the kids go back to school. Like clockwork. And sometime shortly thereafter I go to "Back to School Night". This year I went to four "Back to School Nights". And I, like clockwork, feeling delightfully rejuvenated and full of myself after a nice sunny summer, was ready to conquer the world.
 Halloween Party? Sign me up.
The kindergarten Harvest Festival? Sure, I'll do that. Sounds fun.
Yearbook? Why not? - I already take a million pictures.
Volunteer in the classrooms? Yes.
Help with the Golf Tournament. You bet.
You need an Airband Chair Person? I can do that.
Team mom? Yes.
Brownie leader? Of course.
Anything else? Oh, yeah. This year I thought it would be fun to teach the fifth graders Spanish. (I don't even have a fifth grader.) You know what? Throw in the fourth graders, too. (I don't even have a fourth grader.)
And, then like clockwork right about this time of year, every year,  it all starts falling apart and I start sprouting new gray hairs as I realize I can't be in two places at once. Or three. Like the Third Grade Halloween party and the Kindergarten Harvest Festival and taking pictures of the Halloween parade for yearbook.
When will I learn? But now you know what I've been doing instead of Blogging.

But I will tell you this. Our urban farm has reached a new "egg"cellent level of existence.

I'm so pleased. Happy Fall. 

And here are a few more pics just because I love you and who knows when I'll be sitting here again...

 We went to a beach wedding. 

  Took the kids to Disneyland. Name that ride.

 I'm pretty sure I had those exact sunglasses when I was his age. Loved 'em. 

 We grew this singular, darling fig on the fig tree we planted last spring on our "farm". (Disclaimer: the fig was already on the tree when we bought it so I don't know if we can really take credit for "growing" it. But we did ripen it. And it was yummy. 

Look at my "tough as nails" 8 year old daughter going head to head with a big ol' 7th grade boy!
You wanna know where she gets her toughness? I'll give you one guess...

 Ahh. How sweet is he? He gets that from his dad. Thank goodness. 

Another one from "Team Mom". Feisty as they make 'em. But such a great kid. (Warning: I'm about to brag. Feel free to avert your eyes.) He got almost straight A's on his first report card in high school including 3 A+'s (P.E., Geometry, & Biology). We won't talk about that B- in English. 

 Another one from the Happiest Place on Earth. Name that location...

And to round out the family - another one for "Team Dad" so sweet and gentle (usually). How cute is she at the Harvest Festival? 

Now I'm really going. Hugs, H

Sunday, August 14, 2011


Don't I look wistful in this picture? That's because it was taken at Cole's 8th grade graduation. (By my girlfriend with her mega zoom from across the gym. Thanks, Erin. It's a lovely picture. Poignant with a hint of sparkle.)

Isn't he so adorable? (And, don't you love Dave's fu-man-chu? I knew I married an outlaw...)

I had barely recovered from that momentous event when BOOM just last Wednesday he started H.I.G.H.S.C.H.O.O.L. And he is quite possibly the most adorable freshman I've ever seen. (He looks JUST like Dave in high school in this picture.)

  And, I really thought I was prepared. I read the books. Got the skinny on teachers and programs. Sent emails. Made inquiries. Requested teachers. Went to the principal's coffee. Did my due diligence. And, when other moms were lamenting over the loss of their "babies" I was secretly rejoicing that my "babies" were no longer such babies. Hallelujah. I was excited to walk this next chapter (that I had been so fond of in my own life) with my son who will CLEARLY eat up the entire high school experience. Let me give an example. The Friday before school started, he and I spent the better part of the day at the high school picking up his class schedule, books, student i.d., P.E. clothes, etc. Lots of waiting in lines. When we got to the front of the student i.d. line the adorable, juniorish girl manning that station asked him what year he was. Without skipping a beat he lifted an eyebrow, cocked his head to one side, folded his arms across his chest, peaked at her from above the rims of his super cool aviators, and said in a voice more befitting a man than a 14 year old boy, "JUNIOR.....No. SOPHOMORE........No. FRESHMAN." My chin hit the floor, but she was smitten. She peered up at him, twinkle in her eye, smiling ear to ear and said, "You COULD be a junior. What's your name, Freshman?" As I gathered my chin off the ground and glance up at my man-child I was somewhat stunned to see the cocky confidence that permeated the very air around him. And I dare say I was proud. Because let's be honest. That's exactly what you need to be successful in high school -- a healthy dose of cocky confidence.

But here's where the story turns south. At least for me. He went to the "back to school" dance on Friday night. It was called the "Freshman Mixer". Which, p.s., I didn't really like that name. It sounded too much like a "Singles Mixer" or something. Anyway, the idea was that the "LINK CREW" (primarily junior and senior kids whose job it is to assimilate the freshmen into high school) were tasked to dance with as many of the freshmen as possible. You know, "make them feel comfortable"; "show them the ropes". Seemed like a nice idea. Although, this is what my freshman boy-in-a-man's-body had to say when he got home, and I quote, "Oh my god. I had the best time ever. Senior girls in short shorts and tank tops 'grinding all up on my junk.' " end quote.

I'll just pause here to let that sink in.


1) How great that our kid is still willing to share all of the gory details of his life with us.

2) WTH - Were there no CHAPERONES? If there were, is this permissible behavior at the high school level? If so, I may need to consider homeschooling....again.

3) I'm seething mad. I do not want my kid's "junk" involved in any school time activities, Thankyouverymuch. Call me old fashioned.

4) I'm surprised to realize that I've become one of "those" parents. You know the ones like Dr. and Mrs. Houseman (Baby's parents) from Dirty Dancing. Or Reverand Shaw Moore (Ariel's dad) from Footloose. I remember thinking when I saw those movies as a teenager that those parents were so totally out of touch with their teenage kids. I specifically thought to myself, "When I'm a parent of teenagers I will not allow myself to be so out of touch with what's going on and what's 'normal' with the teenage crowd. And yet, here I am. Completely out of touch and totally appalled by this behavior. I'm calling Shaw Moore.

5) Who is looking out for these girls and their self respect? This "grinding" seems largely degrading to girls and women. Again, where are the chaperones? Who is the teacher advisor to this "Link Crew"?

6) Dave says, "It's no big deal. This is all part of growing up. At least he's talking to us about what's going on." Yes, that's true. Am I overreacting?

7) The good news: Cole told us that there was one girl that caught his eye.
       Me: "Was she a senior?" (gulp)
       Cole: "No, she's a freshman, and she's in my G.A.T.E English class." (Thank God.)
       Me: "Did you dance with her?" (gulp, gulp)
       Cole: "No. I didn't want to dance with her like that." (Thank God.)
So at least our moral teachings haven't past him by. Hallelujah. But it's still irritating to feel like the school is working against us as we try to impart on our son the importance of getting through high school without engaging in nonsense. (Read: without having sex -- or doing drugs.)

8) I'd like to send an email to the principal, but I hate to start off my high school career (yes, mine - I'll be in high school for the next 12 years. Sigh.) with a big honkin' issue like this.

9) Please advise, my dear, brilliant colleagues in parenting. What to do? How to handle?

One of "those" parents,
Mrs. S

Sunday, August 07, 2011

An Urban Farm Update and Summer Snapshots

My little Urban Farm is thriving beautifully. The zucchini is delicious, the broccoli was beautiful (until it was overrun with aphids), the tomatoes are ripening, the celery was totally bitter but looked great, the artichokes are small but tasty, the olallieberries were bountiful (everyone will be getting jam again for Christmas. Felicidades.), we have ONE fig on our tiny little fig tree, and the chickies are full grown and have made the transition from dining room to backyard. Thank God. Jett and Zona love their little chickie brood and can often be seen rubbing noses and licking their little feathered friends in greeting. It's rather darling. We found a local chicken coop builder and bought the CUTEST coop made from all reclaimed materials. I would like him to build me a house just like it. And Dave enclosed the bottom section of the kids' play structure (you know where the sand is supposed to go but really it's just dirt) with chicken wire and a gate so we have an enclosed chicken run. Our white silkie turned out to be a rooster and here's the story on that.

One night I was having trouble sleeping; tossing and turning well past midnight. Emerson, who had recently watched a very scary movie thanks to his brother, was back and forth between our bed and his terrifying room of shadows and "scary noises". I'd finally had it up to "here" with the nonsense and sent him to sleep with his sisters.  Not long after, still lying awake in my bed, I heard a blood curdling shriek coming from the general vicinity of the girls' room. It was a horrible, horrifying sound of the likes I had never heard. I shook Dave awake and said, "Honey, I just heard a terrible noise." Naturally, he responded, "Well, you better go check it out." Let's take a quick time out here. Dave is an amazing husband and father. He provides for our family perfectly. But, when it comes to any nighttime occurrence, I'm on my own. It all started when we had babies and due to his general lack of boobs he was deemed rather useless when it came to the nighttime activity of nursing babies back to sleep. He quickly learned to tune out all nighttime noises. He makes no apologies for this, and I've come to respect it about him. At least one of us will be well rested in the morning. Besides if there really is something threatening my kids in the middle of the night then I'm the mama bear for the job. An intruder would stand nary a chance against me protecting my kids in the middle of the night. I'm a frightening (and impressive) force if my kids are threatened. So I jumped out of bed feeling badly for berating Emerson for his fears because clearly we did have a demon in our house. Who knew? I ran through the dark house to the girls' room, shouting in a whisper, "EMERSON?" Straight to the bed that he was sharing with Soli only to find two peacefully spooning angels. Evie snored softly in the upper bunk. Again, the shrieking. This time coming from behind me. In the kitchen? I turned on all the lights as I moved cautiously through the kitchen to the dining room. I stood quietly in the doorway, waiting. And then again the terrible noise. It sounded like a child crying out during a night terror. Or a baby goat bleating. Have you heard that sound? Creepy. Think Silence of the Lambs. But then I saw him. In the dog crate that had come to house our brood of chicks. Back lit by the heat lamp in the corner of the dining room. Standing as tall as could on his fluffy feathered feet. Our white silkie.....rooster! And I couldn't help but laugh right out loud as he puffed up his feathery chest and lifted his scrawny little chicken wings and let it rip. The most ridiculous (and terrifying) cock-a-doodle I'd ever heard.

The next day, Dave stumbled across a Craigslist Ad. "Wanted: A Silkie Rooster". We saw it as a sign from the Patron Saint of Urban Farms. So we called the number and after I was thoroughly satisfied that our little Peck-a-Choo wouldn't be used for any Devil Worshipping, Barb-e-quing, or Cock Fighting activities (people must think I'm crazy) we struck a deal. And as sad as we were to part with our little white silkie he is now happily cock-a-doodling on a real life Rural Farm. And the farm mistress promised us a couple of his chicks in the future. The End.

And here are some of my favorite summer snapshots.
We took Emerson and pals paint balling in June for Em's 11th. 

I thought this rock in Montana looked like a badger. 

Cole the fire master lighting all the kids' sparklers on the 4th of July in Montana. 

Cole getting up close and personal (to my dismay) with an elk in Yellowstone. 

Dave and I celebrated 15 years of marriage in July. 
Rocky Mountain 4th of July. 

We took the kids to Montana for two weeks in July. Here we are waiting for the parade down the main street in Ennis. 

In front of Gibbon Falls in Yellowstone. Cole was having time out up the trail. 

Painted ponies in Montana. 

Cole and Soli in front of the Madison river. 
Ahhh. Summer. 

Evie, fly fishing, and a full moon in front of the Fishing Shack in Montana. 

We opted to take a "short cut" on the way home from Montana. 120 miles of dirt roads (and small creeks we had to drive through). We didn't see a single other vehicle for 3 hours. I wasn't sure if we'd make it out alive. Thankfully, we had a full tank of gas and a reliable vehicle. Pesky iphones and their navigation apps. 

Houseboating and "wake surfing" with the cousins. 

Family reunion 2011. That's me in the purple with my parents and five younger siblings. 
I hope you've all had a lovely summer. Ours is almost up. Cole starts his first day of high school on Wednesday. Go Cowboys!

Saturday, April 30, 2011

I'm In Love with a Chick

Here's Cole with his choice - a Speckled Sussex.

We're having way too much fun with our new baby chicks.

Emerson went with a Sussex, too. 

Mommy and Soli lovin' on a little Dominique. 

Evie chose a white Silkie. 

Soli and her black Silkie. 

Silkies grow up to be super fluffy with feathers on their feet.  And they're a bantam breed which means they'll be smaller. 

I let the kids choose from breeds that are known for being good pets and are known for being quiet.  This is a Speckled Sussex and she'll grow to be a normal size hen. This breed is also known for being good "layers". 

We ended up with 2 Speckled Sussexes, 2 black Silkies (like this one) and 1 white Silkie.  Because the Silkies are a Bantam breed they can't be sexed. So we may end up with a rooster (or two or three) which we'll have to find a new home for. Against HOA's. It is an URBAN Farm after all. 

Here are the girls making use of their doll slings from Guatemala. I'll give you one guess as to what they're carrying around. 
On my Urban Farm all pets are required to get along. Here's Zona meeting the Sussex twins.  Do you see the other one nestled under her chest? So stinkin' cute. And she didn't even try to eat them. 

Jett, on the other hand, was licking his chops immediately. See his tongue and how Dave is keeping his hand between it and the chickie?  He'll be so busted if he eats one of my chickies. Forget that whole "Circle of Life" thing. 

Soli and I enjoying our sunny farm. You can't really see them, but my little brood is cozied in behind my back. 

We've been taking our babes out to the garden to let them scratch amongst the veggies.  They're completely contained in the raised bed and they are so stinkin' cute pecking around for....I don't really know what they're pecking for. We have to keep them in a box with a heat lamp in the kitchen until they are a couple months old. So it's fun to get them out of their box and into the sunshine. Hopefully the dogs will be used to them by the time they are ready for the coop and to be "backyard chickens". 

And here's our newest addition to the family. We should have named him Rowdy.  Or Naughty.  

And it's a good thing he's so cute because he is Trouble with a capital T. 

Here he is "herding" Soli. It's hard to tell from the picture, but he's actually moving her with his body. He is a cattle dog after all. 

Monday, April 25, 2011

Urban Farm

Dave thinks I could be going through a mid-life crisis. He said to me the other day as I was unloading the third fruit tree from the back of my car, "Maybe you should think about what void you're trying to fill with all of this." He may be on to something. Or it could have something to do with my oldest starting high school and my youngest starting kindergarten this year. (I'm not sure exactly what about that makes me lay awake at night -- the fact that they're growing up so fast or the fact that I'm raising an adult and a baby in the same household.) Or it could simply be that I want an urban farm in my tiny backyard complete with a cattle dog and chickens and blueberries and beets growing in the garden and maybe a goat. Or maybe it's a combination of all of those things. And because my husband loves me so much and because a farm is a much better choice than a Lamborgini or a new baby (I really don't want a new baby -- just to be clear. A Lamborgini could be fun...) he's given me a tentative yellow light. So naturally I'm pedal to the metal, full steam ahead on my urban farm.

Here's the progress:

*We picked up the cattle dog at the shelter a few months ago. His name's Jett. We don't have cows so he herds the kids...and Zona. Maybe he'll learn to herd chickens...if he doesn't eat them. But, hey, that's farm life, right?

*The girls and I put the vegetable garden in this past week. We planted zucchini, basil, beans, peas, two heirloom tomatoes, a serrano pepper (I had one in Mexico last year), carrots, beets, strawberries, green onions, and something else that I forget.

*I planted a fig tree and the apple tree is ready to be planted (the exact location is still under advisement). The blueberries are fruiting, the olallieberries are blooming, and the avocado tree is burried in beautiful shiny green fruit.

*And we're planning to go today to pick out our baby chicks.

Stay tuned...

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


I know it's been about a hundred years since I updated my blog. To my utmost surprise, people are kind of upset about it! I'm receiving hate mail! Just kidding. It's more like stink mail..."When are you gonna update your blog?? It's been like 3 months!" I'm always surprised to hear that anyone reads my blog aside from Dave (And me. I have to admit I love to read my own blog. It can be a problem.) Anyway, here's an update:

Dave and I recently got back from a week in Sayulita...sans kids!! It was a first for us. We've left them over night; even two (maybe 3) nights. But never for a week. It was heaven. I only missed them a little (and really that's being generous). Does that mean I'm out of the running for "Mom of the Year"? Well, maybe it'll improve my standing in "Wife of the Year". Either way, it was lovely. 

Since we didn't have our kids with us, I was forced to take pictures of trees...

...and beers... 
...and cars...

...and fishermen...
...and flowers...
...and this little plane flying over the Sayulita surf...
...and other people's sun kissed babes...

...and other people's kids gettin' tubular at the Left.  You rocked that wave, Rory!!

This is a bad picture of us, but it's the only one I got of the two of us!
Of course, I still got lots of pics of Dave surfing the Left. 
We had an awesome time and were amazingly efficient with our week. Dave installed a sweet solar system at the Barefoot House (the meters are turning backwards!) and we were able to get his FM3 renewed in record time - phew! It was a great trip. And thanks to Aunt Hannie and the Miami Grandparents the kids had a great time, too!