Monday, June 27, 2011

Mindful Monday: Get Ready for Faire!!

As I already posted, we are deep in the throes of Oregon Country Fair Preparation. I'm not going to go into a lot of detail here, because if you camp out there with us you know what I am talking about, and if you haven't been to Faire you can't imagine it. I have seen people try to imagine Faire and it just doesn't work.

That said, I have a few things to do.

  • WHO: The Whole Family
  • WHAT: Getting Ready for Faire
  • WHY: Because we leave next Wednesday and we need to: make a pirate costume, freshen the baby's wings, construct a wagon canopy, buy a tent, re-skin a gnome (again, really don't ask), decorate some sunglasses, shop for a weekend of camping mayhem, and pack for said weekend. That is an abbreviated list.
  • HOW: Stay focused on the tasks at hand. I would love to be making some ATCs, or finishing the few unpacking tasks in the living room, but that can all wait till after Faire.
From the left: Me, Brother-Bug (at 10 months), Auntie-Bug waiting for a parade to go by...

Busy Days

Things are keeping me busy.

1) I went ahead and got the iPhone. I'm enjoying the experience so far - especially being able to take my internet with me and catch up on off moments. I also like that I can share lists and calendars and stuff with my husband's phone. Maybe soon we can stop talking altogether!! But the set up and transition to the phone has been lengthy - and continues to be. I still need to do contacts and music and all kinds of stuff. And get the app for blogging from my phone...

2) My dad and his wife roll into town tomorrow! This is exciting. They are staying in their RV, parked next to our house for a month or two this summer. Brother-Bug is beyond excited - next door grandparents!!! But it also means we had to do a bunch of yard work and clean up and other preparations. Crazy times.

Brother-Bug at Faire last year.
3) Finally, and most time-sucking of all, we are getting ready for Oregon Country Faire. This means making flowered hats, pirate coats, a gnome, a wagon frame, buying a tent... the list goes on and on. But it is the family vacation, the yearly party of delight, mayhem, and excess, and the event we count down to all year long.

All this to say, I'm not online a lot now, despite the smartphone. I'm busy. I'm giving a gnome a skin graft (don't ask).
Sister-Bug, 3-months old at last Faire and already trying her wings!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Family Movie: Because of Winn-Dixie

Has anyone else noticed that it is a huge challenge to find a movie that is appropriate for a young child and engaging for parents? I know it is harder for me than for others, because I really try to keep the media going into Brother-Bug's sensitive brain very clean and easy to handle. So we are stuck often with the most basic of films. Papa-Bug is more of an action-adventure kind of a guy, so children's media often leaves him bored.

At the library I snagged a copy of Because of Winn-Dixie. I haven't read the book yet, but I am a huge fan of Kate DiCamillo's writing. Last night we needed a family movie and we settled on this as a thing to watch.

The kids fell asleep pretty early on - but the scene where Opal finds Winn-Dixie at the grocery store elicited lots of giggles from Brother Bug. Papa and I watched it through and thoroughly enjoyed it.

The high points (without any spoilers or plot detail):

*The characters are real and matter-of-fact people. They are the people you do walk by at the grocery store, but because of story magic you get to peep into their lives. No one is a villain, no one is a hero (Opal is a little bit, but really she is mostly kid). These are all just people doing their best.

*The negative situations, references to drinking and alcoholism, loss of a parent, etc. are just there. Part of the story fabric. Nothing is blown up to Scary and nothing is swept under the rug. This is a hard balance to achieve and it is really well done here. Sometimes things in life are hard and we need our kids to know that hard happens. It's part of the story fabric - real or fictional.

*It has Cicely Tyson in it. Enough said.

*Dave Matthews plays an excellent role. . .and he sings to bunnies.

In my little head I am giving this 4 stars overall, and 5 stars for an all-around reliable choice for anyone older than 2 or 3, and enjoyable for all ages.


You should know that no one tells me what to review or when to review it. These are merely my own thoughts, based on my own experience. Take it for what it is.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Edible Color Wheel

Mixing play-doh last night with the Brother-Bug reminded me of an awesome project he and I did last fall. We made an edible color wheel.
Brother-Bug surveys the results.

*Books about color
*Sugar cookie dough
*White frosting
*Food coloring
*spoons, spatula...
*Markers (Primary and secondary colors)

What we did...

We talked a lot about color, read art books, found colors in nature and everywhere else, identified hot colors and cool colors and got really immersed in the world of color.

With the sugar cookie dough we made a big round cookie - we made the dough from scratch, but there is no reason you couldn't use a pre-made dough. We rolled it out into an approximate circle, and cut another circle out of the middle to make a wheel. We baked it.

While it was baking and we waited for it to cool, we drew a color wheel with our markers. We looked at how orange is between red and yellow, how red is the compliment to green because it is directly across the wheel, and so on.

Once the cookie was cool, we got our white frosting - we used pre-made white frosting, but you could make your own if you want to. We divided the frosting into three piles and we used regular food coloring to dye each pile a primary color - red, yellow, and blue.

We took half of each pile and applied it to our cookie, taking care to leave space for the secondary colors. Now we had a primary color wheel.

You can guess where we went next - we used our remaining primary frostings to mix the secondary colors and added them to the wheel. All the while we are, of course, talking about color, asking questions, finding answers, and making observations.

When we were done... Voila! A beautiful desert with information to share with the Papa-Bug when he got home from work. We all got to pick which color we wanted a piece of.

Pretty! And Tasty!

Monday, June 13, 2011

No Mindful Monday This Week!

The kids and I are packing up to go the Breitenbush Hot Springs for the weekend. We leave on Wednesday and return next Monday. I will be mindfully packing the jillion and ten things kids need for a weekend in the erratic weather of the Northwest Spring. Come to think of it, there probably won't be Mindful Monday next week either - unless it is mindfully doing the mountain and a half of laundry that is one of the results of this escapade.

Our favorite hot spring for soaking - the middle meadow. I'll be there in 48 hours!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: One Year Ago Right Now

Once upon a time she was so small.

(My phone doesn't want to send pictures in any decent resolution, so while I figure out that issue I am using old favorite photos.)

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Recipe: Caeser Pasta Salad

Finally we had a weekend where we could eat outside - light summer-ish foods that create a deep satisfaction in the soul.

I wanted to try a different kind of pasta salad so I went looking on line. I found this Caesar Pasta Salad over on Epicurious and made a few adjustments.

*I added an extra clove of garlic.
*I substituted a couple of handfuls of chopped up snow peas for some of the lettuce.
* I added extra Parmesan.

It was excellent with one of the incomparable Smoked Bratwursts from Deck Family Farm. A little sauerkraut (someday I want to learn to make sauerkraut), some mustard...

It was also good the next day as leftovers, with some smoked salmon crumbled on top. The note there is that the croutons had become soggy. If there is enough to be leftovers, serve it without the croutons mixed in and pass them at the table. 

Both kids loved the salad. They ate it right up with no fussing at all!

Then we went out for a banana split. How lovely.

Mindful Monday: Is Acutally Tuesday: But We Try Anyway

No time to write yesterday. Sister-Bug was up early and during her naps I am sewing her a dress to wear to her Faery-God-Parent's wedding this weekend. It would have gone well, except that I put the sleeves on wrong and had to rip and re-do. Bummer. But now the bodice is done and I just have to do the skirt and zipper. She is going to be so darn cute!

But on to our Mindful Mon(Tues)Day!

The boychick at about his pile.
I'm tackling a big one this week - one that is not strictly me. Actually, it mostly involves Brother-Bug and his bookish habits. He likes to keep stacks of books near by him at all times and (being a 4-year old) is not the greatest at putting those books away. I've been trying for what feels like aeons no to get him to pick up his books. Put one away, take one down. Pick them up before meals. And so on. But still, we end up with books all over the floor. This is a problem for me, especially when we injure library books.

Yesterday, in preparation for this post, I talked to him about Mindful Monday and what it means and how he can participate this week. I formed a plan with him about keeping the books picked up. Here's how it goes:

Keeping the Library Books Picked Up

Who: Brother-Bug and me
What: Keeping library books off the floor and couch.
Why: Because books on the floor is a pet-peeve. Because I love and respect books and want to keep them nice. Because we keeping tearing/bending/injuring library books and I hate having to carry them, shoulders slumped in shame, to the repairs desk. Because learning to clean up is really important.
How: I've worked on this one a lot already, and haven't found anything that inspires Brother-Bug. So we are trying a stick and carrot method this week.

*I will remind him several times throughout the day to check his library books and make sure they are all on the library shelf. He gets 2 "nice askings" and one "firm telling".

*If he doesn't pick them up, or fusses at me, I pick them up. All errant library books go in the returns stack. There is no chance to get them out.

*If he gets to Friday (library day) and most of his books are in the return stack he doesn't get to check out any new books this week.

*However, if he does pick them up himself - on his own initiative or when reminded once - throughout the day, he will earn some computer time and fifty cents toward his current spending goal.


Maybe it works, maybe it doesn't. But we can't keep destroying library books. And if it works, we can move on to all the other books we own that seem to spend a lot of time as wall-to-wall carpeting. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

Friday, June 3, 2011


My sweet, bookish, truck-loving son has an affinity for sundresses. And we haven't told him that boys don't wear dresses. In fact, his Papa-Bug has a couple of skirts and sarongs for hot days.

Boys wear dresses in cultures around the globe.

Brother-Bug wears his dresses whenever and wherever. Today he wore one to the library, eliciting one of my favorite events:

Queer Community Member Puts Child In Gender Box.

He has short hair. He wears boy-ish glasses. He wears Lightning McQueen shoes. It seems obvious to me that he is a boy. But the dress throws people every time. And that's okay. It mostly delights me when someone I know to be queer, formerly queer, or otherwise into breaking out of the heterosexual-gender-dichotomy thinks the kid is a girl, simply based on one article of his clothing. I delight in correcting these people. It has only happened a couple of times.

It goes like this:

Boy twirls in circle wearing his favorite flowered dress.

Liberal Friend says something like "She's so cute! And she seems to like her hair short."

I respond with, "Nope. HE likes to wear dresses."

Liberal friend then usually has the wherewithal to look chagrined. Because they just boxed a child based on the previously mentioned heterosexual-gender-dichotomy that they railed against at some protest somewhere.


This is him, a couple of years ago, in his favorite, mommy-made bulldozer dress. Quite a little guy, isn't he?

The New Nutrition Symbol

It's a plate! NPR reported that the out-dated and unwieldy pyramid is out and the plate is in.

To my eyes, this makes a lot of sense. After all, we usually see our food on a plate and so this makes it easy to see if anything is missing. I also really like the broad categories. It's going to be hard to lobby any specifics into this baby. Meat lobby? You've got a whole protein category right there, Ditto to you, soy lobby. Lots of fruits and veggies, and a reduction of grains. Also good. The proportions are good too - more veggies and grains than proteins and fruits, and just a cup of dairy to the side. It doesn't have to be milk - it could be a cup of cheese to sprinkle on everything.

In fact, this plate is very similar to my concept of The Three G's.  I hope this makes meeting nutritional requirements easier on parents. I personally think it makes it more like an art project when serving up - arranging plates to cover all your bases could be fun. Actually, it is fun! I do it with my Gs all the time. Making attractive, colorful, diverse meals is an artistic delight. Which makes cooking less of a chore and more of a game.

I like games.

I just learned about Reverse Graffiti. This is brilliant. I am totally thrilled. Actually revolutionary, in my opinion.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

A Feelings Game

Brother-Bug has big feelings. Really big. And it's hard for him to know what to do with him. He is super smart, already reading, able to comprehend things far beyond his years. This makes it hard for him to have a 4-year old's abilities. So we work and struggle daily with those big feelings.

Last night, while we were going to bed, I made up a new game for him. It seemed to really work. It elicited some good true crying, some giggles, and lots of cuddles.

It went like this:

Mama-Bug: Close your eyes and pretend you can see in a room where all your feelings are. You can see your feelings they all have colors and shapes and textures. They can look like anything you want them to. What do you see?

Brother-Bug: Giggles

Mama-Bug: Do you see that bad feeling you were just talking about?

Brother-Bug: Yes.

Mama-Bug: What does it look like?

Brother-Bug: Like a big pile of rotten chocolate cake. (More giggles)

Mama-Bug: Now look off to the left. Do you see that trash can and heavy gloves?

Brother-Bug: (with surprise) Yes!
Mama-Bug: Let's deal with this bad feeling. Let's really feel it. Tell me about it.

We talk about the feeling and what led up to it. He cries, we talk some more.

Mama-Bug: Now we have explored that feeling. Let's get rid of it. Put on those heavy gloves so that no icky feeling goo sticks to you. Now pick up the bad feeling and cram it into the trash can. Slam the lid so it can't get out.

Brother-Bug: Okay! (Lots of giggles)

I won't script out the next one. We identified some good feelings. In Brother-Bug's head they all look like different colors of jello. Some have sparkles. On the right side of this place - across from the trash can - is a big, empty bookshelf. He put his good feelings that he wants to save and have again on the shelf. Next to the shelf is a dresser with drawers. This is for storing feelings we aren't ready to deal with.

This game was great. We played with all different kinds of feelings, looking at them, feeling them, and really getting into it. He LOVES throwing the bad feelings away. I hope we can continue to play it and it empowers him to feel in control of his feelings, instead of feeling like they control him.