Saturday, June 28, 2008

a mother's day interlude

I'm wearing my brand new "World's Greatest Mom" apron, a la Fran, Ethan's mom, and loving it, baking up a storm with my apprentice baker.

The week before Mother's Day we received a package from Fran, Ethan's mom, choc full o' goodies for the children and this great apron for me. I'll try (ahem) to live up to the title. I realized looking back over the last few posts that I started a Mother's Day post and never finished it so I figured what the heck, better late than never. We arrived at my mama's house, ready to bake with my favorite bakers and my favorite ingredients, and it was on!

the reasons I get celebrate Mother's Day

let's bake something chocolate!

We baked up a storm, well, really only one insanely delicious chocolate cake with a crazy chocolate glaze from JOY! that one can eat hot over ice cream immediately after it is made, cooled to room temp on a cake, or cold right out of the left-over jar in the fridge. Now that's my kind of frosting.

the ultimate helpers

Magdalena and Augustus must have gotten my mom's cleaning gene. They love to do dishes, wipe counter tops, wash walls, and mop and sweep floors. I say give 'em the tools and let 'em have at it! No, seriously, that's what I say. Magdalena, Augustus and Frida each have their own nice bright sponge with a scrubby side under the sink in the bathroom and access to a mild child-safe (what'd ya think, bleach?) cleaning solution for all those times that they Must. Clean. Walls. I tell you my bathroom walls, from about four feet and down, are shiny clean. It is literally hours of fun, with a little cleanup direction on my part when it is all finished, and Voila! sparkly sink and walls and parts of the floor.

our family Mother's Day Celebration photo. sorry about the date across Frida's face

We had a lovely day and feast and celebration celebrating the mamas in our life, and all mamas that came before us.

PS. isn't it crazy to go backwards and see Magdalena, with all those curls and long hair, now that we know her as the little pixie she is?

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Wednesdays with Rose and the Magnolia Farm

Augustus, Magdalena, Allie, Frida and Dominic doing their best summer camp impersonation

Homeschool has officially been on break since May, and now we are starting to find a summer rhythm. Wednesdays has been dubbed "Wednesdays with Rose" at her oh-so-fabulous pool, with her darling boys and whoever can join us.

Magdalena collecting kindling

Augustus doing his part

We had the most wonderfully amazing blazing hot time at an organic goat farm, the magical Magnolia Farms. Eleanor (homeschool mom, nursing student, working mom extraordinaire), her two Allie and Kimberly, me and my two, went down for a night of fire and sticky fun camping out in a tee-pee followed by a "Mommy and Me" farm tour. Need I say how fabulous it was? The children collected kindling, and Eleanor built a rip-roaring fire to roast our gourmet sausages and then later, our 'smores. After a day of swimming and sunblock, camping and bug repellent, and 'smores galore, we were hot, sweaty and sticky. Off we trooped to the water haus, the most precious outside showers I have been in, truly. Lit by mulit-colored mini Christmas lights, under oaks dripping with Spanish moss, a moon-lit sky, the night was magical. Only one shower was lit up, so there we were, two mamas, two big girls and two littles, all soapy and slick in the twinkling lights, cooling off and giggling madly, in love with the life exactly at that moment.

examining nature, a tiny black snake on the dirt road

Darlene, one of the farmers/farm owners, gave us the grand tour. There were turkeys galore, chickens, roosters, peacocks, and some other kind of fowl, I can't remember...all free range, pecking at the earth, laying eggs, stretching and preening, clucking and chasing us all around. I guess it is primarily a goat farm, but also a CSA (community supported agriculture), supplying Jacksonville and surrounding areas with local organic sometimes "exotic" produce. While we were touring the garden part of the farm, we had an introduction into bugs and their place on an organic farm. The bugs that eat the plants and flowers and vegetables, bad bugs! And the bugs that eat the bugs that eat the plants and flowers and vegetables, good bugs! And then the children went into the sunflower patch to choose flowers for the mama bouquets and Darlene would look over the flower and see a bug and say, well, that's an assassin bug, and he's a good bug, he eats other bugs, so we're going to leave his home here. Let's find another flower. It was awesome. Total homeschool fun. Now Magdalena and Augustus have a whole host of bugs to add to their "good bug" reverie, not just bumble bees and honey bees and butterflies, but assassin bugs and lady bugs and spiders also.

Eleanor, presented with her "Mommy and Me" bouquet, picked by Allie and Kimberly

oh, the glory of goats!

This had to be the highlight of the entire shin-dig. Yes, we did get to make our own butterfly shaped goat-milk soap, yes we slept in a tee-pee, yes we had sticky sweet delicious roasted-marshmallow-barely-melted-hershey's-chocolate-on-graham-crackers 'smores, yes we had a magical midnight shower under the trees, but there is nothing like seeing a child pick up a baby goat, with such care and love, so full of wonder. They ran and romped and petted and played with the goats. They talked to the goats and saw the baby goats' umbilical cords and the mama goats nummies. It was incredible. I was just trying to keep the goats from eating my pants. Literally.

Augustus would hold out his little arms, ready to try to hold a goat, and then run away, giggling. The whole thing was just too much for him, he just laughed and laughed. He did manage to pet a baby goat, just for a minute, while Eleanor cradled the kid. (goat, that is)

Here is sweet sweet Kimberly, giving it her best try, and the goat would just squirm right down to the ground.

And here, of course, is Allie, the goat whisperer. No fear, just love and play and catching goats and holding them like she was born doing it.

All in a late spring, although it felt like summer, day's work.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

introducing Magdalena, self-revealed

Notice anything? Yeah, that's what I said. OHMYGOD. Well, I should say, that's what I said after the confusion, dizziness, shock and mild nausea wore off. Don't get me wrong, I get it. She's Gorgeous. Short hair suits her. But when one minute she goes into her room with curls down to the middle of her back, and the next minute I open the bedroom door and can't figure out what is wrong with my daughter's head, why it looks so small like it is floating above her neck, enter dizziness, confusion, shock and mild nausea, and, well, you know, the whole scene was pretty outrageous.

Magdalena started to say something, then the phone rang and it was my mom, and I just walked out of her room and thought, ya know, you really don't need to put her in twenty years of therapy just because she chopped her hair off to her scalp on the top of her head, think of something reasonable to say. So I went back in there and said, I just need for you to pick up all your piles of hair and put them in a bag, and then we're going to take a shower and go to a stylist and fix it up. It'll be fabulous. She said, mama - it's not a mullet. I said, uh, yeah it is, business in the front and party in the back, we're going to have it shaped up a bit.

It took me a few minutes to realize that Augustus had not escaped her second effort at being a stylist. Yes, there was a first a couple of months ago when she trimmed about 4-6 inches off the front of her hair and it gave her really nice long bangs around her face, I actually complimented her on her handy work, ya know, not trying to encourage her but out of a grudging admission that she did a really nice job. Little did I know there was more to come. But really, she is my daughter, what exactly do I expect?

She had a quiet moment in the chair, looking at herself, a bit worried, watching the hair dresser who kept muttering Adios Mio! put a lovely stacked bob in her hair, and she looked at me and said, it's ok mama. It'll grow back.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

ode to papa, part one: a belated birthday

Ethan and thirty-one candles

on our inaugural cruise

he likes the canoe, really

Two days after Magdalena, Augustus and I left for our road trip, Ethan turned thirty one. So yes, we missed his birthday while we were out having a blast. We celebrated as soon as we came home and his present was... you guessed it! A canoe! And a big one at that. I had so much fun finding it, and as much fun picking it up and giving it to him! Not what he was expecting, but he was actually pretty pleased with it.

It took us a couple of weeks to actually get it in the h2o, but I think once we got it in the water, it was obvious, we were hooked! Magdalena and Augustus love it love it love it. Our first canoe trip was down a small creek, with tree canopy for about half of our journey. It was so so lush and green and gorgeous. I fell down on the photo job pretty horribly, but at least you can see how beautiful it was on the river. It was so incredible, about 10 minutes from our house, right there, in the middle of the city, and you'd never know, we could have been anywhere. It was so quiet and the tide was coming in and there were critters in the woods and water. When there was quiet (amongst us) it was so quiet. No city noise, just the splash of fish and our paddles.

I dare say it was the best birthday gift ever, for any of us.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

road trip, final instalment

Skip rolling downhill with Augustus

It is a crime, a deficit of gargantuan proportions, that I only have one photo for this post, and only one in the last post. I can only say that camera trouble was upon me and I didn't even realize it. I thought it was batteries but now I know that it was more. Anyhoo, on with the post.
After we spent three lovely, heartfelt and amazing days hanging out with the LaShell clan near Ashville, NC, we headed up for the third leg, actually fourth leg of the trip. Up to Boone we skedaddled, through winding curves and gorgeous NC country, to visit the Sinanian's of the Atlanta Skip Sinanian's. And dude lives in, by his own description, an accountant's house! Crazy I mean Krazy with a K! So much of this trip has been defined by how far we (and by "we" I mean all the old-school Atlanta crew) have all come. And how well everybody is doing! Who knew?
Skip, Kelly, Deacon and Huxley welcomed us with open arms and abundant love and laughter, as always. I didn't actually talk to Skip or Kelly until, oh, the night before I was heading to Boone I think. And ya know, like the fabulous people they are, they said "when will you get here?" and "what do you guys like to eat?" Magdalena and Augustus were on a roll, two for two in staying with amazing families that have amazing children and amazingly fun things to play with and upon arrival at Skips it was a hat trick. M and A fell in love with all four Sinanian's, running through the house, checking out all there was to see and do, warming up to each one, but I have to say, it was the divine Huxley that was the star of the stay. Magdalena said to anyone who would listen, Huxley made me laugh so hard I was sweating! Our Boone stay was just shy of 24 hours but the impact was six months, easy. By the end of the walk through town and lunch, after our night at Chez Sinanian, I think both Magdalena and Augustus had adopted Skip as their own. As we are all want to do.
After we left Boone we headed down for our final night on the road, back to our sweet Cecilia in Marietta. Another cousin, Ouni (named so by Magdalena when she was almost two and she could not quite say Courtney), came down to visit for the evening of pizza and stories of days and days of travel. My Auntie Nancy came by first thing in the morning for goodbye kisses and off we were! Back on the road! But not quite, for breakfast we went to Ria's Bluebird, and once again, Who Knew? I mean, I remember Ria from back in the day, and now she is this totally righteous restaurateur, out there making a difference in the community, being the activist that she was born to be. Right on Ria! And making righteous huevos rancheros and buttermilk pancakes to boot.
With one more stop to go, we were on our way again. We had our final stop in Valdosta with Constance, cousin extraordinaire, daughter of Cecilia. We hooked up for lunch and a last roadtrip Starbucks with the babes. Ouni happened to be on her way down so we had another Ouni sighting also, what luck we have.
There is so much more I could say. Our trip was so rich with exploration, new loves for Magdalena and Augustus and connecting with the dearest of friends for me. I am star-struck by life. I mean, we've all grown up, and we're all actually alive, that in itself is such a miracle. And then, on top of that, we still love each other so deeply and truly. And we know each other completely. My sister recently said she was blinded by her blessings, and I know what she means.

road trip, part deux

Magdalena and Augustus with Ben, Jessica and Maia

From our Nashville extravaganza and stimulus explosion, we headed on over to the Ashville/
Waynesville area of North Carolina for a stay with our BFF's from Alamogordo, Jessica and Mark and their two beautiful little ones Ben and Maia. We went from the full throttle reunion throwdown of Nashville to a settled down gorgeous chalet in the woods/mountains with quiet from within and without except for the jubilant cries of two bigs one toddler and one little running jumping throwing bumping and generally living it up kid-style with a hike to a Koy pond that turned into a swimming expedition for Magdalena and three children walking home almost naked because hey, if one person gets to walk home in only her panties, doesn't everybody?

I always forget how much I love love love North Carolina until I arrive there and ahhhhh, oh yeah, that's right, I Love the Smokies baby, love love love them. It is so incredibly beautiful, and Mark and Jessica have such a beautiful gig going. It is special, and very different from what I'm living - flat, hot, beach, city, busybusybusy, family. I wouldn't change what I have for the world...but, ya know, have you ever been to western North Carolina? Nuff said.