Saturday, July 26, 2008


happy one-day-belated birthday to M's mom!

update on my mom

my mom has been sprung from the hospital! she came home yesterday with a column of staples up her abdomen. her prognosis looks good, however, and although we don't have pathology reports back yet, the surgeon did not think it looked like ovarian cancer. (that does not mean it isn't another type of cancer, just not ovarian.) she had 3 inches of intestines removed along with the planned hysterectomy, so she is taking foods lightly now.

thank you to everyone who has called, emailed, visited, offered food, sent flowers, gifts, and well wishes. it has really meant a lot to all of us, especially my mom, who has had the most positive kick butt attitude about this.

Friday, July 25, 2008

notable and quotable

Amy Dacyczyn says "frugality, without creativity, is deprivation."
so don't forget to have fun while watching those pennies! what did you do today that was economical? i spent money today, but it was all planned, i stuck to the list, and i combined errands. thanks to LH for letting me shop child-free due to our baby trade fridays!

lala says, "i am so glad we have finn!" (melt a mamma's heart)

and she says:

lala: "what a pain in the butt!"
me: "a what?"
lala: "pain in the butt!"
me: "who did you learn that from?!"
lala: "you!"


Thursday, July 24, 2008

mei tai completed

i finished the mei tai (asian baby carrier) that i had intended to make early in my pregnancy with finn (i.e. a year ago)! i know most people swear by the ergo, and we have one, but i always reach for my mei tai first.

i should be more thrilled than i am. it did not come out as well as the one i made for lala 2 years ago. i love that one and use it all the time, but the leg spread has been too wide for finn. i have carried him froggy legged until now, but he really has been ready to spread his legs out. now he can, although if i were to start over, i wouldn't rush the sewing at the end (where all my noticeable mistakes are, and there are a lot, although none affect the integrity of the carrier, just my pride). i would also make it narrower at the bottom and wider at the top. it didn't occur to me to do this until it was done and i put him in it.

here are the ones i made, the dark one on top is the new, smaller one, and the one on the bottom is the original bigger one. (can you tell i love stripes?) if you want one and sew, i used this man-tai pattern. if you don't sew, check out kozy carriers.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

poof! reset!

the first 5 months of finn's life, i was clearly struggling to find the ground under my feet. each day was a new set of challenges, always overshadowed by complete exhaustion. thank you to those of you who are parents of young children and who so recently remembered the newborn stage and were able to tell me that 6 months would be a marker to look forward to. for me, a shift came at 5 months, probably in good part because we got lala mostly potty trained and finn mostly sleep trained. those first months were also raw for me, as i was simultaneously adjusting to being a SAHM. (i am still missing working outside the home, but that is another post.)

the past 2 months have since brought a stair step of changes, as though i am ratcheting forward toward our ideal life. both major and minor events both propel me and force me to stop and take stock.

i am not even sure what it was, but today has been another 'take stock' day. i spent the morning at home doing all my usual boring wednesday chores. (wednesday is my weekly chore morning, for anyone who cares about the mundane activities of a parent and homeowner.) something felt different, though. i was taking pleasure in the nooks and crannies of my garden, the way the sunlight fell behind finn, making it look as though he had a halo, and the remainder of my sewing project waiting for me.

it felt good to recognize pleasure in the little things, because sometimes (often) we move too quickly and try and do too much to focus on them. and it somehow renewed my determination to economize our household a bit more. i have been a lot of talk and little action on this front. it was too easy to buy that $2.25 sherbet cone (you can buy a half gallon for that!) for lala when she was unbelievably good through a long a series of errands and somehow that box of unhealthy sugar sweetened cereal just slipped into my cart.

what do you all care? probably not much, but it is my long winded way of saying i have had (yet another) frugal epiphany and while we are still budgeted to enjoy little luxuries like lunch out and the occasional date night, i am back to paying more attention to our spending and saving, and i am going to blog more about it. it is possible to live nicely and less expensively, and with food, gas, and just about everything sky rocketing, everyone (even those of you who much prefer not to think about money) probably needs a little dose of saving in style.

about my soapbox

i realize i come and post these environmental tirades from my soapbox and then have trouble practicing what i preach 100%. okay, even 80%. looking around my own home, i see chemicals we could do without, products we should do without, and products and materials we should substitute with something healthier and more earth friendly.

so now, as i purge my 5 items a day, i am carefully thinking about what i will replace them with. in some cases, the answer is frugal (try cardboard and mulch to squelch blackberry vines instead of round up) and in some cases it is more expensive (replacing some of the kids' cups and toys with safer models).

my latest bit of health research has been on plastics, since finn is putting everything in his mouth, and on skin products, like the sunblocks i have been using on the kids. the washington post had a great article with links to all sorts of resources for finding the safest plastic products, one of the best of which is HealthyToys. the environmental working group (great resource!) has a database for searching the safety level of hundreds of health products. and of course, lucky me, my dad is a phd chemical engineer, so i also get the inside scoop!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

yum, cheeseboard pizza at home.

1 T dry yeast
1.5 C warm water
2 T olive oil
1.5 t kosher salt
3.5 to 4 C bread flour

in the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk the yeast into the warm water until dissolved. let stand 5 minutes. add olive oil, salt, and 2 C of the flour. using the paddle attachment on low speed for 5 minutes to form a wet dough. switch to the dough hook, add 1.5 C more flour, and mix on medium speed for 5 minutes. add the remaining 1/2 C flour a tablespoon at a time to form a soft dough with a nice sheen. it should be sticky, but not wet.

form the dough into a ball and place in a large, oiled bowl. turn dough to cover it with oil. cover with a damp towel or plastic wrap and let rise in a warm, draft free place for 1 hour or until doubled in size.

adapted from the cheeseboard collective works

update on my mom

so, my mom came through surgery really well. she looks great, although is in some pain, controlled a bit by medication. she cannot eat or drink and will be hospitalized through the week, but overall the surgeon thinks her prognosis is better than expected. yayayay. now we wait for results...

Monday, July 21, 2008

okay, positive thoughts

alright, let's have a surge of positive thoughts down the wires and satellites, please.
my mom is currently in surgery.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

#1 reason to be a vegetarian


remember when...?

oh, the perfect kind of blog game for me, the person who gets so stuck on "i can't believe how quickly time flies. do you remember when....?"
(seriously, though, can you believe it is mid July?)

i digress...

krista has this little game on her blog. let's try it on mine.

"Leave a comment on my blog of a memory that you and I have had together. It doesn't matter if you've known me for a short time, or a long time, anything you remember! Next, re-post these instructions on your blog and see how many people leave a memory about you. It's actually pretty funny to see the responses. If you leave a memory about me, I'll assume you're playing the game and I'll come to your blog and leave one about you. On your mark...get your memories!!"

Friday, July 18, 2008

here we go...

so far, 2008 has been a year of processing, forgiving, new joy, recovery, and new fight.
i have posted before that we (M especially) got into energy and emotional debt over the course of last year. he was in such a bad work environment (one person, caused problems for others, got demoted in the end), he almost got fired for the time he took off during his dad's last days. despite this, he balanced everyone and everything marvelously. i learn a lot from him.

we ended the year with the arrival of a healthy baby boy and so began the healing and renewal of life in 2008. his dad would have liked finn. we figure his dad met finn before we did.

so, enter cancer, again. my parents got so little of our time and attention last year. mom, this was not the best way to get it. you could have just asked if you could come over for a visit. sorry...just trying to add a little levity to a crappy topic.

my mom goes in for her first surgery on monday. it is this surgery that will remove the cancer in her abdomen and determine the extent of her cancer. please keep her and my dad in your thoughts, because positive thinking is a very important part of staying healthy. she has been feeling well enough, just tired, and has handled this all with grace. that said, if you are local and want to make a food dish for my folks during the next couple of weeks, please let me know. i am organizing that for them. my mom will be in the hospital most of next week, and it won't be until the following week that we know "what next" with her treatment.

she knows how to gear up in style, though. she and i are going to lunch and the spa together tomorrow. have a nice weekend, everyone.

look who's sitting!

chugging away, filling the hours and days

time for my never ending to do list update. this is for no-one but me.

  • all the usual house chores (laundry, cooking, cleaning, child related activities, shopping, frugal activities, gardening, etc)
  • schedule financial planner
  • sort out 401k allocations
  • remove medicines from medicine cabinet
  • schedule legal appointment
  • finn's newspaper clipping (need to get to main library)
  • declutter: CDs, garage, shop
  • paint red wagon
  • research schools and/or a possible move doing, making good progress
  • transfer home videos to DVD
  • sew: mei tai doing!, fleece sleep sack, kitchen shades
  • keep selling car parts and other decluttered item doing...just did ebay listings
  • web searches doing
  • exercise doing almost daily, yay!
  • more house projects: re-landscape, finish stucco, gate onto deck stairs, mini earthquake retrofit, insulation, paint exterior, finish exterior door trims and thresholds, finish interior trim (hall especially), hall cabinet, install whole house water filter

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


do you know what we did last night? M worked on the car some more and i worked on a sewing project. time to work on hobbies we enjoy? god, this must be a record.

nice and simple

this has to be one of the nicest comments a stranger has made to me in a long time. thank you:

"Every time I read this blog I get such a positive sense of family and love and all those good things a person cherishes. Thank you. J"

i found this commenter's blog via yet another blog, both blogs of which are journeys in simplifying. J's adventure is the most organized and well thought out attempt to downsize, i think he should write a guide! (well, i guess he is. his blog!)

Monday, July 14, 2008


yesterday we had the first 'just us' family-of-4 day that we have had in ages. and it was lovely. we are introverts who manage to get overloaded with personal, home, work, and family obligations, so fmaily time felt good. M finally got time to work on lala's cougar (dang, i didn't get a photo of the engine hanging on the crane, up over the hood of the car) and i did some gardening.
we both got kid-time. and then M and i just laid on the bed and talked after the kids were in bed, something we don't often get to do as M works late or we have projects that need to get done. a lovely at-home date.

(explanation of photos: M and kids' response to "look goofy!" and the plants from our neighbors that i put in after i pick axed out ivy and weeds.)

Friday, July 11, 2008

the self-reliant individual

here we are in a recession. things look glum, don't they? insurance is high, fuel is high, housing is unstable, food is high, our environment is screwed, and the outlook is generally bad.

the CEO at M's work was let go with no advance warning earlier this week, so his work environment is unstable too. (as if 13 bosses in 3 years and currently having 5 people to report to wasn't already unstable.)

so here i go again, reviewing our budget and just making sure he and i are on the same financial wavelength. (we are.) what is this teaching us?

this is teaching us that we need to be good financial educators to our children. i hope, through our examples, our children will learn how to handle money. to use it as a tool and not be scared of it. to be self-reliant individuals. our parents taught us how to make the most of the money we have. they did it through actual guidance, but also by not giving us every little thing we asked for. surely, this was in part because they didn't always have the money to give us every little thing we asked for, because as a parent, i now see how difficult it is to resist giving our children everything they want. we don't, because we don't want them to learn they get things just by holding out a hand, we don't want to spend all our money on short-lived kid junk, and we don't want to fill our whole house with kid junk, but the pleasure children get from material "gimmes" is so transparent.

that pleasure is still so easily garnered from non-material things, too, though. you should have seen the pride and pleasure on lala's face when she paddled the canoe earlier this week.

the kids teach us in return, too. in not giving them every thing they reach for and whine for, we give them time and focus on the fun, little activities that are abundant with little kids. it reminds us that we aren't depriving ourselves, we are being creative and resourceful, so that when the going gets tough, our first reaction to a recession is to meet the challenge, not be scared of it.

while i dream one day soon of owning land and being more self-reliant as a family, of M having a job he truly loves (he doesn't hate his current, job, but he only half-heartedly loves it), and mostly, of M not having a commute, we know why we have chosen the path we have and are proud of how far we have come on our own by working so hard to do so.

she's writing!

my big girl can write her own nickname now! her first time on a magnetic board, so i had to take a photo, since there is no piece of paper to keep!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

the ten year nap

my mamma friends and i agreed to read this book together. LH suggested we take notes. as if that would mean my comments on the book might actually come out intelligently. yeah, right. and then i thought...well, i could blog about it.

what a topic- appropriate book. the ten year nap, by meg wolitzer, is a novel about several women who leave high profile jobs to become full time moms, and somehow, 10 years later, are still out of the workforce. we see every type of personal relationship, which leaves the reader a bit dizzy, and quite honestly, feeling glum.

although the author is clearly a good writer, the book jumps from person to person, starting so slowly that i almost gave up on the book, then ending quickly, and not necessarily satisfactorily, although i shouldn't have expected a clean ending given the tangles the story collected along the way.

it may have left me feeling glum due to my own personal perspective of life right now, but probably in part because the issues the characters were dealing with and how they handled them were very realistic. human nature isn't always that appealing. i didn't like the image of SAHMs this book gave, but i wondered if SAHDs could relate, too. and all that said, LH and TLM both found the book a bit depressing as well.

curious to hear what the author had to say on npr ?

and the one quote from this book i have to include here is exactly what i have been trying to express for months. from page 80:

"women who were worked were exhausted; women who didn't work were exhausted. there was no cure for the oceanic exhaustion that overwhelmed them. if you were a working mother you would always lose in some way, and if you were a full-time mother you would lose too. everyone wanted something from you; you were hit up the minute you rose from your bed. everyone hung on you, asking for something, reminding you of what you owed them, and though the middle of each school day or workday seemed to be open and available, this wasn't the way it felt."

somehow i feel like i should highlight and send fireworks up over that quote above. i mean really. exactly how i have felt lately.

i will certainly say this book left me feeling so grateful for how wonderful i think my husband and kids are and as this novel is about motherhood, it reminded me (again) how lucky i am to have such a fabulous example of motherhood from my own mom, whom i use as a sounding board often, and who has never expressed anything but pride in me. the book did, however, make me feel as though i am being cautioned about what could lay ahead...

image from

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

father's day realized

for mother's and father's day this year, lala and respective parent (me for my parents, M with his mom) are doing outings, just the three of us. lala and M already went to the steam trains and picnicked with granny. today, lala, nonno, and i went canoeing and on a picnic. here are some snaps of our day. and, yes, that is nonno teaching lala how to paddle and she then paddled with him all the way back to the car from our picnic spot. i rode. :)

granny annie

granny annie and finn celebrating independence day. i am just downloading photos from the last few days. my camera flashed "flash card full!" at me today. yikes!

Monday, July 7, 2008

more kiddo books

we've loved the summer reading program challenge of new books only! here are some more favorites. two from the library, one from grandma and nonno.

did someone say plum?

friends, family, and freecyclers have all gotten dosed with plums. our freezer has nearly 50 cups of chopped plums stocked away and we canned about 40 cups more. can anyone say "hellloooooo plum sauce/jam?"

Saturday, July 5, 2008

give me some sugar, honey

does anyone here know anything about or have any experience with hypoglycemia? (and i am not talking about whatever i can research online, of course.)

happy 7 months

our little guy is 7 months old. definitely tipped the scale closer to his 1st birthday than his birth. in the last week he has made it clear that he is ready to move and wants to catch up with his big sis. he rolls all over and can turn 360 degrees on his belly. he lifts he arms and legs and kicks, thinking he might get somewhere on his belly just by sheer brain power. today, he even made moves to get his knees tucked up under. all this and he isn't sitting well on his own yet and still has a lean toward the left. still the smiliest of guys and the best of babies, although i am starting to see a real boy in there and some definite personality. time to finn-proof the house!

holy mother of plums

oh my goddesses, these are just dripping from our tree. one pruning (not done well, so the plums have broken 5 branches) was all it needed. anyone in the bay area need plums? know anyone in the bay area needing plums? there are so many that this principessa of baking and canning will not be able to eat, bake, or process enough to use these all up! needless to say, our little new eater has happily had plum and we have all enjoyed plum cobbler.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

going greener

check out what our city is now recycling curbside!
(if you can't read the print in the photos, we can now recycle batteries and any plastic containers, such as yogurt containers!)

and we just got our first water bill post-water retrofit (new toilet, re-installed faucet aerators). drum roll, please...i am shocked to say our bill was HALF the normal amount and they applied our toilet rebate, so we now have a credit on our account, rather than balance due!

me, myself, and I

"i'm just lala. L-A-L-A"

how simple it is when you are so little. she knows her full name. she is called by it often and it is "what to tell a police officer if i get lost from mamma or dada." and she knows her nicknames (what she tells little friends in the playground and what responds to at school.) and she knows exactly who she is and wants to be. at what point do we lose that?

back to add...i wish i could have captured the look on her face today when she completed a multi piece puzzle all by herself today!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

finn's post

[,;'cckcv xvc

(that is as far as he got before he tried to eat the keyboard.)

and here he is looking just so boy.

so far, he is just all baby, but this particular day, i realized just how much he will teach me as a parent simply because he isn't the same gender as lala.

and while i am at it, not a single person has commented on his likeness to me. people think he either looks just like mike or just like lala. i agree, but i see tom and my dad in there too. initially, there was some uncle S, too, but i don't see me. good thing i have the pregnancy photos to prove it. (and i finally got them mounted on the wall! i know, a bit of preggo belly overkill, but crap, i paid a pretty penny for them so i was sure as heck gonna put them all up!)


i think i may be misplaced. the magazine and blog articles i read that have me yearning to be inside the pages and inside the photos are all maine, vermont, upstate new york, and new hampshire. i think i live on the wrong coast.
(yet if i hear anyone bash northern california, my skin prickles. have at it with southern california, though. they could be a different state as far as i am concerned!)

image of bangor, maine from


we miss M. he is back to working extremely long days. when he isn't actually at the office for long days (he tries to be here in the morning for a little while, to see the kids, since he always has meetings/obligations late into the evening), he often has to log in and work once he gets home. in my newly accepted place with the kiddos, it feels odd that "life goes on." i feel this guilt that we have rhythms and routines that function even when he isn't here. we have our patterns and schedules, and while i am proud that i can do it all on my own with little fanfare (bedtime is a biggie), it feels sad that we have to do it this way. we are also falling into an improved routine with our shared parenting when he is home and lala is responding better to his efforts to draw her into lala-dada activities on the weekends. we love you, M.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008


happy birthday, JGH!
(i can't believe how big you are all getting!)

Monday, June 30, 2008

pride week

so cool that california legalized marriage for same-sex couples just prior to pride week.

vanity and greed

when my mom called on father's day to tell us she was told she had cancer, my stomach dropped, my heart dropped, and the rest of me felt instantly at peace with where i am. right now. my worries about what i should be doing next (i think i know) and when i should be doing it (the big stress) abruptly jumped ship and the ship seems to have anchored in now. salsita was right when she sent me back to re-read the three questions, by jon muth.

so father's day seems to have begun a new chapter in "what N can learn about herself now."
what have i learned?
  1. i am doing what i need to be doing. with the people i need to be doing it with. right now.
  2. i need to work on my parenting. i am inconsistent and flustered in the moments i am supposed to be gently take-charge. just lately. but, boy, and i tired lately, for someone who is actually getting sleep and exercise.
  3. i am vain. far more vain than i used to be and not in a "look at me" kind of way. in a want to feel and look good and i want this for ME. i couldn't care less what you think!" kind of way. rudely vain, apparently.
  4. i am greedy. it isn't enough that i have a wonderful family. we have always been so lucky. we have plenty...a roof over our heads, food, water, health (my mom will be fine...apparently i have faith, too), clothes, education, love, etc. no, not enough. somehow, lately, i feel i deserve that latte macchiato. that pastry. the nice dinner out. and somehow, i find myself craving a nanny on occasion. as in, the SAHM who has a nanny, a housekeeper, and a gardner, who goes and spends all her time shopping. i hate shopping. i make fun of moms like that. what is happening to me?
  5. i worry. a lot. in fact, let me end on this lovely quote. the other day, i was muttering under my breath, worrying about finn's short nap making him tired and throwing off his bed time. lala asked what i was saying and i told her i was worrying about her and finn. her reply? "oh. well, we are kids and we just don't have to worry." amen, munchkin!

Sunday, June 29, 2008


happy birthday! we miss you!
(and i never before paid attention to what cool initials you have!)

mamma update

my mom had a clear MRI (brain), which is great news. she'll have a PET (neck down) scan early next week to try and further determine what is happening in her abdomen. she remains in good spirits and very wisely has a list of fun activities she and my dad are doing to equal the medical appointments and stressful tests. i was so impressed with that, mom!


have a baby with cradle cap?
oh my god, this stuff works! LH recommended it and i am the last person to run right out and buy a $12 bottle of baby shampoo, but the home remedies were not working! mustela's foaming baby shampoo has been worth every penny and we are only half way through the first bottle and at least 2 months into using it.

trying to get pregnant?
i read an article about diet and fertility in the 12/10/07 issue of newsweek just recently. more information can be found here.
also excellent is toni weschler's taking charge of your fertility.

looking for a new activity to do with your preschooler?
i just pulled an activity kit off the shelf that was sent to me when lala was just a little baby. it includes a workbook, CD, activity cards and more, and is created to help parents communicate with their young children and set a good foundation for children understanding how to make healthy choices. order your kit, here.

high prices getting you down? strapped for cash?
try thrift shopping! it is great for the earth, too. (did you know that when calculating your carbon footprint, you will be asked how much you buy second hand?) for fabulous thrift store near you, click here.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

first night!

our munchkins shared a room for the first time last night. do any of you care? yes, LH does, and told me we had to go first, so we did. LH, it went wonderfully! i did finn's bed routine and tucked him into his crib on time. i think it helped that he had napped in there often, so is used to the crib. i turned the air purifier on for white noise, which i also think helped. (i always do this for lala, but finn rarely has white noise. when he does, he often sleeps longer, at least at naptime.) i had brought lala's jammies and books out. she and i did her normal routine, except that we read books together in our living room instead of her bed. at bed time, i unceremoniously tucked her into bed (after she just had to check on finn, who,she was disappointed, she could not see from her bed). at dream nurse time (10pm last night), i took a dining chair and boppy pillow in, nursed him, and then went to bed. he woke during the dream nurse (unusual), but made no fussing sounds. i checked him twice before i fell asleep, the first time, he was still awake, the second time, he had fallen back to sleep (~10-15 min after i finished nursing him). he woke just before 6am and was chatting. i went in, took him out of the room, and lala is still sleeping now, at just before 7am. eccola'! we now have two kids who share a room! your turn, LH!
(photo is finn asleep after dream nurse. cute because he usually sleeps on his side, curled around tigger.)

Friday, June 27, 2008

thank you

my email inbox was flooded with messages this morning. thank you. i will be passing all your well wishes onto my mom.

i tried to start replying and i am a bit overwhelmed. so here are some answers. and thank you for all the offers. i received book and diet suggestions for cancer and healing through positive thought (i believe in that too). i will pass those on to my mom.

feel free to contact me if you have questions, but there is no reason you can't contact them directly. i think my parents would love to hear from anyone/everyone. they have been really touched by contacts so far. forgive them if they don't reply back immediately. my mom has been at a lot of appointments.

she seems to be feeling well, in general, and has been in very good spirits and good humor.

and our little friend, mollie, has a her own blog. she was diagnosed with leukemia and is already in treatment and is apparently being very brave.


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