Wednesday, December 16, 2009


Henry is a vocal small chap. He gets his point across pretty easily.

Today he started saying "thank you." And my heart melted.

Where my daughter calls me Christ-like

"Mom, look at my picture. This is me. And that's Henry. And that's our baby between us. You're the baby. You're baby Jesus. I'm Mary, and Henry is Joseph. No one had a baby like Jesus, huh mom?"
"Nope, no one did."
"I liked you when you were baby Jesus. I'm SO excited for Jesus' birthday."

Friends, I'm working on a post about me and religion and Christmas. But sit tight, and in the mean time, know that I'm scratching my head about Willa's enthusiasm (and assignments) above.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Youthful editor

Let me set the scene:

Jim and I are at the table talking about his day.
Willa is in and out of the room, dreaming of princesses and candy.
Henry is walking around the house with his favorite ornament (he plucks the same one off the tree and takes it for walks).

Jim: "it just frustrates me. Such a dumb@ss way of doing things...."
Me: *eyebrows up*
Willa: "DADDY! We don't say dumb."

Friday, December 11, 2009

I'm feeling grateful for, and missing, John Denver today.

The kids and I were watching John Denver and the Muppets: a Christmas Together special on YouTube today. The kids were hypnotized and I sang along, making cookies at the table.

Then this segment came on (click to jump in the middle of the special, and from there you can get to the start). And I froze and listened.


Kermit and John Denver. Sweet genius.

I know that this lives in my sentimental past, when I was 6 or so and watching in footie pajamas with my family. I very vividly remember playing the (now long gone) record of this tv special while decorating the tree with my family.

The humble, genuine, gift that Jim Henson and John Denver created together was magic. It WAS Christmas.

For the truth that binds us all together
I would like to say a simple prayer
That at this special time you will have true peace of mind
And love to last throughout the coming year

Like Kermit, this season makes me homesick. My schmaltzy heart longs for the time that I was little and listening to my parents sing along, watching dad hang the lights outside while mom orchestrated clever decorations or giant family meals. And now - gulp - it's my and Jim's turn to ensure my kids have gentle, generous, joyous memories of Christmas time. It's such a big, wonderful responsibility.

Round and round...

On Monday, the Sinkis went to the GR public museum for a Christmas party hosted by our friend, Joe. Joe also happens to be our financial planner, and the party was a client appreciation event. Folks, if you need someone to help you with dollars and goals, and you want it to be someone you can be comfortable with, let me know and I'll get you Joe's information.

So... here are the Sinkis on the carousel. We took 2 rides. On the first, Willa informed me that her horse's name was Mary. After the first spin, we went back in the main hall. You can see the carousel through windows. Henry noticed, walked over and started signing "more." Neat.

Fun night in Sinki-ville.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

holiday briefs

A few quick things:

The tree is up. Lights are on. When Jim plugged the lights in Willa literally gasped and said, "beautiful sight." I was delighted.

We've been holding off to decorate the tree. I've been concerned about a certain curious toddler. Last night we were ready to go, but Willa was terrible at the dinner table and wound up going to bed very, very early. Tonight we are hopeful, and thanks to winter, Jim's Masters class is cancelled. So, decorating is on if Willa behaves better and Jim gets home.

Henry and Willa have both taken turns lying under the Christmas tree. I don't know if they're enjoying a beautiful novelty or trying to show us how darn adorable they can be. Either way, it's sweet.

Henry has taken to wearing reindeer antlers around his neck today. Willa is wearing her pink boa, silver antlers, an orange scarf, a green skirt (don't worry, there are fleece pants under that), and a butterfly top.

The kids got to spend some time with Santa. It was fairly anti-Norman Rockwell. I got kid A placed on one Santa knee and reached for B while A was sliding off, repeat in reverse a few times before we gave up.

This pose is a lot like last year's pose. And Willa's first Christmas pose. Of course, at the end of the night, Jim and Willa spotted Santa and she ended up hugging him. A minute before Henry and I rounded the corner to join them.

And the family picture:

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Sledding Sunday

We went sledding on Sunday with special guests, Joe and Julia.

There's a school down that block with a hill that is perfect for little ones. It's a good ride down, and not impossible to walk back up.

The girls went with their dads, with each other, and by themselves. Willa went with me. Henry enjoyed rides with both of his parents. He was pulled up the hill, lying in the sled and grumbling baby curse words until he could ride down again.

The dogs came along. They made friends with a lot of strangers. Arlo would jump on laps (after an inviting pat) for rides down, and Greta would race on foot. Arlo took - and seemed to enjoy - a solo trip down too.

Jenny stayed at home with a napping Jordan. We all joined them for a terrific dinner and a dance party in princess clothes.

Willa and is six months older than Julia. It's fun to watch those six months become less important as they both get older and play together.

Thursday, December 03, 2009



Winter hits the Sinkis

Just got in from an quick romp in the snow. Willa's wearing pjs and those are socks on Henry's hands. But man it was fun. 3-5 inches predicted. Willa's got plans to make a snowman as tall as Jim.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

My dad and I* took the kids downtown on Thanksgiving and met Jim (who was working the Turkey Trot in the morning). The parade was fantastic. The kids were pretty riveted:

We were at the start of the parade. This means a lot of balloon spinning. That's some exciting stuff that you just can't understand unless you've been standing on Woodward for an hour in the cold, and have had the kumbya moment in a crowd of convincing a group of people dressed as cartoon characters to run in a circle, each gripping their line that connects to the giant balloon above them. It's pretty awesome.


So, Santa came (escorted by the Cousino High School marching band - I am an alum - yes, I do realize just how dorky this post is making me), children squealed, and then we booked it back to the parking lot, in hopes of beating traffic. I opened the door to the mini-van to load in the kids and found a duffel bag full of several copies of one cd. Uh... someone broke into my parents van and left cds and didn't take anything. **

And in order to keep things light and somewhat brief, I'll just say, uh... I hate it when stereotypes are realized. Some people don't go to "the city" because of crime. Thanks cd jerk, for perpetuating that. Bah.

Anyhow, the parade was fun. And then we got home, took several layers off and then went to see the marching band assembled in front of a neighbor's house. They won a raffle which entitled them to a 20 minute concert from the 100+ member band. A marching band? In the middle of a street? Playing Michael Jackson's "Thriller"? I'm there!

Even more entertaining was cousin time on Friday:
Sorry for the sideways video. I'm tired of trying to get it to rotate, and will try again later.
* My mom stayed home to continue recovering post-sinus/ear/respiratory infection. Later that day she hosted one of two - back to back - big dinners. Big, fun delicious, family diners, but hardly taking it easy on herself.
** Detroit: kinder and gentler post-Kwame.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thanksiving Coconut

"Mama, can we put on our shoes and give everyone on our street uh.... coconuts?"
"What?" I mean really, what else can you say here?
"I want to share my coconuts. We can give every house on our street one."
"What coconuts, Willa?"
"You know! The ones daddy put in my pocket..."
she runs away and returns out of breath with her hand clasped
"These coconuts!"
"Sweetie, that's a peanut. Where did you get that?"

Apparently she (or maybe Jim) loaded up her pockets before we left a restaurant with a barrel of peanuts out. Glad we figured this out before laundry day.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Kid chats

I posted earlier this month that Willa had some nightmares that sounded pretty darned scary. A few mornings ago she snuggled up to me and gave me the dream report: "I dreamed that alligators and lizards and dinosaurs were chasing me." I reassured her saying it was only a dream, and those animals weren't real. She looked at me with (I'm pretty sure) pity. "Mom, they were nice animals. We were playing."

Henry is really communicating well. He says "uh-uh" for no, and nods (in one slow move of chin touching chest) for yes. He's an agreeable chap, for the most part. We had a disagreement over picking Willa up from school the other day.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Catching up

It's been a pretty busy month, friends. Our family continues to adjust to the changes that happened when I lost my job. Willa's doing well with 2-1/2 days of school a week. We were sad to say goodbye to Whitney her teacher, but know she's doing what's right for her own career plans. Henry and I are getting a lot of quality time in. I absolutely love having this time to be with the kids more. It's going to be rough when the right job comes along.

Jim is being wonderful with me learning the ropes of not working for anyone but our family. There have been no extra expectations of dinners made or a clean house from him. I'm getting better at juggling time and attention.

I knew this change would be for the better for me, but I didn't know how much better. I was getting pretty worn down - in all aspects - at my job. I am feeling like I'm doing exactly what I should be right now. I'm looking for the next step, but enjoying the "right nowness" of my life. Anyhow, some photos of Sinkiland:

the first hair cut. Happy boys.

Happy girls.In early summer we planted 4 pumpkin plants. This is the harvest: two small ones for our small ones. The universe provides just what you need.

The bosses.

I asked her to pose for this photo. A few seconds into the shoot, she said, "uh... I'm starting to be uncomfortable."

Willa on swing.

Henry on slide.

Friday, November 13, 2009

she got me

While in the shoe section:

"How about those, mommy?"
"No, I don't want you to have shoes with characters. No people on your shoes."
"But mom... Ariel is a mermaid, not a person."

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

against killing killers

I am against the death penalty.
I have conflicting feelings about religion and those 10 commandments, but "thou shalt not kill" seems pretty straight forward to me. As far as I know, Moses didn't bring down tablets with small print on them; no exclusions apply, no seeing stores for details. Don't kill people: got it, Chief.
Someone in Virginia has a pretty awful "to do" list today. John Allen Muhammad is going to be executed today, unless there are last minute stays.
I was in DC when Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo made people fearful to stop for gas and had schools (including the one I was working at) on lock down for three weeks. I remember standing on a street corner with my friends - wide eyed and pulse skyrocketed - as we watched a white windowless van come speeding down the wrong way of a one way street and disappear around the corner on 2 wheels. What if one of us was next?
That was the general feeling in the metro area for too long a time. Paralyzing fear.
I was there. I was affected. I do not want a government official to kill this man.

There is the opportunity here, to explore the affect of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder; Muhammad served in the first Gulf War. There is the link to another recent monsterous news event in Texas. But not for today.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

totally helpless moment in Mom-hood

Last week, Willa had a nightmare about a bear chasing her. She got impatient with me because I didn't remember this in the morning. It seems the bear was also chasing the rest of her family. She came down crying, and I couldn't make it better.

Two days ago she started talking about her dream from the night before. "There were two mean ladies, and they locked me in a cage. And I was waiting for you to come and help me. Mama, where were you? You didn't come help me." She was crying. I was tearing up.

This life of hers while sleeping is troubling. I laugh with her when she tells me about the one hundred thousand and nine kitties in her house. But this chasing, and fear and waiting for help... these nightmares must be awful for her. They are for me.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Dear Henry,

When you wake up from your naps the skin near your hairline smells faintly of baking chocolate. I inhale it while you cuddle out of your bleariness.



Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween, from the Hallo-sinkis

We passed out candy, went to 5 houses in the neighborhood, and dropped in on Jim's parents for a quick trick-or-treat. Dragonfly Henry's first second holiday was a success. Ballerina Willa enjoyed giving out and receiving.

Thursday, October 29, 2009


Four years ago, and every day; I do, I do, I do.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Just one

"Eric. That's the name of one of my husbands when I get older."
"Willa, what's my husband's name?"
"Uh.... daddy."
"And that's the only husband I have, right? Just one. How many husbands do you think you'll have?"

Finally, our little polygamist is ready to agree to one and only. And - just to record for posterity - his name will be Eric, apparently.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Big doin's today

So, here's Henry with my parents last weekend.
And.... he is in front of Jim's parents' burning bush today:

He loved the haircut, and was curious about the Henry in the mirror wearing the sheet. We were on the road and decided it was just time, and stopped in at a Great Clips. Quick, and done.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

While on the road this afternoon, Willa's backseat monologue was interrupted when she became distracted by construction vehicles next to us.
It went something like this:
"Then the tornado came and twirled Dorothy and her house around and arrrround... and aroun.....

-silence as we went past huge trucks in motion -

[I'm almost certain I saw her shake her head while "coming too" ] uh... what was I talking about?"

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Stalling before bedtime

"Let's build a word!"
"Okay, which word?"
"How about... Triassic period?"

Willa's been watching a lot of PBS lately. It's teaching her about letters making words, dinosaurs, and impressing your mom to distract her from "goodnights."

Watch him grow

If you'd like to see these a bit bigger, just click on the image above.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

12 months

You rarely remember the exact moment that you meet someone new, let alone have a photo of it. A year ago today, we met our son. Henry calls his sister "eye-la." He launches himself across the room, running the final strides into Jim's arms. He giggles while tickling me.Happy birthday, Henry.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Dear Henry's (future) teachers,

Please work closely with the Sinki family. I had no idea how my addiction would impact his future.

In the news: pregnant moms who eat a lot of licorice make hyper kiddos.

We're in big trouble.

Edit: Twizzlers is a licorice-like candy. No actual licorice ingredients. We're saved!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Wisdom and sweetness

Willa and Henry have found the center of the universe to be whatever toy the other is holding. Disputes ensue.

Unable to find my trusty hacksaw, I avoided the King Solomon route, and instead put the truck away. "If you can't share, neither of you can play with this."

Henry toddled onto the next adventure.

Willa made some declarations: "I don't like you. I don't like this house. I don't like these toys. I don't want to be a mom when I get big. Or a dad. I want to be a penguin."

She stomped upstairs, and he looked at me and said, "uh-oh."

And now I have to stop typing, because - after 3 minutes of alone time in her room -she came downstairs, walked over to me and said - very genuinely - "I'm sorry, mommy."

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

New alignment

I have a clicky jaw. Ever since... forever, when I open my mouth too wide, the connection between the upper and lower jawbones on the right sides click. When I switched dentists last year he told me this was not okay. I'm wearing away important body parts at night when I grind my teeth.

Two days ago I went to the dentist to pick up a bite guard.

Which means that for the past two mornings, I've been waking up entirely too aware of my bite. Are the molars supposed to rest that way? How did I hold my tongue before? Is this right? How about that way?

I'm feeling a little out of sorts, and unnatural, and -hey, who replaced my jaw?!

Which is an apt metaphor for figuring out the bigger picture right now too.

We're having a great time at home. Willa's at her first 1/2 day of school today. Henry is napping. We're making boxes into projects and a walk to the store an adventure. Happy, happy, Amy.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Garden roundup #1: Annuals

I need to make some notes to myself for coming years, folks. Here's the first dispatch from the garden.

Marigolds: we threw a bunch of seeds in the ground (literally) in between the rows of corn. They were thrown because I was trying to go fast before the garage bumble bees attacked me. The marigolds were a mix. As they came up, I transplanted them around the yard so they could get sun. There were some good, strong basic ones, some insanely (3 ft!) tall and raggedy orange. I don't like the tall ones, as they catch the eye and aren't so pretty.

Lobelia: I put these under/in front of the hostas, north of the front porch. I LOVE these and want to do them again. In deep blue.

Alyssum: I planted these 2 years ago. They reseeded (as they normally do). Disappointing this year.

Moss roses: stop buying these, Amy. You kill them. Dead. Don't think this year will be different. It won't.

Globe Amaranth: cute, but not necessary

Mexican Sunflower: YES!

Zinnias: Willa found a 3 year old seed packet in the deck box and I let her "plant" them while I was weeding the garden. They came up and are stunning. It was a mix packet, and we should do these again, but not at a front corner of the bed, as they're 2 feet tall.

Sunflowers: my friend Kerri gave me several feet of sunflowers. One seed escaped the mouth of the chipmunks and produced a plant with over 20 blooms. BEAUTIFUL.

Snapdragons: Four years ago, I had a hanging basket with sunflowers. The next year, a snapdragon appeared on the ground below where the basket hung. The next year, there were more plants around the house. This year there was a giant bunch of plants next to the lilac. I collected seeds to ensure we see them again. The white flowers with yellow centers are wonderful.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

I've got Peace Like a River

I am forcing myself to sit in front of the computer and type this all out. I wouldn't call what I'm feeling denial, or sadness; though being suddenly without a job is a change that needs to be processed. I've spent the past 2 days in a flurry of action: 2 different soups, 3 batches of bagels, and tomato sauce made from scratch and frozen, counter top cleaned, phone calls made, tackling the basement. Things I've not have time to do are getting done. The kids are enjoying their last week of full time school while I'm getting the house in order and prepping for future meals. But I haven't really thought about it.

And I should.

Five and a half years is a long time to spend in any relationship. Prior to this job, I had spent time as a vagabond for various nonprofit causes. A year here, eighteen months there, and when the term had ended, always thinking "what next?"

My most recent job was a curious blend of rewarding and deadening. I haven't written about it here much. This blog is for family stuff, and while my job was part of the family (especially after it moved in with us in January), it just wasn't a positive force in my life, so I left out those details. Basically, as long as I could consider my clients as the people I worked for, I was happy.

I don't know what's next. Something in between licking my wounds for a bit (for the loss, as well as processing a self-guilt thing for staying for as long as I did) and kicking back and enjoying a sabbatical. My friend Mandy gave me permission to take some time to be conscious about things, and I only realized yesterday how much that meant to me. So, for now, you'll find me in between those 2 extremes.

I have been spending little moments with Willa, before her final kiss of the day, lying next to her in my old twin bed and talking about and to God. We discuss what we were grateful for for that day, and what we might need help with the next day. And we tell/ask God. She tells me she's shy to talk to God, so she asks me to tell God things for her. This is a new thing for us. I love it. Last night while I was walking out, she asked me, "Mama? Did I make God smile today?"

I like her.

Henry, too, is getting some of my refocused God thing. Before lying him down, I hold him and sing this old song. A little slower than those talented ladies, no clapping, and no robes. We found the song on an Elizabeth Mitchell CD, and I've used it as a hymn of centering. For weeks, that melody calmed a crying Henry. I've written before about how the act of singing while faced with a crying child has been calming for both parties. This song does it. Every time.

I don't know if - by freeing up some space in my life - I have more room to think and be grateful - or just be... Maybe it's the lifting of the burden of a job that I dreaded, the release from a boss who gave me hives. Or maybe I'm just happy because I'm able to do what I want to do for a while until possibly another next thing comes my way. It's an incredible feeling of freedom and serenity and I sometimes catch myself grinning while chopping carrots.

This is all to say, I am good. And stay tuned.

Monday, September 28, 2009

The transition from quadra- to biped. AKA Henry walks!

We were retreating at my parents cottage at Higgens Lake last week when someone decided to create some excitement.

It was really special to me that Henry started walking while Jim, Willa and I were all there. These are - literally - his first steps.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


The universe is doing it's thing, and I think tomorrow will show some big changes in the job department. I'm not going to be posting this today (Wed), but I'm using this to get some premptive thoughts down.

I am feeling paranoid, and perhaps it's justified. The organization is in the red, and it won't be a surprise if there's another round of layoffs.

If I get let go tomorrow, I'll be sad. I've been here for 5.5 years. I've met a lot of great clients, community contacts, and coworkers. I'll also be relieved. Honestly, this isn't the job I applied for. My skills and education are being neglected.

We'll see what tomorrow holds.


Hi pals, so I wrote the above on Wednesday, 9/16 and was let go the next day. I am - genuinely, absolutely, not-a-defense mechanism, okay. I'm pretty hurt by the way it happened, but I'm seeing all kinds of silver linings. This coming week will be the kids' last week at daycare full time. Willa will keep going 2 1/2 days to give her some consistency and socialization (and, frankly, give me some time with Henry alone).
We spent a few days as a family at my parent's cottage. It was going to be relaxing and carefree, but turned out to be all 4 of us sick with aches and head stuffiness and chills and fevers. But we're recovering now.
I'm looking forward to taking some time to figure out next steps, and ensuring that the next step is toward a positive contribution.

Henry had a checkup yesterday. At 11 months, he's a svelte tall fella. 24 pounds and 31 inches.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Faith on dark 2 lane highways: a parable

Last night my car and I did not hit a bear.

Two night ago, none of us slept well. We had returned from adventures in the North, and our schedules were off. 3/4 of us adapt better to than than the littlest 1/4. Henry was up a whole lot two nights ago, which meant that Jim was up for a while with him (as with Willa at this age, I've stopped going in at night, as he doesn't see me as mom in the dark, he sees me as a walking meal/comfort under a t-shirt). After nearly 2 hours, I tagged in. I patted Henry's back, walked and swayed with him, and eventually- after an hour - gave in to comfort nursing him (bad, bad, bad). And finally... at about 5 am, we got some sleep.

And then Willa came downstairs in tears because the ball that Midnight - her invisible black cat - plays with had fallen under the bed and, Midnight? She neeeeeds it. Willa did not care that Midnight was sleeping, that it was the middle of the night, or that her mom was growling at her.

So... not a lot of sleep 2 nights ago. I know, you're all, "uh... Amy... the bear?" I'm getting to it.

Yesterday I started work at the usual time. I left my desk mid-afternoon to head north for a client education program. The highway was closed up there, my alternate route added a lot of unexpected drive time. The program was wonderful: more participants than expected and a fantastic speaker. After evaluations and post-program chats, I walked out of the building at 8:30 pm. This building is in Traverse City, and my little house with my little family in it is a little over 2 hours away. When the expressway is open.

I was tired, and had worked a long day, and was on a dark two lane highway.

Friends, I do not believe I have shared here the misfortune that the Ford Focus de Sinki has suffered in the past. One night on the way from Warren to West Michigan, a coyote attempted to cross the expressway right in front of me. Another night, on the way from Kalamazoo to Grand Rapids, a deer ran into the side of my car. Another night, in Grand Rapids at a red light, a car came off of the highway exit at a high speed, and smashed into the front of my car. He backed up, and hit me again before driving off.

So, when I saw the bear crossing sign on Michigan highway 115 last night, I was feeling certain that I would be calling my insurance company to let them know that wildlife and I had met again. And have you seen that sign? An adult bear followed by two cubs. It's a warning and a guilt trip all in one; watch for bears or have the soul of a bear cub on your shoulders forever.

I was so tired. And white knuckling the steering wheel. 5 miles, the sign warned. This one sign bracketed by several deer crossing warnings. Every tar mark up the road was surely a bear in my tired mind. Every sign on 2 posts was a deer. I was just coming from a seminar on managing stress in your life. Irony.

I decided that I would do the best that I could, and not worry about what was outside of the realm of my high beams. I literally shouted, "BEARS! Lie down and don't move!" I relaxed and decided that I would have faith that everything was going to work out for the bears, the Focus and I, that I could not really control the situation, that I should enjoy the quiet time in the car, and the power to put whatever music I like on the stereo.

I got home at 11 in one piece. Oops, I forgot: BEARS! Carry on...

Tuesday, September 08, 2009


"Willa, how many trees do you think are in this forest?"

She looked around the old growth of Hartwick Pines as though she was about to count all of the trees. Perhaps she was lazy, or maybe she remembered that her counting capability goes as high as 20 (and omits the number 13). She answered: "all of them."

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

This is my son. It still feels strange to say and type "my son." Just as much, I think as it was strange to type "my daughter." I have a firm understanding that the kids are for keeps, and I feel so very lucky. But sometimes the 15 year old in me is astounded that we've come this far.
Henry has ten and a half months of Sinki seniority. He has been wearing his first pair of shoes for a few days now. Velcro amuses him. He loves to dance and shake his head back and forth. He is a great eater and a mediocre sleeper. He is FULL of JOY. Henry loves to look at books, spending many consecutive minutes looking through his collection. He gives big ole kisses to me, and claps when he is excited. Both happy excited and frustrated excited. This means he claps when he's angry that I'm pinned him down to change his diaper. Henry has a temper. It is difficult to not laugh at a baby's temper.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Sweet and stinky

In her dimly lit room, I held my daughter for a moment. I swayed back and forth singing a song I made up for her when I could hold her in one arm.
I placed her on her bed, and pulled the covers around her chin. "Goodnight, sweet Willa."
"Mama," she said with a sleepy 1/2 smile, eyes barely open, "I farted on your hand."

Thursday, August 27, 2009

This man

is a really good dad.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Taste a little love of summer, my grandmother put it all in a jar

I just made my second jar of dilly beans. I'm doing these one jar at a time, as that's what our garden is providing. This takes only a few minutes to put together, and is so, so worth every minute.
Grandma P's Dilly Beans
Start with 4 pounds green beans
Pack beans lengthwise into jars, leaving 1/4 inch head space (unless you're making this one batch at a time and will be sealing them - in that case, don't worry about head space)
To each jar, add:
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 clove garlic
1 head dill
Bring to boil:
5 cups water
5 cups vinegar
1/2 cup salt
Pour over beans.
If you're going to make up the whole shebang with 4 pounds, you'll want to officiall "can" these. To do so, put lids on jars and put in boiling water w/ 2 inches above the top of the jars for 5 minutes.
While you're waiting for your water to boil, watch this and - if you were lucky enough to have a canning Grandma - smile while thinking of her.

Barney (not the dinosaur) and free thought dies...

"What do you have," I asked the librarian, "for a three year old who is asking a lot of questions about death?"
She handed me this book. It is wonderfully kind and gentle in dealing with the death of Barney the cat, and how the family (but particularly the little boy) deals with Barney's death.
Thanks, Judith Viorst!
Jim read it to Willa first, while I nursed Henry.
I hope Judith doesn't get mad because I'm posting the innards of her book on my little blog.
Cat angels made me giggle a little.
Jim raised an eyebrow and peeked under the second set of can angels, to reveal...

... a far deeper question.
Hey, Judith: cat death AND "does heaven exist?" all in one book?! Nice job.
Hey, religious zealot: go censor your own books with photocopied cat angels and scotch tape, and leave my public library books alone.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Mushrooms from a lot of rain or...

"Mama! Guess what was on the playground today?!"
Adequate pause for dramatic effect...
"Monster poop!"

Monday, August 17, 2009

In the kitchen

Last week, I plucked green beans from the garden. Jim and I took a lunch hour at the Farmer's Market and bought fresh dill, and then I created Grandma P's dilly beans. One whole jar's worth. The jar is nearly gone, but the garden is ready for another round of harvest. Note to self: next year, plant even more beans!

On Sunday we had a few friends over for brunch. I made potatoes (spicy and plain) and crepes (w/cream cheese and cherry filling as well as cottage cheese and raisin filling) and blueberry mint lemonade. It was crazy hot in our outdoor dining area, but it was nice to gather with friends.

Tonight's kitchen adventure will be pepper jelly. Any other suggestions for using/preserving both Hungarian Wax peppers and jalapenos? We've got a whole bunch.

I'm going to start documenting some of the recipes I'm trying out in the kitchen. Tomorrow, I'll actually post recipes to above.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

milkin' time

Sometimes I take a gander back in time here. What was life like when Willa was the same age that Henry is now?

And it was about this time that I started to loathe the breastpump. We have a complicated relationship; I respect it, as it allows me to gather milk to feed Henry while we're miles apart. But at the same time that woosh/hoosh over and over haunts me. I'm tired of remembering where I put the wall cord or the car adaptor.* I'm at the point of frustration when what comes out will not provide enough for the next day. I've got a call in to the doctor to see when she might consider okaying cow milk for a quite large and healthy fella.

Like my experience with Willa, I'll be nursing until we're both ready to be done. Assuming he'll be ready to wean before he's able to ask for it in sentences... But the pumping sessions are numbered, and I can't wait to be done. In the meantime, I have fantasies that look similar to this. That's right, I'm ready to go gangsta on the breastpump. I'm one badass mother...

*Should you see me on the road, don't look too closely, as I may be woosh/hooshing my way down the highway. Drive time = prime pump time.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Brother Bill, the teacher

Brother Bill called this morning to say he's going to teach Spanish to kids K-5. His job will be to teach numbers, letters, pronunciation, and maybe that the above graphic is a pretty mildly closed minded version of "Spanish."

From kenisology last year, to linguistics this fall, he's covering all the topics.

Good luck, Bill.

... and then she snapped her gum, rolled her eyes, and walked away

"Why aren't you dressed yet?"
"Why aren't you dressed yet, mama?"

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Inspiration in the every day

I work for an organization that serves people with a chronic, progressive disease. Some people are impacted physically, some cognitively.
I visited a self help group today and a member was talking about this guy. Group members were appropriately impressed. One woman talked about how in awe she is of blind people with their dogs or canes out in public.
And one of the leaders paused thoughtfully and said, "but that's just them living their life. We all do something like that - with our disease or in normal life outside of the disease."
And I gave him a mental high five.
This week, I'm going to be mindful of overcoming challenges and just "doing my thing."

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Someday, Willa...

Someday, Willa, you might find someone you like so much that you'll promise that person to try your best to be your best to that person every day for the rest of your life. Quiet moments alone are nice, but quiet moments with someone else is sometimes even better. I hope you find someone who will come to your aid on "that one word" in the crossword puzzle that's holding you up. I hope you find someone who surprises you with a thoughtful phone call in the middle of a hectic day. I hope you find someone who will cook for you and go to the store and buy 12 different kinds of vegetarian soups* when you're sick because that person wasn't sure which kind you liked the best. I hope that, if you choose to get married, you have exactly the kind of wedding ceremony and celebration you envision. Mom and dad did at ours.

I also hope that Seth, Danny, and Simon do not show up at your wedding, objecting to your vows on the basis that you've married them while in Preschool, just about every day now for the past two months.

It's true, you're wedding-crazy at three years old. You "get married" every day. Sometimes it's to one of the boys, sometimes it's to your self. Last week your were getting married at hotels. This week, you're getting married at the beach. You report hurt feeling when, one of the exasperated boys tells you they don't want to marry you. Your teachers report that a Willa-wedding consists of a piece of fabric - kept in the housekeeping area of your room - placed on your head and it MUST be over your eyes. Also? Flowers are a nice touch.

*If, you know, you end of following the vegetarian habits of your mother.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Book and Beach

A few thoughts...

I just finished reading Water for Elephants. It was a great read. If you're looking for the next book to spend a few hours with, pick this one up.

The only disappointment I had was to learn, in the notes from the author at the conclusion that Thomas Edison was... well, a bastard. I knew he was a sneak and a cheat, but....

How did I carve out time to read a novel in 4 days? I stayed up late while Jim snored, Henry snuffled, and Willa rolled around in her sleep. This is also why I started drinking coffee again after a 6 day break.

Tonight when I asked for a goodnight hug, Willa got a mischiveous look on her face. "I left them all at school, sorry," she said before cracking up. I gave her a hug and then she said she had a lot to give out again.

Henry still has 5 teeth. 2 up top, 3 down low. He was showing signs of #6 coming in to even out the smile, but it must be shy. He's discovered books, and will sit on the ground with a pile of board books, alternating between chewing on them and turning pages while squealing with delight.

We spent a good part of Sunday taking advantage of the fact that we could spend a good part of a day on the shores of Lake Michigan. It will a blissfull afternoon. So many photos and movies to pick from. For now, I want to document this. It might be the first and only time they share so well, and joyfully. She offered it to him before I thought to ask her to. And he quaked with happiness.

And here's Henry, boldly charging to the lake. Excuse the odd camera work. Jim was clearly drunk on farm stand produce.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

She won't be framed

"I have to tell you this about Willa," the teacher looked at me with a hint of a smile, but sad eyes.
"You know the 'who stole the cookie from the cookie jar' song?"

I nodded.

"We sang that in circle for the first time today. Everyone had a turn, and then it was Willa's turn, so one of the friends said 'Willa stole the cookie!' She had been singing and clapping along until this. Your daughter stood up, put her hands on her hips and shouted, 'I did NOTTTTT.' And then she started crying. So, we quickly changed it to someone else, and she was fine."

I teared up and laughed a the same time.

My sensitive, earnest, soulful Willa.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

My sister, Lisa

There has been a lot of talk lately about what characteristics make a hero. Pals, here's an example of an honest to goodness hero.

A year ago, my sister called me from Tampa. Her shaky voice more than the words told me that her world was shattered even more than we expected. The twin girls that had been growing inside of her had died that morning. The pregnancy had been complicated. Their growth had been complicated.

Missing them, Nadilynn and Samatha, who - so beautifully ironic - only Lisa and Ken got to physically touch, has been complicated. I saw their photos. So teeny, frustrating close to perfect. A chin from one relative, the nose of another, 20 fingers and 20 toes. And, thankfully, they looked so at peace.

A lot of you at that time offered so much support and generous words of healing and thoughtfulness. And some of you still ask how she is doing.

I want to tell you about my sister now.

She is doing "okay."

She has good days and terrific days, and she has some pretty shitty days. She is healing.
I want to share that I have learned about strength and resiliency from her. I'm so impressed by, and proud of, her. Her ability to mourn with honesty and grace, and her will to get out of bed and keep moving make her a hero in my eyes.

Tomorrow morning, she and her husband will mark the one year point of when their sweet babies were stillborn. Please say a prayer, if you're so inclined.

Monday, July 27, 2009

... and now a word from our Henry

Officially, his first word is duck. Just like his sister. Just like his cousin. He was in the tub on Saturday, and picked up the rubber duck, held it out for me and rightly proclaimed it to be "duck." And the next day when I showed him another duck, he repeated it. He only uses it for that particular item.

Jim wants, I suspect, the history blog to read that da-da was Henry's first word. But he calls a lot of people and things da-da, though he's becoming more discerning.

In related, though not at all competitive news...
Yesterday was a weird day. I woke up feeling claustrophobic, and the feeling continued through the afternoon. Jim and I were picking at each other. The dogs were bugging me. I tried to get outside to get a second to myself, and the second I opened the door, it started to pour.
I was upset, and feeling off (possibly related to most recent older post). Actually, I was feeling more than off. Truth be told, I was feeling doomed.

And then I took Henry to change his diaper. When I reached to pick him up, he smiled, reached both arms out and said, "mamama."

Kid's got good timing.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Laughter proof that I don't need medicine?

I've been quietly processing life and not really writing about it.

Last week, I stopped taking my medication for post partum depression. Bad timing, as Jim and I were apart, I worked a ton, and we were not even home. But, I think my brain chemistry needs to get itself back in order itself, and I'm ready to give it a shot without the aide of pharmaceuticals.

Jim, a few times, used the phrase "off your meds" which made me cringe. But, it's the truth, my body needed some assistance in dealing with balancing out hormones with stress and anxiety and "ohmygosh! We're out of vinegar! I can not clean the countertop without vinegar, so clearly, I must sit on the floor in tears."

That was November. Now this is me, off my meds. I'm doing okay, and we're stocked up on vinegar.

Now, I will share with you two things that make me smile broadly.

At the corner of Diamond and Fulton, there is a liquor store. Go there, and look at the ad on the exterior wall that faces Diamond. Yes, friends, it's an add for the Kidney Foundation. On a liquor store.

And check this out. Those zany Catholics and their wacky humor put St. Anthony, patron saint of "where the heck did I leave my...." right next to their seach function. If there's a patron saint of wry humor, I'd like to give her/him a shout out for that one.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Straighten up and... listen

Willa likes listening to Diana Krall's cover of "Straighten Up and Fly Right" (click here to hear Nat King Cole sing his song. Don't bother watching the video part). At first, I thought it was only because there's a monkey in the song. But this morning, I heard her humming and then she stopped while listening. "Mommy, there are drums in this song!" And then she noticed the piano. We talked about how a string bass sounds, and now she knows about a jazz trio.

The music nerd in me is pretty excited about this. We'll be listening to more jazz in the car now. And then - deliberately - move onto other genres.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

T&A. My Ts, Henry's A.

I pump. I dump. I tear up a little.
Turns out it is indeed the breastmilk (w/ antibiotics) that have caused Henry's diaper rash.
In 7th grade, Mr. Prevost taught us the scientific method. We followed it. Henry's rash cleared up after 30 hours of only formula. But maybe that was a fluke, you say? We reintroduced, and hours later - woosh! Bottom on fire.
I have about 2 gallons saved in the fridge downstairs from last week. I can't bring myself to dump that. But for the next 2 days, my pumping is all about maintaing supply for when my body is free of the medicine.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009


In the backyard this evening with Willa and Henry:

"Mom, I waannnnttt that."
"Willa, that's Henry's special popcicle*. It's going to help him get better quick."
"But I wannnnnttt that."
"You can have your own popcicle after dinner."
a minute later while I'm talking with Jim:
"Mom, I want a popcicle."
"After dinner. If you eat your vegetables."
"But we got to share. I want some. Henry wants to share."

"Willa, I have to go inside for a minute. While daddy's watering the grass, can you be my assistant and keep mosquitoes off of Henry?"
"Okay. I'll be your insistent."

*Popcicle chock full of electrolytes

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Lots of nipple discussion to follow

Dear medical community, please grow a pair. Also, study up on breastfeeding.

On Thursday, I woke up with what can only be described as a feeling that the 7 dwarfs had escaped from Snow White, had shrunk to even dwarfier, and were using their mining axes on the inside of my left breast. Bastards. Off to the doctor I went.

I saw a great substitute doctor because my own doc wasn't available. She examined me and declared my breast to be infected. She sent me on my way with sympathy, a prescription of antibiotics, rest and a warm compress.

Over the weekend, I spent a lot of time sleeping. And feeling warm, when I was awake. I also spent a lot of time nursing Henry in an effort to unclog any pipes that might be causing the infection.

Over the weekend, poor Henry developed diarrhea (no, family, not the same as MaKenna's new book that we're not allowed to look in - quick awwwww and tee hee for the 5 year old who has given the wrong name to her diary). And quickly his poor bottom a diaper rash that made up for all of the other diaper rashes he never got.

He cried. I cried.

We got home late from up north and he screamed from pain and I cried from feeling that the milk my body was producing was hurting my little pal. We found the can of formula we left the hospital with when he was born and cracked it open. Through tears, I started mentally composing a blog entry titled "when Breast is not best..."

The next morning I pumped and left a message for the doctor through a nurse. And then pumped while leaving a message for the hospital's lactation consultant. And then pumped while leaving a message at Baby Beloved, a local lactation organization.

Slowly calls came back.
"It sounds like thrush to me, you both need to be treated." Except there are no white patches in his mouth and my nipples are not red or painful, it's inside.

"You'll have to pump and dump." this means work really hard at expressing breastmilk and then... pouring it down the drain.

"No, I don't think you'll have to dump, it's just teething that's causing this rash." Except the timing?

"I can't tell you about probiotics, you should call your OB/GYN." Thanks pharmacist.

We took Henry to the doctor, another substitute because our doctor doesn't work on Mondays. She was the one who blamed the rash on teething. And then told us we needed to change his diapers more often. And said there were no contraindications for the antibiotic I was on; despite the red, blistered contraindication naked right in front of her. She would not listen to my real issues. We left with a script for magic butt paste in Jim's hand and the wrath of a mother wronged in my (feeling better by then) chest.

Finally, the lactation consultant at Baby Beloved gave me the time to voice my concerns and suspicions. She listened. She asked probing questions. She told me I wouldn't have to throw my milk away. She was supportive and smart and knew about breastfeeding. And wasn't too afraid of liability to give me input. And I love her.

Next time that's my first stop.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Working vacation for Jim

By virtue of his employment compensation package being similar to that of a state employee, Jim gets gobs more vacation time than I do.
Additionally, by virtue of him not having a uterus in which to implant a baby, it was me taking maternity leave. The leave impacts how much vacation I earned for this year. This means Jim has waaaayyyy gobs more vacation than I do this year.
So, while I'm working today he is not working at his job. He is currently outside standing over a wet saw cutting tile for the kitchen backsplash. Just typing that makes my heart skip a beat with excitement. Soon it will be complete!!!
Have I shared that I no longer sit in an office chair? I work while seated on an exercise ball. When I type kitchen backsplash, I realize that I'm bouncing up and down.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

lost in translation

Willa: But daaaddddy, there's a monster chasing me.
Jim: You tell that monster that Daddy says you need to get your shoes.
Willa: Monster, daddy says go away, I need my shoes.
Jim: Tell that monster go away.
Willa: Monster. Go away!
Jim: Tell that monster "your ass is grass."
Amy: Jim!
Willa: pauses... "Monster, you eat grass!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

I saw the light at 2 am

"It's always in the last place you look," goes the old saying.

Of course "it" is. Why would one keep looking if "it" has been found?

I've been doing some thinking this week about the way people do things. Style: mommy style, partner style, worker style, boss style, getting mom and dad up in the middle of the night because I can now stand up in my crib but I don't know how to get down style.

I've been thinking about how we all get wrapped up in our individual styles - consciously or not - to the point that not only are we sure that our style is right, but, sometimes, everyone else's is dead wrong.

Parenting has become a method of expression, and ideas are packaged as techniques or lifestyles and worn like Paris Hilton's dog. "Do you do Babywise?" "No, no... we're into Attachment Parenting..." I'm a mother who can not commit to ordering "the lumberjack breakfast" and instead, prefer to order a la carte. Are there nights that Henry is lulled to sleep by Jim or I patting his back? Yup. Are there nights that we close his door and let him cry a little? Yup, particularly lately. Are we better parents for one of those nights than the other? Don't answer that, I'm just trying to make a point.

I am a "live and let live" kind of driver. It works for me to do my thing while being aware of others doing their things. Jim is a driver who flips people off when they are not practicing safe or sensible driving techniques. He does this in a very subtle way and not so much that the other driver is aware they've offended, but that he has recognized their jerkiness and has reacted and has put it behind him. At first I thought "my husband is a passive aggressive driver." Now I know he's just living his own form of vigilante justice. Just like Chuck Norris. If we're both safe and sane drivers, are one of us better for our driving styles?

Forks up or down to dry? Toilet paper to the front or to the back? Communicating hurt feelings or quietly frowning? Paint the toe nails or leave them be?

This week I'm trying to stop buying into my own style hype, and be consciously more accepting of others. I'm also trying to seek out other ways that might make life at Camp Sinki easier, more orderly, cleaner, fuller, smilier. I'm trying to not settle for finding something in the last place I've looked, even if it seems like I've found "it."

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Garden check in

It's cra-zy hot outside. I know these guys are happy, so long as they get water this evening.

In the photo above is our single (not yet ripe) blueberry. One is better than none. We've had 2 bushes for 2 years. I moved them to a location that gets more sun and presto! Happier plants.

Oh Snap! Peas.

Lily + Clematis = true love always

The blooms in front: geranium, lavender, coreopsis

The strawberries are done for the year. The corn is just about ankle high (lots of growing to do before the 4th of July) - but it's there, so I'm happy. Beans are growing, growing, growing. Tomatoes are enthusiastic. Pumpkins bloomed last week. We'll see... Cucumbers on the way. Eggplant happy, as are the squash. Peppers. We will have all sorts of peppers.
Happy flowers. Happy gardener with new and expanded beds. As always, I'm excited about this season, but next season? Will be awesome!