We can attempt to teach the things that one might imagine the earth would teach us: silence, humility, holiness, connectedness, courtesy, beauty, celebration, giving, restoration, obligation and wildness.
David Orr from "Earth in Mind"

Jul 26, 2007

27 Day When the News Makes Me Go Grrrrr!

NPR just reported this story about infant deaths in Detroit. It makes me furious that the doctor was making all these claims about cosleeping being the cause of the deaths when there have been studies that have shown that cosleeping reduces the risk of SIDS. The doctor in the story made cosleeping out to be this thing that only happens in families that are too poor for cribs or who don't know better because they are from distant lands (read backwards). The reality is that it is only in The United States and England (Canada?) where cosleeping is not the norm.

If you are curious about cosleeping there are some resources here and here.

Just had to put this out there.

Jul 25, 2007

28 Days Wood Prints

One of the things I plan on doing more of when we are in Vermont is printing. I had to put away my print making stuff when Alder was born. Between the sharp blades and the fumes it seemed like a bad idea with baby. In our new place I am going to have my own space with a window for ventilation some I can start up again. Until then I get inspiration from a few different artists.

Nikki Mcclure

Mary Azarian

Eric Drooker
open books and then Flood and watch the sequence.

Sonia Delaunay-Terk

Daphne Taylor

Jul 23, 2007

30 Days The memories packing brings

I spent the morning packing boxes and listing stuff on Craigslist. At one point I was going into the closet to pull my husbands sweaters and glanced at my side of the closet. And this is what I saw.
I love how it is full of flowery shirts. This has been a long process. I grew up in a house where clothing was usually navy blue and tan or gray and white. My mother's taste tended towards tweeds and denim while my father wore a business suite or Chinos with a navy blue tennis shirt everyday. My clothes were either hand me downs from older friends or bought along the lines of their tastes. As I grew older they felt like my own.

But I remember spending hours looking a catalogs with dresses and shirts with flowery patterns and light colors. I would wander through the neighborhood dress shops like some people do jewelry stores. But when it was time for a new dress they were usually very dignified or casual.

Slowly after I left home more feminine clothing entered my wardrobe but I still preferred blacks, blues and greens, and nothing to girly. It wasn't that I didn't like the colorful stuff it was just that I felt awkward wearing it.

After I meet my husband I was introduced to a new palette of colors for clothing. He wore oranges and browns and light blues. Since we were fairly close in size I found myself in his t-shirts and button downs often. It was a slow process but I eventually added more light colors to my closet. But the dresses and skirts and flowery prints still eluded. Then we moved to Denver where the summers are hot (I know I've mentioned this before) and so I started to wear skirts on hot days and well they've drifted into my life and I have begun to love them.
The flowers came along slowly first in blues then broadening. Until now the closet bursts with colors.

But I was trying to tell a story. Last Fall a childhood friend came for a week. We were getting ready to go out for a nice dinner and for fun I asked her to choose me clothing, like she used to years before. Before we got to my room she told me that I should wear something flowery, as a joke. She was surprised to see my closet and me causally saying 'but which one'.

My family is still surprised when they see me in anything other than jeans and t-shirts or some women's version of a male piece of clothes. The funny thing is if I map this change in wardrobe I see that it follows a more complex line of changes in me as a person. As I have become more confidant with who I am I have felt more at ease in my body and therefore more willing to wear different colors.

In a lot of ways I can thank Kevin for a lot of these changes. He has always been supportive of my choices and he never expects less of me since I am a woman. Yet he revels in my womanness. With this support I have been able to pursue the things that are important to me and not worry that he might be critical. Knowing that he is there loving me has allowed me to become more of who I am. From starting a non-profit to wearing dresses.

hmm... I think I'll go kiss him.

Jul 22, 2007

31 Days a Walk Across Denver

Alder and I walked across Denver yesterday. We started out at the Tattered Cover, our favorite bookstore, where I actually splurged on a few books:

Simple Sewing Patterns and How To by Lotta Jansdotter

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by JK Rowlings

Embroidery Techniques and Patterns by Marie-Noelle Bayard

Finding Your Inner Mama by Eden Steinberg

The Bake Shop Ghost by Jaqueline Ogburn

This is the most books I have ever bought without them being for other people, I know we can't really afford it but soon we will be without the Tattered Cover and their huge stock of books to browse through. Okay so I finished Harry Potter at 3:30 last night but that was worth it.

After Alder climbed the stairs, five times we headed west towards home visiting friends along the way. We also stopped into Stuben's for some lunch. And then headed into down town. There is something eerie and enjoyable about walking through a business area during the weekend when it's all quiet. Then it was past the train station where the cross country train was stopping for dinner. Over the train bridge, the south Platte river bridge, and the new walking bridge (see photo) to the slog up the long hill home. Five hours and seven miles later we were collapsed on the floor.

A friend of mine calls this sort of stuff urban spelunking but I think yesterday was more urban trekking. It isn't a replacement for being out in the hills or mountains but it can be fun.

Jul 20, 2007

33 Days Purple

You know how songs get stuck in your head and won't leave? Well for the last two days I have had a color stuck in my head not a song. For some reason I have been spending an enormous amount of time thinking about purple. It isn't that I want something purple in particular, I have just been thinking about the various shades of purple and what other colors look good with it and where in nature purple occurs. These are some pictures I found.
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Hanging Grapes
©2001 McIntyre

Jul 18, 2007

35 days Birthday Pictures


On Alder's actual birthday I tried letting him feed himself his yogurt. We've got a ways to go on the non solid foods, but he is starting to get the idea. The bath afterwards was a lot of fun too.

Aunt Karen was worried that we would be upset how messy he got with his cup cake. She obviously had not been there the day before for the yogurt. The party was pretty good, it was mainly family and a few friends, no other babies but the cousins had a lot of fun playing with him.
Trish made him this great dog, and he got some other neat gifts. Of course he loves the singing nursery rhyme book, it isn't so bad that I can't tune out the sound especially since it makes him so happy. I can't promise that I'll replace the batteries.

Jul 17, 2007

36 Days left Empathy and Quilts

I have been wanting to post for a few days now but I keep putting it off because I managed to clean up the camera to somewhere obvious, which is as everyone knows is never an obvious place.
Of course this means no birthday party pictures. So on with life I guess.

Yesterday was a lesson in empathy for Alder. We we over at our friends' house getting
ready to go to the pool. L was getting her diaper changed and was crying. When Alder heard that and saw what was happening his face went into a pout and he began to cry as well at L's Mama. While I don't like to see him cry it was interesting to see what he chose to react to... one of his least favorite activities.

The other piece of empathy yesterday was the butterflies in my stomach while Kevin took his exit exam for school. I can't imagine being tested on four years of information in a 200 multiple choice question test. Of course he was more nervous today when he couldn't remember if he signed one of the sections.

So the other reason that I haven't been blogging as much is that I got myself sucked into a quilt project for Alder. It started with some embroidered squares that I didn't know what to do with. Then I thought a little quilt would be nice. So I was working on a simple 16 piece quilt happily embroidering pictures and words on to various squares. Yesterday I was cleaning up around the house and realized that we already have umm... four baby quilts, including one that was from when I was born. So I decided to grow the quilt to be for a twin size bed. So I raided our fabric box and found some more pieces but I am missing a lot. I went on line and fell in love with this and this fabric. So now I have to cross my fingers and hope they don't disapear before my replacement credit card shows up.

Jul 13, 2007

39 Days Alder Turns 1

One year ago today I might someone for the first time. It was two am and here in the same room that I am writing this sitting in a tub (horse trough) Alder Joyce came into my life. I can hardly remember that vermix covered baby. How much peace and balance you have brought to my life. In one year you have taught me so much about the world and myself. You truly are my Tree of Joy. This Mama is honored to be experiencing everyday with you. Who knew there was a love this strong?

I thought I might put his birth story here but it is seven pages typed. If anyone is really dying to read it I can make it available.

Jul 12, 2007

40 Days Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

I have been doing research on local foods for an article lately . One of the books that I have been reading is Barbara Kingsolvers "Animal Vegetable Miracle" which is about how her family ate locally for one 'growing' year. It got me thinking about how lucky I have been living in places where there is a lot of local food available. Last year we made a decision to only eat tomatoes if they were in season, or canned, not only were they coming from far away but they tasted awful. Does anyone else remember the novelty of fresh tomatoes in January when they came three in little plastic crates from Israel? My mom called them styrofoam.

To shift to a different member of the plant family completely I thought I would share the joys of strawberry rhubarb pie. Which is one of those fleeting dishes that only comes around once, maybe twice a year. The recipe that follows the pictures is my own, every recipe that I have tried came out either too sweet or too complicated. As you'll see in the pictures pie crusts are tough for me (I blame the lack of humidity in Colorado since I can make a great one at sea level), so you'll have to fend for yourself on that, although I would suggest a butter based one rather than shortening because the pie is very tart and needs balance.


3 pints of strawberries
2 cups of chopped rhubarb
5 Tbs evaporated cane sugar (if you use white sugar it will increase the sweetness)
1 tiny pinch of salt
1 Recipe for pie crust

0) Preheat oven to 350
1) Chop rhubarb in pinkie width pieces.
2) Hull and quarter strawberries.
3) Mix fruit with sugar and salt and let sit.
4) Make crust.
5) Dump fruit mix into crust in pie pan.
6) Make lattice (Obviously my attempts was lacking).
7) Put in oven for about 45 minutes or until the house is so full of flavor that you can't wait any longer, surprisingly they are about the same.

Jul 11, 2007

Rethinking Structure vs Love perhaps its Rhythm

A few weeks ago I wrote this post about why teachers and other adults often say that children need structure. My basic argument was that the structure was a substitute for love. A few nights ago I literally woke up from a dream thinking about this. It occurred to me that while yes love is realistically gone from school relationships that isn't what the structure is replacing. Structure is replacing rhythm.

Rhythms are natural they tend (but not always) to be cyclical and can easily be mistaken for structure if you aren't looking carefully. In our family we have a pretty consistent day but most of it occurs at certain times because that is when they work best. Naps happen when Alder is tired, and since he usually gets up at the same time they usually happen around the same time. Meals are eaten not by the clock but by our stomachs which digest food over a certain period of time, but in the summer when it is very hot we eat less and less often because our bodies need less and the kitchen is too hot to spend a lot of time in. In the winter we eat more and more often, not only are our bodies working harder to keep us warm but we are drawn to the warmth of cooking and the kitchen.

While I am not a proponent of schools for our family specifically I know there are schools out there who follow a more rhythm oriented schedule, both daily and over the course of the year. I would guess that the difference between those two settings are more subtle and more telling. That being said I would also guess if you were to look at a day in our life and a day in the life of a family who impose their own structure that the difference would be striking.

Scheduled families also seem to be families who live disconnected from the natural rhythms of the day and year. How could someone who isn't aware of the cycle of the moon, for example, be expected to trust in letting natural rhythms run their course. These people not only seem to look at children as different creatures but they themselves would be afraid to live with out their day planners filled. The current Mothering Magazine has an article about a mother choosing not to sign her four year old up for soccer. The pressures to fill children's time with directed activities isn't only part of the whole over achievement craze but it is also a result of adults who do not know how to spend time just living.

Work fills most people's days not only at the office but afterwards either through additonal commitments or stress, beyond that there are gyms to join, reading groups to be part of and I haven't even started to talk about any religious, political or service commitments people give themselves. At first look there is something of value in each activity but any of these loose their value when they are crammed into a week where relaxing with a cup of tea is considered wasteful.

My bias is to say that a lot of this has to do with American's disconnect from nature. As animals we are bound to these rhythms but our intelligence has, as it often does, gotten the better of us. We are beyond conquering we have banished it to a picture frame next to visits to grandma and baking. The result of this separation is a constant searching for ways to fill the gaps, schedules take the place of rhythms, organized activities take the place of socializing with your neighbor. The one I always find the saddest are the people who go to the gym to run on the treadmills or ride the bikes while watching the Nature Channel or reading Outside Magazine when they could just as easily step out their front door and experience the world for themselves.

Love may not equal rhythm but for children being trusted to have their needs and feelings, and those of the families as a whole, to lead the way in the way that the day goes is a form of love. Alder may only be a year old but I already let him to for himself what he can and one of these ways is letting him choose when he is tired and when he is hungry. Every day he adds another thing that he does for himself, or chooses. The other side to this is that he knows that we are there to take care of every need he has, that he will be cuddled when he is cuddly, changed when he is wet, and loved always.

SPC Engaging With the Earth

When I was young I went to a camp in the Adirondack Mountains in New York. When the mountains were in reach and we were driving up highway 73 I was be shaking like a dog with excitement. As soon as the car would pull into the camp I would run from the car checking to make sure all my favorite spots were still there. It wasn't until I had sat on one of the boulders did I feel grounded.

As an adult I still feel a connection to rocks, of all sizes. Having a rock beneath or a stone in my hand makes me feel more alive. I even have a small stone from years ago that I still lay on my tongue and get a certain calmness. Some people are enlivened by scenery or animals for me it is the stones.

Jul 6, 2007

Day 47 (counting mistake before) or Teeth

Yesterday was supposed to be awful. Kevin was supposed to be in a lot of pain and unconscious or out of it for most of the day. That is what everyone said happens after you get your wisdom teeth out. Instead we just had a mellow day of watching dvds and going out for Mexican food. He even studied for a few hours. Today it hurts him more but he still is busy around the house, although he isn't going to go into clinic.

He is one wonderful but truly strange man, on the way home he showed me the baggie that they gave him his teeth in. They were still bloody. I can now say that I have a husband who wants to wear a necklace of his own teeth!

Jul 4, 2007

day 47 Eat Your Breakfast or Play On It

Yesterday the heat got too much for me so I loaded Alder in the car and we headed to the ritzy mall across town. No we weren't going shopping. We were going to spend the afternoon in the air conditioning in their breakfast themed playground. To be honest it was a great time.

This is one of those indoor playgrounds that is made out of soft sculptures on a theme. They are great for crowds of kids since if you bump into something you just sort of bounce off of it. I don't know if I would have ever thought of Breakfast Food as a theme but it actually is pretty fun for the kids (think bacon slides and sausage links balance beam).

For Alder this place is heaven because it is set up that even a crawler can get everywhere (except on top of the banana). Since everything is accessible to him without my help I really let him do his own thing. I sit where I can see him and visit him here and there for fun but mainly I let him get caught up in the fray of excitement.

I have mentioned before here my thoughts about playground kids and was happy that the same was true here even though none of these kids were "regulars". Alder was definitely the youngest kid out there on his own and the other kids kept coming up to him to say hi or play with him briefly in the middle of their games of tag (?).

He is an extroverted child, looking to make friends with the other children even though he can't speak or keep up with them. If there happened to be a child pausing for a moment in crawling distance he would go over to them and give them a big smile and then pet them like he pets the cat. The girls especially loved this which made the little flirt very happy. But he has confidence to, when the bigger kids would suddenly bounce off he wouldn't be disappointed he would just go off and do the next thing that came to him.

At one point he found two older boys who were dropping themselves off of a ledge over and over again. He went over to where they were and they let him join in their play for a long time. I was a little nervous that they were going to help him up on to the ledge but they never did. Instead they would carefully drop themselves over him giving him big smiles and silly faces.

I got a few looks from other parents since I wasn't right on top of him all the time. And there were quite a few children his age or older who were herded by their parents constantly from one object to another without much exploring time. Of course when these kids left there were often tears. Since we had come with over two hours to play we left when Alder came over to me and made it obvious. He was content to be back in his stroller with his bottle of juice when we left the playground.

I don't think we'll become regulars but we will probably end up there every week or two if this ridiculous heat keeps up.

Jul 3, 2007

SPC Challenge Water Comforts

I have always been drawn to water. Even as a child I understood this. Not only do I find being in it/ on it restorative and exciting I also am comforted by it both through physical contact and watching and listing to it. This photo was taken while I was in labor. I took nine hot showers over 22 hours before giving birth to my son in a pool. His first birthday is next week I can hardly believe all of that happened a year ago.


Just to clarify for all of you who have been confused about the plans this August. Kevin and I are renting a 17' truck and driving it and the car across the country and we are camping out along the way. We are willing to pay one one way ticket for someone to help us, anyone else who wants to come along is welcome but should know that we can't afford their plane ticket. We are not staying in motels because after being in the car all day we look forward to camping out. We are not towing the car because there isn't a place for Alder in the truck. We are planning on picnicking and cooking our own meals, except one special diner meal. And most of all we are not in any way shape or form hiring movers.

Our plan right now is to drive rt 34 most of the way across the country rather than the interstate since we aren't going to be moving that fast and there is more to see on 34.

48 Days he is learning before my eyes

Back from the wonderful retreat of the mountains. Days spent canoing and evenings at the hot springs. Unfortunately Denver is no cooler, but we search out things to do, yesterday we went to the downtown library for the morning. Today is the indoor pool.

Alder had a busy few days while we were visiting grandma and grandpa. Things were just sort of clicking in his mind. First he figured out how his stacking velcro toys worked and sat there happily putting them together and ripping them apart. Then he started to take single steps, not far but he just didn't bother to sit down and crawl for the sort distances, these steps were more like directed falls. He spent a lot of time imitating the sounds that grandpa made including saying back at one point. I know it wasn't self motivated speech but it was exciting.