Friday, December 24, 2010

Rambling and disjointed rant of a vaguely feminist nature:

Remember in the beginning when I didn't have children and my blog updates consisted of these rambling insights into my self-indulgent little world? Indeed I enjoyed a lovely two month period in which this here blog was the number one hit on a google search for the words "self delusionment." That could be because I made up the word delusionment, but never the less: NUMBER ONE!

And it seems that things have settled down somewhat around here, because in between stopping my infant from repeatedly turning the stove on, and my pre-schooler from playing his favorite game "tow truck" which involves pulling his brother around by the neck (but he is a broken car momma!), I have had a few minutes to start thinking about me. The thing that I've been thinking is: man it sucks that none of my clothes fit, that my blood pressure is sky high, that I'm starting to suffer from chronic back pain and that I feel like poo all the time.

So I decided to do something about it. I've joined a gym and I've been showing up on a semi-regular basis for a bit of hamster-wheel action on the tread-mill. I've also been counting the dreaded calories and it's ever so slowly starting to pay off. I can fit into my pants again at least.

But here's the rant.

Maybe it's because I'm a nice mid-western girl who never takes the last cookie, and responds to every compliment with a "poo-poo it's nothing" wave of the hand, but if someone does happen to compliment my (slightly) improved figure, I have caught myself feigning surprise and responding with something trite like "Oh? Well thanks, it must be from chasing after those pesky children of mine." It's from doing my sit-ups, and spending an hour on the treadmill every chance I can get away. It's also from skipping those delicious cookies that contain an average of 650 calories per ounce. know what?

Thanks! I've been working really hard, and I appreciate it that you've noticed.

And you know what else?

You should take credit for your hard work too. Own your fabulousness. Don't just take compliments, demand them.

Ragnar... is fucking sexy damn it.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Lazy Sunday morning...

The fantasy: a lazy Sunday, no alarms to go off, no children to drop off at school. Everyone gradually waking up after a good night's sleep and slowly making their way to the family bed for a little snuggle time before getting up for some made-from-scratch breakfast to be shared around the table.

The reality: Sunday morning. The children are hardwired with some sort of hint-of-daylight sensing circadian rhythm which causes their eyes to fly open at 7:15, and they belly flop into the parental sleeping space. Their motors are set on maximum, recharged by the six hours of sleep which seems to be all they need. The baby grabs his brother's hair. The Destroyer is using his father's (who is playing dead and hoping that they'll eventually give up) face as a stepping stool. After 15 minutes of listening to the parents say things like: "Ow, stop kicking me in the face," "Your brother's ear is not a handle," and "If you can't lay still you have to go back to your own bed," The Baby will get tired of being trampled by his elder, and decide that if the whole family is here in bed, then that means that the toilet is undefended and now would be a good time to get in a little splashing. Reluctantly the Mother rises to shut the bathroom door before collapsing back in bed, thus diverting Ragnarbaby's attention to the dresser, which he systematically empties. Sensing that he is missing out on fun The Destroyer joins his brother to make a nest in the pile of clothes. When the parents still fail to rise, the blankets are pulled unceremoniously from their bed and added to the "fort" which is being assembled in the hallway. Realizing that if she doesn't get some coffee soon, her spawn might not live to see another pre-dawn morning, the mother stumbles downstairs, hampered by her children who have latched on to her nether limbs as soon as her feet hit the floor. "I want trick or treat candy for breakfast!" The Destroyer yells over and over again.

Ragnar...hey, we slept in for a whole half hour, right?

Friday, October 01, 2010

Ragnarbaby blogs...

Hey guys! So...I'm almost a year old now and I thought that I'd just take this opportunity to let you in on some of the exciting new things that have been happening to me lately.

Walking. Walking is pretty great, well...maybe not the walking part because that involves a lot of falling down on your butt (diapers are like a built in crash cushion!) but the standing up is simply awesome. I can reach so much stuff! Like the knobs on the stove for instance. Did you know that if you turn the stove knobs that they make a neat clicking noise and then, I am not even kidding here, FLAME SHOOTS OUT OF THE STOVE. It's like having a superpower! Also, I can take food off my brother's plate and boy does he hate that. It's hilarious!

I've got a whole bunch of teeth now, 8 all together, and they work really well for biting. I like to use them to rip off chunks of bread that I can stash around the house for later on when I get hungry. I find that a few days of "curing" brings out a subtle earthy flavor. Also, may I highly recommend stale cheerios, if you haven't already had the pleasure. If there's nothing edible around the next best thing to bite is people. You get this instant reaction that is just hysterical! And it happens again and again, it's like...cause and effect or something.

I've got to wrap this up, it's almost time for me to chug a whole bottle of milk and then pass out in a puddle of my own drool, but before I go I wanted to clue you in to this amazing thing that I've recently discovered. They're all over the place, but no one seems to understand how much fun they are. They're called "toilets" and they have this hinged lid on them that is great for banging up and down, and then when you get tired of that they're full of WATER. I know right? How much fun is that? And then if you get tired of splashing in the water, there's this handle that makes them go all swirly. I could seriously play with toilets all day long, but Mom, also known as the Fun Police, has started shutting the bathroom doors! I can't QUITE reach that doorknob yet, but I am working on it, let me tell you.

Okay, gotta go, there's a bottle of soymilk on the counter with my name on it.

Ragnarbaby...pretty much not a baby anymore.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Want to get a babysitter so we can....

Just in case there are any of you out there who haven't had kids yet, I wanted to relate this conversation that I had with another mom today.

She was talking about how she's dropping her year and a half old son off at daycare twice a week, and how it's very exciting because one of those days is going to be "just for her." She felt guilty though, because it seemed unfair to her to drop her son off with strangers so that she could live it up without him. The thing that she did while he was in daycare? The fantastically fun thing that she was so guilt ridden about? The thing that she described as her "best day ever?"

Going with her husband to the Secretary of State's Office so that he could renew his driver's license. One blissful half hour in the waiting room of the DMV, where she could sit peacefully and knit while her husband read a new book that he'd been looking forward to. Incidentally this was also the special thing that they did together to celebrate his birthday.

Which of course prompted me to tell the story of how Manimal and I had recently had to hire a babysitter so that we could go to our insurance agent's office to get a new quote on our home owner's insurance, and how it just felt so great to relax and have a conversation with another grown-up without having to worry about my kids.

Then she told me about an a day when she was at her wits end and consoled herself with the thought that no matter how rotten her kid was being at that moment, that she would get some time to herself when she went to her dentist's appointment that afternoon.

This is what passes for fun in the world of parents with children under four. Renewing your driver's license, getting quotes on new insurance policies and having your teeth cleaned. Whoo hoo! We're living it up now! animal.

PS...Don't forget that Talk Like A Pirate Day is only two days away.

PPS...If you "like" me on facebook you'll be entered in my random crap give away.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Please listen carefully as our options have changed...

Hello, you have reached Ragnar's phone. Obviously I'm not available or I would have answered the phone. I'm probably having a massage or a walrus placenta facial, or possibly cleaning out three years worth of grime that has accumulated since the birth of my first born son. It will undoubtedly be days if not months before I can be bothered to return your call, so please amuse yourself with our automated phone system. I patterned it after the one that I've spent so many happy hours with at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.

If you are calling from my son's school to report the fact that he has bit, punched, sat on or otherwise molested one of the other children, you are a big fat tattle tail and you can press one.

If you are the parent of some child from my son's school who is calling to report that your angel was bruised, offended or somehow inconvenienced by my child, let me be the first person to tell you that the world is a terrible unfair place...and you can press two.

If you are calling to compliment me on my son's knowledge of and proficiency with American slang and profanity then you can fucking press three.

If you are calling for any other reason, then hang up and call my real phone number because I never check these messages, it's a false account that I set up when I dropped The Destroyer off at his first day of school.

Ragnar...has to confess that her first born has so far exhibited nothing but exemplary behavior at his school.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Galley Tales...

For those of you who question the "piracy" and think I focus a little too much on the "domestic" I want you to know that Manimal came home unexpectedly a few nights ago and found me scooping weevils out of the rice cooker with a tea strainer.

In retrospect it isn't really possible to defend one's choice to feed weevily rice to one's nearest and dearest, so I know that when I say "sleep deprivation" "new school/work schedule" "two babies with stuffy noses" and "they should be happy I bother to make dinner at all, nevermind the weevils" that you will all say: "But food. UGH!!"

I had just filled the rice cooker and measured out the water when I noticed something crawling up the side of the container. At first I dismissed it as a fruit fly, but then I realized that it wasn't the right shape, and that there were more of them. BUT THE RICE WAS ALREADY MEASURED! If I scrapped it then it would have meant that I'd have had to come up with a whole different plan for dinner! And the water was already in my hand, and I figured that the weevils would float (and they did!!) and that I could just scoop them out, and that what the heck the whole thing was going to be boiled for an hour anyway. Did I mention? I'M A FUCKING PIRATE OKAY? What's a little protein between family?

Which is how it came to pass that Manimal found me, tea strainer in hand, standing over the sink swishing weevils down the drain. Like six weevils maximum, maybe a dozen at the most. If this was a recipe on one of your Dear Old Granny's batter stained recipe cards it would read "a pinch of weevils." it turns out, Manimal is a bit of a pansy when it comes to weevils. Red handed, strainer poised I answered his quizzical "Just what the hell are you doing with that strainer Ragnar" raised eyebrow stare with an innocent "How do you feel about weevils?"

Green is not his color.

"So...that's a no on weevils? I'm scooping them out and it's going to cook for like, an hour."

"'d rather not have any weevils."

Then I noticed that he'd brought someone home with him from work.

A Witness.

Which, of course, is when I realized that there is really no excuse for trying to feed your family weevils, pirate crew or no.

Uncooked weeviley rice does clean out the garbage disposal amazingly well. your sea biscuit darling.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Of cusps and thresholds.

Life is changing around this old pirate ship. The Destroyer manages to get away with some pretty crazy stuff while my back is turned but so far "turning into a preschooler" is his greatest prank to date. No kidding, he's starting school in a week and while there is a certain part of me that is wringing her hands and wiping tears out of her eyes, there is another somewhat louder part of me that's saying "Hell yeah! That's six hours per day of my life back." The prospect of all that free time was so perplexing that I had to go and get a job just to fill up the void in the middle of my day...except that then I realized that only one of my children is going to school, so that still leaves me with one. Ragnarbaby is the easy one, but something tells me that they are going to notice if I try to show up for work with him strapped to my back. I guess that means some sort of childcare for him as well.

Which brings us to the truly terrifying, impossible thing which is boggling my mind: establishing a morning routine. Seriously. How the hell am I supposed to get two uncooperative toddlers (Ragnarbaby isn't actually toddling yet, but it seems a meaningless distinction at this point) up, dressed, pottied, fed and dropped at their respective repositories so that I can get my butt into work by 9 o'clock in the morning? Functioning members of society how do you accomplish this feat of scheduling razzle dazzle?

Here's the thing about the current routine at our house. There isn't one. Manimal goes to work sometime between 5am and noon. The kids and I wake up sometime between 7am and 10. It takes us anywhere from .5 to 3 hours to eat breakfast and unless we have someplace special to be we mostly wear our pajamas all day...or in the case of The Destroyer, his birthday suit. Somehow I think the nakedness thing isn't going to go over all that well at pre-school.

So stay tuned. It'll be like reality television.

This morning we learned that getting the destroyer dressed before sitting him down to breakfast is pointless since every stitch of clothing will have to be changed after he paints himself with yogurt. not a morning person.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Quotable toddler.

Ragnarbaby has only one word in his vocabulary and is pretty well satisfied that "Mama" is the only word he will ever need, and why would he bother learning anymore. When The Destroyer (new title...same Ragnarson) was young he never really rocked the "Mama" so it does give me a little zing every time I hear it, although I realize that in Ragnarbaby's world Mama means "food."

Son number one, on the other hand, is a talking fool. I know for a fact that every child accumulates quotable sayings that will come back to haunt them later in life, but since I had never done the making a child from scratch thing there were a couple of months there when I was pretty sure that The Destroyer would go through life relying on the subtle variations of "ball" and "vroom" to get him through. I imagined him like the prototypical American tourist, using volume and insistence to make up for lack of language: "Ball, ball, BALL!! VROOOOOOOOOM!!!"

And now of course he blathers constantly, and I confess that sometimes I long for a simpler time.

During our perennial dinner argument one evening The Destroyer cut off my repeated "Sit down and finish your dinner," pleas with the simple but effective: "Chomp, chomp. I am eating you. You don't have a head anymore." "Destroyer, sit down." "You need to stop talking, you don't have a mouth anymore."

After telling him that I had to "Quick, run up to the store," I was told. "NO! You need to WALK to the store. If you run really fast you will fall down and get a hole in you and blood will come out of it."

When I try to encourage independence by asking him to pick out his own clothes or perform some other simple task he says "You can do it Mom, I know you can!"

Manimal found him sobbing, unable to find his second flip-flop (which he was sitting on). "My flip flop went on an ADVENTURE!"

His favorite food is "Meat, with no yucky stuff."

His favorite activity is playing with the dirt in our front yard (there might have been a few blades of grass struggling through the construction debris, but they have been long since plowed under by a variety of dump trucks and diggers). His second favorite activity is badgering anyone who happens to walk past. "What is your name? What is your name. My birthday is in August," (calling after them as they walk away) "My BIRTHDAY IS IN AUGUST!!"

He went fishing with Grandpa during summer vacation and was thrilled to discover that "Fish are full of MEAT!"

Ragnar...proud mother of the extremely verbose.

Friday, August 27, 2010

PROJECT...fruit fly trap

It seems unfair that the rabbits tied up the "breeding like" cliche when the fruit fly is the obvious, hands-down champion. Half an hour of hot weather and they show up everywhere. The worm bin has been banished to the back porch until the temperature becomes more civilized. The garbage disposal requires constant attention. Don't even talk to me about the dirty diaper pail because that's just...ugh.

And since I despise the little boogers. every season is a chance to try out another fruit fly death chamber, and after several summers of tweaking I can personally vouch for this model as having the highest body count.
Gather your materials: you will need a container, something for bait, dish soap, a plastic bag with a square bottom and a rubber band. For a container I use a jelly jar, but anything with a fairly large opening will work. For maximum gloat factor pick something glass so that you can hold it up to the light and exclaim with delighted disgust over all the dead flies. For bait you need something fermented, since fruit flies are attracted to the vinegar fumes given off by ripe fruit. I get good results from wine vinegar, although you could use beer or wine.
Cut one corner off the plastic bag, high enough up that will fit over the jar opening, and snip the tip off the corner to make a tiny little fruit fly sized hole. Pour about an inch of vinegar or beer into the bottom of the jar and add a small dash of soap. The vinegar lures the flies and the dish soap prevents them from riding the surface tension, and sucks them under to a vinegary grave.
Fold the bag over the top of the jar and secure it with the rubber band so that there are no gaps around the edge for fruit flies to escape from. The "corner" of the bag should hang down inside the jar like a cone. I like the big fat rubber bands that come on broccoli.

And hey presto! A fruit fly trap. I keep a couple of these on the counter in strategic locations and change the liquid every week or so.

Ragnar...avenger of ripening fruit.

Friday, August 13, 2010

The awful truth about baby carrots.

Okay, it's not awful, but that seemed like a catchy title. Some others might be "Baby carrots, not Babies at all." and "Baby carrots, used to be cattle feed."

Have you ever grown a carrot? If so you've probably noticed that the single, long tapering root is not the only, or even the primary form that carrots favor. At least as likely, sometimes more depending on the density of your soil, is the "octopus" carrot as Ragnarson calls them. And yet, when purchasing carrots in the store the octopus carrots are nowhere to be seen.

Except that they are: whittled down into little baby carrots. I imagine some sort of carrot whittling machine in the carrot bagging factory somewhere, where the monster carrots, the misshapen mutant carrots are dumped into a big hopper and then (grind, clang, clash) out the other end come scrubbed, peeled an appropriately whittled down baby carrots. And over all I think this is probably a good thing. I think that carrot consumption has risen considerably since the advent of the baby carrot. They're so CUTE after all, those little rounded nubby things, and so convenient for snacking and (I suppose) cooking (although the taste degrades significantly in the whittling process, I think). No washing, no peeling. And before there was a baby carrot whittling machine, those mutant carrots were bound for the carrot scrap heaped to be juiced, or mixed in with animal feed, or (gasp) trashed. So hurray for baby carrots.

But can I just say, that as a mother who struggles to get her son to eat anything remotely vegetative, that I can definitely see a market for "monster" carrots. My truck crashing, gun-out-of-toast-making, little-brother-walloping manchild is much more excited about eating something that looks like it might be related to the creature from the black lagoon than he is about eating a neatly whittled, domesticated "Baby."

So lucky for him there's a lot of clay in our garden soil, and mutant carrots abound.

Ragnar...mother of monsters.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Itty Bitty Knitty

I do still knit. There are fleeting moments when both of my "angels" are asleep...occasionally they are both engaged in some activity (for Ragnarbaby this is crawling around on the floor finding stale cheerios, for Ragnarson it's playing in the dirt in the front yard and screaming at passing pedestrians "Nice to MEET YOU! My birthday is in AUGUST!!") and I can squeeze in a few rows. Due to the time constrictions I mostly knit very very slowly. While this has cut down on yarn purchases it has also eliminated that feeling of accomplishment that you get when you pull the yarn tail through that final cast-off stitch...another one bites the dust, well done Ragnar, your family will be warm this winter.

Enter: very small knitting projects.

The Sons Ragnar are soon to be in possession of a spanky new play kitchen made by their Grandfather, and so I thought it would be fun to stock it with food.

A lot of our eggs come from the farmer's market, or from friends with backyard chickens, so that's the look I was trying for. This is the pattern I started with, but I added a few rows here and there, made some eggs more pointy...etc. so that I could get the mismatched dozen. The yarn is Cascade 220, and the color variations come from coffee, tea and walnuts that Ragnarson collected for me from the backyard.

This was a fun project, and I love that I can actually finish something.

You'll probably be seeing a lot more food around here for awhile.

Ragnar...why not knit it?

Saturday, July 03, 2010


We're having a bit of a communication breakdown here at Chez Ragnar. Ragnarbaby's increased mobility has made it a bit more complicated for me to protect him from his older brother. Used to be that I just carried him around in a backpack or sling (which I still do..WAY too much of the time, oh my 28 pound son) but lately he is very insistent about getting down on the floor...or rather, crawling up the stairs. This leaves him open to all sorts of "affection" from his brother.

Things that I have caught Ragnarson in the act of doing to his brother:

Picking him up by the neck to try and put him in his Bumpo chair

Rolling over on top of him a'la steamroller

Poking him in the eye

Feeding him pieces of the train set

Hauling him off the stairs/out of the cupboards using his leg.

Trying to lift him into the playpen

Trying to lift him out of the playpen

"Reading" to him by pressing his nose firmly against the pages of a book

There are more, of course, we experience approximately 30 or so of these "incidents" per day. For awhile I was trying to enforce a strict "Do not touch your brother" policy, but I've since realized 1). That this is just simply never going to happen, and 2). That Ragnarbaby is usually smiling and giggling while these various mother-hysteria-inducing things are being done to him. So for now we're working on "Don't hit your brother," and hoping for the best.

The problem is that Ragnarson has personally defined so many different types of physical touching that just telling him not to "hit" someone is completely ineffectual. He's a big fan of the onomatopoeia. So far this morning he has "tonked" "splunked" "splatted" and "twished" his brother, but I haven't so far gotten him to admit that he's "hit" him. Our ad infinitum interactions go something like this:

"Don't hit Ragnarbaby."
"I TONKED him."
"Tonking is hitting, don't tonk him or hit him."
"Don't tonk him, or hit him or splunk him! Or twish him or plunk him or splat him."
"I will SPLAT him!"
"NO! You won't. Don't TOUCH him at all."

But we all know that's not going to happen. So we're just feeding him up as much as we can, and hoping for his own sake that he's a durable little chap...we have yet to see the inside of an emergency room with this one, so here's hoping.

Ragnarmama...have you seen my wit's end? I seem to have misplaced it.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Good bye, Louise.

I want to veer slightly away from the "norm" of this space a take a turn towards the serious for a moment. On May 31st the woman in the picture above died of a heart attack at age 98. Her name was Louise Bourgeois and she was a defining influence on me as a young artist.

I think that it's safe to say that almost everyone has heard of Picasso, Monet, and Van Gogh. There are some 20th century artists that are so recognizable that they have become part of the crossword puzzle lexicon of our lives. We know the Beatles, we know Picasso. It makes us well rounded consumers of popular culture.

Name some 20th century women artists. If you can get past Georgia O'Keefe and Frida Kahlo then more power to you.

It might get a little lost in the shuffle here at the old D. P. but I (sometimes) am an actual (really, I have credentials) artist. There are times when I whine a bit about how my chosen medium (fiber) causes people to take me less seriously than some, but I have the privilege of living in a time when my gender doesn't immediately disqualify me as an artist with important things to say. Even though many of you haven't heard of her, I owe that honor in a large part to Ms. Louise.

I'm finding it unexpectedly difficult to write this (Manimal came home a few minutes ago to find me teary eyed over the keyboard). I hope that you will all take a few minutes to honor the founder of "confessional" art. (Is there another kind? Really? I had no idea...). sometimes an artist who owes a lot of her bravery of self expression to one L.B. dead at 98.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Shameless begging disguised as a blog post.

Long ago, maybe two years ago, long in internet terms anyway, someone sent me an invitation to join Twitter.

I laughed out loud. I seriously thought that it was a joke. Someone had realized the ridiculousness of every suburban nobody publishing their excruciating lives in microscopic detail, and thought "ha! wouldn't it be funny if we took this one step further and had up-to-the-second blogging?" I figured that they sent it to me because as one of those self publishing "twits" I was in a unique position to realize how ridiculous it was. Ha ha, I get the joke. Now seriously, let me get back to my blog, I was about to update about the color and texture of my newborn's poo, and how at first I thought it meant he was dying but now, after extensive googling I've decided that it means he's gifted.

Then I saw a "twitter" side bar on someone's blog and realized that, no, it was a real thing. Then I banged my head against the table several times and loudly wailed "what is the world coming to!??"

So I felt superior for awhile, because I wasn't going to get involved with anything so blatantly absurd.

Then I accidentally joined facebook (seriously, it was a slip and fall sort of thing, I'll tell you about it sometime) and was seduced by the "status update" format of internet expression and the blog languished. I mean, of course, every so often there would be a poo so monumental that I just couldn't not blog about it, but for all those normal everyday poos it was just so much easier to type "Ragnar's baby's poo was within normal range for smell and texture, although color was a bit on the greenish side."

Shortly after that I started thinking of Twitter as a party that I'd dis-invited myself to.

And here I am. The goth kid in the prom dress. The nerd on the cheerleader squad.

Ragnar. A twit. You all knew it was inevitable didn't you? Just play along and act surprised okay?


I'll feel less redunculous when I have some followers. pride, it's stuck in my throat, the Heimlich, quick somebody!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Three times a day...

At some point it will sink in, and I will no longer be tempted to say things that are basically a variation of "Wow! This baby is different than the last one."

Food is on our minds here at Chez Ragnar. I am exploring my yearly urge to plant and harvest, and Ragnarbaby is discovering the exciting world that is food from a spoon. When Ragnarson was a wee one, I gave him some experimental "solids" at 5 and a half months in a misguided attempt to encourage the "sleeping through the night" which it turns out he is simply not capable of. My first born is many things, but a sleeper is not one of them. Conversely, I decided to wait on solids for as long as possible with Ragnarbaby, since the last thing I feel like doing these days is preparing yet another meal (that would make for Manimal, Rat Girl an I, one for the picky-pants Ragnarson and now...sigh...a freezer full of puree for the baby).

Someone had a different idea.

It started with squash, and then sweet potato. Then we moved on to peas, parsnips, beets, avacados, applesauce, cheerios, teething buscuits and soup. It's been a busy three weeks.
You know the great thing about feeding your baby beets? Zombie baby pictures.

Next time: my misguided attempts at the cultivating of food. eat eat, three times a day, everyday.

PS. Thanks to those of you who have mentioned that you've missed seeing regular updates in this space. I love feed back and I'm really happy that you're enjoying these posts...but for Goddess sake! why don't you comment?

PPS. Apologies for the crap pictures, but my "real" camera is crapped out and I can't face the Nikon "warranty" department.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

PROJECT..."scrap paper notebooks"

If you actually read that huge list of things that I proposed to do during the year of 2010, you might remember that submitting a project to instructables was one of my goals. For those of you not familiar with Instructables, it's an awesome site. Members post step-by-step instructions for just about any project you can possibly imagine. Way way way in the dark and dusty archives of the old D.P. there is a post where I linked some instructables projects, such as hooking LED's up to your bike wheel to make a lighted picture while you're riding...I of course would like to pimp out my spinning wheel, but haven't tackled electronics as a hobby just yet.

One of the things they do are contests, and they are running a contest right now for uses for paper coffee cups. I drink a lot of coffee, and I do occasionally come in contact with a paper cup, so I thought I might be able to think up some use for the garbagey things.

Voila! A scrap paper notebook. The only "new" thing in this project is the thread. The covers are of course, coffee cups, and the pages are messed up bids from our construction company, which we have a lot of, because apparently I haven't learned my lesson about proof reading BEFORE I print.

Super easy, super quick and super cool. All of my friends and neighbors will be getting "garbage" notebooks for solstice this year.

Ragnar...dumpster diving is the new black.

Monday, April 19, 2010

You might be an attachment parent if...

When I was pregnant with Ragnarson I did a lot of reading about what sort of mom I was going to be...turns out you're just going to be yourself and there is not really anything you can do about it. I remember one conversation with Manimal when I used the term "attachment parenting" and he gave me a funny look and said "I think that's just called 'being a parent.'"

For some reason this all came back to me the other day when I was getting ready to run some errands and was a little late getting out the door because I couldn't find the SECOND baby carrier. Not that I intended to carry both babies, but rather I needed two carriers with different purposes, a pouch for quick in and out errands, and the more complicated Ergo for carrying Ragnarbaby on my back for longer periods of time. Suddenly this struck me as very funny, and I said to myself "You might be an attachment parent if you can't run a few simple errands without two different baby carriers"

And then of course I couldn't stop, so (with a nod towards Jeff Foxworthy) I give you:

You might be an attachment parent if:

You think of WAHM as a legitimate career choice rather than a sound effect in a comic book.

You have ever wondered why you can't buy maternity clothes with nursing slits.

Your idea of a fun night out is getting together with your girlfriends to tell birth stories.

Your baby sleeps in your bed, and your husband sleeps on a futon in the living room.

Your three year old can finger spell "boobies" in American Sign Language.

You've ever experienced a moment of panic because you couldn't remember where you left your baby, only to realize that he's asleep on your back.

Your toddler asks for kale in his smoothie.

You use the phrase "free range" to describe both your eggs and your children.

Your leftovers are stored in empty tubs from Organic BGH free yogurt.

Your lettuce comes from the farmers market, but all your baby toys come from Germany where they have higher lead standards.

You buy separate detergent for your diapers, but never bother separating your lights from your darks.

You think of "stripping" as something that you do to diapers, rather than something that you do with a pole.

You use the word "babywearing" in everyday conversations.

You think of CSA pick up as a playdate.

You've ever been to a potluck where some of the dishes featured parsnips and kale.

Your play-doh is made with organic flour.

You can put on a Moby Wrap in under a minute.

You buy your diapers on Etsy.

You rate your baby carriers by how easy it is to pee while wearing them.

You own several diaper covers that are "hand wash only."

Your baby wears a hat that was knit by your midwife.

You "get" breastfeeding humor, and have several funny breastfeeding stories of your own.

You know Ebay's policy about selling used diapers.

That's all that I've come up with so far, can you think of some?

Ragnar....hippy dippy greeny mommy.

Friday, April 16, 2010


Ragnarson is a big "play-doh" fan. He likes to shred it into little pieces, grind it into the upholstery, mash all the colors together into a uniform muddy "sludge," and even occasionally make something out of it...usually snakes, or dog poop, which look amazingly similar. Since one of the things he does with it is eat it, I figured I would try to make my own, so that at least I know what it is that he's eating. Hasbro claims that the exact ingredients are proprietary, although it is mostly water, salt and flour. There's got to be something else in it though, else how would it have that uniquely foul "play-doh" smell.

There are several recipes for play-doh floating around. I chose the slightly more complicated one, thinking that the addition of oil and cream of tarter might make for a nicer "consistency" in the finished product.

The recipe is:

1 cup flour
1 cup warm water
2 tsp cream of tarter
1 tsp oil
1/4 cup salt
and food coloring

I had all this stuff sitting around in my kitchen, except for the cream or tarter and the food coloring, but I decided to buy "cheap" versions for this project instead of using my lovely King Arthur Flour and sea salt...the total ended up being right around $10, most of which was for the food coloring. I made a double batch and have at least enough supplies for one more double batch, so that makes this just slightly less expensive than "real" play-doh.
First you mix it all together, which is Ragnarson's favorite part of any project. I left the food coloring out so that I could make several different colors, but it would be much easier to mix it in at this point for a single color batch. When everything is mixed together you cook it over medium-low heat until it all sticks together. At first I was afraid I had done something wrong because the bottom layer gelled up almost immediately leaving a soupy mess on the top of the pan, but with continued stirring the texture evened out and it all stuck together. I didn't photograph this step because it came together a lot faster than I anticipated and I was afraid to leave the stove to fetch the camera.
I decided to do four colors because there were four colors of food coloring in the package.
I squirted about a dozen drops or so of the food coloring into a small zip top bag and then added the un-dyed dough wad to squish. If you were doing this project with older children I imagine the bag squishing would be a favorite step...we'll look forward to that in the future, eh Ragnarson?
Squish until all the food coloring is absorbed into the clay. The finished wad is then pretty color safe, and it doesn't dye your hands.
I'm storing all the colors together in one bag, since I figured they'd all turn to "sludge" soon enough.

The finished product is a little less "gritty" than "real" play-doh, and as a result can be much more throughly ground into upholstery. It's water soluble, though, and so far cleans up pretty easily. I did this a couple of weeks ago and the dough is still nice and squishy in it's bag, and doesn't show any signs of rancidity or funky-smell.

Total time invested, about half an hour, and no messier than any normal baking project would be. I'm looking forward to doing this again, possibly with more "help" from the young one. only slightly discolored from food coloring.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


Sometimes I get a babysitter for Ragnarson so that I can lock myself in our "office" and do fun exciting stuff like balance the checkbook. It gives me a unique opportunity to eavesdrop on my son while he is being watched by someone else.

For instance, I just overheard this conversation regarding which DVD should be watched:

Ragnarson: It's the one with pirates in it?

Babysitter: No, it's Charlotte's Web.

Ragnarson: With pirates in it?

Babysitter: No Ragnarson, this is the one about the pig.

Ragnarson: Does it have pirates?

Babysitter: NO! Ragnarson, this is the one about the pig, and the spider. Charlotte's web.

Ragnarson: (starting to cry) I don't want that one! It has scary stuff in it!

Babysitter: (sigh) Ragnarson, it does not have scary stuff in it. It's Charlotte's web.

Ragnarson: It has pirates in it?

Babysitter: No.

Ragnarson: I want to watch this one! (picking another DVD from the pile)

Babysitter: This one is about a duck.

Ragnarson: And pirates?

Babysitter: No, I don't think any of these DVD's have pirates in them.

Ragnarson: This one is Charlotte's web?

Babysitter: (I couldn't tell for sure, being in another room, but it sounded like a head being struck against a wall)

Ragnar...super spy.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Brand naming....

My "television" free child is no more, I'm sorry to say. It started with Dr. Suess videos on youtube, and then slid into the occasional "elmo's world" DVD, and now we've reached the point where he's watching full length movies with his babysitter three or four nights a week. I confess I have also fallen into the "sit in one spot and watch these flashy lights while I make dinner" trap. It's just SO much easier than trying to cook and keep him from destroying the house at the same time. Plus I'm watching a lot of crap on the computer these days (Hulu, you devil!) while I'm still confined to a chair for relatively long periods of time with a nursing baby, and telling him that he can't watch something while I'm plugged in seems like a huge hypocritical double standard.

This is a rambling way of saying that Ragnarson has solidly joined the media generation, and it just as likely to refer to a "thomas" as he is to refer to it as a "train."

There are a few staples that haven't filtered down yet. So far the Dora/Diego brand hasn't infiltrated our lives, although we've had a couple of near misses. We just received a mess of hand-me-downs from a friend with slightly older children, and the shirt that Ragnarson snatched out of the pile was one featuring a chest sized reproduction of Diego, with his baby jaguar. He was admiring his new duds in the mirror and I asked him "who's that on your shirt."

"It's a tiger!" growl, growl.

"Is there someone else on the shirt too?"

"Uhm...a boy!" jump jump

"Do you know that boy's name?"

"Uhm...YES!" jump jump

"What is his name?"

"Uhm...SHIRT BOY!"

Everytime I pass a television blaring out this pseudo educational blather I will think to myself. "The adventures of SHIRT BOY!"

Ragnar... compromising her principles since 2007.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The making of MEGA-CRAYON....

Ragnarson loves his crayons. Mostly he loves to break them in half, peel the paper off of them and use his finger nail to scrape little bits of crayon off onto the table and floor. OH! and drawing on the walls, yes, let's not forget about drawing on the walls.

When I was little my mother used to melt crayons down in muffin tins and make these really cool, sometimes multi-colored "big" crayons. I don't own a muffin tin however. It's on my "to buy" list, but hasn't made it to the top yet. I remembered someone telling me that they made a mega-crayon by pouring melted crayon into old deodorant containers. A quick google led me to this site which had some really good advice.

Here's all the equipment. Broken up crayons with the paper peeled off. Clean disassembled deodorant containers, a glass measuring cup that you don't mind getting crayon wax all over, mold release spray, and a couple of drinking straws. I should mention that the total project cost (if you count broken up crayons that you have lying around as "free") is about $10 for the mold release spray. I don't know how important this is. I decided it was worth the $10 to not risk having the crayon bind into the container, and I must say it seems to have worked beautifully.
Here are the two color groups of crayons, for the two different containers.
Before melting the crayon wax I sprayed the inside of the containers and the drinking straws with mold release. I specifically didn't spray the little "platformy" part of the deodorant bottle, because I want the crayon to stick to this base. The type of mold release that I bought specifies letting the mold dry before using it. After everything was dry I screwed the platform/base thing back into the container and slipped the drinking straw over the threaded rod. This is something that I wouldn't have thought about, but was suggested by the website above, and I have to say seems like a really good idea. Crayon wax likes to stick to things, apparently.
Then I melted the crayons in a pot of boiling water. If you are one of those people who own a mircrowave, that might be an easier way to melt crayons. This method made the crayons on the bottom melt into soup, and the crayons on top fuse into a solid block that was melting resistant. I had planned on just letting the crayons sit and disturbing them as little as possible so that there might be some swirly pattern left in the "MEGA CRAYON" but I am just not that patient, it turns out. Also I had to keep the water pretty much at a rolling boil. When I did the second batch of crayons I put the lid on the pot and that seemed to help them melt more quickly.
Here is the hot wax in the container, which I promptly and impatiently put into the freezer.
As the wax cooled a bubble appeared, which I could theoretically try to fill with more wax (I did, actually on the second crayon) but by the time I noticed it I had already switched over to the blue green crayons. When the container felt cool I pulled the straw out, and voila! MEGA CRAYON is born.
Ragnarson was very into the big crayon for about 5 minutes. "WHERE is my BIG crayon MOMMA!??" After throughly covering a piece of paper with red scribbles, he realized that he could use the cover of the container to scrape shreds of crayon off onto the floor, which was a huge improvement over using his fingernails.

Project notes: the website where I found the instructions suggested fastening some screws into the base/platform part of the container to secure the crayon. I didn't have any screws lying around and I am an impatient person so I skipped this step, and instead just didn't spray mold release on that part of the container. Ragnarson has already tried to pull the crayon out, so I'll let you know if he succeeds. If he does we can alway screw in some screws and remelt the wax.

My two containers held wildly different amounts of crayon. I had to add more crayons, twice, to melt enough wax for the blue/green crayon, this lead me to believe that the "swirly" effect I was going for would be easier to get by melting smaller amounts of crayon and pouring them in layers.

Fun project, not that time consuming, not that messy. We shall see if Ragnarson continues to enjoy the big crayons.

Ragnar...crafty old lady.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

What the....?

Washing deodorant containers Ragnar? You're taking this housewife thing a little too far, don't you think?

Ragnar...I smell a project!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Huge dork.

I swatched the 5-ply, and it was white knuckle exciting.

Click to Mix and Solve

So I made a puzzle out of it.

Ragnar...HUGE DORK.

Friday, March 12, 2010 what pirates knit with

Ever do that thing where you envision some project that will be REALLY cool when it's done, and then jump into it without really thinking and decide halfway through that it's ridiculous and almost give up because you were certifiably crazy to think that it was a good idea in the first place, but then power through because, well, you already started and then finally finally after several YEARS get it all done and feel just pleased as all hell with yourself?


Me too.

That's a pound each of two different colors of FIVE PLY yarn, with different amounts of each color per skein so that in the end there is a graduation of color from end to the other. Oh and, yeah, worsted weight. Thems some skinny singles right there.

Except I just realized that the project isn't really over until I knit something out of it...damn.

Well then here I go again.


Monday, March 01, 2010

Chasing the dragon....

I have a self-diagnosed "addictive" personality and a high "fidget factor," those two qualities combined make me a yarn shop owner's dream customer. New squishy yarn? Funky new pattern? Oh sure, I'm working on about six hundred unfinished projects at the moment, but at last check there was at least one pair of unused needles still in my "organizer" (I'm using quotes there, because really, how much of an organizer can it be if there is nothing in it?).

I was making coffee a few days ago, and I realized that the coffee "addiction" has really gotten out of hand...because? I was making coffee before I went up to the coffee shop to meet some friends for coffee. The brew that I make at home is so far removed from regular old brewed with a filter, drip into a pot coffee that I no longer consider it to be the same substance.

The picture at the beginning of this post shows my "coffee station." First of all, notice that my coffee grinder is of the industrial variety...literally the same thing you would grind your coffee with if you were buying whole bean at the grocery store...this was a present from Manimal...up there in the top ten of the most thoughtful gifts he's ever given me. When he brought it home I was a little takes up a full square foot and a half of counter space after all, but after a couple of months of use I can say unconditionally that I LOVE MY COFFEE GRINDER. Then there is my coffee pot. It's a "moka" pot, or a stove top espresso maker. That is a 12 cup pot, 12 cute little demitasse cups that is. When I drink it, it's two cups. Two beer. This stuff is so thick that you almost have to chew it. If I don't make coffee within an hour of rising, I get a piercing headache that starts in my eyeballs.

Good thing I never took up smoking.

Ragnar...and I am a coffee addict.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Huge Art Clearance Sale...

I have a couple of boxes of older pieces, mostly matted blocks under 8" square (sometimes the matting bumps them up closer to 15" or so) that I have been lugging about through various studio moves. This is all work that would be for display at art fairs, but I'm not doing shows right now, and I don't have the money to complete the framing in order to display them in a gallery really they are taking up much needed space in my new smaller quarters.

I've uploaded (extremely crappy!) snap shots of everything I'm "clearancing" on my face book "Artist" page (I have FANS! how crazy is that?) so if you are interested in aquiring a Ragnar orignial, surf over and check it out. If you are long distance and seriously interested I can work on getting you a better picture.

Here's the link...

PS I've also reduced the prices on a couple of huge wall quilts...still expensive but just the thing to cozy up the sitting room in your spare mansion.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Sleep and other things that get taken for granted.

There's a Jewish folk tale about a man who has a whole bunch of children. He goes to the Rabbi and says, "Rabbi my house is so noisy and chaotic that I can't think, it's driving me crazy!" and the Rabbi says "Go home and bring your chickens into the house with you." So the man goes home and lets the chickens come in the house which of course only makes the situation worse. So he goes back to the Rabbi and says "I brought the chickens into the house like you asked but it only made it worse." "Well, now bring the donkey into the house." And so it goes. Finally the Rabbi tells him to take all of the animals out of the house and put them back in the barn. The next week he comes to the Rabbi and says "Rabbi! Thank you, my house is so peaceful and quiet!"

I wouldn't say that it's quiet around here just yet, but there have been several developments that are making my life seem much more peaceful. First of all Ragnarson has switched from telling me: "I pooped in my diaper," to "I want to poop in the potty." This is just about the most beautiful phrase I have ever heard. I'm also hearing more "I need to go pee." and less "I peed" which has cut down on laundry considerably (although I still feel like Mad Eye Moody when it comes to laundry: CONSTANT VIGILANCE!).

The other big development is that Ragnarson, who belongs to the Homo Noturinlus branch of the species, has been spending nights in his own bed. This is not so much a change in his nighttime habits, but in mine. Instead of just pulling him up into the "big bed" (never has a Queensized bed felt so small as when it has two adults, a toddler made entirely of elbows and a nursing baby in it) I have been getting up and taking him to the bathroom (I want to NOT pee in the POTTTEEEEEEEEE *sob sob*) and laying back down with him in his bed....until Ragnarbaby wakes up of course and then I have to move back to the big bed. Musical beds doesn't sound that restful, but it turns out that between me tossing and turning with insomnia, and Ragnarson elbowing him, Ragarbaby was waking up much more often...and when you're four months old, being awake means wanting to eat. The end result of this midnight hour bed swapping is that last night, for the first time in I have no idea HOW long, I got more than five hours of sleep. I literally feel a little bit drunk...

I'm hoping that the next big milestone will be the end (I would settle for diminishment really) of ridiculous temper tantrums (I want NOT that SPOON!) and ceaseless whining...a mother can hope, right? mean beds are for sleeping? huh.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

New baby love...

Chubby fingers, soft body snuggles, first smiles...and an apparently endless supply of partially digested milk. A few weeks ago I threatened to post pictures of Ragnarbaby's continuous fountain of yuck, but I find that when I'm covered in sour cottage cheese, my first inclination is not, inexplicably, to reach for the camera...I know. Weird huh? I did finally move the photos from the camera to the computer this morning and I found one which I had forgotten about.
I should mention that while I was typing that paragraph Ragnarbaby, who is propped up on my shoulder watching his older brother destroy my livingroom has urped on me no less than three times. Even Ragnarson noticed and started chanting "Don't spit on my mommy! Don't spit on my Mommy!" If he weren't gaining so much weight I'd worry that he had some sort of reflux or something, but most of it (though I can't imagine how) is apparently staying in his stomach. We always joked that Ragnarson was a frat boy because of his tendency to drink until he puked and passed out, but based on pure projectile persistence Ragnarbaby is going to be the President of his house.

When Ragnarbaby was a few weeks old Manimal asked "When is he going to get fun?" This was a question we didn't have the leisure to pose when Ragnarson was a newborn because we were too busy keeping him in constant motion lest he notice that he was unattended and commence to caterwauling. We estimated the "fun" stage to begin somewhere between 8 and 12 weeks...which is when he started grinning at us, and does it ever get more fun than that? Now that the fun threshold has been reached the only question in our minds is: "When is he going to stop puking on everything."
And he's just so smug about it... to change her shirt for the third time in four hours.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Alternative reality....

My poor second born gets lost in the shuffle around here. He's just such a mellow, unflappable young human. If we could hear what he was thinking I think it would go something like this: "Oh? Food? Why thank you, I was a bit hungry...and now I'm tired. Thanks for the sna...zzzzzz. Hey I'm in my swing, how did I get here? I was just dreaming that I was drinking some delicious milk. Look, there's my family, going about their business, I'll just wave my arms around for awhile and coo. Hmmm...that's enough of that....Mother? Mother? Do you think you could stop for a bit so I could have some tasty food? Oh, and by the way, I've soiled myself."

So in an effort to give him some of his due, here's a post from an alternative reality where Ragnarbaby was my first, and therefore most gushed over, child.

(fade in)

Woke up feeling refreshed and rested this morning. Ragnarbaby only woke up twice last night, and I actually left him sleeping in bed while I went and took a leisurely shower. I couldn't decide what to make for breakfast, but since the baby decided to take his morning nap a little early today I decided to make crepes with creamed strawberry filling...from scratch of course. After I'd finished cooking and had a generous second helping (love breastfeeding!) he still wasn't awake so I cleaned the kitchen, including scrubbing the tile grout and defrosting the freezer.

Then he woke up for his mid-morning nosh, and while he was nursing I read an improving book while crocheting a baby blanket with my toes. When he was done eating we played on the floor for a little while, some tummy time followed by gazing lovingly into each others eyes...then he was hungry again. After he filled up I put him in his carrier and took a long walk. He was still asleep when we got home so I decided to make bread, and dinner for the next three days. Then I still had some time left before he woke up to nurse again, so I saved the world.

(fade out)

Okay...not really, but for the first three months of Ragnarson's life we lived on take-out, because the idea of cooking something was completely unapproachable...I would have had to do it while simultaneously nursing the baby, since if he was awake, he was eating and he only slept for twenty minutes at a time. I feel like the amount of things I'm able to "get done" in a day, considering that I have a three month old, is freaking amazing. Which is not to say that my house is clean or anything, but I am managing to do about two loads of laundry a day, feed my family at least two meals a day (one of which is sure to be leftovers...but still), and occasionally leave the house in search of groceries. CRAZY.

As a fellow mother of two told me the other day "the thing about having a crazy first born is that there's really no risk with the second. You'll either be pleasantly surprised or you'll know exactly what you're in for."

Ragnar...dealing with it.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Going Rogue....

I've been a fan of the Rogue sweater for awhile now. It is in first contention for my next "for me" sweater.

I mentioned the other day that nothing cheers me up quite like a fabulous new knitting project...and I've decided it's Rogue or nothing. I even have the yarn...using up stash is sort of like not starting something new...right? The only problem is that I don't have the pattern.

I made a deal with myself that I would only buy patterns with the money that I made selling patterns, and since the only pattern I currently have available is the Golden Harvest Skull chart...which is a whopping $1.50 on Ravelry...I don't get to spend a lot of money on patterns.

But maybe some of you are Golden Harvest fans and want to knit some funky skully wear featuring the logo of our venerable breakfast establishment? If I sell five charts then I can download the Rogue pattern and I'll be halfway to my dream sweater....

Ragnar...what is the internet for, if not shameless self promotion and begging?

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The healing power of....

Yesterday was not a wonderful day. Several incidents in the morning, a fight that wasn't a fight with Manimal and the flooding of the bathroom floor...which was entirely my fault and therefore doubly irritating, conspired to put me in a foul mood for the rest of th day.

A slight digression: a note for the partners of postpartum, sleep deprived, nursing (and therefore weirdly hormonal) women. You never know when there is a hidden subtext so it is best to fake an interest in everything that comes out of your partners mouth. Here is an example:

"We are out of milk."

With a "normal" person this would be a simple declarative statement, with the slight possibility of a passive aggressive "so you should get some while you're out." With the PPSDN (see above) this could mean ANYTHING, here are just a few possibilities:

"Milk is full of unnatural and dangerous chemicals, I am poisoning my precious babies by even allowing it in the house."

"I am going to have to go to the store to buy more milk, do you have ANY idea how long it takes to go shopping with a baby and a toddler?"

"You should volunteer to clean the refrigerator. If you really cared I wouldn't have to ask."

"I am covered in spit up, haven't brushed my hair in three days, smell like dirty diapers and have been wearing the same pair of sweat pants for as long as I can remember so you had better tell me that I am beautiful RIGHT NOW or I will start crying."

The best response to anything said by a PPSDN is: "You are right, you are wonderful, and I am lucky to have such a beautiful, smart, and compassionate mother for my children." This may not make any contextual sense, but it will distract her long enough for you to change the subject to something less dangerous. The attention span of a PPSDN is approximately 32 seconds. You can also wave something made of or covered in chocolate under her nose.

Digression over, that wasn't even what I planned on writing when I sat down.

What I wanted to share is that during my crabby day the thought that kept reoccurring was: "I need a wonderful new knitting project to distract me from how grouchy I am."

Does that mean that I am a knit-a-holic? Do I need to go to some sort of 12 step meeting where they will teach me to control my knitting urges? Or does it mean that yarn has amazing healing powers?

Ragnar...totally rational and completely in control.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Ragnarson blogs....

Guest post today...Ode to a dumptruck, as transcribed by Ragnarson's Mommy....

Dirt dirt dirty dirt, I'm going to dump it right out. *beep beep beep* There's dirt in this dumptruck, there's garbage in this dumptruck and it dumps it out. Poong. It dumped it out. Look there's garbage, whoa this is the right place. Right in the right place, poong. I'm carrying these to the there,


Poong. They are right there. Where's the dumptruck? There it is. Monk-da-da-bunk-da-snap. Snap crocodile snap anybody, and he go in the dump truck, dump dump, bung bung, da bung. And the dumptruck scoops it out and it dumps it out, and it likes to go in there and he gorrrrged!!! Dump all the gook, a-gadoog, all da gook, all da gook all the gooog all a bit. And here in the dumptruck. Want all the goobie geek. SNAP! All the goo. SNAP! All up. Don't let go of my turtle, hang on to my turtle. SNAP! Push. Mommy's going too. Poppy's going too. All the goo, the garbage. He's out of his, his, his...I'll dump ALL of them.

(crash, crash, whack whack whack whack)

Ragnarson....I got ALL the GOOOK!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Dinner....again? Didn't we have dinner yesterday?

What is the average number of items on a restaurant menu? 15? 20? 50? I don't know why it is that when I eat out I order the same thing over and over again, but I feel compulsive about making sure my family doesn't get "bored" with the meals I cook them. As if anyone could get bored with good home-cookin', I mean seriously.
I am, at heart, a disorganized person...a disorganized person who wants to change! How I long for tidy counter tops, and neat organized I know that this is never going to happen. I aspire to be one of those people who always has ingredients on hand, and isn't sending her kids out to buy milk from the convenience store half-way through mixing up a batch of pancakes. I picture myself happily making up menus from my decoupaged folder of tried and true recipes, forgetting that I don't decoupage, or use recipes, or in fact cook anything that requires more than one pot.

My version of menu planning is a combination of looking to see what is going bad in the refrigerator, and what we are over stocked on in the pantry, and then filling in the gaps by creating a shopping list on which I will probably forget to include several key ingredients like "onions" or "potatoes." I write what I'm planning on cooking on the right side of the shopping list, and a list of what we are out of on the left side, hoping that having my "menu" in front of me will trigger a sudden "ah-ha! If we are going to eat chicken quesadillas, I better get some chicken" moment before I'm checked out and on my way home. Then when I get home the shopping list goes on the fridge and at 5:30 when I realize I had better either make dinner or call the pizza guys I look at "menu" to see what I should be cooking. When all the meals are crossed off I have to make a new list. This sort of works. When I remember to do it.

So the "menu" for the next two weeks looks like this (yes there are only 8 things here, I make them eat leftovers! I know, cruel and unusual no?):

Tuna Melts
Tofu Pot Pie (my family's hands-down favorite food, and just about the only thing I make that requires multiple pots)
Greens and Coconut Milk (which will take on either an asian or indian flavor depending on my mood at the moment of conception)
Cauliflower Mac & Cheese
TVP Chili
Peanut Noodles
Chicken Soup
Fried Rice

Which is just about what my menu always looks like. Sauce on Noodles, Stew/Sauce on Rice/Grains, Things sandwiched in bread/tortillas and toasted. YAWN.

So...what is your "fall back" recipe? What do you cook over and over again because they'll always eat it, and it still tastes good after the 300th time? Lately I think my "oh hell, it's way past when I should have started making dinner" fall back is fried rice. It's as quick as stir fry, but keeps better for reheating and has the added bonus that Ragnarson will actually occasionally eat some of it.

Ragnar...I love my rice cooker.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Knitting? No really, I do that sometimes...

I am trying to whittle away at a few of the more doable items on my list of good intentions for 2010. Today's project is getting the knitting projects in order with a view towards (drum roll, trumpets, choir of angels) BECOMING A MONOGAMOUS KNITTER. Seriously. I so admire people who know how many needles they own, because other than the set that is in their current project they are all resting neatly in their needle case. I am not one of those people. I recently found out that I own three identical size 8, 24" circular needles. I was actually about to buy another set when I thought to myself "waaaaaait a minute, this seems really familiar."

I knit a lot. Not nearly as much as I used to, but if there is a minute of time when I am not holding a baby, folding laundry or cooking something, I am probably knitting. And I knit pretty fast. Not Greek fast (only Woven Art regulars will know what I mean by that) but fast enough that I should be able to finish a few things now and then. But when you knit for 20 minutes at a time on 20 different projects all that "progress" is spread so thin that finishing something is a miraculous once in a blue moon experience. I actually start smaller projects so that I can finish something because the larger projects are taking too long...and I'm sure you can all tell where that is going.

I won't bother to list my "currents" here since I don't have pictures taken of them, and descriptions of half finished knitwear is...yeah. Dull. That's a future post.

Rather I want to point you towards the biggest offender in my "enabling" bookmarks collection. Is it Ravelry? where you can see thousands, nay millions of projects by other knitters to covet and inspire? No. Is it Knitty, or Twist? Those lovely on-line knit magazines full of great advice and fabulous free or affordable patterns? No. It is a relatively boring, unpretentious little site that enables you to create actual size graph paper based on your swatches. This is like crack to me. I am a color-a-holic. I love charting out little thingies (okay, skulls) to incorporate into future knitwear, and once I have the chart, then I REALLY REALLY want to see how it knits up.

So...what are you waiting for? Swatch and play! Aside from being invaluable when you want to, say, knit skull and crossbones into your kid's underwear, actual size graph paper is also very useful for figuring out decreases, on a sleeve for instance, when you don't want to do any math.

Ragnar...with skulls on it?

Saturday, January 16, 2010

So here's the thing...

(this picture has nothing to do with anything, it's just a cute picture)

I am sitting in my "nursing chair" with the obligatory boppy pillow (how did women breastfeed before boppy? I scoffed at them while I was pregnant with Ragnarson the Elder and after about two days of building unstable piles of pillows I demanded that Manimal go forth and aquire "one of those nursing pillow things that I said were so stupid"). Ragnarbaby is propped up on one arm, spitting up all over my shirt sleeve repeatedly (I'll wait until he's empty and change, no point in washing TWO shirts when I could just let him soil this one more throughly). Ragnarson the Elder is working on spreading his toys throughout the house even more throughly, pausing now and then to repeatedly punch the buttons on the noisy toys. This makes a sort of crash-crash-rattle-BLAST OFF-BLAST OFF-crash-thunk-rattle-HEYAH! WATCHA-crash white noise which is basically the background music of my life. He likes to mix it up a bit by throwing spectacular tempertantrums every 20 minutes or so.

This is primarily what I do all day. It does not make particularly engaging blog-fodder.

I thought about photographing Ragnarbaby's spit-up blobs and crafting a funny post about divining the future through baby vomit...but realized that unless you spend all day covered in it, you might find looking at photos of baby vomit...well, yucky.

I thought about posting all of the stuff that Ragnarson says to me on a daily basis, but realized that a long list of basically boring quotes was probably only amusing to me, and possibly Ragnarson's Grandparents.

I thought about pretending that I'm still an artist and posting pictures of the new studio, but then realized that a picture of a pile of still-packed boxes was about as interesting as...see? I can't think of something that it's less interesting than.

I could catalog my small victories: "Left the house this morning!" "Made coffee before the baby started screaming." "Got the dishwasher unloaded within 24 hours" but realized that after a few of those my life would start to sound REALLY pathetic.

I'm not unhappy to be staying home with my fact I feel tremendously blessed. The "fun" parts of parenting, get pretty repetative and schmultzy after a few retellings though, all those little moments staring at your kids...the, holy crap, HUMAN BEINGS, that you MADE with your own body (and how crazy is that?), and the little miracles as they figure out all the skills that will make them into grown-ups one day...which I still don't believe by the way. And blogging about the unfun, and therefore potentially funny parts of parenting, the messes, the screaming, the unending bodily fluids, just sounds so whiny after awhile.

So what's a mother of two supposed to do with this little corner of cyberspace that she's carved out for herself? I have no idea. I'll still try to figure it out, of course, but the fact is that I write this thing for both of us, for me, and for you. What are you looking for when you stop by the old "DP?" Inspiration? Instruction? Entertainment? What level of baby vomit can you stomach? How many times can I use the word "miracle" before you permanently remove me from your bloglines feed? More knitting? More cute baby pictures? Help me figure this out, oh you, the audience.

Ragnar...has a sleeping baby on her lap. AWwwww.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Like a steel trap.

Back when Ragnarson the First was a bitty baby I posted something about all the subliminal messages he was absorbing on account of the fact that his mother favored Irish Drinking songs over more traditional "rock-a-bye" lullabies. Happily he still thinks that "Moonshine" refers to the moon in the sky, and not the white lighting, but he does have a tendancy to babble "tooraloolalay." There was also that incident when he chased our former roommate around yelling "watch him DIE! watch him DIE!" She was decidedly freaked out until I explained that he was singing Johnny Cash.

The things that really seem to stick with him though, are phrases from storybooks. Since I'm the one usually reading the books, I can mostly identify the source, but for other people it seems that he randomly spouts very articulate, but completely nonsensical phrases. Where the Wild Things Are is the source of several favorites. He has adopted Ash's basket as a boat and insists that he is sailing away in his wolf suit. We are also big fans of Skippyjon Jones, which causes him to stop and yell suddenly "I am a Chihuahua!!!"

I think the oddest is from a "Five Little Monkeys" book, wherein the Monkey sibs are teasing a crocodile. At the end their mother tells them "Never tease a crocodile, it's not nice, and it's dangerous."

Now whenever Ragnarson has reason to use the phrase "It's not nice!" he follows it up with "and it DANGEROUS." This makes living with him seem very perilous. Putting his toys away? IT'S DANGEROUS! Taking him out of the bath before he's done? IT'S DANGEROUS!

Ragnar...always tells her babies not to play with guns.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Something new...

Astute readers probably picked up on the fact that there's a new crew member on the good ship Ragnar. Admittedly it's a little confusing, especially when I refer to them as Ragnarsons Older and Younger, since they look exactly a like. Apparently Manimal's and my genes only combine in one way. New baby wears all of Ragnarson's hand-me-downs, as well, and both of his parents have had to ask if a certain baby picture is of the former or the later. Mostly we are able to tell them apart because one of them is running around, screaming at the top of his lungs, causing as much mayhem as possible, and the other is quietly nursing, sleeping or (when he's feeling really wild) eliminating. My sons could not possibly have more different temperments.
For the first month of his life, Ragnarson the Newest could be seen hanging out in this basket, usually on the kitchen counter, mostly sleeping. This terrified me at first. After raising Ragnarson, I felt that "Sleeping like a Baby" was some sort of cruel and ironic joke, thought up by the same people who wrote things like "many babies are soothed by rides in the car." Turns out, though, that some small humans are able to maintain a restful state for hours at a time, and I am thankful daily that mine is one of them.

Ragnarbaby is so chill in fact that I find myself "losing" him and having moments of intense panic when I can't remember where I left him. The answer so far has been "upstairs in bed," "in his swing," "with his sister," and once, notably "in my arms." Hopefully it will never be "at the library," or "at the checkout counter at the grocery store."

Ragnar...mother of two (sometimes three)

PS Is anyone else not surprised that blogger works for crap with chrome? Specifically the photo editing part of blogger....sheesh.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

And then there was 2010.

For some reason I have more faith in odd numbered years. I don't know much about numerology, so feel free to enlighten me but I feel like the best years are the prime numbered years, maybe because there's such a limited number of them. 2010 just seems WAY too factorable to me. So I'm not placing too much stock in it as a banner year for...anything. I mean, aside from the fact that it'll be the first year of life for Ragnarson the Younger, and that is just plain miraculous whichever why you slice it.

Anyway, in anticipation of a highly mediocre year, I give you: Ragnar's best intentions for 2010...with some repeats from 2009, which will probably bleed over into 2011 (and that is going to be a good year my friends! a prime, and containing one of my favorite numbers 11 which is half of the lucky number 22).

1. Remember that your children are CHILDREN, cut them some slack, woman.
2. Organize the crafting supplies so that they are no longer in danger of swallowing the house. Just because it's a horizontal surface that doesn't give me a license to pile yarn upon it.
3. Follow Michael Pallon's simple rule about eating: Eat Food, Not too Much, Mostly Plants. I will be concentrating a lot on that middle one: not too much!
4. Do as much shopping as possible at the Lansing City Market, which is a walkable 2.5 miles from my house.
5. Write Petoh's birth story.
6. Write Ash's birthstory.
7. Work in the studio.
8. Keep track of knitting and sewing projects, with an eye towards finishing things and not starting new projects until others are finished.
9. Strength train.
10. Finish the Red/Orange spinning project.
11. Eat locally...Michigan is my local and doesn't that make me lucky.
12. Make To Do Lists. Somehow I seem to get a lot more done when I can put an efficient little check mark next to something.
13. Take the kids to plays or concerts, or cultural somethings or other.
14. Work with Abby, Katie and Brian on the knitted stuff into clay project.
15. Also the quilt blocks into tiles project.
16. Landscape the least plant some grass or something.
17. Write an artist's statement and resume.
18. Get the Viking Hat Pattern edited and ready for distribution on Ravelry.
19. Make soap.
20. Teach a class.
21. Take a class.
22. Find out about selling things at the farmer's market.
23. Make a chore schedule.
24. Go camping.
25. Make computer time more constructive. Updating facebook status and playing solitaire, not constructive. Updating blog (assuming it's a real update and not a glorified facebook status) and editing knitting patterns, constructive.
26. Commit to cloth diapers. I've gotten a little lax about using cloth, since we keep a packet of disposables around for nighttime (and when we are running errands and when I'm too lazy to wash diapers, or worse yet when I'm too lazy to take the clean diapers out of the laundry's a vicious cycle).
27. Make clothes for the kids.
28. Make or acquire some dress up clothes (the imaginative kind, not the formal wear kind) for Pete.
29. Get involved with some of the amazing stuff Lansing has to offer.
30. Knit a sweater for myself. I finished my first "for me" sweater last year. It's boxy and not that flattering, and made from itchy wool (handspun!) but I LOVE it and I wear it everyday. I think knitting one sweater for myself every year is a great goal. Rogue, I'm looking at you.
31. Bind books.
32. Edit the toy collection with an eye towards imaginative play, and less banging.
33. Keep up with laundry, both mine and the boys.
34. Alternatively transport. Walk, Bike, Bus and only as a last resort Minivan.
35. Become a babe. This is my amusing way of saying "get in shape." Somehow it's more motivating to say that I worked on becoming a babe, than that I remembered to exercise.
36. Get rid of clothes I don't wear.
37. Cook with Ragnarson. Ever since the day I came downstairs to find him elbow deep in flour and broken eggs, I've been meaning to compile some "easy" recipes to make with him. Banana bread and guacamole have lots of smashing.
38. Etsy store...everything, banner, name inventory. Sheesh.
39. Go to spinning guild meetings. This means babysitters.
40. Preserve food. I am looking for a dehydrator if anyone has one gathering dust in their closet.
41. Reupholster the dining room chairs.
42. Weave.
43. Write. There was a time when this space was used for witty little essays instead of lame excuses about why I wasn't writing in it. I'm not promising to blog more but I'm acknowledging that I miss doing some more "conscious" writing. Facebook, you have made me lazy.
44. Trillium Gallery...Kalle will sell my stuff, if I get her stuff, so I have no excuses.
45. Get something ready for entry into Art Prize
46. Plan crafts to do with Ragnarson, Play-doh, watercolor, etc.
47. Make an effort to get out of the house.
48. Ween Ragnarson off of Youtube. We don't have a television, but somehow I've fallen into the trap of letting my kid sit in front of the idiot box. It's harder to make supper with a toddler underfoot yes, but I'm getting sick of listening to "I want TV" temper tantrums.
49. Be deliberate about acquiring new things, clothes especially. I would like to stop supporting a disposable culture.
50. Edit the photos on Flickr, there is a lot of crap that can just be deleted and a lot of new photos that haven't been uploaded.
51. Encourage Ragnarson the Younger to nap in the carrier as opposed to on my lap. When he sleeps in the carrier, I get work done, when he sleeps on my lap, I watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer reruns on Hulu.
52. Get better at taking photos of my work, process, completed objects. The whole sheebang. Exploit Kat's generous offer of help.
53. Tackle the toy storage problem. This will probably require making or buying some sort of shelf system.
54. Make a cover for the duvet so that it doesn't get all funky like our last...several.
55. Grow some houseplants. We need more oxygen in here.
56. Post projects on Ravelry, Craftster and Instructables. A curved piecing tutorial would probably be a good place to start.
57. Enroll Ragnarson in some sort of active class or activity like swimming or gymnastics.
58. Eat less sugary crap. Quality Dairy donuts, I'm looking at you.
59. Experiment with new grains in cooking. Rice, I like you, but you are starting to get boring.
60. Read longer, more complicated stories to Ragnarson.
61. Defeat clutter.
62. Sew curtains for the house.
63. Hike a half marathon.
64. Be more active in seeking "finishing" work (I sew people's sweaters together for them) and more timely about returning the work that I take on.
65. Use the Postal Service for more than paying bills. Doesn't everyone love to get mail? Send birthday cards.
66. Salad, it tastes good. Eat more of it.
67. Dye.
68. Refresh my knowledge of accounting. I think keeping a ledger for home and for Manimal's business would go a long way towards sorting out our money problems.
69. Brush. Floss. Seriously.
70. Barter with my artist friends. I'd like to have more work on my walls by the people I love.
71. Use an apron.
72. Invite people over for dinner. I'm specifically thinking of other couples with children, since I'd like Manimal to get to know the parents of some of Ragnarson's friends.
73. Make a "kitchen inventory" shopping list. What do we like to have on hand. What are we out of? Where do we buy it? I think this will cut down on impulse buying.
74. Make "parents night out" a priority.
75. Schedule some "unschooling" time with Ragnarson.
76. Work on self promotion.
77. Make a realistic and complete household budget.
78. Stick to the budget. This is going to require some help from Manimal, but I think he's on board.
79. Make time to "play" with Rat Girl. I spend too much time utilizing the "free babysitter" aspect of living with a 12 year old, and not enough on "having fun."
80. Sew clothes for myself. I have some nice wool that wants to become a skirt, I'll start there.
81. Write a children's story.
82. Sketch.
83. Find a place to garden. I am getting very frustrated with the community garden, because the poaching is out of control.
84. Stencil something.
85. Gaze adoringly at my babies.
86. Build a wood oven in the backyard.
87. Drink wine.
88. Have a girls' night out.
89. Start to rebuild the book collection. It was decimated during the remodel.
90. Go to the dentist for a cleaning.
91. Start or join a knitting group.
92. Make a quilt for one of the beds in the house, maybe Ragnarson's so we can have our quilt back.
93. Make a dressform...assuming that my size stabilizes at some point. There was really no point in pursuing this last year, since I was PREGNANT. I did ask Nancy once if I could host a T-shirt and Duck tape party at the shop and she was (at that point) unopposed to the idea. I'll have to make her cookies and ask again. Kyle: I'm totally taking you up on your offer of help.
94. Go to the beach.
95. Etch some glassware.
96. Knit from stash. Documenting stash on Ravelry should help with this.
97. Set up a mail program such as outlook, so that my website email actually gets checked.
98. Limit brain rotting activities, such as watching television on the computer and reading crappy novels.
99. Find some new things to cook, middle eastern maybe?
100. Make ice cream.