Sunday, September 27, 2009

winter pantry

In case you weren't aware, the Pacific Northwest is a place of bountiful fruit harvests. The berries (of more varieties than I can possibly name) start coming in late June, and keep going with late crops until the end of September. It's really amazing to live in such a place. I was so inspired by my friend's canning prowess that I decided this would be the year to learn.

In July, right before we left for Massachusetts, we picked 15 pounds of blueberries in about 90 minutes. Of course, the boys helped...

I was afraid we were going to miss all the action - especially peaches - while back East. One weekend right after getting back to Portland, Korin, Ryan and I headed out to a farm for marionberries. I wish we'd gotten photos - Max was on Ryan's back, and by the time we were done picking, Ryan was drenched in purpley-red berry juice. Korin graciously made jam for me, and by then I was convinced I could do it myself. Though we weren't able to pick any raspberries ourselves, I was still able to get amazing deals at our local farmer's market on flats of raspberries, marionberries, and blackberries... and then my love of preserving fruit took hold.

Picking late season blackberries on Sauvie Island.

Harvested grapes and blackberries --- from our own urban backyard! Our neighbor's grapes are draped into our yard, and wow, I had no idea how amazing fresh grapes are. Next year, we'll be making grape jam for sure!

Over the past month, I have canned and frozen an extraordinary amount of fruit for the boys. I feel so abundant and blessed to have such beautiful fruit to give them all winter long. All the fruit was local, and it feels good to know that over the winter, I can just buy local apples to give them fresh fruit, and the rest will come from my own pantry. For my first season of ever doing this, I think I kicked some serious ass! The peaches specifically were so easy and so, so delicious that I canned a TON. Don't ask me how I/we managed to do this with two toddlers under foot. It was definitely hard, and many, many afternoons I stood by the sink in the kitchen, peeling peaches while the boys whined and threatened to pull my pants off by the legs, wondering why I was making such efforts. Most of the work was done at night - their 7pm bedtime helped.

Two nights ago, we finished the exhausting work of preserving into the night, and today I stowed away all the jars in our cabinets and in the garage. Here's what we got:

Blackberries, Blueberries, Raspberries and Marionberries:
4 gallon bags
17 quart bags
(this does not include what we've already eaten, which must be 2 gallon bags by now!)

Basil Pesto - 15 1/2 pints

22 quarts of sliced peaches in low-sugar syrup
8 pints of low-sugar jam

Marionberry - low-sugar jam
2 quarts
7 pints

Blackberry - low-sugar jam
8 pints
1/2 pint jars - 3

Raspberry - - low-sugar jam
1 quart
3 pints
1/2 pint jars - 9

Tangerine Slices (canned by Korin!)
7 quarts

Strawberry-Raspberry low-sugar jam
2 pints

Blueberry Butter
1/2 pint jars - 7
1 pint

Barlett Pear Slices
10 quarts

32 quarts sliced fruit
29 pint jars of jam/butter
19 half pint jars of jam/butter

"raspberry, jazzberry, razzamatazberry"

Saturday, September 26, 2009


My, my, how these kids now play! Every week, we notice them playing together more, imitating each other especially at mealtime, chasing each other, playing peek-a-boo, and handing toys back and forth. OK, that last one more commonly plays out as them taking toys from each other and then the other bursting into frustrated tears, but sometimes we'll all three be sitting and they will play with a toy together, taking turns kissing our stuffed kitty, puppy, or lamb.They still love to play with the same playsilk that has entertained them since little babyhood, only now they notice each other and will hide under the silk and laugh.

They love to stir containers of water - this is an especially absorbing game for Shoghi these days - it can keep his attention for 15 minutes sometimes!

Sometimes interactions go best when they are somewhat separated - here they are playing and laughing while Shoghi was in the highchair:

They also like to watch us do things now - they try to brush our teeth and feed us, put hats (and boxes) on our heads. It's pretty fun, except of course that it involves half-chewed food...

Shoghi is doing a lot of standing, and now takes notice of other kids. He hasn't quite figured out the social graces involved with being in other people's space yet...

On the other hand, Max loves engaging socially with others. We see our best friend Ruby almost every day, and if I say "walk," "Korin" or "Ruby," he starts calling "Weeee-be" or "Beeee-be" until he lays his happy eyes on her. Here they all are, playing in the Sandy River at Oxbow Park:

Here he is with our little friend Madden. They were playing peek-a-boo together, and Madden had Max laughing away!

When I think back, a few months ago, there was a lot more whining. I couldn't leave them alone for more than 2 or three minutes at a time. Now, though, things are much easier. I guess when they say if you make it through the first year with twins, this is what they mean. Life is good!!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

one small step for man, one big leap for a baby!

Today, 13 and a half months after his birth, little Shoghi took his first steps. Of course, they weren't for me --- he walked his first three, and then four steps for his babysitter. Good thing we love her!! He repeated this incredible feat for his mama and auntie this afternoon, much to our delight and urging. Forgive the video soundtrack - we were using a woodwind recorder to entice these precious steps out of him.

I love you, little man! I know you're going to love your new walking life, and it fills me with joy to watch you grow!!!

Looks like our ride with twins is about to get a whole lot more interesting!

beach people

I'm not sure where I came across it, but recently I read something about people being either beach or mountain people. Isn't it cool to live in a place where this is discussed? Now, I haven't spent a whole lot of time in the mountains, but having grown up on Cape Cod, the ocean side is undoubtedly the place my heart feels happiest. Wonderfully, here in the Pacific Northwest, you can be on the beach and enjoy views of pine-covered hills at the same time.

Shoghi, with his curly locks, and me

Last week, Laurie had an unusual 2 days off in a row, and we were unexpectedly given a gift of a night in a friend's beach house, so we packed the car and the boys and stole out to Manzanita, Oregon to enjoy a day in the sand and sea.

a very happy boy!

The jury is still out for the boys. I think right now the choice would be based on which tastes better - beach sand or mountain trail dirt. I'd like to think that the salty sand would win, but you know kids!! When we were in MA, my mom and I took Shoghi and Max to South Cape Beach. Shoghi was very intimidated by the waves, which break right at the waterline. He spent most of the time in our arms or looking suspiciously at the moving water.

South Cape Beach, MA. Note the worried look on Shoghi's little face (left).

At Manzanita, he was much more comfortable. The (much bigger) waves break tens of feet away from the wet sand line, and the water moves in shallow sheets to the shore. It was pretty cold, but he did well with it washing up around his feet and legs.

splishy splashy

Max was the complete opposite - very comfortable in the Cape Cod waters, but pretty scared of the moving, chilly water of the Pacific. We spent most of our time in the deep, fine sand, watching out for the boys putting anything more than sand in their mouths.

Max, at home on the sandy Atlantic beach

wanting to be picked up in Manzanita

Although being away for a night with 1-year old twins was pretty intense, and left both me and my sister feeling like overnight travel with them at this age is not worth the extra work and decreased sleep, it was great to get out of the city for a day and spend a day with the salt air in our hair and our feet in the soft sand. We'd do it again in a heartbeat... in fact, I'm sure that we'll make another trek through the beautiful mountains to the shore again before the weather gets cold.

step by step, the boys shed their clothes on the way to the water...

All four of us are enjoying every single final summery day of sun and blue skies.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

recently speechless

I don't know what's wrong with me lately. Posting, both here and on facebook, has felt like a chore - I've been so uninspired, despite the fact that a lot is going on! We've been so busy... perhaps it's just that. Anyway, sorry for being a bad blog-keep.

I'm in a big transition in my personal life, as I've mentioned before. Aside from the constant (and wonderful) evolution of my mama-life, I find myself unsure of my next step professionally. I started a business in the spring, and find myself not wanting to grow it much beyond where it is. Every few months, I get to work with a small group of amazing women entrepreneurs, sharing my knowledge of marketing and coaching them to become clear about their business values and core. This has been a real pleasure, but I thought I would grow this business into a small marketing firm, and now that feels very unappealing. Keeping the business at its current size won't support this family, though.

Maybe this is part of why I haven't been writing here - it's hard to have a professional online presence and then talk about aspects that I find unsatisfying. I'm afraid to come across in a way that would make my friends and clients think I'm not happy about working with them, which isn't true. I am also resistent to the tension between running a business for the love of the work and having to make a certain amount of money. I know other small business owners also struggle with this - wanting the work to be about passion and not about the bottom line. I have owned several micro-businesses in the past, but never had to rely on one as my sole source of income... and I have learned in the past few months that at this point in my life, that tension comes at the detriment of the work.

As a result, I've been working with my wonderful friend and life coach to get clear about what does feel good. Keeping the workshop going but teaching it as a service and as a little extra income feels like a choice with integrity for me. I've been looking at going back to school for a Master's degree, too, and if the finances look like they're going to work, I'll be going back to school in January for a degree that will allow me to teach English as a Second Language in colleges and private institutions both here and abroad. I'm not 100% about this decision yet, but it is evolving as the likely path.

I have found that blogging about life challenges on this particular blog has resulted in anonymous commenters admonishing me for complaining. I have written in other places before during huge transitions, and was amazed to find myself surrounded by support - some of the people who I "met" through that old blog are now my close friends. So to talk about the challenges of motherhood and life here - on a blog about single parenting - and find myself criticized... well, it kind of took the wind out of my sails. I believe in telling the truth - and I believe that it is through being real about the things that challenge us that we can truly connect with other people. I've never shied away from talking about the major tests in my life before, and I think that the story I am telling here for myself and for my children is best told with all the facets of experience intact.

So, there you have it. Hopefully getting it out there that I've been hitting up on this wall will help me break through and actually start writing again.