Thursday, January 1, 2015

A warp on 2014

So I meant to write a "wrap" on 2014, but I'm going to stick with the "warp" typo there.
It seems so long ago that 2014 began, and that I started my moments project. That got hung up at 125 days in (by some count), which is fine, I didn't really expect it to last although I'm also sad it didn't. I do wish that I had a record of all those little details that seem unforgettable at the time but actually slip away quickly.
So then, what happened to all those missing moments?
I suppose they whispered away in the mundane and the fantastic, the long days and the short months. All that beautiful laughter and those big milestones interspersed with full body fatigue, emotion, worry, endless speculation, whatever-makes-it-work strategies, up down and away we go. Standard life with a toddler: stillness was not a feature.
This year I'm not going to set any particular blogging goals, but I do hope that I can resume posting more regularly at this space. As for the off-blog part of my life (i.e. all of it), after a lot of consideration, I'm not going to set any particular resolutions this time around, but rather a theme for the year. (I actually think that since 2008 or so I have declared the theme of each year to be "Soups and Stews," (always seems like a good idea in January I guess) and one time it was "Skirts with Boots," so time for something with a little more substance.)
Ready to hear about the new theme? I'm not even going to qualify it with a parenthetical remark (wait, was that one?).
For 2015 I'd like to embrace hope, abandon cynicism, and work with a theme of love and connection. Yeah, so, "Love and Connection". P-pow!
Our farewell to 2014 involved burning paper boats, flaming away the lingering fog of what's been a pretty challenging year. I hope the fact that my boats stubbornly refused to burn was not a symbol of anything. I'm ready to move on!!! 2015, here we come!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

And we're in

EDIT: I wrote this about a month ago, but never got around to posting for some reason.
As a follow up to my last (two months ago!!!) post, today was Heiko's first day at his new school (the Waldorf school I wrote about). It has been a couple of months of slow movement as we tried to negotiate the school's peanut policy (they did not have one). And we were slowed down an extra week by frigid temperatures and snow (though I should hardly complain, seeing that parts of the East are currently under METERS of it), which made the various administrative details impossible for this temporarily-driver's-license-less alien.
Anyway, here we are. Today was the first big day, and I'm breathing a giant sigh of relief. It was great. Heiko had a blast.
We've had an uneasy relationship with his first daycare, and even though he gladly waves goodbye to me when I drop him off, I've never felt very confident that the school really has his best interests in mind. But dropping him off at Riversong is a completely new experience. It feels a little bit like my midwife experience (did I ever write about this?). This is how great things can be people!
Yes, the school can smell like baked bread all the time!
Yes, the children can help make the bread!!
Yes, they can go outside when the temperature is less than 35F (that's like 2 degrees friends), just make sure everyone is warmly dressed.
Yes, there can be a generously stocked "borrow" cupboard in case families forget snowpants/hats/mittens etc.
Yes, they can start every day with a nature walk.
Yes, they can enjoy a dark soothing nap room and take their (indoor!) shoes off before they settle in.
Yes, they eat homemade vegetable soup for snack sometimes.
Yes, they can experience a warm lavender after-lunch face wash with a hand crocheted washcloth (OK, this one is almost ridiculous, but actually why not?)
I could go on here...
Of course there are sacrifices too. It's farther from home, and all that outside time means more thinking about all the relevant layers. Plus the start-up energy is nontrivial, since there is a lot of paperwork and epi-pen administration and all of that. But it is mostly done. Now we just need to settle into some routines, and hope for continued awesomeness.

Photos from the Blue Playground by the way, his new school is not nearly so institutional.

Monday, December 8, 2014


Last night H and I went to check out the twinkly lights in Old Town before attending his new school's "advent spiral" (I had my doubts about the event but it turned out to be pretty magical for the little guy). He actually didn't want any of it to end - the twinkly lights, the candles, the singing, so it was hard to get him back home for dinner. Emerging grumpily from the bike trailer back at our undecorated house, Heiko said "oh! More twinkly lights!" pointing at the big starry sky. Aw.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

This way, that way

I mentioned before that Heiko has started daycare. It has been an interesting and difficult process, and it hasn't really settled into being "just right" just yet. Sure, the drop-off's have become easier, he longer needs to be pried from my arms, and when we go to pick him up, sometimes he isn't quite ready to leave yet. All this is good, and I can't say that I don't absolutely love having some thinking/sanity time in the week (PS I have a bit of a job!).
But there are problems. I'm not going to get into the big questions of the state of daycare in America (and I'm not sure that Canada is all that different). Summary: it is basically unregulated, it is very expensive, and it is still highly shitty. It is bad news for kids, and it is also bad news for women. You can read this mega-depressing article for some of that kind of analysis. Colorado is right about the middle of the pack in terms of the overall quality of its daycares (although this slides down a lot if you include home daycares - even less regulation = even more questionable care).
Perhaps because of these factors, the waiting lists for the "good" daycares are l.o.n.g., and we didn't have much choice when we were looking for a spot. Still, I feel somewhat O.K. about our little place for Heiko, and it actually seems pretty well-organized. Some things aren't so good though. For instance, there was some rain one day last week, and it seems that the kids stayed inside and watched the Lion King. Have the staff forgotten that puddles are one of the great joys of childhood? Plus at first it kind of broke my heart a little bit that the kids all nap in the same shoes they wear outside.
At the risk of sounding snobby, here is another example: they eat exclusively canned fruit and vegetables (in August! in Colorado! Have they never tasted a Colorado peach in season?). And hamburger helper. And "class-created-snack" of.... jello. And all the other kinds of processed foods that we more or less try to avoid. Yesterday the teachers were in hysterics because Heiko had told them about eating lentils ("yentils, oh niiice!"). One of the teachers said she didn't know if she'd ever eaten a lentil.
OK, I really don't want to get judgey about whether or not anyone eats lentils. But this is kind of exactly the problem. The question of food cuts so deeply into class issues in this country, that I'm uncomfortable even thinking about it. I'd love to make some suggestions about how the food provided at H's daycare could be better, but I feel like it would be hard to do so without implicitly judging and discriminating basically. Le sigh.
On the other hand.... oh yes, let me tell you about the other hand.
This morning Heiko and I went to visit the local Waldorf early care centre. And that was pretty different. Actually, it was so very different. We're talking about kids baking their own whole-grain bread, lighting a candle before having their snack or meal using real china plates, glasses and cloth napkins ("cultivating an environment of reverence" I was told), and spend most of the day outside in all weather, undoubtably with multiple layers of woollen garments. They change into their cozy indoor shoes when they come inside. Sometimes their snack consists of vegetables that they grew in their own garden. And the school asks parents to sign a "media contract" to severely restrict the media intake of the students outside the classroom (and of course there is no media inside the class). While I don't see embracing the Waldorf way whole heartedly, I'm into all of the things I just mentioned (I'm not so sure about Waldorf education generally, especially for older kids, and I could basically leave out the whole fairy business, but a lot of the other things will mesh well with our parenting style).
But here is the problem, why are these two childcare options so extreme? Where is the middle ground? Perhaps it is in the daycares in town that we are wait listed for. Or, maybe it is in the nationally-regulated, freely-available daycares that... ha ha ha, that's funny. I guess we need to move to Europe for that. In the meantime (do I end every blog post with this phrase?), Heiko will likely split his daycare time between these two polar environments. It should be quite an education I think.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Blue playground

One of the merits of this little house that I didn't initially appreciate, is its proximity to the "blue playground". That's the playground of the school that is right behind our house.
When we first moved here I just thought it was ugly, and we even tried to plant a "privacy screen" of evergreen trees to block the vision of its blue-ness from our house and backyard. Those trees died (despite the fact that we seem to be able to grow other giant weed-trees everywhere we don't want them). Now we see it all the time, and we frequently head over there once school is out for the day. Heiko is surprisingly (sometimes frighteningly) competent on the big kid play equipment, despite the fact that it was designed for humans twice his size. And I'm working on my chin-ups, handstands and monkey-bar skillez, despite the fact that it was designed for humans half my size. Win-win.
After one such trip to the blue playground, I announced to Patrick that I am like suddenly awesome at basketball, yeah! My hand-eye coordination is not as terrible as it has been! He pointed out that I can basically touch the basketball hoops, so... I guess they aren't full size. Still, as someone who basically failed gym class, I'll take what I can get.


Saturday, September 6, 2014

The sweater blanket, DONE

Oh, about three years ago I wrote about a project that had been lingering on too long. Unfortunately it never made it to the completion stage before H came along, and then it lingered on for a few more years and a few more moves. Until today. I finally got my act in gear to sew these sweater patches together. I adopted a done-is-better-than-perfect philosophy, and just slapped everything together. (I also found inspiration by deploying an extension cord to bring the sewing machine into the backyard for some en plein air stitching).
I'm a little underwhelmed with the result (after all those years of anticipation), but that's OK, it is done. And it is pretty cozy, probably quite good for picnics. Plus there is that whole cat face thing!
Next up: the quilt!!!

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Late August stuff

Well it's that time of year. The time of year when the local police come 'round to welcome us to our (student-ish) neighbourhood, reminding us not to leave a couch on the lawn, and so on. In addition to the usual crap about weeds on the lawn (don't have them) I noted that there was a new paragraph in the welcome pamphlet this year about the other kind of weed, now that it's legal and all. Yes, America's most satisfied city.
And we jammed, thanks to food preservator extraordinaire Sara.
Work is getting rolling, a slow roll anyway, here is my desk.
We saw a tremendous rainbow the other day.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

And winding up to fall

We're back in 'merica! They let us in! Back to the land of funny money and people being friendly and everything happening really slowly (this is a quality of where we are in Colorado, not of the USA in general). When we got on the blazing hot shuttle bus from the airport to Fort Collins, our driver made some announcements before we hit the road, a long-winded something about no air-conditioning, but not to worry, the air would get moving "real quick" once we left the airport, and "I think you are really going to enjoy this shuttle ride." All this caused me to groan and say to Patrick "ohmygod we're back in Colorado".
So here we are. Back in our little Pioneer Ave house, tending to the kale patch and hacking back the dense weeds that were so happy with the irrigation arrangements we left for the veggies. We rented our house (furnished) out to a family while we were away. It is funny to think of them using our dishes and our sheets, our bikes and our camping supplies. We came back to everything neat and tidy -- but according to someone else's logic. It feels a little bit like they were actually living our lives in our absence, leaving behind little clues about their days here: mud on the bike trailer, collections of rocks, a drawer full of art supplies, a star garland in the tree outside.
This place is basically paradise though, compared to Worcester. Maybe compared to anywhere, if you listen to the locals. It is all about bikes, bikes, really great beer, and more bikes. I am so excited to be back on my lovely little bike. Heiko is also loving being in his trailer, and in a brand new bike seat atop Patrick's ride. We've been hearing a lot of "bike ride now!".
Speaking of Heiko, he is having a blast revisiting his old favourite spots and discovering some new passions (hint: "see train now! see train now!"). He starts "school" next week, and he had his first haircut last night (there were tears involved, but not from Heiko). Somehow the first cut was easy but the last cut unbearable... so my boy has a rat tail, at least for the weekend.
As happens every time I return to Colorado, I marvel at this big prairie sky. There seems to be high drama up there at any given moment, dark thunder clouds rumbling around against that crisp high-altitude blue. Indeed it seems that change swirls around us. Forward and backward, at once too fast and painfully slow, endless speculation and strategizing. I'm exhausted already. But this is no time to be tired, we've got 20 lbs of organic Colorado peaches waiting to be made into jam. And new bike trails to explore. And beer to drink. And crickets to hear ("the colorado sound", says Heiko).

Friday, August 1, 2014

Summer wind-down

It boggles my mind that I have posted to this thing exactly two times since leaving Worcester. TWO! Can you even believe this? Aren't I supposed to be on holiday or something with lots of time to do these things? Ah time. Good old time. A friend from undergrad used to say 'Time is Bitch' and I find myself thinking that now and then.
So what has happened? Oh you know, things. Heiko is mastering his usage of "probably" and "maybe", he is telling all kinds of stories ("went dat way, went dat way!"), and wanting to do a lot of stuff by himself ("NO, SELF!"). We travelled out west and he had his own seat in the airplane (sniff), and he is slowly mastering the art of singing himself to sleep (double sniff but also ohthankgod). We've been in Toronto, in Temagami, in Victoria, and now we are repeating the Toronto-Temagami circuit. We've also had lots of visits with family, and friends in the Toronto-orbit.
And now the summer winds down. Next week is the conference that I organized, and then we are going to try to get into the States again. I say 'try' because it is a complicated logic problem with a delicately timed border crossing, a dubious transfer of a car full of our stuff, and the return of the housewife visa for me. Yes, after my snazzy semester as an independent working woman, I'll be back to my lowly H4 Alien status.
And then what, and then what? That's been the flavour of the summer for me. And then what? Where am I going, Sheryl Sandberg? If only I could make money by thinking about possible career changes for myself. I would be so rich.
But we've had a lot of great times these last couple months. We plan to savour our last few days in Toronto, and then kick off our return to Colorado with our annual peach jam production.
See you then, people!

Sunday, July 13, 2014