Wednesday, May 11, 2011

I Eat Plants and Stuff

I have this neighbor. Her name is Gail. She's an inspiration to me.
She eats brilliantly. She lives brilliantly. She thinks brilliantly.
I love her life.

She took me to pick these in the woods surrounding our properties.
It felt like a moment for writing poetry but I went home and cooked instead.

And then I ate them.

Know what these are?


These were smashing with mushrooms and salt/pepper and garlic.

Thanks Gail.

Monday, May 09, 2011

Go BlueJays!

He plays baseball.

Nathan Jones instructs him a bit.
On those rare days when the rain is not falling.

That's Desmond Jones on the plate.
Isn't he holding that bat well?
{so proud}

Friday, May 06, 2011

Springing to Life

On one of our first warmish days in April, thebabes and I engaged in some impulsive yard work, which lasted about 4hours. I haven’t had a lot of experience taking care of gardens or leafy things – unless you count my green thumb with potted basil. On this day, I think there were a lot of tulip causalities as we heedlessly raked out leaves from flower beds – nothing was blooming yet. And there were those big piles of leaves we made in the fall for jumping and picture taking that, can you imagine, were still there after the snow melted. As we gathered them up, concerned for the grass underneath, we saw those little dears had been suffocating all these months. Lesson learned. I’m still building up courage to dot the area with all the nearby horse dung.

I say we did all this because Desmond Jones was swinging that rake and hoeing out those leaves stroke-for-stroke with me. I’ve rarely seen Des so dedicated to work. He was just as engrossed as I was and methinks this is the beginning of a beautiful gardening partnership. Yay!

Zoe wasn’t so keen on the activity, she poked at the rake every once in awhile. Mostly she played and lounged about on the warm grass surveying our curious concentration.

My dear neighbor Diane has moved out of the apartment on the property – miss her – and so I now have full responsibility of the small animals – 3 sheep, 9 chickens, and a goat. This is a little fulfillment of a farm fantasy I’ve been cultivating since living in KZ. The sheep hear my voice and they predictably, “Baaaaaaa . . .” Sometimes I have to scold them when they “Baaaaaaaa” too much because, little greedy creatures, they always want the sweet grainy oaty-corny stuff. I’m restricting it to mornings only. Evenings they get soft chewy hay and during the day they graze in the green fields. Ahhhh . . . The chickens free-range too and can be quite harsh with each other. Certain hens are chased about and refused pecking rights to food. Oooo! Glad I’m not a chicken, cause you know, you also get your eggs taken away. I watched one stand up in her nest today and push out a big hard brown egg. Ouch.

Daffodils are all over the farm – we call them daffys – and we’re snipping so many of them and bringing them inside. It’s heavenly.

Oh, and this is a sad face because the tree swing has broken. All that friction finally resulted, while Zoe was up in the air, in one big fall and tumble. I know I must find a way to fix another one up again. {Will consult brilliant neighbors soon.}

Happy spring!

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Book Banning – Am I Guilty?!

Dear Ms. O:

Desmond loves to read! He says it over and over again and it’s such a personal thrill for me because I can think of nothing better to do than to surround myself with books and curl up with them!

I appreciate all you do to encourage him and introduce him to new literature. I can’t believe I’m doing this but I’d like Des to hold off from reading Goosebumps – the fear genre isn’t a great favorite of mine, it’s true, but it’s also problematic for sleeping and sweet dreaming. Not to mention going upstairs alone at night time to take a shower while I’m downstairs cleaning up after dinner. Also, nighttime strolls are fraught with tight grips and whimpers! Blah! Who needs it? FEAR?! I defy you! :)

Thanks again for all the work you do for our children! Tell Ms. W hello!

Heather Jones


Monday, April 25, 2011

A Letter to Desmond and Zoe

I’m sitting in a parking lot facing a green diamond. There are shouts and smacks as balls hit mitts. Children are grunting, adult men are praising. The world is green and the air wet and fresh. Desmond you are giving this physical activity all you’ve got. This is our first foray into competitive sports and it’s a great outlet for your bounteous 7yearold energy levels. You are a boy who loves to move his body – you hop, you twist, you endlessly swing your limbs, exercising all their functions. It makes me proud to have a boy like you – I interpret your kinetic motion as demonstrations of your absolute enthusiasm for life.

As I attempt to help you channel and bridle this zeal in your being, I am careful, as careful as I can be, because I want your childhood to be what you want it to be. The spheres of childhood and adulthood orbit each other constantly and I feel the conflict of each on a regular basis, especially as I try and fit you for society, for the adult sphere, and all the manners and expectations we have for each other there. I know it’s my responsibility to teach you these things, and I do – exhaustively – but I also try so very hard to honor your sphere and create free spaces for you to be a child in – you know? Places where you can be loud and active and express yourself in the intuitive ways you need too.

I was trying to explain this to Auntie Heidi today. I was telling her how grateful I was this Easter weekend that our friends who were visiting, had two little boys just like you. The four of you (because Zoe is often willing) whipped yourselves up into regular frenzies of child-joy. You were loud, you were physical, you were inhabiting all available spheres and spaces. You were happy.

We often think of our past. Today, Zoe, you reminisced about trains. How you loved taking those days-long rides through the Kazakhstan, sleeping on the narrow top bunk with me, eating hot noodles and fresh bread from the platform vendors, watching movies with daddy, playing with the other children up and down the hallway, and getting treats from people in neighboring coupes. You remembered how Des had to go peep in a bottle when the bathrooms were locked as we passed through villages and towns. In your case, we were often able to convince the conductors to let us use the bathroom or they directed us to the nearest woods if we had stopped to pick up passengers.

Since babyhood in NYC, you have made your first friends here in Vermont. Girls! Girls! Girls! You have been so excited to be around girls who can speak your language! Your social calendar has quickly exceeded Desmond’s. It’s funny to think about how the quiet little sister who agreeably went along with whatever big brother had going on, played with the boys, etc., is now pulling us into her girl trajectory. You set the precedent because Des is now just as excited about teaming up with your playdates and birthday parties as he is with his own.

I’ve been working very hard to teach you the value of kindness. You have surprised me with your more discerning approach to people. You don’t readily say hello or smile or talk to adults or peers you know. Lately you’ve been growling at what I think you think is a cute attempt at playing hard-to-get. You’ve spurned young men at church who once thought you were their chase and tickle playmates. Also, at school, you’ve told me stories of collaborating with others girls to “turn your head” from other children you “don’t like anymore”. You demonstrated this for me by raising your nose and chin high and flipping it from side to side in a manner that can only be described as snotty. WOE! I had a friend here ask me if you were always, “like this”. Like this, implying mean. HEARTBREAK! I could only weakly say no because I was so perplexed that we were talking about you, MY DAUGHTER, and indeed you were manifesting in every way meanness at that moment. You are not this way around us, your family. You are sweet&helpful&joyful&talkative&kissy&cuddly&silly&precious. You can be stubborn, sure, I’ve always felt your fierce streak running through most things you are determined to do or not do. Desi will confirm lovingly that you shriek mighty shrieks at him daily for the misdeeds he does. BUT you are largely and mostly and generally and unabashedly DELIGHTFUL!

Everyday I thank my Father in Heaven for motherhood – specifically for the opportunity to mother you two. It can overcome me multiple times a day how blessed these moments are with you, at this particular age, at this particular time. Sometimes I worry about how things will change, if I will be as happy, so I want to mark every day of this childhood, your childhood, and my intimate proximity to it. What a great way to live ones life. Thank you.



Monday, April 11, 2011

Desi Candor

"Zoe put on her cowboy outfit and went downstairs to deal with dad and step on cigarettes! Yeehaw!"

At Trader Joes, Des was chatting familiarly with the dude at the register. Among other things, he shared the following, “My dad can eat pizza faster than a rhinoceros who hasn’t eaten for 100 days!”

While on the phone with grandma&grandpa Simkins, Des explained, “I don’t run very fast but I can talk really fast.”

Des daily attempts multiple affectionate kisses on Zoe’s cheeks and is usually met with resistance and revulsion. After being swiped&wiped away from a recent gesture, he says, “I know why my kisses are slobbery, cause I lick them every day.” Nathan adds, “You’re a guy with a mouth full of water.” Des wished aloud, “I can’t wait for my water to disappear.” “It’s the Simkins in you,” Nathan explains, “Your aunt Hailey drools and your mommy does too.”

“What’s Jesus’ favorite color mommy?”

After a recent cubscout meeting, all the boys went outside to play. After awhile Des came inside looking for Zoe. “Why aren’t you outside playing dying? It’s fun!”

“Am I being who I am?”

During sacrament meeting, Des had the scriptures open and was reading Mosiah chapter 12. During the sacrament song he’d reached verse 5 and declared aloud with shock and confusion, “Why does it say, ‘DUMB ASS?”

“I’m a burger with extra cheese! Eat me up for twenty dollars!”

For some reason I found myself teaching D&Z the Davy Crockett song. After singing it several times Des commented on the verse, Killed himself a bear when he was only three. “That’s kind of unusual isn’t it?”

When Des eats an apple he leaves no seed or stem unprocessed. “I ate the entire apple!” He announced proudly. I cheered in amazement and uttered, “Waste not, want not.” He nodded solemnly, “My grandparents would be proud of me.”

After seeing a package of baby wipes and holding one close to his face reverently, he said, “I love the smell of these wipes – it reminds me of my childhood.”

“What if it wasn’t Trader Joes, what if it was Trader Zoes!!”

“You are my truest Hate.” Des said to me one day. I repeated the phrase with a question. Des assured me, “Yeah, I’m Backward Bill!” Then he paused and looked at me carefully, “You know what I mean . . . LOVE!”

“Mom, you sing things brilliantly!” Des sighed one night as I sang them a couple of songs after tucking them in. {This comment by Des furthered beautifully a little running joke between mysister Heidi & I about my supposed excellent singing skills, which are honestly quite fair to average. But myothersister Hailey once declared, before all my sisters, that I had the best voice in the family. Ha!}

“I’m chomping into this pizza like a warthog snackin’ on a dinosaur.”

“Mom, was there hair in this recipe? Why was your hair in my crepe?”

“I wanna write a book.”

When Des failed (again) to use soap to wash his hands, I launched into my oft repeated narration on the difference between rinsing and washing and emphasized that when I ask him to wash, it is always a combination of soap and water. I worked myself up a bit and went on further to incite him to move on and to be *doing* with his knowledge, which will end the (cursed) repetition and thus he will *become*. He processed this with his usual good humor and then repeated my little chant with a slight revision, “Ok, mom: KNOW, DO, BECOME . . . and then we DIE!”

“I wanna go to the equator tomorrow”

After DPJ showed me some impressive dance moves, I opened my mouth to praise him, “You’re so . . .” I began but then he concluded, “ADORABLE! Ha! I finished your sentence for you.”

I was wearing a new striped shirt. Des commented, “You look like a Spanish painter.” I asked him how he knew about Spanish painters. He replied, “From ‘Elmo’ and the ‘Man of the World’ series starring Desmond Jones.”

“Goodbye big buddy.” Desi said as he hugged his large plastic gun after a discussion to pass it along to the great unknown during spring cleaning.

After Des was granted permission to kiss Zoe on the cheek, she exclaimed, “Ouch!! There’s something poky!” Des became alarmed and replied, “What?! I have hair on my face? I don’t want to be a grown up this early!”

"Look Zoe! I’m so rotten awesome!"

Desi came to me slumped over one morning and complained, “I don’t want to go to school. My palms hurt, my bones hurt.”

"I kind of get mixed up – gumball and garments are the same."

. . .

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Winter Farewell

Yesterday I switched allegiances, in favor with the sun.

I have loved winter, loved being nestled into the deep Vermont woods. I’ve been a bit unwilling to dive outdoors, though the new smell of dirt is intoxicating and the color and quality of light so urgent. For some folks, this light is a long awaited beacon of all the pleasures dirty creatures of the sun enjoy – bbq’s, sunblock and sandals, gardening and mowing, spring cleaning and summer plans. I feel I’m now ready, nearly, to welcome all this – but first, I want to say goodbye to this fair winter.

Goodbye soft yellow light that crept through the windows at midday, slanting across my children and I and the pile of books we surrounded ourselves with as we cuddled up near the gentle fire, in regular intimacy, while the white untouched fields outside granted us such unhurried indoor pleasures. Goodbye to the deep satisfaction of a hot meal and steamy cups of mint tea with homemade bread and local honey dripping abundantly. Farewell to times suspension, those great allowances to wait with my son and my daughter for the school bus and watch the snowflakes fall softly and silently, onto twigs and branches, coated perfectly with layers of ice, reflecting a million different treetops. I shall miss most the cave-like instinct I fed upon luxuriously, the season of introspection as I puttered around the house, as I pulled the covers up over my head at night, and as I welcomed mybabes in the morning to my nest.

Now I shall have to contend with the riotous calls of birds. There is a pressure to be outdoors now, away from my den. To embrace the sensible grass, to embark upon ambitious behaviors that grant the sun full involvement as we commune with all that nature arrogantly boasts. This leaves my indoor chambers extraneous for a season but I shall return, browned with gladness, to occupy that cloistered space once again.