Saturday, August 1, 2009

Taking the Beans Camping

The day we leave for a camping trip I always wonder what all the STUFF is for. This trip is no exception. I made a camping packing list which I have inserted at the bottom for posterity. To add to the complexity of the whole event I decided to bring dinner already made for tonight. I am bringing BEANS while John is bringing bratts, buns and beer. Anyway, Frost is reading the list of things TO DO and I have to run. Wish us a fun trip. I will explain smores to you on our return. Pictures promised.

Here is Wren with one of the many harvests from his tricolor bean patch. He is feeling proud.


Chickens have food and water
Cat has food and water
House closed
Basement door open
Put garbage out in bin to avoid smell
Pick beans
Water garden especially rear seed beds
Make boiled eggs

Sleeping bag
Buckets and spades
Coffee mug
Cups for drinking
Spoons, forks, knife
Can opener
Pot for water, pot for cooking pancakes
Popcorn maker???
Mallet head
Sun tent
Camping chair (red, in garage)
Cell phone
Tub for washing
Dish soap/cloth
Trash bags
Mosquito coils
Clothes pins

Check it has:
* Bandaids
* Benadryl
* **CORTAID (poison ivy)
* Antibiotic ointment/wipes
* Thermometer
* Bug repellent
* Tylenol
* Tweezers (good for removing splinters and ticks)

**Light mayo
**Graham crackers
**Lucky charms
**Powdered Milk
Instant coffee
Cup of noodles for Frost
Salt & pepper
red wine
**Soda in small cans
Juice boxes
Boiled eggs
Dinner Tofu, rice, veggies
LUNCH: Sandwiches [tuna, mayo, pickles, cheese]
Dinner: [pizza]
Cottage cheese
Car snacks (celery apple for shannon, peanut bars etc for kids)

Long pants
Long sleeved shirt
Warm shirt / sweater
Swim shoes
Wren's baby carrier (no stroller!!!)


Thursday, July 30, 2009

Very hot day

Today was the hottest day on record in Seattle. At 3.30pm it reached 103 F (39.4C) at Seatac although other unfortunate souls in the region got much hotter (107 - 41.4 in Vancouver WA and 109F/42.7C in Medford, OR). It was also relatively humid and windless which made the air feel like a thick hot soup.

We started the day at 6am with fans blowing and playing Noah's Ark with blocks and animals. Wren calls its Donna's Ark due to some confusion between Noah and our neighbor. It is hard to play Noah with Wren. He refuses to limit the number of animals on the ark so we have an overpopulation of elephants but a mismatched family of small African animals who would have to mate in unlikely combinations if they are to repopulate the earth. If Wren were the chosen upright boy he would have us living with wartdogs and cheetlions as well as some strange polar-monkeys.

After breakfast, Susan and Joshua came to take Frost to Lake Roesinger for the day. Its a small lake an hour north of here where they have a cabin. I drove up with Wren for the afternoon and as the day heated up it was good to be in the water and shade out of doors. Frost spent about 6 hours in the water - diving, splashing, squirting, bombing, sliding down the waterslide and generally remaining wet. Even Wren allowed me to take him out into deep water supported by his swim vest that gives him enough bouyancy to allow me to swim with him in safety. We also floated around on an air mattress and had a lovely time. There was one near disaster when Wren knocked Susan's Ralph Lauren sunglasses off the dock into the deep water. "LOOK, LOOK" he shrieked, to which Frost added "The glasses are going down."

Susan and I were the only ones to appreciate the gravity of this disaster while the boys felt it was a diving challenge. Luckily, both Susan and I had face masks and since Frost remembered where they sank we managed to retrieve them from the 10ft deep water and the mud and weeds on the bottom. After that I put the sunglasses on the roof of the dock to stop Wren from repeating the 'game'.

Right now, our living room is still 94 degrees and I am stuck to my chair and my arm keeps adhering to a magazine on my desk. Outside I can hear the sprinkler in the garden and the thrumming of the window fan in here. Its cooling down outside as darkness falls but the way they designed homes in the 40s did not allow for windows that opened or air that moved. The sunglass knocker is sleeping with a fan.

Potty Training
Thankfully, Wren is not sleeping with a hot diaper because potty training has been going well and is now on day 3 with few accidents. The only major blooper was during lunch at Third Place Books where Wren, standing on a chair while reading a book, made the statement "I am PEEING!" He was. The pants he had on were no impediment and the chair was puddled. I pretended that he had spilled his drink and wiped it all up with napkins but I suspect all but the most absorbed patrons would have heard him. Thankfully, the man sitting next to us appeared to have believed my ruse. He was reading a book with EROTICA in red cursive script so his mind may have been absorbed. I know he believed me because when I returned with the napkins he picked up his books on the table between us and checked they had not got wet. Now, he would not have expected Wren to pee upwards onto his books, right? That seems unlikely so I hope my quick exit was not followed by lots of "Did you see that baby pee on the chair?" and huffing and eye rolling and such social approbation.

Entrails in the Wading Pool
The only other excitement at home (beside Josh acting like a bear with a sore head due to the heat) is that this morning I discovered entrails in the plastic wading pool in our back yard. I looked for a long time hoping that the pink fleshy things were worm bits, that an earthworm had clambered from the earth in search of moisture and died in our tepid pond but there was no way it was species wormus. I also noticed lots of grass and dirt in the pond and suspected raccoons had been washing some fleshy bits there last night.

My suspicions were confirmed when Josh woke up. He reported various skirmishes with a racoon family of a mother and three babies who were playing in the wading pool after midnight. Josh watched the mother collect snails, break them, wash them in the pool and then eat them up. The babies ate apples and played in the water until he chased them off. We are concerned about raccoons becoming too comfortable here because they could decide to eat our chickens if they were hungry and the chickens were accessible. With the high heat today I left the chickens out in the yard while we were away but I fear for them without us home and do not want to take that chance in less extreme heat. My concerns are even greater after speaking with Susan who lives near us. Recently, her Labrador was attacked by a mother raccoon with a baby. The bites left puncture wounds and removed fur and the dog needed to see the vet for treatment. I don't want a fierce mother raccoon eating our chickens, hurting our cats or worse attacking one of the family because she considers our yard her turf.

Josh is doing his best to defend our garden.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


Seattle is having a heatwave. Its 32 C (90.3F) in the early afternoon and is predicted to last a week and reach highs of around 102F (39C) on Wednesday. Here is Cliff Mass's weather blog that explains the predictions and how this will be a record breaking heat for our region (coming after a record breaking dry spell this spring and summer). Everyone is moaning about it and having trouble sleeping (Josh slept in the basement last night and Frost had a fan) but I am feeling rather smug because I am enjoying it.

I am not sure whether I don't "feel the heat" as much, live in a cooler part of town, am used to it from living in hot places (Brisbane, Australia, Indonesia and Durban, South Africa) for 28 years of my life or have strategies to cope but it makes me feel happy and well. I feel as if I have more energy. I feel expansive and relaxed.

The hottest weather I have ever known was in Indonesia but it gets very hot in Durban and Brisbane. In those places the humidity is also a huge factor while it is really very dry here (44% humidity) at the moment. By contrast, in Durban the humidity is 82% today, in Ambon Indonesia it is 67% and in Brisbane it is 87% (they are all in winter though).

This morning I ran around Greenlake at 10am and then had a swim in the lake to cool off. I was quite wet with perspiration after the run so the swim was great and I am hoping to take Wren swimming again later.

Anyway, here are my ideas for coping in a heatwave:
1) Stay out of the sun
2) Wet your hair.
3) Wear a damp sarong and lay it around your shoulders.
4) Drink lots of water.
5) Make popsicles.
6) Keep the house open in the morning when its cool and then close the windows in the heat of the day IF you are in a place with no breeze. If you have large open windows and are elevated - keep them open to catch breeze. Seattle homes are notoriously bad in heat - they are generally designed with closed windows and insect screening which stops the breeze.
7) Shade and screen sun facing windows ON THE OUTSIDE. Its very little help to shut the blinds because the sun has already heated them through the glass and they act as big heating panels for your room. An awning or even a blanket hammered on the outside of the house will work better.

I hope you find a cooler spot and can get to enjoy the heat. We are going camping this weekend and I hope our campsite has some shade!

Potty Training
Wren is doing potty training (again). He has gone 36 hours without diapers and was dry at night. I hope this is not just because he is dehydrated but he is managing to pee in his potty with almost no accidents. He has not had such success with poop but I remain hopeful and motivated. We have a goody box of treats he can have each time he uses the potty and he seems excited about them. Wish us luck and perseverance.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Boys Hunt Flies

Since the advent of screentime I am always on the lookout for a compelling outdoor activity for the kids. Imagine my excitement when they invented a new game "hunt for flies." It started after breakfast when Frost rushed inside to tell me that "there is POOP on the deck and it is covered in flies!" Wren was thrilled and rushed outside with Frost who shouted "no, no, no WREN DO NOT TOUCH IT."

Of course, Wren had no such thought. He knew exactly what he wanted - the fly swat. He has been brandishing the fly swat for weeks looking for a moving target: cat, boy, mother. Now he had flies!

Before you become anxious about the unexplained poop on the deck, I'll tell you that it is from our chickens who are allowed to range freely for a few hours a day. Josh says they climb up on the deck because it is their natural inclination to seek the heights. Anyone who knows chickens knows it is also their natural inclination to poop dramatically. They occasionally do this on the deck which is what the boys discovered. If it makes you feel better I shall add that I cleaned almost all of it up before the game progressed and that the little bit I left was as fly BAIT not sloppy housekeeping.

Once Wren started having a fabulous time swatting flies Frost became eager to have a go. As a lazy mother still having her morning vapors I wanted to encourage Wren to remain occupied so I could drink my coffee and didn't step in to let Frost have a turn. When I tried, Wren erupted in grief and anger so I gave the swat back to him. Then Frost erupted in the aforementioned emotions. In particular he said "mothers are supposed to let their kids SHARE and not be SELFISH you are a SELFISH MOTHER because you are not letting me have a turn. That is JUST SO WRONG. I can't believe it. WREN I AM GOING TO SWAT YOU!" When I realized the depth of the injustice [was going to result in violence] I rolled up a tube of newspaper for Frost and told him this is what my family have always used for flies and its much stronger and faster. So, he was happy with that.

Here is the result - my Lords of the Flies. They killed about 10.