Friday, February 27, 2009

Outdoor outings

I made this list awhile ago to keep on hand when I'm out in the car and am drawing a blank as to which outdoor spot will suit our needs best at any given moment. This is to be followed by indoor outings. Thanks Angel for asking, I hope the list will you give you some good ideas!

Pease Park, Wild Basin, Reed Park, Waller Creek downtown,
Bull Creek, Auditorium Shores, Shipe Park, Bouldin Creek,
Rosewood Park, Chestnut Park, Northwest Park, Mt. Bonnell,
Peter Pan Mini Golf, Mayfield Park, Laguna Gloria, Mabel Davis,
Gus Fruh/Greenbelt, The Capitol, Butler Park ...

I know there's way more than this... tell me some of your faves! Today I think we might hit
Southeast Metropolitan Park. It's sposed to be a real hidden gem. I've been sniffin' around on this site and it's giving me some really good new inspiration.

East Village Inky

Ayun Halliday is THE BEST! Read her books and SUBSCRIBE! SUBSCRIBE! SUBSCRIBE! To this hilarious little zine. Twelve dollars is peanuts for how much enjoyment you'll get out of this tiny tome about parenting, NYC, and more miscellany than you can shake a stick at. Delivered directly TO YOUR DOOR four times a year. I just got the latest installment today and I'm planning to go underground until I've gobbled up the whole thing.

Best of her oeuvre in my humble opinion are Job Hopper and No Touch Monkey. Deeply engaging and non-stop with the laffs. They are among the few books on my shelves that are always good for a pick me up ( you don't want to dip into The God of Small Things if you're having an bummer of a day).

Dare to be heinie, y'all!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Taking the easy way out

For lo these many months now I have been having the darndest time with my kids in the afternoon. They just do the darndest things, like the aforementioned fighting, and screeching, and making all sorts of trouble, even when I think I'm pretty much 100% available, ready to give my full attention, ready to play, and still the ungrateful ingrates bring me to my knees afternoon after afternoon after afternoon. And I just have this picture in my head about what slow family living looks like, and that we should be able to just hang out and have fun at home, or chill with friends, or any of these lovely wonderful things that work so well it seems for other people.

Well, I'm rolling over and admitting defeat. Defeat which is actually a victory because I'm just embracing what is instead of chasing after some picture I'm idealizing in my head. And what is for my kids right now is that we gotta get out. We gotta go to some wild space every day after school and just run and climb and get the yaya's out. And I just have to laugh at myself a little because fighting against the flow is definitely NOT what slow family living is all about. And having fun with your kids in a relaxed environment DOES fit in for sure, even if you have to drive to get there.

Synchronistically, of course, over at Slow Family Living right now they're urging folks to get out in nature right now, anyway.

So that's going to be our thing, for awhile, until we hit another cozy plateau and things ease up. Which I believe they will.

So Tuesday we went out to Johnson's which is always a beautiful outing. Jack gets along like peas and honey with 8 year old Lila. They're always riding their bikes out into the fields and coming back with a cantaloupe in the bike basket or bell peppers stuffed into their pockets. Tuesday they spent hours deep in intense absorption as they made ash and mud balls. I took home a very mud-soaked and happy young lad that day.

Wednesday we went to the other Gus Fruh, the entrance of which is in Barton Hills. A fine fine time was had by all.

Age 3 revisited

I've been feeling guilty all week for maligning and cursing the poor little ol' innocent never-hurt-a-fly age of three. I don't want to plant the seed in people's head that it's a horrible time of adversity and unpleasantness, BUT, I also want to stay committed to truthfulness so that people that read this blog won't think it's always sunshine and buttercups and puppies and rainbows over here at Kami HQ, or so people won't have to feel so alone when their kids are being cantankerous...
but anyway I have been feeling bad for portraying 3 as all around bad, which it ain't in the leastest. It's also language explosion, independence, real true strong personality striving to come out to shine, super cute and amazingly funny, strong, fierce, cuddly, and your sweet beautiful baby beginning to leap out to make their mark on this world.

Anyway, of course the universe (and Scott Noelle) would send me the perfect message at the perfect time... This daily groove was in my inbox this morning:

:: Terrible Two's & Rebellious Teens... NOT! ::

(Continued from yesterday -- full text at )

Developmentally, toddlers and Teens have one thing
in common: they're on the verge of a quantum leap in
personal autonomy. They're on a mission to become
*themselves* -- to get in touch with their Inner Power
more than ever before.

Anytime they feel imposed upon or coerced, that
mission is blocked, and they instinctively protest.
In nature-based, pleasure-oriented, partnership
cultures, such protests are rarely triggered, so
terrible two's and teen rebellions rarely occur.

But in our anti-nature, control-oriented culture,
parents are expected (if not required *by law*) to
oppose or control children's natural developmental
impulses toward personal empowerment, which
guarantees the terribles!

The shift from terrible to terrific begins with your
commitment to creative partnership. Then, whenever
your child exhibits "terrible" behavior, you can
re-interpret it as evidence of his or her unfolding
autonomy, and ask yourself this:

"How can I use my creativity
to support my child's growth
in a way that works for ALL of us?"

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Babysitting is quite Brilliant...

... and when someone other than myself is doing the babysitting, it's even better.

We have a babysitter. Bruno loves her. She will read him books for hours if that's what he wants. They've been playing Spiderman and Speedracer. It feels so good to have him be getting nourished and lavished with attention.

I haven't figured out what to do about Henrietta. Ideally I want a babysitting genius person who can wrangle both my littles and I don't have to worry one whit. But she doesn't happen to know a thing about babies. Hopefully me and little Hettie J can break her in a little.

I've been having a blissful morning. I cleared off the little shelf above our sink. That sounds really lame, doesn't it. No no, it's like this: I stare at that shelf for countless minutes and hours of my day, cooking and washing dishes as I do all too frequently. I like to make it a beautiful altar full of restful and pleasing sights, but more often than not it's just a clutter of odds and ends, caps and dead flowers and breastpump machine attachments and all the junk that doesn't really have a place. I can't imagine how much it contributes to my general sense of malaise and disorder, probably quite a lot. Anyway, as of now it's all clean and serene and perfect, that makes me very happy. And I've got my little aromatherapy diffuser going, that is such a satsifying little pleasure that I like to indulge in, especially when I'm elbows-deep in the mess... lately I have been using cedarwood (strengthening), cinnamon (centering), and sweet orange (brightening). I think it's been perking me up out of the mostly morose state I've been in.

Oh, and speaking of mostly's, I was also watching this flick Mostly Martha. It's a German film, romantic comedy, I never would have got it but I read in the New Yorker or something that it was actually good, and it actually is so so good. Actually complex, interesting, intelligent, emotional people... lots of great cooking and food which I love... it's tickling the pleasure centers of my brain, almost as much as It Happened One Night... which is the Best. Romantic Comedy. Ever. (The chemistry between those folks is not to be believed, and it's so funny and racy! That film sends me into total euphoria.)

Cheers! I hope you have some babysitting in your future....

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Visiting a restaurant!

We just had a brilliant (as my Irish friend Derwyn used to say) visit to Fiddler's Hearth, a new restaurant that just opened up a few months ago on Barton Springs Road. The owner, Kate Meehan, held wee, raven haired and scrumptious three week old Charlotte to her chest as she led us around and showed us the inner workings of the place. It was so interesting and fun, and afterwards she treated us with some homemade shortbread made in house. In fact, absolutely everything there is made from scratch, even the bread. Then, after that, we ordered some lunch, and my gosh if this wasn't the most kid friendly place I've ever eaten in. They had toys and books and games and the kids were running around having fun and no one ever looked at us askance. You'd be daft (another Derwynism) to miss out, check it out pronto!

Monday, February 23, 2009


At least I know I'm doing one thing right.

Good ol' three.

I wish this were a more optimistic post, but my outlook is not all that positive regarding age three. I remember it as being a bloody hellacious year with Jack but I really really REALLY thought I had some major stuff figured out and that this second time around, especially with my sweet, gentle Bruno, it was going to be oh-so different. It's not. It's exactly the same. Three year olds, at least in this family, are contrary as all get out, that's all there is to it.

They don't want to get in the car. They don't want to get out of the car. They want and don't want a whole host of things, any one of which will savage them with angry despair at a moment's notice. They'll tantrum about it for a nice long chunk of time even if it's boiling hot/raining/snowing/hailing/tornado-ing or if you're in a parking lot with cars whizzing by every which way, or your baby is freakin', or you're late to pick the other child up from school, or absolutely any other situation that might cause a more reasonable person to give you a free pass. Oh, and they'll also laugh at you demonically if you do get all wound up about the urgency of any of these situations.

And sometimes they won't eat. And they won't get dressed. And they won't put on their shoes. And sometimes if they get mad, they'll pee their own pants just to get back at you. That's my shameful confession, I don't know if anybody else's kid does that, but both my kids have done that now around this age, and I guess I can mark it on the calendar for dear, sweet little Henny to start doing it in a couple years, too.

And believe me, I know, I definitely know, about mirroring, and listening to feelings, and weathering emotional storms, and reconnecting and playful parenting, and all the stuff that is very good to do. And I do it. And there are times when that handy bag of tricks works wonders, and hardcore 3 does not seem to be one of those times.

I had a session with Amy lately that at least gave me some good new perspective on the situation. She said that a big part of the problem is that it's just not supposed to be like this, these nuclear families. We're supposed to be living in these villages, where three year olds can run out the door and play with a whole bunch of kids any time they want, or get attention from an adult any time they need it. They're not really supposed to be getting in and out of cars, seeing friends only occasionally, and trying to squeeze all the emotional connection and intellectual stimulation they need out of one or two (very exhausted, most likely) people. That reminds me, I need to go back and finish reading The Continuum Concept. It's completely amazing.

So, on Bruno's behalf, that's my message to myself: expand my village, and cut Bruno even more slack. He's just feeling all the rage and frustration that most of us adults probably swallowed a long long time ago, about how unfair the world is. Oh yeah, and cut myself some slack too... it's not actually my fault that we don't live in a village, but I will at least try in my little time here on earth to slant it at least a little back in that direction.

So anyway, that's that. And if any of you are wondering why you haven't seen or heard from me lately, it may very well be because age 3 has laid me low. And age 5 and half isn't all that peachy, either, at least this month.

8 and a half month olds are still aces, however.

Bull creek is the BEST

Bull Creek has really got it all, in my humble opinion. Lovely fresh running water, gigantic slabs of rock to scamper up (if you're so inclined), miles and miles (and miles and miles) of trails, and more dogs than you can shake a stick at (though I wouldn't try shaking a stick around there, you might get stampeded).

I must say this was the perfect remedy for a grumpy Sunday morning... there was altogether too much fighting and squealing and screaming for my taste (and that was just me and Matt... JUST kidding!) so we busted out the door, grabbed a sack of breakfast tacos, and all ills were magically cured. I think my boys don't fight if they just have enough space from each other... like about one square mile for each of them. Maybe that's the secret to harmony that we haven't figured out yet... that they do have this vast amount of personal space that they actually require, and it's constantly being infringed upon at home. And that's why they squeal and squawk in a near-constant cacaphony.

We've got to get out more.

On the way back we walked along a road with cars whipping by for awhile, and Henny was in the backpack with her Dad, so Nettie got to live her dream and be the baby of the family for a few minutes. Poor girl... every time a new baby is born in this family she just gets kicked a notch lower down on the totem pole. So I really should try to throw her a bone once in a while, either literally, or figuratively, by letting her ride in the sling every now and then. But that's where I draw the line, Nettie, no breastfeeding, though I'm sure you'd love it.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Cool giftie

A friend left a set of matryoshka (nesting) dolls at our house about a month ago and they totally fascinate Bruno. I ordered him his own set but after I did that I saw a blank set that had been handpainted by a kid at a friend's house, and I wished I'd done that instead. Anyway, order your own set of blank matryoshka dolls here and knock yourself out. And they're cheap, too.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Goodwill towards men (and women)

We finally had a nice chill week day all spread out before us with nothing to do, my littles and I. And what did we do on such a fine brilliant beautiful morning such as this, but indulge in some oh-so-very entertaining retail therapy at the good ol' BLUE HANGER.
There's a Blue Hanger in my neighborhood and I think I've been going there at least twice a month for about two years. It's basically like an ongoing garage sale... it's the tail end of all the stuff that Goodwill decided wasn't worthy to sell in it's stores. Everything that didn't make the cut is just dumped into these gigantic bins willy-nilly, and everything is beyond dirt cheap. I know I've hauled home scads of junk from there that I never should have bought even for 25 cents, but I've also richly appointed my home with ridey toys galore in the backyard, vintage fisher price, stacks of fantastic books, perfect Ravensburger puzzles not missing one piece, and all sorts of odds and ends that even at another thrift store would cost you a pretty penny. I love the thrill of the hunt and I enjoyed my precious moments at the Blue Hanger so much, even though most people I know, including some pretty hard core thrifters, find it pretty rank and off-putting. It is a really strange place, and at least at the one in my neighborhood, there were flocks of people that would just stay there all day it seemed and wait for them to dump new things in the bins and then just descend on the bins like a bunch of ravenous termites. Or seagulls. Or something like that.
Anyway, my heart was really broken right in two when I learned that the Blue Hanger in my neighborhood was going to be switching to clothes only. Hey dude, I like clothes as much as the next person, but give me the full spectrum of merchandise, please! I haven't even been there since they switched over in December. The pain was just too fresh. I knew there was another one way up north, just too inconceivably far to even think about.
So! Finally I get to this crux of this story. Today I decided to actually make the trek. Thrills! Chills! It only took me 23 minutes! There were parking spaces! There were actually shopping carts! And dudes, IT IS OPEN TIL MIDNIGHT! That's key information for me and I might find myself there some evening when I am on one of my rambles and have run out of the house screaming.
I'm SO happy because one of the things that killed me about my tinkering class, was having to buy old broken remote controls cars for us to take apart for 2, 3, or 4 dollars at another thrift store, when I KNOW that junk ain't worth a nickel to anyone but me, and that at Blue Hanger they'd give me a fair price. Truth be told, I still think they overcharged me. $1.00 for a headless toy robot? COME ON. But I can harvest a motor, LED's, wires, and who knows what else is in there, stuff that would cost me a lot more than a buck at Radio Shack, so I guess it's worth it.
Bruno was a bit of a maniac, too, that was the other downer. He's always been my easygoing little buddy and now he's just contrary as hell. And shrieky. He really likes to get his shriek on. He kept getting attached to truly grotty toys that there was no way I was going to buy. Luckily I was able to lure him out the door with a viking Playmobil set, complete with catapult. Complete with every last piece. THAT I'll spend 25 cents on. PSYCHED!
I love you , Blue Hanger.

Thursday, February 19, 2009


May I direct your attention for a moment to that cute little fella (named Ike) in the sidebar to your right? He and his family are having a heck of a time right now and could really use some help. His big brother Sam was in my tinkering class and Ike came along to check out the scene once so I got to meet him... the cutest little Buddha boy, wise and wryly amused, you can tell. His mother is local Austin author Kari Anne Roy. This family has had some major MAJOR scares and Ike is currently in the hospital for the next two weeks at least. You can read more about Ike and his story here. Or just click on the little lad to donate money to Ike and his family. This is really a necessary time for the community to pull together and help this sweet sweet family through their time of crisis.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Dry ice.... extremely cheap, somewhat dangerous, exciting, smoky, and FUN! And you can get it at the HEB on Oltorf! We made fizzy lemonade from the Hungry Scientist's Cookbook. We made the sugar-lemon-water and then added the dry ice, it's supposed to fizz and bubble and smoke for about fifteen minutes and in the process turn all carbonated and cold. These thirsty lads couldn't wait that long so what they drank was more or less some nice warm lemonade but they guzzled it nonetheless, and declared it quite tasty.

Take note of the picture of Ian at the bottom there, in his down time he built an eggmobile, this guy is a true true tinkerer, I was so impressed. What I envision for future tinkering classes is even more time to mess around with materials and ideas, get creative, play, and get inspired. It really does my poor old heart good to see a kid just seized by an idea and really bringin' it home, completely excited and delighted. It's a beautiful beautiful thing.

Visiting an archaeologist!

Our class visited archaeologist Robin Benson-Barnes, at the J.J. Pickle Research Campus off Burnet. She showed us around their lab and then brought out these wonderful bins for the kids to sift through. One was full of things you might find in a dry cave, one was the ocean, and one was what you might find digging around right here in central Texas. We had a great time, and as an extra added bonus we even found some good trees to climb, afterwards.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

City Museum in St. Louis

Oh my goodness gosh... I have this fantasy of an absolutely aces playground for Mungo made predominantly from found or reclaimed materials... then someone at a birthday party today told me about this place. OH. MY. LORD. This is the place of my dreams... it's quite beyond my wildest dreams, actually. I feel almost shamed at someone's ability to dream quite so much grander than I even could. Anyway, I MUST GO HERE SOON! It's my Disneyland. Here's just TWO of the ten million attractions I find so intoxicating:

Enchanted Caves: Painted in mystery and textured with intrigue, the Enchanted Caves at CITY MUSEUM offer explorers of all ages an opportunity to walk, climb and crawl through the mind of a master artist. Built within a historic shoe factory's spiral conveyor tunnel system, the caves emanate from deep within the heart of CITY MUSEUM.

Monstro City: What happens when you mix two Saber 40 aircraft fuselages, a fire engine, a castle turret, a 25' tall cupola and several 4' wide wrought-iron slinkies, and the creativity of CITY MUSEUM Creative Director Bob Cassilly and his crew? The result is MonstroCity, the most monumental, monolithic, monstrous montage of monkey bars in the world.

Happy Valentine's!

Amazing papercuts by Rob Ryan.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Barton Creek adventure

I'm not sure that this spot that is so special to us really has a name... Matt says it's Gus Fruh but technically it's really on the other side of the creek from Gus Fruh and up a little ways. To get there you turn in to the Brodie Oaks shopping center on South Lamar, you know, where Sun Harvest and Hobby Lobby and all that is. Drive as far left as you can get and then follow the hill all the way down and there you'll be.

We discovered this spot after we had that lovely rainy rainy spring two years ago.... it was smack dab in the middle of summer and we went down there and it was lusciously swimmable and full to the brim... I felt like it was the kind of spot you drive an hour outside of town for at least, AND, pure folly, I thought it was always like that... not hardly. Nowadays we go down there for the rocks... no water there these two years gone by... but it's still really fun, and climbing paradise for those among us with boundless energy (not me) or those of us who just enjoy a nice dose of natural beauty (me). One funny thing was that I happened to notice this message scratched on a rock... "I love Jack From Kami".... I think I must have scratched it there almost a year ago... I don't even remember doing it.
We had a fine time, though Bruno, although three years old not even a week, is deep in the throes of the threes, my GODS it's challenging. He was having a ball and then just randomly started thinking about a special drink, which we hadn't brought, or even bought, in fact it didn't even really technically exist, and went into a full on tantrum for about thirty minutes. It was actually quite perfect, I was watching him and thinking, "Ahh, that's really a good way to deal with the mad that you feel..." just on the bank of a creek, throwing rocks and sticks and screaming, I mean, there's lots of days I'd like to spend thirty minutes doing the same thing. Still wish I'd brought my ear plugs.

V-day tomorrow

So it's Valentine's Day tomorrow, and you have childcare lined up, but nothing planned... or what's that you say, you don't even have children? Lucky you.
I kid, I kid, of course, though only partially, and less partially than I'd like to admit at times. And those kids of mine do inhibit me from attending some mighty enticing looking events planned for tomorrow due to their tendency to break things, shriek and slobber in polite company. Though I might be able to get away with taking Jack to this one, he might be persuaded to refrain from the above three for at least one hour of the day:
The Museum of Natural & Artificial Ephemerata presents:

and their Astounding PHANTOMOGRAPH of LOVE!
Valentine's Day, Sat. Feb. 14, 7-10pm!
At the Museum, 1808 Singleton Ave.,
off MLK in East Austin.

Come see the Phantomograph, a Machine that Reads the Music in Things -- in
this case, YOU! Sit down in the plush interior of this Machine and Hear
what your Love Sounds Like! Then take a Curator-led Tour of WONDROUS
INSTRUMENTS, our current themed community exhibition!

Tours are also available Saturdays 1-4pm on
February 14, 21, 28
March 7, 14, 21, 28

( I love this from their website about their current exhibition: "Lift the Veil of Boredom that separates you from the Wondrous Instruments all around us!")

And Suzanna Choffel playing with Dan Dyer at Momo's, that sounds like an awesome show. Oh my God, I love Suzanna Choffel, she's dreamy. Click on that link and listen to one of her songs, just one, I dare you.

Humpty Dumpty's worst nightmare

The challenge? Build a sturdy or aerodynamically-adept-enough vessel that will help ensure an egg a safe journey of 20 feet flung across our yard by a giant catapult built out of bungee cords. These brave lads were up to the task and then some.