Blog a la Cart

Parenthood got us like…

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This week has been consumed with wallpapering our downstairs bathroom in vintage New Yorker covers and cleaning up human bodily fluid. Yes, stomach bug number 2 has struck the Cart family.

HOORAY FOR PARENTING SCHOOL AGED CHILDREN!

Of course, we had disconnected water to the downstairs bathroom and completely dismantled the sink not 45 minutes before Sunny awoke and vomited all over her bed, the carpet, and an assortment of clothing piles lying around the floor of the room. (This would be one of many issues with renovating multiple rooms simultaneously. Apparently.) The following morning, we discovered in our sleep deprived, nausea-inspired haze that I had purchased the wrong sized sink cabinet from Ikea. Guess how James and Sunny spent her sick day at home? (Kids bounce back like you wouldn’t believe – so I suppose a seven hour round trip to Ikea and back isn’t a terrible idea. Although I’d argue that James’ choice to feed both her and himself hot dogs for dinner before their ride home was questionable. PLAYING WITH FIRE, CART!).

Fortunately, we are now set to (mostly) complete the bathroom this weekend. Wish us luck and strong stomachs (as of yet, Courtland, James and I have been spared intimacies with the porcelain throne). Happy Weekend, y’all.

FCK(exploitation of children in the name of feminism)

Yesterday I watched the FCKH8 commercial that used young girls as the mouthpieces for the ads “feminist” message. It was positioned as hip and provocative, and it quickly went viral.

I, however, was left feeling wildly uncomfortable, and it wasn’t watching children my daughter’s age drop F bombs and speak with stereotypical, obnoxious Valley Girl accents as though the only way to break through popular culture is to mimic the trope of a “dumb” female, that caused that nauseous pit to linger.

Today, my friend Meg shared a link to this post that unpacked so much of that unease:

It would be really great if FCKH8 would realize that using little girls as shock-value props in their t-shirt commercial is not feminist in any sense of the word. No little kid should have to wonder aloud whether or not they’ll be raped one day, and especially not just so some grownup can make money.

Look, I’m all for putting feminist ideology out in to popular culture but not at the expense of children, namely the young girls that this company is alleging to protect.

Pipe Cleaners + Glitter + Pom Poms + Pumpkins = The Stuff of Preschool Dreams

Sunny insisted that I share with all of you a few of the masterpieces that she and Courtland created with Auntie Kimmy a few weeks back.

I love a good pipe cleaner, glitter, pom pom bonanza. They are proudly on display on our front porch for the two people that live at the end of our dead end dirt road (we are second to last) to enjoy. You’re welcome, Katie and Will!

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Also, her hair. She wanted to be sure that you saw her hair, namely the flowers.

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Patterns on patterns on patterns

What happens when James goes shopping in his father’s closet…

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The man never ceases to make me smile. Also? The front porch is finally complete. HOORAH!

Kale Soup Recipe

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Pediatrician asks about her favorite food. She replies, “Kale soup.” Doctor smiles approvingly toward me and James. What she doesn’t realize is that the “kale soup” is really Parmesan cheese and sausage soup with a side of kale. But we’ll take affirmation about our parenting wherever we can get it. Especially from a physician. Recipe below, because it really is that delicious (and is an easy way to use up the abundance of kale that is our last vegetable standing after Penelope went on a Swiss Chard raid. The pig figured out how to lift the vegetable garden gate off its hinges so she’d have easy access to the Swiss Chard bed. When James discovered this, he proceeded to chase after her in his boxers with a pooper scooper but it was too late. The Swiss Chard was gone. And Sunny wept dramatically because “SWISS CHARD IS MY FAVORITE VEGETABLE!” Maybe we are doing something right.)

Enjoy!

Hearty Kale-Potato Soup from “The Cleaner Plate Club”

1 tbsp canola oil
3/4 lb sweet Italian sausage, chopped very small
2 garlic cloves, chopped (we mince ours through a garlic press at home)
8 c. broth (veggie or chicken)
1 lb potatoes (chopped to 1/2 in pieces)
1-2 Parmesan rinds, if available
6-8 stems of Kale (although we often use more)
1/2 lemon
1/4 c. Grated parmesan

1. Cook sausage in oil. Add garlic for last minute of cooking. Set aside.
2. In pot, add broth & potatoes. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes until potatoes are tender.
3. Add kale leaves and parm rinds and simmer for another 12-15 minutes
4. Remove parm rinds. Use an immersion blender to purée kale, potato and broth. (or scoop into blender or food processor to purée)
5. Add sausage to mixture. Squeeze lemon juice into soup and dust with parm, salt & pepper as desired!

Indian Summer

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This weekend, the girls and I retreated to my parents’ house on Cape Cod. Mostly to get out of James’ way and let the man tackle many a project that has been lingering on our TO DO list.

As I mentioned, Rufio’s demise accelerated the chicken processing from Important to Urgent. Our friend came over on Saturday, and helped James’ rid Cartwheel Farm of all but one rooster, sweet sweet Ferdinand. James relayed that it was a much smoother process than when he handled Emilio, save for that moment when he had beheaded a chicken but then lost his grip and said headless rooster proceeded to race around our barn while Gladden eagerly chased it, until she realized that something was not right. Yeah, bloody headless rooster is not right. Apparently, this is fairly typical and not just farm life lure. How glad am I that I was lounging on the beach rather than bearing witness to that scene? I suppose it’s nearly Halloween, but honestly, I would have lost my damn mind had I been present. We do not live in Sleepy Hollow, y’all.

So, we are down to one very sweet, fluffy rooster, 9 hens that are now all laying (so Sunny has begun selling eggs by the dozen in rainbow-decorated egg crates. Adorable.), the coop has been cleaned, rooms have been painted, carpets installed, lawns mowed, garden beds turned, and furniture moved every which way to accommodate the redesign/renovation of four rooms chez Cart. Why tackle all of these renovations at once, you may wonder?

Because we are out of our dang minds. You should know that by now.

As James and I were wallpapering vintage New Yorker covers from the ’60s and ’70s that my grandmother collected nearly 20 years ago, gave to my mother, who gifted them to me a decade ago, on to the walls of our downstairs bathroom this evening, James wondered out loud, “Why are we doing this now? Why did it take us so long to do, and yet, why have we decided to do it now while in the midst redoing three rooms upstairs?” (As I type this, he is still downstairs wallpapering…)

My response, “How long have we been together? Then you know me well enough that you have your answer. GO BIG OR GO HOME, CART!”

Do you remember when the New Yorker cost $0.25, because our bathroom sure does.

ANYWAY, back to our weekend (as I’ll be sure to share room redesign progress/plans another time). Saturday proved to be a positively gorgeous, hot day, so despite the foliage of oranges and reds telling us otherwise, we headed to the beach and lounged in our bathing suits, and Doda, Sunny and Kaki even went swimming. In fact, Sunny straight up submerged herself in the water before even Doda had gotten up the courage to do so. Our LA baby has proved that she is indeed a hardy New Englander.

I left the kids with my parents for a few hours on Sunday and had a family photography session in Brookline, and then rendezvoused at Ikea to purchase bunk beds, sinks, vanities, and an odd assortment of home goods that one is wont to purchase when sucked into the matrix that is affordable, mass-produced Swedish design. I was so daunted by the sheer number of bodies in one place at one time, their parking lot nearly did me in. But thanks to the moral support of my parents who wrangled children and my psyche, we survived and I am once again indebted to those two incredible souls who go out of their way time and time again to make my life a little easier (or in the case, A LOT easier). We love you, Momar and Doda.

And the girls can’t WAIT to show you their bunk bed on their bright purple carpet when you visit for Thanksgiving.

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Pardon the iPhone snaps. I did not drag my SLR to the beach.

The Chicken Formerly Known as Mohawk Baby

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Earlier this week, our flock of 5 roosters staged a coup and dispatched of Rufio.

At least that’s what we think went down.

The coop has been a bit Lord of the Flies of late with all that masculine energy running amuck. Now that the hens are laying, it’s exacerbated the situation. During daylight hours, there isn’t a moment that goes by that a rooster isn’t crowing. And Rufio was the worst offender. In all honesty, besides looking really really ridiculously cool, he was a pain in the butt. Flighty yet aggressive, noisy yet skittish. I’m not surprised the other roosters were none too pleased with his behavior.

But that in no way means we’re thrilled that a chicken was likely killed by a fellow coop-mate. I am not entirely convinced that that is what went down, as I feel that we would have heard such horror. James and the girls ventured up to the coop on Wednesday to do the nightly egg collection, and discovered Rufio dead in the coop. While there was some blood on the scene, it wasn’t a blood bath. In fact, Kaki informed me that Rufio was sleeping because he had a boo boo. Had it been death by hawk or other predator, there would be no body (just a mess of feathers), and we think it may have been a much more dramatic affair had it truly been another rooster. Ultimately, we don’t have a great explanation. Chickens are not terribly bright, and so he very well could have gotten himself in a bad situation (stuck  in the fence? a branch?) and that could have caused the damage that led to his demise.

The kids requested to learn how to pluck a chicken, so Rufio is currently in a brown paper bag in our chest freezer, so that he can still be a part of our chicken harvest, which has been accelerated to this weekend to avoid any future rooster catastrophes. (You see, Rufio’s fate was sealed long before Wednesday). We will be keeping only 1 rooster (sweet sweet fluffy Ferdinand) and the rest have got to go. They’ll make for some fresh chicken stock and meals this winter, and continue to teach our girls about the circle of life and the realities and responsibilities of a life eating meat.

While I still cringe and squirm at the thought of processing my own animal meat despite understanding the correlation to my food, I am grateful to be raising people who will be less hysterical and more rational about the whole process. Kaki was holding the brown paper bag carrying Rufio’s body when the girls relayed the story of his death. “MAMA! DO YOU WANT TO SEE?! LOOK! Rufio is dead. He has a boo boo. That’s sad, but now I can have one of his pretty feathers.”

Yep.  Meanwhile, I was slowly creeping further and further away from my preschooler clutching a bag of dead chicken to avoid having to look at the situation.

Admittedly, he was a ridiculously adorable chick. And inspired our initial #dailydoseofchick photo that was featured in The Huffington Post. Thanks for that, ya wacky bird.

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Pete The Cat

Our nightly reading ritual with the kids has been intensified since Sunny began Kindergarten and started reading on her own. It’s truly amazing to behold her figuring out how to sound out words and make meaning of all those letters on a page. You can tell she feels so proud and empowered when she reads a sign on the street or a restaurant menu or a poster on a wall without any help. Reading is an incredibly powerful thing, y’all.

Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes has been a favorite for some time, but now we have a collaborative approach to how we read the story. Courtland practices her colors, fruits, and numbers, Sunny practices her reading, and we all practice our grooving. I adore this part of our evenings so very much. Do you think it’ll be appropriate to insist that they engage in such behavior at 16?

ABSOLUTELY! But just in case, we filmed one our readings, so I have an excuse to weep uncontrollably while consuming a plate of nachos and pint of ice cream in one sitting 20 years from now.

Currently Reading

ESFJs are people persons. They are warmly interested in others. They gather detailed information about others, and turn this information into supportive actions. They want to like people, and have a special skill at bringing out the best in others. They are extremely good at reading others, and understanding their point of view. The ESFJ’s first desire to be liked makes them highly supportive of others. People like to be around ESFJs, because the ESFJ has a special gift of invariably making people feel good about themselves.

I am a cheerleader for others to the core and genuinely find great happiness in the success and happiness of others. (This analysis is almost entirely accurate. Except for the following the rules thing. I tend to throw a wrench in people’s vision of “rules” or “tradition.” Take the Memorado personality test (similar to Myers-Briggs) here.)

I couldn’t help myself…

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