Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Lessons from Lichens

Originally uploaded by lasnover2004
Perhaps Kaya will learn sooner than I did that Alders don't really have white bark, as it appears to here. That's really a lichen that lives on the tree...as quoted from this website: http://www.rainyside.com/natives/alder.html:
Epiphytic lichen (lichen that grows on trees) covers most alder tree bark, giving them an appearance similar to a birch tree. Covering the bark, the lichen makes mosaic patterns of white and gray with tinges of light pink. Where the air is free of pollutants, the lichen freely covers the bark. One lichen that frequently grows on alder is called Pencil script (Graphis scripta), a very old species dating back at least 25 million years. It is white with black fruiting bodies that look like small hieroglyphs drawn in pencil. Alder bark is one of its favorite hangouts.
Anyway, Gramms and Jules are helping her get to know lots of trees, as you see here next to the Breitenbush River just upstream of the cabin. I love the look on her face...SO inquisitive!


Ok, so maybe it's relative simplification, involving technology, which I don't really count as "true" simplification (doesn't bring me the same feeling of simplicity that I get sans technology), BUT...

I've finally figured out TWO, count them, TWO ways to simplify (and shorten) my time online.

First of all, you may notice to the right: The Slideshow feature. Just found the button on Blogger to combine our Flickr Photos with our Blogger account! Essentially a merging of Yahoo and Google. Pretty impressive, huh!?! And if you click on it, it takes you RIGHT there to the Flickr site, so you can see them bigger, and looking their best in the Flickr Slideshow. SO exciting. I still want to post highlight pictures here, especially those that will help me tell our story and share some inspirations, but I felt like I was spending SO much time duplicating processes online, between Facebook, the Blog and Flickr...not to MENTION printing pics on Snapfish...which brings me to number TWO!

Flickr prints pics, too, and for not that much more than other places. I thought Snapfish was WAY cheaper, but they tack on this handling fee at the end which makes them cost about the same if not more than other places. Costco is still the cheapest, but with a baby, it's getting harder and harder to go pick them up--it's SO nice to have the arrive at my doorstep. As it is, I'm still working on labeling album number 2, with photos already put into album #3! Anyway, I'm excited to cut out some time online to have more time to spend with Kaya and reading and enjoying the simple things offline...like trees and rocks. Picture soon to follow...as I work on simplifying that process, too (downloading to Geoff's computer, then to the external hard drive, then to mine...one day here we'll have a house server...). Talk about simple. Ugh.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Late Night Contemplations

Last night, I finished reading a book called "The Creative Family", by Amanda Soule. The book was loaned to me by a new mom-friend of mine who was so inspired that she wanted to share. I, too, am now inspired. All sorts of great ideas in that book, and I'm told that she even has a blog that she posts to daily...bet I could find it in a few clicks and share it here with you, whoever my dear reader happens to be at the moment.
Yup. Easy as that. I do love the internet for that. So quick and easy and at my fingertips.

So. This inspiration. All sorts of ideas, but not just ideas, ways of thinking about life and creating your life so that it's a way of living, not just sitting down to look at a book with craft ideas in it. Man, that was wordy. Trying to say that this book inspired me b/c I read so many sentences, so many paragraphs in which my heart connected to exactly what she was saying! She offers up ideas for living, for incorporating "creation" into our lives. My mom said that I could write the book myself, that I'm crafty enough and do "enough" stuff like that with Kaya. I guess that's just it. In a way, I feel like I'm on that path, and I therefore was able to connect SO clearly and easily with what Amanda is saying...about valuing and respecting the earth, the relationships we have in our lives, and incorporating those values and that appreciation into our lives through craft and creation. When I read things like what she writes, it gives me hope and confidence that I will be able to help create the type of family that dream of being a part of. One in which we can move slowly enough to appreciate the little things. Where we can take the time to make messes with flour and smile when the cookies burn. Where we won't be constantly rushing from this activity to that one, missing opportunities to enjoy our company instead.

It's like Becky said: Relationship comes first.

It's like I said to myself while on a jog with Kaya and the dogs this morning: Your perception of me is more important than whether you come immediately when I call.

Now that I'm done reading The Creative Family, (though certainly not done using it as a resource), I'm on to my next inspirational read, which already has me eager and excited within 20 pages: "The Blessing of a Skinned Knee: Using Jewish Teachings to raise Self-reliant Children" by Wendy Mogel, Ph.D. My neighbor recommended this book to me, as it helped her look at parenting in a new way, and gave her confidence to get through the challenging moments with greater ease. Here's where I really started to connect:

"...I vowed to stay involved in all the small details of their lives: to make fresh sandwiches and tear off a ragged piece of lettuce if it looked unappetizing, to run the baths, supervise the homework, plan the play dates, and wave good bye each morning like Harriet Nelson. Like so many of the other mothers I counseled, I wanted to be a hands-on parent, and like them, I had plenty of other ambitions as well. I wanted to continue to do fulfilling professional work, to stay fit and healthy, go to the movies, keep up with my gardening, read at least one professional journal and a book a week, plus the newspaper every day, head committees at the girls' schools, bake...and take saxophone lessons...Of course, I wanted my children to have every opportunity for success and fulfillment as well. So, in addition to school work, homework, and play dates, they each had private music lesson once a week and occasionally a tutor for the academic weak spots. The younger one played soccer. Every appointment went on two calendars...There was no time for anyone to waste."

I can see this life SO easily unfolding in front of me if I let it. That's the thing. Part of me doesn't want to let it. I've always been such a jack of all trades, and one to hold myself to such HIGH standards and be so critical of myself and others. Now, as our family grows, and suddenly there's someone to hear me yell at the dogs, and get frustrated openly when I'm overwhelmed...I realize that something's gotta give somewhere, somehow. Yeah, it's early. She's only 5 1/2 months. But everyone says it. Time goes fast. Now is the time that I need to start working on being the parent, being the person that I want and need to be in order to have a life in which we can go slow enough to enjoy it. Because this life IS amazing, despite ALL the crap that happens everyday. It really is. That's why I go outside. That's why I create connections in the wilderness, and do the same with Kaya as often as we can...b/c it's bigger than we are, it reminds me that my problems, even the problems of the world, are still smaller than the stars in the sky and the 600 year old cedar in the Opal Forest.

I'm going to create a place for a Recommended Reading list, because I'm finding myself so inspired and want to share for those interested in my life. It's also fun, I think, to know what others are reading, perhaps people feel the same.

Anyhow, I'm hoping to get in an update of our 4th of July weekend, too. And perhaps some extra sleep...though I have NO complaints about Kaya's sleeping patterns! Thanks for reading.


Friday, May 29, 2009

The Finally Finished Attic Frontier

The time has come to finish the attic blog, as we've finally finished the bulk of the project!

When we started this project, at the end of October 2008, I remember saying that I wanted to have it done by mid-December, Christmas at the latest. Hmm. Then, we decided not to hire the whole job out, and I slowly realized that it would be a good bit longer than Christmas before it would be done...Ok. By the time Kaya is born, I hope to have it done, I said. Then we stepped through the attic floor into the ceiling into Kaya's room, and there went one more week of putting in a new ceiling...(but it's one darn fine ceiling at that--we could use a few more new ones!).

Well, it's end of May now, and apart from little pieces of trim here and there, the job is finally done! It's SUCH a wonderful space up there, with the wool carpet, 3 skylights, and 2 big end windows. It now serves as our music room (complete with our electronic drumset, microphone, guitar, and harmonica...and one day, an electric piano!), as well as a guest room and hang out space. It's so wonderful to sit on the futon and look out on to Forest Park across the river, or to stand in the sky light and look at the bridge. You'll have to come check it out for yourself...perhaps you can make it to our party that will soon happen...once all that trim work is done!

But in the meantime, here are some pictures to tide you over, and to give you a slight idea of all the work that went into this exciting project, and what a wonderful job Geoff and Ralph (and a couple others) ended up doing over the space of 6 months:

First of all, if you haven't seen the first attic blog post, that's where the first part of the job is.

After installing the sub-floor, which Geoff and Ralph leveled and installed pretty quickly, it was time to raise the roof (seriously!). They had to do that in order to be able to build and install a pony wall which would provide the roof support for the extra weight it would be supporting. In the process, we learned that our roof was really saggy, but according to the pros, that's really normal. We were relieved to hear that!

After the roof was jacked, the pony wall could be finished...until, of course, they realized that the floor wasn't straight (aka sagging), AND might not support weight properly. SO, they (mostly Ralph) had to take out ALL the subfloor that they'd already installed, undo the pony wall they just finished, and put in additional 2x6s in the floors to make sure it wouldn't collapse under excess weight! Talk about frustration and patience all in one! They cranked that out in a matter of days, though, and were back on schedule (to where they had left off) in no time and a hell of a lot of effort! This is Geoff smiling BEFORE he learned that the floor would have to be reinforced...!

After the floor and ponywall frame were built, we were able to start insulating the ceiling. I can't even remember all the details, as we did so much research in the process...but we ended up being able to come away with a solid amount of insulation without sacrificing too much headroom. Our roofing friend, Greg, helped us out with some extra foam (THANKS GREG!!), which really helped. You can also see the expanding foam that we used in the corners of the rafters. Behind the foam is very densely packed Green Fibre, basically recycled paper treated with Boric Acid, and the expanding foam keeps the area air tight where the Green Fibre is. After all the research Geoff did, he learned that this method, though still somewhat controversial, is the best way to insulate--environmentally, financially, and for saving space.

Once the ends of the ceiling were insulated, the drywall could be started on the end walls. That process REALLY gave the room the first finished look. That meant, as well, that we would be able to install the windows soon, which would be a great improvement to the barn-door that was keeping the opening closed (they cut the hole relatively early in the process so materials could be moved in and out of it).

The nook is what really killed them...knees, back, neck...crawling around in that little space, stuffing insulation behind the foam, mounting drywall, sealing it, sanding it...I'm impressed, to say the least! One day, Kaya will really appreciate all their hard work! Until then, it will make a GREAT storage space behind the futon, and an even better fort!

The ghost of attics present...(the day that Kaya was born, Ralph was at our house trying to finish the messiest of the job so we could come home to less dust! What a sweetheart!)...

Finally, it was time to start in on the ceiling! We decided to go with cedar 1x6s because we love the smell and the look of the wood. AND because we found a sweet deal at The Cedar Barn. That was a big job, but Geoff cranked it out in the space of a week, I think (ok, I helped twice...). And that REALLY made it look finished up there!

And then, we could finally build and install the railing...which I was VERY eager to do because I was constantly worried that someone would just fall down the hole one day. We came up with a really bomber system (Geoff and Ralph did, that is!), and I helped a bit with the design work. Of course, now that we had a baby, we didn't take all that many pictures of the whole process, but here's a few...the finished product is visible at the end.

And THEN...the skylights. We didn't really plan on doing these until summer hit, but we had a beautiful weekend and the job was magnetic! We couldn't hold back! They'd been staring us in the face for months, we were so eager to install them. We'd done our research there, too, working very hard to find skylights that would open in the middle...it was important to us to be able to stand out and look out to the river. So, we found some German skylights made by a company called Fakro, and have been VERY impressed with the product thus far.

After a couple of weekends, the job was done! Nothing in comparison to that sub-floor and the nook!

And there you have it: How to Finish an Attic in 6 months on a budget! Just like that! Or, better put, "How to Wear out your Husband and Your Father in Law in 6 months for a Few Bucks and a Helluvalotta Dust"

For the dramatic effect, here's a few before and afters:

Before we even insulated, back in 2007, here's the North end, near Jamie and Ivo's house. Notice the knob and tube wiring...this was pre-wiring project, too.

This is the same angle, just a wider vantage point...

This is after we cut the hole for the ladderwell and dismantled the shelving that Geoff and Ralph built on the side ends. But it provides a true-to-form view facing Brian's house, or southwest.

Same direction, ALL finished....minus some skylight trim!

"Good job" is definitely UNDER estimating. "Thank-you" is too. But we DO love it, and it was definitely worth all the frustration and heartache, blood, sweat and tears (easy for me to say as I sat downstairs most of the time, pregnant and complaining of the dust!). =)

Sunday, May 3, 2009

The Last Temptation...I mean 4 months... of Kaya!

Wow. It's been a while! It would have been longer had Geoff not asked if we could update this soon so we could keep people updated who don't want to use or don't have access to Flickr or Facebook. I like the idea, really, keeping our blog updated, though sometimes I get this feeling that I'm writing to no one... and everyone at the same time. It's an interesting age that we live in, where so much is "publicized" without the personal connection...and sometimes, therefore, without much purpose. I mean, there is purpose to what we do, and to sharing that with others...but to a certain extent, it feels to me like bragging, like telling people stuff that they didn't ask to hear about. That's what it is, I suppose...it feels sometimes like we're advertising our lives, with Facebook, with Flickr, with blogs...maybe I'm airing too much of my personal hang-ups here, exposing myself as one who really likes and needs, in some ways, to be inquired about by her friends and family. On the other hand, I love to write, and it's fun to just let my thoughts flow. I've been doing that with Kaya lately, too. I'll get to that later, though. Let me post a few pictures to go along with these thoughts...

Kaya is now 15 weeks and 3 days old. And now, at the time that I finally getting around to posting this, is 4 months and one week old. Once I finally finish "back-updating", I'll post something about who she is now...but until then, let me start from the beginning:

Kaya Lynn Staton was born on January 22, 2009 at 3:35am in Portland at Providence Hospital. Here's what she looked like soon after she came out...GOOD thing we were both so tired and in love with her, because we certainly didn't keep her because of how she looked right after making her big exit! I wish Geoff had taken a picture of her hard core conehead...you can kind of see it under the hat here, but he was shocked at its shape!

She looks a bit beat up from the long hour and a half journey down the tube! I had my doubts as to whether she'd make it into this world...but that's what they say happens for many women right before the baby arrives!

For the first few days in the hospital, I wouldn't say she cried ALL the time, but when she did, she really let it out...the nurses said we "have a definite communicator" who "doesn't like to wait long for what she wants." Uh-oh, I thought. She takes after me like that...

We quickly started calling her Snake-Face-Bug-Eyes because her hiss was so airy and her face so puffy when she'd cry, especially!

I guess it's only fair to her to publish a picture in which she looks like the pleasant baby that she really was (and still is):

She QUICKLY grew out of that hissy crying "phace", though, and soon I began to think that she was taking more after Geoff in HIS patience level as opposed to mine (phew!). Especially now that she's 4 months, I feel fortunate that she can teach ME lessons in patience! It's been so wonderful to watch her grow over the weeks and months. Everyone says that "it will go by so fast", and I found that I would feel sad when people told me that. And I would also think about it when they'd tell me that, and realize that the past 4 months have actually seemed to go by perfectly...not too fast, not too slowly--I've come to the realization that time seems to go quickly because of our memories: it's so easy for us to think back on how it was, that it "seems" like just yesterday. But now that I've had this realization, and perhaps because of all the reminders from people to enjoy the current stage, I find that I am loving being home with her every day, being the person who doesn't see the changes quite as easily because I see her so often.

Anyway, my stress comes more in wanting to stay on top of documenting and updating photos, baby books, and blogs so that we have a fun way to look back and reflect, remembering those little moments that would otherwise be forgotten (which is actually more of the reason I'm doing this, is for all of us, so we can look back and read and share it with her...will Blogger be around that long?!). Geoff just made a good point, that we could save these pages, print them out, and turn them into yet another fun documentation to look back on later. That being said, however, I am going to just post some key photos from the last 4 months, because it will be fun to look at the changes from month to month...(and it takes a good while to post pictures and write about all the details here!).

About 1 month old:
...and with her Gramms (Geoff's mom, Bev)...Pictured with her Nana (Tamara's Mom, Karen)...

About 2 months: Pictured here with Great-Granny, Geoff's Granny who just celebrated her 93rd (!!) birthday! Fun to think of the massive age span between them! Pictured here with Great Uncle and Aunt Connie and Larry, Geoff's aunt and uncle who live in Washington.
About 3 months: In our bed. At that point, we had just moved the futon from her room (where she and I had been sleeping together for at least the beginning if not the whole night) into the newly finished attic. Often, after a long night's sleep, she'd wake up early in the AM (5 or 6 ish) and I'd nurse her in our bed and we'd both fall back to sleep until mid morning.

Here, pictured with "Crackers", Geoff's Dad. Bev came up with the name as a joke when she was talking about Kaya calling her, Grams. I love it, and it's slowly sticking! Ralph is showing Kaya a picture of Grampy with Geoff when he was a baby.

Resting with Daddy after a long day at work...!

About 4 months:
On the fluffly lawn in the middle of Harvard University, enjoying a beautiful day!

One of few family portraits, on the Harvard Commons, in Cambridge, and the hill in Andover, MA near our friend Alison's parents.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Pretty soon...

After our Pre-Baby Party Take 2 last Sunday, our friend Yascha took some belly pics for us. This one is my all time favorite...the look on Geoff's face is priceless, and gives me a clear idea of how adorable our new little baby is going to be whenever s/he decides to move on out...!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Upward growth

This here post is about upward, rather than outward, growth...of our attic, instead of our, or rather my, belly (though there are some signs of that, too!).

Many of you know that we've been planning this project for awhile now, hoping in fact, to get 'er done (also read: finish the attic to the point that have alternate space for guests and hanging out other than what will soon be the baby's room) before the little baby pops out. Our attic started as a mess of fiberglass squirrel nests loosely surrounding a bunch of knob and tube wiring.
With Ralph's help (you'll sense the theme here, real soon, if you haven't already!), we were able to get some shelves built so that we could store stuff up here through the closet-access in the back bedroom closet.
At this point, things are looking really good...things are moving along more quickly than we'd originally thought, though some aspects of the project take a LOT longer than we orig. expected.

We started with the "stairs"...taking out what used to be our linen closet between the two back bedrooms and replacing it with a relatively temporary ladder-ish "stairwell" (how's that for one hell of a description!?!). The banisters still need to go in, and all the finish work needs to be done, but here's a brief peek at the process...and the relatively finished product...
Haven't quite finished with the finishing, though I started with lots of eager energy!...pregnancy, I admit, has stood in the way a bit...or rather all the things that go along with this stage in life (eating right, exercising, training the dog, doing laundry, going to work, getting enough sleep, etc).
Then, we put the excess cellulose insulation that we'd blown into the attic in and above the joists, into the ceiling...a time intensive process that sounds easier than it is (especially in the "crows nest", which will be a sweet little hide out for the soon-to-be mini-Staton!).
Geoff did a hell of a lot of research on the best methods for environmentally sound, effective insulation, and with lots of help from dedicated individual (aka Ralph), applied his learning over the course of a few weeks. In that first pic, it's pretty obvious how dusty it gets up there!
Once the lower "walls" (ceiling really) were insulated and protected with sheet rock, the sub-floor was ready for action...with lots of Ralph's amazing help, that was just recently finished the other night! SO exciting, for now it's starting to look like a livable space!
This is looking SE, away from Jamie's house, towards the St.John's bridge.
This is looking the other way...NW, towards Jamie's house. That wood "door" at the end is where our huge casement window will live, once all the supplies have been transported upstairs through that temporary "entrance".
Just these few pics do little to represent all the hard work that has gone into this process so far...but it's a little snippet of the project for those that are interested. Thanks for sharing in our process...more pictures to follow as the project continues to move forward!