N’s loose tooth

List of things H and N tried to get N’s loose tooth out.

(Mostly in order)

(Compiled in collaboration with H and N)

  1. N’s fingers
  2. H’s fingers
  3. Floss wrapped around tooth with H pulling (this was stopped by me, much to the chagrin of them)
  4. The washcloth pull
  5. N bouncing on a bouncy ball while holding on to H’s shoulders with one hand and wiggling tooth with her other hand
  6. H reading a book to N while N sat on the bouncy ball and wiggled her tooth
  7. Jumping jacks
  8. Spitting water out of mouth
  9. Smacking mouth
  10. Punching chin (I didn’t witness this one, but I’m going to assume that N punched her own mouth…?)
  11. N pushing an ice pack up and down on her face

Pop quiz:

Is the tooth out?

Also, what the heck??!

(Sorry for the lack of pics. Complain to my media naranja!)


Tidbits – more biking, and family meeting


Much more bike riding practice has been happening. Z still needs help starting, and H has been helping helping helping. It’s really cool how she takes pride in helping her sister start, and is genuinely so happy for both her sisters when they accomplish something new/hard. (This applies to lots of things, but specifically biking lately.) N has just been taking off with her biking. I think she was pushed to succeed by her sister…. She can now start by herself reliably every time, and we can just see her confidence growing. It’s really cool. She was practicing yesterday and she tried standing up on the bike while pedaling. I don’t know if she was more excited, or if H was more excited for her.

(I also have pictures of H climbing our street sign like a monkey. However, I don’t want to post our street on the large world of the net, so if you want to see it, please email me.)



We do Family Meetings once every 3-5 weeks or so. This is a positive discipline thing tool I learned at a positive discipline class.  The teacher, who has teenage-adult kids, said this was her most recommended tool of all. That was enough for me, so we have been doing these for over a year now. They are great, and mostly super fun. We always have a treat, so the kids have total buy-in to these meetings. (I was told if we get buy-in now, at these younger ages, it is really great as they get older.) So we all get a treat, and then we start with compliments and appreciations, where we all get a chance to say something we like or appreciate about each other. (It varies by child and day if everyone gives everyone a compliment or if each kid just gives one or two.) Lately, Z’s has been, for both me and Mikey, “I like that you let me make your coffee sometimes.” I assume it’ll change at some point. Anyway, after we are done with that, we move on to the agenda. H has taken to writing things down in between meetings on our whiteboard. N is getting there. Z just brings up “something to figure out” at the meeting if she has something. Then we discuss whatever the issues are. I have a family meeting notebook where I take notes. That way we can look at the previous meeting and check in to see if the old issues have been solved or if they need to be revisited.

For example, there has been an issue with pee on the toilet seat. From what I can gather, all the kids are guilty of dripping pee, and all of them don’t like it. So two meetings ago they decided to make a sign to address the problem.


They worked on it together for quite a while. It was the most bonding pee-on-the-toilet-seat experience I could ever imagine.  They revisited the problem last meeting because “it’s better than it was, but not great” and decided they’d use a secret word “ZAK!” to say to each other to remind them. Then, at our most recent meeting, they decided they are still not satisfied, so they came up with a new idea which is to leave one square of toilet paper on the seat. Not sure if it’s a reminder or just to catch the pee, but… we’ll see how it goes.

I really like the meetings because everyone is equal in them and the focus is on appreciations and problem solving. It is not about blaming or pointing fingers. It really seems to work. And, because we check in about previous ones, there’s a continuity that the kids can see. They see problems that have been solved (by them!) and they know we’ll come back to things. And that they are all heard. I’m hoping this is something that will last and be effective for a long time.

We got to go for a hike yesterday. It was lovely.




I’m trying to write a play for my class, so that’s it for now.

Tu B’Shvat muffins, bikes and daisies

Three years ago, when I started teaching, I wanted to make Tu B’Shvat muffins (that is muffins that have all the seven species in them). So I came up with a recipe, testing and tasting and changing. I remember the kids being like “What, really? You’re making muffins again? OK!”

Then the next year I made it vegan because one of my students did not eat animal products. I found I liked that one better, and used it again today. I was reminded of how much I like them. (If you’re really only here for kid pictures, just skip past the recipe and resume below.)

In case you’ve been wanting to make a Tu B’Shvat muffin recipe (even though by now the holiday is two weeks long gone, and aside from the fact that I think exactly zero of you look at my blog for recipes), here you go. I’m sharing because I’m kind of proud of the recipe, because it was a lot of trial and error and I feel quite a bit of ownership of it. Oh, and in case you’re wondering how to remember the seven species of Tu B’Shvat, just remember the mnemonic my class came up with. “On weird days pigs fly by gracefully.” Olives, wheat, dates, pomegranates, figs, barley and grapes.

Tu B’Shvat muffins – not just for Tu B’Shvat

Chop into quarters:

  • ½ cup dates
  • ½ cup figs

Then add dates and figs to food processor, along with:

  • ½ cup of coconut milk (solid part)
  • 1/4 cup applesauce
  • 3/4 cup pomegranate juice (I recommend the Just Pomegranate, not the watered down stuff)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

Blend until smooth!

In a bowl, add

  • 2 T ground flaxseed and 4T water (let sit for 5 minutes until gelled)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla

In a separate bowl, add

  • 1 cup white flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup barley flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Mix all together.  Don’t overmix or your muffins will get tough.

Add 1 cup golden raisins. Add chopped almonds if using.

Pour into muffin tins.

Then add topping (some cinnamon and sugar mixed together) and ….. Bake!

———>Continue here for post-recipe greenhenery

While I was making muffins with my students (actually, while I was not making muffins because I like my students to do their own work, including cleaning up – you can just ask them about that!), Z learned to ride a bike with no training wheels and no help! She is super proud of herself, and at dinner offered to teach her older sister how to do it. (Older sister did not take super well to this helpful offer, as she mostly does know how to ride. It’s just that she doesn’t entirely know. She wants help starting, and sometimes she’s really really scared to start, and then she’s not so confident with the stopping either. So little sister offered (so super kindly and genuinely!) to help her big sister learn how to ride a bike, and said big sister countered that she knew how to ride.) M and I (wisely) kept our mouths shut and tried not to smile, while H looked at us to see our reactions.






A friend of H’s (and the rest, but mostly H’s) attacked our children with daisies.





And M pushed the button to make Netflix global. In a room called a war room.


You might think she’s sound asleep in the picture, but her dimples give her away.



And finally, the two littler ones mowing the lawn. (This was not a posed pic. They really mowed almost the whole thing together!) Also, as a side note, it’s hilarious that Z is going through a bathing suit phase while N is going through a long underwear phase.


Eggs, Oz, and Being Six

Nitzi is now six. 6. She memorized the AA Milne poem on six and has been enjoying repeating it ad infinitum, much to the chagrin of her older sister who will never be six again.


When I was one I was just begun

When I was two I was still quite new

When I was three I was barely me

When I was four I was not much more

When I was five I was just alive

But now I am six and as clever as clever and I think I’ll stay six now for ever and ever.

She wanted to start her birthday day off with a run. Who was I to refuse? Here are two pictures from her birthday run last year, and two from this year.

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We dodged raindrops with these feet. It was a wet misty day for a run and I had to run without my glasses because of it.

Uncle A and Aunt M happened to be here for N’s birthday weekend, mostly because it’s a long weekend (good planning, go us!. I begged her to decorate our homemade-with-the-boxed-help-of-Trader-Joe’s cake. I bought hippie food dye (although got weird looks when I asked for it like that in the store) (made of beet extract and turmeric extract and other hippie ingredients) and Mikey mixed up the colors with the frosting we made and then Marissa made the coolest unicorn ever. See the intrepid Marissa


and what she accomplished, replete with N’s name on the side, in case we forgot whose birthday it was.

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N invited four friends over and some of their siblings and it was the funnest mellowest birthday party ever. Mikey made bagels (YUM!) and I offered coffee with additions (kahlua or amaretto or a combo) and so we were a well-fed well-drunk (except no one was drunk) group.  Grownups got to hang out, the littlest ones played dress up and did art, and the in betweens co-read on the couch.





N’s artistic ventures are varied. Her most recent, on hardboiled eggs:

From left to right, clockwise, zebra, cat, dog, unicorn. Duh. =)

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And, since apparently this post has been almost entirely about one child, I leave you with:

Dorothy, and her dog Dorothy (with pink Toto).


It’s back!

So maybe I’ve had a few requests in the past for updates, but I guess none of you rate, except the one who asked in the last few days. You know who you are…

So here ends my year and a bit hiatus from the blog.

Part of why I stopped was because I was feeling like H is old enough that it seems wrong to be writing about her. Unless I ask her first. Which maybe I should do. Or I can just not write about her. Another option.  Also, I don’t like being on the computer much. And it’s M’s job to sort pictures and star them, and he fell off the picking pictures wagon, so that’s another excuse. Also, we’re busy doing non-busy-sounding things. Like life, etc. That’s another one.

Okay, enough about that.

With our third drought year last year, there were no mushrooms to be found. This year we’ve had a bunch of rain (and expecting more as I write this) and so Z found and picked her first porcini!


N is gaining bike confidence. She went around the basketball courts about 30 times that day. She is still a bit hesitant about starting on her own though, and not ready to ride to school. (She currently either scooters or rides in the bike trailer. Unless it’s raining, because I’m a wuss.) You can see Z in the back on her “training wheel bike” which she feels great about.



So I mentioned to M that it felt like my shoe was pinching me when I was running. I figured it was some weird thing I’d never figure out. But he, ever the problem solver, took my shoe off, found a huge wrinkle in it, and ironed it. Voila! Problem fixed.20151106_204447

H had her first piano recital with her fabulous piano teacher. She played two songs, messed up, recovered without seeming fazed at all about it, and continued on. 20151107_152950

At the kids’ school they’ve been learning about immigration. They did a simulation, and here is H from that day. She was Sasha Markowitz from Russia (until she arrived in Ellis Island and her last name was shortened to Marks). Her “grandmother” died on the ship and they had to throw her into the ocean. She had to “be sick” a lot of the time, and there was also a thief who was caught on the ship, and lots of other excitement. IMG_8899

N’s class didn’t do the simulation, but they did a play about a girl who leaves her home with her mom and two brothers to meet up with her dad in America. That girl was N, and here she is.


N also had the “class pet,” Olivia for the break. She has had quite a few adventures, including sitting on an Amanita Muscaria (and getting an earring and a nose ring, both made by N but not featured here).IMG_9072

Here are Z’s “glasses” she likes to wear sometimes. They come in handy when it’s raining, and she is sure to get looks when she wears them out.IMG_8973

The kids’ cousins came to visit. Here they are coming back from looking at a dead carcass that washed up on the beach and was being pecked to bits by birds. Fun!IMG_9191