Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The Repo Man

As you probably know from reading Mike's posts, Harvest is in full swing. Or, it was when I started writing this. I've since lost track of when that was, so just bear with me here and pretend this is still a current event.

For us, harvest doesn't mean too much. By 'us' I of course mean Repo Red, the wine Paulie makes in the driveway so we have 'free' table wine all year long. By 'doesn't mean much' I am of course referring to the constant scrambling to try to find grapes, then traveling all over god's green earth to get them. Then crush them. But first bottle last year's wine because the wine basement only has so much space, which is basically...very little. So yeah, we've been doing a lot of tasting, blending, bottling, harvesting, crushing and barreling lately. Luckily we have lots of enthusiastic friends willing to help.

Eventually those friends get tired or have to move on into the work of dealing with their own projects, so this is when Paulie and I find ourselves hauling ass. I am not much for 'ass-hauling' and so I tend to get a bit grumpy during these times. It doesn't help that I have little to no free time lately, and so on those rare unicorn occasions that I do, Paulie always somehow wrangles me into giving up my precious time off from work in order For him. Doing physical labor. This is most often presented in a last-minute scenario, too, so that by this time in the season I am fearful of even sitting down at the computer to do any curating of Mortified pieces, or writing for myself, or working from the kitchen table of any sort because every time I do Paulie's spidey sense tells him I've just begun to relax and he immediately texts me to ask if I can drive to Dry Creek Valley to help him pick Syrah right now. As a matter of fact, now that I think about it, these desperate pleas for help never come when I'm doing the dishes, or the laundry, or sweeping the stairs or cleaning the toilets. Only when I've juuuuust settled down to focus my mind on something other than chores and work.


Anyway. We did the afore-mentioned picking in Dry Creek Valley on a Friday, then after I got out of work on Sunday we hopped in the truck and drove to Amador County, where we got what appeared to be the last half ton of Syrah in the whole county. Seriously. Then we crushed it, pressed it, yadda yadda. I guess what I'm trying to say here is my back is really sore. That's pretty much what this rant is about.

I mean, there's so much leaning involved!

P.S. As I mentioned at the top, this post is a bit outdated. I'm happy to report that our Harvest is over, has been for a while, and now I've got plenty of time to finish the dishes. Balance in the universe has been restored.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

This is How We Rock the Potty

Who loves to potty on the toilet?

This guy!!

Someone call Merriam-Webster. I've got their picture for the word "smug".

I kind of wanted to tell Finn, "Don't think your shit doesn't stink pal! The evidence of that hasn't left the room yet," but instead I did the big-boy happy dance and lavished him with praise. He didn't exactly make this breakthrough on his own. The grown-up meeting all the adults had on his fourth birthday, to nail down our toilet training plan, was like something out of Ocean's Eleven.

Erin and I agreed on the child seat toilet insert with foot stool, box o' distractions, and matching frog potty back-ups at both locations.

We both bookmarked Finn's favorite music video on our iPhones (Fall Out Boy - Immortals).

And after some debate settled on "The Treat".

Haribo® Brand Gummi-Bears

The "Potty-Only Toy Box o' Distractions" was more of a mixed bag, but both Erin's and mine featured objects designed to occupy his attention and, more importantly, his hands. Finn is a bit of a "fiddler".

One real bit of magic that Teacher Emily equipped us all with was state-of-the-art identical laminated Velcro visual schedule strips.

It doesn't look like much but it is the goddamn Jedi-mind-trick! Finn's problem isn't that he doesn't know when he needs to go to the bathroom or doesn't know how to go, it's that he digs his heels in and just flat out refuses. The fact that he, like his brother, is way behind in language skills means negotiating doesn't really work. For some reason this little trick does. All we do is pull the little card with his name off of the Velcro strip and hand it to him. He takes it and places it above the pictogram, takes the pictogram off the strip, and does whatever it describes. In addition to "toilet" there's "dinner", "bed", "brush teeth", "tidy up", and a bunch of others. Every one of them works! He just goes about doing what we've been desperate for him to do, without protest. I may make one for Jodee.

Finally, I can't forget to mention the efforts of a certain somebody who understood best what Finn was going through and gave him the moral support none of us grown-ups could.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

"What Will You Do Next?"

I have no idea.

This is why the decision to close my store, Sprout, has been such a hard one. Because I don't exactly have the answer to that question, which, of course, everyone and their mother and grandmother and favorite auntie is asking me. Each time I am reminded that I'm not exactly in a financial position to not have an answer to that question. *Gulp*

Okay, so there are other - many other - reasons the decision was hard. Being a business owner, especially the Owner of Sprout, has been part of my life and identity for the past 8 years. That's mind-boggling to wrap my head around and when I think about the ups and downs and fun and struggles and absolute pride and joy that role has brought me, I get a little verklempt.

Good times were had by all. Like...ALL. 

With that, Sprout has also been a part of my kids' lives for the past 8 years. My daughter is 8 years old, so you do the math. For her the store is like her third arm, which I will soon be chopping off...wish me luck with that one. For my son, the store is like his second little sister- a fun new thing that came into his life shortly after his actual, real-life sister was born. He got to play there and Sprout gave him presents and clothes and playmates. He has spent hours entertaining the small children of my customers with peek-a-boo, Lincoln Log engineering and general affectionate cooing over their adorableness. He has spent many an afternoon cuddling on the couch with our fat old lazy lovable store cat, Macy.

Oh, shit. Macy.

"please keep the little humans away, merrrrr"
Before I'd made the decision to close, I'd noticed Macy becoming less tolerant of being chased by enthusiastic toddlers around the shop, and I mentioned to the kids that maybe it was time to let someone adopt her so she could have a more peaceful retirement. This, to say the least, did NOT go over well. Evie protested strongly that this was a bad idea, whereas Jonah just...burst into tears. So she remained at the shop and now, well, now - dammit now I have a double-whammy of devastation for them: Sorry kids, no more extra arm/sibling AND no more snuggles with Macy.

Okay, so I don't yet know exactly what I'm going to do in terms of 'When There is No More Sprout.' Yet. But I do know what I'm going to do to help ease the disgruntlement of breaking the news to my kids...

Ice Cream, anyone?

It worked before, it can work again!

Friday, October 2, 2015

Shotgun Finn Turns Four

That cupcake (no doubt along with a couple more) will enter Finn's tummy, turn into something horrible, and return to this world in his pants.

We'll have plenty of advanced notice moments prior to its return. 24 hours from now Finn will stop whatever he's doing and stare unfocused at some knee-level spot on the wall, like he's regarding an insect or a curious dust bunny. Then he'll make a bee-line for his bedroom, glancing at me over his shoulder to make certain I'm not noticing him. I'll call his name in my most patient and tolerant voice and he'll respond "NOOOOOOoooooooo!!!!" in his typical dramatic fashion. If I bother to follow him into his room he'll try aggressively fighting me off while simultaneously bearing down with all of his might to ensure maximum dumpage.

My greatest wish was that, on this day, Finley Bairdsmith would become a diaper-free four-year-old. I guess you could say my wish was granted. I should have specified "potty-trained diaper-free four-year-old" because this kid goes through a lot of underpants.

You know, from the "Potty Power" video
We've always been very gingerly with the potty training. We don't force it and we don't make the boys feel bad when accidents happen. This worked well for Liam. This is not working for Finn. So to celebrate this happy day, all of the key adults in Finn's life (Mom, Dad, Jodee, and Grandma Alix) are meeting with Finn's Kindergarten teacher to come up with a game plan. Personally, I think the smartest move is to hire my favorite pixie chanteuse Jessica Cannon to come live with us like Tangina the Clairvoyant in Poltergeist, but we'll probably just decide on some incentive like M&Ms or gold stars.

When I think back to this day four years ago, I realize that this sweet little goofball has been ruining my upholstery since the moment of his birth. I can't say I'll miss it.

Happy Birthday Finley Bairdsmith! I love you with all of my heart.