Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Past few Weeks

Monday, June 30, 2008

This morning I cleaned the kitchen, both bathrooms, vacuumed the downstairs, did a load of sheets, a load of towels, a load of cleaning rags, picked red and black raspberries (at least a pint combined) with my little berry girl, Sadie (2.5) (Sam chose to stay inside and play with his building cards and United States puzzle, age 5.5). After lunch and putting Sadie down for a nap, I went outside to pull out the finished pea plants that Jamey and Sam had planted all along the perimeter of our 40 x 60 ft. garden. Also had to pull a lot of weeds out along with them, but Jamey should been pleasantly surprised when he gets home and sees it. It’s all ready for straw. The weed piles need picking up, too. It started to pour while I was out, but it was kind-of fun, even though my towels on the line got soaked. Somersault (pet cat) kept me company since Sam was inside watching PBS (he really does go outside sometimesJ). It’s 3:30 and Sadie is awake. Jamey works/interns at the hospital until 5:30 today, then we’ll eat and then at 7pm friends are coming over with some raw milk to make mozzarella cheese. A pretty productive day, I would say….

Vent: I wish we had never taught Sam how to pee standing up. Never fail; just hours after I have cleaned the bathrooms (or anytime for that matter), I enter one to the distinct smell of urine. All over the toilet seat, back of the toilet and (often) the floor. It makes me sooooooooo upset. So, it happened again this afternoon and I called him in to the bathroom. He comes in covering his mouth and looking VERY sheepish and I show him what he did. I then announce it’s punishment time and off he runs, screaming, over the gate and up the stairs. I clean up the bathroom (again) and find him upstairs, under his covers shrieking in terror. He says, “Please don’t spank me, just make me stay in my room”. So, since I don’t feel like wrestling with him and don’t like spanking in the first place, I agree and tell him he must stay there until Daddy comes home- at least an hour away. I am mad. Sadie and I go outside and I take out my anger on weeds in the flowerbeds. When I come back in, I find him asleep in his bed (all sweaty and cute because he has the covers on), hugging Ted (his teddy bear). I wake him up and tell him he can come down. We hug. I put signs on the potties that say, “Sam must SIT”. And it’s downstairs to make dinner.

For dinner: Gene Wenger’s Loaf Mix ham balls (that mother-in-law donated to the cause) baked with last night’s green beans, beets (with a lemon- ginger-honey sauce) and triple berry cobbler for dessert.

So, cheese making went great- better than it has EVER for just me. We used all the milk (1 gallon raw milk that they brought) - didn't skim off any cream and heated it to 98 degrees instead of 88. We misread the thermometer. We let it cool to 88 then added the rennet mixture. Let it sit like Ricki (a.k.a. cheese queen) says and it sliced into cubes and STAYED that way, perfectly. It was sooooo easy to microwave and separate. And, of course, was delicious- PLUS it made way more than my store bought milk ever did.

July 1st, Tuesday

This morning, took Sam to play at a friend’s house. Sadie and I went to vacation food shopping, came home, cleaned up the kitchen, folded wash, put wash away, cleaned up Sam’s room, back to pick up Sam. Lunch. Sadie down for a nap. I then tackled the “animal half” of Jamey’s shop. The shop was originally a brooding house. The door opens into the center side of the building. To the right is Jamey’s workshop (right now it’s remarkably clean). To the left is Somersault’s room/wood storage/chick pen. It was a mess. All sorts of wood scattered about, bird feathers from Somersault’s hunting successes, dust, dirt and cat hair. You name it. So, I organized the wood pieces, swept up (the best you can sweep old carpet with a broom), scooped all the old hay/feed/poop out of the chick’s pen, replaced it with clean hay, laid newspaper over it, washed the chick’s water trough and feed dispenser and scooped the poop from Somersault’s litter box. Needless to say, there was a lot of sneezing and wiping of the nose with all the dust, hair, etc., flying around. I was a bit worried the neighbors would think the shop was on fire.

All this because we are going on vacation with Jamey’s family next week and our neighbor will be feeding Somersault and I don’t want her to think that our cat lives in squalor. Also, because the week after the beach, 26 chicks will arrive (6 of them will go to friends once they have grown a bit). 12 new laying hens (6 Silver laced Wyandotte and 6 Ameraucanas) and 7 meat birds. The plan is for all of them to live happily together in the chick pen (a plywood crate-of-sorts built into a corner of Somersault’s room with a chicken wire Somersault-poof lid). Once they are older, they will move on up and out to the chicken tractor. I plan on becoming an expert at the beach. I used some of my birthday money to by the book, Living with Chickens. It arrived today and I am going to try to stay out of it until I feel the ocean breezes.

For dinner: Mac and Cheese with Veggies from the freezer for Jamey and the kids. I got to eat out thanks to a friend, who took me out for my birthday. Watched “The Future of Food” tonight. Looks like Seed Savers will be getting more business from me and I will be learning how to save my own seeds. On a positive note, a local organic farm has bought out a little meat market on the north end of town- yipeeeee!!

July 2nd, Wednesday

This morning, a friend and her kids came to play. They went home. Lunch. Sadie in down for a nap and Sam is watching PBS. I am trying to get motivated to vacuum out the van or weed or be productive in some way, but here I sit, enjoying the quiet, reading emails and blogs.

Good Morning, Lord: Devotions for Young Mothers was my mom’s. I borrowed it off of her shelf and have been semi-regularly reading the devotions. It has a copyright of 1977 and therefore, seems right up my alley. So many things written for moms these days aren’t applicable to me somehow. Maybe because our family schedule doesn’t include running children to sport and music lessons. Or maybe because my kids don’t deal with school issues or video game issues, etc. This devotional is more my speed and is spot-on calling me to be patient, be content, teach my children the faith and trust God. I’ve ordered a copy for my sister to give her when her first baby arrives later this month. What I really want to do is buy a copy for every mother I know….

This afternoon, neighbor and good friend, D, and her kids came over to play/catch up since they were on vacation last week. Her son made me a necklace/hair tie out of a seashell he found at the beach by drilling a hole intoJ. D and I talked about local/natural food choices- the topic of much of our conversation since we both read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle this past year. What an amazing book. It has changed the way I shop, cook and eat. I’m not a purest, for sure, but we have certainly moved miles in that direction and it feels good. When Sadie woke up from her nap, she was pleased to see our visitors. She is smitten with D’s youngest son (who mostly ignores her) and ignores D’s older son, who plays so nicely and is so sweet with her. Oh, Sadie…

For Dinner: A casserole made with pasta, our first zucchini, stewed tomatoes, cheese and bread crumbs.

After dinner, vacuumed out the van (finally) and chose books for the kids for vacation. It’s been a good, long day even though Sam and Sadie are in a new phase of constantly bugging each other.

July 3rd, Thursday

Jamey has off today. A year ago today, he was working for a pharmaceutical company in the environmental projects lab. He was a staff scientist there for 8 or 9 years. August of last year, he quit/was let go (long, great story) to go back to school full time to become a pharmacist. He finished his first year this past May. He is doing great and really enjoys it. This summer, he is working as a pharmacy technician at our local hospital’s inpatient pharmacy. Part of his summer are 200 no-pay/intern hours towards his school requirements. He works days and some weekends with a lot of Southern ladies and a robot. But, today is a day off- yippee! It seems as if he doesn’t get many days off.

First thing this morning, I mowed and Jamey watched the kids and hung out 2 loads of wash. Then, I came in and he went out to improve our chicken fences, spread hay on the garden and otherwise tend the garden. I made a cake for the beach and pulled Sadie out from under the glider rocker, which she pulled over onto herself. She’s okay. Then we had lunch- pizza bread and homemade yogurt. Then, I headed outside to rake the grass clippings and weed my least favorite flowerbed close to the road. The periwinkle I planted there (3 years ago?) is spreading, but not fast enough. Jamey cleaned up dishes, put Sadie down, loaded the trailer with our garbage and headed to the dump and to pick up hay bales for the garden with Sam. Jamey’s days off are always treated like Saturdays- there is always a lot to be done around here- especially in the summer.

July 12th, 2008

Home from the beach! We spent the past week at the beach with Jamey’s family. His parent’s, brother’s family and us all stayed together with his sister’s family a few blocks away. We were three blocks from the beach, enjoyed cool, but great, weather and ate too much! Sam and Sadie loved playing with their cousins and in the frigid water (58 degrees!). We tried to take Sam to the boardwalk one evening after Sadie was in bed, offering to let him go on a ride. He wanted no part of it after seeing how crowded and noisy the amusement park was. The next morning, we took them miniature golfing instead. All and all, a really fun week

We arrived home to an overgrown lawn, but the garden looks great. Jamey heavily mulched it with hay before we went away and it did a good job of keeping the weeds and moisture down. After a dinner of feta chard pie, sweet and sour chard and blueberry oat muffins, I picked almost a quart of wine berries and Jamey brought in zucchini, cucumbers, beets and almost a bushel of green beans. He also dug up the garlic and laid it out on the table on the front porch to cure. It looks great and I can’t wait to see it braided and hung in my pantry. I remember the summer after moving here (our first garden attempt)…Sam and I were driving home from the store- he would have been 2 or so…He said excitedly, “Mommy, I just saw a house without a garden!” Can you imagine? A house without a garden? J

I feel as if I am in anticipation/preparation mode. In the next two months I am preparing to:

1) Potty train Miss. Sadie.

2) Put up LOTS of produce.

3) Get ready for the new Sunday School year.

4) Get ready for Sam’s year of 1st grade.

It’s all good stuff- just a lot and I am looking forward to fall when I will have no more diapers to change, our pantry and freezers will be stocked for the winter, Sunday school will be underway, and Sam and I will have found a good school rhythm.

Thank you, Lord, for the abundance of my life- family, friends, food and your love. Remind me to be thankful every day.

July 13th, Sunday

Yesterday was a tiring, but productive day. Jamey worked. After getting groceries and a trip to Target to buy big girl panties, I started potty training Sadie. She loved her new panties- holding them in the store and all the way home. She did not like putting her bare bottom on that plastic potty seat. She screamed every time as I held her down- and had several accidents. How can one relax and pee when they are screaming and wriggling to get away?? After lunch, Sadie went down for a nap (in diaper) and Sam went over to swim at the neighbor’s. I finished my day’s to-do list which included: snapping, blanching and freezing 8 quarts of green beans, sautéing vegetables for pizza for dinner, making a large batch of pesto (7 cups packed basil=3 ice cube trays pesto), sweeping and vacuuming floors, and mowing the lawn when Jamey got home at 3. Whew.

Sat. Dinner: Two large homemade pizzas topped with tomato sauce and cheese (for kids) and pesto, sautéed zucchini, onion, garlic, herbs and cheese (for grown ups). Plus the second to last quart of applesauce.

Around 8pm my brother and his fiancé arrived after their 12-hour drive from down south where they worked at a camp for the summer. We chatted, walked around outside, the kids introducing them to the play set. Came in and had Three-Fruit cobbler (wine berries, blueberries and sour cherries topped with brown sugar, butter, flour topping) served warm over vanilla ice cream. Welcome home!

This morning, Jamey went to work and the rest of us stayed home to visit more with my brother and fiancé before they headed home. Played outside most of the morning, bringing Sadie’s potty out with us. Surprisingly, today she LOVES sitting on her potty! She sits on it all the time! She had a couple accidents, but peed in it (outside) in the morning and peed and pooped in it in the afternoon!! Hurray!! She got a ‘prize’ for each time- a wooden-beaded watch and a beaded bracelet (which she likes to wear on her ankle). I think we’re getting somewhere! Company left after lunch and I had a quiet Sabbath afternoon with Sadie napping and Sam watching a video for the first time in over a week.

Dinner: leftoversJ

July 16th, Tuesday

Yesterday: Pickled one-gallon beets (3 quart jars) for eating and made cucumber salad.

Dinner: leftovers, pickled beets and cucumber salad.

Today: Made 8 loaves zucchini bread, braided cured garlic (3 2-foot long braids and one small basketful of loose bulbs), & did lots of laundry. Jamey picked 2/3 bushel green beans- those need dealing with, too.

Dinner: Pasta tossed with pesto and our first few ripe tomatoes, choppedJ. Zucchini bread, pickled beets and cucumber salad.

July 18th, Thursday

Yesterday: Froze 6 more quart green beans, did laundry and dinner prep since company was coming. Continuing to potty train Sadie- she’s doing pretty well- got 3 stickers today for putting varying amounts of pee into the potty (and some on the floor). Took down extra/old things from the walls/bulletin boards in the playroom and readied things a bit for starting 1st grade with Sam. For lunch, ate my first peanut butter, mayo and tomato sandwich- delicious- of the seasonJ.

Dinner with friends: White and blue potatoes tossed in pesto, roasted. Zucchini Parmesan (same as eggplant parm: floured, egged and bread-crumbed with tomato sauce and mozzarella on top). Pickled beets and blueberry-oat muffins. Friends brought peach-berry cobbler.

Today: Laundry (again), made sweet and sour cucumber salad and added hard-boiled eggs to pickled beets and juice (both in new ½ gallon ball jars- they are so cool!) for the weekend family reunion. Froze 7 bags (2-3 cups each) of chopped zucchini.

Sadie is doing great today (potty-wise). After breakfast she sat and sat and sat, for like 20 minutes on the potty. She kept asking to get up and I’d say, “go, ahead” and she’d say “nooooo” and kept sitting. Finally she made a poop in the potty- so exciting!!! No pee anywhere this morning, so I’m sure her nap diaper will be soaked, but we are getting there! Yippee!

Chicks didn’t come Wed, as we expected. They are coming tomorrow. Jamey is working late today because he is shadowing. Dinner tonight and tomorrow will be leftovers- we are blessed with a fridge fullJ. After dinner I braided a garden cart full of onions that Jamey then hung in the barn.

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