Monday, August 31, 2009

Fun Friday

On Friday, Grammy gave us all a treat by taking each of the older kids for a special time with her. She came and picked up Katie, took her to the dollar store and the bakery. White poison, Mom! What are you feeding my kids?! Just kidding. (My mom doesn't eat sugar) She let Katie pick out her own cookies and coloring book. Then they went to Grammy's house for some puddle-jumping, hair-doing and fun. After their time, Katie came back and it was James' turn. He is the proud new owner of a 'fishing net.' (its really a la cross net) Just getting to ride in Grammy's car is very novel for the kids, and they loved their whole outing. The fun part for me was that having only two kids at home gave me special time with them too. James got to make a special scrapbook of his own, using our extra pictures and lots of stickers and markers. We also started making cookies, which Katie helped me finish. Katie got to draw and play around without pestering, or being pestered by, her big brother. And, I even managed to cut out a pair of John Deere jammies for James. He's been asking for some for a while, and his birthday (and Katie's) is coming up soon.....

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Differing Thoughts on Motherhood

I stumbled across a blog yesterday looking for crafty tutorials. When I read this, it kind of stuck in my head. I keep thinking about it, and how sad it is:

Currently I am serving time as a full-time homeschooling Mama to two forces of nature known as boys and most days are spent juggling the various brain-draining, soul-destroying, unthanked, unseen, monotonous, boring tasks ensuring other people remain alive and uninfected. When they are asleep I assume my true identity as a human being and craft to my heart's delight!

While I can understand most of it, I feel sad that she thinks that mothering is 'soul-destroying,' and that she can only assume her 'true identity as a human being' when her kids are asleep. It makes me sad because I think that our society sort of creates an environment where women feel that motherhood is not a 'legitimate' career. I'm pretty sure this woman is not the only one who feels that way she does. We have been trained to feel that to 'give up' our 'careers' to become mothers is to trade in something valuable for something of lesser worth. We have bought into the idea that to trade in the 'career' for motherhood is a step down, and that we must just hunker down and press on til our kids go to Kindergarten and only then can we have our 'life' back. Yeah, there are plenty of times I am just pressing on. Some days are long, and brain-draining and some days are boring and monotonous too. Sometimes I envy Jeff's lunch break. Break? What's that? But why do we feel that motherhood is something apart from 'life' or it is not part of our 'human identity'? Being a mom makes me happier than I ever imagined it would. It is my career right now, my life right now, and I don't feel bored. I don't feel as though something is missing from my life. I don't feel de-humanized. Sure, I would like to be able to pee without someone walking in or banging on the door asking 'hey, mama, are you going pee or poop?' (MYOB!!!!), and it would be nice to have a little time to myself every now and then. Even so, motherhood is very fulfilling, even if it does require wiping a thousand butts and trying to entertain small children for hours on end.

The other thing she said that got me was saying her job as a mom was to ensure ' other people remain alive and uninfected.' Dang! If that's all there is to it then I have been working way too hard! ;) Seriously, I guess that might be the reason why motherhood is unfulfilling to her. If I felt that my entire life was devoted to merely keeping my kids alive til the next day, I guess that would be disappointing. If we hold no value in our 'job title,' then how are we supposed to feel fulfilled.

When you were a little girl....

Every night, while tucking James in, I tell him a story, pray with him, and sing him a song. For the last few months, all he wants are 'when you were a little girl stories.' He loves to hear stories of snow forts and our mud pie factory and the multiple times that we baked plastic spiders and flies into Grammy's muffins. I've told him of the tree houses we built in California, the camping trips where we found tadpole eggs, and the time I opened the front door to walk to the bus and found several horses grazing in my front yard. At this point, its getting really hard to come up with stories. I know they are there, somewhere in the depths of my memory, but its getting harder every night! On top of that, he wants me to sing 'when you were a little girl songs' to him too. Songs I have long forgotten have been dredged up. Songs such as 'Give Me Oil In My Lamp,' along with its accompanying verses such as 'Give me gas in my Ford, I'll keep truckin' for the Lord' and 'Give me hot sauce on my taco, I'll keep preachin' in Morocco.' Good stuff. Fortunately, James likes hymns and I know a lot of those. After all, I can only sing so many choruses of 'And if the devil doesn't like it, he can sit on a tack!' before I go nuts.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Just because its funny...

It Wasn't Funny Then

When someone has a baby at our church, there is a friend of ours who arranges meals to be delivered to the new mom. It is the most fabulous ministry and is so helpful when you are sleep-deprived and getting into a new routine. This time, we had what we can only describe as a dream from which you cannot wake up, one in which you are drowning in ziti noodles and sauce. The first night, we received a pan of baked ziti. We are not fans of ziti, but we are also not picky, so we happily ate it. (Did I mention I didn't have to cook!) We ate that for a few days and our next meal arrived. Well, the next meal was pasta, with ziti noodles, except it had chicken and broccoli in it! Yeah for chicken and broccoli! After that, we got another pan of baked ziti. After eating pasta and pasta leftovers for a week and a half, we were getting a wee bit tired of pasta. Surely, we were past the pasta. Right? Wrong! We got another pan of baked ziti. The next lady to bring over a meal let me know she would drop it off the night before. I kept thinking in my head, 'what if its ziti? Prepare thyself for the ziti onslaught.' But what were the chances? Apparently, the chances of receiving a third pan of ziti in just over a week are pretty good.....we got another pan of baked ziti! I thanked her profusely and as soon as she left shoved it in my freezer. I could not face another pan of baked ziti. She asked Jeff that Sunday how we liked it and he said it was good. (As Jeff said, she didn't specify the ziti, and we did eat the bread and the salad:) Oddly enough, after receiving enough baked ziti to feed the entire Italian army, we got a pan of lasagna, which was just ironic and hilarious. I am so grateful for all the meals provided for us; they kept us from starvation those first few weeks. But if I ever see another pan of baked ziti coming at me I will dive behind my couch and curl up in a fetal position til it goes away. :)

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Starting to smile!!!


Auntie Rachel


Blackberry picking...Katie is semi-contained in the backpack which means she can't indiscriminately pick berries




Grammy holding Tyler


Apple picking


Katie getting her hair done by 'Geoffrey' and 'Filip'


Webby checking out the garage


My $45 yard sale find!!!


My Christmas lima beans (I am up to 80 pounds of stuff from my garden!!!!)

Friday, August 21, 2009

Here, Kid, pee in this cup please....

Today I had to take James to the pediatrician since he has been sick. Our appointment wasn't until late afternoon, and the kids were getting a bit tired. One of the things the pediatrician wanted was a urine sample. This is where the fun begins, folks. Getting an almost-four-year-old to pee in a cup. This is how it went:

We go into the bathroom; luckily its a big one. I have Tyler in my arm, sleeping away. (He was in the sling but got antsy so I took him out) Katie is standing there, about 3 inches from James. Of course, she didn't want to miss a thing. She had to see what was going on. I explained to James that we had to get some pee into the cup. Well, poor kid, trying to pee in front of three people in a strange bathroom, into a cup no less. I was squatting down holding Tyler in my right arm, the cup in my left hand, ready to make the 'catch.' James stood there, concentrating very hard, but nothing was coming out. I coaxed him and encouraged him, but it just wasn't happening. First, he would concentrate really hard and then he would stop and ask 'What happens when my pee goes in the cup?' or 'What are they gonna do with my pee?' Then, the concentration would start all over again. Katie, being overtired and feeling ornery, decided to give James a hearty thump on his back whenever he was concentrating really hard. After about five minutes of this, I couldn't help it. I started cracking up. Here I was, crouching down with a sleeping newborn in one arm, a cup in my other hand, coaxing my son to pee while my two year old thumps her brother on the back every time he is about to pee. I laughed, James laughed, Katie laughed. And then we went back to concentrating, then giggling a little, and concentrating again. Finally, after what seemed like forever, we had success!!! Whilst capturing said specimen, there was a knock at the door. It was the nurse, seeing if we were OK and offering to give James a drink. I wanted to jump up and down and congratulate myself, telling her 'I did it! We did it! And I didn't even fall over or go insane, thank you very much!' Instead, I handed her the cup, waited for the results and hauled the kids home to make dinner and go to bed.

Duck Wrangling

'Duck' has officially arrived in our backyard, complete with his own pool, cage and bed. We quickly nicknamed him 'Webby,' since 'Duck' is kind of plain. He spends most of his time lounging in his pool, and occasionally gets out for a snack of bugs or grain. We love having him here! Katie spent quite a while yelling out the window yesterday 'Gucky! Gucky! Webby! Webby!' The kids will sit right next to his pool and watch him. James was quite surprised when the duck 'quacked.' He looked at me in amazement and said 'He just said 'quack, quack!' Yes, that is what ducks say. Last night I had to 'tuck him in.' My direct instructions were to 'herd him into his cage,' and that he will 'go right in and tuck himself in.' Yeah. This coming from the same person who told me the kids in my 1st/2nd Grade Sunday School class were really well behaved. Ha! ;) Well, he was having none of it; herding ducks is not as simple as it sounds. She left a sheet in case I needed to pick him up, but said I probably wouldn't have to use it. Anyway, I skipped the sheet and picked Webby up and took him to his cage. Once there he was fine and tucked himself right in to his little woodchip bed. Sleep tight, Webby!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

People and Pets

Since I am never going to finish the post I have been working on since Monday I am starting from scratch. In a nutshell, we had a crazy but awesome weekend with the fam. And now, since I have scrapped my original post, I am going to get up on my soapbox for a second. (Jenni, you're going to laugh at me and probably roll your eyes ;) This morning I read a post on Freecycle offering a kitten. Here is an excerpt:

please must be able to take care of the kitten and please have it be an inside cat. i dont like when people have animals and keep them outside.

Those evil people who let animals live outside, you know, in their natural habitat. What are they thinking?!? There seems to be a general consensus around here that having 'outside' pets cruel to the animal. People will actually turn you in for letting your pet stay out in less than ideal weather conditions. My neighbor has a dog, and when the weather gets bad, he gets special treatment. If it rains, he has a raincoat. If it is cold, he has a puffy-marshmallow jacket. If its raining, there's an umbrella carried to cover him while he does his biz-ness. If it snows, they shovel a path for him to go. Every now and then, Charlie tries to remind himself he's actually a dog by catching a rabbit. This behavior, of course, is not appreciated by his owners. One has to wonder, what did animals do before us humans decided to domesticate them and keep them indoors? Did they all freeze to death, or line up for meals at the local doggie-soup kitchen? I think not. They did just fine, and gasp! Hunted for their own food. Now I do realize there are some exceptions, since humans have been breeding dogs to have certain characteristics, like being small. I don't think a Chihuahua would survive a PA winter. However, for the most part, it would seem that God equipped animals with what they need to stay warm, or cool, and to find their own food. Keeping a pet inside seems more of the owner's preference than a real necessity. Ironically, I will be receiving a duck later today which I will be babysitting for the weekend. A lady from our church gets ducklings and keeps them in their yard til they get big enough to release into the wild. That is, until she found out that they get eaten by other animals when left to fend for themselves. So now, she is keeping the duck indefinitely. I don't mind at all, because how fun will it be to babysit a duck for the weekend?! Did I mention that the duck has to sleep inside? (he he he he)

Monday, August 17, 2009

We interrupt this regularly scheduled programming....

Tyler smiled this morning!!!! At ME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Do you hear that, Auntie Rachel? Do you hear that, Jeff? Do you hear that, Uncle Nate? He smiled at ME! His mama.

For those of you wondering why this is such a big deal, both James and Katie flashed their first smiles at other people who remain nameless.

Friday, August 14, 2009

I love my kids





And two random updates: Tyler had a hip ultrasound today and everything looks good! Praise the Lord!!!! We won't discuss the fact that I got lost on the maze of 'turnpike' roads and added an extra hour to the trip home, or how we don't have air conditioning in the truck. And, everything is looking good for selling the old house. We accepted an offer, which we felt was really low. Our first initial reaction was NO!!! Even though our agent thought the offer was low, too, she advised us to 'take it and run.' We accepted the offer, with the contingency that they not come back and try to negotiate later (e.g. 'take $1000 off for the scratch in the floor type thing). The home inspection was Monday, and it came back good. Closing is set for late September!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

No more teachers, no more books....

Jeff finished his African American History of the 1900's class last night!! Woohoo! Now, no more class for a whopping two weeks or so. Will it ever end?! We have managed between the two of us be in school non-stop since 1998. Yikes.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Drumroll, please....

57 pounds!!! Of produce, that is. Yes, I am a dork and have been painstakingly weighing and recording the weight of all the produce I've picked from my garden. Not bad, considering the blight has taken about half my tomatoes, and is getting worse each time I turn around. We'll see how much we end up with when its all said and done.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Lancaster! Trains, Amish and Food, Oh My!



**If you double click on the slideshow, you can see the pictures better***

Saturday we took a long awaited trip to Lancaster, Pennsylvania. We've been wanting to go for a while, but life has gotten in the way. I love going to Lancaster. It is so relaxing to go out into the countryside and smell the manure. We started our day out by riding the Strasburg Railroad. The train was beautiful, the scenery was beautiful and James was in heaven. I think we spent as much time watching James' face as the scenery. Katie enjoyed it too, and even Tyler stayed awake for the first half of the trip. All the railroad workers wore period costumes and we had a fun 'conductor' who narrated the trip from our very own car. At one point, the train stopped in a valley after he had given us this whole ghost tale, saying that at a certain juncture a ghost whistle was always heard. He really talked it up, and told us all to be really quiet so we could hear it. Of course, that was the one time on the entire ride that Tyler started to cry. But, he calmed down quick and we even heard the legendary ghost whistle across the valley. (an echo) We also passed the farmstead of a man who built the Conestoga wagons for pioneers. Of course, we passed Amish farms too. (You can usually tell by the laundry on the line, and the plain blue curtains, among other things) After a wonderful train ride, we had a very special adventure. We went to an Amish grocery store. I was on a quest to find bulk oats and whole wheat flour. We met up with my Aunt Sally's friends Lee and Anita, who kindly took us to their Amish friends' store. Lee and Anita are friends with the Amish community and drive them to their doctor's appointments and such, so they know where to go. Amish grocery stores are unmarked, and there is no way you'd ever figure out where to go. It was in one of the outbuildings of a farm, down their driveway. Inside, of course, there is no electricity, except for refrigeration, and just two short isles. According to Lee, the Amish shun electricity, except when they can generate it themselves. Another interesting fact we learned from him is why the Amish will not use bicycles (although I could swear I have seen them on a bike or two!). They desire to be self-sufficient, without reliance on the outside world. A bike has many parts, which require too much service/replacement. Instead of using a bike, they modify the bike by turning it into a scooter, with the platform between both bike wheels. Back to the grocery store, it was small and had mostly bulk foods, cheese and some 'convenience' foods. They carried boxed cereal, Cool Whip, and Zip-lock bags. Oh, and Mountain Dew. I bought about a dozen delicious peaches, a 25# bag of unbleached flour, about 20# of whole wheat flour, a big bag of quick oats (strangely, they did not carry rolled oats), 2.5# of cheese, cream of tartar, nutmeg, pickling spice, and minced onions, and something else I think I am forgetting, all for the price of $30.40! If I had had more cash with me I would have really stocked up! It was really a great experience to go, and the storekeeper was very friendly. She asked us where we were from and got to talking to Jeff about farming methods in Colorado. She directed us outside to their pasture so James could see their alpaca. He also got to check out an Amish buggy, and pet an 18 year old pony that was pulling a small cart. After the market, we went to our favorite place to eat, and enjoyed good old-fashioned home cooking. I was only disappointed that we missed rhubarb pie season, although I kind of saw that coming. It is August after all. On the way home, I spotted a farm supply store and got very excited at the prospect of scoring a giant tub 'o udder butter. I went in and promptly found some, nestled amongst the castration rubber bands and uterine bolus something-or-other. Stuff you just don't see around here. While waiting in line, I realized I wasn't in Kansas anymore. In fact, I was in an Amish store. While the store was big and very new looking, even modern, I realized that the light fixtures hanging from the ceiling were not fitted with small light bulbs, but in fact they were kerosene lanterns. I pretty much realized that I was out of luck, because I was pretty sure they didn't take credit cards, and I was out of cash. So, after confirming my theory (to quote the Amish man 'I'm not set up for that, sorry) I left empty handed. Oh, well. We had fun, and I could go back anytime!

By the way, I spotted an older Amish woman walking along the road sporting none other than a black patent leather faux alligator purse!!! I wonder how that works out!?

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Sold?!

We got a second offer on the house this week and word is that everything is a go! I am hesitant to get my hopes up considering what happened with the first offer, and what can happen, but it looks good. (well, the offer is not what we wanted but we want to get rid of the stress) The home inspection is on Monday morning, so they really mean business!

Friday, August 07, 2009

Purgatory and BBQ Sauce

If there was such a place as purgatory, I have determined that it would have something to do potty training small children while listening to rap music and with the smell of patchouli wafting in the air. That would be punishment all right. Enough to make me want to purify my soul reeeeeal quick. Seriously, I forgot how much I hate potty training. If I didn't hate buying diapers even more, I would let them pee themselves from now to all eternity just so I could avoid this scenario:

'Pa-eeee! Pa-eeee! Mon! Mon!' (Translation: Potty! Potty! Come on! Come on!) This statement must be taken seriously, and acted upon quickly, or else there might be no reason to sit on the pot by the time we get there. Get my drift? So, at the sound of 'pa-eeee!' I must immediately jump up, run to the bathroom, where we throw on the midget-sized toilet seat, strip off clothes and diaper and hastily plop the buns down on the seat. This is also complicated by the fact that I have a newborn who nurses quite frequently. Once in proper potty-ing position, you get to sit and wait. And wait. And wait. And sixty-six percent of the time, you get a big fat nothing. After sitting there for five or ten minutes, coaxing a small child to pee, they proudly declare 'All done!' despite the fact that nothing has been done. Nothing, that is, but wasting precious minutes of my life sitting on the edge of a bathtub waiting the poop that was not to be. There are also the times when we reach the bathroom only to discover that the deed has already been done and there is nothing to do but clean up the aftermath. There are times when we get there in time, and there is actually success, and those times are exciting! Katie gets such a proud look on her face and waves 'bye-bye' to her poop. Good times! If it weren't for those successes, I'm pretty sure I'd lose my mind. (Oh, and in case you are wondering if I am insane for potty training Katie with a three week old baby? Yes, I am insane, but no, it was not my idea. She asks to go, wants to go, so I figured I'd better take the hint and encourage it now)

I did mention BBQ Sauce, which I am sure is the most rip-roarin' thing on your list of must-reads today, so here goes. Despite the blight that has struck my tomatoes, I have been able to ripen some of them in my window. I had enough today to start a batch of BBQ sauce to can. Never done that before, so I had to try. It shall be Spicy Jalepeno BBQ sauce, in honor of my Mexican ancestors, and hopefully it turns out good. What? BBQ sauce isn't Mexican? And I don't have any Mexican ancestors? Well, I wish I did. Their taste in food is muy bien.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Pictures!







Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Blight, Gluteus Instruments and Randomness

My tomatoes are dropping like flies from blight. Apparently the East coast has been hit hard this year, thanks to all the rain we've been getting. I have no idea if I'll get much of anything in the way of tomatoes this year, which make up two-thirds of my garden. So frustrating! Thanks to the wonders of the internet, I have found various canning recipes for green tomatoes (salsa, chutney, relish). I might actually try chutney, even though it sounds sketchy to me. I just finished canning several pints of salsa, so we'll see how that turns out.

In other news, we never heard back from the original offer on our house, but there is a new guy interested who said (exaggerated air quotes hear) that he is going to put in an offer today. We'll see how it pans out.

And a funny story: James thinks 'shooting buzzards' is so funny. He likes to announce it every time by saying 'I just shot some buzzards, Mommy!' followed by mass giggling. Yesterday I said 'What do you say, James?' (He knows what to say...) and he said, 'Instrument,' and laughed. 'My buns are an instrument.' Somehow, I don't think he'll get credit in band class for that one.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Building a Good Immune System, One Diseased Rabbit at a Time

Due to recent events, like having a baby (!) I never blogged about this story. The day we brought Tyler home from the hospital, Jeff had let the kids go outside to play in the morning. Jeff spotted a bunny crouched down by the shed, and decided to sneak up on it. Slowly creeping up behind the bunny, Jeff mentally congratulated himself on his ninja-like prowess. He was just a step behind the bunny when he realized that the bunny wasn't going anywhere. It was sick or hurt. He looked the bunny over. No blood, no foaming at the mouth, just lethargic. He decided that this would be a fun opportunity for the kids to hold the rabbit, so he let them hold and pet this little bunny for several minutes. (Something is clearly wrong with a rabbit who willingly sits in the lap of two toddlers while they enthusiastically pet it) Jeff then laid the rabbit down in the shade and turned around to talk to our neighbor. When he turned back, the rabbit had breathed its last. When Jeff brought the kids to the hospital to pick us up, he informed me that he may have exposed the kids to the black plague, or the bird flu or even the swine flu. Nothing like bringing a new baby home to the swine flu, right? But hey, he did wash their hands!