Friday, December 18, 2009

We're just getting started...

The pictures are from when we had 2 inches, now we're up to 6 inches. We will likely have more than a foot before all is said and done. The kids are out enjoying it before it gets completely dark! More pictures to come as it builds...

 


 


 
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Friday, December 11, 2009

Maybe It's Time to Finish that Halloween Post...

Ah, my patient readers. Thank you for returning in mid-December to finally see my pictures from Halloween...

Remember the guessing challenge? Had enough time to figure it out? Here's the big reveal, all suspense gone now that it has been over a month and most of you have seen the photos on Facebook anyway :)

Good guessing on Evan and Emma-

 
DRACO MALFOY

Ok, so this facial expression doesn't quite convey the character, but it was a little frightening to see some of the images in the movie and how much Evan actually does resemble Draco Malfoy- remember we're talking the first one, back when the actors were wee little children!


 
HERMIONE GRANGER

And Emma has perfected the bushy-haired Hermione. You should see her 'do right after she brushes it upside down...


 
DOBBY

Eli's costume was my favorite to create. Came up with the idea the night before, slept on it and then set out to find odds and ends around the house to pull it all together! Meet Dobby the House Elf.

 


I knew that old, ripped pillowcases would eventually serve a purpose! And, yes, we know Dobby wasn't in the first movie, and yes, we know he didn't start wearing lots of socks and hats until he was a free house elf...

 


Here's what the wire became! Not exactly magnifying my eyes, but not half-bad for making do with what you have :)

 
PROFESSOR TRELAWNEY

And the full ensemble, put together by my fashion consultant, Emma.

 


And here we are all together. My cousin, Lyle, joined our ranks as Dumbledore. We talked Curt into dressing up at the last minute! The original idea was for him to just be a fan at the Quidditch World Cup, some random wizard dressed as a muggle. But the rest of us had character names, so we dubbed him Mr. Weasley.

 


And here's where we went! Had a great time. Some stayed in costume longer than others through the showing, and all but one of us stayed awake through the whole movie. You might guess Eli to be the one to fall asleep, but you'd be wrong. Yes, I sometimes think my husband suffers from narcolepsy.

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Saturday, October 31, 2009

Halloween Part II-- Can You Guess??

And here's a little Halloween Part II sneak preview...

 
Evan's Costume Prep


 
Emma's Costume Prep


 
Eli's Costume Prep


 
Keely's Costume Prep


Any guesses??
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Halloween Part I

 
These are the costumes the kiddos donned for Trick-or-Treating at the downtown businesses on Friday afternoon. The stores participating posted black bats in the windows and the door-to-door candy grab was followed by a "Pumpkin Parade" down the main street. What it lacked in size and organization it made up for in hometown charm!

 

 

 

Tonight we'll do Halloween Part II which involves a free movie at Hull's Drive-In!
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Monday, October 26, 2009

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Easing Back In to Blogging

Starting back to blogging poses some of the same challenges for me that starting in the first place did. OK, so I don't have to worry about the naming part, but I am fighting the pressure to come back to it with a bang instead of just jumping in and getting going with a little spark.

The changing leaves are amazing right now. I could show you a picture, but we currently have two non-functioning cameras right now- one with over-exposure issues, the other totally kaput since a certain someone in the family dropped it. I'll give you a hint: it was a she and it's not me.

I am assessing my farm and garden successes and failures for the year. The big failure is that, for a number of reasons, I didn't get as much of the harvest preserved as I wanted. I am trying to keep guilt feelings at bay for all the produce that went to waste. Though not completely to waste as much of it became chicken food and the rest still adds organic matter back to the garden. Of course, that which merged into the chicken food cycle is contributing nicely to egg production. I know have a regular set of customers at our homeschool park day each week. This (the third week) will be a sell-out! Yay, a success!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Almost...

It just might be coming soon... a real, live actual blog update. I have a few things brewing to write about- this after a spell of no inspiration whatsoever.

Wait for it...

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Anyone, anyone?

Does anyone miss me when I don't blog? Not sure who all is following. Have various posts percolating, but haven't been motivated to crank them out. What is it you, dear readers, want to read about?

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Back in a Few Days

I'm heading off on a getaway with just my girl! Emma & I are leaving the boys behind and headed to the beach. Grandparents are here to have adventures with Evan and Eli while Curt is at work.

The big question is whether or not our first big tomato will ripen while I'm gone. Murphy's Law says yes, but I'm holding out a little hope that it will be waiting for me to eat when I get back...

Monday, July 27, 2009

Becoming a Market Farm?

I created a listing for our farm on LocalHarvest.org! We have eggs coming on strong now and the tomatoes are about to burst forth in all their red, ripe glory (as predicted, this will happen during the only 4-day stretch I am out of town this summer), so I am going to need an outlet for all this abundance. We'll see what comes of it.

And thanks to a little encouragement from my sis, I am also checking in with the little produce market in town to see if I can sell some there.

It is a bit daunting to think of my gardening having a business side to it, but also exciting. I've always had entreprenurial ideas, but have never been so good at bringing it to fruition before...

Hey, I keep saying this is a learning year, right? I had no idea in how many ways!

What's up, Doc?

The carrots are getting away from me! Both varieties I planted have done well. The 'Danver's Half-Long' germinated really well and I had more of those to begin with, but the 'Scarlet Nantes' variety is my favorite of the two for taste. It is the longer, slender one in the center of the basket, above.

The carrots are yet another reminder of all the things I am learning the hard way this year- apparently, you can't just leave the carrots in the ground and pull them when you want to... The ones in the picture are a good size, but many of the ones still in the garden are now huge! I'm afraid they aren't going to taste as good.

Since we don't have a root cellar yet and we're heading into our hottest time of year, I am going to try to can some of the carrots tomorrow. Wish me luck; another first, another learning experience!

P.S. Also accepting other carrot preservation suggestions and recipes!

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Friday, July 24, 2009

First Cabbage


Behold the first cabbage I've ever grown! It looks a little nibbled here, but inside a couple of leaves it was perfectly unblemished. It was turned into a rather tasty salad thanks to my friend S.S.'s recipe for "Ensalada de las Promotores." It is very close to what Curt and I ate with almost every meal during our travels in Central America. Went very well with the enchiladas I made last night. The enchiladas that are on their way to becoming my signature dish- all three kids like it (miracle!), simple to put together, basic ingredients, adaptable to whatever filling I have on hand, easy to take to potlucks, and it freezes well. The only problem is that I want to eat it in vast quantities whenever it is near me.

But back to the cabbage... I didn't get very good germination, so I only have about 5 of these. Although I planted them all at the same time, the friendly cabbages were nice enough to sprout and grow at different rates, so it is almost like I purposefully planted them in succession. I might try my hand at homemade, fermented sauerkraut with the next one. Please comment if you have experience or suggestions with that. Actually, please comment anyway- it'd be nice to know if anyone is really reading my drivel!
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Thursday, July 23, 2009

Anticipation


I can hardly wait. Our garden is filled with oodles of beautiful, green tomatoes! We had a few of the cherry-type tomatoes ripen this week (all were 'Mexico Midget')- just enough to eat while standing in the garden. Yum.

It won't be long now until I am writing with tales of being overrun by tomatoes, but for now, it's all about eager anticipation.
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Thursday, July 2, 2009

Our Growing Garden


I snuck away from gardening and mommy tasks to update the blog header with a more seasonal photo. We are keeping busy with all the gardening and lots of friends and family visiting, but I still can't believe I haven't posted in almost a month!

I had a pretty good handle on gardening basics to start with, but boy have we learned a lot this year! This is our first full season of gardening here since last year we didn't even arrive until the end of May. Now that we have our methods and systems somewhat figured out, I hope to be a little more on target with our planting times next year. Got the corn and beans in really late, other things somewhat late.

We've been eating lots of fresh lettuce, chard, and spinach. Haven't kept up with the bounty of radishes, and are just beginning to enjoy our sugar snaps. Have savored a few new potatoes, nibbled at some tiny carrots and are anxiously awaiting the broccoli harvest. As 4yo Eli (who asked for lentils for his special birthday dinner) said last night, "Broccoli is like candy to me!"

Note: No, my other two children do not share this same perspective on food choices.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

You mean you didn't read those?

Really? You didn't get to read all those brilliant blog entries I crafted? Those ones that were really witty, informative and charming? What?! Oh, yeah- they never made it out of my head...

One was written while mowing the grass. Another while weeding the tomatoes. Then there was that really nice poem while hilling up the potatoes. And I am particularly inspired while in the shower- the sound of the water blocks out all the chaos happening just outside the bathroom door.

But none of those are places or situations in which I can jot things down on paper, much less get something typed into cyberspace.

You'll just have to trust me that one of these days when I snag some free time, some more gems might just surface from this little brain of mine. Maybe.

Sorry you missed those other ones...

Monday, May 25, 2009

Cook. Feed People. Wash Dishes. Do Laundry. Weed Garden. Repeat.

That pretty much sums up what my life entails right now. Throw in 2 or 3 days a week of child care for a 4 month old, a bit of homeschooling and chauffering kids to activities and it isn't hard to see that when things are quiet around here, instead of blogging, I'm sleeping.

This weekend we added in a homeschoolers conference in Richmond, a visit to friends near Charlottesville, and a lovely 12 hour migraine for me yesterday. Needless to say, we've got some catching up to do on the cooking, dishes, laundry and weeding. I still fed people, but I think we need to catch up on vegetable intake.

Maybe one of these days I'll get that post written about the routine of our days and weeks- our household rhythm, if you will. But first I need to figure out exactly what that is...

Friday, May 15, 2009

Update

All is well here. We are trying to get back to normal and catch up on the little things that got away from us the first few days this week.

The visit to the doctor was very helpful- he listened and asked questions, considered all the information from the hospital, and then he told me why he was not overly concerned and, most importantly, why. So for now, we think that this was a one-time event but we will stay alert to any indications that something else is going on.

And now back to our regularly scheduled programming: off to weed the potatoes and the strawberry patch. After that, time to plant the tomato transplants. Oh, tomatoes, how I love thee. You did remember that I am obsessed with tomatoes, right?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Firehouse Tour Turned Hospital Visit...

We had a little more excitement in the past couple days than we bargained for.

We were touring the fire station down the street so Evan could finish his requirements for a Cub Scout badge. Without warning, Evan passed out and fell on the floor. We at first thought he had tripped, but then realized he was unconscious. He came to pretty quickly and the firefighter that was giving the tour slipped into his role as a first responder. His blood sugar was low- 48. (It was about 6:45pm- we hadn’t yet had dinner, but he had a normal breakfast and lunch and had also eaten a sandwich around 4pm.) The rescue squad arrived about that time and they gave him some oral glucose. They re-checked his sugar and it was back into the normal range. At that point he seemed to be feeling better and our plan was to take him home and call his doctor from there. Then he said he was feeling dizzy again and that his stomach hurt and the EMTs recommended we go ahead and take him into the ER. Evan and I rode in the ambulance and Curt went home to grab a few things and then met us there with Emma & Eli. They took blood, urine and ran a CT. They gave him some IV fluids then IV dextrose. He was feeling better, with a little stomach pain and queasiness off and on. Bloodwork showed that he was a little dehydrated, everything else was fine, but they wanted to admit him and keep him overnight.

They moved us to a room and we were settling in. The nurse went to hook his IV back up to the pump and needed to flush it with saline. I think it burned and Evan whimpered a bit. When I looked up at him he was very pale and I thought he looked like he needed to vomit. Then he had what we are calling, for lack of a better word, an “episode.” It happened so fast and was over very quickly, bit he had passed out again. I haven’t seen lots of people pass out, but whereas I imagine that your body just goes limp when you pass out, he pulled his arms up to his chest and his hands curled up. To me, and pardon my lack of medical terminology, it seemed mildly seizure-like. But what do I know? The nurse talked to the pediatrician on call about it over the phone, but no one seemed alarmed. Everything was normal from then on and they discharged him just before noon today. We have an appointment with his regular pediatrician first thing tomorrow. He has been completely normal all afternoon, and has his Cub Scout award ceremony tonight.

I'm suffering from sleep deprivation, so I hope this account is clear. And if anyone has any personal experience or other insight onto what could have been going on, I'd be happy to hear about it.We're hoping this was just a crazy, one-time thing, but if anything new comes up, I'll post an update.

Monday, May 11, 2009

The Rainy Season

I cannot believe how much it has been raining. We have had a couple weekends with all day sunshine and warmth, but it has rained almost every day for about a month now. Granted, some days it was just a sprinkle or a short-lived shower, but we have also had many with all-day rain.

I do my best to appreciate the water and utter no words of ingratitude- I know how good it is for the garden and trees, and remember the recent problems with drought. But this rain is really starting to wear on me!

There have been highlights- often when the sun is shining...

Saturday was Evan's bithday- his age and name now rhyme. We had rain in the morning but it cleared and we enjoyed heading into town and celebrating "National Tain Day" at a little local festival. The rain even held out for the birthday celebrations at home, but the wind kicked up late in the afternoon and we got some more sprinkles that night.

Sunday was our one-in-a-million day- no rain, clear sky. A lovely Mother's Day gift. We took advantage and spent most of it outside; we picnicked for both lunch and dinner! I got the front flower bed all weeded and a few more things put in the ground. I was thinking, "That wasn't so bad, why didn't I already do this?" I found renewed optimism and motivation for getting lots more gardening chores done this week.

And then I woke up to this morning. More rain. Pouring rain. And then I remembered why I haven't been getting all that weeding and planting done. That's still just an excuse, though. Must be time to remember one of my favorite sayings, "There's no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing." If only I still had those rain pants that I lost in Honduras 10 years ago. But that's another story.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

A Laundry Success Story

I'm no Laundry Queen. Unless having a "fortress" of laundry piled up around me secures that title. I'm thinking not.

Anyway, I mostly keep everyone in the household outfitted with clean clothes. Socks usually have to be sought out in the waiting-to-be-matched-and-folded basket, but they're there and clean. And if not, yes, Emma, you can borrow some of mine. So, I cover the basics, but I am not known for any domestic goddess laundering skills or stain-fighting prowess.

This morning as I pulled the wet load from the washer to go hang on the line, I noticed that two formerly white t-shirts were stained brownish-red around the neck and along the shoulders. This in itself is not entirely unusual; we have hard water in our well here- iron water- and it is prone to leaving rust-colored stains. But there were only two tinged items in the whole lot and I quickly remembered that both were worn this weekend at Buck's birthday party. One was Ev's, one Em's- both new. Then I realized that I had covered their arms and neck with spray-on sunscreen and determined that it was some sort of reaction between the water and sunscreen that left the stain.

Google is my friend. A quick search affirmed that this could happen- and often did- to other people with hard well water who had used sunscreen containing avobenzone. No, I have not yet looked into what a terrible, toxic chemical that might be that I slathered on my children's skin. But I did find out from numerous websites and forums that a product called "The Works" would work wonders on my iron water-sunscreen stains. And then I did look into what a terrible, toxic chemical that might be. And let's just say that stained clothing doesn't bother me enough to use hydrochloric acid to get it clean.

So I added the search term "natural" to my magic Google box and, lo and behold, you can just use lemon juice and sunshine to the same effect! Hmmmm.... that's a tough one... hydrochloric acid or lemon juice and sunlight?

Surprise, surprise, I went with the option that didn't require a trip to the store or protective gear, and a few hours later have bright white t-shirts that smell lemony fresh- with the added bonus that I don't have to worry about any corrosive effects on human tissue. Isn't that swell?

Monday, April 27, 2009

Quick Update

Am really wanting to get back into the blogging habit, but I think I have the bar set too high for myself once again. I hope to log more entries by reminding myself that each entry need not be a masterpiece.

Anyway, just back today from visiting my sister, her husband and their baby (well, technically I guess he's a toddler, but I'll not push the nomenclature; they grow up too fast already) and celebrating the little guy's birthday. A fun time- party at the park, beautiful weather, and yummy food. And he was *really* into his cupcakes!

It has been a crazy busy month. Two major events stand out:

We started keeping the dogs penned up due to complaints from neighbors. This involved lots of shuffling of various animals to get everyone the overnight warmth and daytime space they need. A poor choice on my part in the shuffling leaves us with a wounded goat- bitten by our very own dogs. Not fun. He's still recovering. It's not pretty. I would post photos of the wound, but I don't think I have enough blog readers that I can afford to scare any off...

On a lighter, and more positive note, my family came up for a tree planting extravaganza. The final tally of things planted: 11 fruit trees, 3 nut tees, 6 blueberry bushes and 104 strawberry plants. One night we had 28 people here for dinner. If you have seen my house, you understand the significance of this. Thankfully, my aunt "catered" the meal by cooking it all up at her house and bringing it over. The weather was perfect and we all ate outside. It was awesome. The food and the weekend.

Now we are in gardening mode. Have lots of seedlings started and are about ready to put them in the garden. The frost date here is the middle of May, so we need to wait a couple more weeks or figure out some sort of covering if we get another cold snap. I also direct-seeded some frost-tolerant crops that are inching their way up. Still have some more things to put in that I thought I would have in a month ago, but I am trying to focus on all I *have* gotten done instead of what I *haven't*. I need to learn that lesson well or else the farm life and it's neverending list of tasks will likely drive me crazy!

Kids are doing well. Ev is playing t-ball and loves it. Eli watches each practice and game with his own glove on his hand and is counting down the days until he is old enough to be on a team. Em spent a few days with my sister in between the tree-planting and birthday weekends, she was a big help to her "Tia," but sorely missed around here (even though her brothers will never admit it!) and I am so glad to have everyone nestled safely in at home- feeling like a happy mother hen.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

We Are The Ones We've Been Waiting For

I have lots of things floating around in my mind to write about, but in lieu of getting my own thoughts into words right now, I have another fabulous piece to share by others who have far more wisdom than I.

“You have been telling the people that this is the Eleventh Hour.
Now you must go back and tell the people that this is the Hour.
And there are things to be considered:
Where are you living?
What are you doing?
What are your relationships?
Are you in right relation?
Where is your water?
Know your garden.
It is time to speak your Truth.
Create your community.
Be good to each other.
And do not look outside yourself for the leader.
This could be a good time!
There is a river flowing now very fast.
It is so great and swift that there are those who will be afraid.
They will try to hold on to the shore.
They will feel they are being torn apart,
and they will suffer greatly.
Know the river has its destination.
The elders say we must let go of the shore,
push off into the middle of the river,
keep our eyes open, and our heads above the water.
See who is in there with you and celebrate.
At this time in history, we are to take nothing personally.
Least of all, ourselves.
For the moment that we do, our spiritual growth and journey comes to a halt.
The time of the lone wolf is over. Gather yourselves!
Banish the word struggle from your attitude and your vocabulary.
All that we do now must be done in a sacred manner and in celebration.
We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.”

–The Elders
Oraibi, Arizona
Hopi Nation

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Resurrection

This is a new favorite poem of mine by Wendell Berry. And very appropriate for Easter.


Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more
of everything ready-made. Be afraid
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know.

So, friends, every day do something
that won't compute. Love the Lord.
Love the world. Work for nothing.
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it.
Denounce the government and embrace
the flag. Hope to live in that free
republic for which it stands.
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man
has not encountered he has not destroyed.

Ask the questions that have no answers.
Invest in the millenium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.
Say that the leaves are harvested
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.

Put your faith in the two inches of humus
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion - put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come.
Expect the end of the world. Laugh.
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts.
So long as women do not go cheap
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep
of a woman near to giving birth?

Go with your love to the fields.
Lie down in the shade. Rest your head
in her lap. Swear allegiance
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos
can predict the motions of your mind,
lose it. Leave it as a sign
to mark the false trail, the way
you didn't go. Be like the fox
who makes more tracks than necessary,
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Live Each Day to the Fullest

Live each day to the fullest
Get the most from each hour, each day and each age of your life
Then you can look forward with confidence and back without regret

Be yourself, but be your best self
Dare to be different and to follow your own star
And don't be afraid to be happy

Enjoy what is beautiful
Love with all your heart and soul
Believe that those you love, love you

Forget what you have done for your friends
and remember what they have done for you
Disregard what the world owes you and
concentrate on what you owe the world

When you are faced with a decision, make the decision
as wisely as possible - then forget it
The moment of absolute certainty never arrives

Blessed is the generation in which the old listen to the young
And double - blessed is the generation in which the young listen to the old.

- The Talmud

Friday, March 20, 2009

Meet Ellie

 
Spring is bringing all sorts of newness to our farm! This is our new Jersey heifer, Ellie.

 
She will be 1 year old in April. She will be our family milk cow eventually, but it will be a couple years.


 
So with adding 27 chicks, a goat and a cow in the past month, things are pretty busy around here. Not to mention the problems with our dogs roaming too far and bothering neighbors. I keep forgetting to build time into my schedule for re-securing escaped animals...

And then there's one of my favorite pastimes- gardening! It has been a bit neglected with everything else going on, but we aren't too far behind yet!
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Monday, March 16, 2009

Spring Countdown

"In the Spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt."
-Margaret Atwood

"Time is Nature's way of keeping everything from happening at once."
-Old Farmer's Almanac

"Most gardens are beautiful, whatever their state of repair."
-Anne Swithinbank

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Meet Wally

 
Our new people-loving, fence-escaping, heart-stealing, 9-month-old wethered Alpine goat.

 

The kids, that is, the children, are having a great time with him.

 


 
This little guy has been making life particularly interesting this week. We brought him home on Wednesday and have spent the past two days trying to keep him in the electric fence. One of his redeeming qualities is that he loves being around people, so when he does get out, he comes right up to the house- usually onto the front porch!

Except, of course, for the time we weren't home and he went to someone else's front porch- down the hill and across the road. When we got home we searched and searched, lamented not having a bell on him yet, and then decided to check out the happy screams and shouts of children down the hill who sounded like they just might have found a friendly goat...

We're still working out the fence issues and also hoping that he isn't quite as eager to get out once he has a companion in there with him. Ellie the Cow should be arriving in the next week, we're just waiting on good weather and some free time in the schedule of the woman who is transporting her for us.