Saturday, September 27, 2008

I love this time of year...

Puttin' in the new garden. Actually, it happens twice a year. There's the summer garden and now the winter garden. So, first we harvest everything there is to be harvested. Then... Hubby gets out the ol' roto-tiller. Actually, he picked it up from my parents' house. We borrow theirs. He goes over it once. Then, amends it. We decided to try our hand at composting this year. It worked out all right. But, we also add a couple bags of steer manure. Then, it gets another round with the roto-tiller. The kids love to play in the newly tilled dirt.

Now, it's ready to plant. What are we planting this fall? Well, I always put in a couple rows of lettuce. Last year we planted snow peas and they turned out great. So, we're doing that again, and adding sugar snap peas. We're going to put in some carrots, and this year we're going to try garlic and onions and I even got some fennel seeds. I love fennel.
The garden plot is a little bigger this year and it's ready and waiting for some seeds. I guess I know what I'll be doing this week!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Chores for boys

We homeschool. And that's actually going really well. Fodder for another post, though. My problem isn't with homeschooling, it's what to do with the munchkins for the rest of the day, when we're not doing school. And since we're only doing school for about a hour a day (it's kindergarten), that makes for a long day. Let them play, some would say. Well, they do a lot of playing, to be sure.

But, they also tend to get a little bored at times and then they fight and bug me. So, one of the many solutions we came up with to occupy their time is chores.

I'm not one for charts and stuff, but we did come up with a chore chart and have been doing it for two weeks now and it's been working. And it's not too much for me to maintain. The boys' chores range from cleaning the bathroom....

to each doing their own laundry on their own assigned day...> to dusting, washing their fingerprints off the sliding glass door, making jello for dinner (we've started eating a lot of jello). It's been a good thing. The boys have demonstrated they are fully capable of these small tasks and seem to do them willingly and cheerfully. Which is one of the benefits of starting them young. Bubba also sets the table and Duh-duh is supposed to clean it off, but we keep forgetting to do that. And all three help clean up toys at bedtime. So, not only are chores something to keep them occupied, it's another way they are being trained to take care of themselves.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Our pond


Isn't that a beautiful picture? It's of the pond in the back of our house. Uh hmmm. Well... not really. It's somebody's pond, but it's not mine. I wish it were mine. We don't have a pond. Or ducks. Well, not usually. I need to fix the sprinklers in the flower beds because on watering day, there tends to be a pond. But that's only temporary. And there's no ducks. And then it dries up and there's little footprints in the mud, because ponds are magnets for little boys. Even if they're only temporary ponds.
But, it's a beautiful picture, nonetheless. Even though I downloaded it from Microsoft clipart.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Books, books and more books....


We love books in our family. I always loved to read as a child. And I'd read the same books over and over and over again. As I became more familiar with the characters and the plot I just felt like I was spending time with old friends. I read the "Little House Books", the Chronicles of Narnia, the Misty of Chincoteague series, and various and sundry other novels so many times. I love books I could just lose myself in; after an hour you come up for air and kind of look around and have to re-orient yourself to the present. Then you know you've got a good book. I haven't found one of those in a while, although I've been checking out some good ones from the library by Karen Cushman. She writes adolescent fiction, which in my opinion is some of the best writing out there. (It can also be some of the worst, but if you get a good author...) Anyhow, I read a couple of her books lately, one of my favorites is "Matilda Bone". It's set in medieval England and is about an orphan girl who is apprenticed to a Bone Setter. It was a very enjoyable read.


The kids love books, too. Right now I'm reading "The Winnie-the-Pooh Storybook Treasury" to the boys during their reading time. I choose one story and they each get to choose a story during story time. I reserve the right to choose one, since who knows what they'll come up with. Duh-duh's favorite book right now is "Froggy's Baby Sister" by Jonathan London. We've read it every day since we got it from the library. Bubba goes on a favorite book kick at times, and then at times he isn't attached to one. Right now it's one of the latter times. Missy Lou wants me to either read, "Just Shopping With Mom", one of those Critter Books by Mercer Mayer, or a collection of Nursery Rhymes. She's one of those who wants me to re-read the same book at nap time and at bedtime for weeks on end. Fortunately, she does change books at times.


So, we're a bookish family. I wish I had more time to sit down and read. It seems, though, that whenever I do find a minute to sit down and read, I fall asleep. So, I often have to read standing up in the kitchen. I wonder what that means.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Random thoughts on Adoption

All three of our children are adopted. They were all adopted at a very young age, so living with us is the only life they have ever known. We have no biological children, so loving adopted children is the only thing Hubby and I have ever known.

Adoption is a good thing. It's a very good thing. Scripture is very much for adoption. We just read the story about Moses in our Bible class today, how he was adopted by the Egyptian princess. She saved his life. Duh-duh said, "Just like us, we're adopted." Although he doesn't really know what it all means. Queen Esther was adopted by her uncle Mordecai. I guess, in a sense, Ruth was "adopted" by Naomi, even though she was grown up. The Apostle Paul talks about how God adopted us into His family. God commands us to look after the widows and the orphans, that is True Religion in His sight.

Out of respect for my children's privacy, I will not divulge the details of why they were available for adoption. However, I will say that it improved their situation exponentially. It also gave Hubby and me a chance to be parents and have a family. It was a win-win situation on all sides.

What I would like to know is this... if adoption is such a good thing, why does our culture still act as though it is the worst thing a mother could do to her child? We hear things like, "How could a mother give up her own child?" Yet the liberals fight for a woman's right to kill her own child, and that's supposed to be a good thing. Why do we encourage and glamorize teen pregnancy? Think Jamie-Lynn Spears. Is a teenager truly able to shoulder the responsibility needed to successfully raise a child? It has been proven time and time again that children do best in a stable, mature two-parent home. In a day and age where open adoption is becoming more and more frequent, a girl can maintain contact with her child, even though she's not raising it. I'm sure that it would still be a heart-wrenching decision to give that child up, but I would hope the ability to maintain contact would ease the pain somewhat. And yet, we still look at girls who give their child up for adoption as the worst of the worst. Heaven forbid we unselfishly give our child life and a loving family. Why... we might as well kill it.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Being the princess

Missy Lou is definitely the princess. She's pretty much adored by one and all. But she and Duh-duh are pretty tight. They play together the best out of all the combinations of children and seem to understand eachother pretty well. This morning I was getting breakfast ready and usually all the kids are clamoring around me like baby birds waiting for the worm, but the two youngest were missing. I went into Missy Lou's room and saw this...
Duh-duh was reading to her and she was laying in bed playing with her dollies. What a life!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The terrible, horrible, no good, very bad afternoon...

About the only good thing I can say about this afternoon is that I got a new top out of it. Otherwise, it was bad. Very very bad. It all started out when we left right after lunch to drive to Fresno to the Social Security Administration. Yes, I know. That in itself is probably sending chills down your spine at this very moment. But, that wasn't the bad part. This is the bad part. Missy Lou fell asleep on the way, so she was pretty groggy when we got there and I just picked her up out of her carseat and carried her inside. I went through security and all that, and then I noticed it. She smelled poopie. But not the normal poopie. It was her milk allergy poopie smell, which has a quite acidic aroma. And then I saw a little wet spot on her dress around the waistline of her diaper. And then I felt wet on my blouse around the same area her legs were wrapped around me. And I looked down, and there was a large wet spot on my blouse. And I smelled it and it stank. I checked her diaper and it was nasty. Nasty, I'm telling you! And I'd forgotten to bring in the diaper bag.

So, as they weren't doing anything fast, as is par for the course at the SSA, I went back to the car to get the diaper bag and took the whole crew into the bathroom. Fortunately, I had a diaper, but very few wet-wipes. I mean, enough to do the job if it were an ordinary job, but not this job. And, there were no paper towels in the bathroom. All they had was that blow dryer thingie for your hands. So, I put her dress up over her head, took her diaper off (she was standing, of course) and attempted to change her. Not to get too graphic here, but I did most of the cleaning with toilet seat covers and then used up the rest of my wetwipes. And she kept dropping her dress and the boys kept wanting to sit on the floor. Are you picturing my horror here?

Finally, she was cleaned up, and we went out. The bathroom stank, but I didn't know what else to do with that diaper. I still smelled poopie, thanks to the spot on my shirt. Fortunately, they called us fairly quickly after that. Our next errand was Target, and I bought myself a new top (which was a nightmare in itself) and put it on in the car and then finished up our afternoon. Unfortunately, the children were crabby and fighting all through Target and the allergist. I had to nix the Costco stop because I was afraid of what might happen there. But, I challenge anyone to top my terrible, horrible, no good, very bad afternoon!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Mmmm, nectarine jam

I said I wouldn't do it. I wasn't going to make any jam this year. Because two summers ago I went jam crazy and I still have stuff left we're working on eating. But... we have these nectarines in the fridge and they're going to go bad. I'm not a huge nectarine fan. They're too acidic. I like the white flesh kind, though. The kids don't like nectarines, either. I suspect for the same reason. Anyhow, I have these nectarines in my refridgerator and the frugal Mennonite side of me says, "Don't throw them out. You must use them!" And we don't even go to the Mennonite church anymore. We're Presbyterian, for crying out loud. But she just won't shut up! So, I made jam. It was the only thing I could think of doing with it.


But nectarine jam is yummy. And look at the color of the smashed up fruit!


Now, it's cooking! Just beautiful!

And here's the finished product. I tried to skim the foam off, but I'd already burned my finger once and I wasn't in a great mood. Oh well, what's a little foam between friends, right?
Now I can put it away beside the apricot jam I made earlier this summer. Hey, I thought I said I wasn't going to make any more jam this summer. Humph!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Look what I ordered...


It's this darling cape from Lands End. See, I hate coats. They make me feel kind of bunchy when I wear them. And they're rather inconvenient. Do people wear them while they're driving? I don't like that. But, do you just put it on your seat, drive to where you're going to go, park, get out, put it on, walk to the store or church or wherever it is you're going and then take it off? I just have problems with coats. And forget about putting coats on my kids. What a hassle. If we're just going to church or grandma's or something, unless it's raining, or really super cold, they don't get coats. I'm a horrible mom, so sue me! Anyhow, back to my own coat problem. So, I don't like them, but I saw this cape in the latest Lands End catalog and I knew my problems were solved. The description said it was pretty heavy, so I could just fling it on and look totally cool and comfortable and warm and trendy and not have to wear a coat. So, I ordered it. It's a little spendy. For me. I'm someone who has trouble coughing up $20 for a shirt. But, I knew I had to have it. And that doesn't happen with me and clothes all that much. I can't wait till it gets here. Even though I'll probably have to wait 2 months to wear it. It's supposed to be 102 degrees today.
PS: the picture is light brown, but I bought it in dark brown. The dark brown picture didn't show up too well!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Biography of a Grape Vine


We have a wonderful grapevine. Actually, there's two plants, but they kind of grow together. It produces yummy Thompson seedless grapes. Seedless grapes are really the only grapes worth eating, by the way. This grapevine isn't any ordinary grapevine, however. It has a quite illustrious parentage.

Several years ago, before we moved to our present home, we had a neighbor who was quite interesting. He was an octogenarian, married to his wife for 50+ years. He'd always say, though, "I'm not sure if it's gonna last!" He was a writer, publisher, philosopher, former university professor, agriculturalist... the list could go on. One day he brought us two sticks and said, "Plant these, they will become grape vines." He had written some papers to be published by the enology department of our local university and so was rather well known there. In front of the enology department is a venerable Thompson seedless vine. I don't have all my facts straight, so I won't go into too many measurements, but it was a very very long and very very old vine. It had produced many tons of grapes in it's time. And our neighbor had some how acquired some cuttings from this vine, which he gave to us.

We knew we were going to be moving in the near future, so we stuck them in pots of dirt and carried them with us until we reached our final destination. That was almost five years ago. When we planted them, they were sticks with a few small leaves on them. Now, they are huge and are producing a nice amount of sweet tasty grapes for our family to munch on. A grapevine in the back yard is, in the words of a famous American (now out of jail) "a good thing!".

Thursday, September 4, 2008

MUGS

Four years ago in July I became an instant mother of an infant and a toddler. We got our boys when they were four months and thirteen months old. I had no idea what I was doing and was about to come unglued. There's a reason God made newborns to only eat, sleep and poop. It gives the mom a chance to get used to them. When you get them when they're crawling, it's not an easy adjustment. So, that first month was very difficult for me. I was floundering, lonely and wanting to get rid of these children when one of my girlfriends told me about a mother's group that met two Thursdays a month at one of the local churches. When she said they had free childcare I jumped on it. At that point I wouldn't have cared if they were the Charles Manson Fan Club. If they had free childcare, I was there. And that's how I got introduced to Mothers Under Grace, aka MUGS.

This is my fifth year at MUGS and my second year on leadership. And today was our first meeting of the fall semester. We had a brunch as usual and it was yummy. It was good to see old friends, and I was glad a new mom I met this summer at swimming lessons came. There are about 30 women, all different ages and backgrounds. Some coming with their first child, others with all five in school. And yet, there's a definite bond there. MUGS is meeting needs. My needs are different now than they were before. Four years ago it was a need for someone to watch my kids for an hour or so and give me a break. Now, my need is friendship. But MUGS is still there, and I love it!