Friday, December 31, 2010

No baby yet

Just checking in to say, "All is well".

I had contractions coming every 12-15 minutes throughout the afternoon yesterday, but only when I was standing up and moving around.  The moment I sat down, a.k.a. "changed my activity" as the books say, they all but stopped.  Interestingly, the baby was simultaneously very active, shimmying and seemingly responding to the surges.

Wednesday was a quiet day, but I noticed the tightening of my uterus every half-hour or so on Tuesday.  My body must just be practicing and preparing for the real thing.

Now I'm hoping that if this is not the day, no contractions please.  How unpleasant and distracting.  I'd much rather wait for the real thing, then hunker down and focus.  No more, please . . . not until you're ready to come, little one.

This is also not to mention the fact that there is a blizzard coming today.  The roads are completely iced due to rain and 6-8 hours of snow melt yesterday, with temps dropping rapidly by mid-afternoon.  The wind is from the north, fierce, and the snow is just starting to fall thickly.

We've talked about the potential of an unassisted birth and feel fairly confident and comfortable with it.  If travel were completely restricted, I'd certainly rather be at home by myself instead of en route during a blizzard. 

We also have an unassisted birth kit circulated in these parts by a doula friend and birth advocate, "just in case", which adds to the comfort level.  It has all the tools, tinctures, manuals, and instructional charts that we would need for a successful (normal and uncomplicated) birth on our own.  I would certainly rather be tended to by a midwife, though.

It will be interesting to see how this all plays out -- I am feeling generally optimistic. 

Another wonderful thing to be thankful for is that Squeeze is home.  He saved two days off, just in case the baby came early, and the PTO cannot be transferred to 2011.  So we have a lovely 4-day weekend together. 

I'm so glad!  Lovely.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Over the hump, again

I'm feeling better again.  Thank goodness.

Writing about how I felt was very good for me yesterday.  So was writing about the warts.  Seriously.  It reminded me that there are other things going on in my life other than urinating, eating, grunting when I have to bend over, and the tightening of my uterus.

Which is happening a lot, by the way.  (All four.)

I also gave myself a good talking-to yesterday in the late morning.  Enough despair, I said.  Let's focus on the positive and make these last few days pleasant instead of miserable.  So, as it was beautifully sunny and 30 degrees outside, I suited up the boys and headed out.  They loved it. 

Then we ate lunch, read together, snuggled down, and both boys napped while I rested for a half-hour.  When I got up, I went into the gorgeously-lit sunroom and worked through a few things: sorting newborn clothes, writing up a birth plan, and bouncing ideas off my doula friend who is going to be here for the birth. 

It ended up being a pretty good day.

I have another appointment with my midwife today.  Let's hope it is the LAST.  Not because I don't want to see her, but because still being pregnant at this time next week might plunge me back into the pit.  And my due date isn't even until this Sunday!  What a wimp I am, having gone early with both boys.  I only expect the best!  And soon.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

I've hit the wall, then a small wart remedy bunny-trail

39 weeks

My sense of peace?  Gone. 

I've tumbled into the end-of-pregnancy despair.  Just yesterday!  How can one week be so different from the last? 

I am not sleeping well -- that could have something to do with it.  I spent the hours from 1:00 AM to 5:00 AM in the hazy netherworld of wakefulness and half-sleep, having to get up and pee three times and up to eat once in that timeframe.

I want my body back.

I'm having a hard time, too, with squirrely little boys who are drawn to me with magnetic force and whose most joyful desire is to be doing all their happy games or wild play right next to me.  Or on me.  I am just so super-sensitive right now.  I don't want to be jostled, whacked, thumped, or hanged upon.  And, it seems that no matter where I am, or what I'm doing, it's happening.

I sound like such a crank.

I got out the newborn clothes yesterday.  And the diapers.  I'm mid-process with Truen's baby calendar.  I haven't touched the hem of the swaddling blanket or the mending pile. 

I cleaned out, washed walls, dusted, and vacuumed the entire downstairs bedroom last week.  It was so cathartic.  Upon closer inspection this morning, I saw a thin layer of dust on the vanity.  Despair!  Dusting really should be done once a week?!  Who has time for that?

(I know, I know . . . such a shift of gears)

On the brighter side, we have been applying a homeopathic wart gel on Truen's five (count 'em: FIVE) warts: the giant one on his ring finger that he has had for over a year, the three smaller ones on the same hand and, the worst of all, the one he developed on his BOTTOM LIP this fall (a result of sucking on his big wart so much). 

And they are disappearing!  Shrinking, dying, falling off.  We started noticing change within a week and a half of using the gel.  What an easy and gentle remedy.  We sourced the gel from a compounding pharmacy in our area, on the advice of a friend.  It has been three weeks of application.

The wart on his lip is barely visible.  The one on his thumb actually fell off yesterday.  The two little ones on his hand have sunk back in and are no longer visible and the giant ring finger wart is turning brown and shrinking.

Victory!  We are so pleased.  And relieved. 

I mean, come on -- a lip wart?  Yikes.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

39 weeks

There's a full-sized newborn in there!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

38 weeks

My sense of peace continues. 

I honestly feel like I am over the hump of late-pregnancy despair.  It feels so good.  Instead of feeling grumbly, I generally feel like myself, with the exception of having to urinate with unbelievable frequency.  I'm honestly wondering if the baby has engaged, because of how much I've had to use the bathroom this afternoon.  It has been every 10-15 minutes, with urgency.  I keep on feeling the top of my belly and it does seem lower.  ???

I still have a huge list of things I want to do before the baby is born.
  • Dust the entire house
  • Hem the new baby's swaddling blanket
  • Finish my mending pile (something I only do once a year -- why?!  It's so easy.)
  • Complete Truen's baby calendar (DOH.  Though all I have to do is organize and paste in pretty paper and pictures.)
And I can't remember the rest.  These are the most urgent, in my mind.  Dusting also probably happens maybe once a year.  I know.  Gross.

Meanwhile, I'm fine -- totally fine.  Not antsy, not miserable, not wishing the time away.  It feels so wonderful!

The midwife and her apprentice are coming tomorrow for an appointment, as well as my friend who is working on her DONA (doula certification) who will be attending the birth.  She'll be bringing her children Ava and Felix, so the boys are going to have a blast.

On a side note, Diego dreamt the other night that he wanted to marry Ava but couldn't tell her because he was too embarrassed.  He has plans to inform her of this tomorrow!  Cute. ♥

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Get your Christmas bootie moving

Christmas in Killarney -- one of my faves.

I can't dance this year, but if I could, this would get my bootie moving.  Or jigging, as it were.  Isn't it fun?!  It's one of Diego's favorites too.

I ran into this YouTube video last year (I can't remember how) and I remember being very confused because these guys actually look like the voices they are doing.  It isn't them, though -- the song is actually by a real group called The Irish Rovers.  They have a Christmas album called An Irish Christmas that is a lot of fun. 

My other favorite Christmas song this year is It Came Upon a Midnight Clear by the Chuck Wagon Gang, but I couldn't find any vids of it to post.  Such a bummer.  I love the combination of their voices.

And now, da-da-da-DA!

One from old Squeeze:

Squeeze honestly loved this song as a kid.  I am NOT kidding.  He re-discovered it this year thanks to the radio station that plays at work.  "Perfect 80's pop fluff," he says.  Gag me.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Nearing the end

On my way to the midwife yesterday (after seeing the back-up doctor the day before), just sitting and pondering, I hit upon a sweet emotional state.


And it lingers yet this morning . . .

I feel a complete sense of calm and satisfaction about being in the last stages of pregnancy.  Not anxiously wishing to have my body back (get this thing outta me!) or the physical discomfort that goes with it, but the special glow of understanding that these last few weeks are precious too.

For me, as a pregnant woman.  There is a full-sized newborn in there, with eyelashes, fingernails, and sweet toothless gums.  I already know its sleep-wake cycles.  It responds to outside stimulus.  I love feeling its little, pointy heels and firm little butt at the top of my belly.  I love wondering about it.

For me and my boys, in the last days of Two vs. Three.  What will the changes bring?  How will they respond?  Will I feel stretched?  Snuggling down into a nap, a very special time for us, is going to be very different.  I only have two arms, two sides.  Will I spend more or less time with them?  I remember the sweet hours of reading to Diego while Truen slept or nursed.  Will it be a similar experience?

Sunday is 38 weeks.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The cutest little snowman ever

Fire the Snowman
♥ Built by Diego ♥

Thursday, December 09, 2010

That's so existential

I was having a lot of contractions today during Diego's Quiet Time.  It was probably the way I was sitting (somewhat slouched) while I was reading.  It was certainly uncomfortable, though not altogether painful.

Thinking about it later while I was cutting an orange for a snack for the boys, I looked at my reflection in the window, pondering childbirth, and honestly thought to myself, "I can't believe I'm pregnant."  And I couldn't.  Believe it.

How is that for surreal?  Almost 37 weeks pregnant, right at the end, sitting-in-a-puddle-pregnant, and I'm surprised by the reality that I am, in fact, pregnant.


Tuesday, December 07, 2010


Things that have run through my mind to post recently . . . nothing much.
  • I have finally come to the conclusion that I HATE DOING CRAFTS with young children. It's just a lot of stress, work, and hovering. Though I do like how it comes out in the end and that it pleases them.  Ugh, and I thought I appreciated the artistic process.
  • I really, truly adore cabbage fried in bacon fat.
  • I'm starting to feel a compulsion to nest. I'm not usually like this, but general disorder and clutter is really getting on my nerves.
  • I went out and about 3 times last week and swore I wouldn't leave the house for the rest of December. I was whooped!
  • I somehow miscalculated my weeks, and, after looking at the calendar last weekend, realized that I was 36 weeks pregnant, not 37 like I had thought. What's the diff in the end anyway, right?  But it was a major blow to my psyche.
  • I am so proud of what good boys I have. They are thoughtful, take good care of each other, and generally listen very well. I see signs of their obedience all over the house; like when I ask them to put something away and, later in the day, I see it set nicely in its place.  I love them! ♥

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Without a doubt,

I've got the pregnancy waddle by the evening hours.  Terrific. 

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Story of Holly and Ivy

The boys and I have been transfixed by this delightful Christmas book for two days now.  The storyline is charming; the descriptions, pleasing; the illustrations, sheer pleasure to look at.  We were absolutely glued to the pages as we read through it. 

Think orphans, trains, snow, small towns a-glow for Christmas, longing, a beautifully lit toy shop, loneliness, breakfast sausages, and an ending that warms the very cockles of your heart.  What a pleasure!

Highly recommended.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

"Happy Fanksgiving,"

as Truen would say.

And truly, what a nice Thanksgiving it was; we have had a very restful weekend together.  Squeeze had 4 days off, which was prit'near a mini-vacation for us.  Or stay-cation, as it was.  It felt so good.  So very good.  I would definitely say the whole family reveled in it.

Big breakfasts.  Long naps.  Family time.  Leisure.  Time to talk.  Late-to-bed nights, early-to-bed nights.  Reading.  Tree trimming (the boys were chomping at the bit).  A lighted parade and visit with Santa.  Lovely.

Meanwhile, I am 36 weeks pregnant.  Ugh.

Generally uncomfortable.  Very tired in the evenings.  Groin spasms (oh joy) that stop me in my tracks.  Peeing all the time.  Pushing the wee babe's feet off my ribs when it is awake and stretching.  Lots of contractions, particularly in the evening hours.  Waking up 2-3 times a night to urinate.  Tired.

etc. etc. etc.

I am starting to feel so ready to be done.  Another month. 


Tuesday, November 23, 2010


My outstanding breakfast this morning:
  • 4 fried eggs, over-easy
  • Heaping pile of fried cabbage (a winter favorite)
  • Sauerkraut (yes, more cabbage)
  • Diced potatoes fried in butter w/ salt and ketchup
  • Red raspberry leaf tea
The sun was bright, the ground had a light dusting of snow, I was reading a particularly intriguing section of Full Moon Feast, and the boys were happily playing in the next room. 


Wednesday, November 17, 2010


If I haven't mentioned it before, Squeeze is a major sucker for cats.  He loves 'em.  His heart is tender for them.  He doesn't get irritated when they harrass him for food (ahem - I do, bigtime). 

He builds cat-houses for them so they won't be cold in the winter.


This particular cat-house is in a window-well right above the wood-burning stove in our basement.  He water-proofed, insulated it, and changes the bedding every year.  And our outside cat, "Keumers" or "Outside Bay" gladly takes up residence every winter.  It gets downright balmy in there despite the frigid temps.

Shoot, even our inside cats - Bay, Toots, and Kizzle - nap in there from time to time in the summer months (they're too weak to even go outside in the winter, wusses).  And our hens like to use it as a far-away nesting box (we have to check it every night for eggs).

So take a look at that picture a little closer.  Sure, you see Keumers, but do you see the hen?  It is Buff Orpington pullet, just starting to lay, who had snuggled up right behind the sleeping puss. 

One of Squeeze's co-workers told him of cats and hens snuggled down together in his coop, but we had a hard time picturing it at that point.  I mean, wouldn't a cat KILL a hen and eat it if it got the chance?  (Our cats only play at attacking them.) 

But sure enough, it happened to us.  In a cat-house.  Meow!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Snuggly pals

Good Buddies

Good friends came for a visit for a couple days this week.  The 5 year olds and 3 year olds were both born within 4-6 weeks of each other, so as you can imagine, it is a wild romp when they are together. 

They ran around outside, planned traps for Squeeze, made zip lines, wrestled, had tea parties, played with Legos, fought, and made each other laugh. 

They had a such a blast -- it was a great visit.  Diego cried and said, "but I will miss my friends!" when he realized they were leaving that afternoon.  Awwww.

Incidentally, this picture also shows my boys' new favorite snugglies.  (Jack and Claire had snugglies for the pictures too, but they must have been stuffed down in a crack.) 

We've never really had anything even resembling a favorite stuffed animal or blanket in this household.  A pacifier, my neck (Diego) and my armpits (Truen) are the closest comparisons. 

[My armpits, yes.  !!!  Since weaning last spring, Truen adores touching one armpit or the other, or both.  Why?  He likes the hair.  "It's soft," he says.  No joke.  Good thing I don't wear conventional deodorant.  I don't know what I'm going to do when the truly cold months come and my pits will be virtually inaccessible.  That, and nursing a baby all day long.  Oy.  Still, it is very sweet.]

But, back to the snugglies. 

Last spring I pulled a cheapy pink stuffed bunny-rabbit out of the dumpster to give to my friend's brand-new thrift store.  Needless to say, it never made it there -- Diego claimed it for his own, declared it a girl, and named it "Bunny-rabbit Smudge".  It stayed in the van for the longest time and he would play with it whenever we went anywhere, but has since made it into the house.  He loves it, though mostly just for play-time.

Truen, however, has become extremely attached to a little dragon he named "Honey".  Also a girl, she's a little beanie baby with iridescent red wings that I picked up at a thrift store at some point in time because it was so irresistibly cute.  He sleeps with her, totes her around the house, and likes to take her with him when we go places.  (He puts her in his little "pack-pack" with her head sticking out so she can see.)

Who knew? 

I'm enjoying their attachments, actually -- it's fun to pretend along with them.  Honey loves snacks of raisins and walnuts and I find her in the most thoughtful and comfortable spots.  And because they both have a favorite, Bunny-rabbit Smudge and Honey often play with each other, too. 

It is all very sweet.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Remembering to be thankful, thank goodness

I am thankful for . . .
  • High-quality kitchen knives, which make everything easier
  • Recently perfecting split pea soup, then having the presence of mind to write it down ASAP
  • The dwarf lime tree that Squeeze bought this summer, which is blooming in our sunroom and emitting an ethereal scent
  • Squeeze, for the fact that while he is logical, he is also very in tune with beauty and "the little things", from sunsets and billowing clouds to making our flower gardens beautiful in both the summer and winter months -- I love that about him
  • For the memory of walking down the block from the bus after work on chill autumn nights in the pitch-black, seeing the globe Christmas lights that Squeeze hung from our balcony railing, which he always had lit for me (I keep on remembering that recently -- it must be the feel in the air)
  • Little boys who spontaneously tell me they love me with great, big hugs
  • Feeling like I finally mostly figured out this mothering thing -- probably in the fact that I have more of a sense of peace about it, knowing that it is a constant adaption vs. feeling rife with questions, wondering how to even do it
  • The coming winter
  • Daybooks
  • Blogs
  • Feeling like I've had enough to eat
  • The new green beaded bracelet my parents got me for my birthday this fall (the boys call it my "snake bracelet" because the lines of beads are inter-woven)
  • The color green, my favorite
  • Realizing that I need, then enforcing upon myself, structure -- things are calmer and cleaner when I stick to a regular routine (while it doesn't come "natural", I have found it can be "normalized" -- what a discovery!)
  • Figuring things out with a greater depth of maturity and understanding that comes with being 33 (and how much more at 44, 55, 66 . . . ?)
  • Area friends who are excited about my belly/baby/pregnancy.  It is so fun to be reminded that being pregnant is a special time -- it is easy to forget in the last couple of months.
  • The new babe, which, with how much movement and awake-time it spends bobbling around, I'm wondering if it might be a firecracker of continuous energy and enthusiasm.  ???

Monday, November 08, 2010

Wah, wah, wah, and then some

  • 33 weeks pregnant
  • I spent last week, in a nutshell, lying prostrate on the couch, totally done in from the previous weekend's labors.
  • Which was . . . butchering 25-ish chickens from 10:00 AM to 5:30-ish PM.  We still have 7 left to go.
  • Totally done in.  Destroyed.
  • I felt (feel) like a complete wimp, but it is hard to argue with a body that won't cooperate.  The next step was the total zap of all optimism and anything vaugely resembling get-up-and-go.  And wondering if it will ever end.
  • It was pure survival, that's it.
  • I have to remember that my body is being used for something else right now (growing a baby!) and while everyone else was sore, too, their ligaments and muscles are not being stretched like mine.
  • Still, hard to stomach.
  • Symptoms: PAIN.  First muscles and skeletal frame, them hips and ribs, then settling in my neck, shoulders, and head.  Combine this with the nasty, violent cough that is "going around", which left me crying, feeling like my frontal lobe was being stabbed.  Ugh.
  • I'm feeling better, though.  I have a chiropractic appointment for tomorrow, because something is definitely out of whack.
  • Meanwhile, life goes on . . .
  • Truen says, "She am" and "You am" and "I can't know".  He is so spontaneously affectionate, hugging me and giving me smooches while telling me he loves me, totally out of the blue.  His favorite game is "Mama Mouse & Baby Mouse" or "Mama Rabbit and Baby Rabbit" or "Mama Kitty and Baby Kitty".  So precious.
  • Diego is developing into such a helpful boy.  He has gladly taken on tasks like turning on the crab light every morning and is starting to remember to do after-meal clean-up without being reminded (and has always happily said, "Oh yes!" when I do remind him).  He'll gleefully say, "Dooooooo it!" when I tell him the name of the next chapter of the book.  He still wants to marry me; and the new baby, too, whom he insists is a girl.
  • Both boys want to name their new baby sister, "Pretty Girl".
  • Given the last 4 generations of Borealises, the chances of that are not very likely.  This generation has their one Borealis girl already.  Or could we break the pattern?!
  • Not very likely.
  • I peed my pants the other day in the midst of a violent cough.  I was on my way to the bathroom, taking a slight detour to drop something off in another room.
  • My last urine analysis at my pre-natal appointment indicated I'm not getting enough water.  Great.
  • I had my first thought of, "I have to be pregnant for two more months?!!" the night before last.
  • Wahhhhhhhhhh
  • etc.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Back in the saddle again

We're back online.

It feels nice, as you can imagine.  Both Squeeze and I missed that connection with the greater world, in different ways.  We are so lucky in the fact that our BIL's parents had a computer that they were looking to give away.  With everything else that has gone on in these past months, it was such a relief to us.  Yesterday the vacuum stopped working mid-swipe (it came unplugged) and my first thought was, "What?!  The vacuum too???"

It's been rough.

I am thankful for my time away to some extent, because I feel like it taught me a lot.  It felt good to not have that raging curiosity tickling my mind, wondering what is going on in all the blogs that I follow, or if so-and-so has emailed me back yet.  Or worse, that black hole that Facebook is to me.  It's just best not to go on.

I wouldn't say that I was controlled by the computer (Squeeze might), but I do think the accumulated time spent here-and-there added up throughout the day.  And that tickling -- it was irritating.

So now I need to set manageable and realistic expectations of myself.  My primary method of communication is through email, both personal and practical.  I like the interaction and life-sharing of blogging.  It is nice to have that slight connection with the past through Facebook, however intermittent.  I enjoy listening to iTunes at different points throughout the day.  I regularly request inter-library loans at home, often on the spur of the moment.

etc., etc., etc.

But I can't let this whole business tickle my mind like it has in the past.  It was nice to have that month to show me the alternative, which was NOTHING at all; but freeing nonetheless.  Conclusion: I'll be parring down my tickle-time.

You'll be hearing from me, though.

Friday, October 15, 2010

And so it is

First verse, same as the first
Old bag version, a whole lot worse

The only difference from last week (or was it the week before?) to now is that it has come to light that we also need to replace our washing machine, telephone, and the front struts of our luxurious Dodge Caravan. 

Oh well, I guess.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Out for the count

I'm alive, but our computer, sadly, is not.  Or at least, it is in a very deep coma.  A virus attacked and totally decimated it.  The ETA of recovery is unknown at this point. 

So that's why you haven't heard a peep out of me.  Otherwise, things are good. 

Here's the short rundown:
  • 26 weeks pregnant
  • The baby is moving all the time -- lots of be-bopping and head-bonking.
  • A first: we butchered, roasted, and ate a hen all in one night.  She had a prolapsed vent that wasn't showing any signs of improvement, so it was "now or never".  Otherwise she would have been a goner with a miserable and lengthy death.  It was normal and strange all at the same time.
The boys are going nuts, so it's over and out.


Friday, September 17, 2010

In process

  1. Apple sauce (pink with skins) - FINISHED
  2. Tomato sauce (from a neighbor's excess harvest)
  3. Diego's obsession with gourds (he woke up in the middle of the night AND early this morning excited about how he was going to pick more of them)
  4. Truen wants to be a baby bunny ("You be a mama bunny, Mama.")

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

and I laughed

(This happened last month)

We were passing by a McDonalds with an enormous blow-up Ronald McDonald, sitting and waving, perched atop the building, on our way to meet my parents and grandparents for an early lunch.

Diego (sounding a little alarmed): "Are we going to the Clown Store...?"
Mama: "Clown Store?  No, we're not...thank goodness."
Diego (still fixated on the freaky clown): "I don't want to go to the Clown Store!"
Mama: "Well that's good, because we aren't going there..."
Diego: "...I'm scared!"

Of course, aside from being endlessly funny, I was soundly pleased that my 5 year old isn't branded yet.  He will be eventually, I would think; it seems impossible to avoid it.  I give credit to not going there and minimal exposure to network television. 

But meanwhile, I'll enjoy the luxury.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Little Fluffy Clouds

An old B.D.P. favorite, though I couldn't find the 7" edit on YouTube, which was what we actually danced to.  The nostalgia was much more powerful in that version, which, of course, as an ENFP, I loved. 

But, good enough.  Let's dance.

[a.k.a. Basement Dance Party]

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Food preservation and garden notes

  • I am canning salsa verde (a.k.a. roasted tomatillo salsa) today.
  • Our big juicy tomatoes were a total blow-out this year, due to wallowing in weeds -- so while I might have canned salsa verde anyway, that's all she wrote, folks.  For this year at least.  No "regular" salsa.  Or tomato sauce.  (Wah!)
  • Note to selves: though this pregnancy wasn't neccessarily planned, and we didn't know I would be wiped out for 2 months, it is better to do a smaller amount very well vs. stretching ourselves to more than we can handle.  Though really, if I had been up to speed, things may have been different.
  • Little Truen is obsessed with tomatillos, in the fact that he finds great joy in peeling the husks off of them. 
  • He helped me husk the entire vat with pleasure.
  • Canning with two little ones around is an all-day process.  I've spent most of the day helping them with their big project (making Daleks out of toilet paper rolls w/ egg carton heads and straw guns) and slowly prepping -- washing cilantro, husking tomatillos, washing jars, choosing the garlic, etc.
  • Up next: pepper picking and onion retrieval from the drying station in one of the outbuildings -- old screens out by the chicken coop.
  • I've realized that the gains in my maturity and experience levels have helped me greatly in this endeavor.  In the past, I might have quit before I started, because it would have been just too overwhelming.  But now I can look at the task, understand what I need to do, and parse it out into manageable segments.  I like that.
  • I also realize that I'm not chasing a baby or a toddler, which definitely assists greatly to the feasibility of the whole project.
  • I wonder what next year will be like...?
and one non-tomatillo note:
  • Squeeze and I are smitten by this season's buttercup squash -- we can't get enough.  Just add butter and salt and you have the most satisfying scrum-diddly ever.
11:17 PM UPDATE:
  • Seven quarts!

Friday, September 03, 2010

Garden Chowder

I've been making the most seriously delicious creamy-thick chowder of late, pretty much straight from the garden.  I used the Zucchini Garden Chowder recipe from Simply in Season for my basic structure, shortened the name to "Garden Chowder" and expanded from there.

So yumilicious.

Garden Chowder
  • Butter and/or olive oil
  • 2 medium zucchini, chopped
  • 1-2 onions, chopped
  • 2 small eggplants, chopped
  • Basil or marjoram, chopped (or sprinkled in, if dried)
  • Flour
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 3-4 cups chicken stock (or water)
  • 1 TBSP lemon juice
  • Handful of kale, ripped and chopped
  • Handful of parsley, chopped
  • 4-6 okra pods, chopped
  • 2-3 tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 cups corn
  • 1-2 cups milk
  • 2-ish cups cheese
Sauté the zucchini, eggplant, and onions in the butter w/ the basil or marjoram (I've been using dried marjoram, since our basil was a blow-out this summer).  Add whatever vegetable you have on hand that suites your fancy. 

Once soft, sprinkle a smattering of flour on the vegetables and stir.  Add salt and pepper.  Add the chicken stock.  Stir.  Let it simmer, then add the kale.  Let it simmer for a bit, then add the milk, okra, tomatoes, corn, and parsley.  Stir.  At the very end, add the cheese and stir.  I suppose the whole process takes . . . 30 minutes?

I like this soup chunky (as did Truen), but the other two didn't, so I used our handy-dandy immersion blender (thanks Mom and Dad!) and mixed it into a nice, thick chowder.

Yo.  Delicious.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

If you build it, they might come

Squeeze dug a little "pond" in our front garden this past spring. I say "pond" because it is really just an old plastic salt bucket for our former . . . water softener? Something like that.

It is approximately 3 feet deep and maybe 1.5 feet across. But a pond it is. With his usual finishing touches, my thoughtful Squeeze put in a goldfish, water lily, blue flag (an iris native to MN/WI) and a sprinkling of duck weed.

It is so cute.

While he was digging the hole and putting it in, Truen begged and begged for a frog to come and live in it. All Squeeze could say was the just maybe a frog might come. Just maybe it could.

And sure enough -- it has come. A nice, big leopard frog came and now lives in our mini aquatic ecosystem. He likes to sit in the water or surrounding rocks and ducks under lily pads when startled. Little Truby is so thrilled.

In the first picture, you can see both the frog and the fish; they were very excited about the swarms of flying ants that were falling in the water.

Our little ecosystem

This was the first time we saw the frog --
you should have seen Truen sneaking up to it, so carefully.
And yes, we do parade around in our undies
and mud boots, outside, all summer long.
That must be what Country Boys do?
(: Or maybe just Shawna's boys :)

Friday, August 27, 2010

What we've been up to

Siberian Sweet watermelon
Apricot flesh with lovely brown seeds --
sweet and delightfully chewy.
Best of all: from our garden
and Squeeze's favorite.

Cabbage destined to become sauerkraut
I eat about a quart a week --
for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Monarch butterfly, Monarch caterpillar
We raised four Monarchs from egg to butterfly this summer.
(see the empty chrysalis in the bottom left corner?)
Again, obsessed.

Diego has really gotten into his play-doh creations of late
And it all started with this intriguing landscape.
He also made a game called the "Coin Cake Game" --
He buries coins under marbles in
a mountain of play-doh,
which are buried under candles atop a layer of play-doh.
Find the silver coin and win!

Our neighbor Walentyne's gorgeous Concord grapes
Isn't that blue mesmerizing?
So tasty --
I ate them until they scorched the tip of my tongue.

"Bountiful Harvest"
Tomatoes: German Pink, Manyel, Cream Paste,
Black Plum, Mexico Midget, Green Sausage
Can you guess which is which?
6 quarts apple sauce
12 cups grape jam

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Simple math

What do you get when you add chopped tomatoes and scallions, shredded cheese, a little bit of sea salt, and a nice lump of butter to brown rice that has been soaked over night and cooked up in a jiffy? (With a side of homemade sauerkraut.)

The most excellent lunch ever. One that makes your children roar in delight and satisfies the most rumbly tummy.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

A little choppy, but here you go - an actual post

Ugh, I should post something. We've been back for a week now. But where do I start?

Things are good, the weather is cool, sunny and bright, and feels very fall-ish. I felt like airing out the house and washing all the sheets yesterday, which is an interesting trigger from autumn-like weather. Especially since our house has been aired out all summer. The sheets may be another story.

I am 20 weeks on Thursday. This pregnancy is basically half-way over, amazing. I still need to connect with my midwife. How 14 weeks suddenly became 20 weeks is beyond me. No, actually, it isn't. We've had a busy month.

Not to mention being bogged down with some nasty malware since the end of July. I think we have everything under wraps, but it is still a somewhat precarious situation. I am a little fearful every time I turn the computer on. (Thank goodness for Fix-It Utilities, or we would have been sunk.) Where does this crap come from anyway? Jerks.

I've been feeling the baby wiggling recently, which is such an interesting sensation. To know that there is a little person who I will know and love for the rest of my life, growing in there. What a mysterious beauty of life, being pregnant. I am enjoying my pregnant body, wondering if this will be the last time 'round.

We just released a Monarch butterfly that emerged from its chrysalis last night. (We have three more to go, two that will definitely emerge today.) The Monarch's body isn't as beautiful as the furry and spotted Black Swallowtail's body. But the wings! Gorgeous. That orange and black is stunning.

And with that, I am done. I have a whole box of bruised "early" apples to to process (applesauce) and a basket filled with concord grapes to take care of (grape jam).

I'm out.

But first, look at this recipe for salmon croquettes! They look outstanding. Yo.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Our "guesteses", as Diego says

Hooooooola, estoy aquí!

I've gone AWOL because my parents and sister have been staying with us for the past week. Needless to say, the boys are thrilled and have been thoroughly enjoying their grandparents and auntie (aka "Uncle Jayna" just because it sounds better -- we also have an "Uncle Ashley" and "Uncle Brenda").

It has been a good visit. ♥

Here are a few pictures from some of the festivities.

The first night
I finally figured out how to make a killer Asian noodle soup --
stock, soy sauce, fish sauce, scallions, bean sprouts
and lots of olive oil mixed in with everything.

The boys with their Great-Grands --
Diego's 5th birthday.

Cooling down with Grandpa --
watching the magic show at the County Fair.

Doing a Transformers Puzzle with Grandma
(circa 1985 - a birthday present from his Daddy)

Truen with one of our Black Swallowtail caterpillars.
We are rearing 4 Monarch caterpillars
and have had 4 Black Swallowtail in chrysalis form --
Two have metamorphosed into butterflies in the last two days.

Hiking at the Prairie Preserve --
we were haaaaaaaaaht.

Friday, July 23, 2010

So much prettier

A friend and neighbor is lending me her old camera until we can buy a new one, so I finally have pictures again. What a relief! It has been a sad month-long drought.

The very first thing I did was go around and take pictures of the house and gardens. We like being able to "go back" and see what things looked like and how they've changed. And my, how they've changed.

The biggest thing that stuck out to me was the garden along our front walk (a ramp because the lady who lived here in the 80's was paralyzed in a car accident). Essentially a dirt patch with a couple of overgrown clumps of iris when we moved in, when it rained, the dirt would splash up on the outside of the house, creating an entirely dingy and disgusting look.

Squeeze, who loves landscaping, has really worked it over in these past three years. It even has a little "pond", with a blue flag iris, water lily and a goldfish. He enjoys creating a more natural look, complete with moss-covered logs and well-placed rocks.

July 2007

July 2010

And it will only get better with each passing year
The mini-fence it to keep the chickens OUT --
They love to dig (and thus, destroy)

One of the things I really appreciate about Squeeze is his pleasure in landscaping and gardening. He even fills the planter boxes with gorgeousness. My main job is to admire his work and talk over ideas.

The other week, a lady who is part of our first-year experimental CSA came out to see the garden with a friend. As they left, I chuckled as I wondered if they thought that I was the one responsible for all the beautifully arranged potted plants and the front flower garden.

Because, honestly, I trim the plants now and then and pull a few weeds. But my main is to enjoy the beauty. I love that.

Monday, July 19, 2010

The glorious sky

Southwestern Minnesota doesn't have mountains or beautiful trees, both components of landscapes that I hold dear and esteem highly. Sights that soothe me.

In fact, it doesn't have much in the way of natural landscapes at all, in the present age of commodity crops. This has bothered me a lot since we've moved here.

It did have beautiful grasslands, filled with an ever-changing array of prairie flowers; but those are gone, caged to small preserves that are scattered and obscure. Ultimately, that is what bothers me most about this area of the country -- true, native landscape is minimal. Shoot, even grass in the form of pastureland is minimal.

But what this area does have, and has grandly, is the most exquisite skyscapes. Magnificent summer storms whirl clouds into color, texture, and form that is nothing short of awe-inspiring.

An example from this weekend:


The land is seemingly flat because the rolling hills melt together: and because of that, one can see great distances. Storms almost always roll in from the west -- so it is entirely possible to see the gale coming a half-hour or more before it arrives, with billowing clouds of various shape and color that often look like enormous ships rolling in.

It is glorious.

I am so glad I am finding beauty I can appreciate here (aside from our small parcel of 15 acres, which I love). It is so refreshing. Call me dramatic, but the endless monoculture crops and scrubby trees have been hard on my soul these past few years.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Recolonizing the gut through fecal transplants

Yep, poop transplants.

This was local news throughout Minnesota a couple of years ago, but I just stumbled upon a New York Times article published on the subject this week.

Ultimately, I think this information can be synthesized to argue that the "progress" we've made over the last couple of generations can, uncontrolled, cause a lot of problems.

Living in a sterile, germ-free environment? Not a good idea. It's better to roll in the dirt than over-use hand sanitizer. The 32% nationwide c-section rate? A big problem. Administering antibiotics with such regularity? Yikes. Pumping our food animals with antibiotics? Triple-diple-doople-yikes. Eating easy, processed, denatured foods? A slow killer.

Scientists are not just finding new links between the microbiome and our health. They’re also finding that many diseases are accompanied by dramatic changes in the makeup of our inner ecosystems. The Imperial College team that discovered microbes in the lungs, for example, also discovered that people with asthma have a different collection of microbes than healthy people. Obese people also have a different set of species in their guts than people of normal weight.

In some cases, new microbes may simply move into our bodies when disease alters the landscape. In other cases, however, the microbes may help give rise to the disease. Some surveys suggest that babies delivered by Caesarian section are more likely to get skin infections from multiply-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. It’s possible that they lack the defensive shield of microbes from their mother’s birth canal.

Caesarean sections have also been linked to an increase in asthma and allergies in children. So have the increased use of antibiotics in the United States and other developed countries. Children who live on farms — where they can get a healthy dose of microbes from the soil — are less prone to getting autoimmune disorders than children who grow up in cities.

Some scientists argue that these studies all point to the same conclusion: when children are deprived of their normal supply of microbes, their immune systems get a poor education. In some people, untutored immune cells become too eager to unleash a storm of inflammation. Instead of killing off invaders, they only damage the host’s own body.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Sweltering for the cause

We battled mosquitoes and heat and sweated like hogs this weekend and got a good chunk of the East Garden paper and strawed. What a relief!

Notice I say, "we". Squeeze thankfully didn't have to duke it out alone because I helped paper while Squeeze hauled the straw. It is so much more pleasant to work together vs. suffer alone. And just this week I've been feeling more like myself. My energy levels are stronger -- it feels so good.

Thursday will be (holy smokes!) 15 weeks.

We finished the entrance, a major path, and the tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant -- a major feat and definitely the hardest piece of the garden. The rest of the job will be paths, all very straight, and minus the task of working around the garden plants. Cake. Yeah, right. Well, at least easier than what we did today.

We also found two sphinx moth caterpillars on some watermelon vines. Yesssss! We put them in a terrarium and will rear them until metamorphosis. It is going to be so interesting.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

How delightful!

I just went out and picked a cucumber for a snack.

Nummmmmm . . . I love that.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Nothing better

Honestly, is there anything tastier than a green bean just picked from the garden? Eating one always reminds me of my grandpa and his garden from my girlhood. Delish.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Feeling optimistic again

We've felt a little down about our garden this year, particularly Squeeze. Not because things aren't coming along nicely, because they are, but that we have been so swamped with everything (gardens, new gardens, orchard disappointments, outside chores, pregnancy, work, lack of sleep, exhaustion, etc.) that we weren't able to paper and straw either garden until last weekend.

Our West Garden, filled with squash, pumpkins, zucchini, cucumbers, pole beans, potatoes, and new this year, looked like a lawn with small vines sticking out of it. Depressing.

Our East Garden, filled with "everything else", including 40 tomatoes (!!!) and 20-something peppers, (still) looks like a weed patch mixed in with large blocks of glorious garden vegetation. Not as hideous or overwhelming to look at, but an ENORMOUS task nonetheless.

The mosquitoes have been particularly bad this year, too, because of all the rain, which added to the anxiety about wanting/not wanting to finally bite the bullet and commit the 4-5 hours it would take to accomplish the task at hand.

Not to mention that I am basically a non-factor this year. With how much I need to eat just to maintain regular life, we didn't want me out in the garden, sweating and expending massive amounts of energy. I don't have much in the reserves this year.

So, that being said, Squeeze finally got out to the West Garden, our new garden, and paper-and-strawed the entire thing a week ago yesterday. He was woozy from the heat by the end, but what a relief it was.

So instead of looking at a grassy, baby vine patch, we are actually eyeing up a real garden.

It feels so good, particularly for Squeeze, who feels the 100% of the pressure to "get it done" squarely on his shoulders. It was starting to feel like too big of a job to even tackle - so overwhelming.

But it is gorgeous now, ladies, gorgeous. (I wish I had a picture, but our camera is kaput after Diego accidentally dropped it onto a cement floor a couple of weeks ago.) And the best part about it is that it is virtually work-free (aside from harvesting) for the rest of the season. Definitely worth the work.

And today we ate 3 cucumbers and saw several little zucchini that will be ready in a matter of days.


Now . . . the East Garden.

Sunday, June 27, 2010


My little belly is starting to look like a lil' belly, mostly. Kind of. I will be glad to start looking a bit pregnant, because I'm sick of looking just "thick in the middle". Doh. I hate that.

It will be 13 weeks on Thursday.

I have been absolutely craving red meat this pregnancy. Funny, because I ate less meat throughout my twenties, in which both previous pregnancies took place, and I never felt cravings for meat with them. Ever.

But this time around, I can tell a difference in my energy levels well into a full day after eating red meat. It is extremely noticeable. I need to eat meat to feel anything even resembling "normal" for longer than a half-hour.

The unfortunate kink this story is that our quarter-cow ran out at the end of April. I don't do store-bought meat, so everything has aligned into inducing a bit of a meat famine during my time of need. It has been terrible.

We recently joined a brand-new online local foods co-op, but didn't order enough meat that first month (May), maybe 6 lbs? I got wise in June and ordered 25 lbs, but that didn't arrive until yesterday. Ugh! I've been starving! I have been eating meat roughly once a week for the past month, which is definitely not enough.

I have been exhausted, always hungry, and feeling like a husk of myself for more than a month now. It has been terrible. I've been staaaaaaaarving. Eggs, which I am also eating in good amounts, don't cut it. Beans-a-plenty aren't doing it. Cheese is a good snack, yes. Yogurt gets me through the night.

I need meat.

I've even made the trip into Big Town, SD three times in the 10 days to eat a locally-sourced grassfed burger at the only good restaurant in the vicinity. A double-cheeseburger, no less. With baked fries and coleslaw. Absolutely dreamy.

(The boys have been enthralled with the animal mummies in the National Geographic at the restaurant. That, and the frozen baby mammoth.)

I just can't wait to feel normal again.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Truen's first hair-cut

The hair-cut was over a month ago, but my parents, let alone any of you, have yet to see it. This pregnancy has put me in a major communication funk. I'm so hungry and tired I hardly have the umph for stuff like that -- it just seems too hard.

Let alone not having much down-time now that Diego isn't napping. I've thought about implementing Quiet Time, but that is really the only time I have to be alone with him. We usually end up snuggling or reading or looking for butterflies together.

And staying up late...? Forget about it.

But anyway, back to the hair-cut. Sometime in mid-May, I had had enough. Truen was hot and sweaty and his bangs were in his eyes. It needed to be taken care of and RIGHT THEN. So I pulled myself together and did it.

I was hardly even sad while cutting it - it was so long over-due. And I've really been enjoying seeing all of his sweet face this past month. He looks like such a big boy!

The "before" shot
The pickle was to keep him chill --
It worked for the most part, kind of.

Just last week, actually --
On his favorite, the "Big Scawry Sthlide".

And really, it is just half a hair-cut. I was able to complete "most of it" the first time 'round before total meltdown. And I just haven't re-visited it. Too tired.

Thursday is 12 weeks.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

More baby chickies

We had two hens that went broody this spring. Due to timing and "just life", instead of further investigation and intervention . . . we just let things happen. Oh dear.

For me, it was the exhaustion and trying to keep up with eating and sleeping in the thralls of early pregnancy. For Squeeze, it was working outside until dusk every day. Neither of us really had the time or foresight to READ about it. And being so green, we ultimately didn't have a clue.

Things have worked out fine in the end, but it has been a slightly bumpy road with a peppering of, "Now what?" along the way.

What I should have done was remove the broody hen to a different location, to let her sit on her eggs in peace. Instead we let her sit in a nesting box, of which the problems were two-fold.

First off, she moved nests three different times. Each time, we gathered up her warm eggs and inserted them underneath her, along with all the new eggs. Because of this, her eggs were in all different stages of development. Not to mention that she was sitting on 16 of them.

So why did she move to another box...? Sitting hens get off the nest only one time per day -- to poop, eat, and drink. If another hen comes and sits in her box, she gets confused and moves to another nest. Thus the isolation. Let the girl sit in peace. Playing Musical Nests doesn't make sense. But of course, we hadn't read about it at that point, so everyone was confused.

We are so green.

Secondly, when the second hen went broody, we were having major traffic jams in the nesting boxes. When that egg needs to come out, it NEEDS TO COME OUT, not unlike a major poop or childbirth. Hens were piling up on top of each other, lining up, glaring, scowling, scolding, and trying to kick each other out of nesting boxes.

To make a long story short, our first Mama Hen, with two chicks, got up off the nest several days after her chicks hatched. Priority is given to her live chicks, which makes sense.

So I took the second broody hen, moved her to her own space, and put Mama Hen's eggs under her. She had been playing Musical Nests so prolifically that she wasn't even sitting on any eggs. The poor girl.

So...that Mama Hen hatched three chicks, two of which died without even having time to dry out. My theory is that she was off the nest with the first chick when they hatched and they got too cold and died, though I'm not sure.

Finally Mama Hen #2 got of her nest with her little chickie, too. She had been sitting there long enough. Priority goes to the fluffy one that walks.

There were 12 eggs left in her nest. Neither warm, nor cold.

So Mama Hen #3 (me) gathered up the eggs and make a slap-dash, homemade "incubator" out of a one-and-a-half gallon aquarium with a glass pan for a lid, straw and wet rags for humidity, and a heat lamp for warmth.

Here it is...

My homemade "incubator"

I didn't know if it would work, of course, and everything I read online was dismal in predictions for the success of hatching eggs without an incubator with precisely controlled temps and humidity. But I had to try -- I had already candled all of the eggs and most of them had fully-developed (totally black) chicks.

It has been three days now, and I've been a diligent Mama Hen, checking on the temperature regularly and waking up at night to make sure the rag hasn't dried out (correlating nicely with the pee-every-night during pregnancy thing).

Yesterday morning when I went to check on them, I heard peeping and a faint pecking. Sure enough, one of the eggs had pipped! The little one worked on it all day, sleeping a lot; and when I woke up at 2:00 AM to pee/check on the chick, the crack had turned into a hole and the peeping and pecking had gotten a lot stronger. Eek! It was so exciting.

By the time I woke up this morning, the chick had hatched and was already dried off. I moved it to a brooder box, because it was acting like it was too hot. Now that I am a Mother Hen, I made sure it had a little piece of flannel to snuggle under, and it promptly went to sleep.

The first hatched chick!

Now we are patiently waiting for more chicks to hatch, which is likely to be soon -- Diego and I heard peeping in the "incubator" this morning!

6/20 UPDATE:
So sad -- the baby chickie who was peeping in the "incubator" must have died, because I could hear it peeping all day on the 15th, but after that . . . silence. None of the other eggs have made a peep or crack since and they are presumed dead. A few of the eggs have started weeping and stinking, so we know they are dead. The one little chickie is doing well, though. We'll put it in with the 8 guinea hen keets that we are getting on Tuesday so it won't be so lonely, poor thing.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Life is easier with a garden

You're looking at:
chard, kale, mustard, lettuce,
potatoes, beans, spinach gone to seed, leeks, onions

In my opinion, one of the best things about having a garden (or a CSA share) is being forced to "use what you have". These past few years, I have been introduced, by default, to a wild variety of vegetables and herbs that I would have never thought to pick out at the grocery store.

Pak choi? I had to figure out what to do with that this spring. I cut it up and put it in a Udon noodle stir-fry, yo . . . delicious.

I've been making my own salad dressing with chopped dill and scallions with yogurt (and cream, if I have it), lemon juice, and salt and pepper. This girl has been craaaaaaaaving creamy dressings.

I just made kimchi, of all things, with the chinese cabbage that I had no idea what to do with. With a bit of chopped radishes, scallions, garlic, and ginger. It is fermenting out on the counter, of course.

In all honesty, I think it makes food prep easier and more interesting. You actually have something to work with, and better yet, it is right out back. The produce is fresher, more varied, and its uses are more plentiful and spontaneous.

I love it, I really love it.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

I might as well tell the world

It has been so quiet around here, without the rooster. It's amazing - it sounds like a deserted island outside vs. chickenville. Soft breezes are blowing into the silence.

So, with a jarring change of subject, remember last summer? When I un-announced a pregnancy? Oh dear, yes. That was humiliating.

Well, as it turns out, my hormones were completely out of whack. All kinds of weird things were going on with my body: horrible vaginal infections that occurred in conjunction with my cycle (between days 6-8 and again on day 20), urinary tract infections, night sweats, funny smells, erratic cycles (anywhere from 18 days to 79 days), etc. It was horrible.

Long story short, I went to a chiropractor this winter who specializes in muscle testing. From his testing, he deduced that I had a staph infection, one that I had had for an extremely long time, and it was finally wreaking havoc on my lady gear (and my face). I took the supplements he gave me for 3 months, and, again, long story short, it worked.

Everything I've been dealing with (except my face) cleared. After a year of turmoil, my hormones settled and went back to normal. It is so nice to feel normal again.

And now I'm pregnant. Due in early January.

Ha-HA. Surprise!

Friday, June 04, 2010

And that was the end of the rooster

It took us about a half-hour to butcher our beautiful rooster tonight, from start to finish.

He has been a wonderful rooster, simply wonderful; until about a week ago, when he started ruffling his neck feathers at Diego. His aggression increased; until Wednesday, when he full-out jumped at Diego, unprovoked, with his feet stretched forward in attack. Diego had just been standing there, maybe 10 feet from him. It scared the poor little guy, and bruised his hip, but otherwise he was alright.

And unfortunately, that was the end of the rooster.

Aside from a little sadness, we are fairly proud of ourselves. Instead of killing and tossing (as has happened before in our greener days), we were actually able to butcher him to eat -- with the aide of our memory from the family butchering day last fall and Storey's Guide to Raising Chickens by Gail Damerow. It was a quick and smooth process.

I am reminded, again, of what it means to be a meat-eater. We are so disconnected from how we get our food! I am re-amazed. And honestly, a little horrified. To watch the life-blood flow out of another creature, destined to be your meal, is sobering to say the least. It is hard to grapple with.

He couldn't help it, the poor rooster. He was just doing his job. But, unfortunately, the parameters of his job stretched to include attacking innocent 4 year olds.

We just couldn't abide by that.

Thursday, June 03, 2010


No way. No way! This is too hilarious. And I can still remember every single one of their names. Ohhhhhhhhh, Jordan.

From my new favorite laugh-a-roo, Awkward Family It is just too much.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010


No time for anything other than a streaming list of my thoughts...

  • The garden is phenomenal this year. We are eating all kinds of things: chard, kale, spinach, lettuce, radishes, onions. I need to post a picture, because it looks like a real garden now instead of a flat patch of dirt.
  • Salsify flowers are gorgeous. They are purple and open in the morning hours. As a biennial, it is a plant from last season that we are letting go to seed this year. Pictures! I need to do that.
  • Our baby chicks being hatched by Mama Hen are doing fabulously. There are two now. We are SUCH greenhorns, it is outrageous. I've been so tired and busy the last month that I just read about taking care of broody hens and it turns out we should have moved her to her own space instead of setting up shop in the coop. Doh!
  • They chicks are so cute, and it is fun to watch her mother them. It actually gets me a little teary. She is showing them how and what to eat and drink. They snuggle up under her breast feathers. She purrs and makes very low clucking noises to them. It is the sweetest thing ever.
  • Truen has no limp at all -- one month later and he is 100% back to normal.
  • Truen had a bit of nostalgia for his broken leg last weekend. He was saying, "Remember when I broke my leg?" and "Remember my cast?" and "Remember how I crawled around in my cast?" Then he insisted that we put his cast back on (tied in place with a scarf) and he wore it for more than an hour on two different days. It was pretty cute.
  • Our Baby CSA is in process. We have 6 customers this summer! We originally planned on practicing on only two families, but the word spread and we had interested parties knocking down our door. The best thing about it - we have enough garden for them. Un-un-un-un.
  • Diego is obsessed with bird nests and worms this spring.
  • Truen had a quick, unexplainable 24-hour fever with no accompanying symptoms this week. He was lethargic and slept a lot, but had an appetite the morning of the second day. I am actually glad for it (not that I wished it to be) -- but I look at it as the flexing of his immune system. It gave the old boy some practice, and who knows -- maybe it cleaned his system out a bit.
  • It is so lovely to have the leaves on the trees and birds in their nests.
  • Truen heard a Mourning Dove cooing in the trees the other morning and said, "Hmmmm...that must be an owl." This kid is amazing! He is so keenly observant of his surroundings. He notices clouds moving in the sky, honey bees on clover flowers, ant hills, and wonders about the sounds birds make.
  • I don't ever remember being that honed in on my surroundings. I asked Squeeze if he was, as he has always been obsessed with systems as a Rational. And he said, yes, he believes he was. Aware. In tune. Interested. It's amazing how "they are what they are" basically as soon as they come out.

Monday, May 24, 2010

A few observations

  • I think radishes are the most beautiful spring vegetable. That red makes my eyes buzz.
  • Why do clothes have to wear out? My favorite brown pants, of which I have two pair, of which were to replace my former pair of brown pants that wore out, are wearing out. What a pain.
  • Life seems to go faster each passing year. How is that possible?
  • We got a fiddler crab and I think I'm more excited about it than the kids. We are going to get him a few more to keep the old boy company. He was what you call, an impulse buy. Not a good idea when getting a pet. And guess the guilty party...? It wasn't Squeeze, that's for sure. Hee?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Workin' it

I am in the midst of planning Story Hour for both the 4-8 year olds and 9-12 year olds for the Summer Reading Program at our little library this summer. Last year, I did just the 4-8 year olds.

We will be doing two books a week. The first is water-themed with books about sharks, lobsters, otters, pirates, geese and ponds, etc. The other book will be character-based, using it as an opportunity to build the children's collection. June is Ezra Jack Keat's Peter. July is Mr. Putter and Tabby. August is Curious George. Believe it or not, but our library has NO Curious George except the spin-offs from the PBS show. Ay.

The 9-12 year olds did a puppet show based off a fairy tale last year, but the SAHD who organized it went back to work this spring. Oy. However, we did notice last summer that the older kids enjoyed being read to as much as the younger ones, so we decided to make it simple and do a Story Hour for them this year. We'll see how they like it.

Unfortunately, due to some unforseen complications I am just finishing things now...yikes. We start the first week of June. Volunteer postcards go out tomorrow.

Sunday, May 16, 2010


One of our hens went broody last week and is sitting day and night on a clutch of eggs. She's in one of the nesting boxes in our chicken coop. Excitement!

Hopefully we'll get to see a mama hen with her baby chicks. It sounds thrilling. And I'm sure it will make me feel doubly-sorry for the little chickies we have in boxes in the garage, with no mama but a heat lamp to hover over them. It will be so interesting - we are all very pleased.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


I'm at that point of the year again where the root cellar is empty and the garden is only producing lettuce, radishes, and spinach.

I have no idea what to eat. I am like a deer in the headlights.

Going to the grocery store or having to plan into the future is unappealing - what a drag. I'd rather just have "whatever" out of the garden (or root cellar), then have to figure out what to do with it. It is so much easier.

So it's eggs, again. Mrarrrrrr!

Thursday, May 06, 2010


Our household is currently head-over-heels for steamed cauliflower with butter (or olive oil) and salt.

What could be easier? I steam it whole and then we hack it up and feast. The boys, I'm not kidding, ask for seconds, thirds, and fight over the last bits. It is that amazing.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

The Dirty Dozen and Clean 15

The 2010 Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 Lists are out, published by the Environmental Working Group through

The produce on the Dirty Dozen is most contaminated by pesticides - and what you should be willing to shell more out for organic. Because you're eating those chemicals, you know. The Clean 15 are the lowest in pesticides.

The Dirty Dozen:

  1. Celery
  2. Peaches
  3. Strawberries
  4. Apples
  5. Blueberries
  6. Nectarines
  7. Bell Peppers
  8. Spinach
  9. Kale
  10. Cherries
  11. Potatoes
  12. Grapes (Imported)

The Clean 15:

  1. Onions
  2. Avacado
  3. Sweet Corn
  4. Pineapple
  5. Mangos
  6. Sweet Peas
  7. Asparagus
  8. Kiwi
  9. Cabbage
  10. Cantaloupe
  11. Watermelon
  12. Grapefruit
  13. Sweet Potato
  14. Honeydew Melon
Though really, the best choice is locally produced food...and/or organic. We need sustainable agriculture, and at the very least, organic agriculture. Vote with your fork! Change the way food is brought to your table.

From China, Chile, and California...? Or from your state, from your farmers. Join the fight!

Monday, May 03, 2010

This must be what it feels like


Another journey. The southern provinces,
Pennsylvania. I think also of you

in your wandering exile. What are
the differences? Perhaps only

the speed of change. A swallow here
zooms across the pond, becoming

a winter jay on the farther shore.
Snow whirls in the pass, torrential

rain drenches the cabbage fields,
the palace grounds are enshrouded

with mist. Old age and final illness
come with the swiftness of the Yangtze

flooding in springtime, or like
the quick unreeling cinematograph.

Hayden Carruth
A Summer with Tu Fu
Scrambled Eggs & Whiskey
Poems 1991-1995

Sunday, May 02, 2010

First salad of the season

We ate our first garden salad of the season this evening - unusually early in Minnesota without cold frames or a greenhouse. But hey, we'll take it! Complete with different varieties of lettuce and spicy little radishes. Deluxe.

Incidentally, we also finished off our last squash from last season: butternut. What a keeper! The rest of our squashes - sunshine, buttercup, other butternuts - are long-gone. And some of the sunshines and buttercups were slightly moldy by the time we got to them mid-winter.

Butternuts are evidently superior keepers. Note to self.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

I can't believe it

I just frittered away an hour doing two things:

1) Paging through the "old school" pictures of an elementary school classmate on Facebook. Not even a friend, folks - we just rode the same bus and lived in the same neighborhood. AND, I'm not even friends with her on Facebook. I accidentally bumped into her name through another persons's page. The pictures were junior high/high school, well after I had moved to an entirely different school district and town. I recognized a lot of people, though. Weird.

2) Spitting all over my computer screen chortling over this site: Awkward Family Photos. Go down to the bottom and hit "Older Posts" - that's where the good stuff is. This is the page that created the most spittle to clean up, though the cat skeleton is the weirdest. Wow.

Monday, April 26, 2010


  • Truen got his cast off today - his little right leg was furry, scaly, and softer and smaller than his left leg. Saaaaad. But he's walking, a bit. With a limp. All in due time...
  • There was a Public Hearing for our Small Town's proposed library project - and the townsfolk were 100% in favor of it. There wasn't one naysayer. Yesssssss.
  • Ohhhhhh . . . perhaps I forgot to tell you? A building in town was donated to the city for the library. They are moving ahead with the application, have hired an architect, and we will be getting a new library. Not if, but when. Maybe by next spring? Less than a year and a half after we formed our Friends group! Yesssssssss - high-five!
  • I stopped reading through Wendell Berry's Agrarian Essays about half-way through. It wasn't that I wasn't interested, but because the writing is so meaty and it spurred so much contemplation. As spring has picked up the speed of life, I just didn't have the time or umph to keep on. I'll pick it up again when I have the time to give it the attention it deserves.
  • Meanwhile, on to something a little more easily digested - The Dirt on Clean: And Unsanitized History by Katherine Ashenburg
  • I realize how hysterical this may seem to some people . . . this is my relaxing reading?? Oh, but it is! It feeds my insatiable curiosity and reads like a breeze.
  • Don't you think the history of personal hygiene sounds fascinating...?

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Here Come the ABCs

Diego self-initiated a spontaneous interest in drawing letters this week. (He's 4.5) We were coloring with sidewalk chalk with the cousins on Wednesday, and he drew an "X", "T" and "i".

"Look! I drew letters, Mama!" he said.

Later that night, at home, he picked out the exact same letters from our refrigerator magnets to show Squeeze what he had drawn that day. Again, all on his own, though the only letter he could verbally identify was the "T".

The next day, he drew "X", "T", "M" and "P". When I asked him what each letter was, "X" was "H", "M" was "K", "T" was correct again, and "P" was "Little D". I thought that was particularly interesting, as "P" truly is a flipped "d". I wonder if that was actually connected in his mind...? Perhaps subconsciously.

He still can't say his alphabet (I don't drill him on it), but I think I'm going to have some copy work ready for him when he is feeling inspired. We did a little bit of it yesterday and his favorite letters were "A", "I", "H", "X", "T" and "P". He tried "C" too, only it was square-ish and backwards, which he was disappointed about.

It is so fun to see the beginnings of reading readiness showing up . . . and so spontaneously, too.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Gadding about

After almost a week of gallivanting and visiting with family and friends, Diego said it best last night as he ran inside to go potty.

"I am glad to be at my house," he said, so happily. Part of the pleasure in that statement for me is that he spent a good chunk of time in woe before we left, sad to say goodbye to his "beautiful cousins".

But yes, it feels very good to be home --
Though visiting is so fun. Love it.

At Lyndi's house in St. Paul with Uncle Brent --
Schlepping across the sidewalk in his new roller skates,
Thrifted. He was so excited about them!

With Great-Grands O.,
and a Great-Aunt and Uncle,
and a Great-Great Aunt
who couldn't wait to get home to feed the cats.

Brent snuggling with Gram O.

Sidewalk chalk with some of the cousins.
Truen had me write,
"Grandpa, Grandma, I love you."