Saturday, May 31, 2008

I may be addicted

I located some more big buckets, so I will be making more upside down tomato and pepper plants. The side of our yard will look like a bucket graveyard, but I don't care as long as I get lots and lots and lots of tomatoes!

There are days filled with joy too

Today we had a busy and fun Saturday. I ran a quick errand with Haven this morning and then we all loaded up to go to Brittan's last soccer game of the season. Of course we met up with the Fallons at the game and the kids had fun at the game, even though it was really, REALLY HOT!

After Britt and Killi got their trophies, we all went to lunch together. Now six kids at lunch can be difficult, but even with the occasional whining or disgruntled child, lunch was still fun and everyone filled their bellys.

Now we are home and Haven is slaving away at the table working on a random craft and Britt and Gray are watching a movie together. Rain is moving in so we will have a quiet evening, a simple dinner of sandwiches and salads, and hopefully a restful night. Now if I could get Gray to sleep through it!!

These are the best days, we will never have a day where everyone is happy all day, but the days when we mostly all get along, and we are able to spend time together as a family, these are the days I love!

Friday, May 30, 2008

Dr. Oatmeal

Grayson really has cute moments, even at almost 4. He is walking around with his toy telescope and wearing sunglasses telling us his name is Dr Oatmeal (or Ooutmeal as he says) He is a funny, funny little man, very creative, always playing pretend and sweet to boot. He's a good egg.

I am not leaving

I am staying home today. I don't care if we need or want anything, I REFUSE to leave this house. I made the holes in the last three tomato buckets and will plant them today. I need to fold clothes and push through some laundry. I am hoping the husband will clean the bathroom, but I am not holding my breath. Tonight we will have spiced chicken enchiladas, which reminds me that I need to get the chicken cooking. I slow cook chicken thighs, then add chilis, onions, spices etc. Layer chicken and cheddar cheese with tortillas, cover with enchilada sauce (red) and bake off. Serve with rice and a huge crisp salad :)

Happy Friday!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Over scheduled

So many kids today are over scheduled. I know what I am talking about since I had poor Haven over scheduled in kindergarten and first grade with dance. Now I see the error of my ways, and discovered that having my kids in a million activities does not make me a better mother. Actually I find the more we spend time together and I show the kids how to run a house, draw an elephant, plant a plant, etc is more valuable to their growth and education. Haven is not always the most pleasant child, but I still would rather her spend time at home (crabby and all) then be ferried to a million activities to get rid of her. She does have things she does, but she doesn't need to be in all the sports, all the clubs and all the groups. Kids need play time, and with school days getting longer, and the large amount of homework that kids need to do, they barely have time to eat dinner and take a bath, let alone play or GOG FORBID, do CHORES!!

If the world would allow kids to be kids, to teach them responsibility and how to work as a team within the family, I think our kids would do better in school and be generally happier.

Just my two cents.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

I have a TV accent

I have always said I have a TV accent, pretty odd for having been raised on Long Island with a mom from Staten Island and a dad from Rockaway. Em had this quiz on her blog and I was curious to see my results.

Lo and behold.....

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: The Midland

"You have a Midland accent" is just another way of saying "you don't have an accent." You probably are from the Midland (Pennsylvania, southern Ohio, southern Indiana, southern Illinois, and Missouri) but then for all we know you could be from Florida or Charleston or one of those big southern cities like Atlanta or Dallas. You have a good voice for TV and radio.

The South
The Inland North
The Northeast
The West
North Central
What'>">What American accent do you have?
Quiz'>">Quiz Created on GoToQuiz


I scored 5 2.5 gallon buckets with lids, and one 5 gallon bucket with a lid. These will now be used to grow upside down tomatoes (5) and an upside down pepper. We currently have 10 tomato plants in the back, 5 jerseys and 5 yellow plum. I will be putting the upside tomatoes up front and will be growing cherries and beefsteaks. I am really hoping to put up at least 20 jars of tomatoes, the more the merrier!

I lied

Today will notbe relaxing and quiet.

I have already hauled the kids to school and picked up the dehydrator, done the dishes and vacuumed and done some work work. I have a conference call in an hour, but before that I need to trellis my beans and cage my tomatoes. While on the call, I am hoping to get another batch of jam made and work on the freezer strawberries (husband is not helping much). After the call, husband has to run a few errands including picking up supples for Haven's project which needs to be completed tonight. I am guessing Gray and I wll go with him so that I can get the supplies we need. Then home to fold clothes and work on a massive work project due tomorrow as well as write a paper and cook dinner. No biggie right.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Another day down...

OK, I am now super tired. We took the girls to school, then did some things around the house. A quick run into the store for more canning jars, lunch and the farm. A stop at Dr. Tom's and then home to vacuum and bake a sponge cake for dessert. Dinner is ready to go in the oven, shrimp stuffed with crabmeat, rice and salad. I have to do the dishes, work, and help Haven with a project. Also on the agenda tonight, hull the rest of the berries and freeze the firm ones, and put the others aside to be made into jam tomorrow.

Ry took off tonight (hooray!) so I will have some help and some company :) Tomorrow morning I need to drop my girlies at school and then go pick up a food dehydrator...gotta love Freecycle. Tomorrow will be a quiet at home day, with jam cooking, strawberry bread baking and laundry.

Monday, May 26, 2008


Jam and compote all canned up!


Ahead of the curve

Who knew that we were trendy?

With the nasty economy, I am seeing reports that more and more suburban homesteads cropping up. We of course seek to eventually move to more land so that we can run a true homestead, but as it stands now, we make due with what we have.

We are close to the nation's capital, on .77 acres, most of which is taken up by house and trees. We have worked to adapt our small backyard area to grow food. We will also be using part of the front yard to grow upside down tomatoes to help supplement the ones in the back. We joined a CSA. We buy dairy and meat at a local farm. We don't use pesticides or fertilizers on our land, especially since we have a creek in the front yard that would carry the nasties. We cook as much as we can at home, we recycle.

We are also human and have to live within our community. Our kids have activities, we have jobs, we are in no way living the most environmentally friendly life, but we strive to do better each day.

For everyone who says they can't make changes, we are living proof that baby steps do get you somewhere. We are almost one year out from deciding to change our lifestyle, and I could not be happier with the progress. We will order more beef late in the summer, we will continue the CSA through fall, we will can all of our extra vegetables this summer, and I will preserve apples and pumpkins in the fall when we pick them. Baby steps, that is all it took, and I believe we are happier and healthier for it.

Lessons learned

We have had a busy day.

We went to Target for a few key items, then I took the kids to lunch, then out to pick up CSA and home to make more jam and get some of the berries into the freezer. It is much more difficult to complete all my tasks with all the kids home, but we still tried to make it fun.

I made 7 half pints of jam, and one full pint that will go straight into the fridge. I need to straighten the house, somehow whenever people visit it goes from perfect to trashed in just a few days :)

One big lesson I learned today, don't try to process all the berries while having the kids alone. Next year I will make sure Ryan is home to help, it takes a really long time when you have to keep stopping to get drinks, break up fights, etc.

Now I am off to vacuum the house and switch the laundry. Then on to making dinner, I think we will have chicken stir fry, quick and easy. The kids are clamoring for a strawberry shortcake, but they may have to wait until tomorrow since I just don't have the time or energy to bake a cake right now.

Off to clean!

Holding them close

Gray spent a few hours last night just talking to me. Now I love chatting it up as much as the next gal, but not at 2 am. He was so cute though that it made it hard to get mad at him. Finally after two hours, he went back to sleep and so did I!

The girls got up this morning and the fight over breakfast began....they all always want something different, and this is not a diner. They finally all agreed on french toast, and they came to the decision pretty quickly, so I dressed it up a bit and made stuffed french toast (cream cheese in the middle) with fresh strawberry compote. Yummy

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Success and fears

First off, the reprocessing took and my jars are all sealed :) I will be busy tomorrow processing more berries.

I am planning to plant more tomato plants and think I will grow them upside down. I am hoping to secure some free buckets, and we will set these up in front of the playroom. I am quite concerned about the tomato plants in the garden, so this will make sure we have some for the summer. I also have a pepper plant that needs to go in the ground, and I am on the lookout for two eggplant plants to replace the ones that died in the floods. Tomorrow I will venture into the main garden to assess the damage and figure out what we lost.

On to the fears...
Everywhere I look I see articles on how bad things are. I see how my dollar doesn't stretch, and with three growing kids, we feel the pinch. I wish we could move to more land, it would allow me to raise hens and more produce, but alas, we can't move. I have found a place to purchase huge stores of flour, sugar and other grains. I am going to have Ry help me rearrange the pantry this week, and I will order the stores so we have them before they raise the prices. It may seem crazy to get 50 lbs of flour, but we cook from scratch a lot, and I want to always know that if pasta gets to be $4 a box, I can make it cheap at home. I also love to bake bread in the winter, and we have figured out a good place to for the bread dough to rise in summer, so I think we will make two loaves per week year round. Trying to keep the family in healthy natural foods is expensive, so I need to find ways to get the food we need, without emptying the bank account.

Canning 101

Today was my first attempt at canning. We have about 40 lbs of strawberries from Haven's party yesterday, and I have a family who LOVES strawberry shortcake and jam.

I decided to make some preserves today and it was my first time using my new canning pot. Everything went well until I tried to process the jars, the bottom of the pot started smoking a lot and there was all this residue being left on my stove top. I stopped processing and checked the bottom of the pot (that I had washed before use) and cannot figure out what the problem was. Right now I am trying to reprocess the four pints of preserves that I had in my large stockpot. I can't use my rack, but I am hoping I can get the jars sealed.

Tomorrow I plan to hull a few quarts of berries for freezing, and if all goes well with the new pot, I will pack whole berries and process as well.

Ryan seems to think we need more strawberries (scary I know) so if I get through these, I will take him with me to the farm and we will pick a few more flats (10-30 lbs) Maybe this year we will have enough berries to last us the year.

If anyone has any advice regarding the canning pot, I really could use it. I have a lot to do this summer, so I need a pot that works well :)

Saturday, May 24, 2008

They grow up so fast!

My oldest, Haven, turns EIGHT today!!!

Where did the time go? It is like she went from precocious two year old to a big girl who is into music and clothes and horses. She is by far my most dramatic and entertaining child, and while it can be a bit much some days, she is often the source of our laughter and smiles here at home.

She is becoming quite the young lady, deeply compassionate for those who need help or just a friend. She can be an incredible big sister when she chooses to, and both Britt and Gray look up to her, and I know that if I need help, she will be right there to lend a hand. We love her deeply, and we couldn't imagine our lives without her chatter and pizazz!

Happy Birthday Sunshine-I hope your party is a blast!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Two minutes for lunch

I am on my two minute lunch break.

So far I have run errands, done course checks, ryan steam cleaned the downstairs, we replaced the toilet seat downstairs, i cleaned the bathroom, did the dishes, dusted the downstairs and did some laundry.

After this brief break, I will go clean out the dining room and mop it, scrub the kitchen counters and cabinets, dust brittan's room and clean the upstairs bathroom. I also have some work work things to do and a paper to write, need to make a treat for haven's class, cook dinner, and ry needs to steam clean the upstairs. Plus we need to plant the flowers I got yesterday in the window boxes and hanging baskets and haven has riding. So busy.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Girl fights suck

when they are your kids fighting.

Since getting home from school, my girls have been going at it. You have the usual suspects, yelling, screaming, dramatic expainations, door slams, and the occasional arm squeeze or slap. So much fun.

I have decided to just let them beat the crap out of one another. I usually try to settle things, but it doesn't help. Let it run its course I guess. Worst part is, they are going to wake their father up and he is going to give them hell. Tough way to learn a lesson.

Time Management

I am usually an excellent multi tasker, but with the gloomy weather and change in my schedule, I feel a bit off.

This morning I got some errands run, then a conference call. After my call I need to feed Grayson lunch and attack the dining room and kitchen, I also have at least 10 loads of laundry to wash, and three to fold. Tonight I have to run a call, and get the bathrooms and Brittan's room cleaned in anticipation of my parents.

Between all of the chores, my papers I need to write, conference calls and work, I keep having to switch hats quickly, and it is a bit overwhelming. Tomorrow morning I will go get the big steam cleaner, and Ryan has agreed to be the steam cleaning man while I dust and organize.

I am happily looking forward to Monday, the kids are home and I am planning a quiet day at home, and if the weather agrees with us, we will do some gardening and outside clean up.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The aftereffects of insomnia

I am tired, very, very tired. All in all, I had a productive day, even though it began with Haven in tears (I think she is ready for school to be over) and the afternoon was filled with Grayson melt downs (no nap and he has a fever, looks like an ear infection brewing) Gray and I did some clean up this morning and lazed a bit. We left home around 11 am, and went to the craft store to get supplies for Haven's party this week. Then we went to lunch and to the farm. I love that we know the folks at the farm now, they see my car coming and get the milk ready, they know my name and Grayson's name and they always look so darn happy to see us! We picked up some plants for the pots we are making for my mom as well as our milk order then headed over to Justice to get Haven a few outfits for her birthday. Then home to start making the candies, feed the family, vacuum the house, work, etc. All I have left for the night is to do the dinner dishes, wipe the table and run a conference call. Tomorrow morning I will get some flowers for the flower pots, a new ink cartridge and the index cards for the favors I am making. Then home to fold clothes, clean bathrooms and wash sheets. Thursday will be the big clean day, we are steam cleaning all the carpets, and I am scrubbing the rest of the house down to get ready for the family. Best part about tomorrow, husband is OFF so I have help!

Is it catching?

I think I caught Emily's insomnia! It is almost 1 am and I am so tired, but WIDE awake. I know I will pay for this tomorrow, gone are the days I could stay up all night and sleep all day. The kids will be up by 7 and we have a million and one things to accomplish, so I wish I could just fall asleep. I am getting quite the headache and just took some meds, so I am hoping that will help lull me into slumber.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Enjoy the bounty

Today is a much nicer day, the sun is shining, the ground is drier, and I am hoping that my plants pull through. Regardless, I will still be putting some additional seed into the ground, it never hurts to be prepared, and a second round of harvest would be a bonus!

Summer CSA began today, and as I expected, we still have a similar type of share as Spring. I love seeing all of the baby greens and we are especially enjoying trying various greens and things such as bok choy. Tonight we are having roasted veggies with orzo, a family favorite that I love as I can switch it up to meet what is fresh and new. Tonight we will have grape tomatoes (somehow I found organic and LOCAL greenhouse grown!!), baby carrots, green beans, onions, whole garlic cloves, radishes, yellow squash and zucchini. We have an abundance of fresh dill, so that will be tossed with the cut veggies and olive oil, and roasted until caramelized and delicious. Tossed with orzo and parm cheese, a healthy family dinner. Some other favorites we use are parsnips, eggplant, mushrooms and asparagus.

Tomorrow will be meatloaf (farm meat), noodle kugel (I have too many eggs!) and greens. Wednesday will be stir fry with the stir fry veggies and bok choy and chicken served with basmati rice. I love having more time at home!!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Smells delicious

I wish I could send everyone a whiff of dinner cooking here. It smells fantastic in my house, the beef is all cooked and shredded and melt in your mouth tender, and the beans are soft, sweet and a little spicy. The recipe I use for my pulled pork seems to work really well with beef too, this will surely become a new family fave.

I decided we needed a little rice to cut all that sweet BBQ, plus the salad for grownups and watermelon for kids. MMMMMMMMMMM!

Busy and rainy

So I haven't gotten as far today as I had hoped. I did shower (I know you were all worried) and made it to the store where I did very, very well considering the price of groceries. Dinner is cooking away, the homemade baked beans smell awesome, and after three more hours of cooking they will be perfect. I think I have enough to pack away in the freezer for another night, if the recipe is a success, I will can a few jars...beans are cheap and my family loves them. The BBQ beef is getting nice and tender, we will eat it on rolls withe the baked beans, salad and watermelon.

I finished the living room and I love it, very peaceful and relaxing. I still need to deal with the kitchen and dining room, but that can be done tomorrow. Tonight I will bake cupcakes so they are ready to frost tomorrow, I will write my paper, do the dishes again, and vacuum again. I need to run one more errand, and switch laundry, but I have enjoyed my relatively quiet day. Having dinner cooking means i avoid the supper rush, always a bonus in my world.

My poor garden is looking so sad. All of the rain has taken it's toll, and even though the sun is supposed to be out tomorrow, it is going to rain again Wednesday. As long as the plants I have left make it through Wednesday, we should be OK, but my poor little tomatoes look so limp, I lost half my beans, snow peas, cucumbers and squash, and all of my butternuts, potatoes and acorn squash. I am not sure what to do when the garden is so waterlogged, if this had happened a month from now, I would have been thrilled, but the plants were so small they have really suffered the lack of sunlight and the over abundance of water. All I can do is wait until the weather improves and go plant more seed to see if I can get new growth.

Off to switch clothes and run errands, hope the kids behave.

8:15 am

OK, so sometimes lack of sleep agrees with me, and sometimes it doesn't. I have been pretty unbearable to be around the last few days, I am even annoying myself, and I am sure a large part of it has to do with lack of decent sleep. Last night I went up to be around 11 which is early for me. Got up there and the litterbox stunk as husband hadn't cleaned it when he was up there. i cleaned the box, vacuumed up all the litter the kittens kicked out, mopped the bathroom floor and cleaned the vanity and mirror. By this point, Grayson was up and SCREAMING. Got him settled and went to go to sleep and the kittens were running wild, which includes attacking me in bed. Finally they settled at about 1:30 am and I think I fell asleep around 2 am. Then Gray was up again, then the cats were up again at 3:30 until almost 5 am. Went back to sleep at 5:30 and Gray got up at 6:30. I put in a show for him and told him to sit on the bed and be quiet, needless to say it didn't happen. This has become a pattern with the kittens and Gray.

I am sitting here and I am so tired it hurts to type. I have a huge list of things to do today and do not have the luxury to put things off. After I finish my first cup of coffee, I need to go finish the living room and then do the dishes. Someone is coming at 11 to take one of the kittens, so I need to shower, then I MUST attack the dining room and kitchen today, plus write a paper and do work, laundry, vacuum, go to the store and make dinner. In all honesty, I actually started dinner already, I am making BBQ beef and baked beans, so the beans need to cook for a really long time (forgot to soak last night) so they are already going. The beef will go in by 11 am so it can cook long and slow. All I should have to do around dinner time is make a salad and serve, which is a good thing as I am pretty sure I won't be able to function.

OK, I must drink coffee and get myself going.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Update on progress

So, the curtains are hemmed and the book case is built. The Living Room is still in a bit of shambles, but tomorrow morning I should be able to get all of that done. Switched laundry, vacuumed the house a few times, put out the new umbrella (need to get the furniture there too), chicken is cooking, grades are posted, shoe bench is sorted, daily work-work is done, dishes are completed and trash is out. I still need to make the sides for dinner, put away winter coats, mop the kitchen and family room floors, switch laundry again, plant the sweet potatoes and finish my paper tonight.

Tomorrow I need to complete the living room and wax the foyer. The dining room needs to be decluttered and scrubbed and I need to clean all the windows on the front of the house and steam clean. Plus I will have 3 or 4 loads of kids clothes to fold and put away. I am really hoping to have the whole downstairs done by the end of the weekend, that just leaves upstairs and general maintenance for the week. Good thing since I have errands to run Monday and Tuesday, need to get flowers, have work, and an interview and have to back cupcakes for Monday and Saturday, and rice krispie treats for Friday for Haven's birthday.

Time to clean

So we are in overhaul mode. I need to get the spring cleaning done, plus my parents arrive on Friday so I want everything done and ready for them. Today the Living Room is FINALLY getting rearranged and the book cases are going up. This will get rid of all of the clutter and also create a more intimate place to talk. I already hung the new curtains, but they are way too long so I am getting ready to hem them. Once that room is done, I will attack the foyer, packing away winter gear and going through shoes and organizing the kid bins. I also want to wax the wood in there, it is looking dull. I need both of these things done by the end of the weekend, along with steam cleaning the living room, upstairs and the playroom. I have to do grading and write a paper today and plan to make a lemon rosemary chicken for supper, plus the sweet potatoes need to be planted and I need to get to that trellis out back. The real question is, should be have roasted potatoes or rice with dinner? Decisions, decisions.

Friday, May 16, 2008

To agree with a wise woman

Mean people do suck.

Here is the thing, I am not sure who decided that it was okay to be as mean, nasty or rude as you want to be, but it is not. We put an ad up on freecycle offering two of the kittens and some jerk sent me an email with two links to get the cat spayed...not one other word, just the two links. I am sorry, but we adopted the cat, she would have been abandoned or worse, and she was already pregnant when we got her (we did not know this). She was spayed yesterday as we DO know how animals get pregnant, just as our dog was spayed as a puppy. The fact that this person assumed that I wanted their two cents or that I was so stupid I couldn't figure out how sex produces kittens just as it does children, amazes me. Needless to say, I sent back an email explaining that we adopted the cat and she was pregnant and just how rude I thought they were. In addition, I made sure to sign with all of my credentials, just to verify that I am not the idiot.

In addition, I am so not thrilled with the tirades of others. Just because you always wanted to hang with the popular kids in high school or the boy you liked didn't ask you to prom or you sat at the outcast table, PLEASE don't make the rest of us pay for it now, and please do not become the parent that tries to create the world you never had for your kid. You look like a fool and your kid will never learn two important lessons, 1 that they are fine the way they are without someone making a path for them and 2 everyone shouldn't do what they want, when they want, because it is really a pain in the ass to have to break that to a 20 year old.

Oh and one more thing, don't ever assume that you know what I mean or I am thinking, take my words for what they are, I don't beat around the bush or try to play nice. If you can't accept it, that is your problem, not mine.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Hurry up and EAT!!!!!

So I picked up our final Spring CSA and the first Summer pick up is Monday, so we need to eat the veggies this weekend. Tonight we will have grilled chicken sandwiches with salad, watermelon and potatoes. For Haven and I, I have some nice sauteed mushrooms for our chicken sandwiches, the rest of the family will probably just eat them straight or with lettuce and tomato. I have a lot of salad greens, good thing we love salad! I also have some beautiful scallions that I may stir fry with some of the veggies I have, maybe as a side for to cook :)

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Steak and Soccer

Tonight Brittan has a soccer game, but not until 6:45. I fear my kiddos will have a hard time with this since bedtime here begins at 7 and we won't get home until after 8. Thankfully, tomorrow I just need to get the CSA and try to fix the garden before the next set of rain comes in tomorrow. I am hoping that we didn't lose too much, Ryan's strawberries don't seem to be doing too well, a few squash plants are broken and I lost a row of lettuce. Thankfully I can replant the lettuce, we will have to see about the berries.

For dinner we had our first good steaks from the cow, we had already eaten some eye steaks and they were delicious, but tonight the T-Bones and Porterhouse came out. All I did was grill them, no seasoning, so salt and pepper, NOTHING and they were melt in your mouth delicious. Usually I prefer my steaks medium, but due to timing, kids, etc, they were more like medium well tonight and they were still tender and juicy. Em and I are putting in another meat order next week, hopefully we will have delivery mid July. This time we will be getting a half a cow (1/4 per family) and I am so excited to have all of this delicious and healthy food in the house. The last pick up for the Spring CSA is tomorrow, and the summer pick up begins on Monday, so we will be full of veggies.

There are always moments

I am sure people who do not have children, or who hear those of us with children complain, wonder why it is all worth it. Why we have more than one child and why we do what we do everyday. We do it for the moments, the light beams of happiness and joy, the funny little things that kids say and do, and those moments make the rough days not seem so bad.

A few highlights of my week.....

Grayson telling me that something was humonormous-a combination of humongous and enormous. Funniest said with a three year old's lispy language.

Haven telling me that "Someone must have had a cocktail" when I told her that someone said something that made me feel like a bad mom.

Brittan dancing a crazy little jig when she was excited about reading a word, the kid is all skinny arms and legs and it was hysterical to see her dancing like that.

Throw in the million I love yous and bear hugs, my son saying he saved me all his pink kisses (he thinks I love the color pink) and a few key moments of Haven and Brittan helping each other and their brother, and those terrible rotten days seem like the distant past.

We are still hoping to have one more child join us, maybe sooner rather than later, I guess time will tell. My kids were asked about the decision before Ryan and I reached a conclusion, and their sheer excitement about another sibling was astounding. While they might argue and fight, they also are the first to defend a sibling and the way they all help one another shows their deep love for one another. They can make me crazy, they have even made me cry, but when the day is done, I can forgive the sassiness (all of them have a tendency towards that) and the mistakes they make, and try to find the good moments to cherish. It is true, they grow up too fast and I hope that we can shelter and protect them as long as possible, I am not ready to share them with the world just yet...they need some refining :)

Monday, May 12, 2008


I think everyone has standards for their life, what they like, don't like and what they feel they can accomplish. Some think I set my bar very high, even Em and my mom will comment on it, and while that may be true to some, to me, this is just my personal standard for myself (and no Em I am not offended by the comments, I know you love me as I am, my mom, well....).

I have also been "accused" of having high expectations of others, most often morally. I admit that this is true, and I make no apologies for expecting people to make the best moral choice possible. I do not, however, expect anyone else to live their life in the same way I have chosen to live mine. My husband is a sitter and a relaxer, and there are a lot of days when my anxious energy has me pacing about stressed about what to do while he relaxes, and I wish I could do the same. I force myself to take one night off and to sit an watch a show with him, no computer, no reading a book while watching, and that is hard for me.

I also know that I am very happy living the way I do, it doesn't cause me nearly the same amount of stress that it causes others, although I do have rough days. The world needs all types of people, with different personal standards. I know that my husband's personality and mine make for a (more) balanced home life for the kids. So live and let live!

School's out

So schools are closed today I am guessing due to flooding. The rain that was supposed to pass last night just keeps coming and we are getting ready to build the ark!

Thankfully, my dear husband went out last night in the torrential rain to dig a trench around the house and used cinder blocks and bricks to divert the rain water away from the house. He also ripped the edging out of the side flower bed in the back to help drain water off of the patio. Next time I am mad at him, I have to remember he was out there digging in the rain to protect the house from flooding...good guy.

Now we just need to live through the day. My kids were home Friday since they were up all night during the Tornado Warnings and the flood, and now school is closed. What a bad weekend!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Fear and Loathing in Virginia

As many of you know, being a grownup realy stinks sometimes. Everywhere I look, I see things that frighten me, gas prices, employment problems, housing and the economy as a whole. Right now I wish I was still a kid, that I didn't have to be the one who worries.

That being said, I also know that I am lucky enough to be pretty secure. I have a good FT job, not to mention the steady PT gig. I have a PT tutoring gig on the back burner as I have an interview for another PT gig which is more up my alley and in my area of expertise. Ryan's company is so sorely understaffed, he could dance naked on the tables singing and still not lose his job. Even so I am worried, mostly because I feel trapped. I always felt like we could move if anything happened, we could always sell the house and be okay. Right now that isn't an option, and it makes me fearful. I know it will get better, I know that things will improve. I also know that we weren't planning on going anywhere for at least two or three years, and I am hoping we can just regain half of the value we had a year ago.

Sometimes being a grownup just sucks.


This rain must end. Looks like the wood floors in the family room are damaged from the flood, but not so badly that we need to rip them out today. I am still hoping that once they dry out that we can get them to last another year or two.

Right now the water is lapping at my back door, and we were just issued another severe flood alert, for here, in JUST our county. I swear I have never seen the name of my county on the news so much, were are usually just a small speck between two other areas.

Please someone, make it stop!

Gearing up for a busy day and week

This is my last week at PT school, but I still have a hectic week ahead. Today I need to focus on folding laundry and pushing through more loads. In addition, I have session end course checks for FT school plus my own final grades for them. The family room rug is still damp and we are expecting a ton more rain tonight. I am hoping we don't flood again!

Dinner will be chicken and dumplings with salad, I think we need the comfort of good warm food in our bellies before heading into a busy week. Tomorrow I need to see Dr. Tom and I need to get snack for the brownies. I work tomorrow night, last class and they take their final. Grades for that exam are due by 10 pm on Tuesday, so I will be grading all day Tuesday off and on-Em you may have to drive to the farm :) Thankfully, there is no soccer practice Tuesday, so I can concentrate on the papers I need to write and grading. Wednesday will be a welcome relief, no class, but Brittan has a soccer game and I have a conference call, all at the same time. We are in charge of snack, so I will pack it up and send Ryan and the kids off to the game so I can run my call from home. After that, just household stuff to do. I think next week i will start to paint my bathroom, I hate that room and have been waiting until we did the rest of the house before attacking it. This summer I also hope to paint the kitchen, both the walls and the cabinets, just to update the room a bit.

Well, I better get going. Fingers crossed that we don't flood again and that my garden makes it through!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Early Mother's Day

So we celebrated Mother's Day a bot early. The kids were supposed to have activities today (brownies and soccer) and thankfully both were cancelled so I didn't have to feel guilty about keeping them home.

They let me sleep in, and Ryan made me breakfast in bed...such a TREAT!!!! The kids gave me the presents they made at school and Ryan had bought a HUGE pot for the kids to decorate for me. The weather has been bad, so that will wait for a sunny day :) He also got a huge pot of Gerber daisies for me, all in shades of pink, which are my favorites. We will plant some pansies around the edge of the big pot once decorated and put the daisies in the middle and it will help fill the yucky space in front of the garage.

Ryan has had to go to bed since he works tonight, and cooking away on the stove is homemade tomato sauce (I cannot wait for our OWN tomatoes) and I am going to make meatballs and fresh pasta. Along with this we will have a big salad, a staple in late spring and summer around here. The best part of the CSA and our garden is, we are never at a loss for greens!

Friday, May 9, 2008

Husband kudos

So I am known to complain about the husband. Anyone who knows us knows we are not the world's best match. Different interests, different life choices, and both stubborn as hell. While he can make me crazy for days on end, I do love him and even though I won't admit it when mad, I know he loves me too. The life we have built is a good one, and while I want him to be more involved and more responsible, that just is not who I married. There are lots of times I am so grateful for him, and they out weigh the days I want to throw him off a bridge :)

Garden Update

Well yesterday I was thrilled to see some potatoes coming up, along with pumpkins, acorn squash and butternut squash. As that garden was a trial, I was so happy to see things growing. After the flooding and storms last night, it looks as though the potatoes may have washed out, I am going to give it a few days to see if I see any new growth, and then I will replant. The other plants in that garden look fine, and when we dry out a bit I need to go clear the debris and leaves.

The big garden is also doing well. My newly sown beans are coming up, so is the lettuce and the carrots. Some of my plants took a beating last night, the cukes and some yellow squash plants looked a bit ripped up, probably from hail. I think they will come back okay, the plants are fairly young and should perk up in the next few days.

Tornados and floods

Last night made for an interesting one around here. I knew we were set for some rainy weather, and then around 9 pm we went under a Tornado Watch. No biggie, that happens around here, and since Ryan was running out for a few things I asked him to get a much needed weather radio.

As we got into 10 o'clock, we went under a Severe Thunderstorm Warning, in my world when that happens, that means the kids have to come downstairs. The main reason for this is we have a lot of very large, very old trees around our house, including one just behind the house up on the hill that would completely crush the house if it came down. Soon after the kids came down, we got the first Tornado Warning. Kids got to the back hallway in the house, and if need be, they move into our tiny little downstairs bathroom. It seems that there was a tornado from this storm just south of us, so I am glad we kept safe.

We made it through that warning and then the flood came, into my family room. Seems the rain came so fast it backed debris up at the fence gates. We are downhill from everyone else, so we get all of their runoff, so the water came flooding into my family room. Ryan ran to open the gate and in the process one side tore completely off. The water drained from the yard, and Ryan and I began to clean up the water and mud that had come into the house. Thankfully we got it all cleaned, although it took a few hours, and we were under another Tornado Warning during the process. The kids are home today since they spent most of the night sitting in the hallway, and we are all very tired, but OK.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Dinner tastiness

Tonight for dinner we are having stuffed chicken breasts, and the family is quite excited. I sauteed up some fresh greens from the CSA with some of their green garlic. We added feta cheese and stuffed into split chicken breasts which were drizzled with olive oil, sea salt and garlic. On the side will be jasmine rice and a mixed baby green salad from the CSA. We eat well here!

It's not easy being green!

I was very pleased to see information on educating the public on green growing techniques included in my weekly CSA newsletter. The farmer we get our produce from uses organic techniques, and as he explained, he was unhappy that a big home improvement chain was running advertising on having a green home and included a product by Bayer Inc. The product, which is in granule form, is still a toxic insecticide, only it is not a spray on product. The problem with this ad is that it perpetuates the concept that organic gardeners do not use spray on or other types of pesticide and that items that do not get sprayed on the plants are organic.

For clarification, organic farmers use insecticides which are approved by OMRI (Organic Materials Review Institute) and are derived from natural sources. Many of these are sprayed onto plants, but their purpose is to only kill harmful pests and to biodegrade efficiently and not kill off positive insects. The Bayer product, while not a spray on, is NOT organic, nor is it a safe product to consume. Please understand that organic is not about if food is sprayed, but what it is sprayed with.

Right now one of the main areas of research I am focusing on involves misleading green marketing. For example, Clorox sells their new Greenworks product as earth friendly, but what do we know about the production and waste products being produced? While the product itself may be "green" and within a consumer's home be a safe choice, consumers should also be aware of the consequences of producing the product. If the environmental cost to manufacture, produce and distribute the product is higher than the benefit of consumer use, how is this environmentally friendly?

I am hopeful that in the coming years there is legislation that requires a label to alert consumers as to how green a product is from start to finish. Many of the big corporations who are jumping on the green bandwagon would quickly fall off, and many of the small companies who are truly working to be environmentally friendly would see the success they deserve.

You all have to see this!!!

So I can't sleep, big surprise, I never sleep :)

So I am looking at what is on TV and come across a show called My Big Redneck Wedding on CMT. EVERYONE has to watch this show, it actually has be laughing, hard, out loud. I have the next four episodes set to tape so I can share this wonderful creation with everyone I meet.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Wednesdays are done!!

So almost all of the finals are graded for my Weds class, that only leaves Monday!!!

Tomorrow I will post grades, pick up the CSA and hopefully fold lots and lots of laundry. I need to find something to make for dinner, maybe stuffed chicken breasts? I am anxious to see what is in the CSA.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Need to breathe

So, if you get anything about me from this blog, you see I am a bit busy. I am just one of those people who needs to be crazy busy or I don't know what to do with myself. One nasty side effect of this is that I concentrate so much on task, that I pack other things away inside. One nice friend told me I compartmentalize my feelings, that even if my husband is being a hurtful jerk, I can put that in a little box and still get on with my day. I know this about myself, and I also know what happens when I have too many little boxes stacked up, I need to let everything out. One way I used to do that was I would draw or paint, in fact, it seems odd to me NOT to paint and draw. I wasn't in it for the end result, but for the process. I would blast music and get all of that emotion out, and I have to say that I have gotten through many tough and trying times this way.

Since having kids I stopped drawing and painting. I made a few futile efforts, but I never seemed to be able to find that place I needed, or the time, especially when the kids were really little. Husband suggested a few times that I set up in the garage, but it is messy and cluttered in there (his domain, not mine, hence the mess) and there are bugs and dust and dirt and it just seemed like it would cause more stress. I am getting ready to move my old table/desk out of the living room and put up bookcases. When I do, there should be room for me to put down a small tarp and set up an easel. While I can't blast music at night when the kids are sleeping, I can stick my ipod in my ears and turn the music up. I have such a horrible itch to get a brush in my hands, I have so much frustration and anger that has built up for years. I have sadness and joy and a range of emotions that I can't even comprehend. I hope that I can get this small area set up and that I can find clarity again.


So there is a blog my friend and I read (no one we know personally) and we have dubbed this woman "Stupidgirl" The main reason for the name is that I have never in my life seen someone whine so much about things she chose to do.

This woman is older than I am, educated, single, owns a home, and just bitches and complains about how hard her life is. Here's the thing, I have more going on in my life and I don't think it is so hard. Hard is not having enough money to feed your kids and pay the rent. Hard is having a chronically ill child and no insurance to pay for meds and care. Hard is having no education or skills and being trapped in an abusive relationship. These scenarios are real for many people, and while we can sit on our high horses and say that they could have gone to school, made different choices, etc., we must also know that the choices we have made dictate our lives.

I have challenging days, and yes sometimes they are strung together. My kids make me angry and the husband makes me livid, but day in and day out, my life is pretty damn good. I have choices, lots of choices, and that is not a luxury available to the masses.

So Stupidgirl, quit your whining, get out of the house and find some way to give back, maybe then you will see how good you have it.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Not to be an alarmist..

but does anyone feel like everything is going to hell in a handbasket?

Between the economy and talks of pandemic outbreaks, I am a bit on edge. It could be my natural tendency to worry (I did freak out at age 6, convinced that my parents would die in a car wreck...REALLY convinced) or it could the media is breaking me down, or it can be that my college boyfriend was smart to live with one foot into paranoia.

So, I plan to make sure we are ready,

We all know I am going to be a canning freak, and that I live most of my life stockpiling things (food, paper towels, etc) the mud room. Usually this is because I am cheap, um, frugal, but now I think I will add things like batteries (which I never have) and other necessities to my group.

So if we were hit with a big pandemic, I figure Em and her kids could just move into my house with me and my stores, and that my PT job would be closed down because who would keep a college campus open in a pandemic? My other job is virtual, so the kids and Em and I could stay completely inside if needed, although we might go crazy, and not have to go to germy schools or stores.

The husbands would have to go to work, so they could stay at Emily's house and that will minimize the risk to us and the kids. Hell, we can stay holed up in that house for at least six months the way I have it, we may not have fresh fruits and veggies, but we will still have food and all of things needed. Well I guess the husbands could leave needed items outside the door and after an appropriate time, they could be moved into quarantine (the food, not the husbands, they can't come in at all)

OK, on to the escape route......

What have you been up to?

Well let me share my day so far.

We got up at 6 am thanks to Grayson, and we were early to drop the girls off at school. Britt went prepared for her Cinco de Mayo party with a sombrero and maracas!

Gray and I hightailed it to see Dr. Tom, then to the store to get stuff for snack for the girl scouts. I have to say, I can really see the increase in food prices, it was crazy how little I got for my money!

We came home and I worked on the gazillion course checks I had to do, I answered emails and with about 10 course checks left, I decided I had to get out of the house again. As it was Cinco de Mayo, I decided Grayson and I needed to be festive and eat Mexican, and Em and the girls joined me :)

After lunch, Gray went to play at Em's, I stopped and grabbed a few things at another store, came home and finished the dreaded course checks, got the snack together for the girls scouts, vacuumed, straightened up, switched laundry and did the dishes. Now all I have left is to make dinner and go to work. On the bright side, this is my second to last Monday night class this session, and this Wednesday is my last Weds class this session. Then I am on summer break, well at least from PT school :)

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Dinner plans

On the agenda tonight for supper is Grilled Chicken Alfredo. The family loves Alfredo, and I don't make it often as it is quite bad for them, but I decided I would make it tonight. I already made the homemade fettuccine, and I have to say that aside from having to clean up the flour, it is so easy to make and tastes so much better. My recipe(and you will see it is simple) is below.

Fresh Pasta
2 cups flour (or11/2 cups white flour, 1/2 cup wheat flour)
2 beaten eggs (farm fresh of course!)
1Tbls olive oil
teaspoon of salt
water as needed
chopped herbs of choice(basil, oregano, thyme all work well..very well grated garlic does too)

Mix flour and salt in a bowl, make a well and add eggs and oil to center.Mix together with a fork and add water as needed to get a dough ball. Turn onto floured surface and knead herbs in, use flour as needed to make a smooth dough. Let rest 10 minutes. I then cut off 1 x 3 inch chunks that I pass through the pasta machine on setting one. Once all the dough has been put through, stack two or three strips and pass through again at stage one, folding over on it self and putting through two or three times. I then usually have three or four big strips. Cut each strip in half and pass through the pasta machine up to setting 5 and then cut into fettuccine. Boil and you are done :)

Adventures in Canning

This year is the first time I will be really trying to preserve as much food as possible for winter. With rising food costs, the damage that importing food does to our environment and the effect that corporate farms have on local farmers, we will be growing as much as we can, plus we will be getting produce from the CSA and other local farmers.

In preparing for canning, the first will be the strawberries we will pick for Haven's birthday, I need to get the supplies together. I have a canning pot, but need more jars and all of the other bits and pieces, so I am considering just ordering another full set up so I can run two pots at once. My plan is to use one pot for sterilizing, the other for canning. In the summer, I hope to dedicate one day per week to canning, hopefully processing two or three different items that day. For example, if I am doing tomatoes, I will do sauce, stewed tomatoes and paste all on one day. This will be quite the adventure, and I need to get on Ryan to add more shelves for storage. I am hoping to get us through most of the winter, although we will also plan to cold frame the lower tier of the garden to grow root veggies and greens, and if I have my way, we will have tomatoes and green beans growing under a light in the garage.

Start the day off right

So after a rude awakening by my children before 7:30 (note to self, explain to kids that I am not getting out of bed before 8 in summer) I came down and made them breakfast. It is now 8:30 and Haven and I will be heading out to finish the trellises and water the gardens. I am anxious to see real growth, within a few weeks we should have some solid plants and be able to see what will and what will not grow. Fingers crossed!

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Mother's Day Muck

So my husband works the night before Mother's Day and on Mother's Day as well. So I ask him if we are doing anything and his response is that he suggested something (that was celebrating the week after?) and I shot it down. He then said that I should help him think of something...FOR REAL?????

I am sorry, but it is not my job to come up with a plan to celebrate Mother's Day, for god's sake I plan everything else (usually my birthday as well) can't he plan ONE THING...especially as a way to celebrate all I do???? I am so mad right now, put in on the list of one more time that he shoves crap off on me and doesn't appreciate anything I do.

A note about dinner

Getting dinner on the table with three clamoring kids is an ordeal. Those of you with kids can relate. When they are still too young to get their own food, and they still need you to cut up their meat, dinner is a bit of a pain. For example, tonight we ended up having London Broil, sauteed potatoes and onions and coleslaw. I started dinner at 2:30 by shredding the cabbage and making the coleslaw so it had time to sit in the fridge. At 3:30 I made the marinade for the meat (garlic, herbs, balsamic vinegar and oil) and got the meat marinating. At 4 pm I diced the potatoes and started them boiling. From that point on I had to drain the potatoes and saute some onions, then added potatoes and herbs and crisped them up. Grilled the steak and let it rest. When it came time to serve at 5:30 I still needed to set the table and make the kid plates, and after dinner I cleaned up, did the dishes, vacuumed and wiped the table. And that was just dinner :)

Feel the momentum!

God I love this weather, I think it is the first true spring we have had since we moved here 9 years ago. The sun is shining, windows are open, and I feel hopeful that the many tasks that need to happen, will.

Britt had a soccer game this morning, and she did really well, although I would like to see her a bit more aggressive. Afterwards, we ran to the store for a few things, and then home to put them away :) Ryan stakes the tomatoes and beans today, and I will net them this evening or in he morning. Laundry needs to be switched, the house needs another vacuum and I need to do some work. Dinner tonight will be the London Broil I didn't make last night, some jasmine rice and homemade coleslaw.

Off to enjoy the beautiful day!

Friday, May 2, 2008

Another busy day

It must be spring since I can't stop moving. Today I got the girls off to school and then Emily and Maggie came by. We visited for a bit while Ryan put the new light up in the foyer (hurray) and then we sent Emily home to get dressed and kept Maggie to play. I did the dishes, laundry, vacuumed, steam cleaned and generally straightened up. Em brought back lunch and Killi and we weeded the front flower beds and I planted the herb seeds. Vacuumed and did the dishes again, made the kids sugar cookies, grabbed our three kids and two neighbor kids off the bus and had a nice afternoon. Everyone left and my family and I attacked the absolutely disgusting, horrific playroom which has been long overdue for an overhaul. A few hours and one dinner break later, I headed to Goodwill with 6 bags of toys and now am enjoying knowing that the playroom is spic and span!

Tomorrow Britt has a soccer game, and I might leave Ryan and the other kids home to trellis the garden and do a few other things.

I love being productive in spring!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Long and frustrating

I had a really long day. Girls got ready for school, took them and walked in the door to the house where Grayson had just peed all over the bathroom. Cleaned that mess up while husband watched, did some work, loaded the dishwasher, vacuumed and then took Gray with me to pick up the CSA stuff. Left the house angry with husband because he wasn't helping out. Came home and dropped Gray and the CSA stuff off (husband had done 1 thing) and went back out to get groceries. Did very well at the grocery store, which made me happy given how hard it is to feed a family of five good, healthy food. Brought groceries home, got dressed for interview and got ready to go. Went to interview, which was more of a "tell us when you want to start/be put on the schedule" filled out forms and realized my license was at home. Hightailed it home, got license and went back so tutoring place could make a copy. Went to target and bought a million boxes of cereal, paper towels, etc (and again did really well cost wise) and came back home. Started the roast chicken for dinner, vacuumed the house, straightened up the kitchen, worked, cleaned all of the greens from the CSA, made stuffing and corn muffins and dealt with a few work issues. It is now 5:40 and I know I still have work ahead of me, which makes me mad since I always try to keep Thursdays as quiet nights. Tomorrow I need to get into my garden and make sure the peas are growing well. I also need to go get 1 x 2s to make the trellis for the pole beans, and I need to get cages for my tomatoes and new herb seeds (which I will plant tomorrow)

I am just tired of working so hard everyday, while husband barely does anything. The one thing I can say about myself is that I am one hard worker, and I will do anything I need to to help my family. Since the inception of this family, I have worked many, many jobs. I have given up on being home with my kids at times to earn a living. I have worked multiple jobs, sacrificed all I could and kept pushing through school, just to make a life for them. As I near the end of school, only a year left on classes plus a year of dissertation, I wonder how I will view things. Will I want to stay in a marriage where I have been busting my ass for 10 years? Will I need to keep working as hard as I do? I guess time will tell.