Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Name That State

Jonah was making a map. It had a long, winding road, and all along the road were various places. It started at our house, and then went to Oma and Opa's house and then Grandma and Grandpa's house. It had dots representing all the states of which he knew the names: Michigan, Indiana, Minnesota, New York, and Oregon. But it needed more, so he asked me to supply some state names.

"Um... Washington."

"Okay... Washington." Dot.

"Florida."

"Oh! That's where the space shuttle takes off! Floooridaaa..." Dot.

"Georgia."

"Georgia..." Dot.

"Utah."

Blink. Stare. "No, you talk."

My turn to blink. "Utah."

"Mom, you talk!"

"I am! I said 'Utah.'"

"I want YOU to talk! I need more names!"

Sigh. "Jonah. There is a state. Named. UTAH."

"Uuuuutaaaaah?"

"Yes."

"Utah." Dot.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Springtime Surprise

After Cappuccino died, I borrowed a little yearling goat named Annabelle from a friend to keep my Opal company, since goats don't much care for being alone.

This goat has a funny little anomaly, a "forked teat", (apologies if that was TMI... this is life with animals) so she wasn't supposed to be used for breeding, but was perfect for companionship. However, my friend told me that she had broken in the with buck once last fall, for all of two minutes, so "she's probably not bred."

You know where this is going, don't you?

Apparently, two minutes is about all it takes.

This morning as I was milking Opal, I noticed that Annabelle looks an awful lot like she might be kidding... any minute. I checked on her later in the morning, and she was laying down looking normal. Then after lunch, Jonah came running in yelling "There's a new baby! Come look! A new baby!"

Sure enough! Annabelle was licking off a big, strapping buck kid. We watched a little while, and then along came another one. This one was born completely in the amniotic sack, which was really pretty neat, so I had Jonah take a good look and then I broke it off the kid's face since the mother didn't do it right away. She quickly started cleaning him up after that.

I guess that was our little homeschool science class for today.

This is that second kid (another buckling) as his momma was cleaning him up:



I was joking with a friend lately that I'm sure glad we humans don't have to lick all the birth goo off of our babies to get them clean... yuck. But the momma goats sure like to do it, and I guess that's good since they don't usually have a stack of clean towels handy.





I just can't get over how adorable cute they are! All legs and fluff, stumbling around trying to get their feet under them... So cute.





Annabelle seems to be a good mommy and is looking after them quite well. They both nursed like pros, even on the bad teat.





She was pretty happy to lick her babies, and then decided that Jonah needed a good licking as well.



And yes, I even have some videos of the new kidlets!











Now we need to think of names for these little guys. I'm open to any and all suggestions!

I just love that it's spring! We're waiting for more babies, as I have a hen on a big nest that should hatch any time (not sure when since she hid it on us and we don't know quite when she started to sit) and ducks who are starting to act broody as well. Ah, spring babies!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Einstein Has Left the Building

In my previous post, I mentioned that my blood doesn't seem to be making it to my gray matter any more. I'm not even joking about that. Really. I've had the house to myself all afternoon, and you'd think I'd be accomplishing things. I've been doing things all day, but I don't seem to have gotten anything done.

I had some sewing I wanted to do. I plugged in the iron, but I didn't turn it on. Waiting... waiting... I even started to iron with it, thinking it must be hot by now, and then realized my error. I then made all sorts of dumb mistakes on what I was sewing, so the project I was working on? Back to the beginning. Start over. Reset. Power flush.

So I went on to making a pan of enchiladas for supper. I put the tortillas in the toaster oven to warm. Waiting... waiting... Hello? Earlier I had unplugged the toaster oven for the iron (yeah, the one I didn't turn on...). So I got that straightened out, warmed the tortillas, and made the enchiladas, for which I didn't have enough sauce, because I somehow didn't make enough. Tried to make up for that with extra cheese. Put them in the oven and absentmindedly set the timer (which I usually don't do for casseroles-type things) and neglected to turn on the oven itself.

The list of things that I forget or don't think of on a daily basis these days is simply astounding.

Hello? Anybody in there? No?

I never really bought the whole "pregnancy brain" thing, but... dang.

The wheel is turning, but the hamster... oh, nevermind.

Walkin'

Since I evidently do not have a single thought in my head to share with you (I've been trying, too! My blood supply seems to have exited my brain for the time being, however.), I will share these photos that I was playing around with.












(I'm not sure if it's good or bad, in this case, that the images on blogger are almost too small to actually see...)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Kickin

I'm thoroughly enjoying my visit with my good friend, Debbie. We get along like a house on fire and we're having a great time. Technically, I'm here for cooking, cleaning, and babysitting, but that's all cake. It's kinda nice to just get out of my usual same-ol' same-ol' routine and do something different.

I even got to run out for a little clearance/thrift shopping today! I don't usually get to do that since I ordinarily only hitch up the buggy and head to the nearest small town for supplies about once a month. Ya gotta go to something more like a city for good bargains...

Look what I got myself brand-new for a whole dollar:




A hat! I've got me a hat! Gives me a little hip, urban edge, no? Alright, maybe nothing can make this country bumpkin all that hip, but it's fun to have a new remedy for a bad hair-day. And this here hat prolly does my cute little sister proud (looks like the one she wears, except it's in my colors), except I don't think I'll be wearing all cutely cocked to one side like she does. It's bad enough to wear my glasses that way...

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Baby Cheeks!

I know I've been a baaad blogger and haven't bothered to blog anything in... um... a week. Downright neglectful. Hit a dry spell, okay?

I will now attempt to appease my readership with some squishy baby cheeks!





Doncha just wanna kiss 'em?

I'm staying with a friend who just had a baby last week. The baby's name is Leah and she's just as sweet as can be. Jonah got quite a kick out of holding her and examining her little fingers and toes. He's warming up for his big-brother debut in a few months...

With five older siblings in the house (four of them being brothers!), little Leah is gonna have to be tough. Good thing she has a big sister to show her the ropes.


Monday, March 15, 2010

Apple Fritters!


Jonah and I had to stop at the store for a couple things on our way home from the chiropractor's office.

(Aside: What is with this small-town grocery store that they are ALWAYS out of heavy cream? They have piles of half-n-half and fake creamer-crap, but they NEVER have cream! Or they only have one small container left! Hello, people, restock your cream! We're not all fat-phobes, ya know! Actually, I am a fat-phobe, but in a different way and that's why I don't drink pop! Oh, you should see the MOUNTAIN of a pop display in this store. Ick. Okay-- rant over.)

We had to walk past the bakery and thus the donuts. Just so we're clear, I think store-bought donuts of any kind are disgustipating. The male faction of my household would beg to differ. Anyway, Jonah was jonsin' for donuts, but I couldn't bear to buy them. I told him we'll make some donuts soon. "Toodaaaay? Pleeease?" I knew we wouldn't have time to make actual donuts today, but then I remembered that Pioneer Woman recently posted a recipe for Apple Fritters. As soon as I saw the recipe, I knew that my life wouldn't be complete until I made some.




They're actually very fast and easy to make. They're essentially muffin batter, deep fried. What could be better?

I used sprouted flour and sucanat and fried them in coconut oil (vegetable oil being from the devil and all), so they're actually pretty healthy...




These little babies are simply amazing. Yum, oh yum.

They disappeared in a hurry...



(Hey, recognize that face?)

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Some Books are Just Fun

Technology has done terrible things to my literacy skills. To start things off, it has turned my handwriting more abominable than it was before as well as ridiculously fatiguing. I sit down and write two thank-you notes after Christmas and then my hand is all tired and I have to take a break. "Whew... that was hard. Why can't I just type an email?" (See? It's even beginning to take a toll on my manners.)

To make things worse, technology has severely shortened my attention span. I used to be the one with a book always in my backpack or purse-- just in case I had a few minutes free somewhere and needed occupation. I was never without something to read. I was the nerdy kid in school who spent my breaks with my nose in a book. But now I read blogs. Fascinating as they are, they're just snippets. I jump from one to another on my reading list everyday, chuckle a little, don't have to think much, and away I go-- often unaffected by what I just read.

And then there's letter-writing. What happened it it? You know, paper, stamps, envelopes? You've heard of it? (Name that movie!) Who writes letters anymore? When was the last time I got an actual letter, just for me to read and enjoy from a dear friend? I don't write letters anymore, and no one writes them to me (notes, occasionally, are as close as it gets). We send back and forth short little emails, or worse, facebook comments. Nothing against these things, actually, I love them! It's fun and easy to have contact with all the far-away people in my life who I miss so much. But it just doesn't have the same appeal as a letter in the mail.

I know lots of people have lamented this development, as it's probably true for most people now. And really, I've made my peace with technology, and that mainly through necessity of addiction, I suppose.

I'm thinking about all these things because I just finished the most delicious book that I've read in a very long time. I didn't really mean to read this book-- I saw a poster for it at the library (the book club there is currently reading it) and happened to mention to the librarian that I had heard it was good and had been meaning to get my hands on a copy. "Why don't I order it for you?" she said, and she sat down to do it. I do love my small-town library.
"Um... okay." I said and then kicked myself because hey, I don't have time to read another book! I already have several in the works! What was I thinking? Why did I agree? And if the book club is reading it, and considering that I no longer trust the source I first heard of it from, it's probably actually just another piece of filthy modern fluff. I'm gonna regret this for sure...

...Or not. When it came in, I decided to give it a try, and I haven't been able to put it down. And then, quelle gasp (I totally just made that up to look all literary and stuff), my internet was down all day today. And I sat on the couch and read all day today. And I loved it and read right through to the end.

All right, all right, I'll get to it and tell you what it is already!

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows.

This book is just so fun. It has a little of everything-- humor, tragedy, romance, history... Delicious.

It's an epistolary novel, meaning the entire thing is in the form of letters between the characters. I was dubious about this, having never read a book of this style before, but I found it very easy to read. The story flows along quite nicely (quite a difficult task for the authors in a book of this style, I'm sure!) and in fact, left me just hungry enough for more that my imagination was filling in the blanks as I read. It is delightfully well-written.

The story is about some people who lived through the German Occupation of the Channel Islands (between the coasts of England and France) during World War II, an event that I had never even heard of before (the occupation of said islands, not the war...). And being a product of a skeptical, anti-revisionist history family and education, I was feeling a little uneasy about possible propaganda that the book may contain. After reading it, I don't really think it did, although it is quite possible that it was too subtle for me to notice (I said I had that upbringing, not that I actually know anything...).

It was really amazing to me that a book of letters between so many different people could be so cohesive. But I felt like I really got to know the characters well and didn't have a feeling of missing out on actual description and dialog (the letters contained enough to satisfy). And the letters were just so fun! I had this feeling of getting a firsthand look at some very comfortable friendships. It made me long for letters like these! Oh, how fun it would be to write and receive such letters! Of course, I know they were all skillfully constructed by a talented author, but I was still left longing for such personal communication!

All this to say that this book was the most fun I've had reading an actual book in a very long time.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Making Faces

Jonah left this morning on an outing with his Daddy. They have work to do, you see.

So that left me with... da-duh-da-DUH-- the house to myself.

Oh, what to do, what to do?

A book and a pot of tea was the most temping option, but not nearly the most productive.

I decided that I should make some headway in Jonah's baby book. Yes, his baby book. Yes, he is almost 5 years old. I've long ago made peace with the fact that I am just not a scrapbooker. I'm just not. And I'm okay with it. Mostly.

There are still some important things that should be scrapbooked, like wedding albums and baby books. I keep it to a pretty bare minimum-- I do indulge in some of that fantastic paper that the craft stores carry, and I use it sparingly (i.e. cutting it and getting at least two uses out of a sheet instead of using a sheet for every page). I also use those nifty little photo stickers for attaching photos, and I have a few decent writing pens (not that it improves my handwriting... I'm a typist at heart.). But I draw the line at all those little stickers and doodads and dealybobs that you can buy. I also buy the albums (both of them that I have so far purchased) on sale only.

I'm just too frugal for scrapbooking.

It took me almost until our second anniversary to get a wedding book made. Then I started Jonah's babybook soon after he was born, but up until today, had only made it through the first two months of his life.

Pathetic, I know.

Anyway, I set to work on it today. I'm going to try to keep at it and be caught up within the next two months. It would be really nice to be able to take out his baby book on his fifth birthday for everyone to see.

It was really fun to look through pictures from when Jonah was a baby. It's so surreal-- it seems like yesterday, and yet, so long ago. Five years isn't really that long, but it's gone so fast in some ways, but is so distant in others.

In the process, I found some rather hilarious pictures that I had forgotten.













I laughed until I cried when I saw these! He was such a funny baby! He would make this face a lot, and he knew it was funny! He did it to be silly and we would laugh at him and then he would laugh and do it again.

He did it at other times, too:


Whoa! Psycho baby!


And here I found this photo of him at the ripe old age of two months, fixing dear old Dad with the stinkeye:



He tried to be tough and cool, but he really was a awfully cute baby...

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Spring Bubbles



Jonah has been begging all winter to blow bubbles.




Today, he finally got his chance. I'm always amazed at how long this can occupy him...

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Catfaced




I thought this photo would be so great and then... dang. Focused on his nose. Oh well. Posting it anyway.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Reading!

I took this video a couple weeks ago, and then couldn't find a USB cord, so it was stuck on my camera. I bought a new cord, so here it is.





(These little Bob Books were given to me and they are just fantastic for this early reading! Very simple, repetitive sounds, and short books that are easy to finish. Jonah is loving them!)

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Observation

Prior to this past week, Jonah's daily chore of putting away the clean silverware was just pure agony. Every time he was asked to do it, he would simply melt into a weepy little puddle on the floor. I would roll my eyes (oh, he couldn't see-- his face was on the floor), smile sweetly, tell him in my head to suck it up, and say as cheerfully as possible, "Hurry up! Let's get our chores done and then it'll be school time!"

Then Nathan installed the dishwasher. My $25 craigslist dishwasher that I am completely thrilled about, as I've been waiting for a dishwasher for quite some time.

All of a sudden, Jonah comes running to put away silverware! Technically, we're still putting away dishes together, just like always, but something is different! And new! Exciting!

In fact, he's currently been in there polishing every piece with a dishcloth.

Yeah.

We'll see how long this lasts.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

We're Cookin'

We decided to try cooking our maple sap ourselves this year. This is mainly because our neighbors are not cooking, but we still wanted to tap our own trees and have our own syrup. (No, we aren't planning to sell syrup this year).

It was difficult, however, to figure out just how we would be boiling the sap. Nathan was kicking around a few ideas, and then this showed up:



God provides!

It's actually a hot water heater belonging to an Amish neighbor. They haven't used it in years, and said we could try boiling sap in it. It's just a stove with a place for a fire in the bottom and a square tank on top for water, or in this case, sap. It does have a spigot there on the side for drawing off the liquid. The problem with this is that the spigot is about an inch above the bottom of the tank inside, so getting the syrup out may prove challenging.

Trifles. Don't bother me with trifles.




Nathan has piles of scrap wood that's been sitting around cluttering up the area around the barn and looking ugly. I am more than overjoyed at the prospect of getting it cleared out, especially so profitably. This, in my opinion, is way better than a bonfire.





The steam is rolling off the sap and our first batch is nearly ready.






It's not quite as sophisticated as a multi-stage evaporator, but it seems to be working. It's really fairly simple and just fine for our small amount of sap. The idea is that we will save our sap in buckets in the basement for a few days, and then cook for one day. That way we're not needing to cook continuously, but can just do it in batches as long as we don't wait too long and let the sap get too old (it starts to break down and get gross after too long).




When the syrup is mostly boiled down, we'll bring it inside to finish on the stove. This should just be a matter of carefully monitoring it for a short time until it's to just the right point. It might be tricky, it might be messy, but we're hoping for the best...

So far, so good.

Friday, March 5, 2010

And So It Begins

"It" being spring cleaning. It's almost spring, and the sun is shining. I planted greens in my cold frame, and we tapped our maple trees. These things inspire me to get a jump on my spring cleaning.

One of the tasks I tackled today involved going through all my food storage containers and matching lids to them and throwing away the lids and containers with no mate.

Actually, I set Jonah to it, and made myself some tea.



What use are children if not making them do the spring cleaning?

I always give my Mom a hard time about her yogurt container collection. I tell her she's getting to be like my dear, departed Grandma who saved every little disposable plastic cup and bag (know to her as sacks). Mom has epic stacks of quart-sized yogurt containers which she uses for storing leftovers and other food items. When you open the fridge, you're presented with dozens of them, and if you ask where something is, the answer is always "in a yogurt container."





I had to eat a little crow today as I realized that I am the same way with sour cream containers. I now have far more of those than I have of the Rubbermaid food storage set with the somewhat interchangeable blue lids that I got as a wedding present.

Also, I promise you that I have never in my life (to my recollection) bought ice cream in a bucket (because when I eat ice cream, I want it to be good). However, my Amish neighbors have somehow supplied me with a number of them and they are just so handy.

I was also stunned by the sheer quantity of containers in that drawer. I decided I just do not need so many containers and I should pare them down to essentials only. So I picked out three that I don't use very much and put all the rest back in the drawer. Hey, it's a start, right?

I managed to weed out a whole pile of lonely lids and even found a few lidless containers which can go out to the barn for use with the animals.

And yes, I am showing you this bit of utter mundanity on my blog.