Saturday, July 30, 2011

Compare and Contrast: What We Do

Evan loves to roll balls around on the floor and chase them.  Kinda reminds me of a dog we once had...

But Evan's cuter.  And doesn't dig holes in the yard.  Yet.

You should see the holes Jonah's got going right now...

Or sometimes Evan will find some other toy to push around and will follow it all over the floor. Like cars.  He drives cars!

I could never get Jonah to do this.  I would roll a ball, and he'd watch it go away, then look at me like, "Yeah, so?"

Jonah, by contrast, at Evan's age, would sit in my lap to look at books for as long as I would keep reading them.

Now he still reads pretty much non-stop.  I still read to him, and now we can read books that I can enjoy, too!  (Ever read the Little Britches  series?  Fantastic!) It used to be a matter of reading the same books overandoverandoverandover every dayafterdayafterday.  Now, we can share our mutual love of reading and discover new books together that we both can't tear ourselves away from.

And I am just so glad that he can read so well to himself, now, too.  It really lightens my load for feeding his hungry little mind.  He recently discovered the concept of a "joke" and he's always telling and making up new... and old... jokes. I found him this book:

The Usborne Book of Jokes, which is just packed with kid-appropriate riddles, knock-knock, and every other sort of joke you could think of.  Except... he probably doesn't get 99% of them.

"What's a cat's favorite breakfast?"
"Mice crispies!"

He gets that.  But:

"What do you call a ship that cries as it goes across the sea?"
"An em-ocean liner!"

Not so much.  But it makes for good vocabulary lessons!

Evan is interested in opening, closing, turning a couple pages, and 17 seconds later, he's done. 

He's also beginning to get over his deathly fear of water.  He actually voluntarily played in a few inches of water the other day at a friend's swimming pond.  I can also bathe him in the bathroom sink without terrified screaming.

Jonah swims like a fish these days, but prefers to have appropriate safety measure applied.

Yes, that's a Barbie life-vest.  Safety over fashion, you know.  He's very comfortable in his masculinity.

Jonah chatters my ear off and has a seemingly endless supply of questions.  Oh, they get so bizarre.  I should write some down to share...

Lately, Evan is always "telling" me things, too.  He's also waving to every car and buggy that drives by, and getting all excited when he sees a tractor, or even better, DADDY. 

And now that I think about it, ditto Jonah, but add airplanes to the excitement.

And boy howdy, do these kids love to eat.  Evan starts into a full-on temper tantrum when I start scraping the last bite from his bowl, no matter how much he's had to eat already.  He eats a lot.  A lot, a lot. 

When I really need to entertain him, a spoon-full of refried beans keeps him busy for a little while.

Followed by another spoon-full.

And another.


Jonah still asks all the time when the next meal/snack is coming.  But he's also getting more into helping Evan, too.  Today he taught Evan how to drink from a straw! Score!  He's learning to be a patient and generous big brother.

It's just so endlessly entertaining to me to observe how different --and yet, sometimes, alike-- these two are!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


We turned 8 yesterday.

Don't we look it?


When we were first married, I didn't really like the newness of it, the adjustment.  I don't like change and upheaval, and I used to think, "I can't wait until we're just 'old shoes'."  And now, well, we're still babies, but the shoes are feeling pretty comfy and broken in.

We decided we needed to have a cheap date to celebrate, because I think we're just not go-out-to-a-fancy-dinner kind of people.  Besides, we're always broke.

So in the afternoon, we started by enjoying the fruits of our marriage-- our cute little boys.  We headed off to the park with some lemonade and a "special treat" that mommy baked for the occasion.  And a banana for Evan, of course.

But real life always intervenes, doesn't it?  We weren't even there 15 minutes when some wasps came out of one of the pieces of playground equipment and stung Jonah on the hand and face.  He was hysterical, of course.  We went to our standby emergency sting remedy of picking some plantain leaves from the grass and chewing them up to put on the stings.  That helped quite a bit, and if it were just his hand, I would have left it at that.  But the other sting was right over the bone at the bridge of his nose, near his eye, and we knew that might swell pretty badly, so we packed up quickly and drove back home.  He cried all the way home, but as long as he held the leaves on, the pain wasn't so bad.  (I'm tellin' ya, that common weed is a miracle cure for stings, praise God!  I know it sounds like an old wives tale, but we've relied on it many times and it works great!)  At home I gave him some homeopathic Ledum (another miracle cure!) and he stopped crying and felt fine after that.  It didn't even swell very much at all.

As long as we were home, I went out and milked the goats a little early so that would be out of the way as we went about our evening.  Then we drove back to town and dropped the boys off to play at a friend's house for the evening.

We recently discovered this great little taco stand, right there in the small town where our church is.  We pretty much never eat out or do fast food, but if we do, this is where we go.  These tacos are the real thing!  (Midwesterners  have no idea what a real taco tastes like.)  These tacos are made by actual Mexican people who know how to do them right. They're just like the tacos we used to get at the migrant-worker-run roach coaches "back home" in Oregon.  I just can't rave enough about them, and the sauce, heaven help me, the sauce.  I could drink it (and burn my ears out), it's that good. I wish I knew how to make taco sauce like that.

Anyway, enough raving.  We got tacos, see?  That's where I was going with that.  Cheap, healthy, and delicious-- prefect for our cheap anniversary date.

Then we argued about discussed where to go for a picnic.

We decided to drive the 35 minutes to a nearby small city so we could go to a waterfall park there, and besides, there's a big hardware store there as well.  Nathan needed to pick up a few things for a job the next day.  Then, as long as we were in the area, we went into Goodwill to get him a couple work shirts (and I found a really cute white maternity shirt, which I would have bought except for the "totally see-through" part.  Hrm.)  So yeah.  Very romantic, no?

We got our errands done quickly, and went to the park.  Where we found that we couldn't get in, because it's only open in the evenings from 8:30 to 11.  It's a lighted, man-made waterfall dealy that is supposed to be really cool, except we've never seen it because we've always been unable to get in for one reason or another.  Phoo.

So we hiked up the hill outside the gates and found a nice spot to spread our picnic blanket and stare up into the branches of this gnarled, old, windswept maple.

...and where we could also look across to this old tree with a very cute, little, barenaked butt.

Oh, how I laughed, and Nathan rolled his eyes.

But we enjoyed our picnic during which we did not have to also put food in the mouths of our ravenous little baby birds and we could talk at leisure about whatever we wanted to.  It was fun, and we were both glad we didn't opt for the standard dinner-and-a-movie date.

And we hiked back down the hill to go get our little birdies, who someone else fed.  They had so much fun, they didn't even miss us!  We should do that more often, obviously...

Eight is good.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Summer Company

Jonah and Evan had been playing with their visiting Minnesota cousins!

I just love it when they have playmates.

It's always so fun to have family visit.  It doesn't happen often since we live so far from everyone.  But when it does happen, it's a treat!  

The only damper on the whole visit has been the oppressive heat.  The kids have managed just fine, but somehow I can't see myself barreling down the slip'n'slide, no matter how fun they make it look.

I envy the babies who can just be naked.

I envy the kids a little, too.  They seem to barely notice the heat.  They run, they sweat, they drink all the milk in the fridge (which is great cuz we have a surplus and I have no energy for making cheese!), they play, they dress up in ridiculously hot clothes because it furthers their general play experience.  And I, great wuss that I am, lie in front of the fan and drink ice water and nurse a headache.  Then I move the fan to the kitchen and stand in front of it with my ice water while I make food, and then I take several cold showers.  My love for summer is undimmed, but this is pushing my limits, I have to say.

At least good company makes it all a little more fun.

Monday, July 18, 2011


Canning is so much easier with a helper.  Even if that helper is only peeling the peaches, help is help and it's.... helpful.  I'm glad to be getting to that point.  I can remember helping my Mom can countless jars of peaches and it got to be such a drag sometimes, but we worked together and got it done and it was satisfying.  Jonah is learning that, too, and I love watching his work ethic develop.

I praise Evan for his "help", too, and sometimes Jonah resents this.  "He's not helping!  He's making a mess!"  So I put my hand by my mouth and whisper and make it seem like a great secret: "We'll just tell him he's helping, and let him think that.  That's how he learns.  Someday he'll help for real. For now, he's just learning."

Today was a very hot day for canning peaches.  It seems to go that way.  Just when I think I can close up the house and try to keep it relatively coolish, a bushel of peaches shows up and needs attention now.  I paid more for these peaches than I have the last few years (significantly more, actually), but I have to say, you get what you pay for.  I have dealt with cling-stone peaches and cling-peel peaches and hard peaches and overripe peaches.  These peaches were so perfect I could swoon.  Large, sweet, juicy, perfectly ripe, easy to peel and pit and can.  It makes the work go so much easier.   I got half of them done, canned up in 14 quarts, which became 13 when a jar broke, raffamuffaschniggafrigga.  Arg.  Why does that always happen?  Anyway, the rest are finishing ripening and some will be frozen and some dehydrated and then I can decide if I want to do another bushel.  I mean, I already know I want to, just not sure if I have it in me.

I am definitely struggling with how I will get my summer work done this year.  I've always thought that fall would be the worst time to have a baby, and I was right.  (Note to self:  future babies in spring only. Ha.  As if I can decide that.  It's fun to pretend.)

It's just hard... deal with the heat and humidity (stifling!), which normally doesn't really bother me, but now... ugh. work through relentless back pain and increasing loss of mobility. have enough energy to even get through half my to-do list for a day. keep up with my little boys and have enough patience and love when I am just tired.

I know it keeps me from having pride (well, in theory, right?) and makes me look to God for provision, instead of myself.  I can thank God for every little energy spurt, every task accomplished, because I know how precious it is.

I'm thankful for the little break in garden work while things are growing and not needing much attention.  I can go out and putter for a while --watering here, pulling weeds there-- and then I'm just done.  That will soon be past as soon as the beans and cabbages are ready for picking, followed by cukes and tomatoes and peppers.  Then the work begins anew, and I'm a little daunted by it this year.  Last summer was tough, too.  We'll see how this harvest season goes.  Don't even get me started on the cold storage crops, which will all need digging right when the baby is due.  I think Nathan will get tagged with that work this year.

And it would sure help to have a little rain around here!  It seems like this happens every year (well, at least the last few)-- we get non-stop rain all spring, then it suddenly dries up, we plant, and get... no water.  It's dry, dry, dry.  We have all the heat, humidity from nearby rainstorms, hard-packed clay soil that no late-planted seeds can push through, but no rain.  And our particular section of the county is the driest, it seems.  That rainstorm I wrote about in my last post hit pretty hard north of us, but my little slice of paradise hardly got a thing.  We have some weird weather inversion thingy that makes all the storms skirt us to the north or south, but not actually hit us.  With a well that can't run a sprinkler, we're stuck with whatever hand-watering we can manage.

And as long as I'm complaining (indulge me, please...), why do we have to eat so many times per day?  Can't we just have breakfast and be good to go for the day?  It's too hot and I am too tired to cook supper.  Even cold food requires cooking.  Sandwiches are not an option because I can't eat bread.  I am out of ideas for feeding us.  Watermelon and popcorn, anyone?

Okay, end of complaints.  Life is beautiful.  Sometimes.  

I'm off to pop some popcorn and slice up a little watermelon.

Monday, July 11, 2011

O.C.D. and Then Some

Two snippets from my day, which could (and sometimes do) happen every day:


We left for town this morning just as a big storm was coming our way.  I was praying it would hit us, and hit us good, because my garden is gonna die otherwise.  We're really hurtin' for rain around here.  It was so wet for so long, and now it's been nothing but dry dry dry and that just doesn't work for the growing things.  I simply have not been able to grow anything from seed. Even my zucchini didn't come up! What's summer without zucchini?!?

Anyway, I was praying for the rain to hit us solidly and not skirt us like it very often does.  And Jonah... was freaking out.  Just like he always does.  Every time it storms, we have to listen to him worry incessantly about what the storm might bring.  Sometimes he dissolves into outright panic.  He can usually keep it under control, with lots (lots!) of talking about it, watching the radar, etc.  But it gets tiring, especially since I, myself, am one who barely pays attention to weather forecasts beyond the basics, rain, sun, hot, cold, etc.

So here's how it usually goes:

"Is there a storm coming?"
"How bad is it going to be?"
"Are we in the bad part?"
"Will there be wind?"
"Will any trees come down?"
"Will any houses come down?"
"Will any power lines come down?
"Will there be hail?"
"Will there be lightening?"
"Is there a tornado?"
"Are we in the bad part?"
"How long will it be?"
"Is it past us yet?"
"Can we check the radar?"
"Is there a tornado watch?"
"How bad is it gonna be?"


Lather, rinse, repeat, constantly, ad nauseum, world without end, for as long as the storm continues.

And that's what I listened to while driving through torrential rain all the way to town.


Evan loves bananas.

Evan is obsessed with bananas.

Evan lives for bananas, dreams of bananas, and generally goes ape for bananas.

He loves them so much he eats the peal if given half a chance.

Today at the local garden and produce store, there was a table full of over-ripe bananas, placed conveniently near the checkout.  You can be sure that this was not lost on Evan.  He doesn't miss a thing.

I was concentrating on paying for my vegetables and a flower splurge, and he was manically pointing and reaching and "please please pleasing" all over the place. As my Dad would say, he just came unglued. He says "please", though it sounds something like "geeth", except with a slobbery tongue-roll at the end, and seems to think it's the magic key to getting all his desires.  And boy, was he saying it!  He was also trying to climb, jump, leap, fly out of his seat in the cart to get over there and get. a. banana.  NOW.  Need a banana!  Want a banana!  They're over there, Mom!  BANANA!  PLEEEEASE!  The cashier laughed and said, "Just give him a banana, I'm trying to get rid of them anyway."  So he got his banana.  And he made it disappear within minutes.

Fast forward to the grocery store.

Just before checking out (I've learned, see?)  I went to the produce section and got a watermelon and... a bunch of green bananas.  Before we even reached the banana display, Evan had them in his sights and began repeating the scene from earlier.  I think his head was just gonna explode.  BANANAS!  More! Bananas!  There they are!  And when I put some in the cart?  He couldn't stand it any more.  He was turning around in the seat, trying so hard to climb down into the card and get. those. bananas!  He continued this routine, with me holding him bodily in his seat, all the way to the checkout.  Then he determinedly tried his hardest to climb out onto the conveyor belt because the! bananas!  They're getting away!  Neeeeed bananas!  And then they were in a bag!  And he couldn't see them any more!  PANIC! 


Obsession.  It makes my hamster wheel go round.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Happy Birthday Baby


And now:

A baby's first year is so amazing! 

The changes are astounding.

Where did the time go?

He decided to celebrate by working on a couple new teeth, of course.  He had a bit of a rough day with lots of fussing...

I'm thinking the cake made up for it, though.  He was pretty excited that the cake was for him!

I made Evan a rice flour carrot cake, since that's pretty much the only grain I'm letting him have right now.  I asked my Mom for her super-yummy light cream icing recipe to go on top. 

Just as I was starting to make the icing, I turned my back for one second, and Evan managed to get ahold of the hand mixer cord (I should KNOW BETTER!) and pulled it onto the floor.  Thankfully, not his head, 'cause that thing is heavy.  Nevertheless, it hit the floor with a crash and that was the end of that.  Sigh.  I really liked that hand mixer.  Anyway, I quickly called up someone who would be coming for the birthday and asked her to bring her mixer so that I could make icing!

This icing is the most amazing thing you'll ever taste and really simple, but it was a little hot in my kitchen, and this icing likes to be cold, and it got really soft really fast.  So it was hard to get on the cake and my friend said, "Just make it look messy-on-purpose!" so that's what I was going for.  I think it mainly just looks messy.  But oh well.  I'm used to having trouble with cakes.  It still tasted fantastic!

And besides, Evan couldn't wait to mess it up a little more!

He was digging in before we were even done singing!

I've seen one-year-olds who are very tentative and unsure about the whole birthday thing and need a little encouragement to dig into the cake or rip into presents.  Not Evan.  He was pretty into it! He'd been fussing quite a lot, but cheered up when he saw the cake and before I set him down with the cake, he was wriggling in my arms and making excited noises and trying to get at it!  It's like he knew exactly what it was and that it was his.  I mean, he probably really did know that.  This is a kid who really loves food!

I think he pretty much thought this was the best thing ever.

He was mowing it down and we had to really monitor the choking hazard while he ate.  He sure enjoyed that cake!

After the cake was done, he went back to fussing and whining, so we went right on to presents.

Again, no encouragement necessary.  One of his favorite things to do lately is to take things out of whatever it is in.  So opening presents was right up his alley. 

He was excited and happy with each thing.

He even studiously read his cards.  Upside-down, maybe, but who cares when you're one?

He definitely didn't mind being the center of attention, and never showed any shyness or uncertainty.  I think it helps that the people around him were all familiar and Mommy was always nearby.

It was such a lovely evening, a little muggy and buggy, but overcast so we didn't have the hot sun on us and spent the whole time out on the kitchen porch.  I just love that porch!  It's nice because now I have lots of things growing and blooming all around it and it was so nice to sit there and enjoy the summertime with yummy food and good company and a cute birthday boy.  (Cranberry mint lemonade in a "not kid" version helps, too!)

I, of course, spent most of the day as I was running around, thinking about his birth and first year.  I have to say, he's been a challenging kid so far.  But babies are a lot of work, and the time is so short.  And they're so stinkin' cute and sweet!

He's growing so fast!  He's still a baby, but I can see it won't last long. I'm gonna go squoosh and smooch him a little more...

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Sky Eyes and Watermelon Lips

Fourth Fun

We have a special guest celebrating Independence Day with us this year!  My brother, Neal, flew out for a couple days while he's on vacation this week.  He's on his way to adventures in other places, but we're thrilled that he decided to come hang out with us, too.

Yesterday we took advantage of some connections we have and spent the day at a lake having fun!

It's nice to have friends in high places, you know.  Lake front sort of places.

Even "sure, borrow my jet-ski" sort of places!

It is an awful lot of work, I found, for me to get everyone ready to be gone all day.  I made a lot of food!  Then I packed up all the swimming stuff and extra clothes and sun screen and bug spray and diapers and and and and...  We left before lunch time and were planning to be gone until late (after fireworks!), so I had to have stuff for everyone for the whole day.  And then while we were there, I felt like I spent most of the time feeding people and baby holding and rubbing on sunscreen and getting drinks and and and...  I guess that just comes with the "mom territory".  I can remember as a teenager at various functions seeing the young moms who don't seem to get to have fun because they're just doing kid-duty all the time.  I used to think, "wow, I'm so glad that's not me."  And now it is me, and... it's just fine.  Doesn't really bother me, I guess I've grown into it.  And I can certainly have fun, too!

We lovingly referred to the old pontoon boat available to us as "vintage" and had a great time out on the water.

Jonah likes to drive, of course.

The fourth of July may not be the best day for fishing on a busy lake, but we went for it anyway.  Neal bought a one-day fishing license and he and Nathan and Jonah had a great time not catching anything.  

For a while, anyway...

Eventually, Neal pulled out a bass which was just barely under the limit for keeping, so he had to throw it back.

After that, their luck changed and they started pulling out sunfish...

...and lakeweed.

Evan had a peaceful nap wearing a life jacket in my lap, but that only lasted while the motor was running and we were going around the lake.  Being the ridiculously light sleeper that he is, he woke up as soon as the motor was switched off.

He wanted to fish, too!

Until he didn't want to anymore.

That's okay, I kinda think fishing is boring, too.
When I wasn't baby holding (Daddy is a good multitasker, too!) I enjoyed lounging around, sipping iced mocha, and taking pictures of my feet.

And drinking iced mocha.

Oh, I said that already. 

Good stuff, that iced mocha.

I thought I would be alright with the sun, being already tanned pretty well, and staying mostly in the shade, but well, we were at a lake and I guess the solar radiation was magnified a little and... you know where this is going, right?  Yeah, I'm burnt.  When will I learn?

And Neal, he got burned, too.  We're feeling a little tender-skinned today.

ALSO, Uncle Neal helped his nephew work up a little nerve...

to JUMP... the swimming platform!

Jonah is becoming quite a brave swimmer!  I'm impressed, I have to say.  I was always such a chicken about swimming as a kid, and Jonah has always been somewhat timid about anything that he considers to have any danger, whatsoever.  But he had a great time swimming with his Uncle Neal!

Evan tried new things, too.  However, we were disappointed to find that his legs are not yet long enough to reach the pedals of the paddle boat. 

He was not amused.

Oh, and contrary to what theses photos might suggest, I was there, too!

Looking very... plump... oof.

I had to suggest that Nathan take a picture, so I could show I was included in the fun, too.  Usually, I have to resort to taking pictures of myself...

We played and played until it was almost dark, then we headed out to a nearby town to watch fireworks.  I admit that I really just wanted to go home and go to bed by this point, but what is the 4th without fireworks?

We stopped at a gas station on the way there and Neal got a screamin' deal on a variety pack of fireworks.  Jonah was thrilled.

Um, hello, guys?  Safety, much?

I knew that Evan would not be very much into the fireworks due to the "scary things after bedtime" aspect of it.  Nathan ended up sitting in the van with him.  And I thought, "oh boy, next year-- three kids out late after bedtime for fireworks!"  We only started going to fireworks at all a couple years ago, and that's only because Jonah became old enough to be aware that such a thing existed.

When we pulled into the driveway at 11:30, we realized that there was a bucket of sunfish in the back still needing attention.  Aaaand the goats still needed milking.  We couldn't just hit the hay after all.  I took care of getting kids to bed and goats fed and milked while the guys set to the fish.

Guess what we're having for supper tonight?

We'll each get just a tiny taste of fresh fish!  Yum!

So my plan today was just to sit around and write a blog post and feed people and do pretty much nothing else.  Okay, I guess I really need to do something about those five loads of laundry waiting to be folded...  But otherwise, nothing.

And then the guys decided to... build the pantry!  Okay, I definitely cannot complain about that.  It meant I had to empty out the existing temporary pantry, which is not such a bad thing, either, considering the amount of crap that has built up in there.  But I had to get off my duff and... do... that.  And now the contents of my pantry are piled all over the kitchen.  But still.  Can't complain.  Am very, very, very excited to be getting a real pantry! 

I'll take it as thanks for all the picnic food I made!