Wednesday, March 30, 2011

These Days...

I don't think I really have anything profound to share today, or maybe not anything to say at all, other than to share a few cute photos.
My energy has been, um, limited lately (and now you know why!), thus the sparseness of my blog posts.  (But you will notice that I finally updated my masthead for spring!  No more snowflakes!)

I have a list about three miles long of things I would like to get done.  I really should start a baby book for Evan, since I'll be extra behind when the newest little person arrives. (I did actually buy supplies!  And got a good deal on a nice scrapbook album, too!)  I have curtains to be made, trim to be painted (it's bugging me!), spring cleaning to tackle, and I want to paint this big front door that is a wretched shade of green.  And it won't be long until we're outside all the time and I won't want to be doing projects in the house.

At least, I hope it won't be long.  It's almost April, and still too cold to do much out there.  There's no end in sight as far as the forecast goes, either.  I'm so ready for some sun and warmth.

I'll just have to live with the dirt-eating.

So if I'm too tired to sew, paint, clean and paint, I'm certainly too tired to cook, clean, and of all things, do laundry.

Good thing I have helpers.


Actually, Jonah is turning into a fantastic helper.  It still takes a lot of creative motivation on my part, but he's extremely capable.  For some reason, I tend to forget that I can ask him to do certain things.  I'll be going along, completely overwhelmed by my to-do list for the day that only includes basic necessities, and then suddenly remember that I have this capable helper.  "Hmmm... what can I give Jonah from my list?" And as long as I present it right, and I'm working alongside him, he can really help me a lot.

Evan, well, he "helps" by emptying laundry baskets and the dishwasher (onto the floor) and hanging onto my pants as I move around.  He's also turning into a first-rate vacuum cleaner!  Who needs to take a broom to that kitchen floor?  Not me!

Sigh.  It's a good thing that babies usually survive their first year one way or another.

(Oh, stop-- don't look so horrified!  I'm being facetious.  Mostly.)

Right now, I wish I didn't have to make food.  I told Nathan (and am now shamelessly reporting it here!) that I wish I were at Mom's house (or could go whenever I wanted to) because there's always good stuff to eat there and I usually don't have to make it.  (Sorry, Mom.  It's... true.)

And believe me, right now I pretty much have to eat nonstop.  At least, it seems that way.  Pregnancy and nursing (of a baby who's not eating very much solid food, yet) at the same time requires a hurkin' lot of calories and nutrition on my part.  Yikes.  I actually love to eat and I love good food, but this is a bit much, especially when I have to think of things to make.  I just don't even know what to cook!  Can't think of anything, and don't feel like spending time in the kitchen.  It's so much easier to cook when there's stuff in the garden, and it's gonna be a while till then...

But I must be doing okay, 'cause this kid doesn't look like he's wasting away, does he?

And everyone usually has clean clothes to wear, even if they have to dig them out of a laundry basket.  And we do lots of snuggling and reading on the couch.  And no one's perished of dust-inhalation.  And there's usually something to eat, even if it's just cheese and yogurt and apples.  So... we'll make it.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

He Was Once My Baby...

But now...

...he's almost...

...a man.

(That's how they're hauling maple sap in from the woods, by the way.   They go about a quarter of a mile on the road that way.   And when Jonah came in, he was a little cold, so he warmed some milk on the stove and made some hot cocoa.  All by himself.)

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Snapshot: Sunday Fun with Daddy

Jonah has been begging Daddy to help him polish his shoes.  That's right, my friends-- this is what we do for fun.

The did have fun, though.

"Spit, Jonah, spit!"

 Later, we took a walk, which was probably more fun that polishing shoes.  We put Evan in the backpack and Daddy led us on a good long tromp through the fields and woods.

Evan had a nice fresh-air nap...

...which he finished in the house.

He's had a stuffy nose lately and has had trouble sleeping lying down.  Now we know what to do about that...

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Enter With Thanksgiving

I always regret the times that something comes to me and I don't write it immediately. It always leaves.  So clever, or thoughtful, I'm sure it will stay, but it doesn't.  So I guess I should write this while it's in my head.  A touchy subject in some ways, but write I must.

Before Jonah turned two, I miscarried a baby.  It was the hardest and most heartbreaking thing I had been through in my life thus far.  Yes, I am young, and no doubt have far worse ahead in store for me (a morbid thought, for sure, but one that I can never get far from), but up to that point, that was the worst.  After three months of pregnancy, I was quite joyfully attached and so glad that my two-year-old would have a sibling.  I, myself, have 6 siblings, and just can't imagine life without them.  I've always loved being in a big family, and have always wanted to have a big family myself.

I know miscarriage is very common, though often un-discussed.  It happens to most child-bearing women, as I was often reminded, but that didn't make it easier for me.  I was just so very, very sad.  I grieved.  Sadness and grief come too easily to me, and are hard to shake.  I tend to feel the pain of this broken world acutely. I had lots of comfort, but the sadness stayed for quite a while.  I wanted nothing more than to be pregnant again right away and have a baby in my arms.  But there was nothing.  No new baby.

Over the years that followed, I had much to mull over and pray about.  (Aside:  yes, granted, in the long scheme of things, those few years wasn't really that long a time, but I'm a very efficient whiner.)  "What if I never have another baby? What if I don't have that big family?  What if this one little boy and the baby in heaven are all I get?"  Maybe that seems silly-- I'm still young and as Nathan reminded me, "There's still time for us to have 11 more."  I laughed and said I wasn't sure I wanted quite that many, and he just shook his head, bemused at how hard to please I am.

I had to accept the idea.  The idea of having an "only child."  I adjusted my expectations, slowly and painfully.  Contentment eventually followed, but it was a long, hard road.  But I did accept it.  I learned to be thankful.  I changed the mental picture of my family-- "Daddy and Mommy and Jonah."  We were so blessed and our life was good and I really had nothing to complain about and God was providing for us and in complete control of our lives.  I could breathe again, content.

And then, in complete surprise, came Evan.  Our cup ran over.  My contentment stretched even bigger to contain the joy I had let go of hoping for.  I admit that it was a hard adjustment, paradoxically.  It had been quite a while since I'd had a baby, and so much had happened in my mind in that time.  It's funny how our minds and bodies internalize events and emotions and turn them into things we don't expect.  While I was pregnant with Evan, I had a hard time with not feeling very attached and committed.  It was almost eerie... it just really wasn't the same as my previous pregnancies.  I think I had somehow turned some switch to "off" and then couldn't find it to toggle back on.  In learning to be content with no new baby, I made it hard to accept one when he was given to me.  Of course, I was in love with him when he was born, and my joy and contentment have grown ever since.

In the months since Evan was born, I've become so absorbed in my sweet little family dynamic.  The joys and challenges consume my days; sleep deprivation, my nights.  But I've never known contentment so rich.  I thought back on the lessons I had learned before and interpreted it in my mind in this way: if I never have another baby now, I am so very content and thankful.  I'll be fine.

Oddly, the, um, alternative to that didn't actually occur to me.

One of the things I had thought of after the miscarriage was, "I'd rather have babies 'too close together' than not at all."  Oh, sweet irony, how quickly we forget the lessons we learn.

You'll imagine my surprise when I recently discovered that Evan will be a big brother much sooner than I had ever planned.

So absorbed was I in my daily life that I didn't even know about it for the first two months.  Denial, it ain't just a river.  And when I finally had to face the facts?  I am ashamed to admit that joy was not the first emotion that surfaced.  It was not my finest hour.  Thankfully, I have wonderful people in my life who can set me straight-- remind me of the things I learned before, share similar experiences, reassure me and point me in the right direction.   Nathan is nothing but sweet-- happy and thankful with no reservations.

It's been an adjustment in my thinking.  I'm just so overwhelmed by the very recent memory of just having done this. (That "amnesia" thing?  Takes a while to set in, I think.)  It wasn't very long ago.  I just did this.  I have a baby, right now, who consumes all I have, by my human estimation.   There is certainly joy there, but it's all mired in so many other things that it's hard to sort it all out.

This is just a classic case of, as my Dad likes to say, "Man proposes and God disposes."  In every instance I've related here, and many I haven't, I've had my plans, and God had others.  A dear friend pointed out to me that it's all about my learning this one lesson, and I'm just not getting it-- I am not in control.

Would I rather have this baby now, or no more?  Not to say I have to make that choice, but maybe "later" is not an option.  How am I to know?  Am I God?  Does He not know what is best for me, He who made me?  Did I have any control at all, those years of longing for a baby?  (Oh believe me, I tried.)  Why should I have it now?

And why, oh, why, is it so easy for me to forget this most basic and all-encompassing lesson:  children are a blessing.  "The heritage of the Lord."  When did I loose sight of that, of all things? Because it's true.  God sent me this baby and will give me the strength I need.  And joy, too.  Babies bring a lot of joy just by default.  Think of how fun this will all be a year, two years, ten years from now.  It'll be amazing.

And really, despite all my complaining, all my grousing about how hard and unfair life is and how "nothing ever goes my way", the truth is that I have gotten my way.  What have I always wanted to be? (Well, aside from planning to be a veterinarian which... phew.  So glad that didn't work out.)  A wife and mother.  And what am I?  Yeah.  Me?  Really?  It's actually amazing when I think about it. I'm such an ungrateful wretch that I often take these things for granted.  I should complain less and praise more!

I've been slow to talk and write about this because I'm still praying and sorting it through in my own mind.  The shock is taking a extra time for digestion.  But it comes over me, more and more each day: I am so very blessed.

Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands.
Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing.
Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, 
and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: 
be thankful unto him, and bless his name.
For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; 
and his truth endureth to all generations.
Psalm 100

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Schooling vs. Education

This video is fantastic.  I've been learning about education lately, and this just nailed it for me.  Please, please, just watch it.  All 7 parts are about an hour long and it's just so great.  It's not so much about a method of education, but rather about the way people learn and our perception of education versus its reality.

Here's a link:

Here's the video:

Friday, March 11, 2011

Yes Day

We have cabin fever.  The worst. Miserable.  Yes, spring is coming.  But it's not here, cuz we're still stuck in the house.  It's still too cold and windy to spend much time outside.  We went and tramped around in the field a couple days ago because I just couldn't stand it any more.  But when the wind came up and Evan started sucking breath, we had to bring our snotty noses back inside.  I'm tired of bopping around this box all day with an endless stream if toys and clutter and laundry and dishes.  Guh.  I long to be outside all day.

I recently heard about something called "Earthing."  Yes, it's for real.  It seemed a little crazy to me at first, but the more I thought about it, the more I think that's why my sanity deteriorates so quickly in the winter, in spite of all the cod liver oil I take.  My feet have not touched the ground in months.  The premise of this is that we are made to absorb the natural energy frequencies from the earth, and many people never even touch the ground with their bare skin.  It makes sense to me.  I always anticipate going out barefoot in the spring.  To me, it's like and electric shock, but pleasant and addictive.  I look forward to it.  In fact, just thinking about it makes me want to do it, but the snow and wind is a bit of a deterrent.  I'm convinced that this is half my problem.  Lacking sunshine on my skin is the other half.  I actually want to buy or make a grounding device to help get me through the winter.

I'm trying to cope, but I'm loosing my grip.  The boys are bored.  It doesn't help that Evan is teething miserably slowly and nothing pleases him at all.  I've been getting out toys that I've had stashed away that the boys have not seen.  We read, a lot.  We've been watching Jacques Cousteau documentaries.  (Yes, actually.)

Today, we had a "yes day".  I said "yes" to pretty much everything. 

Make a boat with an egg carton?  Absolutely. 

Test it in the bathtub?  Sure thing. (Actually that turned into a fun "science" project in which we try to see how much stuff we could balance on the carton before it sunk.  Fun!  Educational!  Distracting!)

Popcorn for lunch?  Why not, let's do it.

Deep sea diving in the bathtub all afternoon?  Yep.  (Wait, snorkeling with a straw?  Um, sure, but only under supervision.)

Sit and rock in the rocking chair to avoid the screaming?  Do I have a choice?  

I also said "yes" to myself about ice cream for a snack and online shopping for diaper covers and reading blogs all afternoon.

Maybe I'm not being productive today, but I'm not tying up my kids, either.  And they're having some fun.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


A couple of years ago, we got some apples pressed into cider, and I decided to try brewing hard cider.  We loved it!  Well, I pretty much always prefer a good beer, but this is much cheaper for us.  So last fall, I again made hard cider and we've been enjoying it all winter, with more still aging in the basement.  But I also decided to try another experiment-- cyser.  Cyser is also called "apple mead".  Mead is a fermented drink made with honey, and cyser is made with apple cider and honey.  It takes a  good long time to ferment, and then there's the fact that I am lazy and tend to procrastinate, so I just got around to bottling it today.

I made one batch with just apple juice and honey from our Amish neighbor just over the field.  To the other batch, I added some fox grape juice I had made with wild grapes I had the good fortune of finding (and beating the birds to!) near the compost pile.

We tasted a little before bottling.  Nathan likes it quite well, but I think it is lacking a bit in flavor.  It fermented quite dry, and is pretty strong.  It has a winey flavor, especially the grape version, and a slight taste of honey and apple.  But there's more of an alcohol kick than there is flavor, I think.  But it's still good and drinkable and I call it a successful first try!  (And lets face it, I'm just partial to dark beer and Italian wine...)  When I bottled it, I added some fresh ginger to one of the apple bottles, and a cinnamon stick and a few whole cloves to another.  Perhaps that will provide the flavor I'm looking for.    In one of the grape bottles, I also added a bit more honey to see if I can come up with a sparkling version.

I guess I have a bit of an addiction to fermentation.  The surprise of the results is always so fun (or not... one of my vinegar bottles developed some mold, and one from a couple years ago smells like vomit...) and usually delicious.  Hey speaking of that, I think I have some beer ingredients around... I should go start a batch.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Drop Dead Gorgeous

 These boys of mine...

It's almost too much for me.

 Those eyes... does it go... "deep, limpid pools of..." something.

They're sweet.

 They're funny.

Long, dark lashes; dimples; freckles; missing teeth.

I can't take any credit.  I'm just so deeply blessed.

They slay me everyday.

Slay me, I tell you.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Good, The Bad, and The Awesome

The good new is that February is over.

The bad news is that it's March.

Winter is not my thing.  People have been known to try to talk me out of this by pointing me toward reading, sweaters, tea, beautiful snow, blahblahblah.  I say I don't need 5 months of butt-freezing winter to enjoy those things.  Two months would be more than enough.

So it's always about this time that I'm ready to pack up and head for Hawaii at a moment's notice.  Can you believe that my husband tells me "no"???  How dare he?  Who does he think he is, anyway?

He is sweet to put up with my incessant crabbiness, though.

So I turn my mind toward cooking.  Make food.  Eat.  Isn't that what we do to feel better about life, the universe and everything?

Jonah and I went out to the barn and rooted through the chest freezer.  I don't actually do that often because a) it's all the way out in the barn and b) it's a chest freezer and trying to find anything in there make me wantee screamee.  In my mind, this freezer is full of nothing but ground venison and frozen corn.  I actually found some treasures, like pork loin and venison roast and duck bones for stock and frozen peaches from three years ago.

So tonight we're having pizza.


But tomorrow, after I pick up some veggies at the farm store, we'll have pork stir-fry with peanut sauce!  And another night we'll have spice-crusted roast and roasted root veggies.  Perhaps tonight I'll toss a peach cobbler in the oven, my servings of which I will douse in cream.  Hey, speaking of cream, Nathan just got some eggs from the Amish, so I need to make creme brulee.  Oh, and there's a pot of garbanzos going on the stove for hummus.  And I think we're almost out of bread.

Also, a friend hooked me up with the most amazing tea I've ever had in my life.  Like this and this and this.  Wow.  Amazing.  My tea addiction just went up to a whole new level.

Okay, now for The Even More Awesome.

I'm finally reaping the rewards of living through Camp Mommy Sleep Hazing.  At just about 8  months old, Evan is finally in a good sleep routine.  Now that I think of it, I maybe shouldn't tell you about it, because I will then be a sitting duck for an epic smack-down.

But I guess I'll take the chance.  Three things have helped:  white noise, bed separation, and (another!) neck adjustment.  His neck seems to be key, and I think (hope! pray!) that it has held for good this time.  Of course, every time he bonks his head, which is several times per day, I'm sure it's going to go out again, but I'm really praying that won't be the case.  Since these things, we've had some excellent nights, some okay nights, and a couple not-so-good nights which were made more tolerable by being in separate rooms.

So now, no protest when it's time to lay down, two good and predictable naps each day, bedtime at a Very Reasonable Hour, and only 1-3 wakings per night, with an average of 2.

So.  Sleep and food.  The only other thing most basic to life (besides love, which we gots, too)  is Sunshine On My Skin, and it is March, so I just can't have everything.