Tuesday, July 20

It's Gone! (It's Back. It's all about the Beds.)

I can't find my upload cord for the camera. Again. This is what I get for cleaning the house. (Update: found it!)

We were busy this weekend. We tagged and sorted things for the church yard sale (on the 24th!) on Friday morning. Then Em and Jase's bed arrived that afternoon. It took five hours, as there was a lot of "help", but we had fun with it, and in the end, we did get the new bed together. They love it! It looks and functions beautifully! Huge hit.
The bedding? Not such a hit. We bought Jase an adorable bugs quilt set. We thought surely he'd love it, with the great colors, and the lovely, whimsical stitching. There are lightning bugs and bugs in jars, and even quilted magnifying glasses with goofy-eyed bugs beneath them. It's just a fun, fun quilt.

No. Not even close. Not only does he not think it's a fun little quilt, he thinks we need to get him a real blanket.

He went so far as to drag John's beat up old pirate comforter down the hall into his room. He dropped it at my feet and muttered, "There. There's a blanket."

I hope he gets over that, because it's quite well-made, and looks like it will last him a long, long time.

EmBaby's lovely quilt arrived yesterday. She likes it just fine, but its arrival was a bit anti-climactic after she'd been sleeping in the new bed for two nights. Still, at least she doesn't hate it. And, it makes us smile to see her wee head poking out from all that quilty flowered cottony goodness at night.
We put Gram's rocking chair in there, too, so there's a place for stories. (The new bunk bed styles seem to be significantly shorter than the old ones - Big People cannot sit upright on the lower bunk. Even the larger of the Littles can't do it. I don't care for that much, at all. But we're loving the rocking chair in there!)

And the steps! Oh, how they *all* love the steps! It's easy to get up and down, we don't have to worry about somebody falling in the middle of the night (disoriented babies trying to get down to go pee don't need to navigate a ladder). We'll have to move the ceiling fan (ugh!) but otherwise, everything's set for a while, in the nursery.
Kiss those babies!

Thursday, July 15

Laughter is love

The kids were squirrelling around the other day, laughing and playing and generally doing their thing, when suddenly I heard, "MOM! You've gotta come SEE this!" So I peeked around the corner, and this is what I saw...

"Aww, that's sweet," I told them. "He's playing peek-a-boo!" The looked at each other, clearly thinking, "What?" No, no. Turns out, Jason was laughing so hard, he drooled. And this is what he drooled. All over my pillow. It must be love, right? The boys thought it was hilarious, and just had to be caught on film.

We should all laugh that hard, eh? (Well, maybe not in public. But he's little. He can get away with it.) And wouldn't it be great if everybody had at least one person in his life to make him laugh that hard? What a lucky life, to have such a happy home! I'm thankful, soggy pillows and all.

Kiss those babies!

Wednesday, July 14

Spirit of America

John and Jacob worked the Raingutter Regatta for their Cub Scout Pack at the Point Mallard Spirit of America celebration on July 4th. So we packed up the crew and headed out, together. Em wore her obligatory wings. And Jase did perk up considerably, once we let him out of the stroller so he could keep up with the rest of the crew.

It was hot-hot-hot, but it was a wonderful time. The Scouts of the Greater Alabama Council had so many different booths set up, from derby cars and pedal cars to water bottle rockets and a rope bridge. We weren't expecting such a great turnout -- it was a very pleasant surprise.

All of the boys who worked in that heat really did their Troops proud, and they made the festival a huge success.

Of course, there was funnel cake, and BBQ. Live music (a particularly spectacular treat, here in the South - we still, five years after arriving here, have not ever heard a poor performance), and hands-on booths.

There were flags and copies of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution available. And we truly did celebrate the Spirit of America. As always, a humbling and recalibrating day.

Kiss those babies!

Sunday, July 11

Ur doing it wrong

As much as we love LOLCats, it's not always fun to feel like we'd be in a picture with that title. When it comes to gardening, we feel like we are quite often. And, looking on the bright side, sometimes, we're not. We canned pickled okra last night (learned a lot), had a good time, and in the end, we've got pickled okra. Yay. We also canned pickled cucumbers. Kind of blew through the learning curve on the okra, so the cucumbers went much more smoothly. I've learned a couple of things about canning this week:

* Only can with someone you love.
* You can pack more in that jar. Really.
* Okra floats. (Well, duh. We knew that. We just didn't put that together with the packing and the liquid until it was too late. And I mean that literally -- it was nearly midnight.)
* Don't make it harder than it has to be. (Applies to a number of things, actually.)
* All Other Kitchen Rules Apply (don't touch the pot without a pot holder, clean as you go to keep your blood pressure down, you get to eat the mistakes, and lick the spoon... whether you want to or not, is another story)

It's been a good gardening season, this year. We have also discovered a new superpower for JackJack , um, I mean Jase. Or, rather, we've found a way to direct his powers for Good. He's very good at pulling things apart, at tearing things open, at throwing things. He's quite detail oriented, and can mangle things for hours on end. So, he's the new bean sheller!

Next year, we'll wait until the beans are dry in the pods before we harvest them, like the professionals suggest. This year, however, we're eating the daylights out of fresh black beans. Soft, sprouted, semi-dried, and partially neglected. I figure by August, we will have figured out at least three completely new ways of eating these things! And, it'll keep Jase busy for the rest of the summer.
EmBaby gets in on the action, too. She prefers the washing and the picking, for actual work, but who doesn't love joining in on the kitchen activity?

This is our third year gardening, here. We've killed a lot of plants. We've grown a lot of weeds. We've tilled significantly more linear feet of soil than we've actually gardened. But, we've also expanded the garden significantly, widened our range of produce, and actually managed to harvest enough food to make a dent! We've figured out where to put what , developed some new trellis schemes, and nailed down the price on Japanese Beetle bounties. Now, to figure out a rotation plan that will work - one entire corner of the garden seems willing to grow only okra, and 18" tall corn stalks.

Sometime this week, I hope to put up pictures of projects the kids have been working on: new compost bin, chicken infirmary, shooting gallery, and American Revolution re-enactment field.

Kiss those babies!

Saturday, July 10

Gardening, Homesteading, Frugality

No, not really. But doesn't that sound like I've been thinking hard, and have come up with something exciting to share? Or maybe more of the same, but couched in new terms!

Nope, sorry. It's about all I can do to keep the kids sorted out with school, plan the next term's work, and start shifting the boxes in the foyer out to the car to be shipped. The fact that the Growing Season is pretty time-sensitive doesn't help much. Not really.

We have no clue what we're doing, as evidenced by our lack of fertilization every. single. year. Or by my recent attempts at growing beans, without figuring out how best to, oh, I don't know, *harvest them*, before we put them in the ground. (Or, hey, even before they ripened! Or maybe just before I pulled them off the plants and *then* tried to figure out how to store them.) On the plus side, our overall disorganization and lack of ability means that most of this year's crop is still, technically, organic. Not Gov't Certified Organic, but Organic in the Way That Most People Really Care That It's Organic. But we don't have a label for that. As a matter of fact, we don't even have labels for the stuff we're putting up for our own pantry.

Which brings me around to the title, and my immense joy that there are Other People who have A Clue, and share their knowledge with us. What a blessing!

I've blown quite a few hours tonight (this morning? The sun should be coming up soon...) reading new blogs that I've thoroughly enjoyed. They seem to offer a blend of humor, honesty, and information that works for me. Perhaps you'll enjoy them, too.

Kathie, at Two Frog Home, has a baking fetish that makes me envy, and a craft fetish that makes me wish I had that genetic pre-disposition (but I don't. So I will continue to hope somebody will pass the quilts along when they are done with them.) Not to mention, she lives in Montana, and I'm pretty sure that's where God retired when He finished creating the world. *sigh* So beautiful!

From Kathie's wonderful Friday Favorites posts, I found this recipe for Tibetan Butter Tea, which I'm going to have to show James in the morning. And then, of course, had to poke around at Gracious Hospitality. But they don't mind me poking around at four in the morning. They're hospitable like that. ;-) (And yes, I am winding down, and it's about time to stop. talking.)

Also, Kathie had linked to the Urban Homestead (now called The Path to Freedom). I'd heard about this family's project, but had not seen the site. Wow! What a source of encouragement! It's amazing what they have done with 1/5 of an acre, and makes me ever more excited about progress on the Forever Home's land. (Caution: it's a little overwhelming, and can be depressing, or at least it was for me, until I realized *they've been at this since 1985!* This doesn't happen overnight! Just keep going, one plant, one corner, one lesson at a time.)

I've added a new category to entries: good neighbors. This will be the posts with links to other blogs or websites that I don't want to lose. It's good to keep up with good neighbors once you've found them.

Kiss those babies!
And, that said, I'm going to save this post.

Good-bye June!

So, after John turned ten, there were ten more days left in June. What'd we do with them? The usual... James worked on perfecting his "dead" look. (I'm not sure why, but there you have it. At least it's a family endeavor - you can see he has enlisted his siblings' assistance. In this case, John acted as cameraman, and EmBaby seems to be, uh, Props Management? Please ignore the background. I'm rethinking our decision not to put doors on their closet...)

Jase has continued his quest for world domination through... practical jokes? (Ha, ha! You thought it was a real frog in your tea! Ha, ha! Hand over the keys to the city!) Or perhaps it's a plan to hatch an army of rubber frogs to do his bidding? Mutant, tea-bathing frogs! Muahahaaa!

EmBaby is doing all she can to stay fresh in the heat. It's hard to be a Southern Lady.

And, we tried out a new bug bite trick, which seems to work beautifully! Take a pen, and draw a circle around the bites. Looks absolutely ridiculous, if you've been hiding in the blackberry patch, but it does seem to offer relief. Some claim panacea. I'm good with that. It still works. I wonder if invisible ink would offer the same benefit without the urge to make constellation patterns and smiley faces?

And that was pretty much it, for June. The garden's coming along. The kids are busy with Scouts. Zorak and I are working the Dave Ramsey as hard as we can. The dogs are eating everything in sight and plotting a way to get to the barn to play with the chicks. Pretty mild summer, so far.

On the blogging front, I fell asleep at 9:30 last night, and awoke, refreshed and somewhat disoriented, at 2:45. I took this opportunity of being alone and awake all at once to upload pictures in batches, and try to plan out a few posts. I feel so... caught up!

Kiss those babies!