Wednesday, April 21

It's... um, Wednesday, right?

Right. OK, cool. That means we'll have to leave the house before five (yes, we've become Baseball Vampires, only emerging from our cave for practices and games, at twilight - not as romantic as some might imagine). But today? Today we make the rounds: Egg Lady, Farmer's Market, Veggie Stand, and then to the store for whatever we can't get, there; music lessons, and a side trip for some art study, as well. Then, off to batting practice for John. I wish the crockpot fairy had come during the night.

So far this week, we've had a lovely blend of gardening and land management, academics, and good old fun. I wish I'd thought to jot down the things the kids have said this week, because they've kept me in stitches. Granted, that makes it harder to stay focused. But they're a lot of fun.

Animal Control came by yesterday to pick up three stray puppies that had decided they really wanted to be ours. They were adorable. They were also, unfortunately, much like the Chubb Chubbs, but without the loyalty factor. Or the hope of staying small. They were cute and playful and sweet, with jaws of steel and a vicious street thug attitude when it came to food and other dogs. Presumably, that 'tude extends to small children that carry beef jerky, or are slathered in yogurt. We didn't wait to find out. Thuggery won't fly here, I don't care how cute you are. So, yay, they're gone. I also learned that if you have a stray hanging around for more than ten days, even if it's off and on, it's considered "yours" if you're the one that calls, and you have to sign over rights to it before they'll haul it away. Since it took us a week to figure out they were definitely strays, and then we spent another few days trying to find a home for them, Animal Control Guy said they were mine. Wild.

The boys' music books have completely disappeared. I'm not sure if it's a quiet protest, or just a hard-core case of brain fuzz. The boys seem as baffled as I am, though.

And, since I just don't think I'll ever get around to doing an actual Anniversary Post, it was our Anniversary. Back on the 11th. We celebrated with new plants for the Forever Home, and steaks on the grill at home. It's kind of exciting, not having to buy things like wiring and PVC glue, anymore. Very exciting, to be doing it together. The kids think we're weirdos right now (James and Jacob were angling for a trip to the Longhorn Steakhouse!), but hopefully they'll get it when they're married, and will enjoy strong, happy marriages, whatever they look like and however they celebrate. That's the goal, anyway.

Aaaaaand, we're off and running!
Kiss those babies!

Sunday, April 18

We're on the road...

Oh, it's been a crazy-busy weekend. Even by Baseball Season standards, yesterday was a blur that I'm still not able to think about. And although we'll slow back down for the rest of the week, it's still a bit busy. On the road we travel, Baseball Season weekends are a detour down a side road with good company, nice scenery, and bad food. Come tomorrow, though, it's back to our regular road...
To scientific advancement,

Mathematical mastery,
Literary prowess,
and, evidently, Shambala.

Kiss those babies!

Thursday, April 15

In the tea garden

The tea garden survived the winter. The boys are working with the lemon balm, here. The pineapple sage returned quite beautifully, as did the bee balm. They're so excited!!

Wonder what else we could put in there? What would you plant in a tea garden?

Kiss those babies!

Wednesday, April 14

On Changes, Food

Ok, so Emily and Mere wanted to know more about the nutritional changes we're making. (But y'all need to share yours, too! Learning is more fun, together!)

I'll be upfront: I hate change. Really, I do. Sometimes, it's necessary, and good. Then, I can handle, at times, even embrace it. Most of the time, people want change for the sake of change, with no regard to whether it's a change for the better. When that gets foisted upon me, I loathe it even more. That's what re-arranging the furniture, or coloring your hair, is for. Not for major life changes.

So, when we do decide to change things up around here, it's usually done with a fair amount of thought, research and planning before hand. That's not to say we have all the answers. We're pretty sure we don't even have most of the questions yet. It just means we've taken stock and decided that, for this house, and this family, at this point, this is what we're going to do. And sometimes, in case those aren't enough qualifiers, we don't end up able or willing to pull it off at all. Yep, just drop your pocket change in the therapy jar as you enter the foyer.

One last caveat, so that nobody confuses me with a "professional" in any sense of the word, I'm a gleaner. Gleaning has saved people from dying off, and from making poor choices whole hog, for centuries. Any process that provides that much consistent return is worth looking into. So, when I say I get a lot of insight from Nourishing Traditions, (and I do!) that doesn't mean you'll be able to pry the pressure cooker from my cold, dead (and potentially malnourished, since I keep using the danged thing) hands. I still believe the pressure cooker is the procrastinator's crock pot, a little technological gift from God so that we don't have to choose between eating our food raw and not eating at all. (Yeah, I know, Jess, but I will probably always cook at least some of my food. Love me where I'm at, right? *grin*) Gleaning means that I get why that's not the best way to go about getting food on the table, and I'm willing to work toward an ideal. Or to incorporate those bits that seem to mesh with the above mentioned legwork, meow meow, study, meow family. Meow. (tried to find a link to Daniel Striped Tiger's talking, inserting "meows" in, here and there, but, um... wow. the word "meow" has been taken to an HNL in the past few years. no video for you!)

So, the nutritional changes, we've actually been making slowly over the last year or so. It began with raw milk, spread to soaked grains, moved on to my quirky affair with kefir, and so on. Then, due to logistics, we let the raw milk slide. Life has a way of not letting things slide, however, even when you think it'd be easier to do so. And this was no exception.

John's had a bit of health trouble the last six months or so. We got most of it ironed out, except one: stomach pain. We checked the wheat, we tracked his diet, we flipped his mattress, upped his water, tested eighty gallons of blood, blah-blah-blah. The kid's been a tough little lab rat the past six months, lemme tell ya. Then, one day, while a friend lovingly let me freak out to her about scheduling a visit with a neurologist, it hit me: in John's nine years on earth, the ONLY time he's been free of stomach pain has been when he was on raw milk. That includes the wheat-free years. He's never been free of stomach pain. He had a lovely reprieve last spring, and then, *bam* it was back. Right when we went back to store-bought milk. Hmmm.

So, we found a closer source. We got him spooled back up last week, and within 72 hours, the stomach pains diminished significantly. Within another 24 after that, gone. From 3-4 episodes a day, to nothing, in a week. Guess what's going on our regular grocery list, now? We've made some other changes, too - not all at once, but bit-by-bit.

~ We're pretty much a juice-free home, now. Zorak occasionally buys orange juice. But I don't schedule it into our regular diet. The kids eat fresh fruit several times a day, and they drink water both at meals and throughout the day. They have access to the milk whenever they want, as well.

~ I've cut my coffee consumption exponentially (not exaggerating), replacing that with water, as well.

~ We've moved our Big Meal of the day to an earlier spot in the day, and added in a few smaller, but more intentional meals.

~ We eat breakfast and lunch outside, whenever possible. The atmosphere can't be beat!

~ Oat groats, instead of rolled oats, go farther, are more filling, and have more nutrition. Larger upfront investment, if you buy through a co-op, but an enormous savings, overall - not just financially, but in health benefits, too.

The savings from eliminating juice (and other peripheral beverages), and reducing the coffee consumption, alone, freed up money to spend on local, free-range chicken eggs and fresh, thick, clean milk.

And some changes aren't changes. They're things we've always done, and still feel are the best choice for our home. We still use lard. We still eat meat - red meat, white meat, wild game, you name it. We still have pintos (or some kind of bean) available every day. I've got the boys convinced lentils are cool, but they're relegated to lunchtime only because Zorak thinks they're puny and lacking in body, much preferring the noble pinto. We skimp on junk food and keep a good supply of veggies in the fridge.

The boys are cooking with us more, too. Now that Jase can get up onto the counter and back down, he's pretty, erm, "involved". Em dons her fairy wings and mixes or pours. James made a fantastic guacamole to go with lunch, today. They made a dutch baby (new recipe) and a recipe for German pancakes the other day for breakfast (they did a comparison - and the verdict is, it's the same thing. We ate it all.) Jacob's venturing into the kitchen for a little one-on-one, and learning the ropes as he goes. These are always excellent kitchen happenings!

I'm sure there's more we can do. Probably more we will do. But right now, for this home, and this family, at this point, this is a good place to be.

Kiss those babies!

Life with the JakeRabbit

A quick catch-up on the kids, starting with Jacob. Since he vetoed "Smidge", we've taken to calling him JakeRabbit - no, he doesn't have big ears, or fleas, or a pink nose. He does, however, have an astounding ability to zip around with boundless energy, amazing (if occasionally selective) hearing, and a pretty powerful bounce. It doesn't seem possible, but there he is, reading nutrition labels and bedtime stories to EmBaby, hanging at the ball fields like he knows what he's doing, cracking funny jokes, and cleaning up - when necessary - like he's not being raised by wolves. This is our third time through having a six-year-old, and I think we're finally able to enjoy it, quirks and all. (Reminder to self: thank James and John for breaking us in fairly gently, and loving us through the learning curve.) JakeRabbit, however, is a riot.

He rocked the Hot Dog Sale for Cub Scouts this year. We don't even pretend to sell popcorn, so the boys work both of the weekday shifts of the sale, the Pack's only other fund raiser, to make up for that. Another perk of homeschooling - flexible days! He hung with his brothers, putting in two 7-hr days without so much as a whimper or a faked injury. His domain was the hot dog machine, itself. Yep, heavy equipment operator meets gourmet chef! Looking at this picture, I find myself wondering at what point a hair net is required?
You see, he's trying to grow out his hair, because all (er, well, one or two) of the boys he looks up to have long hair. I'm having a hard time keeping a straight face about it. See, he feels Big, doing this. And, really, it's not a hill I want to die on. He's still polite and sweet, and clean (or, at least when we go into town, he is clean). But his hair... it's curly... and thick... and there's a LOT of it. And, I'm sorry, but when left to its own devices, he looks an awful like like a very young Albert Brooks. The guy who cut his hair last actually recommended we use "product". On a six-year-old. And the sad part? We tried it. It kind of worked, but by the end of the day, the entire back of his head had begun to grow, like those sponge animals in gelatin capsules. Thank God it wasn't humid that day! Also thankful for baseball caps...
He's playing ball again this year. He's enjoying it. He's actually pretty good at it, too. He can run. He can catch. He can throw pretty well. He's figuring out how to hit (it's coach pitch this year, rather than machine pitch). But you know what? He says he's not playing again next year. There's a certain sad irony in knowing that the only one of our kids they're going to *want* to continue playing really just isn't that into it. He does, however, give it his all when he's out there! Can't ask for more than that. He encourages EmBaby in her efforts, too, which is adorable and endearing, and buys him a certain latitude, I'm sure.
So, all-in-all, it's shaping up to be a Great Year for Smidge, er, JakeRabbit. He's winding up first grade. He'll eat pintos, now, without needing too much extra cheese. He's got a dog he loves. And a family that loves him. Not a bad way to spend the year. We're so lucky to have a JakeRabbit.

Kiss those babies!

Monday, April 12

Back to Basics

A few changes in the works, here. First, I'm abandoning Photoshop. It may be a fantastic program, but it requires time, patience, and an uninterruptedness that I simply haven't got at the moment. My feelings on this are along the same lines as on curriculum choices - The best program in the world won't matter if it sits on the shelf. So, back to Picasa, which has pretty much everything I need. (And what I need is to get pics available to Granny more often, for one thing! And to blog more often, for another.) So, here we are...
The weather is gorgeous, and it looks like we might actually make a little headway on the land, this year! So far, we've put in a blueberry stick (bush, eventually, but right now, shyeah, it's a stick), two raspberries, a blackberry (all sticks), and two cherry trees (actual trees - they make the sticks look even more pathetic). There are two fig sticks awaiting transplant, and Zorak did a little tilling in the garden, too!

EmBaby is still in charge of major defoliation projects, but she's agreed to stick to things that won't bear fruit, eventually. And, the apple and pear trees seem to be up and running for this year. We're hoping to avoid the June drop with proper thinning on the pears, and really just tossing Hail Marys at the apples. Not much else we can do, with them.

Some other changes we're making around the the Old Shack are educational - back to basics; nutritional - again, back to basics; philosophical - back to... hey, do you see a pattern here?

And so far, we're enjoying the changes!
Kiss those babies!
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Monday, April 5

Morning Comes Early

Jase got up incredibly early this morning. He came in and climbed all over us. We chased him out. He came back with a cookie and climbed all over us. Zorak chased him out. He came back a third time, with a cup, and climbed all over us. From under a pillow, I heard Zorak mumble, "He's an aggravating little cuss, isn't he?"

We had a busy, wonderful, fantastic Easter weekend. There just wasn't enough Sleep. There are pictures, but they're on the upstairs computer. (Zorak and I take turns on the Siberian exile station, down here in the basement - this computer is terribly slow, but I suspect come August, we'll be elbowing one another down the stairs, vying for time in the coolest spot in the whole house!)

We're enjoying a somewhat freakish warm, dry spell this week. Of course, I use "enjoy" in its loosest manner. Mainly, we're willing to take any temperature, as long as the humidity stays fairly low. After that, all bets are off and I'll be counting down the days to November.

And now, I must either get to work on some Velcro footie pajamas for Jason, or get to bed so Morning doesn't feel like it comes quite so early tomorrow!

Kiss those babies!