Tuesday, October 14, 2014

October Morning

O hushed October morning mild,
Begin the hours of this day slow.
-Robert Frost

I walked in the woods with the dogs this morning.  We were all delighted by the adventure!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Canning (Or - I Spent All Day in the Kitchen)

The girls and I spent about an hour and a half in the garden on Saturday.  The Mexican Bean Beetles destroyed my Fall Horticulture Beans, so we pulled the plants, and after picking all of the beans off of them, bagged them in a trash bag to kill off off the remaining beetles.  We also picked a nice bowlful of Fall Sugar Snap Peas, a few tomatoes, and all of the Jalapeno Peppers.

I spent Sunday afternoon/evening shelling beans and slicing peppers on my mandolin.  Today was canning day.  I had 3 gallon bags of shelled beans in the deep freeze, so all together, I canned 13 quarts and 7 pints of beans.

 I also canned 17 1/2 pints of peppers.  JP will enjoy these on his tacos for the next year!

A Peck of Pickled Peppers

I did find an hour or so between rain showers to paint the Northern eaves of the Chick-bit House,  as well as a litter removal door, before I ran out of paint.

A second window, a door and a litter clean-out door have been added!
On Saturday evening, we went out with Mom & Dad for Indian food to celebrate JP's Birthday.  We came home for cake and ice cream...and candles and cards and singing.

J had another soccer game in the rain on Sunday afternoon.  The good news is, they finally won a game, 3-0!  L said she played in "some sprinkles", and they did not win their game.

Another weekend (and Monday) are gone. 

Still not bored!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Fall Break

Our little Fall Break is going by way too fast!  The girls were out of school yesterday and today for Parent-Teacher Conferences and Teacher In-Service Days.  JP has been off all week to work on building the Chick-bit House (Chicken and Rabbit).  Of course it has rained nearly every afternoon, and they have had to return things to the lumber store several times because the incorrect items were delivered last weekend.  Consequently, things are running behind schedule.

My conference with L's teacher was very nice.  She told me a lot of sweet things about L, and we discussed ways to get her to branch out and read some different books.  We met one of L's friends in the park later in the afternoon to play.  It was interesting to watch her interact with this little girl - her mannerisms and speech changed to imitate the friend!

J had soccer practice in the rain last night, and with the ever decreasing daylight hours, it was nearly pitch black when they packed up!

I got my flu shot this morning,  and have a sore arm tonight.

JP wanted to do something together today, and everyone said they were tired of going to the Museums in the Big City!  We decided (because of rain) to see a movie down South, and hit the Habitat for Humanity Re-Store and Lowe's while we were there.  We watched "The  Boxtrolls" at a different theater and time than originally intended because of traffic and time constraints.  We ended up being the only people in the theater for the entertaining movie.

The Re-Store visit was a bust, and by the time we dragged our sorry behinds into Lowe's we were all pooped.  We did manage to come home with another window and door for the Chick-bit House, but unfortunately not recycled ones.  JP and I carried the girls downstairs to bed, and have been tying up loose ends since then.

Tomorrow Accuweather is promising sunshine.  That would be lovely.

I'll leave you with some pictures of the Chick-bit House construction:

Framing out the structure.

With the outside layer of metal on...the window is from
Re-Store.  The two openings at the bottom of the walls
will be for panels that can be raised to scoop/sweep
litter out of the enclosures.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Essentially Unemployed

Well, I just returned home from a meeting with my employers, and I am now essentially unemployed.  I had been employed per diem, which basically means that I work as they need me, but it had been pretty steady until this past summer.  I have been working less and less over the past several months because of some changes going on.  As of today, I don't have any per diem work to do until possibly November.  I'm not exactly fired, but...I don't exactly have a job to return to later either.  Strange.

I have a couple of options on the table, but I am not sure about the viability of the one, or the desirability of the other at  this point.  Right now I am just sad.  I used to like my job, but lately it has become increasingly frustrating, and now...it's just gone.

I cleared out my few belongings from the office after my meeting, which always makes everything so final.  They are sitting on the dining room table at the moment, until I figure out what to do with stuff.

I think I'll go pull weeds in my flower bed.  Gardening therapy has been successful in the past...

Monday, October 6, 2014

Whirl Wind

We blew right through this weekend...I am just now sitting to take deep breaths and process it all!

I have had one sick girl home for 3 days/week for the past 2 weeks.  That's 6 days out of the last 10 school days!  Luckily it was an upper respiratory virus that they both got, causing fever, headache and sore throat, so they basically laid around and napped, read or watched movies all day (easy!)  Because of that, most of my forays out of the house lately, have been to work, to pick up homework at one or the other school, or to take the dog to the Vet (just a check up!)  Boring.

Thursday afternoon, J was feeling somewhat better, and we decided to take the 20 minute drive through the country to the Apple Orchard.  We came home with the back of the car full of apples, our eyes full of the colors of Autumn, and our lungs filled with plenty of fresh air, but unfortunately it did the poor girl in.  She was back on the couch, napping, within a half hour of our arrival home.

The following day, the workers were scheduled to arrive at 7:30 AM to pour concrete for the new chicken and rabbit house that is currently in the works.  Here is the truck that poured the concrete:

The Green Weenie...?
And here is the freshly poured pad.

There is another one just inside the barn for a future metal shop...all in good time!

While they were still working on the concrete, I got a call from the Coal people.  We had been trying to get them out here with 5 tons of coal since December last year.  We had a dusting of snow the morning they showed up back in December, and apparently they couldn't make it up our hill.  They got up this time, and now we have back-up fuel for the winter.  Hoorah!  No more cutting and stacking wood every weekend while the snow flies!!

Also good for Stocking Stuffers...
As the Coal Man was disappearing down the driveway, I received a phone call from the Auto Clinic Dude, who has had possession of JP's old truck since it left the Muffler Man's care.  After spending $$ there, I no longer needed to wear ear plugs when driving the truck, but it still barely ran.  Auto Clinician was able to get it "purring like a kitten" (his words).

So it was that I stopped in the middle of making applesauce at about 2 PM, and hitched a ride into town with my Mom to pick up the truck (and more homework!)  On our way down the driveway, we encountered someone coming up (not a common occurrence on the hill!)  This happened to be the brother of a gentleman who supplied our load of long wood that we cut and stacked all winter.  He had promised us another load back in the Spring, but unfortunately, he passed away unexpectedly in the summer.  His brother told us that he had been driving around, trying to find the place where the wood was expected - he is planning on following through with his brother's unfinished business!

I finished the 24 pints of Secret Ingredient Applesauce later that afternoon, folded 3 loads of laundry, and packed a small bag for a get-away with my girlfriends.

My friend and I left town at 7 AM Saturday morning, and arrived at State College about 3 hours later, where we met another friend who now lives about 3 hours in the other direction.  We found a lovely spot for brunch, where we had crepes and delicious mocha, then walked around the town, shopping for several hours.  We had dinner at a lovely establishment, and then retired to our hotel room for more chatting, resting and recovering.  We lingered over an early breakfast the next morning, and then took off for home, where Soccer Sunday was happening whether we liked it or not!

I arrived home just as JP and J were leaving for her game over an hour North.  I just had time to make a thermos of cocoa to warm L up after her game before she and I had to leave for her game 30 minutes East.

Since soccer, I have been doing laundry, and in general catching up on what I normally do over the weekend!  Both girls will be back to school on Monday morning (hoorah), and JP will be home to get started on the chicken/rabbit...chick-bit?...house.  I will be here and there, continuing the catch up process, working in the garden (have I mentioned the enormous crop of potatoes?), and helping when & where I can.  It is back to soccer practice and music lessons, but I feel rejuvenated.  Plus...it's a short week, SO doable after some that we've already been through!

This is maybe 1/2 of the potatoes I dug this year...
2 milk crates full are now stored in the garage for winter!

Let's go, Team Poplar Ridge!!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Helicopter Parenting

Ok, so we've all been guilty of hovering over our children at one time or another.  It is only natural, especially with the first one, to be concerned about the well being of your prodigy.  I remember having dreams, when I was enormously pregnant with J, of leaving my baby, still in her carrier, in stores that I normally frequented.  It is a horror that no parent ever wants to experience - losing your child.

An article that I read recently really made me think more on this subject of parenting styles.  (You can read it here.)  The article discusses a unique playground in Europe, and the importance of experimenting and play in children.  Basically, it states that since today's children are so heavily supervised by their parents, and have big portions of their lives scheduled for them, they are becoming "less emotionally expressive...less imaginative, less unconventional...less perceptive..."

It is true that I was raised much differently than how my children are raised.  I remember spending hours on my own exploring outside.  My mother commented recently (at J's soccer game) that they didn't have these kinds of organized sports when I was growing up.  I did take piano lessons after school though, as did my middle brother for a time...before he became interested in other instruments.

I think I tend to spend less time playing WITH my children than do many of my friends.  This is a fact that frequently makes me feel guilty, but it seems that my children ENJOY going off and exploring on their own outside...just like I used to do.  True, since we live on a mini-farm in the country, that is safer and easier for them to do than their peers who live in town.  This doesn't lessen their pleasure (or mine) when I do sit down to play with them. 

They do have a giant portion of their lives scheduled right now:  school for 7 hours, soccer practice during the week & games on the weekend, music lessons and practice during the week, etc.  These are things they CHOSE to do and ENJOY doing, and so (even though I might complain mightily at times) I try to make it possible for them to do.

Is that the difference then - that we want our kids to have it all, so we go to great lengths to give them the opportunity?  Didn't my parents want the best for me as well?  So, society has changed.  It seems that there are many more Sickos out there, which is scary.  But (knock on wood) the only major injury that my child has suffered has been a fractured pinky finger...and that happened at school!

My mantra has been:  "Not on MY watch!"  If hovering over my kids keeps them safe, then that is important.  I wonder though, if they would be fine regardless?  I can fervently say that my children are astoundingly expressive, imaginative, unconventional and perceptive.  They are relatively healthy (ok, L is home sick for the 2nd day with a fever and sore throat, but I blame that on Public School!)  They are growing up with a freedom similar to one that I grew up with, and for that I am extremely thankful.  The only thing that I would change, in the end, is maybe trusting them a bit more with the things that scare me:  knives, fire (ummm...maybe not, considering the bathroom fire earlier this week), firearms, staying home alone...with limits, of course.  When they complain that they "haven't had a chance to play ALL DAY!", send them outside.  I keep forgetting that they are not small adults, how silly of me!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

How to Start a Fire

One of the girls (and I am not sure WHICH one) did a little experiment with conductivity this morning.

The experiment involved the handle of a Chinese take-out box, a night light, and an electrical outlet.

Needless to say, the result was a small explosion. 

Quite exciting for the frenzied moments before school!