Thursday, December 2, 2010

If only...

they were always this peaceful! When I left them for nap they were each in their own bed. After they'd been quiet for a while I checked and found this-

When I went to wake Meryl, I found this-

Monday, November 22, 2010

End of a Season

Avery's soccer season has come to a close. It was our most successful organized sport thus far. It was fun to watch her run and smile with abandon. No self-consciousness, just a focus on the job that needed to be done. But then she'd break into a skip during a lull in the action. Avery doesn't smile like this all the time.
The right time and place for aggression.

Battling the same kid, who also happens to be a friend.

Her coach was amazing. Personal emails after every game telling us how awesome Avery is! Very intense but enthusiastic and positive. I think maybe every parent got a personal email in addition to the group email!

Finley and Meryl enjoying the final game! The slept through the entire thing.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Indian Summer?

Bring it on! The weather is amazing today. Shorts and tee's all the way! Finley trying to steal some of Cheo's ice cream.

Finley, Cheo, Alden and Meryl

Maybe I need to get these girls some friends their own age? Nah....

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Nickled and Dimed and Fed Up!

My children attend public school. PUBLIC. As in Free for All. But it is so damn expensive. Just this week-

-Food Pantry Day- If you bring in at least 3 boxes of cereal you can wear face paint to school. That's 12 boxes of cereal! Just so my kids can paint ($3 for face paint!) their faces like everyone else.

-Pennies for Books- On Monday you bring in lots of pennies. On Tuesday you bring in lots of nickles, on Wednesday, dimes, Thursday quarters and on Friday, you see where this is going, bills only. The class that brings in the most money gets to have their photo taken with the Assistant Principal dressed like Pippi Longstocking. Yeah, well. Except she weighs about 300lbs, so not exactly Pippi Longstocking. On that one the kids had to use their own money, thank you very much.

On Saturday we skipped the school "carnival" where it was encouraged that each student buy tickets in advance. $100 per kid being the recommended amount so they can participate in many of the activities.

You can't opt out of the book fair because it takes place during the school day when the kids attend library! Heck- Didn't we just send in "pennies" to buy books for said library? Again, I refused and the kids had to use their birthday money.

Sadly, the Friday night Pasta Dinner sold out before I got tickets. Boo-hoo. This is a fundraiser for the 5th grade. Generous tips are appreciated for the servers since the meal *only* costs $7 per person. I've heard parents dropping $100 bills for their children to serve them over cooked pasta. Jeez, it's about time the kids did some of the work!

Instrument rental is about $250/year but you buy the music books and stand. I'm sure he'll need more appropriate clothing come performance time.

For the little girls, the parents take turns brining in snack. This week is Finley's turn. This is the grocery list I was given-

2 packs 1 gallon zip lock bags
2 packs small bowls
2 hand sanitzer (of which we sent some in at the begining of the school year!)
4 packs of forks
4 packs of spoons
100 5 oz cups (For this price we could buy a set of coringware plates, silverware, cloth napkins and real glasses. Wouldn't that be 'using our resources wisely?')
2 packs of paper napkins
2 loaves of bread
2 red peppers
2 cans pineapple
1 jar applesauce
1 bag oranges
2 boxes each of graham cracker, ritz crackers and teddy grahams (Are they even still around?)
4 cans of non-frozen juice concentrate
1 tub of raisins

Cha-ching! $$

Oh, and $15 for image making day, $12 for the field trip to the museum and another $15 please for classroom supplies. Don't forget to send in two pumpkins per child and extra apples please for using in painting. It drives me batty. And we aren't even talking about the hours spent volunteering for things that I always thought the teachers did. Photocopying, laminating, cutting and stapling, measuring beans and corn, shelving library books, cleaning rooms and organizing supplies. (I'm not bad mouthing the teachers here. They have their hands full too. Heck, they've got my kids!) I guess I should be happy I can do these things, but today, I'm just feeling broke. And overwhelmed.

And frustrated when I learned that a neighbor just asks the school to waive all her fees and got free tickets for the carnival. Isn't it great that the school will support her in her time of need. NO! Her family takes two all-inclusive vacations a year where she proudly says she pays the extra money for a nanny so they can take advantage of the free drinks. She shops at the hoity-toity grocery store in town. I shop one town over where it is much cheaper, but you schlep your own groceries to the car. Her vacation consists of packing her kids off and enjoying the warmth of the beaches. My vacations consist of camping with the mosquitoes at Storyland.

Bleh. I am feeling pretty disgusted with my town, my neighbor but mostly with my miserable attitude about it. Sigh.... Thanks for letting me vent.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Quiet House

While I know the level of noise and chaos in my house are pretty typical for a house with 4 kids (and friends) I still love the times when it is quiet enough I can notice things like this:

Finley is reading a Hanukkah book to her doll and dog. She gets the ideas correct "some put a penny in, some take a penny out" and "when it drops I win" and has the tune somewhat correct. It is nice to catch them they don't know I'm watching.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Family Weekend

It's not often that Cathy is home for a full weekend. This weekend she was home both Saturday and Sunday. We took full advantage of this by not doing a dang thing around the house. The chickens continue to have only small 6'x3' section of outdoor space to escape from the rain. (Well, they could also go in the coop of course!) The grass did get cut but the basement floor still needs to be bleached before it can be painted. The basement walls are framed and the "lovely" wood panelling has been cut to size but still need electrical outlets, heat vent, etc holes cut before it can be put up permanently.) So what did we do?

Well. Saturday was this.

Lots of hula hooping. Lots of good music. Lots of garlic foods, mostly local. I had a great spinach burrito with hot salsa and roasted garlic. We all tried garlic ice cream. We had popcorn that had been grown by a group of 4-h type kids. It was "safe" as Logan said, "from garlic."

Eyeing the wares.

I seemed to end up carrying these two an awful lot. Everyone but Finley got their face painted. Meryl was insistent she be spiderman. The people doing the face painting tried to talk her out of it (this was the sort of place where commercial cartoon characters are frowned upon. Just the fact that she *knew* about spiderman showed just how awful I was doing as a parent!) but she held her ground. I was quite pleased with her stubbornness in this situation.

We finished the day with everyone zoning out in the car with their non-organic, non-locally harvested, full of food coloring lollipops. No garlic in sight!

Sunday was this. First annual event in which I hope we can participate for years to come. Avery rode her bike to the event with the rest of us but participated in the event in my bike with the little girls. She then rode her bike home the event just fine. Go figure. The kids were just happy to have skipped going to the parish house for services.
The afternoon was Avery's soccer (Her team was slaughtered, but since they don't keep score it doesn't matter. She had a grand time but is getting frustrated that she isn't the best on the team. And she is not the best. The assistant coach has a kid who is far, far, far beyond where Avery is. I think it was better when Avery couldn't tell who the good kids were. But Avery is far better than most of the kids. This is a situation I've never been in as a parent. Usually I've got the pathetically miserable kid who doesn't have a clue. It's more fun to be good!), playing with neighborhood kids and an unexpected visit from my parents.

Life is good. It would be better if the chickens were dryer and my basement was done but it's okay. Plus I've got plans to eat some chicken with a lot of garlic in my near future.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Training Wheels

Meryl gave up the tricycle today. And after a few run-ins with parked cars and trees she even figured out the brakes. Watch out world! (and watch your ankles!)
We also got our first big egg today. Lo and behold, it was a double yolk. We had scrambled eggs with dinner tonight with the 6 (!) eggs we've gotten in the past few days. The chickens don't know where to lay. 4 eggs were found in the nesting boxes and 3 out in the pen. And the egg I put in a month ago as a hint, is now gone. Bleck. I really don't want them to develop a taste for eggs. I'm sure we've got a few eggs lying around the yard somewhere since they spent all day out of the pen. I'm going to try to keep them penned in for a few days and hope they develop a habit of laying in the nesting boxes. I figure just as it starts to get colder they'll be in full laying mode.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Climbing From Hell

On a last minute recommendation we checked out Purgatory Chasm. Very cool place for kids ages 3-whatever. Lots of fun climbing, hiding, scrambling, sliding, etc. Average number of deaths per year? Only 2.

Little green Avery speck on left, red Logan speck on right.

Fat Man's Misery
I'm sure you couldn't name something that today!

I kept thinking I should get ahead of them to get a photo of something other than their behinds. Just wasn't going to happen. They never stopped moving.

Mandatory rest break.

Checking out the Devil's Corn Crib.

Oops. Starting to get blisters (not barefoot ground here) and tired. She has got to learn to wear shoes.
(See Cathy in the photo?)

Logan and Avery went off for more hiking while I hit the very cool playground with the babies.
(Yes Mom, I called them the babies. I'm allowed to do that if I want.)
We all napped on the way home. Well, not Cathy, who drove.

Home to a lovely dinner. Except our table didn't have enough room for the adults. Very sadly, we got to eat alone inside!
(I've always said I want my house to be a gathering place for my kids' friends. Lately it seems to be happening for neighborhood kids. So I won't complain(much) and will continue to serve loads of pasta, peanut butter sandwiches, juice and ice cream if it means I get to see who my kids play with and, more importantly, HOW they play.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

1st Egg!

Finally! We got an egg! The little one in the middle. The others are from more established layers and are probably L or XL in a grocery store. Logan was the one who found it when heading out to fill the water and let them out for the afternoon. He has first dibs and has asked for scrambled. We'll be watching for more. :)

My tomatillos and ground cherries are also coming ripe. I guess they aren't tasty for groundhogs. We've been having a lot of green salsa and I plan for some enchiladas, but I haven't come around to eating chicken yet. Preparing it for the family, yes. Consuming it myself, no. The ground cherries rarely make it home since I eat them on the 5 mile drive home from the garden. (Nope, no biking to the garden. Takes too long and that is my precious alone time, so I don't waste it by being "green." Everything can be justified!)

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

1 down

Everyone was cheery and ready to go. Don't ask who left homework and supplies at home. (um, Logan AND Avery!)
Finley thought she was a big kid at the bus stop.

The bus stop crew. See the tiny little girl (3rd from the left)? She is in Avery's class! See the big girl on the far right? She is in Logan's. Don't judge a kid by their size is the lesson I take from this.

The thermometer when I went out to meet the afternoon bus.

Survivor! 181 days to go!

Saturday, August 28, 2010


Today I volunteered my time, energy and the contents of my stomach for these people. I doubt I will do this again, but I am still processing my experience of working the MPPU. The learning curve was quick and by my 4th or 5th bird I felt pretty good about my final product. As the day warmed and the odors increased I started to struggle. After bird 32 or so I lost my breakfast in the horse field. Not fun. I did get back on the line but then only pulled off another 7 or 8 birds before quitting. Photos show only the first birds going through. Imagine the blood, feathers, shit and viscera after 400 birds have gone through. Buckets of heads and feet, buckets of steaming livers, neck, gizzards and hearts. In the heat. I've showered and brushed and scrubbed my body but can still smell fresh, raw chicken.

I admitted my defeat to Jen and scrubbed up to leave only to hear her announce to "Finish your bird and we'll break for lunch. A lunch provided by Verrill Farm. Darn. So close to a lovely meal. But now, 6 hours later I'm still slightly nauseous. An experience I'm glad to have but I don't think I'll repeat.

Friday, August 27, 2010


Something continues to ravage the garden. Now the corn stalks are being knocked over. The cobs are left intact, but the stalks are chewed up just a tiny bit. So the unripe cobs sit on the ground. Ala Jen's cuke blog I thought I would show cob sizes. The cobs on the left are pretty large and should be colored more than they are. Maybe saving hybrid seeds doesn't work? The cobs on the right are Larry's. As in seed he sent from Hawaii. That is the entire crop of Hawaiian corn. The germination rate was poor and the varmint appeal was high.

The chickens enjoyed the meal of fresh corn.

Finley (aka Fittin' Finley for the tantrums she throws) is always angry that Avery can hand feed the chickens and she can't. Perhaps, Finley, if you stopped screaming for more than oh, say, 34 seconds, they might come closer to you.

Monday, August 23, 2010

I Quit!

My garden is a failure. It started off well (doesn't it always?), but I have battled a groundhog/woodchuck and lost. My fencing is no match for him/her. An eaten butternut squash.

A row of soybeans chewed down. He doesn't touch the pods, just the leaves.
3 bites out of a cuke and then left to yellow and rot. Can't it just eat one damn cuke and not take one bite each out of 30?

Another poor squash.

When I left the rental plot I was pretty depressed and decided I would go home and pull up some potatoes as a pick me up. This is what I found at home.

A tomato plant that the day before had been full and lush and covered in almost ripe tomatoes. Now- stripped bare. Deer? Can Rabbits get that high? I don't know. And the potatoes? A little too close to the hose so the kids often "helped" me water them. Lots of large potato skins full of rotted, fully liquid potato. Sigh....
Clearly we don't *need* this food, but it is frustrating nevertheless. The kids are enjoying my neglect as I brood. This is how they would spend their lives if permitted.

Sunday, August 8, 2010


My first attempt at braiding onions. I have another 30 or so drying and another 50+ still in the ground so I'll have a few opportunities to improve! It seems a pity they'll be stored out of sight.