Sunday, July 27, 2008

Buh Bye

I'm trying an experiment. Perhaps an insane one, we'll see.
We are unplugging the computer for 1 week. No movies, no net, no games. We will even have to hand-write lists. Egads!
But, it's time to try it. Weaning isn't working, so we must do cold-turkey.
We should be back Aug 4th. Till then, ta ta.

If you need, need, need to contact me, call me. I'm listed. But then, most all of you have my number anyway who would really, really need to call me.

I should have a pretty interesting post about our week's adventures, eh?

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Recipe for a mad baby

  • 1 tired baby who won't go to sleep
  • 1 wrap
  • 1 dishwasher

Attempt to nurse baby to sleep several times. Decide to put baby in wrap since that is pretty sure-fire. Go on with the chores that need done, as per usual baby-in-wrap-routine.
Open dishwasher. Wait for screams of baby who figures out the coveted appliance is open, but he can no more get into it than touch the moon.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Give a kid a camera

When we bought the new digital camera, we decided to let the kids use the old one. It has indeed been interesting to see what they take pictures of. Side note: if you are wondering what to get the kids for a gift that will be much appreciated, I have a suggestion--AA batteries!
So, one thing I have noticed, is that they seem to be fascinated with feet. Especially G. Of course, we've always kinda known that about him. Shoes, toes, feet. He's been all over these things since he could crawl. Here's photographic proof. I have not edited or cropped the pictures in any way. This is just how they came out of the camera.

The weekend

My little hikers. Awww. And this time, G carried his own pack, all the way!The photographer and sons. C bought himself his camera finally. It is a Nikon D40. Sweet pictures. He is really good. And the camera, of course, helps.
This is the way we pack the baby, pack the baby, pack the baby. He is getting so huge. And he puts off a ton of heat when he sleeps. Whew! That brown thing hanging down next to him is his favorite toy--the end of my braid.
After the big boys went to bed, the little one helped me in the kitchen. First he removed all the extraneous stuff from the cupboard:
Then he looked to see if there were any treasures inside. Most everything hit the reject pile. He wasn't very impressed when mom declared it bedtime and undid all his hard work!

The weather cooled down just a bit into the 80's so we took another hike. This time to Forest Park in West Portland. Portlanders are extremely proud of Forest Park and rightly so. It is beautiful. You can hike for days and be on a different trail each day. Although technically you aren't supposed to camp in the park. But seriously, who would know?
Anyway, we took a short loop on Aspen Rd to Wild Cherry trail, to Wildwood trail and back to Aspen via Savier Rd. Road, avenue, street, I dunno. Close enough. It was beautiful. From Savier you can look out over Portland. It is some view. Would be better without all the haze from fires, so we'll have to go back when the air clears a bit.
I must say that I am getting mighty out of shape. I was exhausted from an easy 2.8 mile hike! Not good. I need to get out walking again. No wonder my pants are getting tighter. But enough about that.
The kids seemed to have fun. There were moments of whining of course. They wanted to take the shortcut back to the car at one point. But I told them that if they finished to loop we'd go to Old Wives Tales for dinner. That did the trick. They finished the loop just fine of course. So did I am proud to say.
Today M is off to scout camp. He goes early each morning to hitch a ride and have fun all day. Tomorrow, I'm doing my duty and volunteering to drive up and follow the boys around for the day. I have to be ready to go at 7:45. That should be some feat, as I'm usually just rolling out of bed about then. But I did manage to get breakfast made and M to the church to meet the rides at 7:30 this morning. Go me! Let's see if I can do it all week. I'll have to think of a reward for me if I manage that. Maybe a date with my cute husband.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Other ways to color my kitchen

Yesterday, we went berry-picking with J. I didn't get nearly as many berries as I got last year. Oh well, the kids just tuckered out and it was totally time to go home. I can go back and buy a few flats later maybe. I also want to go and get a bunch of blueberries. Does PapaCoyote still want me to get some and freeze for him? Now is the time to put in that order!
Here's the obligatory pictures of my beautiful children gathering food for the winter to come. :)

M is good at selecting just the right berries. He's getting faster in his old age too.

"What, where's MY berries?!"

Ahh, there they are. about 25 pounds in all. Yum

The finished product. Well, most of it. We left most of the Willamette Red raspberries to eat fresh. The rest are in the dehydrator and the rest of the blackberries are in the freezer. The jars are full of blackberry jelly. I decided to go to the work (and mess-hence the title) to make strain out the seeds this year. It turned out well. And so I wish I had about 4 times as much. M ate a jar of it already. The sneak.

For your viewing pleasure--I taught M how to use the close up feature on the camera. Not as nice as what Dad's new camera, but..

Funny story:
When we first started picking in the raspberries, G kept coming back from way down the row with a few berries. I thought he was just wandering and finding easy pickings. He kept saying, "want me get more in the bin?" And I'd agree. He would pour his berries into the bucket in the wagon, and then go get more. When we worked our way down to where he had been, I discovered his secret. Someone had been picking flats of berries and leaving them sporadically on the ground. Smart kid. He really had found some easy pickings!

Zee Yarn

J's finished yarn. The sock blank was made using fuchsia, turquoise and yellow and the skein was dyed with grape, orange and lemon lime KoolAid. Is that right, J? Correct me if I'm wrong.

My yarn. The first ball is worsted weight and dyed with orange, yellow and red. The other is sock-weight and dyed with purple, midnight blue and lapis blue.
I think they look great. The orange/red/yellow didn't photograph anywhere near true-to-color. Hopefully when I get it made up I can get a decent picture of it.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Because we're Geniuses, That's Why

Or Instructions?! We Have Instructions?!
Or This is the Definition of Learning Curve
Or I'll Just Wait Till it Explodes

Quite some time ago, J and I decided to dye some yarn. So we ordered from Knit Picks, the shipment arrived several weeks ago and we've been trying to arrange a time ever since. Today was the day.
J bought some KoolAid and I pulled out my supply of fiber reactive dyes from Dharma. We asked GramRe if she wanted to play with us. She didn't and we couldn't figure out why. Why, Oh Why would someone NOT want to mix up chemicals and play with hot dyes with US? Ok, ok, don't answer that. The following post may answer for me.
As I was saying. The two of us got together to dye. I was a little unsure how it was going to work out with the 3 kiddos, but M and G played outside and E went down for a nap. J and I took turns mixing up dye. Also known as dyeing my sink. But we had a 1/2 cup of 8 different dyes, plus the 3 KoolAid colors.
Unfortunately, we had to unwind the nice neat little balls of yarn we had made with GramRe's yarn winder. That was a bit frustrating considering that the yarn had come in nice neat skeins. Oh well. Oh, and J decided to knit hers into a sock blank. Because KnitPicks has the yarn for $5 or the blank for $12. Not worth it. Buy the blank. For future reference.
We soaked the yarn in tubs. Just water for the KoolAid yarn and vinegar water for the Dharma yarn. Then J tried the little plastic tub for the KoolAid yarn since one set of instructions we were using said to use a plastic tub. Other instructions say to spread it out on plastic wrap. That's what we did with the rest of the yarn. Not that the tub didn't work. It just made it harder to see what we were doing, and you could only do one skein at a time.
After painting our yarn, we wrapped it up in plastic (the plastic wrap skeins) and microwaved it. We weren't too scientific about the times. Mostly because every set of instructions we read said something different about microwave times. Hence the "I'll just wait till it explodes" title. Yeah, dye exploding in the microwave makes a mess. Not an impossible mess, but a mess all the same. I was just kidding about the "wait till it explodes," but you never know how the universe is going to interpret the things you say. Word to the Wise.
The best microwave time we came up with was 3, 2 minute intervals at 50% power. That worked well, without exploding. Oh, and we wrapped the yarn in the plastic wrap in a kind of coil and put in on a plate. That helped too!
Then we transfered the yarn to the bin in the sink and started rinsing it in the hottest water we could run out of the faucet. Gradually, we brought the temp down so as not to shock the yarn. It is wool after all. Wool doesn't like shocks. It felts. Helpful for some applications, not for ours. One the water ran clear, we soaked the yarn in a tub with water and Synthrapol. A dandy little wash from Dharma that gets out the last of the dye. The yarn is now hanging to dry in the sun. It looks great. And the KoolAid yarn has a pleasant orange-grape aroma. LOL.

Me mixing dye
Me squirting dye. This is the yarn for a soaker for E. It came out nice a bright!

J painting her sock blank

The sock blank before it's trip to the microwave

The sock blank coil. After the nuking

Next Post:
Final pictures. Well of the yarn. You may want to just decide you can wait to see finished knitted items. J is a full time student, employed full time. I'm a full time mom of three busy boys. Do the math.

Monday, July 14, 2008


Every year, we have the sunscreen battle. The one where mom says to wear sunscreen and the kids ignore me. So, every year, M has to get a sunburn before he believes me that you can actually come to some harm by ignoring mom.
Don't get me wrong. I'm totally not the sunscreen police. I usually want my kids out in the sun without it for a fair portion of the year. Natural vitamin D and all that jazz. It's just that 6 hours in the sun with pasty white skin can lead to pain and suffering.
This year we had our requisite burn and pain and vowing to wear sunscreen. I thought we were good. So, Friday, I told M to be sure to put on sunscreen. Dad reminded him too. I helped him put some on. Then he took off his shirt. That night, we did the aloe vera and "ouch that hurts" routine again.
Saturday he put sunscreen on his face and arms and legs (reluctantly) and headed outside. He came back in to put on his swimming suit. "Put sunscreen on!" I yelled. He ignored me.
Sunday he was in serious pain. And was banned from being in the sun all day. Oh woe.
Today I told him he had to wear a wide brimmed hat, sunscreen and stay in the shade as much as possible. He sat on the couch and whined, argued and snarked.
That kid is slow. Brilliant in so many ways, but just, slow.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Girls, already?

I was admiring G's eyes to him. They are gorgeous--all bias aside. I told him that someday girls were going to swoon over them.
Mom--That means they're going to like you and want to be around you
G--That's okay
Mom--what if they want to kiss you?
G--I'll let them
Mom--Really? Why?
G--'Cuz they're cute

Who wants to guess what my life will be like in another 10-12 years?

Saturday, July 12, 2008


J always calls me and says, "I just have a random question."
So I assume people (at least J) like random bits from me. So here's some:

The woman who wants my diapers is in Troutdale. I may have arranged to mail them to her. Why?
I am exhausted. Like, really exhausted. Standing hurts. I should have taken a nap, but I couldn't figure out how to work it in. My brain might be affected here.
My baby is climbing the stairs. Strike that. My baby is playing in the cupboard at the top of the stairs.
My kids have transported (I believe) the entire Playmobil collection, which fills the bottom 1/3 of their closet, to the pool outside. I don't even want to think about the drama that will be involved in getting THAT back inside.
It's hot. Too hot. Didn't I say I was glad not to live in Idaho for that reason. As part of a fairly long list, actually.
I'm too hot and tired to sew, or knit. Faint over that whydontcha?
E has a set of pajamas with an alligator on the front. G calls it a frockodile. I love it!
We were digging holes for plants a while back--several weekends ago. M kept digging small, deep holes. C told him to dig shallow, big holes. Just a half shovel deep. "I can only dig deep holes, Dad. Not shallow ones. I can dig a big deep hole and fill it in, ok?" Umm, okay?
M can have grains starting on the 18th. He wants to start with Teff. So I'll soak it overnight. Maybe we can have pancakes or muffins or something. He's as excited as Christmas. Almost.
My wonderful husband mowed the lawn, painted 1/2 the fence, fixed the upstairs faucet, cleared room in the garage for the freezer, loaded the dishwasher 3 days running, and did a bunch of laundry. There's probably more. I may not have noticed since I was eating ice cream.
No one has a 7 cu foot chest freezer in stock. So I have to order one. It will take anywhere from 2-10 days to get here. I love definite time lines like that.
G's favorite new word is "stupid." I'm so not thrilled. I need a sneaky way to teach him a better one. Ideas?
Would I be more awake if I swept some Playmobil and kids aside and dunked myself in the swimming pool?

Friday, July 11, 2008

I'm just about out of baby clothes. Anyone need a carseat?
There is fresh, homemade goat milk ice cream in the freezer and cow's milk ice cream freezing on the patio as I type. Yummy.
What, no dinner volunteers?

I love Craigslist

I do. I really do. What did the world do before Craigslist?! What did I do before Craigslist?
I need to make room in the garage. We are done having kids (so far as we know). So it makes sense to get rid of all the baby clothes. Up to 18 month size that is. Since we kinda need that size. Anyway...
I dragged out all organized bins of clothes. The newborn, 3-6 month, 6-9 month, the small diapers, the carseat, the small blankets. All of it. Then I pulled out a couple of meaningful things. Handknit sweaters. Coming home outfits. Blessing outfits. The really nice diaper stuff I'm not replacing if a miracle occurs.
I listed them one by one on Craigslist. See, otherwise I would have had to either a) give it all away or b) hold a garage sale or c) cull out the really nice stuff and drive to consignment stores or d) list it on e-bay and hope someone wants it and then mail it to them or pay to re-list or, ick.
I like this better. I have someone coming at 4 to take all the newborn and 3-6 month stuff. That's $40!
Cross your fingers that the rest of it sells too.
Because then I'll have room for my new freezer. The one that is going to hold my beef. My $2.20 per pound beef, raised in a pasture eating grass and cut and wrapped the way I want it. Yeah, that one.

Monday, July 07, 2008

The 5 of us again

My parents brought M back in time for 4th of July. He was excited to be home, and his brothers gave him a very warm welcome.
Since my dad loves berries and picking berries, we took advantage of the berry festival being held at Smith Berry Barn on the 4th. We picked lots of berries, ate lots of berries, sampled treats from their gift shop, and enjoyed the festival. There were 2 bands who took turns playing. G loved getting out on the lawn and dancing it up. A couple had brought 2 of their Alpaca's and yarn from them. I resisted the urge to buy any. *Round of Applause!* But it did make me want to live in the country even more. Alpaca's are amazing and sweet animals!
That night, we sat out with our neighbors and enjoyed a wonderful fireworks display put on by C and J, our neighbor. C and G had a lot of fun buying lots of fireworks. I can't remember just how many we had, but it was lots! I'll post a picture as soon as I get it off the camera.
Mom and dad headed home Saturday night. We had fun with them. I bet it's a bit quiet at their house now! M is adjusting to being home. G is adjusting to not being the #1 kid around too. It's hard all around, let's face it.
The meat market called today, too. I ordered a side of beef awhile ago, and it seems my name has made it to the top of the list. I guess I need to have some people out for dinner in an attempt to clear enough space in the deep freeze for roughly 220# of meat! Sign up below? I'm excited though, it should work out to just around $2.50/lb for local, grass fed beef, cut and wrapped to order. How cool is that? It should save me a small fortune, really.
I also am heading out next week, I think, to pick berries. I'll dry and jam most of it. Probably won't freeze a whole lot. LOL And, I'm intending to spend some time preserving veggies this year. I want to can green beans, salsa, lots of pickles, ketchup, and all kinds of dried stuff. I got the dehydrator re-screened, and I'm excited to use it. The kids like dried stuff, it takes up almost no space, and I don't have to watch it like a hawk while it's drying. Perfect.
Oh, and the Hogwarts stuff. So, we were rather surprised. M really didn't catch on the fact that it was pretend. But he was really excited about it. But C felt we needed to tell him, so this morning we did. I told him he still needed to do the work, and he was even more impressed that mom had gone to all this work. But by this afternoon, when I finally got him to sit down and do the first 2 assignments, he threw a fit. Only over the writing one though. So he pitched a fit on the couch about how it was pointless, and boring, and stupid, and not even real. I am proud of myself for keeping my temper. After he was done ranting, he headed over and wrote down one more word combination, cleaned up the mess from planting ginger, and went outside to play. Crazy kid. Or could that be crazy mom too?

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Bear with my ramblings, or Where do I want to live?

I'm sure I'm not the only one. I can't be. Right?
I don't know where I want to live, and it's kinda tearing me apart. Not like, what state or country or anything. I love Oregon and have no desire to leave. It's just a matter of city vs country.
Currently we live in suburbia. It's what we could swing for a first house. And really, it's been pretty good so far. We have a great neighborhood with fabulous neighbors. It's quiet. We have a nice house, even though I can find faults. Heck, there's no perfect house, right? We have a good sized yard with room for the kids to play. We live in a nice, small town with lots and lots of really, truly friendly people.
Yeah, there's always buts, huh.
We live about 40 minutes away from our homeschool group. With gas prices what they are--Ugh. It's also a ways to, well, everything. After all, we live in a small town. Of course, we do have lots of farms nearby which is heavenly. If only I would do better at utilizing them. We are getting our fresh milk now. And I try to take advantage of a few u-picks. I'm vowing to do better this year. (Food preserving with a baby should be interesting.) Also, our house is getting a little too small. With three boys and a mom and a dad it's getting a little tight.
So, we've talked about moving in the near future. But where???!!
I like the idea of moving closer in to the city so we can be close to everything and not have to drive very much. There are lots of neat neighborhoods that we might be able to swing $$ wise--assuming we can sell our house in the current market--or in a year. Living close in means we can take public transportation which would save a lot of money of fuel of course. We would have more opportunities to go to the places we love to hang out. The zoo, our favorite parks, museums, those kinds of things. There would potentially be more kids to play with as well as more moms to hang out with. Currently it is kind of a drag to get together with people since there is always the 30-60 minute drive to get there. There's no guarantee we would actually live close to people we like I guess. But being near more people does increase the odds.
On the other hand, we could live in the country. I have a desire to have land. To grow and produce more of our own food. It would be awesome to have tons of space for the boys to run and play in. To live somewhere where chores weren't so abstract. I mean really, vacuum? Why? Anyone with an ounce of sense knows what will happen to the floor by tomorrow. But on a farm, chores have meaning. You plant/tend/harvest crops because they will feed and nourish you. You preserve food because it will spoil otherwise. You feed and care for the animals because they are living beings. The natural consequences are in place. I'd love for the boys to learn the natural cycles of the earth. To experience the seasons, the ebb and flow. To see the whole life cycle. In the city, in our culture, we hide so much. I think that is very unhealthy.
There is security in producing your own food. Fuel prices are going up. It will be more and more difficult to acquire the foods we are used to. Being able to provide for our needs on our own would be very empowering to me.
But, what a heck of a lot of work. I don't think we could do it on our own. I have talked to friends about living in a commune. I don't think anyone has truly been serious about it. I'm not sure my husband could handle it! But I've been thinking about it more and more. Living with others is how I think we were meant to live. A group of people working together towards common goals is powerful. By ourselves, we would be almost trapped on a small farm. You can't just up and leave the animals. During the summer and fall, there is food to harvest and preserve. Spring is planting time, as well as birthing time. But in a group, you could rotate duties, or at least share. Those who are really good at planting can be in charge of that. Baking, cooking, building, teaching, healing, everything. It's not all on the shoulders of 2 adults.
There are so many pros and cons to each scenario. I go around and around them in my mind. I feel like saying, "okay, Lord. Tell me what to do." But I know He doesn't work that way by experience. I have to pick something, start down that path and ask for confirmation that it is the right one for me and my family.