Saturday, April 18, 2015

Too much to keep up with...

I don't know the last time I felt able to sit and write for any length of time.  All the recent blog posts have felt so rushed, but I think that is the best I'm going to be able to do until we get through April, at least.  There is so much going on that if I don't at least get up some pictures and a few thoughts, my "virtual scrapbook" will be outdated so fast!  I sat down yesterday to start this and didn't get much farther than uploading a few pictures before it was time to braid two heads of hair and scurry off to a fun evening with relatives in Stuarts Draft.  I'm now up early to get laundry hung and the girls ready for another soccer morning so we'll see if I can get this "to the press" before I need to get to wake up and breakfast duty!  We'll start with a little clip of Alida at her first day of mini-kickers.

Last Saturday was our first "double header" soccer morning.  Thankfully the girls' schedule has worked out such that their games/practices are within an hour of each other.  Unfortunately, some days they overlap such that I kind of need to be in two places at once, but we managed.  The pre-soccer rush at home is normally a bit tedious with waking tired kiddos, getting some food in them for stamina, hair braided so it is out of their faces and then their bag of stuff together and all of us to the car at a time that normally at least Kali is still snoozing.  I was so glad last weekend that my nausea had been gone for almost a week and my energy was climbing.  I was doing one of the girl's hair and trying to scarf down my eggs and polenta, while also greeting Kathy, one of our weekend visitors, who had just woken.  Within 30 seconds waves of nausea like I hadn't experienced before hit me and saliva was pouring into my mouth.  Before I knew it I was on my way to our new bathroom and our newly installed toilet and lost my breakfast.  I now have my "I've thrown up in pregnancy" badge, and this baby has one of its claims to fame.  In retrospect I think my error was that, in my hurry, I had taken my vitamins after just eating an apple.  My guess is they were not happy being almost the only things in my stomach.  I've not been nauseous since...

We had a lovely weekend with Ethan & Kathy visiting - a mixture of fun visiting and hanging out, making pizza pockets over an outdoor fire and chatting until the stars came out, doing some chicken butchering and Jason benefiting from Ethan's help bringing to life his towel rack design (I won't try to describe it!) and then sending them home with some chicks Jason had hatched.  It was fun to have Emily and Jonas join us for a good part of the weekend.  As most of those times go, it felt like the hours flew by a little faster than would have been our preference, but it also felt like we packed a lot of fun into a short amount of time.  When they pulled out Sunday afternoon, we quickly went back to our lengthy project list.  We were, at that time, gearing up for the two busiest weeks of my work year, which we are now down to the busiest week!  So deep breathing and lots of planning ahead to make sure we've got our ducks in a row.  Due to EMU's graduation being one week from tomorrow, I've got a seven-day work week ahead of me - five in the office, one hosting all of CJP for a graduation party and one for the actual graduation ceremonies.  It's a week that provides a certain stream of adrenaline as we race to the finish, but also one in which it feels like about every minute is accounted for.  Hosting an event for 100 or so folks has us also hoping to meet certain benchmarks on the bathroom project - like having it functional for folks to use!  We have almost met our goal - the sink and toilet are now usable and the shower is grouted. We hope yet for Jason to finish touching up the grout in a few spots, get the shower fixtures installed, the mirror on the medicine cabinet on and the toilet paper tube holder installed. I think we can do it!

And of course there is plenty to do outside. The world is bursting with color and things are growing fast due to all the recent rains and warmer temps.  We are enjoying lots of winter cress, stinging nettles, chives and perennial leeks and onions with eggs in the mornings.  I'm enjoying alfalfa, nettle, raspberry leaf, mint tea daily and am slowly shifting from dried things to fresh (so the tea becomes an even more brilliantly green tea with passing time!).  And, spinach!  Oh how we are enjoying spinach - by the gallon bag fulls...  Our wintered over spinach is going to town! I picked one of the sets of rows yesterday day in preparation for Jason finishing up thinning and got two stuffed canners full.  So we now have 7 nice sized containers in the freezer and I hope to add more to the stash soon.  It's such lovely stuff!

In the picture above, hopefully you can note not only the abundance of spinach but the ever increasing visible presence of Spark.  My spinach processing yesterday was interrupted by our second midwife visit.  But it's not such a huge disruption when she shows up at our front door, and Jason can just come in from the garden and the girls are there in the living room with me to listen to our conversation and take part as they wish (they got to hear the heartbeat for the first time yesterday!).  When our midwife left yesterday, Jason noted, "this is much more of a sane way to do healthcare."  I'm becoming quite fond of it very quickly!  After a good amount of pondering, processing and make lots of phone calls, we selected a home birth midwife for our final baby's birth.  All of our children to date have been born in different hospitals (and the births have gone amazingly well and quickly) so it seemed like it was worth pursuing a dream of mine and to allow this fourth and final Myers-Benner to make his/her entrance into the world in the comfort of the home we will have been in for a decade upon his/her arrival!

The littlest has just called "Mommy" followed by "I want you!"  So that is my wrap up call on this particular blog post.  But one final notable happening of our week.  On Wednesday of this week, Kali and Alida were out doing duck water when they came rushing into the house exclaiming, "Mommy come see...there's a peacock in our front yard."  I quickly checked to make sure it wasn't somehow still April Fool's day and then went to confirm that yes in fact there was a peacock in our front yard.  We called our neighbor who rushed home and confirmed that it was not his peacock and that he had no idea whose it was.  There was no getting close to it, so we just enjoyed watching it meander around and visit with the ducks and chickens.  At nightfall we saw it high up in a tree.  It roosted there for the night and hung around all of the following day. We were kind of interested in the prospect of a peacock adopting us, but it appears that it was just here for a two day visit as it has since moved on.  What a pretty bird!  Speaking of pretty things, I'll end with a few more pictures of the things that are blooming or greening up around here and then it is on to our day!  One of Jason's jobs today will be unexpected task: we are very grateful to finally have caught the groundhog that made its home tunneled under Mom and Dad's 3-season room.  However, it was not exactly the right timing for making groundhog sausage...

Here's a smattering of other pictures.  Alida is ready for breakfast!

Alida's cherry trees in all their glory!
We are rooting for the peaches!  
I love the flowering trees all over the place - this is our earliest flowering peach tree that normally does not survive the late freezes. We'll see... 
This is a "just for fun" picture of Alida very busy making "paper trash."  This girl LOVES making messes!
Love them!  The stinging nettles are abundant and Alida would gladly have "nettle eggs" for breakfast daily.  She even tried to help me pick them yesterday but one little sting and she decided she wasn't ready for that job just yet.
We have so many lovely types of daffodils!
The red buds in Nora's garden are ready for consumption - and Kali and Alida are happy to be scarfing handfuls at a time.
Come on peas!  We are eager for you... 
It's not just plants that are growing - she already wants to know when she can play on a "real" soccer team...
And, finally, here's what we'll be doing over the coming months - filling this thing!!  Due to our decision to avoid grocery shopping (that we made in December), I successfully got all our food easily into our one chest freezer. I've been able to defrost both freezers and this one is ready to go. So the first fruits of 2015 are in - chicken sausage and spinach.  Eager to see the shelves fill up, as they surely will...

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Easter weekend

My long Easter weekend away from the office is coming to an end. It's been a lovely five days, marked most notably with the subsiding of the all-day nausea I was experiencing for weeks prior.  That made the time at home even more enjoyable!  I still benefit greatly from a daily nap, which happened's hard to fit one in when there are so many exciting things happening! We packed a lot into those days and so I'll let pictures do most of the telling, with some short captions to hopefully fill in the gaps!
I'm not sure the girls stopped smiling between the time they left home and two days later when they returned.  The two-night sleepover was a huge hit for all involved!
I enjoyed getting reacquainted with some plants - had our first nettle, garlic chive, perennial leek and winter cress sauteed with eggs.  Delicious!  I also have been making alfalfa, nettle, mint tea daily (maybe that is why I'm feeling better?) and have cleavers, chickweed, violets and dandelion infusing in apple cider vinegar.  The latter two items are supposed to be particularly good for me and Spark!
Easter morning hike to Hensley's Pond with the Tangly Woods crew!
Relaxing by the pond...
We were all ready for a hearty brunch upon our return!!
The afternoon festivities with aunts and grandparents began with Alida receiving a very silly book that had to be ready first by Grandpa.  Lots of giggles followed...
Then there were Easter eggs to find...
...and some (like the one with Alida's allowance in it) have still not been found...

(the spacing here is not intentional - I'm done fighting the the format of this blog to make it look pretty...)

The other major event of the evening was Kali and I both donating 10-12 inches of our hair in honor of Grandma's/Mom's 12th transplant birthday.  Here's the blow-by-blow!

With all the other happenings we didn't get around to dyeing eggs until the day after Easter!
None of us were ready to see Grandma and Grandpa leave - we were all a little spoiled after having them both around for a good part of a week!
Just showing off a little of Spark's progress...  He/she gets a lot of hugs, kisses and pounces (the latter doesn't feel great for the one housing this little one) from Alida!
One of today's tasks - a biochar burn for our new compost pit...
Thinning our glorious overwintered spinach; part of our daily diet currently!

Friday, April 3, 2015

Thrilling discovery, sprouting things everywhere!

I kind of forget how with the emergence of spring all of a sudden there are numerous exciting things happening around here.  I can hardly keep up, especially since I don't make it gracefully through most days yet without an afternoon nap.  Alida didn't even put too much fuss up today about hers, which (just ask her grandma) is mighty unusual.  I think she was tuckered out from the emotional energy expended this morning at her four year old check-up at the doctor (she passed all measures with flying colors and didn't even need a shot so she admitted it was not nearly as bad as she was anticipating).  She also knew that I was bound and determined for her to be well rested leading into the weekend's adventures.  Her birthday present from Aunt Emily and Uncle Jonas was a two night sleepover (they really could just count it as the 2015 birthday presents for the Myers-Benners as I'm not sure which child or adult was most anticipating the weekend!).  So, as you can see in the picture here, they are off!!

After they pulled out, I took a little meander around the yard just to see what was blooming and sprouting. It seems like my last two days spent in the office were big ones here at home - solar panels installed on the roof and onions planted in the ground, to mention the two biggest items.  Right now there is no sun shining and we aren't hooked up until our electric company switches out our panel, but we are enjoying a lovely rain on the newly planted seeds and seedlings!  There was much to see as I walked around the yard. Here's a few of those sights.
Kali and Jason planting 1600 plus onions!  Again a picture Dad took and the other credit for this progress is that Grandma was keeping the littlest one occupied - or Alida was keeping her occupied...

Solar panels being installed.  Photo credit: Grandpa Myers (thanks to his help this week also, I am now sitting in our living room with excellent internet connection to write this blog post!)

Peas sprouting!  Just used our last hull peas at lunch today so that should give us plenty of time to work up a hearty appetite for enjoying fresh ones in May!

Michael and Durwood in their new housing in the garden - mating season has not been pleasant for the drakes as they seem to be fighting with each other about 24/7.  Duckie being the youngest male coming into the ranks seems to have disrupted whatever hierarchy existed with the other two last year.  It has been much more peaceful with Duckie with the ladies and the other two males in their new quarters.

Spinach sprouting!  Jason and I are about to enjoy a large spinach salad for supper! We should not have to skimp on our salads for the foreseeable future as the wintered-over spinach is taking off.

Dreaming of breakfast tomorrow: the first nettle eggs of the season!  It used to be really easy to figure out things for Jason and I to eat while the girls were gone (I always tried to pick things that I knew they didn't like that we did).  They, especially Kali, are starting to like so many more things that we sometimes just have to eat things they like in their absence. There will be more nettle eggs for Alida to enjoy with us!

I was about to head back in when the peeping from the red coop drew my attention.  I saw a little chick riding around on its mama's back - who can resist taking a closer look at that?  As soon as I got near with the camera she started calling them to her. So they are mostly under her feathers but if you look at the far left there are a few brave (or disobedient) ones in the picture...

So before I end with the "thrilling discovery" alluded to in the tile, it would not be an update without a brief note about the bathroom progress.  THE TILE IS IN!!!  I even got a picture of Jason putting in the last minuscule piece of tile - on one of the geese in the V.  It is, no doubt, a work of art!  I was also happy to be informed this week (and I want to get it in writing just in case there are any memory lapses around here), that Jason fully expected in making a shower as complicated as this one that he was signing himself up to be the one that cleans it.  Okay by me!  Today was "clean out the bathroom" day from weeks of collecting random assortments of tiles and tools.  He was hoping to wash the floor and get into grouting.  I didn't have any set expectations for the day but as it wore on I was kind of assuming today would just include cleaning out and washing up.  I pretty much attempt to stay out of his hair during construction projects and so I hadn't really taken a close look at things. But I heard him washing and saw him coming and going with pans of water.  So I had adjusted to the idea of today not including any grouting.  This seldom happens to me, but it wasn't until Kali inquired on the smell in the bathroom that I realized that he was washing the floor, but only after applying grout in the joints!  So as I type the entire floor is grouted and he is out getting wet collecting eggs.  Which also means it is time for me to finish up dinner and get off this computer, so on to the thrilling discovery!

I have a lemon juice substitute that we can grow in abundance!  I'm making excellent headway in cleaning out my freezer but I've been a little stumped by a few things. The most recent being the bags of rhubarb.  It's so easy to grow and so easy to freeze.  But how do we use it when we are attempting to eliminate sugar from our diet?  I know rhubarb jam, rhubarb sauce, rhubarb pie, and rhubarb crisp. So what did I do?  Yes, I googled how to use rhubarb in savory dishes.  Who knew you could make all kinds of curry dishes with rhubarb?  So I tried one a week or two back.  It was good - not delectable, but way better than I expected.  And I didn't mince on the rhubarb - I had thrown a whole quart bag full of it into a lentil, potato, pea curry. It maybe tasted like someone had gone a tad overboard on the lemon juice but otherwise good.

So today I decided to make a recipe we all love that calls for lemon juice.  I pulled out our last bag of peas and a bunch of ground venison and whipped up an Indian dish that has wonderful spicing.  I threw a quart bag of rhubarb in with the sauteed meat and spices and let it simmer until you couldn't see the rhubarb anymore.  Then finished off and we savored it over rice for lunch.  I'd give it 5 stars and say it was even better than the lemon juice version.  The girls and Jason approved as well. We have a winner!  So I'm now dreaming of cooking down rhubarb and freezing it in ice cube trays to pull out a cube when a recipe calls for lemon juice.  Or canning it in small jelly jars to have in the fridge as needed.  Yep, I'm excited!  But now to our spinach salad and broiled polenta with rosemary and garlic.  And I'll throw the pumpkin cranberry pecan chocolate coconut bars into the oven for us to enjoy later with decaf coffee.  Let the sleepovers begin!!