Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Weekending




This weekend we managed a super-hot soccer game, a trip to Daddy's office to hang up his new art, a cookout with friends, banana pancakes, a movie, and even a little spare time for harvest moon-gazing, reading, and cookie-baking. It flew by, but it was a good one.

Wishing all a week that subscribes to the same. Happy Tuesday!

Friday, September 13, 2019

10 Summer Moments

The summer has flown by... and with it my vow to post in this space more frequently! Alas, my attempt to balance working from home with friends and swimming and company and pets and chores left little room for me to sit and process it all. However, there were moments when I managed enough lucidity to snap a quick picture or make a mental note, knowing eventually I'd make it back in here to share them... 

1. Soccer Games: Henry's soccer games are now firmly rooted in our weekends through October, and if you go looking for us on any one of those Saturday mornings you'll find us at the soccer fields. This last game his team actually won (3-2), but it was so dang hot he was kinda sick afterwards. He played really well, though, and he was eventually able to eat an entire hamburger with cheese, fries, and a Sprite, so we're pretty sure he made a full recovery.

2. Friday Nights: We've frequently been finding ourselves at a friend's house on Friday nights, sharing food and drinks and decompressing from the week together. My kiddos are totally smitten with their whole family, but a certain Big Sister is particularly smitten with a certain Middle Brother, and it has been a hoot to watch her navigate her first real crush. He's a good sport about it, too.

3. Henry's Drums: This summer Henry turned a corner in his drumming and has seemingly quadrupled the amount of time he spends playing. He runs up there right after school to work through some grooves, he pauses in the mornings to work on a drum roll, and he's been keenly listening to favorite songs on the radio and in our frequented playlists to bring to his lessons and dissect with his instructor. Right now he's pretty much got down to perfection Hotel California, Toto's Africa, the first part of Journey's Don't Stop Believin', and a slowed-down version of the Foo Fighter's Pretender. He's really focused on the Journey song, though, because he recently discovered he has a friend who plays the piano and a friend who plays the guitar, and both know the song from beginning to end. There may be a band forming over here, just sayin'... 

4. Bees: Our three hives pulled through the summer honey harvest and are currently in the home stretch of a varroa treatment. I'm only having to feed one hive (North Hive, the smallest of the three), and I'm cautiously optimistic about the oncoming season change. In other bee-related news, we have an awesome new Communications Director on the board of our local bee club now, and he has started posting some really, really great photos on our new club Instagram page. Audrey and Henry have even made a few appearances. You should check it out: @dentonbees. 



5. New Responsibilities: This summer has also seen Audrey in particular really step up and start inserting herself into everyday things in a more meaningful way. She's been helping with dinner, helping with outside chores, helping (more) with the animals, and recently she learned how to pump gas! It has really punctuated how much she's growing up... it's hitting me pretty hard right now.


6. Daddy's Birthday: Daddy celebrated another trip around the sun here recently, and knowing he'd cheekily request a baked Alaska if we asked he what he wanted, we decided just to make him one. We made it a cookies & cream baked Alaska, complete with crumbled cookies between the ice cream and the cake layers. Audrey made the meringue and Henry lit the candle. It turned out great. We then gifted him some art for his office, and Henry gave him a ticket to a special drum solo. By all accounts it was a good day.




7. Weeds: This summer has been unusually green, and along with a really awesome hay cutting at our place (we got 21 round bales in a single cutting!), some weird plants have made a reappearance at my parent's place that were there when they first moved in and have mystified us for years. My little bro and I used to call them "bean pod plants" because they would make these beans that looked like smooth-skinned edamame and would pop like bubble wrap. Seeing them come back up again in my parent's field made me feel kinda nostalgic and renewed my curiosity about exactly what they are... and we finally figured it out! Glottidium vesicarium, aka bagpod- a legume and NOT a Harry Potter curse- is what my bro and I turned in to fishing poles, pretend cooking ingredients, and would pick and pop at each other when we were practically Audrey and Henry's ages. The funny thing is I never remember noticing that the plant produced flowers, but look how pretty they are!


8. Puttin' Up: Though I managed to miss blackberry season and most of my mom's pears were turned into cobbler or perry, I didn't sit out the harvest this year entirely. I was able to put away a few new strings of dried chilies, dehydrate a bunch of sweet peppers for that ground pepper powder I love so well, and I totally scored some huge cabbages at the grocery store that I made into sauerkraut this past weekend. My laundry room now smells like the worst kind of flatulence, but it is easy to overlook when you know there will be 'kraut in the end!



9. Inside vs. Outside: Through increased social awareness and the influence of peers, my kiddos have come to prefer sitting inside in front of a screen to almost any other pastime, and this shift became extremely evident this summer. It has been quite a struggle for me to accept that they now prefer Minecraft over digging in dirt or making art or working with dough... all that stuff my little Littles filled their days with. I found myself outside alone a lot this summer, despite the fact that we limited their time on devices and made them earn it. Don't get me wrong, they did do a variety of things this summer, but if given the choice they would choose video games over anything else hands-down. It's been kinda a bummer for me to get to a point of acceptance with this one. I still want them to want to do the things with me that they used to love.
  
10. The Overflow: The most recent newsworthy event around these parts is the waterfall that fell from around the vent hood opening over the oven this week, a result of an overflowed toilet upstairs that a certain little brother neglected to mention. It was one of those Murphy's Law scenarios- a minor clog with a jammed stopper and no one nearby to notice until it was too late... but thankfully it wasn't a worst-case scenario because I was in the kitchen when it started making it's way downstairs, and the water only came out around the vent, so the drywall remained mostly OK. You better believe I put in overtime bleaching everything and then some, though! Ugh.



So that's what's been going on here and there and everywhere- our little moments squeezed into and out of the slack between working, school, and the few hours of sleep here and there that we can find. I'm dangerously close to becoming one of those insufferable people who is busy all. the. time. and can't talk about anything else except the errands, classes, practices and games they have to haul their butts to every evening and weekend... but I'm trying my best to find the balance, the negative space between the business, the calm on the other side of the chaos. 

I'm not lost yet.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

1st Soccer Game









Our soccer guy's first game is in the books. His team lost 1-4, but they played with heart and no one got upset about the score, so I think there is real potential in their team. We'll have a rematch with the winning team in a couple of weeks, and Hen seems as enthusiastic as ever to work on playing even better.

Side note: he did get in a little trouble during the game for how often he was messing with his hair... so he is now sporting a sleeker and much shorter new 'do... and hopefully that will make a difference for the next game!

Monday, August 26, 2019

Coming In



It's crispy, it's weed-ridden, and it's more full of grasshoppers than anything anyone would probably find appetizing, but it's still giving us a little something! I'm talking about my poor late-August garden, of course. The weeds in the paths are knee-high and there are seriously grasshoppers out there over 3 inches long, but there are also 7 different kinds of peppers still hanging in there and a huge volunteer watermelon that just gave us 5 sweet perfect little sugar babies. It even looks like our tomatoes might have another round in them! So whenever I can brave the 108F heat index, I run out there and pick like a madwoman, then come back in and scour my books on what exactly I can make next with red serranos, or another round of jalapenos, or even more cowhorns... so far it's been pepper salt, pepper powder, pickled peppers, and lots and lots of hot sauce!


Next on my list: how to make agua fresca with seedy little watermelons! But I'm just glad there's still something coming in!

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Third and Fifth



My Littles are back at school today, y'all. More than ever before, this summer seems like it flew by. Despite our best efforts, I felt a little under-prepared this morning, to tell the truth. Standing in the dark kitchen packing lunches and listening to the thunder (because of course it rained for the first day of school), it felt a little surreal that I was packing the lunches that would start Henry's third grade year and Audrey's fifth grade year. (Even typing that felt weird.)



Henry woke up and came downstairs dressed and ready to embrace the day. Audrey, on the other hand, came down in her pajamas already filled with anxiety and very reluctant to get to school. Partly due to the unknown that is any first day of school, and partly because she had some trouble with some of the kids in her class last year, she kept that anxiety with her all the way through the door into her classroom, and although I did my best to give her a good solid pep talk, I think the only thing that will bring her around to her usual enthusiasm for school will be the experience of the first few days and the difference a summer break can make.




I know this year will be better... but that isn't stopping me from whispering a mantra for her, over and over, and holding it in my heart until she gets back home- keep an open mind, try your best, and find the kindness in the group, brave strong girl.

This school thing never gets any easier, y'all. But we're getting it done.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Three Days...


It never fails, y'all- three days until the First Day of School, and everyone finds their summer rhythm. Audrey starts sleeping in past 9am, Henry gets hooked on a chapter book series, everyone finally shifts to getting hungry at noon... and on Wednesday we all get back on School Time.

Ugh.

I guess we'd better just enjoy it while it lasts.

All three days of it.


Friday, August 9, 2019

Teenage Peeps (Updated)


Since the beginning of the summer, we've had six little puffballs living in the garage in a "brooder" borrowed from Aunt Karen and Uncle Larry. Happy and safe, they grew and grew... and got smellier, and smellier... and smellier.

Then, over the weekend, we realized all the room in the brooder had somehow been filled with teenager chickens, and it was time for them to move out.

Now, this is the first time I've had to blend younger chicks with an established flock, and I've been reading everything I can lay my eyeballs on to make sure I don't mess things up! Right now I'm 99% sure they are not big enough to go out with the big girls in the proper chicken coop, so what to do with these big-little chicks?

Revive the chicken tractor, of course!



I added a perch at the back, a solid wood panel in the middle, and a small tile roof for shade and rain protection, then wrapped the whole thing in hardware cloth to protect them against snakes. They have now spent two nights out there and so far all is well! The major flaw right now is that something motivated enough could dig under it, but at night I push them up closer to the house with the hopes that Suka's scent might discourage things from lingering.

Phase two will be pushing the chicken tractor into the big girl chicken run so they can all start getting used to each other. But that probably won't be for another week or two I think.


For now, the Chicken Friends approve of the new Peep's new digs, and I have heard both report that the little feather girls are clearly happier out there, as they get "peep zoomies" every time they're visited by their people.

I sure am happier with them out there, too- at least now our garage doesn't smell like teenage peeps!

Post edit:
Overnight it appears a coyote found and exploited the biggest weakness of the tractor: there is nothing to stop a digging predator. There were no survivors. 



Designs are now underway for a rebuilt chicken yard with a peep pen within the fortress walls. We will rebuild... and we will try again.