Showing posts from June, 2011

Strawberry picking

Yesterday we headed north and went strawberry picking.  It was a beautiful day... sunny but not too hot... and there were plenty of ripe strawberries. 

L. was very good about holding the basket for me to put the berries in, though she liked them all to one side and screamed if we tried to even it out. 

K. did some picking, but was a bit unclear on the concept of what we were supposed to be doing with the baskets.  He would pick a berry, take a bit or two, and then store the rest in his basket.  The bottom of the basket was covered with strawberry tops and partially eaten berries before I realized what he was doing.  (And, yes, he needs a haircut desperately.)

G. was very much excited by the eating process.  And she didn't care what color the berries were.  She would carry her basket, pick a couple put them in the basket, and then sit down and eat everything in her basket plus whichever berries happened to be growing in front of her.  It's no small wonder she wasn't very …

Cleaning out

While I'm busy cleaning out my house in anticipation of this weekend's yard sale, I'm going to clean out my brain and dump it in this post.  Here is a list of short things that I meant to post about, but never did for one reason or another.
If you happen to grind your own wheat, you should really invest in some soft wheat to use as pastry flour.  I've been using mine to make pie crusts (and anything else that calls for white pastry flour) and it is very yummy.  But don't make the same mistake I did.  A while back I posted on the Ordinary Time facebook page that I had a pie crust disaster.  I think I figured out the cause.  Because when you make pie crusts, everything should be cold to keep the fat from melting and not mixing well with the flour, it is NOT a good idea to grind your soft wheat and then use it immediately to make pie crust.  It doesn't work.  (If you don't grind your own wheat, you have to understand that the flour is warm when is it freshly mi…


Last night J. and I took out two oldest children out to dinner to celebrate M.'s graduation from high school.  (I wish I could take credit for the idea of going on a date with our older children, but must give credit to Lisa at A Bushel and a Peck for the wonderful idea.)  M. decided she didn't really want to have a graduation party, but going out to a nice dinner sounded appealing.

A. stayed home with all the littles, but invited a friend to have a sleepover so she would have an extra pair of hands.  M. chose a tapas restaurant near us and the evening was so nice we were able to walk there and have dinner outside.  It was lovely.  It also was lovely to be able to enjoy dinner with just our older children.  Let's just say it's a completely different dynamic when the youngest person at the table is 16.  I think J. even gave some inspirational words of wisdom to make it seem more graduation-y.

I still find it a little surprising that M. is old enough to be done with high…

I think I'll start calling it 'Dinner schooling'

That's because some of our most interesting discussions happen at the dinner table.  Take last night, for example.  I had read an editorial in the paper earlier that day about the dismal results of a study that was done on the level of historical literacy.  Whenever I read articles such as this, my children know that the quizzing will begin.  I'm always curious if my children know the events and people that are referred to. 

I'm happy to report that my children did indeed know who Abraham Lincoln was and why he was important, that they (well, at least one) knew what some of the advantages the American patriots had over the British redcoats, that the phrase "Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" came from the Declaration of Independence and the date that document was signed, and that they found the statement that Louis Armstrong was the first man to walk on the moon laughably ridiculous.

We were all a bit stumped over the question of which country was an a…

Steak salad with goat cheese, caramelized onions, and pecans

This is the salad I made up for J. for his birthday last week.  It was very, very good (if I say so myself) and I wanted to share the recipe with you.  (Plus, then it will be written down somewhere when I forget what I did.)  This is also great for anyone who might have steak in their freezer, yet not enough to feed their family.  It's a great way to stretch it.

Here's the recipe:

Steak (any cut, amount depends on how many you're feeding and/or how many steaks you have... we cooked three)
Romaine lettuce (figure one large head per four people)
Goat cheese (though blue cheese would be yummy, too... I used ~7 oz)
Pecans, about 1/4 cup

Grill the steak(s) ahead of time.  We rubbed some seasoning rub that we had on them, but that's not necessary.  When cooked, set aside to cool.  Slice one or two onions (I did two) and saute in some olive oil.  When they are starting to wilt and become translucent, add a couple of teaspoons of sugar.  Continue to saute until the onions are …


The electricity in our neck of the woods was restored last night... 24 hours ahead of what was scheduled.  I can now go back to just sticking dirty dishes in the dishwasher and start to tackle the mound of laundry which built up.  It's also nice to not have the interior of the house quite so dim.  It turns out, that even though you would think my kitchen is a bright, sunny place, in realty, it is one of the darkest rooms in the house.

I have to admit that part of me was a little disappointed the power came on early.  Having no internet and no major appliances really slows you down.  By last night I was feeling pretty relaxed (especially since I knew our frozen meat was maintaining the appropriate state of frozen-ness in a friend's freezer).  We had started to like the look of candlelight and I was immediately struck by the low level of noise that began immediately upon the power coming on.  I hadn't realized how quiet everything had become.

The two things I found I missed …

In the dark...

[J.--posting from a nearby coffee shop.]

Ahh, life off the grid!  Literally... off the grid... since the power went out last night.  And the electric company's automated phone system informs us that it may be Friday night before we are back on the grid.  Ironically, the laptop has plenty of battery power and the phone line works... but the modem/router must be plugged in.

Let's count our blessings:
So far, everyone enjoys life by candlelight.  It was pleasantly cool today, so we kept the doors and windows open.  We bought enough dry ice to keep the freezers cold for now.  The stove is gas, so we can still light the burners by match.I'm off work this week to do some home renovations, and today's demolition work required no electricity.  (Apart from the cordless sawzall!)Spaghetti for dinner.  Anyway... don't expect many posts for a day or two.

Many birthdays

Sorry for the late post.  We have spent a good portion of the day emptying out the school room in anticipation of moving A. and P. (and eventually H.) into it as a bedroom.  But I digress.  Last nigh we celebrated B.'s, G.'s, L.'s, and D.'s birthdays.
The trouble with birthday pie is that it is impossible to put candles on it, so we hold them for the person to blow out.  Here's G.:

And L.:

And D.:

B. did not want to blow out candles and he didn't really want us to sing to him, either.  But we did.

Then it was time for presents.  G. and L. enjoyed opening their gifts.

And playing with them.

Sometimes it was a bit chaotic.

And sometimes there were quiet moments.

It's always interesting to see what someone else is getting.

And sometimes your mother, after checking the time, tells you to keep on moving and look at the gifts later.

Today is also J.'s birthday, so we'll have more pie.  And tomorrow is our anniversary, so we'll continue to clean out the…

Happy birthday, D.!

I know that this is a shocking two posts in one day, but the bee swarm was too good not to share and today happens to be D.'s 8th birthday.  D. is my most gregarious child and he collects friends as easily as the rest of us collect... well, anything.  He is charming and friendly and has a very tender heart.  It's probably why he's so good in the friend department.  In addition to these wonderful attributes, he also has a fantastic memory combined with a love of story.  This means that he is often regaling us with play-by-play accounts of whatever story he has just listened to or read.  (I will add for some brothers and sisters, this is not necessarily one of his most endearing traits.  Having siblings helps to teach patience.)

We will celebrate tonight and also do an official celebration for B., G., and L.  There will be lots of presents and for my two fall birthdays, I imagine they will each have a brief Frances moment.  ("That's the way it is, Alice.  Your birth…

Bee swarm

On Saturday afternoon TM and I were in the kitchen when he calls my attention to the bee hive.  I go and look and see bees pouring out of it and flying in a huge mass that looked to be four stories tall.  B. happened to walk by at that point so I asked him if the bees should be doing that.  His response?  "I think they're swarming."  When I asked what one does about that, he replies, "I don't know."  We find the number of a person who collects swarms and B. calls him and is giving a lot of helpful information.
Now, before I continue with my story, I feel I should add to your store of bee knowledge.  Bee hives have one queen who lays all the eggs.  If the colony starts to feel it is growing out of its living quarters, a new queen is allowed to be born and this queen leaves the hive, taking about half the population with her and they go in search of a new home.  This is what happens when bees swarm.  B. thought he had been providing enough room, but it turns o…


You know the phrase, "If Mamma ain't happy, no one is happy"?  Well, the converse of that is also true, though perhaps not as easy and natural as letting a bad mood or attitude rule the day.

For the past four months a friend of mine and I have been hosting a discussion group once a month to watch a video by Nancy Campbell on Reclaiming Biblical Womanhood and then to discuss it.  It has been interesting and useful and I will miss the discussions.  The last session was on 'Reclaiming Attitudes' and one of Mrs. Campbell's seven points was to smile and rejoice even when we don't feel like it.  Especially when we don't feel like it.  This was also one of the points which brought up the most discussion.

Why is it so hard to choose joy?  Is it dishonest to 'put on a happy face'?  Why don't we ever think to pray to ask God's help in changing bad attitudes?  Why does it sometimes feel as though we enjoy wallowing in yuckiness?  Do we really wan…

Welcome to Who-ville

From yesterday afternoon.  L. is in green, G. is in blue.

Today I will be re-acquainting myself with my sewing machine and work on making a blouse for A. using all my new-found knowledge of fitting.  I want to see if I can make it actually fit her as opposed to sort-of fit her.  I thought it might be easier to fit on another person rather on myself.  Plus, she really needs the blouse.  Do you know how difficult it is to find appropriate clothing for a 13 year old girl?

No pictures because my little girls were too busy being scientists

That's what the little certificates say... G. and L. are now officially baby scientists.  This morning J. and I took G. and L. down to his school to participate in a psychology study about children and language.  It was really easy because the study was using eye tracking to study language acquisition (or something like that) and so the girls each watched a three minute video while their eye movements were video taped.  Afterwards they were each presented with a 'Baby Scientist' certificate and a new book.  (The book was by far the most popular of the two items.)  What was most fun for me was just being out with J. and the little girls by ourselves.  Trust me, this doesn't happen very often.

To make a nice morning, we then went to a Vietnamese bakery and picked-up some banh mi sandwiches and headed to a park for a picnic.  G. and L. had a lovely time eating and swinging and playing and greeting everyone who walked by.  And they looked particularly cute in their twirly …

Happy Birthday, B., G., and L.!

Today B. turns 16 and G. and L. turn 2.  Where did my babies go?  Really, it was just yesterday that the girls were born and just the day before yesterday that B. was born.  Time goes too fast... when you're looking back on it.  I know there were nights when the babies would not sleep that felt like eons and I remember feeling that same way when B. was a baby and spent the first six months of his life wide awake.  It sure would have helped to know that they would each become such terrific sleepers eventually.

I don't feel as melancholy about this 2 year old birthday the little girls are celebrating as I thought I might.  I will certainly miss their babyhood (and having 2 two year olds will provide enough challenges to keep me occupied), I don't feel as if I missed their babyhood.  I think I am far more melancholy about missing B.'s babyhood.  Let me explain.

The wonderful thing about having babies #8 and 9 is that you have either raised, or nearly raised a whole host o…

It's just stuff, right?

I am spending the week sorting through stuff in the basement, particularly the area where I store children's clothes.  After 10 years here... and 9 children... the amount of clothing is staggering.  Also, I have so much of it that it is not useful because it is too difficult to get what I need and I'm out of space to store anything new.  While I firmly believe in reusing clothing (it has saved us bundles of money over the years), it has now become a burden instead of a blessing.  In an effort to clean things out and raise some money for H.'s adoption, we are planning a big yard sale later in the summer.  Cleaning out everywhere is step one.

I will admit that I am the biggest part of the problem.  While I am quite able to give away many things, clothing my children have worn is very difficult for me, particularly the baby things.  On some level, it feels as though I'm giving away a piece of my children to give away something they've worn.  Rationally I know this is …

Off to church camp

Three children were successfully delivered to church camp yesterday.  We always make an event of it (when I'm not busy having babies, that is.)  We all go up, get everyone settled, play a bit and stay until camp officially starts, then head to a restaurant with our friends the H-S and P. families, finally coming home with very tired children.
Here is D. in front of his cabin... this is his first year to go to camp and excited doesn't even begin to convey how he was feeling about it.

P. at her cabin.  She's an old hand at church camp.  She has some girls she really likes in her cabin and I think it will be a fun week for her.

This is also the first year I am sending a counselor... here is M. in front of her cabin.

Two of M.'s very good friends are also counselors... A.L. of the H-S family and P19 from the P. family are also at camp this week.

Here are P17 and B. (holding L.) while they wait around to head to dinner.  I wish I would have thought to get a picture of these …