"She refused to be bored, chiefly because she wasn't boring." Zelda Fitzgerald

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

What Do You Call An Egg With No Shell?

Check out this egg that one of my hens laid.

Pretty, right?

Pretty weird!!!!

Its an egg with no shell....just the thin, skin-like membrane that normally lines the inside of the shell. Reading a list of reasons why this could occur isn't particularly enlightening (stress, low calcium, too much salt, immaturity, old age). I am going to bet on stress as the most likely cause. Its hard for me to tell which hen laid this because the shell color is my normal way to tell any given hen's eggs from another but I'd venture to guess Pearl is our most stressed hen after her recent recovery and I'm in the process of putting together a whole new coop with lots more space in the house and the yard because I think all the girls are a little too short on room and that could be stressing any one of them.

Nature is strange and sometimes beyond believing. Time to fire up my drill and get that coop together lest our eggs keep arriving in little skin sacks!


Monday, October 20, 2014

Laugh, And Do Hard Things

Today was one of those ridiculous days when I really believe in Mercury Retrograde. Everyone was out of sorts, everyone keeps getting sick, the animals keep having ailments, the house keeps manifesting ridiculous messes and I can't seem to get enough sleep or coffee! My aunt came over for lunch and after getting up and trying to get her day going her kitchen cupboard doors fell off right in her hands. Seriously, y'all! There's something in the water over here....don't come over....your car might auto- reverse into one of the maple trees curbside while we're visiting!

My mama always says, "Sometimes you either laugh or cry....its always better to laugh." Today was just one of those days when you shake your head and laugh over and over and over. We all have these days, although we mostly have them in a kind of tortured, stress-balled mental privacy. Your spouse hears about it all, your kids see it fall apart but nobody else needs to know. Today my aunt was here and my sister home for lunch in the middle of the mayhem and we had a friend over and then his mama, Nutmeg came and walked into the insanity. There's no hiding that. I was embarrassed. I was more stressed than before. Wowee.

I laughed until I cried when they all walked out and all four of the kids started screaming in unison. Life is sometimes madness. Its good to be human sometimes. To let other people see you at all ends and falling apart and messing up. Its good to let yourself see it. This is reality and vulnerability and on some level this is real strength....to know we don't have it all together and to be able to look that fact in the eye and still see that you matter, that you are a good person and that you are no quitter.

I sat my hysterical, little four year old down on the steps tonight and I told him (once I got him to stop throwing books and screaming) "Hey dude....I know that you are mad because you couldn't solve that problem but listen....you're lucky. You come from a good family. We're people who do hard things. You can do hard things too because you're one of us."

I wanna hide. I wanna work towards perfect and not let myself be seen or else be seen and stop trying. It hurts to let people to see that you don't have it all together and it hurts to keep working when things are hard...to laugh as a way to keep standing when the struggle is real.

I wanna be prophetic in my speaking that ownership statement to my four year old and to myself. Our family is full of people who do hard things. I wanna push for that to be label so badly. I wanna do hard things. I wanna have a messy life, a real life, an honest life and I want to never keep trying...even if it seems insane. Life is crazy, but some of the best stuff comes in the middle of the mania if you can learn to do hard things.


Thursday, October 9, 2014

Curing A Craving and Natural Medicine

I am craving mushrooms. I would sell half of my clothes right now for a hefty basket of chanterelles. They sound SO good. Its high fall here and sometimes warm and sunny and sometimes so blustery and chilly that I think I might be foolhardy leaving the potted fig outdoors at this point. We are getting a decent amount of rain and so it seems like perfect mushrooming weather. I have only to get out there and hunt them up! It doesn't help that the day before yesterday I found a giant puffball with the kids and brought it home, only to find out that it was too mature to be any good for eating once I cut it open. Off to woods! I can tell you what we will be doing once the kids are up from nap. Time for a mama hike.

The leaves are getting really beautiful here, the maples are amazingly red some places and a firey orange in others, the ash trees all the color of good egg yolks. There is a maple at the top of the hill with a big mangled limb like a crooked elbow that points towards the hospital and gets redder every day, almost like its a warning sign in nature. Makes me want those mushrooms all the more, having trees waving warning signs at me about taking care of my health.

Am still enjoying Eating On The Wild Side, its so full of information and details that I have to put it down for a minute and verbally comb through the recommendations with A or my sister to put it all in perspective and consider it all. Interesting to think about all the little tweaks that we can make to our eating and our food supply to maximize the good that's out there in The Big Medicine Cabinet of the outdoors. I firmly believe that food is our best medicine and that most of our health problems today are caused by bad eating. Next on my list is The Jungle Effect which talks about looking at your family tree ethnically for hints about how to eat well for your own personal pleasure and wellness. I have been thinking about that a lot for a couple of years but had no idea that someone had actually written a book on the subject. Will report back when I can tell you something about my opinion.

I would love to look into essential oils and teas a little more. I use them a tiny bit. I have Tea Tree around for disinfection, Garlic Oil for ear aches, Clove Oil for pain relief, Peppermint Oil and tea for headaches and nausea, Licourice Tea for sore throats, Plantain Oil for skin problems, Nettle Tea for immune boosting and asthma. But that's it. Anybody care to share their favorite oil or tea for a specific ailment? I would kind of love to have a Natural Medicine Cabinet for winter.


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Golden Days On The Mend

Spending lots of time at home today. Nib has a ridiculous predilection to carsickness and this morning I briskly bundled him into the car to rush off to a bible study and ended up paying the price for my rumbledy driving holding his head over a toilet in the nearest rest area. So much for that outfit. I am really hoping that it turns out to just be a one-off, motion-sickness incident although I do hear that there are tummy bugs about. Boo. 
 On the upside, the weather is absolutely perfection and he felt totally normal again after a morning of work in the garden in which I weeded the strawberries within an inch of their life and the boys completely dismantled the brick wall in another part of the garden. Vitamin D is worth a certain price. I'm awfully glad that dry stacked walls can be re-stacked.
 We've been picking pears off a roadside pear tree that I discovered not far from the house, the flavor is wonderful and they are great treats for tossing in the car as we head off to baseball practices. They're also nice in the juicer, which means we can even find uses for the cracked ones that split when they fall from the highest branches of the tree.

I realize that sounds amzingly Ma Ingalls of me but it truly isn't. It takes no time at all to stop for five minutes and pick pears up off the grass and I haven't canned a single, darned thing this year even though I meant to with deepest intention. This is year two of my great hiatus from tomato sauce and canned peaches. We didn't even pick one peach this year.
 All the things in the vegetable garden were looking a bit past so I trimmed them all down a bit, thinking that I was beginning the autumn clean-up. There was a lot of material for the compost pile and some of the plants (the tomatoes for instance) were trimmed down to mere shadows of themselves. I was totally shocked to go out today and discover that they have all rebounded and flushed new growth such that they look like big full plants again. We are having a second round of produce! There's new leaves on the kale, the tomatoes are blossoming again and even the dahlias have begun  blooming all over. Never give up.

 We laid low today, skipped most of our lessons, read library books, took extra naps, played in the sunshine and watched Cheaper By The Dozen for the first time. I hate feeling anxious about the spread of germs and worrying about being behind but I do like the comfort of knowing that we are masters of our own schedule and if we so deem, we can take a day. I keep reminding myself that this is one of the biggest reasons why we homeschool. I cherish that lucky gift.
 I was just texting A and telling him to hurry soon (he's working late tonight) because any little family emergency is so much better with two. Isn't that the truth? Its so much better to go through crazy with someone who loves you. We have had real troubles in our marriage but I can honestly say, that we both feel that way about each other these days. Sometimes you need to stick it out, put in your time, read, grow, change and get help with wildly tenacious energy. I feel incredibly lucky to be going through life with someone that is a problem solver and a grower.

 I am off to kids club now, running all the non-sick ones off to enjoy their little pals and hoping that we have a quiet evening here at home. May the germs abate, may the hope rise and may you feel that you are over the hump! Happy Wednesday!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Pom Today

Today I am writing about my smallest son, Pom. He looks like he's a baby but he's just short. We freak people out on the playground EVERY SINGLE TIME when he goes down the slide alone. He's 22 lbs and nobody but nobody expects him to actually be two years old, talking up a storm and jumping off things, running at full speed and trying hard to figure out the world. So much fun to watch him emerge.

Pom Likes...

1.Elephants: Which he confidently pronounces "el-fa-dent." Not sure why....maybe purely because they have a euphonious name. We bring elephant books home from the library every week.
2.Pretend Conversation With Stuffed Animals: He loves to have me play ventriloquist and make his animals all talk to him. Its his favorite kind of personal therapy when he's miffed and won't tell us what's wrong. He'll tell his stuffed turtle....no problem. He sleeps with about four stuffed animals every night and has recently become attached to a backpack that has a stuffed animal caterpillar head
3.Reading Storybooks Together: He follows us around the house asking for story time, many mornings, since he's an early riser, he'll run in to our bedroom with a book and manage to squeeze a quick one in with Daddy before dressing time. He loves Winnie-the-Pooh, Llama Llama Red Pajama and this horrible, chintzy action figure story for early readers that features five superheros portrayed in chubby cheeked kiddie form. Classic right? Isn't that the one they always adore? Which brings me to....
4.Superman: Which is his favorite superhero and then what he ends up reverting to and calling ALL superheros. Its even better because he pronounces his name, "Super-nan,"
5.Aunt Lockbox: She's his favorite, his best pal and his most admired lady. Sometimes only she can kiss pinched fingers right, read his favorite story or put him down for a nap. He is always thrilled when she comes home from work and usually runs to her to hug her knees while yelling her name happily.
6.Butter: You have to keep a tight reign on the butter dish when he's around...he'll literally take a spoon to it if you turn your back. If that freaks you out then take Julia Child's advice: "If you are afraid of butter, use cream." Pom would approve. He also adores cream.
7.Music and Singing: His most favorite at the moment is to have me sing Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star to him....randomly, whenever he thinks of it. He also grooves down to music wherever it shows up: the grocery store, church, electronic toys, advertisements.
8.Saying, "Yes Sir!" To People: He says it all the time....to women, kids, men...whomever...sometimes inserting it into conversation, as in: "I put the books into the box, yes sir, and they are in there waiting to be founded." He also uses it as a super enthusiastic way to say yes though. Cute man.
9.Nose Rubbing Kisses: He loves them and sometimes will grab my face with his two hands and physically capture my attention so that we can nose rub happily. Its his favorite.
10. Having His Picture Taken: We try to take a walk once a day and he loves to pose at periodic points and refuse to progress unless I take his picture. So funny.

Pom Hates....

1.Having His Hair Washed: Screams himself silly, no matter how I do it. No winning. He's been studying under Dee.
2.Wearing Shoes In The Car: All shoes and socks get taken off immediately, even if you're in the car for five minutes. He's old school about his foot wear. Nothing, bare feet always. Wonder if cold weather will help him stop doing this so quickly.
3.Going Inside: He's an outdoor kind of guy and loves to go out early and stay out as long as he can...whatever the weather. I hate that he knows how to open the front door now but I love that out is where he wants to be.
4. Having His Honey Mixed Into His Yogurt: You must never stir. It has to lay in a golden pool on the top of the bowl....he usually does eat all the plain yogurt on the bottom so I'm fine with it. We all have our quirks.
5.Dogs Jumping On Him: I mean, nobody really loves that...tackling is not actually a good form of greeting. Pom, however, really flips out. He'll practically hyperventilate. Elephants he's into but dogs make him really nervous, although they're growing on him.
6.The Tiny Nubbin Tail On Sausages: He screams and yells and bangs his plate and refuses to even sit down in his chair properly unless its carefully trimmed off with a knife....AND removed from his plate. At first I couldn't figure out what in the world was wrong and he didn't know the name for the offending detail...heck! I don't know the name either. Sausage tail is not an official term.
7. Fireworks, Car Alarms, Smoke Detectors And Other Sudden Loud Noises: He climbs up our faces and wants to sit on our left ears all night if somebody sets off fireworks in the neighborhood, there is a thunderstorm or a local car alarm goes off. I set our car alarm off in the driveway by accident the other day and it was mayhem while I tried to remember how, how, how in the world it is turned off. That was a crazy 20 minutes!
8.Babysitters: Not specific babysitters, just the idea of them....he'll always scream and cry and kick things and tell me angrily, "I cairy!" (which means that he's scared) when the sitter walks up the front steps. Same goes for the church nursery, no matter who is staffing it. Good thing he calms down in a fast five minutes after I leave.
9.Daddy Going To California: He cries more than anyone else at the airport at the start of every California Week, when my husband travels for business and he asks sadly about him during the day quite a lot. When we Skype at bedtime he often bursts into tears when he sees his Daddy's face on the screen.
10. Sitting In His Baby Car Seat: He's dying, dying to be in a booster seat in the car. Its killing him to be buckled up so much more heavily than all his brothers. Sometimes we can appease him if we pull a nearby adult seat belt across the front of his car seat to help him fantasize that he's buckled with it like all of us. Life is unfair. Dream on, kid.

 Its good to pay attention to the details. The little things that emerge. The clues we give each other about what makes us happy and scared and angry. There's no telling what makes everyone tick without tuning in...we are all of us different and charming and curious. Trying to work on loving the exercise of parenting as it teaches me that all of us in this world want to be noticed and require nurturing. Maybe soon I will do a post on my most recent loves and hates....I want to grow and change as much as my children.