29 June 2009

Pet Peeves

This morning I went through my e-mails, and puzzled for at least a full minute over the Free-cycle posting "ISO: wheel barrel." "A wheel barrel?" I thought, "What on earth is THAT?" Then I realized, the person meant wheelBARROW. So, in honor of all those people whose grasp on some of the nuances of English is...tenuous, here is a list of some pet peeves of mine:

Confusing tea kettles and tea pots. The kettle is for boiling water on the stove. The pot is for brewing the tea (always with freshly boiled water). Any British person can tell you that you need one of each to make a respectable pot of tea.

People who pronounce "etc." as "eksetera". Unlike similar questions regarding chickens and eggs, the question of whether the "t" or the "c" comes first is answered beautifully by the abbreviation itself. This means that even if you aren't aware that "etc." stands for two Latin words, which together mean "and all the rest", you can still pronounce it correctly. Please. "Eksetera" is not a word, and has no meaning whatsoever.

Wheel barrel. This would be a barrel with a wheel attached, which would be handy if you simply wanted to move the barrel, but not very helpful if you were wanting to move anything else. A barrow, on the other hand, is a type of box designed for carrying things. If you attach a wheel to one end, and handles to the other, you can move things around by yourself, which makes it a very handy thing to have.

And an oddity that I have noticed since moving to the Midwest (but which I wouldn't classify as a pet peeve) is the habit of leaving the verb "to be" out of sentences. People here say "The car needs washed and the lawn needs mowed." It's interesting to note these regional tendencies. I'm sure there are some that I grew up with and am not even aware of. I'm also sure I have many other pet peeves, but that's enough griping for one post. Cheers!

26 June 2009

Homemade Laundry Soap with Fels Naptha

There are recipes all over the web for this laundry detergent, but I haven't been very happy with the process these recommend. I've been using this almost exclusively for about 5 years now, and think the method of assembly I've developed is vastly superiour to others I have seen. The only ingredients are:

Fels Naptha (a bar-type stain-remover, in the laundry aisle. Probably on the top or bottom shelf)
Borax
Washing Soda (This is hard to find. You can call Arm&Hammer, or look at the web-site, for a list of stores in your area that carry it. In the Lafayette, IN area, you can find it at Meijer)

Making laundry soap at home is an easy way to pinch pennies. I pay about $1.50/bar for the Fels Naptha, $3/box for Washing Soda, and just a few dollars for a big box of Borax. Both the Washing Soda and the Borax make many many batches from just one box, though I confess I've never actually done the math. I'm certain that it's cheaper than my second favourite option, which is All Free & Clear. I can't stand scented laundry soap. If you like a scent, I've read that you can add a rag with a few drops of your favourite essential oil to the dryer.

Important note: You need to get Washing Soda for this, NOT Baking Soda. That is, Sodium Carbonate, and NOT Sodium BIcarbonate. This is an important disctinction. You will also need:

A 2 gallon bucket (get one from the bakery at your grocery store; they are usually free. Ask for a small frosting bucket)
A whisk
A long stirrer. I use a wooden spoon.
A four-sided grater
Optional: an electric hand-blender. This gives a nice smooth consistency to the final product.
A measuring cup, roughly between 1/2 and 2/3 cup.

Set all these things aside to be used ONLY for laundry soap-making. You will also need a teakettle, or just a pot, with roughly 4 cups of water. (I just fill my teakettle all the way. It's more than four cups) Set it on the stove on high, then take out your four-sided grater. Use this side:



You want to grate the Fels Naptha into a fine powder, like this:

I use half the bar per batch. Some recipes only call for 1/3. How hard do you want to pinch those pennies? Now, other recipes will tell you to use the shredder side, or simply chop up the bar. That is easier, but then you have to put the results in a pot on the stove, add water, and stir at a boil 'til everything is dissolved. It takes forever! My way is much easier. Once you have the powder in the bucket, get the teakettle. Pour the boiling water over the powder, whisking to blend:


Be careful not to pour the water over your hand!! Try not to beat in a ton of air. Air makes it foamy, and you don't want that. Some foam, however, is almost impossible to avoid:

You do have to whisk AS the water goes in, or it will be lumpy. Once all the boiling water is in, get your measuring cup and your other two ingredients. Whatever size cup you chose, you are going to put in that amount of both Borax and Washing Soda. Pour each one in slowly, blending with the whisk. I've seen varying amounts of these in different recipes. I think the important thing is to put in the same amount of each. Like I said above, anything between 1/2 and 2/3 cup is fine. I use the same scoop that I use to measure the finished soap into the wash. Mine is actually closer to 3/4 cup. It's the lid from an old laundry soap container.

Once the Borax and Washing Soda have been blended with the Fels Naptha, take your bucket to the sink. Get your long stirrer. Fill the bucket the rest of the way with cold water, stirring as it fills:

You will probably see the laundry soap develop a jelly-like consistency. I tried to capture that in the picture below. I hope you can see, that the surface tension of the liquid is much higher than just water - the spoon has actually pushed down the surface, before breaking through:


Once the bucket is full, set it somewhere to sit overnight. In the morning it will be super thick:


Now, at this point you can just stir it really well, and it's ready to go. I found that it was a bit lumpy, however. I found a handblender at a yard sale, so I use that to just smooth it out and get rid of the lumps:



With good water, 3/4 cup/load should be plenty. I have SUPER hard water, so I use double that - two of my scoops. For stains, just rub some of this into the stain and let it sit for a few minutes before you put it in the wash. This soap only takes 15 minutes or so to make. The most difficult thing about it is remembering to make it in the evening, so it can sit overnight. I usually keep a bottle of regular detergent on hand, for emergencies when I've forgotten to make this and HAVE to do a load of laundry. If someone wants to do the math and figure out how much this costs per load, I'd love to see it.

24 June 2009

Learning by the way

Monkey #1 likes to ask questions. Tonight I overheard this conversation between him and the Mad Scientist:

M#1: What's the capital of Michigan?
MS: Lansing.
M#1: What's the capital of Ohio?
MS: Columbus.
M#1: What's the capital of Hawaii?
MS: Honolulu.
M#1: What's the capital of Alaska?
MS: Juneau.
M#1: No, I don't.

:-D

Letting Children Help

Letting children help is, in my experience, difficult. I'm frequently in a hurry, and children slow everything down. Besides taking longer, they never seem to do things the way I want them done. It is really tempting to just push them aside. However, several wise sources have encouraged me to let my children help. Because right now, they love to do that. They love being a part of what I'm doing, and are actually eager to lend a hand. And sources tell me, this doesn't last if it isn't encouraged. You can't say no all the time now, and think that when they are big enough to be useful THEN you'll let them help. Then, it will be like pulling teeth to get them to work, unless you have taught them before that, that working can be fun. They'll only learn this by helping you now, in a joy-filled atmosphere, and seeing their efforts praised and appreciated. This is what I've been told. I'm trying to listen:


Monkey #1 asked if he could cut up the sausage for dinner the other night. And you know what? He did a really good job. And I managed to get other things done, while he finished that for me. All of a sudden, he's at an age where his help is actually...helpful (sometimes!). I'm not sure when it happened, but I'm grateful for those who encouraged me to anticipate this day by letting him "help" me when it very much wasn't the case.

For more helpful ideas, visit Works For Me Wednesday, hosted by We Are THAT Family.

22 June 2009

Learning humility

Did you know that a gathering of monkeys is called a troupe? Whales gather in pods, lions in prides, and monkeys gather in troupes. I notice these things, when I'm reading, because I know all about monkeys. I am mothering a troupe of monkeys. It's not just the way they climb all over everything, or that they jump, screech, and run about with seemingly inexhaustible stores of energy. Perpetual motion has nothing on Monkey#2. She could outlast the Energizer Bunny. Now, I frequently don't have my camera to provide evidence for these things, but the other day I just happened to be nursing Monkey #3, and the Mad Scientist was handy to capture this:

That's his latest favourite nursing position. (Don't worry, you can't see anything inappropriate). Which is to say, it's the one he comes back to most frequently as he's squirming all over the place, without ever letting go of me. I remember a mother talking about nursing her toddler in La Leche League once, and saying that she was dealing with this sort of thing. I thought (to myself, thankfully) "I couldn't tolerate that. I'd just make him lie still." Yeah, right. Well, I could, but seriously? Some things just aren't worth the hassle...or the tears. It's not that important. So I play jungle gym when I nurse. I remind myself that, if I haven't learned humility by now, there's lots of years left. Mothering will teach you humility, sooner or later, I'm firmly convinced. It doesn't pay to get hoity-toity as a mother. Someone with an irresistable grin will take you down a peg or two, and you probably won't even be able to get upset. It's a self-defense mechanism God gives them:

This is a totally gratuitous picture, just because I love it. (Yes, Mother, I'll put up pictures of the other monkeys soon.) :-)

21 June 2009

Daddy

I don't think that good daddies are as difficult to find as it sometimes seems. I'm sure a perusal of the mothering blogs today would reveal a plethora of tributes to men who work hard being good husbands and good fathers. I'm fortunate to have married one of the best.

This is from last winter. The Mad Scientist, building a snowman with Monkey #1 and Monkey #2.


The Mad Scientist, reading Thorton Burgess (because he loved those stories, when he was a boy):



The Mad Scientist, digging for dinosaur bones:


The Mad Scientist, demonstrating the Potato Sack Hold:


The Mad Scientist, whose youngest son absolutely adores him:


He's Daddy's boy.
I love this picture. There's nowhere as safe, as a daddy's arms:


Being a good daddy is hard work. Especially because you aren't off-duty, just because the monkeys aren't awake:

I've been grateful every day since we said "I do", that I married this man. And never more so than when I see him taking so much joy in his children, playing with them, disciplining them, and showing them what love looks like, every single day.

The Monkey Troupe

I knew that someday I would need to explain, why it is I call my children The Monkeys. Well, maybe every mother of small children understands. I can't be the only one who sees things like this on a regular basis. Right?


It started with Monkey #2. When she was three weeks old, we went camping with my family. One evening as I was holding her, she suddenly scrunched her face up. She was smaller than Monkey #1 had been, and she looked just like a little monkey when she made that face, all red and scrunched, and she was such a little bit of a thing...I said "Monkeybean!" And that's been her nickname ever since (though I hasten to add that she has never since appeared to me to have any resemblance to a monkey. That's my disclaimer for the psychiatrist). It was only natural, with a monkeybean in the family, that we would begin to notice how much our oldest often seemed to be part monkey as well. And when Monkey #3 came along, he only added to the mayhem. So now, I mother The Monkey Troupe, and enjoy (nearly) every madcap minute.

17 June 2009

Smoothies for breakfast


My favourite summertime breakfast is a smoothie. It's so simple to just throw a few things in the blender, and then I've had something healthy that gives me an energy boost, to get through feeding the monkeys. Step 1: give the Monkey Baby something to play with that will keep him occupied. Filling that role here is my can opener, which does not have an exposed blade, but DOES turn, open, and otherwise keep a monkey occupied for five minutes. Perfect.


Next, Pour some frozen fruit in the blender. I buy a smoothie blend, that has mango, papaya, pineapple, and strawberries. Some mornings I mix this with a three berry blend (raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries), or raspberries by themselves. You could use peaches, or plain strawberries. Throw in a banana, if that's a flavour you really like. Basically, anything fruity that tastes good to you. This is enough for two smoothies:

On top of the fruit in that picture you can see a scattering of flax seed, which I throw in for the...whatever the healthy stuff is in flax seed. Omega 3? I don't remember. Anyway, that's optional. Also add your sweetener of choice. I used about 2 tablespoons of sugar this morning, which left the smoothie rather tart. Sometimes I use honey. Next, pour enough buttermilk in to cover the fruit. You could also use plain yogurt and milk. Buttermilk has a nice tart flavour that I like, is super cheap, and still has the live culture that makes yogurt so good for you.


I usually add two eggs at this point, but we're out this morning. (It took two pregnancies before I decided I couldn't handle scrambled eggs every morning, and got my mind around drinking them raw. My midwife recommends two eggs a day during pregnancy, to help prevent pre-eclampsia. You can't taste them, I promise.) Blend everything until smooth (you may need to add more liquid).


Ok, now this is the very best part. Ready? After you pour out all the smoothie, drip a few drops of dish soap in the blender and fill half-way with warm water. Now turn on high:


Rinse it out well, then turn it upside down in the dish-drain to dry. Total time for healthy breakfast and a clean kitchen: About 6 minutes. I love it!

See more great ideas at Works For Me Wednesday, hosted by We Are THAT Family.

Western Salsify

I found this growing in the weeds under our maple tree. I thought it was really pretty, so I went ahead and cut the landscaping fabric around it and left it in the bed. It's looking pretty lonely right now, but if we don't get the grass seed down it will have lots of dandelions to keep it company soon. Isn't it pretty?

I didn't have any idea what it is, and the last time I thought something was pretty and left it in my garden, it turned out to be Jimson Weed. So I'm a little choosier now about what I just let grow in my garden. I was going to post these pictures and see if any readers knew what it was, but my chiropractor stopped by yesterday and said she knew. She couldn't remember the name, but she said it is a weed that they spray for around here. Now, that in and of itself isn't really a warning flag. After all, the same is true of dandelions, which are good for all sorts of things.

This plant has a large, thick root, which had no trouble at all growing right through my landscaping fabric:


The blossoms open from these buds, and the green points spread out under the yellow petals. It's really very pretty. I was hoping it wasn't toxic.

The blossoms are only open during the morning. I learned that later, it will get a huge seed head that looks like a giant dandelion. That's when I realized this was in the bed last year, because I remember seeing that and wondering what on earth it was.

My chiropractor called back today and said it's called Salsify, Oyster Root, Noon-flower, or Goat's Beard. With that information in hand I learned that this particular type is actually Western Salsify, and most sites agreed that the root and lower stems are edible. It is a relative of Salsify, which has purple flowers but appears very similar. It is an invasive species. I plan to collect the seeds, and try growing enough next year to harvest a bit and try it.

15 June 2009

A Healthier Place

Ever since high school I have kept a notebook of quotes. I write down quotes that inspire me, quotes that make me wish everyone were in agreement, and quotes that make me laugh. It's interesting to look back and see the things that filled those categories at different points. For example, after I broke up with my high-school boyfriend, I copied out Gloria Steinem's idea that women need men like fish need bicycles. At the time, I found that humorous. I may be revealing more than I'd like about my adolescent self.

In February, I copied out this quote:

"wherever we go, the city, the country, to moon, we take ourselves with us.
there is no heaven. i used to fantasize about living in a healthier place,
one where i could ride my bike, for example. then, one day, i started
riding my bike. now, without having fled or escaped to anywhere, i live
in a place where i can ride my bike."
~ heretic fig

This spring, I decided to just go ahead and plant a garden, fitting things in my existing beds as I was able. We had put in the raised bed, and then didn't know what to fill it with, so I improvised elsewhere. First, we made a tipi for the children to have a shady little "fort", and I planted bean seeds all 'round it:



I bought two types of cucumbers, one eating, one pickling. (The last time I made pickles, no one in the family liked them, including me. Monkey #1 insisted we needed to make pickles.) The orange arrows are the cucumbers. You can also see the pumpkin in the corner, because I took this picture after we finally found the fill for the bed:

By the kitchen door, I planted my herbs. I labeled everything (and it took forever, reminding again of why I dislike computers. See how much I love you all?) I like herbs, so there are lots. Especially basil. We've already eaten two salads made with lettuce from our own garden. I chose a buttercrunch variety:

The watermelon was also purchased especially for Monkey#1. We'll put in a tripod for it to grow up when it's a bit larger. (I'll also remove the iris, which managed to escape the clean out last fall. Ignore them, please.)

If you look in the picture above, you can see where the garage is in relation to the herb bed. I was nervous about planting food here, because of the paint chips. I have tried to sprout loofah seeds before, without success, so when I saw this plant at the nursery I decided it was perfect for this spot. Now instead of consuming plants that grew in (potentially) lead-laced soil, I'll just be scrubbing my body with them. This is my loofah plant, between the chopped-off iris, and the wilted lilies. I bought it just for me:



The Mad Scientist built this fort for the children during my nap a few weeks ago. He found a honeydew melon plant at the nursery, which we'll train over the top of the fort. Sorry not to highlight the plant more; I have reached the end of my patience with the lines and arrows program. You can see this plant, purchased just for my dear husband, just at the corner of the fence:So there it is. Without moving to a healthier place, in the country, with a bigger yard, I have planted all sorts of yummy things all over the place. I'm so proud of myself, and excited to see how everything does. I promise, though, that I won't quit using capital letters. :-)

13 June 2009

I think I'm really in trouble this time

Remember that we've been trying to teach the Littlest Monkey to sleep through the night in his own bed? I gave up. I was too sleep-deprived, and I decided that sleep now was more important than sleep at some point down the road. I'm beginning to think the point where they all begin "sleeping through the night" is actually an elaborate hoax. It never really happens. And right now, it's more important to me to get the little sleep I am allowed. Lying in bed listening to my son crying (yes, sometimes it is actually just a temper tantrum) is NOT helping me get a better night's sleep. So I quit.

And you know what? Once he realized that I would pick him up when he asked me to, Monkey#3 didn't mind going back in his own bed.

Two nights ago, still not fully convinced that I had really just given up, I went in and tried to convince him that he really didn't need to nurse. "Can you lie back down and go to sleep Baby?" I asked, hopefully.

And he wrapped those little arms around my neck, and replied so sweetly "I dus' anna 'nuggle, lill' bit." And that's when I decided I was doomed. :-) Because who could could possibly resist THAT?

12 June 2009

Raised Garden Bed


The Pioneer Woman posted a while ago with directions for how to build a raised vegetable bed. I had been looking at Lasagna Gardening, and decided to pair that with the raised bed frame so I could put in some vegetables. The Mad Scientist was pleased, because he didn't have to strip the sod off the garden patch (again). (This is the second time I've tried to put in a vegetable bed back here). So he built the frame. And I realized, I had no idea where to get fill for it. It sat for several weeks, and then I remembered some friends of ours who have horses. Horses produce a LOT of...compost. So I called them up, and they very graciously offered to just GIVE us all the compost we needed (it was real compost at this point, we didn't take the fresh stuff). What a blessing! So first, we got out the weed whacker:


Then we spread out a heavy layer of newspaper. The book says to soak it, but as far as I could tell that was just to keep it from blowing around. We were in a hurry, and lacking a large something to soak it in, so we just anchored it with the compost 'til the bed was covered:


Then we shoveled compost. And I actually do mean "we." Goodness, I haven't worked like that since...well, since college, anyway. I was on Barn Crew for a semester or two in college. I told my husband, "See, this is why you don't see gyms in the country." I can't wait 'til we're living in the country, and I can get back in shape just doing my daily stuff, rather than having to "work out." What a pain that is! Anyway, here's the bed, several wheel-barrow loads later:

The pile in the corner behind it is for a pumpkin plant. I'm putting seeds in the bed. And yes, I know that the middle of June is Very Late to be planting seeds. I'll show you where I put everything in my next post (or two).

P.S. please pardon wonkiness with the font. I'm arguing with Blogger. I feel that the font that appears should be consistent with the HTML, etc. Blogger apparently doesn't agree. Has anyone else had this problem?

09 June 2009

One of my favourites


In the summer, fast meals that don't heat up the kitchen (much) are the best. The great thing about this meal is, it's fast, easy, not too expensive, healthy, and great for any time of the year. Pretty much the perfect meal! This is all you need to make it:


Enough bratwurst (or your sausage of choice) for your family. This is barely enough for mine, so I added an extra pepper, but normally I'd do three peppers per package (5 sausages) of bratwurst. Use a variety of colours. It makes things pretty. Also one onion per 5 sausages, or more if you like. A vidalia is good, but even the regular ones are nice and mellow once they're caramelized. I usually use my kitchen shears to cut the bratwurst. I cut them on alternating diagonals, rather than straight across. You could just slice it lengthwise before slicing across. Anyway, you should end up with pieces that are about a half inch in diameter. Don't make them too big, or they'll take forever to cook.

You also need to roughly chop the peppers and onion. You want pieces that are about 1" square - no smaller. Put the peppers in one bowl, the onion in another bowl, and the sausage in a third. This is good to do at naptime, because at this point all your prep work is done, and then later you can just throw it in the pan. Once the prep is done, this is what you should have:



When you're ready to start cooking, put on a big pot of water for the pasta first. You can use any kind of pasta for this meal. I love it with linguini, but Aldi's doesn't have whole wheat linguini. I only use whole wheat, it's part of what makes this a really healthy meal, so I tried some different types. The rotini is good, and we also like it with the little tubes. I think they're called penne?

Anyway, start water for the pasta. Then, on another burner, heat a frying pan with just a little olive oil. That's just to keep the sausage from sticking when you first put it in. Fry the sausage, 'til the pieces are done. If there's a tiny bit of pink in the middle at this point it's ok, because they'll get cooked a bit more later.

Remove the sausage from the pan with a slotted spoon. Check the pasta water, and pour in the pasta when it starts to boil. I used the entire box. You may want to add a bit more olive oil to the pan. Add the onions. Stir until they begin to get brown:


Notice that I wasn't super picky about getting all the sausage out of the pan. Next, add the sausage back in. Stir for a few minutes to let the flavours meld. Once the sausage is completely cooked, add the peppers into the pan and cover with a tight lid.


Now at this stage you have to make a choice. My family isn't crazy about cooked peppers, so I let them steam until they're just hot through, but still crisp. I stir the pan a bit to get some of them in contact with the heat, but really I barely cook the peppers at all. If you really like the way the cooked peppers taste, you can cook them alone, then add the onion and sausage back in and let everything cook together for a few minutes.


It's done! Drain the pasta and serve, being sure to spoon some of the pan juices over each helping. It's delicious, and takes about a half hour if you're a fast chopper. Cutting everything up is the most time consuming part.

A fast, healthy, easy meal works for me!

Spudman

All my children love potatoes. I love potatoes, they love potatoes. Potatoes make us happy. Monkey #3 would (sometimes does) eat nothing but potatoes for a whole meal, and is perfectly content. He's very refined about it, though. See?


Oh, wait, that's not a great view. How about this?

Can you see that his cheeks are so stuffed, he's having to hold that lump there because it won't fit inside?! Yep, the monkeys are all about being refined and genteel. Oh, and yes, he likes to stand up while he's eating sometimes. And yes, he has fallen out once (maybe twice. Shhh). I'm raising such a little gentleman...

But gentleman or monkey, my Spudbaby is one happy boy!

08 June 2009

That's my line

Today I took my children to Aldi's, and we bought a watermelon. Monkey#1 loves watermelon, so for his afternoon snack that's what he asked for.

Now, I really don't want to cut this watermelon yet. The counter tops are a mess, and the refrigerator is crammed to the gills. That means nowhere to cut it, and nowhere to store what's left. Fortunately, I had two slices left from the last watermelon we devoured. Since Monkey#3 is down for his nap, that was perfect. The wild beasts were assuaged. Temporarily.

Two minutes into the impromptu snack time, my oldest informed me he would like another slice. I explained point one above. He insisted. I reiterated my non-slicing stance, whereupon I was sternly informed "Sometimes we have to do things we don't want to do!"

07 June 2009

Hard at work

We have a large maple in our yard. The spring after we moved in, we trimmed enough branches off the lower part of the trunk that it was possible to stand upright under the tree. We put up a swing for Monkey#1, and enjoyed it very much.

The next spring, I was in a fixer-upper mood, and the patchy grass and weeds under the tree were really bothering me. We rented a sod-stripper. I thought, as long as we're cutting out the sod, lets make it a nice curvy shape that's big enough for the children to play in. The idea was, we would get a small picnic table and a sandbox, and they would be able to play in the shade. We edged the bed with bricks, put down landscaping fabric, and mulched. Problem #1 was, we couldn't afford a sandbox. I did find a picnic table at a yardsale, but (problem #2) the children didn't like playing (or walking) on the mulch. It's not great on bare feet, I learned.

The next summer we were gone, and the weeds completely took over the bed. Landscaping fabric, in my opinion, is worthless. The dandelion roots punched right through it, and everything else just grew in the mulch on top. What a mess! It was one mass of weeds; the mulch wasn't even visible.

Today, I did something about it. Now, I was not about to pull all those weeds out by hand. No, sir. I pulled up the bricks and stacked them in Monkey#1's wagon, carted them to the garage, and stacked them there. That was two wagon loads (bricks are
heavy). Then I rolled up the landscaping fabric, with all the weeds inside. Plants, dirt, and mulch, are really heavy too. I used the wagon to drag each roll out the trash. It's really no wonder city people don't think about their level of trash production as much as some might wish. I mean, you put it out on the curb, it disappears, and you never have to think about it again. I'm getting spoiled. By tomorrow afternoon, these will be gone:

Monkey#2 was a huge help. She steered the wagon for the last four loads. Frankly, I'm not sure I could have finished if it hadn't been for that. I pushed and made sure the roll didn't fall out, but having to steer on top of all that was a bit too much at that point. Of course, she thought she was pulling, too. I was informed that she is a "very strong engine!" Now all I have to do is buy some grass seed, and spray the poison ivy by the trunk:

And we'll be pretty much back where we started, just older and wiser.

03 June 2009

In which I am, for once, a trendsetter

I am not a fashion-conscious person. My brother is laughing as he reads that, because, in fact, I am frequently deliberate in that choice (although I'm getting better in the clothing department.) It isn't that I have no sense of style. It's just that I'm...old-fashioned. In most areas, I'd just as soon do something the way it was done 100 years ago, and have little to no interest in many things that can be described as "modern."

I enjoy modern technology, to a point. I'm a big fan of hot showers, air-conditioning, and indoor plumbing. I adore my washing machine (which is really only a modernized laundress). I'm also happy to keep a refrigerator, 'though I maintain that if we build our next house, I want a spring-fed stream running through the basement so we can keep things cold without electricity (like in this one). I am less enamored with computers, cell phones, and other things in that line. I put off starting this blog for over a year, because I didn't want to have to mess with the computer. I don't like to use e-mail. I'm not even really that crazy about the telephone. Letters are so much more civilized. Does anyone but me still write letters?

In my homemaking, I am incurably old fashioned (except for the vacuum, which is sort of a modern version of the parlor maid.) I won't have modern cleaning products in my house. Even if they weren't all toxic, the scents make me ill. I do most of my cleaning with vinegar and baking soda, and it works just fine for me like it did for generations before me, thanks very much.

I feel the same about food. If it took a chemist to put together half the ingredients, I'm not interested. I cook good, simple, healthy food. And I figure, the closer it is to the way God made it, the better. I use butter, never margarine. I drink whole milk, and I drink it raw when I can get it. (I have a little bit of a bone to pick with the state of Indiana on that issue.) I keep telling my mother that Splenda is not her friend. I also cook and fry with lard. It turns out, I may be on to something.

02 June 2009

Apparently, it's genetic

When I was a very small child, my parents lived in a little house in Idaho, not too far from the Snake River. The little house had a long gravel driveway, and one of the things I loved to do was play with the little pebbles. It wasn't uncommon for my mother to find me with my cheeks pooched out like a chipmunk's, full of tiny stones. When that happened, she would cup her hand under my chin, and I would spit out the rocks into her hand.

Apparently this love of rocks can be passed down, because all my children love to play with rocks. They bring them home and scatter them about the house, and I never know where I'll find them. I sneak them into the trash because, really, a person only needs so many rocks in the house. They keep coming in, so for my own sanity I try to keep them going out as well. Today, Monkey#3 found a stash of very small rocks.


He seemed to think they were great chew toys. On another note, how can you tell a blogging mother from the other sort? The blogger walks around with a handful of drool and pebbles looking for the camera, rather than the trash can.

Monkey#3 has also begun speaking in complete sentences. His favourites are "I want to nurse." and "I want to get down." Today (before he found the rocks) he apparently discovered a pile of dirt from some toys that had come in from the garden. He wandered into the kitchen with one hand and his face covered with mud. I said "Have you been eating MUD?" He nodded very carefully, the way toddlers do, gave me a big grin, and said "Id ah oh ay?" (Is that ok?).

I took this picture just after he wiped most of the mud off onto my sheets. It was a very geological day.