Thursday, October 17, 2013

Turning the corner

Last night Alex stopped coughing after about 30 minutes post-bedtime. Today she slept past the "alarm" so I had to wake her for school. We've been here before. When her health starts to improve, and her attitude too (because who can be happy while coughing all the time, waking up from the coughing, sore throat, interrupted conversations and even thoughts?)

And in a few weeks we need to take this away from her, yet again, so we can try to find the real cause and help her live a life where she isn't coughing all day every day.

But for today, let's celebrate a good night's sleep, and a decent level of confidence that tonight will see more of the same.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Second CSA Haul

One of the things I love about this CSA is that if you don't like an item in your box, likely you can change it. For example, we all got either cauliflower or broccoli. If you didn't like the one you got you could rifle through other boxes and do a switcheroo. Of course, the later it got the less likely you'd be to find what you want.

Anyhoo, on to the haul!

This time we got broccoli, which is good because the family just doesn't like cauliflower. A head of red leaf lettuce looked all rotten and nasty but it turned out to only be the outer leaves. A bag of green beans that look a whole lot better than last week's bag. A 3lb Delicata squash. Green and red peppers, 6 apples and 2 zucchini. Sweet potatoes this time in the potato realm - "score" in my mind, "yuck" in the minds of the rest of the family. About 1 1/2 lb carrots have already been eaten. And lastly, a bag of beets and greens, which is awesome as a recipe I've been wanting to try calls for beets anyway.

As we put together our menu for the week we realized that even with four eaters, where at least one of us will eat each thing so nothing needs to go to waste, we will barely be able to use all the produce in a week. So, Delicata, the web says you'll store for up to 8 months. How about 8 weeks - til the CSA run is over?

Monday, October 14, 2013

Cox Family Farm

Although Terry and I met while living in D.C. (actual D.C., not MD/VA) this is the first time we've lived here with children. And it makes a difference. Take, for example, pumpkin patches. Where we each come from, these are normally fields where people can go pick their own pumpkins, in the same tradition as apple picking in the fall at a nearby orchard.

Pumpkin patches in this area are an entirely different experience.

My father was visiting last weekend and we all decided the right event for what turned out to be the most ridiculously hot October day in history was to try the mother of all local pumpkin patches, Cox Family Farms. It took us a good hour to get there, so I was already feeling a bit annoyed and skeptical when we arrived. I was soon transformed.

Because of our afternoon meetup time, we only had three hours there. It was not nearly enough  time.

There were slides and more slides. The kids are some of the tiny blobs on the slides (Zoltan on top, Alex about to get on the slide in the bottom photo)

A children's play area where my kids could hang out while the older "kids" tried the more advanced slides.

Hay for the children to play in.
Kids with their grandfather.

There were also rope swings, and a corn maze that my nephew led Alex and my dad through. I am happy to report they did get out just fine. The hay ride was surprisingly long and eventful - the kids didn't get bored or antsy.  And, my favorite part, there were boxes of apples to eat (Rome and Gala varieties) and Dixie cups in which to drink apple cider that poured freely from fake casks. Early on, my dad purchased an enormous bag of kettle corn from which we all snacked.

All in all, it makes me eager to check out the pumpkin patch in my neck of the woods - held at the orchard where we get our apples anyway.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Not a great day :-(

We put Alex back on medicine today, to get her through birthday and Halloween season. Cutting the dairy helped immensely, but not completely. We're still hoping out hope we won't have to go gluten free but I have to admit my confidence is faltering. The greatest challenge will be if we have to cut out both.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

To Alex as you turn 6

To my very favorite, very first daughter,

I am so proud of the girl you are becoming! You are "leaning into your discomfort", advice given to me as a young woman. You are really starting to work on areas that are difficult for you (reading), rather than sitting back on the laurels that come to you for things that come easily (math). You worked all summer on crossing the monkey bars and by the end you could go they whole way without dropping down - that's tenacity. Good for you! It makes me happy when you pick a word out of our surroundings and read it to me and can't wait for you to fully embrace reading as I know you will.

Visiting your classroom I have been surprised and pleased with what a mother hen you can be with your classmates. I caught a glimpse of why you want to be a teacher, and the lovely young woman you will become, when watching you explain to classmates how to proceed when they get stuck on a step of a class project. I guess what comes out as bossiness with your little brother can be put to productive use :-)

I worry sometimes that your shyness holds you back, that you don't enjoy social situations as much as you could. On the other hand, comfort with solitude is also an important life skill and you are so clearly happy in general that maybe I needn't worry at all.

You've been such a trooper this year with your various health issues. It breaks my heart that I can't solve everything with a wave of my arm but I promise you that we'll figure it out.

The days when you are excited for me to show up at school, when you want me to stay during the play date, when you'll crawl into my lap and cuddle are severely numbered. I hope I'm smart enough to savor every moment as it comes, and celebrate your moved toward independence. 

Wednesday, October 9, 2013


Today was the first in what I believe will be a series of trips to our local orchard for apple "seconds'. From today's haul I filled all 6 trays of the dehydrator with apple chips; saved about 5-6 of the best looking apples for eating; and made 3 quarts and 4 pints of applesauce (canned) and 2 12-ounce jars of sauce for eating right away. Plus, the Dutch oven is filled with peels and cores to process into pectin for next year's jam.

This bounty came from a half bushel of mixed apples. Next time, I'll get a full bushel.

S-T-O-P means "stop"

... said Zoltan to me this morning in the car. This is a child who only recognizes half the letters of the alphabet, can't draw a letter that looks like anything other than a scribble, and still colors like a 2 year old (i.e., all scribbles). Yet, at not-yet-four he recognizes the stop sign. This is not a child following in his sister's path!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Our first CSA haul

Yesterday the kids and I went to the local synagogue to pick up our first fall CSA* order. I can't deny it, I was and still am absolutely giddy about the whole thing. I had forgotten we also got an egg share, so I picked up a carton with 11 eggs as well.

As you can sort of see, we got the following: a head of Romaine lettuce; a monster cauliflower; a zucchini; a red, a green, and a tiny-maybe-hot pepper; a small bag of potatoes; a bunch of apples; a bag of green beans; three enormous radishes and greens; a bag of lemon verbena; an acorn squash.

The fun part is now we re-do our meals list for the week to work in the bounty. And of course we're adding salads to our lunches. With lemon verbena oil as part of our oil and vinegar for dressing!

* CSA = community supported agriculture, wherein a group of people put up a bunch of money before the planting begins, and then everyone shares the risks and rewards of a harvest. They are nearly always local and usually use more organic methods than agrobusiness. The synagogue bit - just happens that they have a relationship with the CSA and people can join the CSA through them. I haven't joined the synagogue, although it is a possibility for the future.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Moving out of our comfort zones

Once upon a time, Terry was the chef in the family and I was solely the baker. Then, I stayed home and that didn't make sense anymore. I moved out of my comfort zone. It wasn't always pretty and we had some fights over allegedly constructive criticism.

Tonight Terry wanted oatmeal raisin cookies. I agreed to participate but he would take the lead. I started directing him to where different ingredients were. When I told him to get the flour down his reply was "Wait, there's flour in this? Isn't it just oatmeal?"

Honey, when we have an income again, you can experiment with using only oatmeal. For tonight, let's put the flour in!

Major Academic Milestone

This week, Alex brought home a "my first reader" type book from school. She said it's for her to practice reading. We've been busy and hadn't gotten to it when, this morning, I suggested she read for a bit before she had to catch the bus.

She read the first two pages ALL BY HERSELF!! Then we had to go.

Many of the words were sight words that we've been working on each evening, and it's sure paying off. I am excited for us to continue the story tonight when she gets home.