Category Archives: Holidays

Big Apple Firsts

At the beginning of the month I whisked myself away to experience New York City. Whisking allowed me to see the city as an adult, not as a mom with 4 precious children in tow. It wasn’t better, per se, just very very different. I think I needed both to really begin to start to think about possibly maybe someday understanding such a place. It was a trip filled with firsts. Most of them were small and mundane but it was an amazing adventure. First off: first canceled flight of my life.

Me and my boots waiting and then eating and then calling my husband and kids to turn around and re-drive an hour to pick me up after my flight was canceled due to weather. First time eating Five Guys fries. All. By. Myself. I’ve had them before but its a whole new level of bliss to not have to share even one.

Me and my boots on our very first Amtrak train bound for a destination more than an hour away. I’d ridden the train with my Dad (We went to San Juan Capistrano and saw “Zorro.” Could not have been more perfect atmosphere) but this was 11 hours of pure uninterrupted reading time. I finished the two books (Homeschooling books, of course) that I’d brought. They changed my life and that right there was worth the canceled flight drama. Naomi was gracious enough to loan me her lunch box.

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Saying goodbye to Mommy, take two. For the record, I married an amazing man. He single handedly took over the farm and the homeschooling and the bathing and the hair brushing and not only merely survived, but out did himself as a dad. He’s my favorite.

The rest of the trip will be related in three parts, Food, Art, My Mom and Sisters.  Things I can not possibly love any more than I do. Ahem.

My Mom and my sisters are locals now and they knew the places to go. We did Colombian, and Mexican, and Thai. I got to ruin bacon for my sisters…store bought will never live up to my homegrown cured and smoked stuff. We hit up the commercial bakery down the street from my mom’s that has tasty and dirt cheap baked goods…chocolate swirl cheesecake with a healthy dollop of apple butter and a side of madeleines (another first). There is a bakery in Manhattan called “Magnolias.” Their chocolate banana pudding made me seriously consider licking the inside of the cup (dignity and class be danged) and I need their lemon bars in my life daily. Huzzah for good food!

Art must be seen in person. Full stop. No other way to really “get it.” For the first time I had a chance to really see these iconic masterpieces. Did you know that One: Number 31 by Jackson Pollock has places where the paint is shiny??? Did you know that there are places on the canvas where the paint was absorbed at different rates creating a whole new level of depth and complexity??? Turns out Salvador Dali’s Persistence of Memory is super tiny…what?! and I saw the real Starry Night. People. There are maroon strokes in that cypress tree that I have never really seen because I’ve only seen glossy reproductions. I saw the edge of the paining, where Van Gogh decided to stop painting. I saw paintings from an artist I studied in high school and loved but forgot about. Art. I loves it. I also got to experience other forms of art. Daffodils in the middle of the city, stone steps on an early morning walk by myself just because I could, and a cold frosty sunrise because spring hadn’t totally started up north. Sigh.

I love this woman and these weirdos. This was the first time we had a chance to start to get to know each other as adults. Usually I’m in full out mom mode while they are working magic in aunt mode. Doesn’t leave lots of time for deep conversation. Laughing and fun, of course, but not deep “who are you really under all that” discussion. They make me so happy. And I’m pretty sure my mom is the coolest mom out there. True story.

Mom said this kind of sister/mom trip needs to be an annual thing. Not just because I came home with my proverbial batteries fully charged and ready to turn life upside down (in a good way) but because we all need to get to know the many sides of the people we love. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that there is a unique, autonomous person under all the hats we wear. Sigh. I might just learn to love New York after all.

 

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a secret.

Can I tell you a secret? I’m a terrible Down Syndrome mom. Stop shaking your head and formulating all the things you are thinking to make me feel better. First, let me explain why I am a terrible Down Syndrome mom. In the first few days after Layna was born I had a few people point me to this blog. Before you misunderstand, I actually love this blog and the woman who fuels it. She inspires me and I like her…I do go in and out of following her blog, but overall it’s good stuff. This, my friends, is the standard for Down Syndrome moms everywhere, and frankly I don’t measure up. There are no groups, social events, or community anything that we belong to. I haven’t raised money for anything. There was one out of six years I called attention to March 21, National Down Syndrome Awareness Day on social media. Abysmal. To be honest, most of the time I completely forget that she has a syndrome at all and sometimes that’s not a good thing. Not to say that I don’t have my moments where I hate how much I struggle to understand her because of what that extra chromosome did to her expressive speech development, or that I don’t have times where I wish desperately that she was not going have the “Down Syndrome look.” And can we just talk about stubborn streaks? Oi. Vey.

I’m a terrible Down Syndrome mom because I can’t bring myself to treat Miss Thang any different than her siblings or change our life to include something that is as basic to her makeup as her eye color (Hazel eyes of the world unite!) But Alas for her, she is mine and I am hers. While I may be a terrible Down Syndrome mom in general…I’m hoping that killer birthday cakes, daily water coloring and play-doh, and the occasional “If you don’t get back in your bed I’m going to come up there and PUT you back in bed!” will somehow help her create whatever life she decides is meant for her. Oh and rabbit water bottles. She will always be allowed to poach drinks from the rabbit water bottles.

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This year was her first friend birthday party and I was grateful she didn’t have strong opinions on the theme. Goodness knows she has strong opinions on other things (looking at you, “brushing my own hair”), but I’ve been intrigued by the giant cupcake cake pan for a long time and was excited for an excuse to buy one. That and it was cheap so absolutely no hang ups at all. Overall it creates an epic cake consumption experience, and I hope I can be creative enough to sneak it into all the birthday themes this year.

First we had a birthday dinner at my grandparents house. Once again, so grateful they up and followed us across the country. I would be missing them something fierce right now. Also, the husband and I realized that it’s a pretty unique and rare thing for our kids to be so close to their great grandparents. Neil had one set he would visit every couple of years and I only was close to one great grandma. So glad my kids have them.

On to the party! Balloons and lots of them are my favorite munchkin party game. Naomi’s 4th birthday was Rapunzel and we had balloons to be beaten with frying pans. Her 6th party (Halloween themed) had bat balloons. [I’d link to pictures but the party happened during my blogging hiatus. Sorry.] I loves them. Then we played “pin the cherry on the cupcake” which was awesome. Can I also say how grateful I am for my software architect who just picked up graphic design and made all my cupcake dreams come true? Yeah. He’s such good stuff.

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No one better than Daddy when you’ve had too much party.

Then we painted pictures of cupcakes. Through a devoted and rigorous daily practice, Layna’s style is really beginning to coalesce into a bold and well-rounded advancement of the medium. She is currently in her black period.

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Frosting and cake are a win. Full Stop. But when you let kids be the boss of those things? Magic happens.

Some for me. Some for the cake.

One of my favorite things about her is that she always says “thank you.” She doesn’t need prompting and it’s always loud and heartfelt. It also sounds like, “Wank you!” which, I think, ups the awesome quotient by at least 47%.

Even though I’m still negotiating the new dimension that this one tacked onto my Motherhood calling 6 years ago, I wouldn’t change it. The potty training fiascoes, the delays, the therapies, the everything has given me such a deeper awareness and appreciation for the silver linings that are everywhere. Layna is wonderfully forgiving and patient with me and I’m honored to be her mom. Here’s to many more happy returns for my snuggling, travel-sized-for-my-convenience, house elf!

 

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how we arrived at boudin noir

So boudin noir is the French take on the German blutwurst which is the corollary of the Spanish morcilla, but in England it’s pronounced blood pudding. Kind of. Something like that. No matter the ethnic nuance you start with, it’s basically pigs’ blood mixed with some spices and some other stuff then cooked and eaten. I also think it has the greatest ick factor of all the weird things I’ve done in the past two weeks. Bottom line, though? It’s tasty. Just like head cheese and fried kidneys are tasty. It’s commonly agreed upon that Pork as a food group is good eating, but these other things that our culture has left behind take eating pork to a whole new level. The catch, of course, is that it’s kind of vital to have crazy fresh and super clean ingredients and that, well, means raising and slaughtering and butchering the pig yourself. Or trading your first born to someone who did raise the pig. As I like our son, we chose the first option. I would like to share with you one of the coolest things I’ve done thus far as a homesteader.

***Graphic pictures ahead, because…well…the pig had to die to make a transition. He went from pushy, greedy garbage disposal (who also enjoyed basking in the sun, letting me scratch his ears, and snooting up the ground with his snout) into food for my family. I liked him and knew his personality. There is loss but it’s loss with a purpose, so there you go. Blood and cutting is part of that transition. You’ve been warned***

I’d love to write a whole post just on our experience at a Pig to Plate workshop we attended two weeks ago in Ohio. Realistically, with Christmas in 3 days I’m impressed I’m getting this post done. To condense: best money we’ve spent on educating ourselves and regaining a connection with our most complicated dietary aspect…meat. Quinn and Bill Veon of Reformation Acres hosted, Andy and Doug from Hand Hewn Farm taught. It was truly life changing and I’ll be forever grateful for that change. They will be hosting more workshops and if you are ever remotely interested in home hog production…get thee to a workshop!

It really doesn’t matter if someone warns you about leaving the hose out the night before you need it. Most likely it will be left out and you will be grateful that as the guys at the workshop related their personal experiences with such an oversight…they also joked about a solution. Hence we ended up with about 120 feet of garden hose in our bathtub at 9 am. Stranger things have happened.

I got back from dropping off kids to hang out with grandma for the afternoon. This wasn’t because I was worried about them seeing the process, but because I knew I needed to be able to work hard without chasing munchkins. Eventually (probably next year) they will stick around. Anyways, we went into the yard and the pig stood still and just stared at Neil. Big Man (you can’t feed something twice a day for 7 months and not give them some sort of name) was shot and down and bleeding out…and it went crazy fast. It’s weird how the mind messes with time perception in high adrenaline situations. We realized later that we didn’t get a great bleed, but even with that, the shot was good and our boy died quickly and peacefully. Well. To an outside observer it wouldn’t actually look peaceful. When an animal dies their body has an awful lot of energy still running through it and so most will thrash around for a bit and with a big animal it can seem pretty violent. (Although the first rooster we killed, scared us so much with how much he thrashed, we nearly second guessed this whole farm thing all together) Death Throes are a real thing.

We had some guys from church come to help and we got the pig on a tarp to carry a few yards to our set up for scalding and scraping.

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Getting an accurate weight was important to me so I can keep track year to year, and also to know our dress-out ratios.

Ok here’s what happens once you get the hog hooked onto the gambrel (back legs in the barrel first so you only have to flip once): it is dunked into warm water, 149ish degrees to be precise. This temperature allows the outermost layer of skin to loosen and the hair to start to loosen as well. It only takes a few minutes. Longer time or hotter temperature can actually set the hair, making scraping nearly impossible. I have it on good authority that shaving the whole carcass takes about 11 years.

After the proper dunk time you grab some back hair and see if it comes out easily. If it does, you hoist the pig out and start scraping. On our way home from Ohio we stopped at  Lehmans, a store that actually carries tools for this scraping. They are called Bell Scrapers or Hog Scrapers.  Unfortunately, they serve a large Amish community and it’s that time of year…they were out. We improvised with a coconut shell-er thing and a thing that was once a part of a lamp (I think) and it actually went really well. One advantage to our warmer southern winter…the dense winter hair hadn’t come in yet. The head and front trotters didn’t scald well so we didn’t use the trotters and Neil, being awesome, later poured boiling water over the head and cleaned it so that I could still use it. He is good stuff. Once the hair is scraped, you shave what ever is left, then blowtorch anything after that. Yeah, a working blowtorch would have been great…last minute Christmas gift to my husband?

Next is evisceration. Things to save and use/eat: small intestines (and large if you are feeling brave and masochistic), heart, liver, lungs, spleen, kidneys, and caul fat. Wait! What’s that? All that sounded familiar except the caul fat?

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This, my friends, is caul fat and it’s culinary potential is nigh unlimited.

After you save the good bits and bury the bad bits, you remove the head and split the carcass with a bone saw so it can thoroughly chill. The weather could not have been more perfect for us. It took us about 3 hours from shot to getting ready to split so I had to run and rescue grandma. The kids were equal parts fascinated and disgusted. They were so disappointed that while I did save the bladder to blow up like a ball…I didn’t put it in its own container and it ended up covered in bile. Ain’t nobody touching nothing that smells that weird! And there we called it a night.

Day #2: Break it down now. Leaf lard came out first (top left). This is the stuff pie crust dreams are made out of and so it is treated with respect. Then we cut one half into primals outside. A hog is divided into 4 quarters or primal cuts. Then each of these is broken down further. At the workshop we got to practice this process on someone else’s pig, which made doing it on our own sooooooo much easier. Not saying we couldn’t have YouTube-ed it…it just would have been a horrific mess if we had. We brought in one quarter at a time. Our babies helped for a while and then peacefully destroyed the house while the adults kept at it. This day was long, but we managed…and it feels so great to have a freezer full of beautiful white packages.

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Our work was not finished with all the fresh cuts being done…oh no.

Stock was made, lard was rendered, small intestines were turned into sausage casings which were in turn made into blood sausage (which i love, by the way).

During the next few days the madness continued.

Scrapple, Headcheese, Christmas Eve Ham put into brine, fried kidneys. And it all tastes so delicious.  Offal is my new favorite ingredient…I must have some sort of mineral imbalance. 20161219_090648

Nearly 40 lbs. of bacon is a strong argument for raising your own pork. We finished packing the ground pork today, it still will be turned into various typed of stuffed sausages. 20161221_081603

I’ll be happily  nibbling headcheese and rillettes for the next two weeks while we celebrate the holidays.

Final counts and thoughts:

  • Live weight – 365 lbs.
  • Hung weight – 281 lbs.
  • 124 lbs. fresh cuts including ribs
  • 38 lbs. bacon
  • 45 lbs. ground pork
  • 9.5 quarts lard
  • 4 gallons stock
  • 11 lbs. scrapple
  • 4-5 lbs. head cheese
  • 5 half pints rillettes
  • lots of lbs. of liver, kidneys, heart, and spleen. (all of which have been used)
  • 60 feet of sausage casings and caul fat (going to become Crepinettes on Christmas Eve and roast rabbit once I have rabbits in the freezer)
  • skin (not finished with this so don’t have a total. Doesn’t matter, we have enough to make cinnamon sugar pork rinds and change the world one mouth at a time)

It was an incredible experience and I wish I could write more. Oh wait I can! We are doing this whole thing again in a few months when we process our girl! There are big plans for her given our success this time round and I will probably write all about how my life and the life of my family has been changed forever by doing this. That sounds melodramatic, I know. But seriously, now that I’ve started to take more control over what I eat and had a taste of the satisfaction it brings…I’m not sure I could ever not being doing this. Don’t know that I have a choice anymore and that makes me happier than I can say.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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dragons, and ghosts, and pigs, and fairies…oh my!

oI love Halloween, don’t you? Being a mom is what actually inspired this love. I stopped trick-or-treating when I was about 12 and being a rather awkward teenager I never really had much to do on Halloween and felt like the biggest loser because of that. But then a husband and kids came and all that mess changed. Now I’m a veritable rock star when I pull off costumes that impress and delight my children and I get to orchestrate fun lunches (mummy hot dogs) and Day of the Dead parties (complete with sugar skull sugar cookies!) This year was something of a wild card. Because of hurricane Matthew and our church’s commitment to help with the clean up effort, our normal trunk-or-treat was canceled. We happen to live just far enough into the country that I was fairly certain trick- or-treating was not going to happen in our neighborhood (“what? done after 3 houses? I guess we have hiked three miles…”). Luckily my brother and Sis-in-law graciously offered to share their neighborhood and they even fed us dinner before hand to build up the energy reserves for a thorough candy acquisition operation. Helps that their neighborhood is one of those where people give out full-size candy bars and a few couples even had a tent and were serving up hot dogs and hot chocolate! We know where we will be next year!

Unfortunately, when we kicked off the festivities with pumpkin carving, Neil wasn’t here. He is traveling back to Vegas for one week every month. Small price to pay for having him home 100% the rest of the time, but I’m pretty certain if his boss makes him travel over my birthday again, I’m going to refuse to drive Neil to the airport. Ever. This year was the first that both big kids did their pumpkins completely solo. Babies…Growing up…Sniff. And as an aside, as soon as the pumpkins started to cave in and get soft, Mei (our dairy cow) yummed them up for dinner. No waste on this farm!

Little Man is a fairly steady customer when it comes to costume requests. He knows months in advance what he will be and he sticks to it. This year he knew he was going to be “Steve” from Minecraft. About a month out, that changed to “a red dragon.” That was fine by me and it led to one of my favorite costume triumphs to date. Hi. I’m Lindsey, and I work in felt.

A study in contrasts. Layna, kind of out of no where informed me that she wanted to be a ghost (“Boo!”) and stuck with that for 2 months. Naomi went through this process: vampire witch, Princess Leia (until I semi insisted on a turtle neck dress…authenticity people!), mermaid, Pocahontas, and at last…Zarina the pirate fairy. I had a ton of fun with her costume too and learned how to shir. This made for a super comfy bodice that actually looked right. Plus she had a costume for Ren Faire! Win!

True to three year old form, Corra changed her mind daily for about 3 months. We were reading a magazine in which some kids went as pigs, and I reminded her we had the pig beanie (a white elephant gift from the work Christmas party years ago). She was sold, and double sold when I told her we would use Naomi’s old dance stuff to complete the ensemble. Win again! Also the full dragon costume. Yay for internet tutorials that made wings much simpler than what I was envisioning. How did people do things before the internet?

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Candy was acquired, fun was had, and life was good.

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The next night we had a Dia de los Muertos party for school, and later some friends came to dinner to help with decorating the cookies and eating the sugar skulls. These cookie cutters are giving my Ninja-Bread-Men cutters some stiff competition for my favorite baking thing.

Amazon also came through with these skull candy molds. So cool.

This was one of our better years for Halloween. For school the next day we did candy graphing and pumpkin measuring for math, and Halloween MadLibs for writing. This month we read “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” (the real one, and it was awesome!) and a book called “Little Witch“. It’s going to be tough to top this one, but challenge accepted for next year!

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big apples and seventh birthdays

Do you love New York City? I had never been before a few weeks ago when we went there on Naomi’s seventh Birthday. It was not a specific trip just for that, the timing just worked out as part of a larger excursion (next post will cover the rest of those good times!) As a farm girl and homeschool mom who relishes her space and crowd free life, I wasn’t sure how it would be spending a day in The City with my family in tow and no real plan. I needn’t have worried. Lessons were learned that day and seven years of life were celebrated in a way that was perfect for Miss Birthday Girl.

Not to sound finicky right off the bat, but I like London’s “Mind the Gap” better. More flair and style. Because I need flair and style…riiiight…We did love the trains though and I learned that people on trains are both nice and super tolerant of high pitch excited squeaks coming from my girls and my boy.

Crowds were no worse there than in Vegas so we were golden. I learned that it raises a place’s awesome factor if you can go from impromptu naked water play at a hidden park then go to a primer art gallery in 5 minutes and 100 yards. We were walking through Central Park (after an over-priced and under-quality hotdog on the grass) and we saw a park. That was a good solid hour of bliss for everyone. Bliss makes me brave and we attempted The Met.

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Three words. Bed Knobs and Broom sticks. Am I right? We hit ancient Egypt (Naomi’s request) and arms and armor for the boy. Samurais were imitated and Mummies were grimaced at. I learned my kids take on museums like champions.

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My mom said we had to get Mr. Softee soft serve ice cream. So I put it on the list. I asked at the museum and they said yeah the truck out front. Great, asked the guy in the truck and he said yes of course this right here (pointing to swirly ice cream cone picture) this is what you want. I learned that I’m a naïve tourist and you aren’t really in the club until you get hoodwinked by a local. Well. I’m in the club now. To be fair, it was still the best soft serve I’ve ever had.

There is a book called “Micawber” by John Lithgow. We love it and it’s the only reason I even knew that there was an old carousel in Central Park. Since Micawber, the art loving squirrel, lives in the top we had to go and check it out. I learned that kids do not even see crappy paint and hear awful carnival music. They truly experience things as they should be expierenced…no judgement, just joy in the moment. Pretty sure little man said this was the best thing he’d ever done. Like three times. The kid has been to Disneyland, but that didn’t matter in that moment. img_1694 Because we had just walked 8 millionty miles from The Met to the carousel, we crashed on the grass before embarking on more subway travel back up to Harlem for an IHOP dinner (birthday girl’s request of course). I learned that Central Park is stupid big. Like kicked my trash big. My poor sweet husband and children. They love me, even when I don’t deserve it.

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Her birthday was complete the next night with collective cake decorating, ice cream and presents. Everyone did a bit of decorating while Naomi consulted her sketch of the cake and bossed I mean managed the whole deal.

Munchkins have been missing their aunts and it was nice to cuddle and have some down time.

New York City was great. It was exhausting being a mom with 4 littles, no idea what I was doing, and a whole day to fill. But I had my husband who navigated all subway travel and overall we had a great time. Obviously, I know we only scratched the surface, but that just means we might have to go back some day.

This girl though. She pushes me and challenges me in ways no other human being on earth does. It’s good and bad and I’m sure someday she will have her own little Karma child to mold her into a better mother and person. I know the adventure is only just starting and I’m equal parts terrified and eager to see what else she brings to my life and the lessons she’ll teach me. Whew.

Next up the rest of our Ohio / New York trip!

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Mr. Bates

My fourth baby brought me so many life lessons, it almost killed me. Ok, not really [hyperbole back in its box]. But prior to her, I didn’t know what post partum depression felt like, I didn’t think nursing could possibly be any worse, and I had no idea how much I could need a child like I needed her.

After the ultrasound where we found out gender, I cried. I was so convinced we were having a boy and that would be mean God had given me permission that I could be done having kids and would not be a failure if I stopped at four. Don’t ask. I blame the hormones. That was three years ago and I can laugh about it now because I’m ok. The other thing we can laugh about is how I swore Corra looked like Mr. Bates from Downton Abby for the first month or two of her life. Exhibit A:

Don’t get me wrong. I realize that it is hardly fair to judge a person’s looks after they’ve been through a brutal journey where their face takes the brunt of the beating. But seriously.

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Even after photographic magic she looked like Mr. Bates. Truth be told that was a really rough time and nursing was, to put it mildly, horrific. Sparing you the details, I took her in to her pediatrician around 5 weeks and they put the words, “failure to thrive” on her record. Probably one of the most soul crushing moments of my life. And I don’t mean that in the way I normally use the term “soul crushing” (disappointing or frustrating). I mean I almost couldn’t breathe sitting there on that little plastic chair, mentally preparing myself to nurse there in the office because she was hungry and couldn’t make it home. After much drama, enough people gave me permission to stop nursing and life was beautiful again.

And oh my goodness. Three years later, could this girl be more beautiful? At three years old she loves puppies and trains and princesses and dinosaurs. We must be doing something right.

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Our current default show for the little girls to watch is Dinsosaur Train. Cute show, and educational so I’m cool with it. I made the engine from the show, complete with sugar paper printed characters.

As an aside, cardamom changed my life. I read somewhere about cardamom extract in baked goods. It so happened that I had some ground cardamom in my cupboard from a garam masala mix I made and so I put some in the cake batter. Never again will my cakes be sans cardamom. I can’t even describe it, so come over and I will feed you cake and then you too will know.

Three year olds are the best gift recipients ever, because every present is exactly what they had always been dying to get and they have no hang ups about gushing. Then they forget that gift entirely to be enraptured by the next. Perfect example to me of living in the moment.

Her big brother got her a toy train and graciously put it together for her. Something about gifts you give yourself? She also got a Russian stacking doll and she named her “Liddy.” I’m happy to report only two lids are broken and we are only missing one bottom. Sigh. Lessons, man. This kid is teaching me lessons.

Best part for me was having my grandma here. There was this moment of calm peacefulness while she read books to the kids that made me so grateful they moved across the country to be close to family. I hope to have my priorities as straight when I hit 80.

Corra continues to fill a hole in my heart that was put there for her. The good Lord knew exactly what I needed and sent me blue eyes and curls on a fairy princess who wants to be Cat Boy for Halloween.

 

 

 

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a decade.

He’s 10 now. So that means just over ten years ago, I became a mom. It also means that ten years ago I was as big as a whale and had no idea what the next decade had in store for me. And that was ok. And that is still ok. Because decades, man. Recently I heard a quote that said, “People grossly overestimate what they can accomplish in a year, and vastly underestimate what they can accomplish in ten” (I think it was a second hand quote that oringinally came from Oliver DeMille). Garyn is now in the double digits age wise and I’m so amazed at what he is growing into…and lest I get all gushymommyteary, let’s just say that it is very good stuff indeed.

Confession: one of my deep rooted fears, a phobia straight from my childhood, is throwing a party and no one showing up. Some people are irrationally afraid of spiders, I’m irrationally afraid of this. Like lose sleep and have panic attacks afraid. When we moved here I was already stressing about his party. It was a year for a friend birthday party, but being in a new place our options for invitees were basically cub scouts, church, and neighborhood kids. Long story short I was terrified, stressed, and overall we had 17 kids come and play. It was perfect and I have had that phobia beaten back a bit.

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We settled on water games and a water theme since 1) it’s crazy hot and humid and 2) that is both super fun and super easy for me, the mom, to put together.

His request was for a camo cake inside shaped like a water sploosh. This is what I did.

Most of the party looked like the above. Lots of kids, screaming, sliding and water.

IMG_1044The plan was to eat a hot dog picnic lunch outside. But as I mentioned before it is hot and humid and kids were wanting A/C. We moved the kitchen table and improvised! It was actually kind of hilarious. Not only did my sister-in-law supply cousins to the party, she stayed and helped. Saved my sanity! As a completely random aside…I’m very grateful my brother married someone whom I genuinely like. It’s a helpful thing since we live close and our kids will grow up together. Anyways, she wins all the things for making the trek down to the party and making a huge difference in how it played out.

Back outside for presents and more playing. (Do you like our broken porch swing in the background? It held the presents admirably, albeit a bit slantwise).

Then there was cake and ice cream. Turns out a group of kids can put away impressive quantities of cake and ice cream…IMG_1058

…also chips. Pretty sure my little girls each ate their respective weights in chips. And lemonade.

The day ended with presents from family and more swimming. Since the pink pool hasn’t moved since the party two and a half weeks ago, I’m fairly certain the grass underneath it is dead. Small price to pay for the quiet hours of mommy time I’ve gleaned for myself while my babies entertain themselves happily outside.

Speaking of babies, mine turned 3 today. I have a backlog of posts that I’m going to be working through, but we are still in full out birthday mode up in this house. More to come on the Birthday du Jour as soon as I take a ton of pictures and wonder how she went from a scrawny Mr. Bates (from Downton Abby) doppleganger to my vivacious and funny little human being in miniature.

 

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