Wednesday, August 31, 2011

this week's CSA basket

I keep meaning to share about our CSA baskets this summer. Currently, they are absolutely packed, filled to the brim and then some. Here's a photo from this week's basket. Doesn't everything look wonderful?

This week we'll be enjoying green beans, cucumbers, lemon cucumbers, carrots, kale, chard, lettuce, red potatoes, peas, and (ta-da!) tomatoes - though not the ones featured in yesterday's blog post. Those beauties were from my very own garden. But back to the basket: we also received fresh parsley and basil. We'll see how much we can get through before the weekend!

Needless to say, I'm not buying many vegetables from the farmer' market these days. I've got all I can keep up with from our weekly CSA baskets. This summer, we've also been enjoying cabbage, cherries, raspberries, and golden potatoes. It's been so much fun!

To learn more about what a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) is, or to find a program near you, click here.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

sprinkler fun?

We've been enjoying our backyard sprinkler system this summer. And on hot days, we put it to really good use.

Kyle & Owen had a blast.

But Elise didn't want to have anything to do with that water.
He loved it. Really.

It's fun to race against the spinklers. And when the slide gets wet, our yard is transformed into a waterpark. Or so I hear.
But as for my little girl, she'd rather practice her driving skills. After all, you can never learn to parallel park too early...can you?

Monday, August 29, 2011

life is just...

...a bowl of cherry tomatoes.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

our square foot garden(s)

I know. It's a little late in the summer to be blogging out the garden. But in fact, here in northwestern Oregon, summer has been a little slow in getting started. So while some plants have run their course, others are just revving up.

Regardless, I thought I'd give you a peek at our new square foot gardens. Although the first photo is of a bush which isn't even in the square foot garden....

It's been tremendously fun to have blueberry bushes this year. Alas, they've really slowed down in their berry production during the past week or two. But it was great while it lasted. What a novelty to be able to go out back and return with a bowlful of berries! We used them for snacking, muffins, smoothies, and many batches of blueberry pancakes.

The deal with a square foot garden is that the garden is divided into...well, square feet. In some squares you might plant one seed/start, in others two, or four, or more. It all depends on the plant. This cucumber plant is crowding into the next square, but the space is available now so it doesn't matter anyway.

As I've mentioned before, it's been a very strange summer here. Consequently, my cucumber plants are just getting started. Lots of blossoms, and some tiny cukes are growing. I think there's a solitary pickling cucumber that looks about ready to be picked, but that's it. Likewise, the tomato plants are now sporting tomatoes, but they're almost all green. I picked the first (and only) red tomato yesterday, but so far things are off to a slow start. I sure hope they ripen. My salads are looking awfully green these days. They're desperately in need of some color.

Perhaps the happiest plant in my garden right now is this squash plant. The funny thing is, I planted this seed on a whim after discovering I had an extra square or two. The seeds came from a Burgerville kid's meal, and I really didn't expect much from them. But all the seeds we planted from this source came in beautifully. And even without much planning or TLC from me, this plant is doing splendidly.

And peas. Ah, peas. It's been a good year for peas. These sugar peas have been really fun, and I love that the boys (and their neighbor friends) love to pick them and eat them when they're out playing.

This is just a tiny snapshot (or two) of our gardening experience this year. I'm really pleased with the square foot situation: I've hardly had to do any weeding, they look neat and compact, and next year they'll be ready to go whenever we are. At the moment, Jeff and I are considering whether to plant any early autumn seeds/starts. I'd love to hear your thoughts on the subject.

So, what do/would you do with your garden this time of year? Especially when warm days are a bit undependable?

Monday, August 15, 2011

learning about real food

Last summer I mentioned that I'd heard about this great new curriculum on real food. I remember, I was so excited, and could hardly wait to get my hands on it. Well, it ended up being a long wait, but last month it happened. The book is called Real Food Nutrition For Kids, and it's by Kristen Michaelis, who writes the Food Renegade blog.

I had planned to begin using it in the fall (technically we're finishing up a school year this week, and will start the new school year a month later), but for various reasons we decided to start it earlier. And it's been really fun! The boys look forward to the lessons, and there are great activities for them to do - coloring pages, crosswords, word searches, and more.

It's been so exciting to have a guide to teach my kids about why we drink raw milk, eat grass-fed beef, and avoid those fluorescent-colored tubes of "yogurt" in the grocery store.

Besides the "real food" aspect, they're also learning about digestion, nutrients, vitamins and minerals, and so much more. I'm hopeful that this will give them a good foundation, and help them understand why, in our family, we "do things a little diff'rent round these parts."

Sunday, August 14, 2011


Yellow is

the very best color

for a sundress.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

a very short story

This is where you just might end up

if you absolutely must

put food in your hair

during every single meal on a given day...

Daddy's Hair Salon.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

the music of (my) labors

The day has come to share the music which I choose for childbirth. I've used this collection for all four of my labors, and during the past few years, I listen to it at other times as well. If I'm feeling overwhelmed, I put it on. When I take a bath, I light a lavender candle and turn on my labor CD. It's become a fixture in my life, I guess you'd say.

I should note that these songs are largely written and performed by Rich Mullins. If you know me well, this will come as no surprise to you: he is my favorite artist, hands down. I've been loving his music for twenty years now, and his is one of the few voices on the planet which automatically soothes and comforts me. So there's that. Don't say I didn't warn you.

My Song List:

1) "Peace" by Rich Mullins

2) "The Love of God" by Rich Mullins

3) "Bound To Some Trouble" by Rich Mullins

4) "Nothing Is Beyond You" by Rich Mullins

5) "If I Stand" by Rich Mullins

6) "Wounds of Love" by Rich Mullins

7) "Hold Me Jesus" by Rich Mullins

8) "All the Way My Savior Leads Me" by Rich Mullins

9) "The Breaks" by Rich Mullins

10) "Hard To Get" by Rich Mullins

11) "Step By Step" by Rich Mullins

12) "Eli's Song" by Rich Mullins

13) "Home" by Rich Mullins

14) "Love Song" by Third Day

15) "Thy Mercy" by Caedmon's Call

16) "I Boast No More" by Caedmon's Call

17) "Warrior" by Caedmon's Call

18) "The Love of God (Reprise)" by Rich Mullins

And so, there you have it. For those of you who desperately wanted to know what music I listen to during childbirth (and those of you who didn't), now you know.

You're welcome.

Friday, August 5, 2011

lay it down

It's morning, and my little one is calling to me.

I hurriedly finish up at the bathroom mirror, and head to greet her for the day. As I open the door, I see her sitting up in her bed: hair tousled, skin flushed, the lone tear on her cheek signaling that I'd taken a little longer to fetch her than she would've liked. Her pink pajamas seem to take on a rosy glow in the morning light. She's been watching for me to open her door, and as I do, I say good morning.

She gets to her knees, and begins to gather things into her arms. Her pink blanket with the flowers. Her water cup. The one or two burp cloths she finds it absolutely necessary to cuddle with at nighttime - do they remind her of our sweet snuggles when she was still nursing? Her arms full, she tries to get to her feet...but her burden is too much for her. A burp cloth falls. As she fumbles to pick it up, the water cup hits the mattress. Soon the blanket is trailing at her feet, causing her to stumble. I wait by the side of her bed, helping as I can...but she prefers to do it herself. Eventually, my little girl gathered in my arms, we head out of her room.

Downstairs, I begin preparing breakfast. She is not pleased to have been put down, but it is necessary for the moment. As she paces the kitchen floor, making her unhappiness known, her arms are overflowing with the contents of her bed: the blanket, the water cup, the burp cloths. She walks over to me and "asks" to be picked up - and as she does so, the armload begins to tumble down again. She attempts to collect her things, but it only brings on another avalanche. She is becoming very frustrated, and plops onto the the floor. Mama won't pick her up, and nothing is staying just where she wants it.

I smile at her, filled with compassion. "Do you think maybe you have too much in your arms?" I ask gently. "Let's put your cup on this chair." My suggestion is met with obvious displeasure: she is not interested in relinquishing anything, thankyouverymuch. She wants her things, and she wants them for a reason, and if her mama would only pick her up -

And I can't help but think that is she would only lay down her burden, if she would only relinquish her load, she would be free to to to stretch her legs and enjoy the newness of the morning. Lay it all down, Little One, and I will try to do the same with my own burdens.

I cast all my cares up on You
I lay all of my burdens,
Down at your feet
Anytime that I don't know what to do,
I will cast all my cares

Upon you

Kelly Willard

Thursday, August 4, 2011

birth songs

Not long ago, I embarked on a quest of sorts. While viewing my daughter's birth video, I noted the song which was playing at the moment when she was born. It was this inspiration which led me to do a little digging; I wanted to find out what was playing for each of my children's births. And so, last night I had a little birth-video fest.

I've shared before that long ago, Jeff and I put together a collection of meaningful, soothing songs to play during labor. I have listened to it through each of my childbirths, and it is unspeakably precious to me. Maybe one day I'll share the entire playlist here on the blog, but for now, I'm going to share each of my children's "birth songs," and a little about them.

Benjamin Wayne, December 18, 2002 ~ "Bound to Come Some Trouble" by Rich Mullins

This song is based on John 16:33. Jesus is speaking to his disciples, and he says "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." It is an encouragement that yes, there will be trouble and hard times in our lives, He who is greater is with us. A beautiful song.


Kyle Warren, September 26, 2005 ~ "The Love of God" by Rich Mullins

The opening line of this song says "There's a wideness in God's mercy I cannot find in my own..." It goes on to contrast our own frail human love and the "reckless, raging fury that they call the Love of God." The song is a reminder that even when we fail to live up to the ideal, God's all-encompassing love is strong enough to make up for it.


Owen Daniel, March 8, 2008 ~ "Nothing is Beyond You" by Rich Mullins

This is one of my favorite Rich Mullins songs, and there are a lot. It references Psalm 139, verses 1-12. No distance, no darkness, is too much for God. He knows us through and through, every thought. And as the song goes on to say, "I cannot explain how You came to love me, except to say that nothing is beyond you..." So true, all of it.

Elise Corrine, February 6, 2010 ~ "Love Song" by Third Day

"Love Song" explores the great lengths Christ went to in order to redeem us. "Just to be with you, I would do anything," the words go. We are unfathomably precious to him, and the proof is there in his sacrifice. This song made it onto my playlist because it spoke to me of the sacrifice a mother is willing to go through in order to birth her child. Labor pales in comparison to what Jesus did, of course. I can only imagine what it was all like for him. Still, the line "I know that you don't realize how much that I gave you, but I promise, I would do it all again" inevitably turns my thoughts toward motherhood.

Because that's how I feel about all of my children. Even in the hard times, I would never want to change the way things are. I would never wish them away, and I won't listen to the voices I hear that discount their importance and value. Each one is a unique, precious gift from God.

Yes, parenting is hard work. As labor is hard work. But in end? So very worth it.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

when the mice are away...

...the cat will clean.

My boys are gone this week: off to have an adventure at the coast with their grandmother. What, you may ask, did I do first after they left? I set to work.

Actually, first I had lunch. A girl must have her priorities, you know.

But after that, I set to work. My first task was to clean the sliding glass door - both sides. It was glorious, glorious to see the glass shining and least for awhile.

Don't worry, I'm relaxing too. And this morning Elise and I had a girls' adventure which involved the library and some shopping. But still, it's lovely to do some cleaning, and have things stay (fairly) clean for more than a few minutes.

I think I'll do a little mopping today. I just love seeing those floors gleam...

Monday, August 1, 2011

just the two of us

Recently, Jeff and I took a sort of retreat. That is so say, we left our four children with their Grandma and Grandpa, and left town. But I promise, everyone involved was happy with the arrangement. Really.

These photos were taken at the Grove of the Patriarchs in central Washington state. The trees were incredibly old, and incredibly beautiful. We were blessed with a beautiful morning to explore the area.

Mostly, though, we relaxed. We took in a local play, enjoyed some games, and devoured the freshly-baked cookies served us each afternoon at the wonderful bed and breakfast where we stayed.

My husband and I talked. We thoroughly enjoyed our time together - the quiet meals with no interruptions, the chance to wake up at the time of our own choosing.

We dreamed about our baby, wondering who s/he is, and what our life as a family of five will look like.

I think the best description of our time away would be to say that we savored it. It was fun. It was rejuvenating. It was refreshing. And at the end, we were ready to be back at home with our brood.

I am so thankful we had this chance to do something like this, just the two of us. And I'll look forward to the day when we can do it again.