Monday, September 7, 2009

Week (end) recap.

I could not have asked for a more perfect week last week. Both boys blew me away with their getting right back into the school routine. They were both so grown up about everything, from earlier bedtimes to going back to classes. I keep kind of pinching myself because it was perfect. It led up to a fabulous weekend.

Saturday ran smoothly. The plan right now is to have Saturday be our cleaning/laundry/errand day. That way we can save Sundays for a nice big breakfast and then football. I would say by 12:30 on Saturday we had the house cleaned. Tim did all of the floors and I did everything else (four loads of laundry included). Then I worked on menus and shopping list for next week. Then we took our weekly trip out to the dairy to get our milk and farm fresh eggs. The kids look forward to that trip because they get ice cream cones. Saturday night the boys got a surprise too. I had a party to go to so Tim surprised them with Pizza Hut. Now, we don't normally do chain pizza places because we have a really good pizza place down the street from us, but they saw a commercial for this pizza that the crust is wrapped in cheese and they've been longing for it since they saw it. They haven't had "real" pizza for a couple of months now since we've gone gluten free. Tim ordered the pizza without their knowledge and then piled them in the car without them knowing what was going on. They were extremely happy to find out they were having pizza for dinner. I had a great night with all of my friends from the Obama campaign. We had lots of margarita's and some amazing food. I didn't get home until 11 and I was tired.

Sunday I was up early with the boys and let Tim sleep in, although I could have used the sleep. It was a nice cool morning and I was missing cinnamon rolls so I looked up online to see if I could find a gluten free recipe. I did, and they were easy to make and the dough was so unbelievably easy to work with. The other GF doughs I've made have been crazy sticky and hard to work with, not these. They whipped up really fast and baked up nicely. It was so nice to smell cinnamon and coffee through the house. Like a Sunday morning should be. We then lazed around a bit and then took the kids to the park. The park was nice except for the inordinate amount of little bugs that kept flying into my eyes. The kids were annoyed with them after a while and they were ready to come home when we did.
Our day started with GF Cinnamon buns. Oh so tasty.
Partly cloudy skies, but on the cooler side.
Connor balancing his way across. He used to hate these things.
Aidan doing what he does best, climbing.
Patchy watching them to make sure they were safe.
A couple of races up the giant berm.
And a couple of chases down. Although the boys loved rolling down the hill the first time.

Today was another lazy day. Aidan and I did our shopping since we didn't do that on Saturday. Tim burned another pot of rice making the whole house get smokey and it still stinks in here. It's making my throat hurt. I say again, because this is like the third time he's done this. He's not allowed to make rice anymore. Thankfully, we were able to get out of the house for a couple of hours because we took the kids to see G-Force. I had hoped we could wait and see this once it was on DVD, but they were begging to see it. They loved, not so much. They were happy though and that is all that matters.

Now we are two hours away from bed time. I've got our lesson plans all ready for tomorrow and we are good to go for another fantastic week. I'm tired tonight and plan on going to bed probably when the kids do because the alarm will be going off at 6:30 for Patchy's walk and then our week is rolling again.

Thursday, September 3, 2009


I am smiling from ear to ear today. I can't wipe the grin off of my face. I am so very happy. I am so proud of Connor. Why? Well, let me explain.

Connor's teacher called today to introduce herself and set up a day for her check in calls. She then asked if I wanted to hear the results to Connor's PSSA results from last years testing. I paused for a minute and said yes. We've been waiting to hear the results. A lot is riding on these results. There was a lot of drama last year concerning my ability to teach. So, when Miss Wagner told me the results I almost burst into tears. I did cry when I called Tim and told him. He scored "off the charts", he scored "advanced in both Reading and Math". Not too shabby for a third grader taking a big state test for the first time. I remember he was done two hours early on one of the days of his test. So, not only did he fly through the test, he ACED it. I could not be prouder of anyone right now. I'm so proud of Connor and I'm proud of myself. Never again will I doubt my ability. We have a good thing going and now there is no need to make any changes. He is taking two gifted classes (Reading and Science), he's taking the Junior Great books class, which reads above level stories and then they pick the stories apart. After they pick the stories apart on their live lessons, they have to do a project to go along with the story. I never felt he was behind...lazy sometimes, but never behind. So, today is a happy day.

I am also very happy to report that we have had a perfect week so far. Everything has stayed on schedule. Everyone is having fun and liking school so far. Yesterday was a really long day. I think I'm going to leave the schedule the same though. Monday and Tuesday are easy days and today was a good day. We were done with school by 2:30. Friday looks like it's going to be a longer day but I think it will work out. The easy beginning of the week helps us ease back into school, Wednesday is long, but it's half way through the week and Friday may be a longer day, but it's Friday. A weekend of fun will follow. I might have to tweak the schedule around the kid's live lessons a little bit but I'm happy with how everything is working so far. Live lessons are like conference calls. I suppose I should explain how exactly we do school.

Both boys are enrolled in Connections Academy. It's a "virtual" school. It's still considered part of the public school system, hence the need to take the PSSA tests. Instead of going to school, we do it at home. They supply all of the books. They supply the "learning coach" (me) materials. If needed, they supply the computers. Each child has a teacher that checks on them every two weeks. They have assignments that they have to submit to them and they get graded on. Like I said, the live lessons are like little conference calls for the kids. The teacher will have a virtual room that all of the classmates meet in and the teacher talks with them and they can chat amongst themselves. It's really cute to see them at the computer with their little headsets on chatting with their friends. We can make our own schedules up and take days off as needed. The kids love it. I love it.

Ok, enough about school. It's funny because for the longest time this little blog sat around getting dusty and now that school has started back up and we have a set routine, I have more time than I thought I would. I also have a theory about why I am feeling better and more in control of things. I am wondering if it's because I've taken the gluten out of my diet. I don't have the terrible mood swings anymore. I have my energy back. Heck, I've been able to get out of bed every day this week at 6:30 and taken Patchy out for a 30 minute walk. I've even been waking up before 6:30. I had thought that I would be exhausted and needing to be in bed by 8. I actually tried to get to bed early the other night and I was awake until 1. Long story short. I feel great and in control. That is a nice feeling after not having a handle on things for a while.

Speaking of morning walks, here are a couple of pictures from this mornings stroll. A nice foggy start to the day. It's been starting to feel like fall around here and I'm loving it.

Kind of creepy looking, but oh so awesome to be in.

Dew on the grass around 10 am.

The kids get a fifteen minute break between each hour class. They like to spend that 15 minutes running around outside. I noticed the dew yesterday and it was there again today. I thought it looked so pretty.

Well, Tim will be home from work soon. Then it will be dinner, Chicken Taco Chili tonight and then Tim is heading out to his Aikido class. I'm not sure what I'm going to do tonight. Probably curl up with a book or work on next weeks menus.

I hope everyone is having a great week too!! If not, tomorrow is Friday and then it's a three day weekend!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

A good day.

No, let me change that...a GREAT day. I am writing about this so when (and I know we will) we have a bad day, I can remember that today ran perfectly.

I was actually able to drag my butt out of bed at 6:25 and was walking Patchy at 6:30. It wasn't easy. I had a crappy night of sleep, the second one in a row and it was cold out this morning. I had to dig out a sweatshirt before I head out the door. I had prepped the coffee last night so I flipped the switch as we were walking out and I had a nice big pot of coffee waiting for me when I got home. By 8:30 I had dinner in the crockpot, everyone had been fed and the kitchen was clean. I had 30 minutes before school and I was at a loss at what to do. I didn't really plan on having free time.

9 o'clock rolled around and I sat both boys down in the classroom. First thing we did was discuss the code of conduct for the classroom. Then we discussed our fun fact for today. I also told them how the schedule was going to work. One hour of lessons, 15 minutes break, one hour of lessons, 15 min break, etc... Then we jumped into the books. Aidan and I worked on one computer (Aidan had headphones to listen to his course online) and Connor was on the other computer. The lessons taught them their concepts and then each of them hit the books. They both loved their little dividers on the desk. The two of them worked side by side and if they needed help with something, they would let me know they needed help. The rest of the day ran along so smoothly. I was able to work with both of them (which I was not able to do last year very well). There was no arguing. There was no whining about having to write or do work. Connor even admitted that his hand didn't hurt with all the writing this year.
Who are these two boys and what have they done with the snarly ones?

Now, I know not to think that this whole year is going to run as smoothly. I do know that I am going to make a concerted effort to ease up on them. I do know that we will not end up in yelling matches over assignments. I do know that we are going to have more fun this year. I think they are up for it. I do know that I am loving being able to see my boys grow and get more mature every year. I love to see them love learning again. Last year, not so much. This year, they both seem ready to take it on. Here's to a seriously kick butt year. I feel like it's going to be great!
Aidan working on his handwriting pre test that we drop boxed to his teacher.
Connor working on his Skills for Success (PSSA prep class). He was taking his reading beginning of the year benchmark test. He scored 100 percent (advanced). I'm not surprised.

I hope everyone else is having a great day and week!

Monday, August 31, 2009

We are ready for lift off.

Today was our final day before school officially starts tomorrow. We couldn't have asked for a nicer day either. Dare I say there was a chill in the air today. We finally turned off the air conditioner and I opened all the windows up. I dried three loads of laundry on the line and I worked on this weeks lesson plans and schedules while the kids played.
Nothing but blue skies and cool breezes today. My clematis has climbed all the way up the side of the garage and I'm training it on a string across the patio to our carport.
Aidan's racetrack he drew on Nancy's driveway. It has crocodile pits that you have to take a ramp over, and walls that you have to jump over, and walls with rocket launchers on them that you have to punch down...or you can take the short cut on the right side and miss all the fun stuff.
Connor and Aidan trying out the race track.
Patchy keeping an eye on everyone...and happy to do so.
My favorite little piggies enjoying the cool grass.

It's now just after 8:30 pm and both boys are tucked in and headed to dreamland. They have actually been really good about adjusting back into a nighttime routine. The rule is lights off at 8:30. Well we were letting them brush teeth and all that jazz at 8:25 and then they went to bed. Connor has decided that he likes to read for a half hour before he sleeps. We have readjusted and now they start their bedtime routine at 7:45 with their butts in bed at 8 pm. Connor reads and Aidan either flips through a book or plays on his nintendo. He was just playing Big Brain Academy. I guess he's prepping for school tomorrow. I can hear them in there chatting to themselves right now but I suspect they will both be sleeping in about 5 minutes.

I am feeling pretty good about school this year. We are going to try to get some pretty strict routines down that will hopefully make it easier on everyone. One thing is that I'm not going to even think about laundry until Saturdays. That will be official laundry day. Another thing we are trying is Crockpot dinners. We've done it two days in a row now and it is working great. I get up and throw everything in the pot and then I don't have to do anything until I dish it out at dinner. It really helped today because while Tim took Connor to his karate class tonight I did another huge batch of tomatoes. I'm also happy because the first two weeks of school are four day weeks and I think that will help ease us ease back into hitting the books.
The rules are up...let's see if they follow them.
The apples are hanging. Sept is the month Johnny Appleseed was born. There will be a lot of apple activities.
The kid's workspace is ready to go. Oh, how I hope it always looks this picked up.
The dividers are mostly done. I had this idea for splitting up the big desk so that Connor and Aidan can focus on their own work. Connor's has his monthly schedule and a fun facts calendar and a list of the classroom rules. I would like to put more in there, but I don't want it to be distracting. Aidan's I'm going to have him write his "words he knows" as he learns them. He decorated his a little bit with some glitter.
And last, but not least, my new best friend. I had to go out and get a bigger crockpot. I had a 3.5 qt one and it always boiled over so now I have a 6 qt one and it works beautifully. I am so happy/excited that I found another blogger who blogged for a whole year with her crockpot. The best part?! Well, two best parts...One...all of her recipes are gluten free! and Two: she has a book coming out in October. I already have one pre-ordered. Check her out if you want. I've made two of her recipes so far and they have been really good.

Tomatoes. Ugh. I don't care to see another tomato for a while. Unfortunately there are bunch more out there on the plants. I don't think we are going to plant as many plants next year. Although they are really good. We picked a whole bunch of them on Saturday along with a lot of peppers and a couple of cucumbers. I'm not sure what I'm doing with the peppers yet and I'm scared for when Tim's haberneros are all ripe. I counted about 20 of them on one bush and he has four bushes out there. Yikes.
Saturday's harvest. Not too shabby!

Well, the clock just chimed 9. As I guessed, both kids are sleeping and I'm about to curl up with my new Country Living magazine. I have to get up early tomorrow to walk Patchy before the kiddies get up and then we start our first day. I'm pretty optimistic about how it will go. I hope I'm not singing another tune tomorrow night.

Thursday, August 27, 2009


What I did today was not on my agenda. I was trying to lay low and relax and prepare for starting school next week. Wrong. When I was out with Patchy I was looking at one of the tomato patches and realized that I need to pick them NOW.

So pick them I did. Sadly, I lost 8 of them to the compost bin. We left them on the vine too long. I posed them for a lovely picture:
A huge haul of orange tomatoes.

Here's when the funny thing happened. I had a total brain fart. I got them inside and knew that I needed to deal with them ASAP. They were really ripe. I ran for a couple of my books. Do I can them whole? Do I make sauce? Do I attempt to use my pressure canner? Ack. What to do, what to do. After a few minutes I calmed down and decided to blanch them, peel them, run them through the mill and then Tim could make sauce when he got home from work.

I set up a nice little line in the kitchen. First I boiled them one or two at a time. Some of these tomatoes were bigger than my hand. I dropped them in then water for a minute until the skin started to crack:
Boiling for a minute.

I then fished them out of the hot water and plunged them into ice cold water. The skins for the most part just slid right off.
You can see the skins pulling away from the tomatoes.

The skins went to compost as did the cores. The tomatoes were so large that I had to cut them in quarters before I could run them through the mill.
Waiting to be quartered.
A very large pile of scraps to go out to compost.

Now the tomatoes are ready to be squished. I am pretty sure this is what a mill is, if not, I apologize. It's like a big mortar and pestle in that you squish the tomatoes and it separates the juice from the seeds.

A very large pile of peeled and quartered tomatoes.
The mill...I think. =)

I ended up with a very large pot of tomato juice. I called Tim at work and told him he was making sauce when he got home. He ran by the Farmer's Market and picked up some onions and garlic.
Big pot of juice waiting to be spiced up and cooked down.

So, Tim is home. He chopped up a bunch of garlic and onions and sauteed it in olive oil. He then dumped it all in with some oregano and it's currently reducing as I type. In the end, Tim is going to add some Parmesan cheese. We are going to fill up freezer bags and freeze the sauce. There was a lot of confusion (on my part) about if the orange tomatoes would have enough acid in them to use a water bath canner or if I had to use the much feared pressure canner. We are taking the easy way out (this time) and just freezing it.

We still have one more very large patch of tomatoes that need to be picked ASAP. I'm hoping that I can hold off until Saturday, but then again, I don't want to lose a bunch to compost. Tomorrow might be a repeat of today.

Well, I'm going to go enjoy some gluten free peanut butter brownies and finish my Dead Until Dark. Connor finished his first 39 Clues book last night and is bugging me to go get him the second book. It is gearing up to be a busy weekend. Have a great night everybody.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


Sorry faithful readers for my lack of posting. There really is no excuse except for laziness. I'm trying to figure out the direction I want this little blog to go. I originally set it up to keep track of my garden experiments and keep family members in the loop with the craziness we call life. I'm not sure if I should limit it to just gardening. Or include everything else. Maybe I'll make a daily schedule like Monday will be news about kids, Tuesday will be gardening news, etc. Of course that means that I will have to do something daily and I'm not sure if I can commit to that right now.

I think for this post I will break it up into topics.


Where did this summer go? It boggles my mind that next week we start school again. I am going to do another year of homeschooling with Connections Academy. I like the ability to work at our own pace and the curriculum provided. I like that each of the kids has their own teacher that I can touch base with if I need help. I like spending time with my kids because I know soon enough they will be out on their own and I like being able to mold them into decent human beings while I have the chance. I also like that I get to see them progress through the years. If they were in public school I don't think it would be as noticeable. Their teachers would change from year to year and the new teacher would not know what giant steps the kids make each year. I get to see them mature and learn every year. I learn too, which isn't a bad thing. So, school is back on as of next Tuesday. I have the classroom 95 percent ready to go. The kids have all of their books and I have the first week of lesson plans already organized and ready. Tim has to make sure their computer is up to date with all of the software they need. I am also going to try and make something to put on their desk to separate their work areas so there will (hopefully) be no fighting/arguing. I am hoping this year will be better than last. There were a lot of things going on and I wasn't as focused as I should have been. There were also some serious extended family issues that we had to deal with but all seems to be calm for now. I did learn that I am not going to give my power over to anyone to adjust how I feel or make me feel like I'm not doing what I think is best for my family.


This is a gardening blog, is it not? I like to call my garden the half-assed garden this year. We planted our things into the ground and have occasionally weeded and that is about it. I'm not too proud about it and I am already starting to plan out next year. We had a rough start to the season with an inordinate amount of rain. I thought that perhaps we had turned into Seattle. The high amount of rain had it's ups and downs. We didn't really have to water anything this year...but I think our tomatoes suffered early on because of the amount of water. We have had a couple of large harvests so far and I think we will probably pick most of our tomatoes this weekend and then make them into sauce and can. I will say that the tomatoes that we have picked already have been so amazingly tasty. They are insane too. They are big and meaty. When you cut into them there is very little seed goop. It's all meat. We have also been very successful with peppers this year. I'm going to do some reading about pickling some peppers later today. The cucumbers have been so-so. For the amount of cucumber plants that got planted I haven't really seen a lot coming off the vine. I was hoping to make some pickles, but no such luck (yet).
An assortment of peppers picked before vacation.
Tower of tomatoes picked before vacation.
Tomato picked yesterday.
Tim's haberneros are starting to turn orange. His four plants are covered with peppers.


Yes, this is now a big topic in our house. I've been gluten free for a month now. At first I didn't see any real big changes in how I felt. I do think that I am starting to feel better and I know that I have more energy. Tim says he can see a big difference in how I act so that is something. It's been a huge adjustment though. I love to bake. I mean I reallllllly love to bake. It's not so easy do to when you have to do it gluten free. Instead of using all purpose flour, you have to use a mix of other (expensive) flours. I have been successful in making cakes and bread and I even tackled a pretty good pizza crust. It's harder though. The pizza crust for instance is a pain in the arse to get rolled out into the pan. I also miss kneading. I used to take pleasure in kneading dough for ten minutes. I could feel the elasticity of it and I could feel it getting warm in my hands. I miss kneading. I have also decided that I'm going to have to break down and buy a KitchenAid stand mixer. I only have a handheld mixer and it barely cuts it for the mixing. I haven't gotten one yet because I haven't decided if I'm going to just abandon my love of baking. I'm sure around the holidays I will change my mind because the kids and I really do enjoy the tradition of cookie weekends.

The other problem that I've run into is gluten hiding in things that I don't expect. I've always been a pretty good label reader. You have to be when you are vegan (as we were for a year), but gluten takes on so many names that it's confusing. I find myself cheating and just buying things specifically labeled gluten free. That is all well and good until you travel. Let's just say we had a very packed cooler of things safe to eat. So, we are still trying to adjust to the new GF lifestyle. I find that I'm not as interested in food as much, which is probably a good thing. I'm just replacing it with liqueur. Just kidding (I think).


Ah, vacation. The one time a year that I look forward to and dread all at the same time. Don't get me wrong. I love to travel down to Florida and spend time with my family. That is not the part I dread. It's the drive. 18 hours. Long hours. This is the first year that we took it easy on ourselves and didn't drive all the way through. We splurged and got a hotel for the trip down and the trip back. Not an easy task when traveling with a dog either.

We left on a Friday afternoon and drove 12 hours and ended up in South Carolina the first night. We rolled into the parking lot at almost midnight and before we got out of the car we were approached by a woman and her two children begging for money. Tim talked to her because I was trying to get the kids to pack up all of their electronic equipment into their backpack to take inside. The woman told Tim some story about how they were staying in a nearby hotel and that they needed (she sized him up to see how much she could get away with asking for) 22 dollars. Huh? You are going to approach a very tired family at midnight in a dark parking lot with your kids and ask for money?! I think not. Tim said he got a weird vibe and was pretty sure it was a scam so we didn't give her anything. It was weird. I didn't sleep all that well that night because of that and because it takes me a while to unwind from driving 12 hours to actually go to sleep. Everyone else passed right out.

Then comes Saturday. We were all up and showered and on the road by 8 am. Yay us! I stopped at a Dunkin Donuts to get Tim and I a coffee and get the kids each one donut. This is where our day turned sour. I don't know if it was something in the coffee, or if it was the fact that I touched the donuts as I handed them to the children (and then proceeded to eat my watermelon) but an hour later I knew I was in trouble. I was driving along the highway at about 75 mph and I got sick. I had a sudden stabbing pain in my gut and then I felt like I was going to get sick and pass out. I was attempting to find a rest area to pull into but I knew I was a minute from passing out. I very quickly pulled off the highway (scaring Tim) and got out of the sick and then passed out. We were on the side of the road for about 2o minutes. It was terrible. I am so thankful that I knew that I was going to pass out though. My ears kind of went dull and I had the cold sweats. It's happened before. I don't even want to think about what would have happened if I had passed out while I was driving. Probably wouldn't be sitting here typing about it now. I am also thankful that when I pulled over it was really cloudy and windy but not yet raining. The breeze helped me slowly come back. Tim took over driving for a while and sure enough five minutes back into the drive it started to rain really hard. Good timing, eh? Well, that little incident kind of wore me out for the rest of the day. Tim drove for a couple of hours until I felt better and then I took back the driving duties until we got to my parent's house. I was beat and not very sociable when we got there but was much better by Sunday. Like I said, I'm not sure what set my episode off. I still am a tiny bit skeptical if I am in fact celiac or at least intolerant to gluten. I don't know if the fact that I handed a donut to each child and then ate my watermelon did it or if it was just something in the coffee. I may never know what happened...but it seems to have convinced Tim that I cannot eat or be around gluten.

The rest of the vacation was nice. We had an amazing day at the beach. I mean AMAZING! We got there early before it was filled with people. It wasn't too hot. The tide was on the way out and the kids had a blast in the water. We saw a lot of small white fish with each wave that came in and receded. We also saw a lot of little live conch shells. The kids were fascinated with them. I was also amazed at how much Connor has grown up. In the past, he has been terrified of the beach. The waves were always too loud and too rough for him. This trip he strapped on a boogey board and hit the waves with Tim. Aidan, as usual, showed no fear of the water at all. He went right in, got knocked over, got back up and did it all over again. I kept freaking out because there had been rip tide warnings because two separate tropical storms were off the coast, but everyone survived. I also scored one of my classic beach sunburns which I enjoy. I know, it's crazy, but I can be bright red one day and the next day it's nice and brown. It was awesome.
We could not have asked for a nicer beach day. It was perfect!

Aidan showing his no fear. This was like two minutes after arriving to the beach. Everyone else was laying out blankets, putting on sunscreen, etc and Aidan was running towards the water by himself.

The only other major thing we did was take the kids out to Downtown Disney. Aidan got jipped out of a trip to the Lego store last year so we had to do it this year. He was beside himself with excitement. He looked at everything. He spent a lot of time on the wall where you can pick out certain pieces. He spent time playing on the table where they had legos out to play with. He scored a bunch of stuff. It was a great trip. We then ate at the T-Rex Cafe. If you've ever been to the Rainforest Cafe, it's the same thing instead of having Rainforest scenes and animals it was all prehistoric scenes and dinosaurs. It was really good. The chef came out and talked to me about the whole gluten thing and helped me pick out what I could eat and was a great help. The food was tasty and the meteor shower stopped the kids in their tracks. We shot a video of Aidan with a spoon halfway to his mouth and him just staring at everything happening during the meteor shower. Highly recommended if you happen to see one.

The rest of the vacation was just spent hanging out with family and spending a lot of time in my parent's pool. The visit was somewhat bittersweet though because I think my parents and my brother and his family are going to be moving out of Florida within the following year. I basically grew up in Florida and I have a lot of memories there. It will be sad to not go down there and see things and spend time in the pool anymore. Of course, I guess there is nothing saying that we can't go down and get a hotel and do was just nice to not have to worry about the expense of that.

Aidan an d Connor hamming it up in the pool.

Oh well, we are home now and Tim is getting back into the work routine and I'm getting back into my routine and trying to plan for the school routine for next week. We are glad to be home all safe and sound. Tim has 8 days of vacation left that he needs to use before the end of the year and we are trying to decide what to do. Neither one of us really want to go anywhere. There are a couple of things I would like to do before the end of the year and maybe he can take a day here and there to do that. I know that I want to go to Knoebel's again in the fall when it's cooled off. I want to go to the county fair next month and the Sheep and Wool festival in NY is quickly approaching. Beyond that, he will probably just take a day here and there and do nothing.


Well, I don't really have all that much more to write about right now. I have a kitchen sink full of dishes waiting to be tended to and some folded laundry that needs to be put away. I think I will spend the rest of my afternoon trying to finish my book as I know reading books for pleasure will be a luxury once school starts. I will probably try to do a summer wrap up in the next week or so.

I hope everyone else is doing well and enjoying the winding down of summer. Personally, I'm ready for fall and all that it entails.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Note to self....


Happy day! After doing some research, ALL of the Method products are gluten free. You don't have to go through the house and rip out all of the foaming hand wash, the bar of soap in the tub, the many assorted cleaners that are around. It's all safe. Oh, such a happy day.


Seriously, how awesome is that. I stumbled across Method products a few years ago when we did our year of vegan. They were products that smelled good that didn't have any animal products and they don't test on animals. I have stuck with the products. I have a foaming hand wash at each sink in our house. We use the bar soap in the bath. I use the counter cleaner, the window cleaner, the furniture polish, the floor wash, the hardwood floor wash, and now the dishwasher tablets. I've been waiting and hoping that they would put out a tablet for the dishwasher that would fit into our "be nice to the earth" lifestyle, and alas, they did. I ♥ Method products and will continue to use them daily. Thanks Method, you rock!


It's Tuesday. It's 10:18 am. I'm still in my pajamas. I may stay in them all day. It's one of those days. It's grey outside and we are supposed to get some rain today. I have been up and gotten some things done. Both children have been fed. Coffee has been made (and drunk). I've finished another granny square and that may be the extent of my day. Thankfully, our home is pretty much picked up and the kids are content to play on the computer. Connor did have me put his time in for reading on the Scholastic site. He's been devouring a new book that I got him last week. I hope he slows down so I'm not buying a book a week like I was with the Wimpy series. Aidan has been ruling supreme on Bejeweled Blitz. Although I just beat his score and he has vowed to take over the top spot again.

It's been an interesting week. Two weeks ago I went for some blood work (a lot of it). Thursday night around 5 pm, the doc's office calls and the nurse tells me that the Celiac test came back positive. I had antibodies in my blood and the doc said that I should adhere to a gluten free diet. That was pretty much all she said. No follow up appointments? No words to the wise? I was kind of shocked, but not really. I had a feeling that I had at least an intolerance because I couldn't seem to shake my crappy feeling. I started reading immediately and 9 out of 10 of the symptoms fit me to a T...all except the weight loss. Go figure. I had a quick little cry...really just a couple of tears at the loss of my fave foods and beer. I was happy to finally have a conclusive reason for my feeling the way I have.

Friday morning I geared up to go hit the book store to get a couple of cookbooks and a book about the disease. Right before I leave the house the phone rings. It's the doctor's office. I pick it up thinking that maybe they were going to schedule a follow up appointment. Nope. The nurse tells me this time that the doctor consulted a GI doctor and that I don't have Celiac. Huh? How can you misread a test like that? Apparently it's a common test that is misread all the time. So, now what? Do I sigh a sigh of relief that I can continue to live without any restrictions or do I pursue the gluten free diet? Right now I've decided to eliminate gluten. Not only for me, but for the whole family. I figure it will be better for Connor's diabetes. Also, I can't get the symptom list out of my head. I had every one of the symptoms. It made perfect sense. I went out and got some books and spent the weekend reading them.

Saturday was also my birthday. I'm inching closer and closer to 40. I'm ok with that though because I still feel like I'm in my 20's (minus the digestion issues). Tim was super sweet and printed off a list of gluten free products from Burt's Bees and hooked me up with a bunch of lotions and shampoos and stuff and he got me one of my favorite movies, Amelie. The biggest thing that I got though was my Ipod Touch. I was surprised. I'm such a gadget geek and Tim is the total opposite. He hates them. He is the best. I love it. The kids and I have been playing with it non stop. So, a nice weekend kind of took my mind off the gluten free nonsense.

Oh, and Sunday I was just finishing up cutting the grass and our neighbor Jeff brings over a bag of three trout that he just caught in Toby creek. He offered to them us. I know Tim had been wanting some fresh fish and I asked if they were ok to eat. Jeff said they were, so we took them.
The smallest of three...before gutting.
Connor loved identifying the guts as they came out.

Tim cleaned them up, with the kids watching his every move. They have been wanting to go fishing for a while and we might have to break down and actually do it soon. I remember going fishing once when I was Connor's age and I have one word for my experience. Boring. I was bored to tears...and hot. I didn't have fun. Now, I don't think I would mind it as much. Sitting still next to water in the quiet. I think I could handle that. I see a fishing license in our future. Tim grilled up the fish Sunday afternoon. I wasn't planning on having any because it kind of grossed me out but I caved and had a bite. It was good. It was really good. Both boys ate it too. I was surprised that Aidan ate it. Mr. Picky. I will say though that he is starting to slowly branch out and try new things. We just had to stop bugging him all the time.

The garden is doing great. We've been picking zukes and summer squash like crazy. Both of which are tasty grilled. The tomato plants are officially taller than I am. The tomatoes are huge but don't seem to be turning color yet. Tim and I starting to lay down bets as to how big they will get. I've seen a couple of cucumbers starting to get bigger. Peppers, oh man, we are going to be drowning in peppers. I let Jeff pick a bunch as a trade for the fish. They are getting big and I'm going to be making some salsa soon.
I dragged the kids away from their water gun battle to stand in front of the tomato plants so you could see the difference in size. I'm 5'10" and a couple of them are over my head.
Patience will pay off.

What else? Oh, I got an email today saying that Connor's textbooks will be here tomorrow. I'm just now starting to unwind from last year and now we are looking at next years work. Do I start early? Do I let it go until Sept and enjoy the summer? I know that I'm going to take off the rest of July. I might start him up in August so that we can get some lessons done and work ahead a little bit so that we have some "give" time next year. We'll have a week off in August for our trip to Florida, but we could still get three weeks of assorted lessons done. I guess I'll have to wait and see what shows up tomorrow.

27 days until we leave for Florida. We are all getting excited. I'm looking forward to a week of laying in the pool and going to the beach and seeing my family. We usually drive straight through but this time we are stopping mid-way to take a break. I already have reservations so it will be nice to have a destination to shoot for. I had to make sure that the motels we are staying in will let us have Patchy. We are taking Patchy with us. I don't think my dad knows that we are bringing him yet. My mom is keeping it a secret. Patchy is the worlds' best dog though. 100 percent house trained. Quiet. Cute and fluffy. What more could you ask Patchy loves and I mean LOVES riding in the car. It will make packing the trunk a challenge though. His crate takes up 80 percent of the trunk space. We'll pack the crate full and then wedge everything else around that. The only thing I'm kind of freaking out about is the food issue. No more running through a fast food on the fly. It should prove interesting in making sure I have breakfasts, lunches and dinners packed for us to eat. I've already started my list making and research.

I think that is the extent of my news for now. It's inching close to 11 o'clock now and I should get up and do one more productive thing before I call it a day and play with some more crochet...or read a book....or play scrabble on my itouch. I hope everyone is having a great week!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Busy day!

I had a very productive day today! I made 8 loaves of bread. A couple of weeks ago, our lovely neighbor Debbie gave us a loaf of bread with a bag of starter for Amish bread. I took care of my little bag of dough for ten days and made two loaves of bread. That one bag of starter dough made the two loaves and 4 more bags of starter. No one wanted any of the starter and I couldn't bring myself to throw away the starter. It had all organic flour, sugar and milk. So for ten days I tended to four bags of starter. Today I made 8 loaves and now I have 16 bags of starter. I can see this spiraling out of control here. I googled and found out that you can freeze the starter and then take it out and start from day one again. So, now I have 5 loaves of bread in the freezer with 16 bags of starter dough.
After. Two loaves of each: apple/walnut/cinnamon, chocolate/nut/coconut, lemon/poppy seed, and plain 'ol cinnamon. Delish!!

The other big thing that I'm proud of is that I FINALLY taught myself how to crochet a granny square. I see on Flickr all the time this one lady who is always crocheting these amazing granny squares in the most brilliant colors. I was jealous. I have tried several times with no luck, but found a decent site yesterday that walked me through it step by step and now I'm a granny square making machine. I see a large yarn purchase in the near future.
Not too bad for a newbie.

We have been having the most unbelievable weather here for July. Today it was 75 degrees at like 3 in the afternoon. It has been so nice. We had a perfect weekend to drive over and hang out with Michael and Carrie at Reptiland and then had an awesome meal at the Bullfrog Brewery. The kids enjoyed it because Carrie's nephew Noah was with them and they had fun tromping around looking at the snakes and alligators. I just enjoyed the beer at dinner...well, and hanging out with Michael and Carrie. We invited them to go to Knoebels with us in a couple of weeks. I hope that is ok with you Brian.

What else? I got a great book last night. I can't put it down. The Backyard Homestead. It's awesome. It says that on a quarter of an acre you can harvest 1,4oo eggs, 50 lbs of wheat, 60 lbs of fruit, 2,000 lbs of veggies, 280 lb pork, and 75 lbs of nuts. What more could you want or need? For some reason I had in my head that we needed 5 acres to grow enough for us to live on, but this is showing how to use what space you have to the best ability. I will be reading this over and over.

Not too much else going on. Oh, I did want to brag about our power bill. I paid it last week and compared it to the same time last year and our usage was way down. Our bill was 40 dollars cheaper than it was last year even though our rates have gone up. The ONLY thing that I've changed is that I am hanging out all of our laundry now. I think I had to run the dryer only one day last month when we had like three weeks of rain and we were out of clean clothes. Otherwise, it all goes out on our rigged clothesline.

It's funny how much I've changed in the last couple of years. I was telling Tim this morning that I am totally content hanging out the laundry, spending the day in the kitchen baking breads, knitting and crocheting...I think my grandmother would be proud of me. She did all of that and ran a farm. She was a pretty fantastic lady.

Well, I'll leave you a couple of picture from Reptiland. I have a ton of pics that I have to run through photoshop and then I'll post to Flickr. It gets to be a pain with posting pics all over the place...which is why I procrastinate all the time. I will work on my pictures tomorrow. For now, I'm going to curl up with my book and read until I fall asleep. Night all!
I loved the little poisonous frogs. I told Aidan that I wanted one, and he rolled his eyes at me and said, "They are poisonous Mama." I guess that is a no.
This guy was hilarious. The kids tried to feed him but he pecked their hands so hard they ended up throwing the food at him.
The perfect end to a great day with friends. Oh yeah, it was good!