Als ich wisse das Morgen der Erde enden wuerde, immernoch wurd ich mein Apfelbaum pflanzen.

Even if I knew the world would perish tomorrow, I would still plant my apple tree. - Martin Luther

"Factory work's easier on the back, and I don't mind it, understand, but a man becomes what he does. Got to watch that. That's why I keep at farmin' although the crops haven't ever throve. It's the doin' that's important." Madison Wheeler in Blue Highways by William Least Heat Moon

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Just Playing Around

Jane and her family were here over the weekend.  I've always enjoyed watching our creative and bright kids play and explore, but as they get older it's getting to be even more enjoyable and precious.  For several years they have been creating, practicing and then performing (for the adults after dinner) an original play.  The plays used to consist of a lot of giggling on the part of the kids, almost no plot, and confusion on the part of the parents.  Recently, however, they have achieved a much higher level of sophistication and entertainment. 

Last night's feature was well thought out, involved all five kids, had a clear plot (with conflict and resolution) and even contained mood music.  There was a king, a robber (who had several costume changes), a baby, a mother, and a sound effects manager.  All of the kids had truly amusing facial expressions and voice delivery.  It was delightful.  I'm so thankful for friends who parent their children in a similar creativity encouraging environment. 

The majority of my students don't know how to imagine.  It is a skill they havn't ever been encouraged to develop.  Several forms of electronic entertainment are on in their homes at almost all times.  They don't know how to pretend, and they find anything that isn't fast past electronic entertainment to be "boring." 

It may sometimes seem that creative, collaborative play is just that, play.  But truly, shaping our children's lives so that electronic forms of entertainment are limited is giving them valuable life skills in the areas of inferencing, problem solving and interpersonal collaboration. 

Don't get me wrong.  I'm certainly not totally anti-T.V. or computer.  The kids watch a little bit of PBS kids (at the moment it's Wild Kratts) if they're ready for school early in the morning; and we usually allow them an hour or two of T.V. time over the weekend.  They're allowed to get on the computer for about 30 minutes during the week to play educational games or to do research (but only if the weather is too hot, too cold, or too wet to play outside). 

Children in the U. S.  watch an average of three to four hours of T.V. a day.  A DAY!  That's astounding.  My kids typically don't even watch that much in a whole week.  No wonder most of my students aren't reading or doing their homework when they go home.  No wonder they complain and cry when they have to run the mile for P.E. at school.  They're too busy on the couch!

I simply can't fathom why you would want to lose so much quality time with your children.   I  look forward to summer for the same reason I look forward to the weekend and to 3:15 each day.  It's time I get to spend with my children.  I can't imagine giving up that time so that they could sit in front of a mind sucking black box for four hours a day. 

What would happen to the independent reading time they have after school? How about piano lessons, soccer practice, Karate class?  Gone, gone, gone.   What would happen to our nightly cuddle and story time?  What would happen to family dinners and game nights?  They would disappear. 

Children who are parented by electronics also have a poor work ethic.  Most of my students have no responsibilities at home.  And, if they do, the responsibilities include simple tasks like cleaning their rooms.  My kids (ages 7 and 9) fold all the laundry, put away most of the clothes, clean up their own clutter, take care of the floors (vacuum and sweeping), take out the trash, compost and recycling, help with the chickens, and even occasionally dust and mop.  This is not a violation of child labor.  This is real life, real responsibility and real expectations.  When my kids go out into the world they'll actually know how to take care of themselves. 

So thanks to all of you who have the courage and the energy to parent your children with creativity.  If you're still tied to the plug, turn off the tube, unplay the Playstation, read a book, play a game of soccer together, cook together, work outside together, play together, read together.  You, and your children, will be healthier, happier, smarter and more creative.

Now, if you'll excuse me, the Woodsman is waiting for the computer.  I've been on here long enough.  Time to collect the eggs, feed the chickens and sit on the deck to watch the sun go down.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Phenomenal Women

I'm thankful for all of the phenomenal women in my life.  In honor of them, and of the end of poetry month, here is Maya Angelou's poem "Phenomenal Woman".

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Anyone Out There?

Blogging is a strange mix of writing for yourself (part of the reason I'm writing is to hear my own voice) and writing hoping that someone out there is listening.  I'm writing so that I can remember these every day moments, but I'm also writing because I'm inspired by those that I read.  I love sharing (and learning) from the bloggers I follow.  But now I'm wondering...  Is anybody out there? 

It's a bit like returning to middle school.  You want to hang with the cool kids - of course at this point in my life the people I think are the coolest are the ones busy raising their children and their own food.

 I hope my offerings are interesting and inspiring to others.  Blogging is a way for me to add my voice to the world community.  I teach and have elementary age children, so many of my days are spent without any significant adult conversation.  Thanks to all of you who are willing to show us your lives, and willing to share your thoughts.  So glad to be hanging at the lunch table with you all.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Eating "Out"

Some people use the excuse of "lack of time" to justify poor planning and the allure of convenience.  Want to save your family money, feed them healthy choices and maintain your commitment to protecting the planet by using local (or home grown) food, but still need to keep up with your family's crazy schedule?  Two words - Plan ahead! 

I work full time, and so does the Woodsman.  Both kids are in karate, one plays soccer and both have the usual amount of homework, chores and piano practice (I'm the piano teacher - so at least we don't have to drive anywhere for that lesson).  We also live 20 minutes outside of town.  Karate practice, which is 40 minutes from home,  runs two nights per week and starts at 6:00.  So, how do we manage to NOT eat out on those two nights?  Plan ahead!

Years ago, in the days before children, when The Woodsman and I were completing our Masters,we had the same kinds of frenetic days. I bought several plastic divided dinner containers, made two dinners on the nights we were home, and then packed up the extra ones for the nights we were gone.  In college we had access to a microwave in a friend's apartment.  We'd heat dinner up there before we headed to class.  Now I do the same routine only it's four dinner containers instead of two, and dinner is heated up in the teacher workroom and eaten in my classroom.

I know this sounds crazy, but actually - because I Plan Ahead - it works pretty well.  I prep and pack Tuesday night's dinner while I'm making Monday night's at home.  The Woodsman washes the containers when we finally make it home on Tuesday.   Then Wednesday night I do the same for Thursday night's dinner. 

This week has been an especially long one - when we get to the end of tomorrow we'll have eaten away from home for three consecutive nights - Plan Ahead indeed!

Sample Menu from this week:

Monday:  Beans and Greens and Biscuits (both made fresh on Monday night), tomato preserves and applesauce (canned)
Tuesday (packed on Monday):  Vegan Black Eyed Pea Shepherd's Pie (made on a weekend this winter - pulled from freezer Sunday night and baked on Monday night), biscuits (from Monday), Nectarines (canned)
Wednesday (packed on Tuesday when we got home):  Bean and Cheese Burritoes (from freezer), Sweet Potato Casserole (made on Sunday for dinner), applesauce (canned)
Thursday (packed tonight when we got home):  Greek Pilaf, chopped cuke and tomato salad (from our CSA - they have a hydroponic green house) with goat cheese feta (dressing, vegis and cheese are ready in seperate containers and will be tossed together tomorrow before dinner), and Watermelon chunks (from freezer - put there when we had way too much to eat at the end of September)

Total spent - not much - Maybe $15.00?  A whole lot less than the $90- $150 we would have spent eating out for three dinners.
Total time spent - not much - most of this food was prepped before this week.  I almost always cook double (or triple) of what I need and freezed it.  Not any more time than it takes to order your food and have it delivered to your table.
Total health benefit - Can't configure that one for sure either, but my homemade meals came without a lot of added junk and were local, and full of fruits and vegis.  Who can say that about the burger joint meal they had tonight.

It can be done.  You can feed your family healthy, low cost food and still manage to get them where they need to be.  Using this plan you don't even add extra waste through the trash stream - you're reusing every night.

Oh, one other side benefit of this routine - we still sit down to the table together every night.  Just some days it's a different table.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Using up the Old, Bringing in the New

We had four large sweet potatoes (old) left from the fall harvest.  They were jewels, but it was time to use them or lose them.   So, I decided to make an Elie Krieger recipe for Sweet Potato Casserole with Meringue topping - delicious and healthy.,0,2867330.story 

To go with this sweet sensation I made a Crustless Greens Quiche usingthe first of the Goat Feta (new), and the Chard that had overwintered in the garden (old).

Finally, we had steamed asparagus (new) dripping with lemon, butter and generous grind of black pepper.  Delicious - a perfect Sunday supper.

Tonight I slipped out into the garden when it was only raining mildly and harvested some garlic (new) and some Mustard Greens (new) which had self seeded from last fall.  I combined these in the skillet with some green onions from the CSA, some lemon juice and salt and pepper.  Then I topped the lightly stir fried greens mixture with pinto beans (seasoned with lemon juice, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes).  Beans and Greens have got to be one of the healthiest, simplest and best spring recipes in this house.  I also splurged and made biscuits and topped them with the last of the Tomato preserves (old).

We're also down to four jars of applesauce - who knew that four bushels wouldn't be enough.  Perhaps I'll need to process five next year?

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Garden Almanac Mid April

It's a rare quiet afternoon while I write this.  A few minutes ago it was chaos in here.  The kids had set up an obstacle course and were jumping over, climbing under and generally being loud and crazy and the Woodsman was talking about the upcoming marathon and his current progress.  Within a few minutes they all headed outside.  The kids to play in the driving rain; the Woodsman to drive in the truck  - just to see what's happening out there.  I am left with the sound of the rain on the roof, a cup of good coffee and time to write about what's happening in my garden.

It seems like it took forever for anything to happen out there, but now that we're finally getting rain there are peas (Green Arrow and Cascadian), lettuce (Pine Tree Garden Mix, New Red Fire, Forellenschluss), spinach (Tyee), carrots (Chantenay, Yellow, Nantes), radishes (Easter Egg, French Breakfast), broccoli (Waltham), cauliflower (Cheddar), Cabbage (Glory of Einzhunken, Late Danish Ball Head, Chinese), greens (Giant Red Indian Mustard, Dinosaur Kale, Bright Lights Swiss Chard, Collards), potatoes (Kenebec, Red Norland, Yukon Gold ), beets (Lutz), red, white and yellow onions and lots of asparagus.  The herbs are also coming back - chives, garlic chives, chocolate mint, spearmint, peppermint, lemon balm,  and catnip - actually, this self-seeded and is taking over the lower corner of the garden, I'm leaving it for the beneficials (at least for now).  There are also a bunch of volunteers - mostly lettuce and sunflowers.  Nothing better than playing in the dirt.

Friday, April 20, 2012

April is Poetry Month 1

I NEVER saw a Moor --
I never saw the Sea-
Yet know I how the Heather looks
And what a Billow be.

I never spoke with God
Nor visited in Heaven--
Yet certain am I of the spot
As if the Checks were given--

Emily Dickinson

This poem just about sums up my faith belief.  I love the imagery too.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Taco Salad Chefs

Tonight my budding chefs made dinner - Taco Salad. I set out the ingredients and shredded the cheese and was then shut out of the kitchen. They did a fantastic job! Yummy!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Not too old yet

We've been reading The Fellowship of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien. Soccer Boy is really loving it. Cuddling up with him under a blanket is the best part of my day. He told me today that he'll snuggle with me at least until he turns ten. Love that boy.
Readalyn is devouring the Rainbow Fairies series and working her way through Lemony Snickett # 4. She goes to bed surrrounded by stacks of books - I used to do the same thing. Girl after my own heart.

Monday, April 16, 2012


Flylady is my new hero. It's all about being organized. Today I managed to do a deep cleaning of the bathrooms, while cooking dinner (Pumpkin Pasta from the freezer and roasted asparagus) and supervising homework. There was even time after dinner for a walk! You totally need to check her out - especially if you juggle kids, a house and all the joys that go with it and a full time job.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Ready for next winter

The woodsman has seven large stacks of wood split and drying and he even has some black locust under the deck ready for a big winter storm. He's so ahead of himself. Does he know that it's April? I'm proud. Very cute.

Imagining life without children

The kids are gone this morning at a sleepover. Although having a quiet cup of coffee and time to sit and read without being interupted was lovely, I'm glad that I'm headed out to pick them up soon. Life without children is just too quiet. I find myself looking ahead to the time when they'll be gone and wishing it would never come. I will miss them entirely too much. So thankful for those two little blessings.

Friday, April 13, 2012

The Naming love reading fantasy - my current obsession is The Naming by Alison Croggon. All of the magic and monsters in a vaguely medieval world that you could wish for, and a female heroine.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

One sentence Journal

In an attempt to preserve my memories of my children before they fade away into oblivion I plan to write at least one sentence per day. I hope this helps me hold on to these precious moments.

Soccer Boy had his first practice today. I'm so proud of how he hussles - and yet, he's still content to snuggle for a book and a lullaby at bed time.