Monday, July 30, 2012

More Than Tractors and Dirt or...

12 "Girl" Things I Want My Son to Do

While there is something to be said for encouragement of activities along traditional gender lines (it's a big debate so pardon me if I leave it at that) there can be a wealth of knowledge and experience that a boy or girl can discover if they are allowed to stray from those traditional paths while they are growing up.  This is not meant as parenting advice (in a "you must do this or your child is doomed" sort of way), but rather an exercise to test your parenting brain to discover more ways to include and encourage your kids in the world around them.

12 "Girl" Things I Want My Son To Do
  1. Play Dress Up: because I want you be comfortable in your own skin and to not be afraid to discover the millions of people you can be.
  2. Play With Dolls: because I want you to learn to be gentle and caring.
  3. Cry: because it's okay.
  4. Be Best-friends With Your Mother: because I love you and think you're amazing.
  5. Dance: because you can and you'll never know if you don't try. {and who doesn't love a man who can dance?}
  6. Sew: because knowledge and self sufficiency are amazing tools.
  7. Cook: *see above*
  8. Take Care of Your Appearance: because proper respect and care of your self will give you confidence.
  9. Babysit: because you should know how to nurture and care for the weakest and smallest members of your family and community.
  10. Be the One in "Distress": because sometimes we find strength and courage when we ask for help.
  11. Talk About Your Feelings: because it's okay to give those emotions a voice.
  12. Think About Marriage: because it's so much more than a wedding.
12 "Boy" Things I Want My Daughter to Do
  1. Get Dirty: because every child should know what it's like have dirty under their fingernails.
  2. Use Tools: because you can and no one will mess with the girl who knows her way around an acetylene torch and a table-saw.
  3. Be Loud: because sometimes you need to be heard.
  4. Like Cars, Bugs and Science: because they are fascinating.
  5. Play Sports: because you should run around and get sweaty.
  6. Know How Fight: because I want to you to defend yourself the best you can.
  7. Go Camping and Fishing: because sometimes the best lessons are learned on the trail or holding a fishing rod.
  8. Be Best-friends with your Daddy: because he loves you and thinks your amazing.
  9. Be a Nerd: because it's okay to passionate about something.
  10. Be the Hero: because you don't need to wait for someone to rescue you to have an amazing adventure.
  11. Think About a Career: because no matter where you end you should be able to dream big.
  12. Be Assertive: because you should know your own mind.

There can be some many great lessons to be learned by letting our children explore who they are.  Even if my son never becomes a great cook and my daughter never earns a martial arts trophy I believe that giving them the opportunities to explore can deepen their understanding of the jobs and roles men and women will fill in their lives.

What are some non-traditional activities you've encouraged your children to do?  Do you have a son who can make a mean souffle or a daughter who refurbishes tractor engines?

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The County Fair

Today was kids day at our County Fair.  It might not be glitzy or glamorous, but I love it.  Today was the kids 4-H project judging and it's so lovely to see kids who know how to take care of animals and aren't afraid of dirty, smelly thing and sweat. 

Other than Henry's apparent fear of poultry the day was a great success and I'm definitely taking note that this needs to be an annual event.  In fact part of me can't wait until the day he might be waiting for his own 4-H project to be judged.

Monday, July 23, 2012

A Little Miracle

This weekend was rough for the country on many levels.  I don't feel I can put into words the feelings that the Aurora shooting left in me - a world where nerds like my friends and husband cannot geek-out safely makes me uneasy.  But, in the darkest moments I do believe that miraculous things can happen.  Go HERE to read just such a story.  Turns out Ms. Anderson is the friend of the little sister of one of my close high school friends (sorry that's a little confusing), there's not much to connect me to Aurora (other than that's where some relatives live who were safe in bed and asleep), but if I can find the smallest connection I'm glad it's to a story like this.

Full Swing

The season is upon us.  Things are ripening and starting to come in from the garden full tilt. 

I processed a dozen ears of sweet corn from our CSA yesterday for freezing.

{corn goes well with cookies, right?}
And have about 10 lbs of peaches from the grocery store that I will be dry freezing today or tomorrow.


We also harvested the last of our potatoes and a good amount of the pears from my parents pear tree.  The potatoes will go into the pantry and I'm just waiting for the pears to rippen a little more and then have plans to sugar or syrup pack them for the freezer.

Our CSA has been keeping up despite the drought, thanks to an irrigation system and night watering, so we can expect larger boxes and more extras over the next few weeks.  Even the folks that run our CSA have started encouraging people to make use of the free extra veggies they offer to stock up for the winter in case the drought really hits food prices.  We'll be making use of their free herb bed and 20 lbs of canning tomatoes in a few weeks so we'll definitely be keeping busy.

I always love this time of year - it's so busy and productive, but mainly I love it because it means my real favorite time of year is just around the corner.  Sweaters, holidays, lots of crafting and eating is on it's way!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Inspired Additions: Simple Living Books for Kids

I think our local librarians hide when they see us coming on our regular trip to the library.  If I don't leave with enough books to cover 75% of my torso somethings usually wrong.  I've had the great fortune of finding some new gems to add to my "Simple Living Books for Kids" Series.

At the recommendation of an amazing amount of people I finally got my hands on a copy of

"Little Britches" by Ralph Moody.  The first of a series in which Mr. Moody recounts his days homesteading with his family at the turn of the century.  Kind of like the beloved "Little House" series, but a little bit more honest and raw.  The Moody family definitely goes thru their share of hardships.  Recommended for a slightly more mature audience.  I'd say age 10+ with parental guidance to discuss mature themes like poverty, greed and death.

On the lighter side of things we've also been enjoying:

"Clancy & Millie and the Very Fine House" by Libby Gleeson and Freya Blackwood.  About a little boy and his new neighbor and the world the create out of the discarded cardboard boxes in his backyard after moving to his new house.

"Passing the Music Down" by Sarah Sullivan.  About sharing the love of music through the generations, based on a true friendship between to musicians.

And just for fun

"When Dinosaurs Came With Everything" by Elise Broach and Illustrated by (my favorite children's illustrator) David Small.  Just too much fun, this one might just make it's way into the permanent collection one day.

Don't forget to follow the "Inspired" Pinboard for more ideas - HERE

Sunday, July 15, 2012

From Here to There

Oye.  Let's just forget that week ever happened. 

Well, maybe not completely.  First, thank you for the rain prayers/good vibes/dances that you sent out a few days ago.  My little town didn't get much of anything, but a lot of the neighboring communities did get some rain and lets face it the farms need it more than my suburban tomato plants and herb pots.

The meds are still playing hackysac with me - weight gain, moods, and all that good stuff - so I was pleased to have a dear friend call up at just the right moment and get me out of the house.  It was the first time I've been out of the house for fun sans baby, husband and any other family members in almost 2 years and that's really no exaggeration; September 2010 to be exact.  There was a little guilt to start with, but I felt so great coming home about 4 hrs later having seen a movie (a taped version of the National Theatre's "Frankenstein" played in a movie theatre, which was amazing and makes me long for my theatre days just a little), some sangria and some nice conversation.  It was worth it to hear a dear friends regard for me, my marriage and my parenting and really shifted my dedication back where it usually is. 

Times get tough here, there's not denying that, but I am so grateful that I and my husband believe we became part of a sacrament together and that means you work through things (even steroid induced mood swings) and move on.

And come up with good names to call him when he's driven you crazy again - right now I'm on a roll with "Twatwaffle".

We move forward - bit by bit, stitch by stitch.

 Incidentally the same way I get from this :

It's about an 1/8 of the way finished; probably just under a proper 1/8.  I'm still not certain I can get it done by mid- September, but I'm giving it my all and that's what counts.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Pray for Rain

Hey lovely friends.  Sorry it's been slow here, the steroid I was put on to fight my allergic reaction last week is kind of kicking my behind - I guess that's what I get for rarely taking medications - and I've been walking around in a "so tired, can't sleep, getting grumpy" kind of daze for the last few days.

However, I felt the need to petition all my lovely, prayerful people out here to stop just for a moment and pray for rain.  It's been almost 2 weeks since we received rain here and even then it was barely over half an inch, followed by a week of over 100 degree temps; that brief rain was preceeded by a month with barely more than an inch total when we usually get around 5.  (Go HERE and you can see us in the orange circle in Eastern Iowa and we're not the worst of it) For those who don't know, the ground moisture evaporates at a rate of 1/4 inch a day when the temps get over 90, so it's getting bad. 

Today I made a point of offering up all my work and troubles for the rest of the month as a prayer for rain and not saying it had any affect, but out of the blue we have rain headed our way (within 8 hours from 0% to 40% chances) so it makes me hopeful.  We don't need much, a couple days of rain to get at least half way to our average could make it or break it for many large farms and small gardens.

If you could take a moment consider reciting this prayer I found for rain or any other version you feel drawn to for the sake of the farmers in our area and across the Midwest and for those battling wildfires in the West.

O God, in Whom we live and move, and have our being, grant us rain, in due abundance, that, being sufficiently helped with temporal, we may the more confidently seek after eternal gifts. Through Christ, our Lord. Amen. 

And while you're at it let's not forget to say "Thank You" for the clean water in your cup and the food that has arrived at your table despite these trying agricultural times.

Monday, July 9, 2012


It's so easy to get swept up when thing don't go right, and oh boy have things not gone right over the last few days.  To say I'm not looking forward to oven shopping would be an understatement, but in the end I'm grateful.

  • I'm grateful for modern medicine which stopped the hives from making me look a leper, and stopped them from spreading more on my face (hence the EpiPen).
  • I'm grateful I was in the room when the coil ignited and hadn't put the pizza in the over yet or we might have had a legitimate fire on our hands.
  • I'm grateful that my father brought us a new fire extinguisher when we bought the house and that my husband knew just where it was.
  • I'm grateful we live just down the street from family so we had some place safe to keep Henry while we cleaned up the extinguisher residue.  
  • I'm grateful that I don't have to choose between eating and having a stove to cook on this month.
  • I'm grateful for the heat that has broken.
  • I'm grateful to see that I won a little something from Carrots for Michaelmas this morning.  It will be a great addition to the "Mass Book Collection" we've found at the thrift store over the last few weeks.

It's a new day, and for all it's ups and downs I'm grateful for it.

G.K. Chesterton

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Survivor Part Deux

Please enjoy a moment of Schadenfreude while you read this:

Not even 20 minutes after hit "post" for the garden update the coil of our oven caught fire....  Well, we were going to replace in a year or two anyways so new stove here we come!  Rather than wait four days for a repair guy to come, order parts and replace parts and potential not solve the problem we're just going to shell out for a new stove.  There are times to "make-do" with what you have and there are times to admit that you don't want to mess with electric problems and admit that that is why you have an emergency savings account.

Between that, the yard work and (about to share too much information) the mysterious first time in my life Hives that earned me a month long taper of Prednisone and my very first Epi-Pen on Friday I'm spent for this weekend.

The only good thing at the moment is that apparently Pred makes rosacea disappear.  I haven't seen my natural skin tone in years.  Too bad keeping on it is horrible for your body.

I really hope everyone can sit back for a moment and say "Oh well, I had a pretty good weekend considering"; as for me I'll be back in a few days with something a little less "face-palm" worthy in my life.

Cheers and enjoy this slight offensive, but funny music (warning: Not the most PC song, so might not be for all my readers.  If you normally don't watch anything beyond a PG rating you might want to skip this one.  Remember I worked in Professional Theatre for years so we might have differing tastes on this kind of stuff!)


The weather finally broke today after a week of 100+ degree days.  This summer is rough folks and we need rain.  We might not grow a lot of the nations fruits and veggies in the Midwest anymore, but our soybeans and corn are big commodities in the world and a small crop might push up prices for a lot of surprising things come this winter.  I'm not trying to be too alarmist, but the last couple years of getting more acquainted with the sources and work that goes into my food makes me more aware of the seasons and their affect on my world.

Things are weathering well here.  We pulled up our carrots, a few cucs, the first potatoes and the last of our first onions (two rows of later onions still sitting).  I'll have large blank spots in the garden at the Big House in a few weeks and am trying to figure out what fall crops I should stick in during August and September.  I also have plans for two raised beds here at the Cottage this fall which I'm hoping to use for garlic and other winter hardy veg.

 We've been fighting "blossom end rot" like crazy because of the drought conditions, but I'm seeing the light at the end of the tunnel with my romas.

 I may get some green beans yet!

Our first, but badly photographed, addition to our house.  We pulled out some self-starting peonies from this forgotten corner and put in two red raspberry bushes.  I can't wait for next year!

Up at the Big House we've got more cucs, yellow beans, tomatoes, corn, the last of the onions and potatoes growing along with a lot of herbs that need to be cut and dried.

This gardening thing feels like slow going some times.  It often feels like I'm barely getting the rewards for my work.  But one day I know I'll work up to the point where my backyard endeavors can really feed my family and all of this will be worth it.

Friday, July 6, 2012

"Noodles" a Kitchen Basket Update

Some of you might remember THIS little post about a little basket of fun that I put together for Henry a few months ago drawing inspiration from Montessori teachings about "practical life" experiences and benefits of using real materials to help a young child develop understanding of care.

I'm pleased to say that over the last few weeks the Kitchen Basket has really started to come into it's own.  We started mimicking eating and mixing up food with the bowls and utensils and Henry was quick to catch on.

Just a few days I go I felt he was ready for a little something extra for his imaginary food (which is delicious by the way) and grabbed an unused pile of scrap felt.  Not wanting to put any real effort into creating play food at this time I simply cut long stripes of the felt and introduced Henry to "Noodles".

Noodles is officially one of the more popular games in our house.  We put the noodles in the bowl, mix them up, dump them out, put them on our head, try to feed them to the cat and not necessarily in that order.  We've found that he often enjoys playing Noodles after he's done with his own dinner.

Of course we're still trying to enforce the fact that we don't actually eat the noodles, but other than that it's a great game.

"I eat Noodles.  Noodles are cool."

If you need a refresher on the original "Kitchen Basket" hop back over to the original post HERE, complete with new Pinning Button and cover picture if you are so inclined.  


Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Loves Songs for the Unromantic

Betty at Betty Beguiles is having a "Love Song Link" Up and it sounded like something fun to do in this heatwave (making a list of love songs that is ;) ).  I'm not a roses and diamonds kind of romantic girl so my "Love Songs" tend to fall under the category of things I want to dance to at my 50th wedding anniversary or songs that make me tear up thinking beloved family members or long passed friends.

 "Time Goes Away" by Rosie Thomas -
I can't sing along without balling

"Hallelujah" (cover) by Rufus Wainwright

"Boston and St. Johns" by Great Big Sea

"She Was the Prize" by Gaelic Storm

And proving that even my cold heart can be a little sentimental
The song I walked down the aisle to
"On One Beautiful Day" by Flook

And the (much too long) song we danced to at the reception
"Everything Else Disappears" by Sister Hazel

And last, but not least.  The song that every couple should dance to like no ones looking at least once a year.

 "Burning Love" by Elvis


Monday, July 2, 2012

It's Hot, Hot, Hot

The heat has taken a toll on my house and the blog.  All I want to do is sitting in the cool areas of the house and wait for it to pass (and pray that our air conditioning bill won't send me into an apoplectic shock).  It also doesn't help that the good camera (aka my mother's camera) is on vacation with her and mine little, only a step above a point and shoot, just isn't cutting it.

As soon as the heat leaves, hopefully this weekend, we'll be back to tackling our fantastically exciting to do list.  I've got antiques to re-finish, an outdoor chalk board to be made and put up and raspberry bushes to get into the ground.  Not to mention a new (to me, handmedown from my grandmother) bread machine to put to use, canning to plans and recipes to discover (since I've found out that I really don't know what to do with things like chard and kohlrabi, but oh it tastes good to explore.)  There's also a Rain Barrel/Compost Bin sale at our local landfill/recycling center in a few weeks... Who has two thumbs and is going to be there with bells on (hopefully!)?  THIS GIRL.

Since I don't have pictures to share I thought I'd share a few links that I've enjoying recently:

Suscipio - a Catholic women's website and blog.  In their word's "Our souls are tender, our hearts thoughtful and some days we just need a place to go and know we are accepted “as is”…Suscipio, Latin for: to raise up, maintain, support, accept, receive."

Frugally Sustainable - Has been a wealth of seasonal tips and remedies.  I'm not brave enough to start a "natural" pharmacy in my own home yet, but this is great source of information.

Carrots for Michealmas - Hayley is quickly becoming one of my first reads in the morning.  Secretly I want to her to be my next door neighbor so our cloth diapered babies can run freely from one yard to another weaving around garden beds and chasing down the occasional stray chicken.

Homesprout - Speaking of blogger stalking, I'd also invite Allsion from Homesprout to live on the other side of us.  Her garden updates and beautiful and dang, that girl that knit!  I'm going to be putting her ingenius idea for Kale Powder to work in the next few days!

I'm off to pack on the swimsuits for a post-nap trip to the swimming pool. Have I mentioned my son still hates the pool, thank goodness for splash pads.
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