Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Fun After the Storm!

When we moved to New York 3 years ago, we knew it was going to be an adventure. I never dreamed, however, that our adventures here would include a major hurricane! We were extremely blessed not to have any damage on our property. I kept peering out into the darkness throughout the night to see if our travel trailer and chicken coop were still standing--they were. Even our garden, which I was sure would either be uprooted or drowned, survived! We lost power twice, once for about 7 hours and later for about 2 hours, but that was it.

After all our preparing, it was almost anti-climatic. But I'm good with that. The boys, however, were extremely disappointed when the power came back on. I guess they were looking forward to "roughing it!"

We did have all sorts of fun playing in the wind Sunday afternoon, once the rain stopped and the sun came out. And of course I took pictures!

Jordan trying to make a sail out of a kite

The sun finally peeking through the storm clouds

Daddy swinging the little ones

Looking towards the northeast, the sky still looks pretty ominous!

Josiah is just happy to be outside!

Sweet brothers...

Walking with Daddy

Jordan gave up on the kite and used our Longhorns flag to make a sail.

I thought it was funny that the first thing the older 3 boys did when they got outside was to try to harness the wind to pull/push their scooters. I remember when I was a kid and hurricane Gilbert just missed us in Corpus Christi. We stood in our front yard in rain ponchos, holding the sides out to catch the wind. I think we were trying to see how far we could lean into the wind without falling over. Maybe we were trying to fly.

Joshua hypothesized that he could jump off the master bedroom balcony (basically 3 stories up) and the wind would help him "fly" down instead of just falling like a rock. He wanted to try it.

I vetoed that idea. I'm such a spoil-sport.


The boys soon moved from creating wind sails to an impromptu football game.

Joanna just ran around checking everything out.

Busy girl

Taking a break to lie in the grass

Joshua's broom/trash bag sail. He ended up successfully using this to "power" Josiah's Little Tykes car down the driveway.

Now we are back to business as usual--school, chores, the daily routine. The boys want to know when the next hurricane is coming. Ha!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Preserving the Harvest

I am so proud of myself...I made my first actual canned pickles! We've been making refrigerator pickles for a few weeks now, but I was a bit intimidated to try canning. However, between running low on room in the fridge, as well as wanting to have pickles that will last beyond the next few weeks, I finally decided it was time to take the plunge!

Here they are...6 pint jars of home-canned pickles:

I have to give credit where credit is due and tell you that Jordan cut up all those cukes for me. He now considers all cucumber cutting HIS job...just so he can use the sharp knife!

Jordan and Joseph have been doing the harvesting this week. They really enjoy going out there and searching for veggies. And yes, I DO mean searching--the weeds really have about taken over. I'm conceding defeat this season and admitting that I just don't. have. the. time. to keep it weeded. Next year I will be on top of that.

Today's harvest:

We're doing our best, but we just can't eat this stuff fast enough! In addition to making pickles, I've been freezing tons of squash, making dozens of zucchini muffins, and filling bags with tomatoes and tomatillos and sticking them in the fridge. I need to buy some cilantro, then I can make salsa verde and tomato salsa. I'm thinking I'll just freeze the salsa verde in meal-sized quantities, but I'm hoping to be able to make enough regular salsa to be worth canning. The tomatoes are still only trickling in, so I'm peeling, bagging, and freezing them for now:

Same with the peppers:

When I have enough, I'll make stuff with them to can or freeze. With the peppers, I plan on keeping some in the freezer anyway, to pop into chili or spaghetti sauce this winter.

One of the reasons the boys enjoy harvesting is that there's no telling when you'll discover a missed giant:

Jordan is awfully proud of that giant cucumber! It'll probably be inedible at that size, but he has laid claim to it and wants to eat it all himself. Joseph, on the other hand, is just posing with the cool humongous "alien squashes." He thinks they're nasty and says he won't be eating them! :)

Silly boys!

I bought lots of seeds to try for fun this year, but the only unique variety that actually made it into the garden was the purple bush beans. I put some in a pan for dinner and told the boys to watch them...they're magic!!

Of course they got bored long before this happened (a whole 5 minutes later), but here's what they looked like cooked:

There were many oohs and aahs when they peeked back into the pan, and I have to admit that even I was quite impressed with the color change.

Who knew beans could be so fun?!!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Park Fun!

Yesterday around lunch time, I told the boys to get their shoes on and go get in the van. I didn't tell them what we were doing(mostly because I was winging it and wasn't totally sure myself!) except that we were going to eat lunch out. Jordan was immediately very excited.

"You mean we're going to eat lunch out again?!? Wow, this is going to be the funnest week EVER!!"

I must usually be the most boring mom around, if fast food twice in the same week makes it the "funnest" week ever. Hmmm, maybe I should work on changing that...

Anyway, we drove through McDonald's and then went to our local park--our local park that though we've lived here almost 11 months, we had not visited yet. (See above reference to my "boring mom" status.)

Joanna with her Sprite from Mickey D's...a rare treat for her!

Joseph and Joanna

It's easier to climb up than it is to climb down!

About to try the slide...

Josiah is a blur! (and PLEASE ignore those knees!!)


Jordan wanted me to be sure to capture the precarious nature of his perch here, and therefore prove his extreme bravery. These tires are stacked on a platform 5 feet or so off the ground, so the kids can just drop through them to the ground below. Next time any of you see Jordan, be sure to tell him how brave he is, okay?

Just don't make the mistake of telling him how cute he is, like the lady behind us in line at the grocery store did. He'll get embarrassed and stare at his shoes.

Jordan on the fireman's pole

Followed by his funny faces!

Big slide pile up!

Joanna playing with pebbles on a concrete picnic table

Fun on the tire swing!

We will definitely have to come back here again. The boys and Joanna had so much fun!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

One Day Down...

Our first day without Josh and Jon around went pretty well. I woke up feeling like someone was missing (well, someone WAS!) and had to alter my normal Monday morning routine accordingly, since one of the missing children usually cooks Monday's breakfast. I discovered I'm a bit spoiled now that I have pre-teen children--I miss my cook! :)

We ran errands later, the highlight of which was lunch at a new and exciting location--the cafe in our local Target. Who would have guessed that would be so thrilling for my crew? But it was-- Jordan and Joseph must have thanked me and told me how much fun they had at least a dozen times. And it was cheap to boot. Guess I'll be adding that to my list of fun kid destinations! :)

We are now well-stocked on boys' socks and underwear. Whew! And Joanna got new shoes. She LOVES shoes, but had just outgrown all 4 pairs she owned in her previous size. (Which I had just bought back in July--growth spurt, anyone?) It's sad when your little girl begs you to put on her shoes, only to immediately cry and beg you to take them back off because they hurt. The past several days she has had to go shoeless. Now she can be a fully-accessorized little girly-girl again, with new white sneakers complete with sparkly rhinestones, and new black-patent Mary Janes. She's much happier now.

I'm still trying to come up with some fun, special things to do with my little guys while their big brothers are away. Normally I'd come up with all sorts of ideas, but apparently my brain isn't fully functional on next to no sleep. I'll have to ask the boys what they'd like to do today. Once they wake up, that is. At least some members of this household are sleeping! :)

I'm sure they'll come up with something, probably involving candy. Or ice cream. Or a freaky animatronic mouse. We'll see. And I'll try to remember to take pictures.

Monday, August 22, 2011

A Break in the Chaos?...(or Not!)

These past few weeks since we started back to school have been cuh-razy! Between easing (cramming? begging? bribing?) my boys back into a school routine, keeping the preschoolers from taking over the world (or even just the kitchen!), and taking care of a new born around the clock, I am exhausted! I keep wishing I could crawl into a cozy hole somewhere and sleep for a day (or several), but I'm pretty sure I gave up that option oh, about 12 years ago.

This week, I'm getting a bit of a reprieve! Two of my children are off at camp all week!
I only have 5 children at home! Yes, you know you're a mom-of-many when you can say only and 5 children in the same sentence!

Of course, the children who are absent are the oldest 2, who also happen to be my biggest helpers. I'm trying not to admit that having five 7 and under might not be that much of a reprieve, after all. We'll see...

I think we'll play hooky from school this week and work on projects, get some errands done, and, of course, play fun "little kid" type stuff. I've already asked Jordan, who will be the biggest boy at home this week, what he'd like to do. His answer? He wants to cook eggs for breakfast all by himself (usually Jon's job) and go to Chuck E. Cheese's. I think we can handle those!

One of our necessary errands will involve clothing, or rather underclothing, shopping. Since my big boys do their own laundry, I have very little occasion (this is a good thing!) to see my 12-year-old's underwear. Well, in packing for him, I had a heck of a time finding 7 pairs that weren't completely shredded. How he shreds underwear I have no idea, but shred them he does, so they must be replaced. The 10-year-old didn't even have 7 pairs, shredded or otherwise. He's, um, borrowing a pair or two from the next brother down. Hopefully he won't mind, and when he gets back he'll have new ones as well. And we won't even mention the deplorable condition of their socks...which I just bought in the last couple months. Argh!

We dropped Josh and Jon off at camp yesterday afternoon. I was the only one close to tears. I'm still not sure how I feel about that--I wanted to the boys to go off without a hitch, obviously, but it might be nice if they miss me a little bit! Jon was even too cool to hug me goodbye, the little stinker. Well, I'm off to play preschool games and cook with Jordan. I'm hoping for a fun week with my littles! :)

Thursday, August 18, 2011

It's an Alien Invasion!

Help, we've been abducted by aliens! Alien squash, that is!

Joshua has been begging for several days to paint one of our scalloped squashes, which the boys call "alien saucer squashes," to look like a flying saucer. I normally hate to waste food like that, but we've eaten and frozen pounds and pounds of this stuff, and it's still coming in faster than we can use it. So yesterday, I relented and pulled out the paints:

Everyone ran out to the garden to choose an appropriate canvas...

And painted away happily!

Joshua got pretty detailed with his:

Joseph getting started...

The younger boys mostly had fun mixing up all the paint colors into one big blob on their plates. Amazingly, they didn't make a huge mess!

These are summer squash so they don't last very long before they get squishy, so we'll have to throw away their creations in a couple of days. Hopefully no one will be too disappointed!

I never would have thought that our garden would also be providing objects for art class! But, I'm a big proponent of making do with what we've got on hand, so it works for me! We've even used veggies as a still life for drawing practice in the past week:

I wonder what we'll do with them next! :)

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