Thursday, December 27, 2007

Maternity Leave

Hello to all, we are back after a brief maternity leave! Here is a photo of Baby Sean for your viewing enjoyment. Isn't he wonderful?!
What an amazing two weeks this has been! Sean's birth on December 12th signified the official beginning to our holiday. We still had a bit of shopping and planning to do, and certainly plenty of wrapping--but part of welcoming our new son meant giving ourselves plenty of grace in the details. A big, big thanks to the many families that made sacrifices of their own by bringing in meals for us so that we could concentrate fully on resting, healing, and loving our baby without getting bogged down by our basic needs. We have been so touched by your generosity.
Hope you all experienced much blessing this Christmas! I feel grateful this year to be given a better understanding: The celebration of Christmas has always been about the birth of a son. Sitting here in my warm house, nursing this sweet baby in the dark hours of the night....I feel like I finally get a glimpse of what Christmas really means. I hope your holiday was just as wonderful, and we look forward to seeing you in the new year!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

New Things

Today I taught myself a new blog trick--crossing out words. Allow me to demonstrate:

"This afternoon I am busy making pumpkin bread to bring to the hospital and stuff my face with eat daintily during the midnight nursing sessions, when there is no food available but my body is screaming for calories. It will also provide a handy snack every hour on the hour, when the nurse barges in peeks in quietly with the purpose of cramming on my stomach interrupting our scattered sleep making sure we are all doing okay."

Pretty cool, huh? And who says an old dog can't learn new tricks?

Monday, December 3, 2007

Waiting For Baby

I sent the boys downstairs to play earlier so that I could make their lunch "sans chaos". When I finally called them back up and we were sitting at the table eating our sandwiches, I asked them what they had been playing downstairs.

"Until Reuben comes down," says Cole.

I think for a minute and realize he must have misunderstood what I was asking. "No, what were you playing down there?"

"Until Reuben Comes Down," says Cole.

It's dawning on me at this point that this is the name of the game.
Dare I ask? "What's that?" I say.

"Oh, you know," he shrugs. "We just play whatever we're playing.... Until Reuben Comes Down. Then we run and hide."

Oh, I think, poor Reuben. And this from the same boys that dubbed their littlest brother The Evil Pirate and created a game where they play happily in my room until he goes to search for the source of the fun---whereas they shout, "THE EVIL PIRATE! THE EVIL PIRATE!" and slam the door in his face.

The thing is, it's not that they dislike him. (That's not true. I think Reese actually dislikes him.) It's just that they more love the idea of having someone to play the villain--you know, the whole Cops and Robbers mentality. Because really, what fun is all the warring if you don't have a fall guy? Isn't that what little brothers are for?

It is December. We are in our last 12 days now before Baby is due. I keep hoping that God, in his greater wisdom, is giving us this new brother to even the playing field a bit. I'm suspecting that will be the case. Somehow just the idea of two sets of bunks side by side is a more calming thought than the two big boys plotting in their room downstairs, and Reuben alone and helpless against their ploys in his crib upstairs....

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Forces of Nature

So I'm just wondering: Is the gravitational pull that doesn't allow children to leave you alone for two minutes when you're in the bathroom the same force that repels them from you in the middle of Costco, causing them to tear around the store like banshees?

Quote of the Day:

"I know four things that are bad for you: Chemicals, bad stuff, McDonalds, and a squid with a toothpick in his stomach and chocolate on his head." --Reese, age 3

Ah, the pride I feel raising boys that are health-conscious! Does parenting get any better than this?

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Happy Birthday Reuben!

My little boy is two years old today. He's just barely getting his birthday in before our new little buddy is born next month. He is about to be a big brother, but the "baby" side of him still wants to snuggle up with his momma and his blanket and watch a movie. He is increasingly frustrated with my growing belly and the way it pushes him off of my lap. I keep telling him it won't be much longer now!

I hope he understands.

And now, for one of my all-time favorite pics: Reubsy, on the pot, wearing the science goggles.


Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Child Labor

My kids have been so bored lately. The stormy weather outside combined with the months that have passed since the last surge of birthday gifts is doing them in. Cole finally asked yesterday, "Can we please go to the store and pick out a new toy?" and I had to say, "No, not this close to Christmas...."

So they have nothing to do, and I have way too much to do. A light dawned this morning, and I told the boys that I would pay them to help with my chores. Cole wants to work ALL THE TIME and is actively saving for a discontinued (read: expensive) Star Wars Lego kit, so he was thrilled, and Reese was just glad to be involved. So off we went.

Before I could even get Reuben dressed for the day, the big boys had run in and made my bed and cleaned all the bedroom windows. They continued to tumble around the house like snow flurries, cleaning everything in their path. Together we switched loads of laundry, folded and put away clothes, loaded and ran the dishwasher, and Cole even took out two full crates of recyclables to the curb, as well as all the compost. I finally had to send them off to the playroom because I needed a break!

We have more on our list and I don't know if we'll get it all done today. But I do know that they feel quite pleased with their accomplishments, I'm feeling less stress, and I'm maybe out $2.00 at the most--all in all, a good day. The (sort of) worrisome part is that I hear them playing downstairs now and Cole is offering to do "chores" for Reese if Reese will give him the money out of his savings jar. Cole knows what he's asking for, but Reese still has no concept of what he's giving away, and is doing so a little too willingly. Better go nip that in the bud!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007


Every time I go through this journey of carrying a baby I am reminded how absolutely vivid and real pregnancy dreams are. Three nights ago I woke up covered in a feeling of dread, having just dreamt that Justin was leaving me. It's been days now and I still can't shake that unbelievable feeling of grief.

Last night I dreamt that it was present-time and that my labor was starting. I woke in a panic, thinking, no, it's too early, it's not time yet. There are five more weeks. Once I was able to shake the panic and began to settle my mind down, I remembered that the other part of my dream was that there were 3 elk walking around in the kitchen. So for now I am content to resolve that it was just a crazy pregnancy dream, and not a moment of mother's intuition!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

The Morning After

I must confess: I was in a bit of a quandry this year about Halloween. By October 30th, I had no costumes for the boys, no ideas of fun things to do with them, no carved pumpkins, and no energy. But I had plenty of stress about the whole thing and the fact that there was nothing planned.

After a quick pow-wow with my ever-understanding husband--who also recognizes the importance of my avoiding additional stress right now--we decided to boycott the holiday this year. I sat the boys down on Halloween morning and told them that instead of doing the sugar-high thing this year, we would have a family night, complete with "mummy pizzas" (english muffins with sliced olives for eyes and shredded mozzarella for their "wraps"), spider web cupcakes, and a rented movie with popcorn. Reese clapped his hands. Cole was less than thrilled.

Thus followed a long conversation where I tried desperately to explain the reasoning behind doing something different this year. The end result was that Cole was just so disappointed to not get to dress up and go out somewhere. He suggested a compromise ("option three; not ideal") of he and Reese dressing up in clothes they already had and going trick-or-treating just to the neighbor's houses--meaning they could get a couple of little candies, but not bucket-fulls. They readily agreed to coming home as SOON as Dad said they had enough. I felt this was a fair suggestion, and Justin and I conceded. So our "pared-down" holiday this year included not only the trick-or-treating, but the mummies, and the cupcakes, AND the promised movie ("win/win/win!"). I laughed when I crawled into bed that night----for all of my good intentions, did I just raise the bar for next year?

Here they are in their self-made outfits. Cole dressed up in army attire and Reese put on a black sweatshirt and pants, the cape Justin made him for his birthday last year, a huge brown pirate belt, and grabbed his nerf gun. "What are you?" we asked. "Darth Vader!" was the answer. Of note: the amazing thing is that at one of the houses, an older woman answered the door and said, "Oh, look, it's an army man, and Darth Vader!" The boys didn't think twice about it, but Justin said his jaw about hit the floor!

Monday, October 29, 2007

57 Days Until Christmas

....but who's counting? That means that there are even less days until the baby is here. It's all very exciting, but there is so much work to be done!

This weekend Justin and I performed a major overhaul on our bedroom closet. We found lots of things to get rid of, pulled all the summer clothes and shoes out, and I even took a deep breath and stored away anything that doesn't currently fit. (I have about five articles of clothing left...but it's wonderfully clutter-free!) We finished it off with a new paint job and new hooks for hats and purses. The final result is beautiful. After living in this house for 3 years, I finally feel like our closet is usable....even though it's hardly bigger than a matchbox. I think I might even enjoy putting the clean laundry away now!
Amidst the Great Closet Cleanout, we took the boys to a local orchard and picked 150 lbs of Jonagold apples, which are currently in the garage dreaming of their future as pies, sauce, and dried to be later added to homemade granola.
Anyone care to guess what I'll be working on this week?

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Homeschooling: Outside The Home

One of my favorite things about homeschooling is the excuse to get involved in community classes under the pretense that the kids need socialization. They don't, of course; it's just a common misconception, and, truth be told, there are many days I wonder if there's a method for making them LESS socialized-- Ah, but I digress.

This week, there was an opportunity we just couldn't miss: A science class for 5-10 year olds at the Roeder House! Any of you that know Cole know how much he loves science. AND the subject matter for the first class was the Human Body, which is pretty much his favorite topic to discuss in the whole world. He watched the clock all day and kept asking how much longer he had to wait before he could go to science.

The class went off without a hitch. I worried that being in a new location with new kids would cause him anxiety. He seemed a little apprehensive when I dropped him off, but was so jazzed up when I picked him up at 4:30 that he literally did not stop talking until he went to bed four hours later. Justin and I finally had to tag-team spending time with him because our heads were hurting!

Here is the skeleton he made in class with some cut out pieces of bones and a few strategically placed metal brads. It's his new favorite toy.

He has also now decided that for Halloween, he wants to be a skeleton wearing a black coat. (He doesn't HAVE a black coat; I have no idea where that came from.) Reese, not one to be outdone, will be a ghost.....with bat wings.....wearing a blue jet pack. I think this sewing Mama might have her work cut out for her!

Monday, October 1, 2007

Questions I've Answered This Week

....all courtesy of Cole.

"Mom, is this an apple?" (holding an apple)

"Can we have marshmallows on our macaroni and cheese?"

"Where is your heart if your Feeders are right there?"

Sometimes I think my life could not possibly get any stranger.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Feeding An Army

Many of you know that the latest project in My Quest To Make Life Easier has been learning to use my freezer more efficiently. I have spent hours researching the concept behind once-a-month cooking and have scoured my notebooks of recipes for anything that may lend itself to being prepared in large quantities and frozen for an easy re-heatable meal. And even though I know that there are lots of mommas that spend one day cooking one month of meals, I still came away feeling like it was out of my league. So I am starting "slowly".

Two weeks ago, I made 40 servings of spaghetti sauce and 8 loaves of fig and date bread (a quick, yummy dinner with a plate of scrambled eggs and a bowl of fruit!). I also roasted a whole chicken and shredded the meat to use for dinners and sandwiches and then made a whole pot of stock out of the bones, a little of the meat and some fresh vegetables and herbs.

Last week, I roasted another chicken (this time for dinner) and made another pot of stock. Then I took some of the stock and made a kettle of lentil soup and added that to my freezer stash.

Yesterday I made two loaves of brown beer rye bread and will make another two loaves today (I ran out of plain yogurt for the dough yesterday). Last night we had reuben sandwiches on homemade rye, pickles and warm German potato salad on mixed greens (all from the farm stand), YUM! I was pretty sure I was in heaven.

All of the produce I picked up yesterday with our CSA (community supported agriculture) dollars from the K&M Red River Farm stand down on Railroad. Justin told me to buy them out. I did my best! Isn't this stuff beautiful? Now I have to figure out how to process all of it. We'll eat through the cherry tomatoes, plums, and apples at snack times, and have plenty of salads and sandwich-toppings from the mixed greens. The spinach will make Asian Udon Soup (with noodles, the stock, shiitake mushrooms, ginger and garlic) and Sracciatella (chicken soup with garlic, spinach, carrots, celery, parsley, egg, and parmesan)--both for the freezer. I'll cut the red peppers into strips and add them to chicken or steak, onions and marinade for fajitas....the tomatillos will make a tangy salsa verde for enchiladas...the peaches will can. We used quite a few of the baby yukon golds in our potato salad last night but the rest will be parboiled and fried up for weekend breakfasts--or with salmon dinner next week. Oh! And that zucchini--if you can see it, way in the back?-- they said that zucchini will make 4-5 loaves of zucchini walnut bread. Mmmmm. But I'm still at a loss as to what to do with all the pears and something fun to do with the delicata squash, so please send me your suggestions!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

On Becoming Men

If there's one thing you could say about these boys of mine, it is that they LOVE Crayola markers. Love, love, love them. One of their favorite pasttimes is decorating their legs, arms, faces and torsos with all different shades to become "warriors". They do it so often that it's not even worth trying to clean them up to take them out in public....which means that yes, I do get some wonderful looks from my fellow shoppers at Fred Meyer. But they love to play the role of fighters.
Brenda and I were laughing recently about the huge number of baby boys being born recently. She joked that the reason our new baby is another boy is because I am friends with her, and she ONLY knows people that have boys. At the time, we just thought it was funny.....but then I started hearing from other mommas (who also have only sons) that even within the schools, the younger classes are FULL of boys, with only a handful of girls. And suddenly I was hit with the sobering thought: Whatever could be coming in the next 20 years that might require an insurgence of Godly young men?

..."Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, 'Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?' And Jesus answered and said to them....'You will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled, for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilence, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows'" Matthew 24: 3-8

I am feeling new resolve to train my sons in the way they should go.

"Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one's youth. Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them!" Psalm 127:4-5

Thursday, September 13, 2007


So I'm cutting a red bell pepper tonight and Cole walks in to kitchen. "Hi Mom," he says. "Can I try one of those seeds?" The seeds? "Sure," I say. I give him a seed and he stares at it. "What does it taste like?" he asks. "I don't know," I say, "I usually wash them down the drain. Try it."

He munches on it thoughtfully.
"What does it taste like?" I ask him.

"Sour," he says. "Kind of like an ant."

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Dinner Conversation

Cole: "Superman, he could lift 2000 dinosaurs."

Reese: "Superman, he could lift 26 ducks!"

Thursday, September 6, 2007


Quote of the Day:


Monday, September 3, 2007

Labor Day

la*bor day (la'ber da) n. : a legal holiday that is a creation of the labor movement, dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers; a day one only has to wake up to Reuben yelling "BOB!" in his crib instead of that AND the alarm clock (see Weekend); an opportunity to take a break from cooking dinner and just nosh on leftovers; the last day to review The Office Seasons 1 & 2 before Season 3 is released tomorrow; an afternoon to sit around in jammies and make Christmas gifts; the last day to run errands (ie the copy shop, the grocery store, and the fabric store) before the week officially begins; a day to change diapers, do the dishes, wash the laundry, parent the kids, potty-train the toddler, prepare meals, make the beds, and pick up the toys (see Every Other Day); the last chance to make sure all the books and art supplies are present before starting Homeschool tomorrow; a day to ponder "labor" and what it will mean to me this year; a day to thank the Lord for; a paid "day off"!

Friday, August 31, 2007

Heard Around The House

Cole: "That is the smelliest thing I have ever heard!" (don't ask)

Cole: "I can't BELIEVE how many fingers I have!"

Reese: "The sun is as hot as 20 flaming carrots."

Thursday, August 30, 2007

This Morning

This morning I climbed out of bed and walked into the living room to see Cole and Reese sitting on opposite couches, Reese with the ugliest scowl on his face (see template). Cole was saying, "It's the ghost that's as much as my smart brain. Reese, what's wrong? Why are you so mad?"

Wanting to stop any argument (even one in a different language as this one appeared to be) before it escalated to shouting and woke Reuben, who was up all night crying and seemed to finally be sleeping, I said, "Reese, sweetie, good morning, how are you? What's the matter?"

His response: "I'm mad that I didn't get the smart brain."

In explanation, Cole jumped in and said, "Mom, we were playing a game where Reese had to guess what was as much as my smart brain and he's just mad because he didn't get it right. Do you know what the answer was?"

Me: "The ghost?"

Cole: "A scientist."

Now, is anyone else getting this? Am I just not awake yet?

The coffee better be strong this morning.

Monday, August 27, 2007


Quote of the Day:

"That sure is a lot of laundry for just one momma with a baby in her belly." ---Reese, age 3

Friday, August 24, 2007

Pastie, Anyone?

Friday night I made pastie for dinner--the first one of the year. The first pastie is always a special occasion. I usually save it for a good, chilly, fall night...but it also works well on a night that you can't handle the thought of shlepping all the kids to the store and you realize with a start that you actually DO have the makings for dinner--a pound of ground beef, a couple of carrots, a slice of onion, some leftover potatoes. That's about all it takes. And oh, the wonder it can create!

Pastie is nothing more than a Finnish version of shepherd's pie, but it has huge clout in our house. It's a recipe I learned from my mother in law, who learned it from her mother, who learned it from her mother, etc etc. I listened to Justin rave about it for years before I finally had the opportunity to try it for the first time. It's one of those dishes that doesn't have to be fancy or expensive to still make you feel like you're part of something bigger, a deeper history. I was honored to have the recipe given to me, and I look forward to the day I can pass it on to the wives of my boys.
I still remember clearly an afternoon last fall when I was attempting to make this dish, and Reuben, who was only about 10 months at the time, was throwing a fit and was absolutely inconsolable. You know the times they want nothing else but for you to sit and hold them? And here I was, watching the clock and trying desperately to have dinner on the table on time, even with the rolling and the chopping and the baking. I finally gave in and held Reuben on my hip while simultaneously trying to prepare my pastry for the pie. It was a mess. Dinner was still ready on time, and it tasted the same, but it wasn't the prettiest pastie. Parts of the crust were thicker than others and there were parts that were hanging over the edge of the pie plate....but when I finally got it in the oven, exhausted, I suddenly thought of how many other mothers over the centuries must have made sloppy pasties because their babies were cranky and needy and wanted to be held....and it made me all weepy. I am just one of a long line of women trying to take care of their families. I don't worry about how pretty my pies are anymore.

Here's the recipe, for any of you curious readers:

2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
2/3 cup + 2 T shortening

1) Cut these three ingredients together in a large bowl (with two knives or a pastry blender). Don't blend it too much--it should look like it has a bunch of little peas in it (the lumps of shortening). Add 6T ice water, 2 T at a time, stirring with a fork after each addition. The trick here is to make the pastry dough a little "wetter" than you think it should be, so that when you roll it out with the extra flour, it'll be just perfect. If it's too dry at first, it will crumble into little pieces when you try to roll it out!
2) Divide the dough into two halves, and roll out one half to fit in your pie plate (with a bit of overlap). For those of you new to pastry: fold your circle of dough in half, then in half again; lift the pie-shaped piece into your plate and then gently unfold it---this method is much easier than trying to lift a single piece of dough without tearing it!


1)Peel 3 or 4 russet potatoes, placing each one as you peel it into a big bowl of ice water. Now take them back out one at a time and cut them up, letting the pieces fall back into the water bowl. Cutting potatoes for pastie should involve no cutting board whatsoever; just hold the potato in one hand and use your cutting hand and a paring knife to cut off little irregular bite-size pieces, starting at the back of the potato and pulling the knife towards you. Each bite should look totally different from the others, yet all about the same size and thickness, so they'll cook evenly. My mother in law swears that these funny little potatoes are one of the trademarks of a good pastie. Once they're all cut, go ahead and pour them into a colander to drain while you get your other ingredients ready.

2)Shred about 3 large carrots and dice up a slice or two of yellow onion (about 1/4 cup).

3)Okay, here's the good part. Take your dish lined with yummy pastry dough and
put in about a handful of the potatoes, spreading them evenly. Season with salt and pepper (I do this quite liberally). Now take your raw ground beef (1/2 lb to a lb....this is meant to be a "poor man's dish"...just use what you can afford!) and squish it between your fingers to break it into little bites over your pie plate. Keep squishing and dropping the pieces until you have a good even layer. Add more pepper, sprinkle on your diced onion; now add your carrots, making a good mound of them that is higher in the middle and slopes towards the edges. This gives your pastie its shape. Put on the remaining potatoes, add a few good dollops of butter, and more salt and pepper. Now turn up the overhanging sides of the crust and put a few drops of water on them so they will stick to the top crust. Roll out your other piece of pastry, cut a few slits in it so steam can escape, and crown your pastie! Bake at 350 on the low/middle rack of your oven for about an hour, then make a little foil tent and cover it to prevent browning; bake for another 30 mins or so.

**Here's the final note about pastie: It's all in the presentation. The proper way to enjoy this pie is to slice a nice big piece, take off the top crust, flip it over, and slather it with butter. Drizzle the meat and potatoes with ketchup and enjoy!

Here's the finished product.
Isn't it lovely?

First Day

Hi friends,
Welcome to our new blog! I hope you will check in from time to time to hear how we are doing or glimpse the occasional photo! I feel a bit like a kid on her first day of school, when the pencils are still sharp and the clothes are still new....but don't worry, soon the clothes will have grass stains and the pencils will break, and the messiness that is life will ensue. So check back.

Feel free to jump in and join the conversation at any point.

Quote of the Day:
"I just wish I HAD the force, because I do know how to use it." --Cole, age 6