Pumpkin Patch 2010

There is something wonderful and healing for me about going to the same place to do the same thing year after year.  I am more aware of this now than ever just because the last couple of years have held a lot of change for us.  It’s nice when some things stay the same.  Like Bob’s corn…we had a perfect, cold, fall day with my sister and her family.

Boardman Lake Trail

It was a glorious day, over 90 degrees but hiking through an old growth cedar forest canopy it didn’t feel too bad.  The short hike ended at a warm alpine lake where we played for hours…

“Fishing” but catching no fish,
building rock towers,
enjoying the company of lovely new friends,
laughing a lot,
getting wet and liking it

Not sure we could ask for a better Saturday – even if it is a monumental ordeal getting kids ready, lunch packed, van stuffed, etc to head to the mountains (at one point on the way I wondered why we even attempted it-honest!)

Blueberries on a cloudy day

We awoke to ominous August skies but embarked on our blueberry-picking regardless.  Raising kids in the Pacific Northwest we have a very high tolerance for outdoor activities in less than lovely weather.  I have taken the kids to pick berries every year since they were born and my goodness can those kids work hard!  We even pick raspberries at the same farm my mom took me to when I was just 6 weeks old.

With all the lack of sunshine this summer, our berries are way behind schedule but blueberry farms are finally ready for picking.  On the drive there, Caleb said:

I never noticed how fast the clouds move!  I know it doesn’t look good but I have hope that the white clouds are going to chase the dark clouds away and it won’t rain on us while we pick.

As we filled our buckets we felt a few sprinkles but we all settled in and picked for an hour and a half.  Audrey ate all her berries.  Kyler rested a lot.  But Rylee picked almost 5 pounds and Caleb topped his bucket with 7 pounds!  Our combined 22 pounds will provide many winter smoothies when produce costs a lot and isn’t so fresh.  But today as we picked we drooled over the blueberry crisp that we’ll make tonight and the muffins we will bake up for breakfast tomorrow.  Rylee explained to me:

So dad earns the money that we use to buy the blueberries then with the berries we buy with that money we’ll make him blueberry dessert tonight and it will be like he got his money back, it works out so great!

I grinned and agreed, after me gone for 4 days I’m pretty sure he thinks it works out ‘so great’.

Beautiful things are happening around here…

As we watched the life cycle of the butterfly unfold, I was (always am) reminded of my sister.  She has overcome a great deal and I am so proud of who she has emerged to become.  When she graduated from nursing school last year, I bought her a butterfly necklace and reminded her of this truth, one that has always amazed me:

Before a butterfly can emerge out of it’s chrysalis it has to go through a lot of struggling. Yes, struggling. Each time it lunges out to escape, acids are being removed from its wings. If someone were to come along and break the chrysalis open for it then the butterfly would die from those acids. In essence the struggle is necessary for the butterfly to survive. Then in the stillness, when the struggle is over, the butterfly can come out and share its beauty with the world.

Sunny beautiful Sunday

We made friends with turtles, laid on a blanket in the sun, had a picnic, climbed trees, found a family of 10 baby ducklings, picked up huge sticks, held hands and reminisced that once, long ago in what seems like another lifetime we used to smooch for a very long while in these trees when we dated in high school.

Make your own pizza night

With homeschooling, caring for 4 little kids and a husband who often is gone for 12 or 14 hours in a day…getting to dinner with no plan is inevitable despite planning and shopping ahead.  This dinner has become a big favorite around here and I keep the ‘crust’ in the freezer as a back up for the days I get to 5:00 and have nothing in the oven!

It is easy, social, healthy, fast and great fun.  We’ve experimented with many pizza doughs and the best is home-made whole wheat pizza dough crust.  But the much easier and faster option that tastes exceptional is Indian Nan bread.  Pita bread pockets are good and very healthy but not nearly so yummy.  First, I open a bottle of inexpensive white table wine, because cooking and wine just go so well together.  I use leftover spaghetti sauce or canned tomato sauce/paste or a mix of the above with a heap of Italian seasoning.  No need for buying canned pizza sauce.  Then, I do a quick inventory of our topping options and throw it all into bowls:

The toppings are (in our house) any of these things…

sausage, ground beef, leftover meatball chunks or ham
feta, mozzarella, parmesan or goat cheese
red peppers, artichokes, olives, mushrooms, onion, garlic or tomatoes

or whatever else is hanging around that needs using up!

The kids help with the cutting of toppings and each drizzle & spread olive oil over their pizza.  Then they spread sauce and cover with toppings.  Their job is to do something unique to make sure they know it’s their pizza!

After everyone has made their pizzas, we bake them for about 12 minutes at 400 degrees.  Till they are hot and bubbly.  Then there is silence at the table and everyone gobbles up their culinary creations!  We even served this recently when new friends (a couple with four kids) was over for dinner.  We did the eight kid pizzas then the adults, everyone had so much fun!  If we have babies/toddlers we use English muffins which are a more fitting size for little bitty ones that eat table food.  Bon appetit!

If we’re extra lucky, we get a glimpse of our strawberry stealer while making pizzas…

Happy Birthday Rylee!

Happy 7th  Birthday Rylee!  It is quite something for me to think back and remember waiting 6 long days to even hold you in my arms after you were born 5 weeks early.  You fought hard to breathe, to live and faced incredible challenges in the first year of your life.  You overcame and your body was restored to perfect health.  And now, healthy as can be, you are turning 7.  I am amazed and blessed to know you.  You live with a certain amount of pressure and responsibility that always come along with being the first born.  You want to please, to succeed and to do things right.  You care a lot if you don’t do those things.  It is a quality that you come by naturally and one that will be both a blessing and a challenge in the years to come.  Your smile is bright when you share it-which is usually often, you are cautious and think before acting.  You are an amazing little reader and like learning when it’s on your terms.

Your greatest trait is the heart of compassion and care for others.  You often see a need before I do and do all you can to meet it.  You are tremendously sensitive to what is going with the people around you.  You ask more questions than most kids I know and I am praying for enduring patience to answer them and to foster the gift God gave you in that inquisitive nature.  You don’t want to miss anything.    And I don’t want to miss the delight it is to have you as our firstborn.  You are growing fast and you are abundantly loved.  You are like your daddy in that you are at your best at night, you lay in bed and read to me for as long as I let you.  You talk and talk and I try to stay awake to listen.  You love to sleep in and love being cozy.

Your presence made me a mother.  Your prayers (along with God’s providence) gave me another daughter to be your sister.  Your laughter is a daily blessing.  Your nurturing heart makes me smile.

Love always,

Mama

A few holiday snapshots

Wow.  I can’t believe we didn’t get any posts up the week of Christmas.

Then again I can.  We had family gatherings nearly every day for over a week.  Many of them at our home.

It was crazy.  And fun (mostly – except my sometone’s temper tantrum on Christmas Eve).

Here are a few sweet moments we captured (better late than never hopefully!)…