Archive for September, 2009

way too long

I don’t know why, but I just am not thinking to come here and write.  Well, I do know why:

  • vacation- went south for a week and enjoyed a bit of time away from the daily to-do
  • homeschool- for every day of school the girls do, I have at least one hours worth of administrative time that is related to that
  • house- it still isn’t a self-cleaning model…dang economy
  • food- still cooking, fermenting, canning, and freezing
  • family- we are blessed to have a big family that is mostly local…but it takes up a bit of time being close to all these lovely folks
  • campaigning- my husband is running for city council and our budget is beyond slim…so we are sticking to what resources are free and that is pretty much just our time
  • sprots- we are in those 2 weeks where soccer and swim overlap so Mon./Wed. we head to the field and Tues./Thur. we head to the pool.  Last Soccer game is next week, first swim meet is the following Sat.   I love that my girls are active…it keeps me active.
  • everything else- church, yardwork, the poor dog (she acts neglected most days), my working a shift here and there, and on and on it goes

It’s no wonder I am exhausted by the time my head hits the pillow and it’s no wonder that there are no posts on this blog as of late.

Just to prove I am still cooking and so everyone can chuckle at my mistakes:

I made a pumpkin dish the other day that involved  pumpkin puree, eggs, spices, pecans, and a maple syrup glaze!  After it was in the oven for about 15 minutes I finally saw the little bowl with two beaten eggs sitting on the counter.  Darn thing never did raise any 🙂  It tasted okay, but not great.  It is in the fridge and might find a second life as ice cream.

Finally, running.  I miss it.  I have a hard time talking about it as it really came to be something I looked forward to and enjoyed in an odd sort of way.  I am still having a very hard time with  my foot and am thinking of heading to a sports medicine type specialist.  The family doctor and foot doctor have done little to nothing to improve my condition and I refuse to be told that at age 30 I can no longer run.  My thoughts are to find what keeps it recurring, fix it, and get back on track.  My sister is still running (my last good run was with her.)  She is on week 6 of the C25K program and I am so happy for her.  25 mninutes straight running is a huge for us and I am glad she has attained it…she’s my hero sometimes 🙂   I would love to get this taken care of and run a race with her in the spring.


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How is that for an oxymoron?

We are a public school family that schools at home.  I’ve talked about homeschooling before, but this time of year I always feel a bit compelled to rattle on about it.  There are many families like us and will be many more to come, I am sure.

First thing first.  We are not anti-government school per-say.  I know that my kids are thriving in what is essentially a government school.  The online academy we are enrolled in is funded by our state just like any other brick and mortar public school.  The girls have a teacher, however I am their “learning coach.”  Which means I teach them and a teacher is there to ask us questions just as much for us to ask her questions.  We still go to all the state testings and have to put in the correct amount of hours and days for a public school.

The choice to homeschool is not one we take lightly.  You will never, ever hear me say “we are homeschooling through x grade.”  It is a yearly decision that is not even thought of until after New Year’s.  Forest and I talk extensively about it, pray about it, and often discuss it a bit with the girls now that they are at an age of (some) reason. 

There are down-side’s to a virtual school from a traditional homeschool perspective.  The freedom to choose from a variety of curricula is gone.  There are many forms to fill out (vaccinations, handbooks, etc.) just like a brick and mortar school has (though, not as many from what I hear.)  The biggest complaint the girls have is that they do not get snow days.  I do try to take a day or afternoon “off” now and then just like any student would get for a school-wide picnic day, pep rally, snow or fog day, etc.  These days are like a treat to my kids.   There is time spent doing things you just wouldn’t do if you were going at it solo.  No teacher conferences, no online learning courses introducing you to what you did the prior year, no hurrying to finish before May 31 as you can school year round at your own pace…  I really could go on and on, but I won’t.

So, why go with an online academy?  It is nice having that teacher there if you do have a question or are stumped at how to get your student past a learning road block.  The curriculum, computer, and internet are taken care of.  Not a bad deal for a one-income family.  The curriculum for this school we love.  K12 is a common name in the online school world and for a good reason.  I’ve often thought if the online school bothered me enough I would still stick with K12…that is, if I could afford it.   The lesson plans are done for you and the subjects tend to overlap.  If you follow their schedule, there is a good chance that while you are learning about China in History, you will also be learning about it in Art and reading a story of that nature in Literature.  

It is also nice that right now we are approaching 12% complete in all subjects.  Many schools are just handing out text books and are reviewing last year’s learning.  We have already moved into the Italian Renaissance and Writing a Composition for the first time.  The time spent learning at our house is quality time, full of questions answers, and I hope, a bit of fun.  It has always been my two goals: 1) to teach my children how to read well and 2) to raise children who are lifetime learners.  If I manage that, I feel like I will have done well.

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Fall Soccer

Liz is at it again, and so we take the mini van all over this quarter of our state.  Forest is coaching this year and that has worked out pretty well.  He enjoys it, the girls seem to enjoy it, and Liz has yet to be embarrassed (just kidding honey.)  Liz is pretty good at it when she is paying attention.  Sometimes she just seems to drift into her own world and it cracks me up.    

I like soccer games, the girls really get into the game.  There are parents, though, that get on my nerves.  If you can’t go to a U8 soccer game without  cussing or degrading the players, please sit far away from me or stay in your car.  I just can not stand it.  Those girls are just girls, not college level athletes.  There is so much in life pressuring our kids to grow up fast, do they really need language and actions like that directed to them?

Jane sits at the sidelines with me, wincing every time a ball comes near.  Neither of us are much into a sport with a ball flying at us.  That does eliminate most sports.  Hence she is a swimmer and I prefer yoga and running.  The twins, on the other hand, bring their little ball with them and can not wait to get started.  They want to do everything their big sister’s do, and they want to do it now.  Try explaining to a three-year old that you have to wait until your six to join swim team or that soccer is just a year away.  It is hard enough explaining what happens tomorrow or at the weekend!

Jane cracks me up.  In that photo up there, she has flowers and a letter to bring to some friends of ours that have hit on rough times…very rough times.  She gets these notions and not matter how big or small, there is no stopping her.  She is confident in who she is and there is little to no stopping her…good in most cases.  She all of a sudden is very into wearing a bit of lip gloss and picking out just the right outfit.  Fashion is a new hobby and she isn’t afraid to do what she likes regardless of style.  This is a bit of her personality shining through:

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I’m still at it and thought you all might want to know how it is going.  Keep in mind that I am doing how my grandmother has taught me, which likely isn’t  FDA approved.  I live life on the edge, though, with all my ferments and such(which also are not FDA approved.) 

This is my learning year.  I am trying to figure out how many pounds of tomatoes I need for how many quarts of juice, sauce, or whole tomatoes.  Will a bushel of beans feed us for a month?  How can I make jelly with honey instead of sugar?  What is best left for the freezer?  Most importantly, how to do this while still functioning in my home.  Sure tomatoes need juiced, but there is still laundry to be done and meals to cook.

Here is my tally thus far:

  • 12 quarts tomato juice
  • 9 quarts seasoned tomato juice
  • 4 quarts whole tomatoes
  • 12 quarts green beans
  • 12 pints pickled beets with onions
  • 4 half-pints pepper jelly
  • 6 pints zucchini relish

It will be interesting to see how long these last and what I use most of and what I still have a year from now.  My guess is none of this will be here come spring.  I go through a quart of tomato juice a week without even thinking about it.  Green beans are a favorite around here, so those will be lucky to last until Christmas.  If there were any one thing remaining, my bet would be on the zucchini relish.  The twins and I like it, Liz hasn’t tried it yet, but I know she will like it.  Being a condiment, though, I do not see us consuming large quantities of it.  A hot dog slathered in it sounds so good, but I can’t find any decent hot dogs around here.

I still want to try to make some more jelly or jam with honey.  I have Pomona’s Universal Pectin and had given it a try last year.  It did turn out pretty decent, this year I am hoping it will turn out even better as I have some experience under my belt.  I did use it for the pepper jelly and it turned out very nice.  My goal for that is 6 half-pints each of two different berries.  I am thinking strawberry jam and maybe grape jelly.  Sourcing grapes is easy around here, strawberries in the fall…not so easy. 

Applesauce will happen sometime soon.  We have a huge apple tree and my mother-in-law also has apple trees.  My husband’s aunt has pears and I am hoping to get some off of her to toss into my applesauce this year just for a different flavor.  I also would like to try canning some peaches.  I did one jar awhile back, but had my water boiling too hard when I put the jar in and crack.  Nothing like glass infused peaches to make the family sick.  Into the trash all that went, and boy were they nice peaches, too.  Lots of learning curves to follow here. 

I do still have 24 quart jars that I am itching to fill with something.   I have space to store in the basement and feel like I ought to just do it while the produce is so affordable.  Especially the green beans as I can get 10 lbs for $5 from the Amish.   Same price on Roma tomatoes and those just beg to be made into a decent sauce.

At the end of it all I will give a final tally mainly for myself to track how long goods last.  Then in the winter I can plan out our garden and get a better idea of what I need to plant so the only cost of canning next year is lids and elbow grease!

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