Canning Corn

As summer is coming to a close so are our crops in our garden.  Which means its canning time.  First up was cucumbers (which we canned into a huge pile of pickles).  Next veggie up on the chopping block (literally)… Corn!

We were so lucky to have a wonderful little helper…

IMG_2084

IMG_2082

First we cleaned the corn, then cooked up it up for 3 minutes

IMG_2086

Yes, Little Rascal that IS a bunch of corn!  My mouth is agape with surprise too.

IMG_2089

Then after its been cooked and then bathed in a cold bath (to stop the cooking process), Grandma cut it off the cob.  Good trick of the trade is place that corn cob on an upside down small bowl inside a larger bowl (as seen above).  Works like a charm.

IMG_2080

Last step is to put them in a freezer sealed bag.  We bunched ours in 5 cup increments.  This way everything is even steven.  I believe we bagged about 50 pounds.

Honestly I can’t believe that my mother and father in law are smiling because this whole canning process is a lot of work!  Thank goodness they are supremely good sports and willing to help us with our insane country adventure.

Advertisements

Canning (part 1)

So this week has been a bit of a blur.  You see we have been canning.  And by ‘we’ I mean Music Man and his parents.  I was mainly on child care/household chores duty.  Canning is a new process for me, but not for my hardworking parents-in-law.  They were prepared with recipes and we were prepared with the biggest pressure cooker/canner we could buy.

IMG_2044

 

People we needed a ladder to get into that big bad boy!

IMG_2046

The lid is as big as my entire torso!  Apparently we are pretty serious beginning canners.

IMG_2031

 

Here are our ingredients to begin our canning journey.

The first veggie we decided to can was our abundant crop of cucumbers.

IMG_2032

 

IMG_2033

They cut up A TON of cucumbers and then put them in a bath of vinegar and salt.

IMG_2035

 

They had to let it sit for 3 hours and then pour out the excess water to drain the cukes (as they call them on the country street)

While we were doing that, we used that ginormous pot to sterilized the quart sized jars.  We were able to get 10 in at a time.  Although we could have gotten 20.

IMG_2040

 

In a regular pot we sterilized the rings

 

IMG_2041

 

Next step was to build our recipe.

 

IMG_2048

 

At last we were able to fill up our jars

IMG_2049

Make sure you don’t get any liquid on the rim!  It could cause the lid to not fully seal which would make all of your effort go to waste.

IMG_2052

It was great using our new cheap, but highly functional canning equipment.  The magnetic ring picker-upper was my favorite!

IMG_2054

And now our fresh batch of butter pickles are complete!  We were able to make 10 full quart sized jars.  Unfortunately (fortunately?), we still have a bunch of cucumbers.  Basically we have cucumbers coming out of our ears at this point.  This at least puts a reasonable dent into our batch.

Irony?  I hate pickles.  But guess who likes them?  Everybody else.  Oh well.  Guess everybody is getting a can for Christmas!

Summer surgery

There are few moments when you realize that you are completely and totally out of control.  Granted, being in control is a total farce, but we sure like to believe the lie don’t we?  Well I had the opportunity this week to submit any ounce of control into a surgeons hands while he took care of a birth defect in my son, Little Rascal.

It is in these precious moments when I can really see God’s mighty hand at work.  It is one thing to utter a simple “oh God’s in control!” when you act as though it is you plainly in charge.  When tragedy strikes or you are forced to give your baby over to someone else, you are forced to recognize that it truly is the Lord who is in control and who loves you and your children, even more than you do.

These are the moments that are a true act of faith.

IMG_6578

Here is daddy and Little Rascal touching the stars for them to make animal sounds!  I really appreciated the amazing amount of effort to help kids who are sick at this hospital.  We could not have asked for better.

IMG_6586

Here he is getting his blood pressure checked.

IMG_6588

LR is getting prepped for the big occasion, but before the doctor is ready a volunteer brought in the tractor toy which LR LOVED.  he immediately went for it and everybody in the room laughed.  In fact he had to hold it while he was put in the surgery room, while the nurse asked “um, isn’t there something a little more cuddly you want to take little guy?”.  Luckily momma brought his special sleepy tiger, but Little Rascal thought it best to bring BOTH toys.

IMG_6591

I was pretty grateful that they let me come into the room with him until he went under with anesthesia.  This shot was BEFORE he had any sleepy medicine.  It was just an unfortunate selfie for LR.

IMG_6594

After surgery pouty face.  Daddy was a lucky dad who got to hold his sleepy son while he slept for another hour while the nurses kept checking in on him.

IMG_6600

Here is his incision.  Good thing boys think scars are cool.  *pictured on day 2* *sorry for the shadow, its hard to capture a moving target*

IMG_6599

Chowing down a bunch of toast after a full day of no eating.  By the time we got home he was ready to run around with his big brother and big sister, although a bit tipsy, he was still happy to be up and around.

Prayers were certainly answered.  Little Rascal was as good as gold for such a big day.

God is good all the time.  All the time God is good.

Back to Summer

Everybody I know in California are posting pictures of their adorable brood off to their first day of school.  Well since we have decided to homeschool, it feels weird to be left out.  In fact, I’m already freaking out that we are far behind because we have chosen to not start school until early September.

But it got me thinking about this venture into homeschooling.  Earlier this summer Music Man and I decided to go to our local homeschooling convention.

Music Man and I realized that this weekend was the first weekend EVER that we were sans kids.  The only other time we had been away from our kids overnight was when we would be in the hospital having another baby.  Which in my book does NOT count as a vacation.  So what do we decide to do for our first getaway?  Apparently go to a homeschool convention.

Yes, yes we are nerds, why do you ask?

IMG_5850

So many people warned us that it would be hectic, overwhelming and crazy.  They were right.  But it was held at the Disneyland Convention Center, so it was also EPIC.

IMG_5851

We decided to take the discounted rate and stay at one of the most expensive coolest hotels I’ve ever stayed at.  All the details were so charming.

IMG_5854

IMG_5852

Even the bathroom light was adorable.

IMG_5873

The headboard lit up with fireworks!  Amazing!

IMG_5859

IMG_5858

This was the view right outside our window.  Couldn’t get any better.  Do you see that?  Even the pool is shaped like Mickey.

OH Thats right!  We were there to STUDY.  Not to PLAY.

So we begrudgingly went to the conference and were we were delighted to encounter people dressed in bonnets and prairie dresses.

IMG_5866

I tried to be sneaky but wasn’t always successful.  I got a few eye daggers when I accidentally let my gaze stay for too long on throwback apparel.  I mean waaaaay throwback.

IMG_5857

Here we are being studious students on day one of the convention.

IMG_5868

This guy that you can barely see was the headliner main guest speaker, none other than Mike Seaver!  Ok, so now he is dad of 6 who also homeschools.  He goes by his real name of Kirk Cameron.  And if the crowd was any indication, he had quite a few of us mommas swooning back in the day.  (Oh who am I kidding?  We were all frantic teenagers trapped in momma-muffin-topped-bodies.  We all wanted a piece of the heart throb pie.  Chomp!)

He was fantastic and funny.  ALL of the guest speakers throughout the weekend were surprisingly smart and witty and kept me and Music Man engaged the entire time.  This was no small feat.

Because if you thought we were model students the entire time, you obviously don’t know me at all.  😉  We relied on our zero sleep routine to get us through the fun.  By day we went to every speaker workshop that interested us, and by night we trolled the House of Mouse.  It was awesome.  Exhausting, sure sure, but a total blast.

IMG_5881

 

They redid Big Thunder Mountain and it has quickly become one of my favorite rides at the park.

 

IMG_3618

Here we are again on BTM and this time my cousin/brother and his wife are photo bombing us.  Awesome.   I think we rode this ride 583,039 times.  Worth it.

IMG_5888

Here’s my pony tail flying in the face of cool hand Luke, aka my husband, on the much-needed Splash Mountain.  It was nearing the temperature of the sun that day.  Totally worth it.

So besides getting a huge shot in the arm of “YOU CAN DO THIS!” and “YOU WON’T SCREW UP YOUR KID!” at the convention, it was actually really fun and informative.  I’ll definitely be going again.

*apologies for my over use of selfies.  That’s what you do when you don’t have your children to take pictures of.  You re-claim yourself as the subject matter in pictures.  Who knew I was so obsessed with my camera phone???*

Stepping Stones Community Walk

This past weekend my family and I had the pleasure of participating in a community event supporting young women who have chosen to have babies (instead of having an abortion) or just mommas who need a little extra support.  Many girls who find themselves with a surprise pregnancy without support don’t have many good options at their disposal.  Many conservative christians have love in their heart when they chant outside of an abortion clinic but don’t participate in the after care of the mother and baby.  This is that place.

IMG_6516

We began with a heart to heart pep talk to encourage us walkers and to remind us why we were there.  The gal in charge explained that one of the girls we were walking for had to decided to go back to college to change the direction of her life for her and her baby.  This is exciting work that the Lord is doing in this community and for this family.

We began the walk in a word of prayer

IMG_6518

 

Next we headed out for our mile walk through the neighborhood!

IMG_6519

Walking with friends is the best

IMG_6523

At the end of the trail we were greeted with bubbles!

IMG_6526

After our soapy fun, we headed over to a small town get together that included such home made treats like donuts

IMG_6534

 

IMG_6533

There was also a rainbow hand made ATV powered kiddie train.  I thought my boys would jump out of their skin they were so excited!

IMG_6528

IMG_6530

IMG_6529

I love that my kids can experience this young the joy of participating in helping others.  We had a great time.

Special sibling love

From the moment I asked my 4 year old what she thought of name choices and wound up naming my son, my daughter and my baby boy, have had a special bond.

I can’t wait to see what their relationship is like as they grow up together.

IMG_1997

Nobody makes Mr. Sunshine smile and laugh the way his big sister can.  The sound of his laugh is precious.

IMG_4592

 

IMG_5332

IMG_5622

Ariel took this picture herself because “Mr. Sunshine is sooooo cute!”  Gotta say I agree.

IMG_5818

IMG_2002

Another Hollywood Travesty

Robin Williams died.  He died by his own hands; his own decision.

He had everything at his disposal.  Fame, money, family, accolades…. the works.

He also had depression.  And apparently depression had a greater hold on him than everything else.

I might have a unique insight into his frame of mind.  You see I have battled depression.  It is some of my earliest memories in fact.  When I became a mom for the second time I battled postpartum depression and my poor husband had to wade the waters of emotional tidal waves like a very skilled surfer.

Depression is debilitating.  Depression is isolating.  Depression is like the epic battle of David and Goliath, and the only people who get out alive are the fortunate ones with a skilled hand and a rock.

Hollywood takes sensitive souls and lifts them to the highest of highs only to release their golden hands at a moments notice when you are no longer useful to them.  One of my drama coaches once infamously stated to our class that “Remember this is SHOW BUSINESS.  SHOW+BUSINESS.  If you aren’t ready for both then you aren’t ready”.  It makes complete sense.  Those who are sensitive and talented enough to reach the pinnacles of standard success are usually the ones who are the most susceptible to the demons that lay dormant within.  To find the talent you must reach inside the depths of your soul to find the pain, to find the joy, to find the profoundness of the human spirit.

This isn’t the first star to fall by his own choices.  Just do a quick internet search and you will find a plethora of starlets who were desperate for more more more to fill the big gapping hole in their soul.  Many lost the battle.  But there are many more still alive and still fighting the hostility of Hollywood.

I don’t agree with Robin Williams decision to do what he did.

But I get it.

In the darkness of night a frightening voice calls from within to end it all.  And sometimes the hurting respond to the call.

No matter how much money, how much fame, how much excess you have, it doesn’t stop the demon in your head whispering untruths in your delicate ear.

And I truly believe that it is by the Grace of God that saves the lost.  I know He did me.  And it breaks my fragile heart that not everyone grabs ahold of the life raft that Jesus throws down to us.

R.I.P. Robin.

Longing for Home

Perhaps its because its already mid August, which means summer is nearly over.  Perhaps its because Music Man is diving back into work with gusto.  Perhaps its due to the gloomy rainy day.

Whatever the reason, I’ve been feeling homesick lately.

I have been battling this nagging feeling for a while now.  I realize that what I’m feeling isn’t so much of missing a particular place on the map, but the feeling I get when I’m home.

Here in Minnesota, we are still getting established.  This takes time (obviously), but its the process that is tiring.  Putting yourself out there.  Putting on your happy and brave face even though your nervous and shy.  Feeling like your constantly on a first date.  Wondering “hey do you like me?” or “am I getting annoying the way I often feel like I’m annoying other people?” or “I like you want to be friends?“.  I mean you might as well put me in coke bottle glasses and give me a lisp I feel so out of place.

I miss familiarity.  I miss my friends who already know me and love me despite my glaring flaws.  The ones I don’t have to feel like I have to impress.   I am not a fan of small talk.  I like being in a relationship and already being into the heart of it all.  Plop me down in the middle of a friendship where we already know the backstory and are talking about our bad day over our vat of coffee and smeared mascara that we hadn’t wiped off from the night before without the feeling of judgement.  I want to be laughing at the insanity that only other harried mothers know.  That’s the place I want to be.

I miss the quantity of friends in California.  If someone is busy (which many of them are), no worries, there are other friends that might be interested in getting together.  Here, I only know a handful of people.  This is a small town, so there aren’t that many people, and again, we are just getting going here in our lives as a midwestern family.  But with those few friends, you can quickly feel like you have worn out your welcome.

I miss the local restaurants I used to haunt.  I miss the ease of shopping my favorite stores.  A local Trader Joe’s is a 45 minute jaunt into the city here in Minnesota, but in California it is a mere 5 minute drive.  I miss the happy smily customer service that my California workers give me, rather than the stoic midwest seriousness that happens on a Target run.

Don’t misunderstand me.  Everybody has been wonderful here and going above and beyond in trying to make us all feel welcome, but sometimes the trial of putting yourself out there again and again is exhausting.  And right now I’m a bit tired.

Farm park

Our dairy farming neighbors have seen a lot of us lately.  Why?  Because one of their cats had kittens this summer.  Which to a newly minted 5 year old, this means we need to live where the cats live.

IMG_5975

“Mommy can I take her home?”  

IMG_5973

Basically we have turned their farm into our own personal playground.  Thank goodness they are so kind and gracious with us.

IMG_5979

IMG_5978

This is a big deal for Mini Man to be playing with their dog.  He’s not what you would call a brave soul.  Kind, tender hearted, compassionate, sensitive… yes.  Brave… not so much.

IMG_5977

 

IMG_5991

John Deer tractor toy?  Oh my word I think Little Rascal is in heaven.

And while we are here, lets go meet the ‘just born today’ calf!

IMG_5988

 

IMG_5984

IMG_5986

Trying out those baby legs!

IMG_5980

Where the momma’s graze.

IMG_5982

 

So despite a bunch of these kitten made claw marks….

IMG_5976

 

My kids have really taken to this whole farm life pretty well.  

Despite the fact that mean mommy and daddy still won’t take home one of those adorable kittens.

Enjoying the spoils of our labor

One of the most amazing things about living in the country is our garden.  Music Man really takes pride in his work growing all these vegetables.  We feel lucky to have hit upon a remarkable piece of land that has miracle soil because these veggies grow.  You can practically sit still and watch it happen.

For most dinners we make it a habit to go out and pick our vegetables for the night.  It blows my mind that instead of reaching into my produce bin in the fridge I go out and pick it straight from the ground.  And instead of scrubbing off chemicals before we eat it, I mearly wash off the dirt.  Crazy.

IMG_1634

 

Lettuce

IMG_1635

IMG_1858

 

Ariel among the zucchini and cucumber plants

IMG_1859

IMG_3724

IMG_1637

IMG_1639

Here is a dinner with our fresh salad and venison that my father in law hunted last year.  A truly Minnesotan country dinner.