Sunday, April 27, 2008

April is for birthdays

We've eaten a lot of cake lately. My oldest baby and I celebrated our birthdays this month. He turned 7. I turned 33. (Is that POSSIBLE?!) Plus two of the three kids across the street had birthdays, too.

I spent my actual birthday antique shopping and lunching (with cake) with my mom while friends watched the boys. Then we all went out to dinner (and cake) together. The day after the boys and I met some of our homeschooling friends at the park to play, tie-dye t-shirts, and eat more cake, of course!

After that, my youngest boy got the flu (NOT because of cake!), and UberDad followed, so I spent the rest of the week doing laundry. Also, planning a birthday party for Boy One at the last minute after he decided that he didn't just want to go the California Science Center like we'd planned, but wanted friends to come over and bring him presents.

So, we spent a few days cleaning up (part of) the weedy yard so we could have a backyard party without everyone being attacked by raging sock pricklies. Then I made chili and baked cupcakes, UberDad barbecued hot dogs, our friends came over to celebrate with us, and everyone had a great time, even the birthday boy.

The boys spent most of yesterday across the street in the bounce house our friends ordered for their 4-year-old's birhtday party. I spent the afternoon at the bookstore with my friend Catherine for a belated celebration of our own birthdays. (We had ice tea and cookies, no cake.)

Then today my friend Kate and her kids came from Lancaster to celebrate some more! She took us out to lunch at Red Robin, where we gorged mercilessly on burgers and fries. (Alright, some of the kids had vegetarian spaghetti.) And then came home to open presents and eat leftover cupcakes. They brought Franklin the LIFE Pirates of the Caribbean game, and Kate helped the boys play it while I made pizza for dinner while wearing the gorgeous new apron she brought me. So spoiled we are!

Between all the festivities of the month, my Mid Kid decided he wanted a tire swing. Fortunately his Papa has easy access to old tires, and the boys now have the most classic of all dangerous backyard toys.

Oh, and two of them got haircuts finally, but I'll post those on the other blog.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Birthday thanks

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.." Jeremiah 29:11-14

Today is my birthday, and this verse is speaking to me. Thank you, Lord, for a blessed 32 years. I am so grateful that my future is also in your hands.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Baking Day

I hadn't done any baking since before Easter, but today I got the urge again. I need to take my Kitchenaid mixer in to see if it can be repaired. It's drooping. Poor thing hasn't been serviced in the 10 years I've owned it, and it's gotten a lot of use. Mostly hard-to-stir things like playdoh and oatmeal cookie dough. I didn't think I was up for making either by hand, until today. We got all our errands run on Monday, cleaned up the house yesterday, and today I just wanted to bake!

I bought a 5 lb. bag of whole wheat bread flour back when I finally got out the bread machine in February -- and then promptly broke it. Today, I decided to go for the gusto and make it totally by hand!

And see how yummy it looks?! The loaf in the photo came out of my Pampered Chef stone bread pan beautifully. The other loaf wasn't quite so perfect after being pried out of the pyrex pan, but it was still delicious with the lentil soup I made for dinner. (Thanks goes to Crystal at The Family Homestead for breadbaking directions and recipe.)

I love soup. And homemade bread. And oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. But you knew that.

Growing things

Maybe someday I'll be a dependable blogger. Lately I've just been trying to be dependable in real life.

It's been a good couple of weeks, actually. Even with the flu bug that swept its way through our house and is still working through the neighborhood. (I hope everyone feels better soon!)

I finished painting the coop. Mostly. I worked on it the week after Easter, and then got busy washing bedding and keeping an eye on my pukers. But the chickens are growing steadily, and don't seem to mind that I haven't finished the eaves or the back studs.

Here they are devouring some treats -- leftover lettuce, cucumber and tomatoes are their favorite!

Here's Josephine first in line for visitors. She's the queen of the coop, but she rules gently.

Mystery tends to hang back and let everyone else go first. She's the most wary about new foods. She keeps an eye on the littlest girls (the barred Rocks), who don't seem to be afraid of anything.

The vegetable patch is doing well! I was starting to worry that all the carrot seeds we planted wouldn't come up, but they finally peeked out a few days ago. We have one row of seedlings I started in February that are several inches tall. Then four or five more rows that are only tiny little grass-like babies.

The lettuces started from seed look really good. The tomatoes and bell peppers are also doing well. I got them as seedlings, so they had a head start. And the Jack-o-Lantern pumpkins are growing like crazy! I'm going to have to transplant several of them to another mound.

But only three green bean plants, and none of the cucumbers, watermelon or cantalope came up. The kids must have made off with the cantalope seed packet, so I couldn't start those again, but I started some more watermelon and cucumbers, plus cilantro and Italian parsley, fresh in my seedling starter kit. That seemed to work better than sowing them in the ground. I'm a little disappointed that my amendments to the soil aren't making as much difference as I hoped. But this was really a very basic first effort. I haven't had our soil tested, but I know a lot of it is pretty bad.

We also have one plant each of peas, zucchini, strawberries, leeks, basil, and eggplant. Not nearly enough, but I ran out of room in the bed I'd prepared, and ran out of time to work more soil.

Away from home... Last week we met friends at the local native animal zoo, which is always fun to visit. My littlest boy was finally big enough to see into the reptile cases on his own. "Sssnake!" was the word of the day. He is talking a TON. More than I remember the other two doing at this age -- or at least more clearly. 'Course, my memory could be off. :)

On Saturday, we joined friends at the local MS Walk for Life in honor of my friend Sarah. It was a gorgeous day, and we all had a lovely time. Puffer also did his own fund-raising the weekend before when his kung fu studio held a Kick-a-Thon for St. Jude's Children's Hospital. He raised the most money of all the kids! Thank you so much to all our donors for helping both causes!

I've been doing a lot of reading lately, too, but I'll have to save that for another post.
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