Monday, May 23, 2011

Little Girls

My sister's little girl

My little girl

I can't stop mentally comparing those two pictures. Not sure why.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Hey, Look!

They like me over here:

Only problem is, my posts don't generate much discussion. So head on over there and start a comment war for me, wouldja? Thanks.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Solar Season

Some days our "May Gray" overcast really puts a damper on my solar cooking. But other days, it's golden. Even if the weather isn't really warm, bright sun can get the solar cooker to 300 degrees, from as early as 10 in the morning until 3:30 in the afternoon during the summer months (but 10 to 2, and only about 275 degrees, in the winter.)

We recently inherited about a half ton (and I mean that literally) of wheat from a friend who was cleaning out her mother's food storage. It's a bit stale for making bread, but it makes good chicken feed. At least, it does if it is cooked. What better way than putting it in the solar oven (with equal parts water) for a few hours? Let it cool, then toss it on the lawn for the yard birds.

Next up was granola. My teen has recently decided that this is his favorite after-school snack. The ingredients are cheap, but granola sucks a lot of electricity for the hour it has to toast in the oven. As a low-temperature recipe, however, it's perfect for the solar cooker. It does require hands-on time; the solar cooker has a small internal cavity, so I have to break the granola into two batches, and it has to be stirred every 20 minutes. Two hours tending the cooker means Solar granola is only for the seriously stay-at-home.

Last item of the day was a pan of caramel cinnamon rolls. I like giving them to the kids for breakfast once in awhile (they're 50% whole wheat and light on the caramel, so they're not too awful for breakfast food). That requires that I make them the day before- I'm not the kind of mom who thinks getting up at 5 to allow fresh pastries to rise in time for breakfast is the best way to show love. Nope. Not doin' it that way.

Although the recipe calls for a 375 degree oven, cooking them at 300 worked fine. Well, it would have, if I had left them in long enough. Jon wanted to go run some errands that required my presence, so I took them out at 45 minutes. Next time, gotta go for the full hour. The outer ones were fine, but the inner ones were doughy. Tasted good, though.

Shame I had to go to the bank that day. I think I could have done a quiche with the daylight that was still left. Oh, well, the sun will rise tomorrow.

The Big 4-No

For the sake of clarification, let me state that I will not be celebrating my 40th birthday this year.

The 40th anniversary of my arrival on this planet will arrive soon, but I will not be marking it with a celebration. I’m not in denial about it. I’ve been referring to myself as being 40 years old for several months already. I just don’t see it as any sort of celebrational event.

I may have reached the midpoint in life, but I may have passed it a year ago, or it may not be for another decade. I won’t know until I’m done.

Certainly I have long since passed the days of gleefully marking my height on the bedroom door frame- I am in the days of marking my weight on the bathroom scale. I am no longer “such a lovely young woman,” looking for any excuse to wear a fancy new dress- I am growing a dowagers hump that makes fitting any dress an increasing problem.

But I am also not yet to the point where waking up alive is an achievement in itself, and doing it for a whole year is party-worthy.

I am in the vast middle lands. Some of my skills and abilities are getting stronger, but others are fading at the same time. I am accumulating experience, but I am losing both physical and mental vigor- slowly, yes, but measurably. My children are growing up, but my parents are growing- well, not in that direction anymore.

So in summary, it’s my birthday, and I can chose not to celebrate it if I want to. If that bugs you, go have your own party. Celebrate the random event of your choice. Nuthin’ to see here. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Beheadings Will Continue Until Egg Production Improves

The chickens laid goose eggs yesterday. By which I mean they did squat. Hmm, still too elliptical.

There were no eggs yesterday. From 6 adult hens. Not a one.

And so, at 4:40 yesterday afternoon, when I should have been on my bike taking Jillian to piano lessons, I decided to kill a hen. Jon did the actual cutting off of the head, though. He knows he is faster (and therefore more humane) than I am.

Oddly, this chicken seemed almost glad to go. I wonder if she knew she was unproductive, or if she had been in some distress that was preventing laying (yes, we've been watching them, and this hen hasn't laid an egg in many months). As I was pressed for time, I just buried this one. She was old enough to be too tough for anything but broth, anyway.

So it's down to 5 (ostensibly) laying hens, and 4 young pullets. We'll see if shaking up the pecking order improves the egg production. At the very least, it will decrease the feed consumption, and it did make me feel like I had accomplished something for the day.  

Monday, May 9, 2011

Mother's Day

I solemnly resolve to run away next Mother's Day.

I said the same thing last year, but decided the kids were still too young for me to just drive them to church, kick them out the door, then take myself to the movies. But next year, I'm pretty sure they can handle it. They were delightfully reverent through the whole sacrament meeting. I did more coloring in Jillian's books than she did, to distract myself from the ludicrousness of the affair. If we really wanted to enjoy Mother's Day as a sort of holiday for mothers, we'd cancel church and spend the day in our pj's, ignoring the housework and feeding the children out of cans and cereal boxes. (I would say "letting our husbands do the housework and feed the children," but, well, sigh.) If, on the other hand, we need a special mark on the calendar to remind us of the importance of mothers, then we are remarkably stupid. Either way, the manner in which we "celebrate" is not well suited to the purpose of the celebration, and I've had enough of it. The boycott is declared.

As soon as the obligatory candy was passed out (and handed to my kids, who need the calories rather more than I do), I went home. I cooked a really nice lunch, prepped a good dinner, listened to some comedy on the radio, and got back to church in time to pick up kids. If I hadn't been so ticked at my husband for not doing anything to acknowledge the holiday, it would have been fairly pleasant. Next year, I will remove the responsibility from him entirely, and take myself out. He has been informed of this plan, and I think he is secretly relieved. I don't blame him. I am aware that I am difficult to please- I have to live in this brain all the time, y'know.

Jillian did give me a cute flower pin she had made in Activity Days that I wore to church, and Ben wrote me a nice note that afternoon. My favorite "gift" was from Michaelson, however. I hope you can see what it says.

I haven't asked him how he is going to kick his own butt, but I truly look forward to cashing this in. 

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Baby Come Back

Technically Roselyn, my sister's newborn, has never been at my house for daycare before, so she can't really come back. But she's here, nonetheless, from 8-ish until 4-ish every school day until the end of my sister's school year (late June). At not quite 8 weeks, she's a very mellow baby, but not used to being away from mama.

Having an infant around is reminding me of so many things I was beginning to forget. How being even a little sleep deprived makes me nuts. How much I can get done in a half hour of quiet. How little I can get done in three hours if I have to hold a child at the same time. Why I chose to be a stay-at-home mom rather than try to juggle kids and work (since I had that choice open to me). Why I won't be having any more children. How human beings of all sizes tend to resist doing the little things they really really really need to do to be happy (seriously, kid, the bottle is full of breastmilk- I know it doesn't feel like mom, but just suck the nipple already! You're hungry!)

Next time I forget how I got to this point in life, y'all remind me to spend a few days taking care of a new human. I may not be any more reconciled to my life's limitations, but they will make logical sense.

P.S. Speaking of logic, did I mention that Rosie can raise one eyebrow and look at me like a tiny Mr. Spock? Hilarious.