Friday, October 19, 2018

how to remove sap from hair and almost die from chili peppers

Okay, so first of all, tree climbing in pines means sap everywhere.  Hands, feet, hair, clothes, forehead, cheeks, arms, belly. 

I've ruled it out for now.  However, here's a handy tip if you ever, like I, have children with sap all over their hair:  Crisco.  Yes.  It sounds disgusting.  Frankly, it kind of is disgusting.  But just trust me:  smooth a tiny bit of shortening into the sappy hair and comb it gently out. 

Then wash the hair with dishsoap before actually showering with real shampoo.  

It works.  I promise.  

Besides removing a whole lot of sap, this week I frozen several gallons of fresh and roasted peppers.  I read that you can freeze whole peppers raw, and since the internet was the source of the sap tip AND the peppers tip, I assume the peppers have to come out fine. Of course the texture won't hold but since they're spicy peppers I wouldn't eat them raw anyways.  Actually, I did eat a bite raw as I chopped them -with my bare hands- before I remembered that I was dealing with chili peppers.  While putting a nibble into my mouth, I must have also touched my chapped lips with my fingers, and then in response to the burning, I seem to have rubbed my hands all over my face, which subsequently burst into flames.  

Not really.  But while I like spicy foods, this pain was extreme.  Meanwhile, Jesse took a bite, chewed and swallowed and looked at me like I had lost my mind as I flew around the kitchen yelping and in search of some remedy to chill the burning.  I honestly thought I must be going into anaphylactic shock as an allergic reaction because there was no other explanation that could enter my mind at that moment for the intense pain I was suffering (not even the obvious explanation of touching my burning face with my chili pepper hands).  

We had to leave the house 10 minutes later, and by the time we arrived at our destination, I wasn't sweating anymore and I could feel my tongue and face again.  All was well.  Needless to say, I plan to use more caution when using the rest of the chilis.

This weekend is green-tomato time, where I pull a hundred tomatoes off the vine and leave them in boxes scattered around the house to ripen. I'd like to say they are in a logical place like a root cellar or a garage, but since we don't have either of those really, there will be boxes in closets and crawl spaces and in the laundry room until we slowly eat through them until January.  It's a relief by the time they're all ripe and eaten, because I get my house back from the garden produce. Maybe there's a better way, but I don't have time to think of it.

Millie's ankle is healing and she will be in the cast for just four more weeks.  Five weeks for a fractured ankle?  Children are amazing.  She is cranky and pretty unpleasant, truth be told, but after a week of mostly immobility, she is now navigating the stairs carefully and can join her sisters wherever they are indoors.  She can't climb trees with them thank heaveans (see above regarding sap) but the weather is cooling off enough and the season is changing so that they are turning toward indoor afternoon activities more often. Legos and puzzles have been our lifeline this week!

We are finishing our seventh week of school tomorrow, or what I call "Term 1A," which just means the first chunk of time before our first Break Week.  OH BREAK WEEK I'M DYING FOR YOU!  I can't wait. Maybe I'll get a few minutes to catch up on housework!  Plan ahead for the next half term until Christmas.  I usually do six weeks and then a break week and now I remember why:  week seven everyone is CRANKY (including me) and ready for a breather.  We do work pretty hard on our school weeks and the break is well earned.  I don't have time to write about it now but I switched to using a Loop Schedule for many of our scheduled subjects this year and love it.  I feel way less stressed about staying on a schedule and trust that we will just get everything done - and we are staying right on track in spite of a half week off in September for vacation and a little spotty week last week with Millie's ankle.  Feel free to leave a comment if you want me to write more about our loop schedule, or just say hello! 
 I am really happy to be back to writing - my amazing husband forces me to take the night off on Thursdays when possible so that I have time to write or work on my shop or do whatever my soul requires.  

Thursday, October 11, 2018


Well, glancing at the pictures I had of Millie from the past month, I now realize that the broken bone was inevitable.  I began to laugh as I flipped through the images looking for what I wanted to add to this post and nearly every single one was of her doing something up off the ground: climbing trees, sitting up on the bales of hay in the haybarn, and so on. 

So it should have come as no surprise to me when she decided to take a flying leap off the roof of a shed this weekend and, of course, fractured her ankle.  She is quite embarrassed about it now so I will spare her the details of why she decided she could do that without harm, but suffice it to say, it still came as a surprise to me to discover she had really injured herself. 

We really strive to have an attitude of unfettered childhood exploration in our parenting, and I am convinced that we have actually had so few injuries (this is really our first one ever) because they have each had so much practice climbing and hanging and swinging that they are typically good at knowing their limits.  Oh my Millie girl, I imagine that she was lost in her imagination-land and didn't really think things through in spite of all the other kids she was with admonishing her not to jump.  Jump she did, and she landed right into six weeks of non-weight bearing and a nice firm cast to keep things from shifting as the bone heals.  

No climbing.  No jumping. No running.  No ballet.  No.... no.... no...

So here we are.

She was the bravest little trooper ever, laughing and smiling through the pain and finding all kinds of humor as we sat for hours through medical exams this week together.  When I had lost my ability to laugh, she was able to make me laugh again anyway. 

I am so thankful it wasn't worse, since the height from which she jumped really could definitely have led to a head injury or other much more serious injury.  As it is, the kind of fracture she has sometimes requires surgery if the bones have, I guess, shifted, and thanks to the Lord, hers don't seem to have, so the doctor was reassuring that he thought the casting would be sufficient.  We'll know more with additional x-rays in a week to check on things.  

It is hard as mama to watch her suffer, even the loneliness of being stuck fairly immobile and the sorrow of missing ballet, the true highlight of her week.  The first couple days on crutches were difficult and uncoordinated, but she motored on fearlessly and now she is realizing they're substitutes for her leg and started to cruise around a lot more quickly.  I am proud of her and proud that she is making it through.  We are making it through. 

P.S. If anyone wants to come sit and listen to her chatter away for an hour some afternoon to give my ears a break... say the word!  Ha!  

Wednesday, September 05, 2018

beginning again


Beautiful Lyddie who is close enough to resembling a young woman these days that I get glimpses of the stunning woman she is becoming.  Funny, witty, so so smart and curious, she loves to explore the world around her, focusing on the external things and how they work and how they relate to her.  The way her eyes light up with wonder at the most interesting things:  the way a hermit crab hatches just the size of a pencil dot, the fact that Magellan's crew sailed around the entire world and how she traced the route on the globe three times with her finger to make sure she really understood the enormity of that feat.   She does everything fast, wanting to move through life at a clip and I try to breathe deep and let her fly on through, feeling, touching, tasting, experiencing everything before her.  Am I ever spreading a wide enough feast of learning for this one who is finished with everything before I've hardly begun? I aim to teach her to slow her pace just a little at times, to really take everything in, which is just one of the thousands of reasons I am thankful for the thoughts Charlotte Mason put forward about really going slowly enough through the Things of education that they can be savored and digested and incorporated into one's own self.  She gets so frustrated by the limitations that have been historically placed on women as we do our work of learning together, that I just cheer her on to press into the freedom she has as a girl made unique and beautiful and strong in His image.  Oh how I am proud of her strength! 

Precious artistic amazing Millie, who, with her toothless grin lights up my life with new understanding and appreciation.  She and I are so different, about as opposite as her daddy and I are, but I hope maybe we share a closeness made possible by those differences.  All she does has a touch of grace to it, whether it is dancing, handwriting, reciting poetry, telling jokes, swinging on the tire swing, or wrapping her arms around my neck in an embrace.  She is a contradiction:  soft and delicate and easily bruised but also hard as flint and stubborn as a boulder.  How can this be?  I wonder and watch and learn from her how to see the world in new ways. She needs quiet spaces and moments, and I am learning that she needs time to think her thoughts before she is ready to share them; another difference between us, since I am more like her big sister who talks her thoughts as she thinks them.  Today she made up her mind that she wants to become a professional ballerina and her life goal at the moment is to someday get the part of Clara in The Nutcracker.  If anyone can set her mind to this thing and achieve it, it is definitely my Millie, and I am her biggest cheerleader as she chass├ęs her way there. 

(Posing!  This made me laugh out loud; it's SO Rosie!!)

(the first year Rosie has had a real stack in our back-to-school reveal celebration!)

Cuddly imaginative laughing Rosie who makes my heart yearn for days past when she was truly my baby and who I couldn't delight in more than I currently do.  Rosie is in kindergarten this year and, true to her personality, is ecstatic to finally be "doing school" like her sisters.  Kindergarten here is very gentle: some reading lessons as she is interested, reading aloud beautiful books, and taking part in all the "riches" of the curriculum that we do, like drawing lessons, Spanish, gentle piano lessons, composer study, poetry, Scripture memory, etc.  She declares that she wants to do reading lessons, but I can tell she is not yet ready to think of herself as A Reader.  Indeed, I don't think she quite has made the connection that when she can read, a world of books will open to her.  Her sisters both innately seemed to have this understanding by age four and were desperate to read for themselves, but Rosie is content to go at her own pace as long as she feels she is participating in the same things they are.  I love this independence in her; she is content to play and entertain herself for long stretches of time if no one is available or interested in her chosen activity. She wakes early in the morning and comes to cuddle with me as I read through Scripture, climbing up and tucking herself under the throw blanket on my lap.  She leans her head against my chest quietly as I continue to read.  She now knows that if she chatters too much at this early hour, I will have to send her away because I truly need a few minutes of quiet waking time, so now she waits patiently until my eyes have actually opened all the way before she launches into telling me her unusual dreams and any other thought that flits through her mind.  The growing up happening in our house has the tang of bittersweet to me, but Rosie's growing up is especially so, as she is my baby and possibly the last time I will get to experience these mothering joys and struggles.  I have come to recognize that this is not a form of favoritism but a letting go in trust that the Lord has given and the Lord can take away and can give back again, and it is okay to grieve and rejoice at the same the passing of a season of life.  

These are three of my chiefest earthly blessings. 

Friday, June 15, 2018

summer begins


The spring has given way to summer.  The garden spills over with green and beauty.  Peas are climbing the teepee and producing so many that we can't keep up with picking them; the same is true of the raspberries, though I'm doing my best.  Green tomatoes appear where yellow flowers once were, and I'm on my second planting of salad greens since it got warm enough that they all bolted.  One of my favorite things in the garden this year is the new square raised bed where I just scattered wildflower seeds for now until I plant perennials to make a cutting garden.  I've always tried to grow wildflowers here and there but with no success until this year.  I now have Bachelor's Buttons, orange poppies and big floppy red poppies, calendula and other beauties in a riot of color. It's really pretty. 

Above our porch steps, on a branch of one of our birch trees, rests a tiny cup of a nest where Madame Hummingbird rests for mere moments a day, when she's not visiting our feeder, our snapdragons, or resting atop the bean trellis in the garden.  I wish we could get a peek in the nest which should contain two tiny white bean-sized eggs, but we must content ourselves with watching mama zip back and forth above our heads all day long. 

The hay is cut and lays in the field waiting to be baled.  The red-tailed hawk "chicks" have fledged and make the most unsettling cry all day from the branches of the maple in the nearby pasture.  I planted three little Rose of Sharon cuttings in the yard today.  The girls read and read and play and play.  Lyddie has found some "science" experiments in a book and decided to try the old vinegar/baking soda "bomb" activity today.  Carefully, all girls stood three feet back from the plastic bag containing their explosive, and watching with rapt attention as the contents foamed and sizzled, and finally "pop" went the sandwich bag.  A little anticlimactic if you ask me, but if you ask them, it was high entertainment.  I love that they're smart enough and big enough to completely independently gather the materials and measure it all out and follow the directions to stuff like this now.  Well, mainly Lyddie, still, but the other two were excited, too.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

ballet recital

This spring held our first ballet recital for the older girls.  It was delightful to see how excited they were to be on stage before an audience; rather than having stage fright, they both were so disappointed to only have one performance! We were so thankful for dear family and friends who came and spent the afternoon with us. I couldn't love these dear girls more.