Starting Something Completely New

I think many of you know we’ve about had it with the school system here.  Not that our two have had any major problems, (aside from the school harassing us and our doctor the whole time Emily was hospitalized a few years ago) but what we’ve seen and heard doesn’t sit well.  Budget cuts have forced then to abandon many programs, No Child Left Behind means that at all levels they are teaching solely to the end of the year tests (and those are no great fount of knowledge, I assure you) , and in the upper schools the administration has a tendency to treat the kids and parents rather badly. 

W’e’ve thought long and hard about the options, researched every angle thoroughly and at the end of the day we are confident we are making the right choice.  Next year, we are homeschooling.  We’ll take it one year at a time and see how things go.  On the plus side for me?  I’ll actually get to make use of that darned degree I got that cost me an arm and a leg.  The plus side for my kids?  I know how they each learn and can make sure they are taught accordingly. I don’t think they realize yet that I will expect more of them than their public school teachers have, but they are excited nonetheless.  No more bus bullies to worry about.  They’ll still have Girl Scouts and Book Club so they will have plenty of play time with other kids, and I am feeling better having made the decision (it doesn’t hurt that I know at least 3 other homeschooing families within 3 miles – 2 in our very neighborhood). 

Yes!  I mentioned Book Club!  I have joined two of them.  One is with a group of other women meeting once a month and one is with that same group but also with our daughters.  It has been not only a fabulous way of branching out into the community and getting to know new people, but also – the books!  I would never have thought of a lot of the books that have been chosen (I tend to get into reading ruts where I devour only one genre for a few years) but I am totally digging the selections.  If you love fiction, you MUST read The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield.  Hands down the best book I have read in a long, long time. And for those young adults in your life?  The Wanderer by Sharon Creech is excellent.  In fact, if Milkshakes gives birth to a girl she will be named Sophie in honor of the protagonist.

As for little (huge) Miss Milkshakes, she is getting closer and closer and fatter and fatter.  Susie’s coming this week to help out with vaccines and whatnot.  Hooray!

While Oona’s Away….

…..I  can actually accomplish something!

Last week Paul’s job took him to NYC.  Since his parents are just a short train – ride away from his jobsite he took Oona with him and she got to play with her grandparents and aunt all week.  And I got soooo much done!

The house got a good scrubbing, the bedrooms and bathrooms got much needed de-cluttering and I made several articles of clothing for the absent little booger.

What amazes me is that I had my washer and dryer going solidly the week straight.  I even stayed up late several nights to get laundy folded and put away.  And yet despite this, there is still a mountain of untouched dirty laundry in the hampers.  I don’t know where it comes from.

I loved that I got to watch whatever I wanted on tv and listen to my ipod whenever I wanted without everyone begging me to put Lady Gaga back on (and, incidentally, Oona kept asking her grandparents to put on some Poker Face for her).  I watched the entire first season of Destination Truth and a full night of Alaska – themed shows on Discovery (Alaska’s Scariest Mysteries, Wild Alaska, Dangerous Alaska…..).  All the while I was sewing and cutting and measuring and sewing some more.

I bought some downloadable pdf patterns on etsy from a seller called Heidi&Finn. If your’e into sewing childrens’ clothes, these are wonderful.

3 ruffled tank tops

and an adorable little yoga suit, that I am thrilled with.  Everything fits Oona perfectly.

I also whipped out a wrap dress for her.

It was a great week of getting enough sleep for once, having a reliably clean house and no diapers to change.  But I did miss my little snuggle – buddy, and I have been enjoying how lovey dovey she has been since she’s been home – even if she did manage to destroy the house 2.3 seconds after she walked in the door.

The goat shed still is not complete – but there is quite a lot of progress to report.  We got half the floor down (and then decided to double the size – hooray!) and there is a framed out wall up – we would have had the whole thing done over the weekend but we needed more lumber and stupid Lowe’s wouldn’t deliver on Sunday.  (Not that I am bitter or anything.  But if my goat gives birth before that thing is done………)

It’s going to be great – better than I thought – when we finish it up this week.  Like I said, we are doubling it’s original size and it is tall enough for us to walk in, and for Jerry the Llama to comfortably move around in.  It will end up more like a mini barn than a small shed. I’ll also be able to secure Jerry in there so I can get his hooves clipped and his fleece sheared and his vaccines administered.

Egg production is almost into full swing again – we are getting about 4 eggs a day out of 11 hens.  Four of our girls have yet to start laying, and I am hoping to double that daily number by the time they do.   We’ve gotten lots of requests for fresh eggs, and I am also hoping to be able to do some barter with them.

My arugula and lettuce are sprouting outside in the garden boxes, as are my sugar snap peas.  Inside I have 2 types of tomatoes started, several herbs and some flowers.  In a couple of short weeks I’ll be able to plant my fingerling potato tubers and scarlet runner beans in the ground.

Here’s hoping for a fruitful summer growing and agriculture season!

Someone’s Idea of a Joke

I got married on St. Patrick’s Day fourteen years ago.   We were crazy and young (19!) and in love (and stupid.  waaay stupid)

It’s been quite the ride, I’ll tell you that.  Four years in, we had our first girl.  Four years after that, girl number two.  And four years after that……girl number three.  I guess we were working on a pattern or somthing.  Do NOT expect another one when Oona turns four!

Anyhow, we usually celebrate our anniversary St. Paddy’s style – Guinness, Irish Cream Chocolate Cake, Irish coffee….you get the idea.  Not once, though, have we followed the rules of what to actually buy each other according to the year of marriage.  You know, the whole “first anniversary is paper, second is cotton, etc, all the way down to your diamond anniversary at sixty years.  (Did you know there is a wool anniversary?!!!  Because I didn’t, and it was seven years ago.  Rats!!)

This year someone must have said something to my dear spouse, however, because he came home and announced that it was our Ivory Anniversary.

I’m really thinking that this is deserving of a Darwin Award.

Aebelskiver Sunday

Sundays here are something special. They are Aebelskiver Sundays. That means a big mound of small, fluffy, filled pancake puffs for brunch.

Start with some batter, add some yummy blueberry pie filling and top with more batter (today I also did chocolate batter with white chocolate pudding for the filling).

Let ’em simmer for a few minutes before flipping them over, and then……

Yumminess!  Personally I like to add a dusting of confectioner’s sugar as well.

Next time you’re in the neighborhood on a Sunday, come by and have a taste.  You’ll want to have Aebelskiver Sundays, too.  Just come before Pippa gets too hungry.  Last weekend that damn dog ate about 20 of them right off the kitchen counter.  And you wonder why I am always threatening to make her an outdoor dog.

In other news……last night was the Girl Scout’s annual Father – Daughter Dance, so Neve and Emily got all gussied up.

I spent an hour again this year curling Neve’s hair.  She didn’t complain about looking like George Washington this time, though, thank goodness!

And she doesn’t.  Just pretty little disgustingly photogenic Neve.

And Emily, who got her hair and makeup done by Maddie and Brittney (Maddie’s bud)  this year.

Proud papa.  He who swore he could build me a goat shed and has yet to do so.  Actually, he’s made it quite clear that it’s all up to me (who cannot use a power tool or do math for anything). Milkshakes will probably give birth on the cold, hard ground at this point.  Or in the house.  Maybe I’ll set her up in the living room.

I can’t complain about him  today though because he is taking my little sweet Oona obstacle with him this week to his mother’s house.

She wanted to go to the dance, too.

Gratuitous Goat and Sheep Post

We did something fun and wonderful this afternoon.  We hopped over to Juniper Moon Farm and met Shepherd Susie and the flock.

She had two angora goat kids born on Sunday and since we live so close (and I’ve been pestering her with lots of goat birthing questions) she invited us all over to see them.

Their names are Gonzo and Camilla, and little Mr. Gonzo is about the snuggliest little thing you’ll ever see.

Camilla is a little smaller and a little more attached to her mama, so she wasn’t as pliable in human hands as her brother.

Sabine welcomed us and chased Neve all around.  Neve looked a bit frightened, but on the way home said she wished Sabine were her dog.

I love this goat – his name is Roquefort. Like the cheese.  Is he not totally handsome?

Sheep!  My girls made it hard to get any great pics – I was keeping one eye on them the whole time since I think they were approaching “fun overload” with all those animals (Emily kept chasing all the chickens around) and of course I still need a good camera.   But I looooove the sheep.  If I had some pasture, I’d be all over some lambs this year.  Especially after I saw her Baby Doll sheep, Daisy.  Daisy is not in this picture, but she is the cutest of all cute sheep ever and I want like 3 dozen of her.

And Susie?  Could not have been nicer.  I got some great goat info and I feel better knowing she’s just around the corner to help out if we run into trouble with Milkshakes.  We also met Lauria and Erin – those of you who read the Juniper Moon Farm blog will know who they are.

It was such a cool thing that I went from drooling over her blog last year when she was still on Martha’s Vineyard to actually having her live right down the road from us.  It really is a small world after all.

And I am very glad it is.

And here’s a shout out to Marie Grace because I am pretty sure I heard about Susie’s blog from her.

Barnyard in Our Backyard

Brace yourselves.  There are pictures of me in this post.  I try to avoid showing my non – photogenic self here, but Neve got hold of the camera this weekend.  I do love seeing things from her perspective.

We still haven’t built our goat shed.  We’re running out of time – let’s pray the nice weather holds so we can get it done!  Instead we had to clear out all the old scrub pines that threatened to fall on the house during the snow storm (I figured all it was going to take was one good rocking thunderstorm this spring and they’d all be down for sure – most likely on the goat shed).

The animals thought we were chopping up their snacks into smaller, bite – sized pieces.

The bonus is we’re getting more sun in their space now, so we’ll be less likely to wind up with a mud pit back there.  Anyway, chopping down trees is a lot of work and it’s time consuming, and it really stinks when you hire someone to do it for you and the guy never shows up.

I’d now like you to know that while I was typing this Oona brought me the sponge from the kitchen sink – she and it were covered in soap suds.  I have no idea how she got it.

Besides massive deforestation in our back yard we also added to our chicken flock.

We got one Barred Rock hen (the black and white one there) and five  Black Star girls – they are a cross between the Barred Rock breed and the Rhode Island Red breed.  That means they’ll be fantastic egg layers.  Emily and Maddie named them in the car on the way home.

They are: Sandy, Angie, Chewie, Miss Endive, Panini and Lady Gaga.  I named two of them.  Guess which!

In honor of bringing home our new girls we combined our two coops and pens into one.  Everybody is out back together along with Jerry and Milkshakes.  Now they can free – range over a large area and still have the protection of an electric fence (the guard llama doesn’t hurt, either).

It was sunny and in the 60’s all weekend and we definitely were feeling the spring fever.

Before Neve commandeered the camera she chased down all the chickens, trying to hold every last one of them.

Emily has given up eating chicken completely and won’t hear of me raising any meat birds.  I’d have to do it without her help or involvement of any kind if I went that way.

Milkshakes is like a puppy  – she follows us all over, wagging her little tail and asking for pets.  She and Oona were getting along famously – she even ate out of Oona’s hand – until Oona started waving a stick in her face.  Then all bets were off and Milkshakes decided that butting Oona would be better than eating out of her hand.  I had to keep them separated after that.  Don’t wave sticks in pregnant goat’s faces.  Apparently, they don’t like it.

She’s loving my attention here, but what you don’t see is that I am holding her back from running after Oona in order to knock her down.

Mr. Roo is starting to feel better, but he’s still the low man on the rooster totem- pole.  I’ll feel better about him once he’s put back on some weight.

Neve took this picture of Oona and I find it hilarious.  You can see the dirt and snot and crud on her face and her chopped – up hair  and her broken front tooth that turned grey (she’s seeing the dentist this week about that).  True , unadulterated Oona.

That was our weekend in a nutshell.  Minus the full – on hissy fit I threw over the state of the house.  You know how it is – you spend every day cleaning up the same messes and looking at the same crap that no one cares to help you with.  Every so often, it really gets to me and I have to leave the house and go to the farm store for awhile and buy new chickens and then go wander around Target until I feel better.  And then I go home and clean up the mess that made me feel so crazy and overwhelmed to begin with.  It does no good, of course, because my kids are very, very good at their jobs of slovenliness and filth – making.

There’s consolation, though.  It’s bad for my waist – line, but it’s an oasis of serenity I discovered just this evening.  Why, oh why did my Southern friends not ever tell me about Buttermilk Pie???  Why did I have to wait through 13 years of life in the South to find it?  I’ll tell you – I may be a Yankee girl through and through, and I may have New England stamped all over my heart, but nothing – and I mean nothing – compares to a love affair with Southern food.  It’s like being welcomed home with a warm blanket and fluffy pillow and assurances that you are fine, the world is fine, and everything will always be fine, as long as you EAT.THIS.PIE.

Really now, I wish my time on teh elliptical machine didn’t always hurt so much, because now that I have added this pie to my repertoire I am going to be needing to work off beaucoup calories.

Where’d That Come From??

I don’t know if it’s due to it being March first or due to the relatively warm and sunny weather today,  but I have had energy to spare.  And let me tell you – that never happens.  I don’t think I can even remember a time when I couldn’t use a serious nap.  Probably sometime before Emily was born.

The bus is home safe in the driveway as of Friday evening.  We had it parked in a lumberyard – type lot until the snow cleared out enough to bring it home.  Our driveway is kind of long, skinny and winding so it was a challenge for me to back it into its designated spot.  The mud did not help.  Neither did the failing light, lack of visible markers to reference for maneuvering, or the yelling between the spouse and I.  You are all glad you weren’t there.  Trust me.

But back to the excess energy.  I’ve got a new sewing project ( or 10)  in the works:

This one’s another skirt.  I also have an Oliver & S pattern for a dress for Neve for Easter.  Honestly, even I’ll be impressed if I can actually pull it off by Easter, energy burst or no.  Besides, today’s energy burst mostly took a foody form.  I cooked and baked my big backside off.

Vermont Cheddar bread to accompany the spinach, green apple and goat cheese salad we had for dinner.

Pina Colada Cheesecake bars.  Along with the Orange – Chocolate Bread Pudding.  Just ’cause.

Cuban Chicken Empanadas for tomorrow’s lunch.

I also made cinnamon – raisin bread and started the beef short ribs with polenta fries for tomorrow’s dinner.  All while enjoying:

Stout and coffee ice cream float.  So good I can barely stand it.  It’s for all of the above reasons that ME + Bathing Suit = Not Good.

It’s also the reason my feet are killing me right now. Hopefully I’ll sleep better tonight after all that work.  If Oona will let me.  She’s running around today with a new ‘do.

Check out how long and thick her hair has gotten!!!!

Um, no.  It’s an old hair extension of mine that she found.  It doesn’t quite match my hair anymore so I just let her play with it.

If only she hadn’t given herself a baby mullet.