Friday, September 26, 2008

The things we wish we didn't give our kids

Mr. Asher was such a lovey last night, stroking my face while he breathed his medicine.

I don't know about the rest of you moms out there, but when it comes to the things our children inherit from us, there are some things I wish we could punt on.
Things like my stubborn nature (Asher) or my slightly obsessive compulsive habits (Gabriel) ... or .... crummy breathing.
Yep. As if the bee sting wasn't enough, Asher has apparently inherited my lungs. Which are junk. Well, okay, not so much junk anymore, after years of allergy shots and asthma medication, which I still take twice daily ... but the poor little bugger was having trouble breathing yesterday. You could hear him panting and wheezing all day, and it sounded like his lungs were full of goop. So I took him in right away, to his new doctor, and she said it was a good thing, as there is a pneumonia-causing virus hitting kids lately. She put him on an albuterol nebulizer and he seemed much better. Then we put him on our nebulizer before bed last night and by this morning, he is breathing much better.
But it makes me sad. So sad that my cruddy lungs have been passed on to my kids. I remember spending time as a kid huddled over steaming pots of water with a towel over my head, breathing in the hot air to try and calm my lungs. I remember doing this a LOT and often VERY late at night. Thinking back on it now, before they knew I had asthma, my parents must have been freaking out. At least internally. That's how I was with Ash. I kept thinking "My God, my baby can't even breathe!" So, here's a big old shout out to my parents -- thanks so much for all the times you took care of me, without letting me see your distress. You guys rock. I don't know how you did it.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Just a little Rhylah...

Just some cute shots of Rhylah eating lunch from last week.

Friday, September 19, 2008

My Brave Little Scrapper

Take a look at my little scrapper. Poor little dude! I'd love to say he got this puffy, almost black eye from a noble battle -- but indeed, it was only a run-in with a bee in the vineyard. WOW! He is definitely allergic, at least in some degree, to bee stings.
We were out helping in the grape harvest yesterday afternoon, and of course, the bees were everywhere...they may have been wasps, I'm not sure. The boys were busy eating grapes when Ash came to me crying, clutching his face, saying that the "bugs got him with their teeth." We put ice on it and he seemed perfectly fine, but last night...WOW! I called his doctor and since he has absolutely no other ailments other than the swelling, apparently he's okay. They say it can last up to 7 days! (Odd though that the bee stung him low on the cheek and the swelling is up by the eye!)
So if you can think of it, please leave Asher a little pick-me-up message on the blog today-- I'll be sure to read any and all kind words to him and pass along the messages! He's kinda bummed, and sore.

Trying to smile through the sting.

Two boys take a stroll through the vineyard. This is my Uncle's farm and some of the grapes (not these) are closing in on 100 years old.

Asher can't be at the farm and NOT eat. Here he is munching on his third bunch of grapes. Notice how the sting doesn't look as bad here. Even the on-call nurse seemed surprised it would be so bad, seven hours after the sting happened!

Just a picturesque peach tree where I did my picking the other day. I love the way the ladder looks, with the peaches tumbled about on the ground.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

A Peachy Day

"Life is better than death, I believe, if only because it is less boring and because it has fresh peaches in it."
Thomas Walker

One of the HUGE benefits of living here, is that with two family farms within 2 miles of us, and extremely generous relatives, we manage to get LOTS of fresh fruits and veggies practically whenever we need them. For example? Fresh tomatoes, zuchinnis, peppers, nectarines, pears (four kinds), rasperries, blackberries, blueberries ... you name it! We are truly spoiled rotten by our fantastic family!
This year, I have already made cherry jam, sour cherry/currant jam and blackberry jam. I wasn't planning on venturing into peaches until I talked to my Uncle Carl on the phone yesterday. When he told me the fruit was just going to rot and fall off the trees if no one claimed it, I decided to tackle canning.
My boys LOVE peaches. In fact, Asher would make a meal out of them, and has been known to go through five helpings in one sitting, slurping the juice out of the bottom of the bowl as if it were candy.
You should see him at the farm. He knows WAY before we get there that he can eat as many peaches as he wants, (I'm not about to say no!) and he practically gets the shakes in the car on the way. When we get there, he makes a mad dash for the peach grove, and as Carl and I fill our baskets, he, being short, eyes the ground. "This looks like a good one!" He shouts continually, picking up fruit and eating it up. (Yes, I did offer him tree fresh fruit, but he seems to enjoy the stuff he can reach more, and is rather good at picking out the peaches that just fell off from being too ripe, instead of being rotten). I even gave one to Rhylah and in minutes, the thing was half gone! She just sat there sucking it like a fruit bat, with a wide-eyed look on her face.
I canned peaches once before, but the fruit wasn't quite perfect and I used a syrup that was much too thick (with honey -- WAY too sweet.) This year, armed with better fruit and my Grandma's no-fail syrup recipe (1 cup of sugar plus three cups water) I decided to try again. It took me two hours to can 6 quarts of peaches. And I was dead tired. But when Nate got home from work at 7 p.m., he offered to help, so we did another 6 quarts, and it only took an hour. And it was much more fun. Teamwork is indeed the best!

Two very large bushel baskets of peaches stand ready for canning -- I think they're all laughing at me really....

My work space ... thank the Lord for plenty of counter tops!

The part that takes the longest is blanching them, skinning them, cutting them up and pitting them... ugh! But here they are! Ready for the hot jars and 30 minutes in the hot water bath!

Here are my golden jars of peaches this morning, all cooled and sealed!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

A few random photos

Not a terribly busy week so far... Nate was home sick on Monday and Tuesday -- his first sick days in FOUR YEARS! We think he had the flu -- but whatever it was, it was pretty scary, especially Monday, when he stayed curled up in a ball in bed all day long, not eating/drinking/or moving, with a very high fever. Okay, so it was scary to me, but then I'm a worrier. Today he's feeling better and is back to work.
Other than that? Nate built a treehouse for the boys in our economy sized yard, we had some family over for an incredibly yummy meal (cooked by Nate), our hot water heater busted this morning, and Rhylah tried to eat part of a light bright. Oh, and she does stairs now. LOOKOUT WORLD! So, now that you're up to date ... here are some photos. :)

The boys play Batman after school one afternoon. They tie their "white ones" (blankets) around their necks and put their masks on. Too cute.

Nate uses our super cool pasta maker to cook dinner for our family on Sunday evening. He made homemade fettucinni, and a homemade bolognaise sauce that took all day to cook. Oh, was it worth it!

The boys new treehouse ... it's still not completely done ... it needs a ladder and some wood slats on the side yet. But it's super cool!

Miss Rhylah hangs out in the hammock while her brothers play in the treehouse.

Friday, September 12, 2008

All Children, except one, grow up...

My kids go through "phases" the way other people go through newspapers.
Yes, newspapers.
Quickly moving through them, highlighting the best details, pausing to savor the best parts, and then tossing it aside like so much birdcage liner, to move on to the next thing. And the next. And the next.
We've been through trains, pirates, muppets, Spiderman, Indiana Jones, Spiderwick, Batman, pirates, Narnia, pirates ... and now, I think we may be embarking upon Peter Pan. Which, of course...and fortunately for Asher... still includes pirates.
Right now, Gabe is in that rare state between phases ... where he hasn't yet decided if the phase he's considering jumping into (Narnia) is cool enough to forsake the phase he's currently in (Batman). Kids seem to see these phases like socks ... you can only wear one set at a time. You have your "thing" and that's it. You can't have several phases going on at once. At least, that's Gabriel's spin on it.
This makes it very humorous, as the parent, to watch the inner struggle... especially in the toy aisle at Target. Gabriel stands there swaying between legos, Mutant Ninja Turtles and Batman figurines. Forget Indy (to dad's dismay) "I don't LIKE Indy anymore mom," (which I know is patently false, since he still loves the movies and can't wait for the new one to come out on DVD on Oct. 14)... he seems to feel his loyalties MUST lie in one direction, not two. Asher, on the other hand, who's current phase is Jack Sparrow, seems to have less of a problem bopping like a ping pong ball between hot wheels, hulk gear, buzz lightyear and jones toys. Oh what fun to be a kid!
I started reading the Chronicles of Narnia to Gabriel about a week ago, thanks mostly to our nonexistent television (we don't have cable yet and currently have access to NBC only) and lack of Internet. (up until two days ago.) He LOVES the books! We are almost done with "The Magician's Nephew." And he is, in a word, entranced.
Every night, as soon as I finish reading to him, and put the books away for the night, and tuck the boys in, I've been indulging in a bit of reading too ... the other night, I randomly picked up one of Gabe's library books and dove in. "Peter Pan," by J.M. Barrie. Two hours later, I was still reading ... biting my fingernails with excitement as Mr. and Mrs. Darling returned home from a dinner party to see their children whirling about the nursery ceiling and heading out the window!
Wow. What a book! If you haven't read it -- go to the library this instant and pick it up. (Preferably a well-illustrated version, it adds to the enchantment) I had absolutely no idea this was such a great book! At seventeen chapters long and over 200 pages, it was nothing like the simplistic kids book I had expected. It kept me going for three or four nights -- okay, during the days too, I'll admit. I even cried at the end! Do you know why? I cried because I was an adult! The end is THAT heartwrenching!
Written just before 1900, I believe, the writing is just beautiful! So many times, I would stop to just admire a well-written paragraph, turning it over in my brain, or repeating a sentence that was especially delicious. Yes, I'm a bit of a geek that way, it's true!

Neverland, as Barrie describes it, is a state of imagination... the world a child's mind creates -- Listen to how he describes it:
"On these magic shores, children at play are forever beaching their coracles. We too have been there; we can still hear the sound of the surf, though we shall land no more.
Of all delectable islands, the Neverland is the snuggest and most compact; not large and sprawly, you know, with tedious distances between one adventure and another, but nicely crammed. When you play at it by day with the chairs and table-cloth, it is not in the least alarming, but in the two minutes before you go to sleep it becomes very nearly real. That is why there are night lights."

Anyway, it is now one of my all-time favorite books. I highly recommend it. Gabriel and I will be starting it this weekend, after we finish Narnia. I can hardly wait! As a parent, there's something to be said for the intense excitement of introducing your kids to the same worlds you enjoyed as a child -- to see them enter into it with just as much believability and big-eyed excitement. Since we can't seem to muster that much excitement about things in the cynical, adult world, I find nothing better than to see it in their faces -- especially when they find it in a book.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Not sure how guilty to feel...

I took my first look at fall today. Asher and I were out on a walk with Rhylah when we found a bright, orange leaf on the ground. "Look!" I said pointing. "ORANGE!" He exclaimed proudly (he's very proud of his color recognition lately ... that and his superman underwear ... would that we all had such small things to be proud of!). "Yes! Bright orange!" I replied. Looking up, I saw smatterings of bright (and I mean BRIGHT) leaves mixed here and there on the ground....everywhere. And that's when I realized that summer has gone.
Gone? Where the heck did it go? Was it just my imagination, or wasn't it just spring, yesterday? But no indeed, it was here ... has come and gone again in a way that was both swift and agonizing for our family. Because we finally arrived at our destination together, as a family, after two months of being "in transit."
We're here! In good old Michigan our new/old home. I call it new/old because I was born here. And spent a good deal of time in this very city as a kid, visiting grandparents. So yes, it's new, but no, it's not really.
Today, I'm wondering how guilty I should feel exactly that I went in my office and my computer hooked online immediately even though we don't have internet. Uhhhhmmmm....okay! I'm not going to lose an opportunity to blog, just because I don't know the source of my newfound power -- maybe it's the hand of God! Ha!! Thou shalt have Internet, and it was so! And it was very good!
I've missed all my online friends who I haven't talked to or heard from since I left Sheboygan. It's lonely being new in town. Not many gal pals for me yet, although my best friend, my hubby, has been such a gem.
And what have we been up to? Wow. Where to begin. We got a screamin' deal on a house, and have been busy moving in and unpacking boxes, fixing things up etc. ever since.
I shall now bore you to death with some photos from our summer...quick and slow as it was....

The Harrmann's stand on Silver Beach in St. Joe on the night we arrived in town with 2 U-HAUL's, a bunch of helpful family members, and all our earthly possessions. What a beautiful night! The sunset was fantastic!

Me and Rhylah enjoy the sunset.

The cousins, Abby, Seth, Gabriel and Mason, wade into the water. It had been a LOOONG moving day and the water was like a warm! The kids just jumped in with their clothes on!

As all our stuff sat in storage while we looked for a home, the kids and I made frequent trips back and forth from St. Louis. Here, Rhylah and I are swimming in Grandma and Grandpa's pool. She LOVES the water!

Splashy boys kick up some fun.

Relaxing on the swing after a good swim.

Rhylah enjoys two new things at the Fourth of July parade in St. Charles...beads and Dum Dums.

Nate and the boys take an hour to play swords. How many kids do I have again??? It's hard to keep track? :)

Nate and Ash wade into the water as we go for a swim in mid-August, after we've settled in Michigan.

Asher experiences waves for the first time and LOVES them!

Gabriel bravely faces an oncoming wave.

Two boys are super cute while drying off like buddies.

Miss Rhylah wears the new outfit she got a week ago, including her first hair clippy!!

I'll have more posts to come later!

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Still here!

Just a quick note to let people know that I am indeed still alive. Our internet service should be arriving in about 10 days. FINALLY! In the meantime, I've been busy sending my little first-grader (GASP!) back to school ... and nesting in a very old, new house. I will have more details to come, I promise! But for now, life is good and busy and full of love and hard work. It's a good life!