Thursday, August 29, 2013

apples!

We went to Larriland Farm last Saturday on opening day of apple season specifically to pick my favorite apples, Honeycrisp!

The Honeycrisp season doesn't last long, so don't delay if you're as crazy about these apples as I am.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

first year at home

The anniversary of my last day of full-time employment outside the home has passed. I can hardly believe I've been an official SAHM for a year. Here are several things I've learned this past year.

1. I am a more patient mother than I ever thought I'd be.
I still consider myself an impatient person with most aspects of life, but with Mason? The Lord showers me with patience every day. The whining, the pestering, the nagging, the disobedience, the tantrums, the hundreds of other little things toddlers do (or won't do) that can drive one mad, not to mention the general lack of productivity compared to my life before parenthood--well, I rarely lose my crap with any of this. Maybe I'm just used to it now so it doesn't bother me.

2. I am a more creative mother than I ever thought I'd be.
On the fly, I've come up with all kinds of tactics to help days with my little guy feel more peaceful. No, I'm not creative in the sense that I come up with tons of crafts or neat projects (see #3), but I believe I am creative in  how I engage Mason, especially when I'm trying to avoid triggering one of his tantrums or when I'm encouraging him to eat something he isn't crazy about.

3. I am a SAHM who is rarely at home.
I err on the side of taking Mason on adventures rather than staying home and playing or crafting. Perhaps this will change as he gets older and can sit still for longer to color or create something. But for now, we both enjoy tearing up the town and experiencing all that DC has to offer. I am incredibly thankful to live in a quaint, walkable city neighborhood with lots of parks and things to do. And you can't beat free swimming pools, museums, the zoo, and all the neat activities and exhibits that come through DC.

4. I still shower, get dressed (in something besides yoga pants), and put on make up each day.
I can count on one hand the number of days this past year that I haven't showered, put on make up, or gotten dressed, and most of those days were when someone was sick. Why, you ask? See #3. I see people (besides my son) every day. Plus, I just feel better about myself when wearing real pants and some make up.

5. Personal tasks have taken a back seat.
Until staying home with my toddler, I never realized how many personal tasks/errands I completed on my commute to/from work, over my lunch hour, or, to be honest, at work after I'd finished my real work for the day. I used to stay on top of Facebook and the hundred or so blogs in my feed reader each day. Now? HA! A couple times a week, I'll catch up on my favorite blogs, which are mostly those written by friends, but sadly, many of the rest are routinely checked "mark as read" just to clear them out of my reader. It takes incredible energy and persistence to post somewhat regularly here, but even this blog isn't what it used to be. I keep it up because I love writing and keeping track of what we're up to. But my content used to go much deeper. This blog has been a wonderful place for me to process all sorts of issues--family struggles, infertility, pregnancy losses, etc. I certainly still struggle in those ways and others--I just don't have time now to really reflect on let alone write about them coherently. Maybe one day I will. But for the foreseeable future, you'll still be reading about my gardening efforts and outings with Mason.:)

6. I truly savor these days, even the challenging ones.
My worst day at home with Mason still trumps my best day at work outside the home away from him. I love this season of focusing on my family and I do not regret for one minute any of the financial, career, and personal sacrifices it requires. I am beyond blessed, and so thankful for how God provides for our family.

Friday, August 23, 2013

epic freezer cooking day

I wish I had taken a picture of what went down in my kitchen this past Tuesday.

A couple weeks ago, my friend Sunshine suggested we get together for a freezer cooking day. We consulted the August traditional menu from Once a Month Meals and here's what happened:

  • We each selected three dinner recipes and were responsible for buying double the ingredients for each recipe (so we would each end up with six dinners).
  • We met at my house and cooked pretty much for five hours straight.
  • Keep in mind that we had four small children underfoot: a three-year-old, a nearly two-year-old, and eight-month-old twins!
  • The kids were, amazingly, troopers. The twins took two naps at my house and Mason got his nap in. 
  • Some of the recipes made such large portions that we each got more than one meal out of it. 
  • When all was said and done, we each ended up with about nine entrees. Most of mine went into my freezer and I can't wait to pull them out during busy weeks! Granted, I still have to throw together sides and/or a salad, but still--the entree is assembled and ready. Hallelujah!
Yes, my first freezer cooking day was chaotic, but what an enjoyable way to pass a day with a friend. Had I taken on this endeavor by myself, it really would have felt like work, but it honestly didn't feel that way with good company. Once my family eats these meals, I'm ready for another round!

Have you ever had an epic freezer cooking day? What did you think? Do you do it regularly? 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

wild about water



What is your preferred mealtime beverage, Gentle Readers? Iced tea or lemonade? Soft drinks or Kool-Aid? Except for an occasional alcoholic beverage with dinner, I drink Crystal Light. But that's only because Brad makes the Crystal Light and sets a glass in front of me. On nights when he's gone, I find myself sipping water from my trusty pink Nalgene bottle, which is never far from my side all day long.

It's not that I dislike soft drinks or tea, but I haven't drank either one enough to get into them. I'm not a coffee drinker and too much orange juice in the morning gives me a stomach ache, so I usually avoid it altogether. I abhor milk. I don't crave Crystal Light, so why do I drink it when water's clearly the better choice?

This realization brought about a new experiment. As of this past Sunday, I am only drinking water with meals (with the exception of an occasional glass of wine) until I crave something else.  I am curious about whether I will eventually long for a beverage with more taste and if so, how long water will suffice. Brad thinks I'm weird for being content with water all day long and for every meal. I tell him I'm lucky--how often is one completely satisfied with the healthiest choice? I certainly don't prefer salad over pizza. (I wish I did!)

I am wild about water. Are you?

Monday, August 19, 2013

construction all around

Mason has been blessed with some free entertainment this summer, right from our front window. The elementary school across the street from us has undergone a complete renovation.

view of a cement mixer from our front window

The project supposedly ends tomorrow as school begins next week. These workers have literally been working around the clock to finish on time.

an endless parade of trucks

I will miss this construction project. It's provided endless fascination for my son. Surprisingly, we have not been at all inconvenienced by the equipment or noise. The school's facelift freshens up our block. And a school that feels "new" will be such a blessing to the students and staff, and perhaps one day to Mason if he attends there. Yes, this summer of watching this project unfold has been a win.

Although most days I could do without the hammering next door at Bea's house during Mason's nap time, that renovation will be worth our short term inconveniences. And the huge demolition that will soon occur to the DC government buildings right behind our home will surely provide some interesting equipment and activity for Mason to watch. We are surrounded by construction, but thankfully, at least one member of my household truly enjoys and appreciates it.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

an unexpected vase

Remember my recent post about the different types of containers I use to provide meals to others? Here is my recent creation. Several weeks ago, I delivered a baby meal to a friend on her birthday. At the last minute, I included some of my knockout roses as an extra treat for her special day, but I didn't have a spare vase to pass along. So what did I use to hold the flowers?


An empty (and cleaned) applesauce jar!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

goats!

I'm a sucker for any type of interesting outing, especially if it's free. I am not one of those stay-at-home moms who enjoys or excels in doing craft projects with my child, but my boy and I--we go places! I am a stay-at-home mom who is rarely home.

Luckily for us, this outing didn't require us to travel too far. We arrived home from vacation just in time to catch the last day of the Eco-Goats grazing at Congressional Cemetery.


I had never heard of this environmental approach before, but I love it! More than 50 goats grazed the perimeter of the cemetery 24 hours a day for six days, eliminating invasive species while fertilizing the ground. These goats eat anything--vines, poison ivy, ground cover, debris--and their presence supposedly eliminates the need for harmful herbicides.


There were big goats, small goats, and even goats that climb trees! We also learned that goats are generally friendly animals with unique personalities. The goat herder said that spending time with a herd of goats was like spending time in a high school--the goats have cliques and tiffs, just like people do!

Mason loved visiting the goats. And I loved my first visit to Congressional Cemetery.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Blue lives, for now

About six weeks ago, after I dug up and split Blue into three bushes, I thought I had failed. But alas, guess what I've spotted on all three bushes?


NEW GROWTH!!!!!!

These small, bright green leaves are a promising sign, Gentle Readers. Blue is not completely dead. Not yet.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

28-month wait

In April of 2011, when I was pregnant with Mason, I paid close to $1,000 in daycare wait list fees. The person in charge of most of the 8-10 places where we applied guessed there would be a 12, or possibly an 18, month wait before a position for him opened. There was no spot for him at any of these facilities when I returned to work in January of 2012, so we made do with another arrangement.

In April of 2012, when renewal fees for most of those wait lists were due, Brad and I had already made the decision for me to quit my full-time job, so we didn't pay them. Imagine my surprise when last Friday, a woman from the coveted Little Scholars Program at the Library of Congress emailed Brad and me saying that a spot for Mason had opened up: 28 months later and with two years of not paying the renewal fee for the application.

What a relief to say, "No, we no longer need the spot. No, we don't need any time to think about it, but thank you for offering to give us until Monday." And what a blessing to pass this spot on--I hope we made some other family's weekend.

Finding good childcare in this busy city is insane. For those of you on wait lists, have hope because it can work out eventually. But you might want to ask if those renewal fees are really necessary before you pay them.

Monday, August 5, 2013

blooming off season?

I found a surprise in one of my flower beds on Friday night.


My rhododendron is blooming! Look at that blossom.


Then I noticed my two other rhododendrons have buds . . . right in time for me to leave on vacation for a week and miss most of the bloom!


Aren't rhododendrons supposed to be spring bloomers?

Friday, August 2, 2013

beach bound

Photo credit: www.topsailbeach.com
We're spending the next week at a new beach this year. Topsail, here we come!

The week prior to vacation is the craziest of my summer. Making lists, doing laundry, cleaning the house, going to the library to check out books and DVDs, running to Target to stock up on necessities, and packing everything under the sun, all while trying to keep an active toddler engaged, entertained, and on his schedule--it's enough to make me question, "Is taking a vacation worth it?"

Yes, I believe it is. And the first glimpse of the blue waves and smell of the salty air will solidify my decision.

Topsail is supposedly even more remote than Duck, but I'd love to run into a Dr. Blondie reader like I did last year. I know the chances are slim, but let me know if you'll be at Topsail next week!