Sunday, November 23, 2008

A Badger Birthday

Ever since experiencing childbirth, without anesthesia I mught add, I have a different view of birthdays. Where I used to say to the Birthday Person "I'm glad you were born!" I now also like to say to their mother "Hooray for you! You did a good job!" For them, it is the anniversary of a monumental experience in more ways than one.

And so, on the occasion of my Badger's birthday I say to my dear Mother-in-law, "Hooray for you! THANK YOU!!"

I'll never know just how tough it was for her. After getting married in 1971 she had a baby in 1972, 1973, 1974, and 1975. The 1975 baby was my Badger, shown below with his mom and older siblings:

She had three more children later, for a total of seven. She tells me she was always exhausted. I bet that's an understatement. She truly gave her all for her family. I am so incredibly grateful for her sacrifice. Because it means I now have this:

I love this man. He is so right for me.

And now he is 33, which in the Hobbit world means that he has finally come of age. We're expecting great things.

Happy Birthday, Honey. And thanks again, Mom.

P.S. Stay tuned for details on the Badger's utterly perfect made-from-scratch birthday cake!

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Baking Season

When the weather turns cold the little baking elves come out from under the roots of the oak trees and start whispering in my ear at night: "Bake!" they say. "You must bake!"

So I bake.

I have little helpers. They make baking very... um... exciting.

Despite the messes and the chaos and dirty little fingers, the things we have been baking have been turning out very, very delicious.

Cranberry orange pecan muffins, above. And cranberry orange cheesecake with Oreo crust, below.

(I like cranberries and oranges. And cranberries are a dollar a bag at Aldi. And they're healthy. I think that justifies the cheesecake.)

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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Current Conditions on the Prairie

Lately I write a lot of blog posts in my head that never make it down through my fingers to the computer keyboard. I used to blog while feeding the Rabbit and now she's getting too big to hold still and eat while I compute. At the moment she is asleep in my arms and I can finally catch you up on my world.

The Rabbit is doing better and better with big people food. She has figured out how to eat rice cereal, but she prefers to self-feed. As I do not have much time to sit and spoon things into her, this is fine with me. She had a great time with a pile of peas the other night at dinner. I didn't even have to replenish her supply because Roo took care of that for me. (Isn't that one of the oldest tricks in the book-- pawn your vegetables off on your younger sibling?)

While we're on the food front, I'm happy to report that I did not gain any weight this month. Unfortunately I did not lose any, but this is a tough time of year for me (can you say "homemade pumpkin pie with real whipped cream"?) My goal is to hold steady through the holidays and then get serious about these last ten pounds when cookieless January rolls around.

I haven't been doing my weekly homeschooling reports, mostly because I believed they were boring the majority of you to tears. However, the vocal minority among my readers has expressed disappointment in their absence. So I'll try to keep you updated without being tedious. Homeschooling has been going very well and I'm enjoying it more and more. I am still struggling to sort out mentally what is realistic and stop judging myself by other people's standards. I think I am growing as much as the kids are. I hope so. Anyway, Bean's progress with reading has been slow but steady. He loves Geography and History. We've been talking about the Southern states and the Civil War and the Civil Rights movement. And he has been finger knitting up a storm. I bought one of those Knifty Knitter looms for him so he could make some real scarves for his friends, but he hasn't got the hang of it yet. Both the boys love "Making Day" the very most of all the days of our homeschool week. Oriental Trading Company is my new best friend for Making Day projects. We've done some great autumn crafts from OTC these last few weeks.

We had the missionaries over for dinner the other night and one of them is a virtuoso pianist. I asked him to play while I was getting dinner ready and he sat down and played the third movement of Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata. I about passed out in the kitchen. It was so incredible. My boys were riveted and I said to Bean, "THAT is what you can do with a piano if you practice." Bean has music in his soul and loves to play, so hopefully the memory of Elder Nielson's performance will help him develop discipline.

Roo refuses to wear pants lately. She MUST have a skirt. I don't know where she got this. Certainly not from watching me. But I'm going with it. She's so cute in her little skirts. Pajamas are the problem now though. Sleepers are unacceptable in the new Roo Regulations. So I am working on making her some nightgowns for Christmas. It is difficult to sew with everything else I've got going on, but it's so fun to have a project that energizes me.

I paid $1.68 a gallon for gas yesterday. Oh, how happy that makes me!

Another thing that makes me happy is my new fleece turtleneck from Land's End. I put it on this morning and I don't ever want to take it off. EVER. It is so soft. All day long when the kids were acting like little monsters (I don't know WHAT got into them today!) I would stop and take a deep breath to calm down and say to myself, "Oh, my shirt is so soft and fuzzy and comfortable!" and then I would feel better and be nicer to my kids. Also, the Badger gave me a great back rub because he liked it so much. I would encourage all you moms to go buy one in the interest of promoting domestic tranquility except I don't know yet whether or not the fleece is going to stay really soft or pill up really quick. I'll let you know in my next General Prairie Update.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Oh, Rabbit!

You used to be so happy in your exersaucer...

Then you learned to crawl and now you're not content with such a confined space.

I have the feeling that you're one of those souls that just can't wait to soar, and somehow I have to figure out how to keep up with you...
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Friday, November 14, 2008

Four Kids on the Prairie

Yesterday we took family pictures at a nearby nature park that has lovely tall prairie grass. Here are individual shots of each of our children. We were trying to catch the golden evening light and it ended up being a bit too strong, but we thought their expressions were just perfect.

Bean, age 7

Fish, age 5

Roo, age 2 1/2

and an 8 1/2 month old Rabbit

(The Rabbit is holding an "Osage Orange," sometimes called a "hedge apple." They are green and lumpy and funky-looking and they fall out of prairie trees in the fall. Folklore has it that they repel insects. I think they are very amusing.)

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How to Protect Your Lincoln Log Creation From Your Younger Sister

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Thursday, November 13, 2008

Monday, November 10, 2008

Oh, Oregon!

Sometimes I really miss living in Oregon. Like when I have to pay out the nose to have Oregon blueberries shipped to me frozen instead of picking them myself fresh for free. It was painful and expensive, but I bought two 14 lb boxes. They arrived in August but they seemed so precious that I didn't want to rip into them right away and devour them in a matter of days. So I did not open them until today. Today I was in a blueberry mood and I could not resist them any longer.

Aren't they beautiful?

For breakfast I made a blueberry smoothie. It was well-received.

Then this afternoon we had the Schmoo family over. I made an apple pie and threw in a handful of blueberries.

I'm so glad they have frozen food trucks that can bring me Oregon blueberries even though I live smack dab in the middle of the lower 48. It was a big dent in my pocket book, but it was so, so worth it.

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Sunday, November 9, 2008

Were the 70's Really That Orange?

One of the things I like to do on Sunday evenings is look at family photo albums with my kids. They love it. They especially love the two albums I have with pictures from my childhood. My mother gave me these albums in the late 1980s and they are the "magnetic" type that we now know to be extremely damaging to photos, so I'm always thinking one of these days I'll redo these albums...

Well, I might as well eat that elephant one bite at a time. Here is one of the gems of my collection: a studio portrait of me somewhere around my first birthday.

I scanned it in and used an enhancing tool to take the edge off the orangeness but it didn't entirely go away. However, many people have told me that the 70's really were that orange. Maybe they're right. Any of you remember?

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Friday, November 7, 2008

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Fun With a Badger

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Oak Update

I know, I'm obsessed. Here's the front yard oak this morning.

I think it's so fascinating how, even in November, each individual cluster of leaves contain green, bronze, and totally dead leaves.

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Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Rice Cereal and Rabbit

I start my kids on solids a little later in life than is culturally typical, waiting for when the strange force inside of me called "Mother Instinct" says it's time. The time for my Rabbit to start eating big people food is now here. So last time I was at the store, I bought a box of organic rice cereal.

For the first feeding, I decided to let Fish do the honors as a boost to his confidence and feelings of usefulness within our family. I also let Bean wield the camera so he wouldn't feel bad about not being able to feed the Rabbit. Everyone was placated and I thought we were all set up for success.

However, the Rabbit was not impressed with the rice cereal.

See? She's definitely not excited.

What with the Rabbit's lack of interest and all, Fish lost interest. So I was left to try to coax a few bites into my tenacious youngster. She was much more interested in the spoon than in the cereal.

What I think is odd about this whole thing is that she scuttles all over the house putting everything in her mouth and swallowing it. She loves leaves and tape. So why did she spit the cereal back at me? I thought she would love it.

Hmmmm..... Do they make tape-flavored baby cereal?

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Tuesday, November 4, 2008

A Quiet Moment

They're rare, but they do happen.

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