Jul 252014
 

speed limit 30 sign morgue file

Yesterday I was outside talking with a friend/neighbor.  The kids were in the yard and some neighbor kids had come over to buy produce from our stand.  The neighbor kids (different neighbor than I was talking to) are older than my kids, so I wasn’t too concerned that they were standing right on the curb of our street.  The traffic was pretty light at that time and I was not paying 100% attention to them.

Suddenly, a car came speeding down our street.  Our nice tree-lined, brick street with a speed limit of 25-ish miles per hour.  Neither my friend or I hard the car coming until it was right there.  I barely caught site of it, they were going so fast – easily above 55 miles an hour.  Did I mention we live on a brick street?  They are not exactly known for being smooth sailing for cars to drive on.

My friend and I both walked closer to the street to see where the car was going. Even the middle-school kids riding their bikes down the sidewalks made comments about how fast it was going. I got my phone out to call the police, knowing the car would already be out of sight by the time anyone answered the phone.  The kids were a bit shaken up as it was going so fast they did not hear it until it covered them in dust as it drove by.

We both heard the LOUD squealing it made down the street.  Not knowing if it was in an accident or what, my friend got into her vehicle to follow the car and try to get it’s license plate number.

The call to the police was not exactly a lot of help, but I did want to make them aware of the erratic driver in case some of their patrols were in our part of Small Town at that moment.  They took my information and thanked me for my time.  I did think it was a bit odd that the country Sheriff’s office answered the phone instead of the town police, who I had called, but knew that was standard for after hours.

When I got off the phone, I used the still shaken up feeling the kids had to remind them that this was exactly why I tell them not to play in the street or run into the street for stray balls.  ”Always get an adult to do that for you.”  There is NO WAY this car could have stopped in time if one of my kids had decided to be “funny” and go into the street.  My day would have ended very differently.

After we had come back into the house and were preparing supper, my friend/neighbor called to update me.  She had found the car, parked in a yard about half a mile from us.

“The police were already there.  As was the ambulance and the coroner.  When I got there, the kids who were riding their bicycles were also there, so I asked them what was going on.”

Apparently there was an incident involving a teen and a gun.  I’m not fully sure of the details, as I really do not need to know.  It brought back the memories of my brother too clearly. I didn’t want to know any details.

“Ah, I understand.  No wonder,” was my reply.

The kids heard my response and asked why I said that, what my friend wanted and said.  So I told them a kid friendly version, “You know how fast the car was going and how dangerous it was to drive that fast?  Well, we should never drive that fast and it is against the rules.  However, it turns out this person had a friend who was hurt and they were going to see if they could help them.”  Now, between my tears which I was trying to not shed and a voice I was trying to keep level, it took me a bit longer to say this and with slower speech.  Thankfully, the kids accepted it and moved one.  They even told their Daddy about it when he came home.  He had to clarify with them that we should still never drive that fast.  Later I told him more details.

This also did clear up why no one at the local police station answered, they were all at the scene of the accident.  I also did not call them back to tell them where the car was.  Some times it is best to be thankful no one got hurt and leave it at that.  Doesn’t make it right, but I understand.  Oh, and the squeal of the tires … that was from them stopping at the one stop sign between our house and where they were going.  It is 4 or 5 blocks away from my house, not the 1 block it sounded like.

cemetery morgue file

So, why am I sharing this? Because: “For young people 15-24 years old, suicide is the third leading cause of death.” and “There are an estimated 8 to 25 attempted suicides to 1 completion.” (Source: Save.org)  Also, because in 2011 “someone in the country died by suicide every 13.3 minutes.” (Source: AFSP.org)  Still not convinced it is an issue in this country?  How about it being the 2nd – 10th leading cause of death, depending on your age group?

Before I was personally affected by suicide, I had no idea it was such a big issue.  Many of my close friends have dealt with depression at one point or another, but none had even expressed suicidal thoughts.  Not to me at least.  I had always assumed everyone knew that there were places to turn and people to talk to if this was something you were dealing with or contemplating.  Easier said than done it seems.

In a 2011 nationally-representative sample of youth in grades 9-12:  15.8% of students reported that they had seriously considered attempting suicide during the 12 months preceding the survey; …12.8% of students reported that they made a plan about how they would attempt suicide during the 12 months preceding the survey; …”  (Source: CDC.org Suicide Datasheet)

I am not sure the incident yesterday was a suicide.  It could have been a true accident.  I am hoping it is not in the papers either way.  The family does not need publicity like that right now.  And in Small Town, it really is not needed.   Word gets around quick enough without it being front page for all to see.

But if it was a suicide, then yet another life has been stamped out too soon.  Yet another youth in our country was overcome by Satan and his lies, rather than the love of God and his promises.  Yet another family will be left ask “Why?!” and friends will be left wondering what else they could have done.

If you happen to be like those mentioned above who have contemplated suicide or even gone as far as to make a plan, know you are not alone.  It is nothing to be ashamed of, but it is also not something you should keep to yourself.  Tell someone.  Ask for help.  People are there who want to help.  Give them a call.  Send a text.  Whatever it takes.  Let someone know.

Jul 242014
 

castle toysWe have slowly been coming back to our “normal” after Simon left last week.  His bed is still up, though I should probably move it today.  We all miss him and hope things are going well where he is.  His arrival and departure were both so sudden, I think we were all shocked by the change.

Olaf has not been here this week, making it all very quiet at our house.  Or at least quiet-ER.  Perhaps this is why I am feeling able to take a few of the household tasks that seem to have crept up on me.

Poppy flower

The produce auction went okay.  Between Jack testing boundaries, loudly, I was able to get candy onions, cauliflowers, zucchini and cucumbers.  I also learned that another, older, lady was not only a foster parent but also a parenting coach.  She was such a blessing as she calmed Jack down when I couldn’t get through to him.  Sometimes it takes someone besides Mom telling you exactly what Mom has been trying to tell you for you to get it.  {sigh}  I was also a bit self-focused and throwing an internal tantrum which didn’t help me handle the situation very well.

Update: I decided to remove the tantrum I was having in my head versus the nicer words I was using.  If you missed it, know that what I was thinking was not what I said.  It did have an effect on my patience and how much empathy I was having at that moment.

Over the years I have seen many of the same people weekly all summer long as I enjoy going to these auctions.  That doesn’t always mean we get to know each other on a deep personal level right away, but slowly it happens.  Who would have ever guessed that the majority of foster parents I know is because they go to the produce auction?!  Granted, it is still less than the fingers on one hand. And that includes myself.

green onions

Today I used some of the produce to try one of the recipes out of a cookbook I am going to write a review of this week.  Great timing.  I actually tried 3 recipes at lunch and will work on another one tonight for supper, but only needed the cauliflower from the auction for the one recipe.

 first cucumber blossom of the season 2 2013

This week I was able to take advantage of a deal a local store was running.  It was super easy and resulted in a free gift card.  Not too bad for about 10 minutes of my time and less than half a gallon of gas.  Not sure if I will save this to use for a gift or for someone in our household.  Living in Small Town has made it more difficult to take advantage of a lot of the savings found in Big Town.  More difficult, but not impossible.  I’m learning to look in unique places and outside the box.  Another example: friend’s husband helped a neighbor haul off sticks from the yard, but refused payment for helping.  The neighbor offered sweet corn instead.  Friend’s husband agreed.  :)

Also found out this week that a young man we have previously had help around the house, and whom I was about to call again, was no longer a good resource to call.  Seems he made a few bad choices recently.  These are ones that will have consequences and be difficult to overcome. Living in Small Town can give you a tight network of support, but can also at times lead to making bad choices out of perceived limited opportunities.  While these decisions and choices are not unique to Small Town, it can make them harder to come back from.

“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding.  In all thy ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct thy paths.”  ~Psalms 3:5,6

I am not sure why this young made the decisions he did.  What I do know is that the road ahead of him will be difficult.  Unfortunately, I do not think he is a Christian, though he might believe in God.  Please pray for him if you think of it.

onion sets may 6 2014

While looking for skewers, to grill with, I found a bag of onion set from this spring which were not planted.  While I do NOT need more green onions, these will not go to waste.  Either I’ll plant them for a fall crop or give them to a friend.  I also found other seeds that I need to plant for a fall crop.  Cooler weather lately has made even more possible to still plant.  I took advantage this week of the cooler temperatures and planted several Bleeding Hearts in an area of the yard that does not grow grass due to shade.  My hope is that they will thrive here.

Farmer's Market Stand

With things calming down a bit here at home I decided to put the roadside stand back out.  The kids were a bit disappointed no one stopped yesterday.  My husband had to explain that people were not looking for it, “as Mommy has not been consistent in putting it out.”  It didn’t take long, though, as several people have stopped by today.  There is not a lot out there, but maybe people will begin looking for it again.  It does not take long for word to get around.

The picture above is from the farmer’s market a few years ago.  It was a season in life when this was possible, though it no longer is. I am glad I had the opportunity to do it when I did, as it was always something I wanted to try.  Perhaps again in the future, but not now.

baked apple muffins

Now, I am off to bake cupcakes with George and Jack.  My friend’s mom gave the boys a baking set with cupcake papers.  I have not heard the end of it since they received this gift.  So I’m going to be a “good mom” and ignore the housework while we go bake.  At least there will be sweet rewards at the end – ones with calories and ones of the heart.

Jul 222014
 

Garden Update 2014

  • I harvested and (finally) processed some of the green onions from the garden.  While almost half are still out there, I made room for some fall crops and got almost a gallon bag of onions for the freezer.  These will be used in stews and other dishes this fall/winter.
  • The strawberry plants are producing more, resulting in larger strawberries.  My plants are prolific producers of runners, which I think is keeping them from producing more.  Once I get a better set-up for my netting over them, I am going to start limiting the number of runners.
  • The blackberry plants are also producing, though I have not had the opportunity to cover them, so we have not actually gotten to eat any of the fruit yet.
  • My volunteer tomato turned out to be a roma tomato plant.  This is by far the best growing tomato plant in my garden this year.
  • The stevia plant in the herb garden is going to be removed this year.  It is a great growing plant, but not something I use.  The only reason it is still there was because my neighbor and friend was interested in it so I offered to let it grow.
  • My blueberry plant is making a comeback from being decimated by squirrels last year.  Still no blueberries, though I do not expect any for another year or two.Dicing an onion

Today, I am off to the produce auction for the first time in several months.  A friend is coming over for the day, from out of state, to join us.  Perhaps I should have titled this post “Onion Week”.  I am hoping to add some larger onions to my stores, dicing and freezing the majority for the upcoming  year.  Not having them in the freezer at the end of Spring made me realize exactly how much I use onion in my cooking.  It is cheaper to get them now to freeze than to buy them as I need them throughout the year.  

Last year I hung several bags in the basement toward the end of fall, hoping they would last through till this June/July.  They didn’t.  Somewhere around March and April several of them were starting to go bad and dripping dark juices onto the floor.  I had to throw away two bags worth because they were no longer usable.  They lasted about 6 months hanging from the ceiling in my dark, cool basement.  Not bad all things considered.  The plan for this year, then, was to buy throughout the growing season, using fresh as needed and freezing bags of pre-diced onions for the freezer.  As for the ones I will again store in the basement, if they even begin to look like they are going bad or growing tops, I will take them down and freeze them also.  Hopefully by not trying to process 60 lbs or so all at once I will not overburden myself and give up on doing something with them.

I have even thought about drying some of the onions and making either dried onion flakes or onion powder.  Anyone have experience doing this?  Any tips?

Jul 192014
 

babydoll handmade from Grandma collage labeledWhile looking in a bin in my closet, for toys for George and Jack, I came across a baby doll from when I was a kid.  I have had this doll so long I do not even remember when I got it.

The Grandmother it came from was great at knitting and other related activities, though it was my other Grandmother who did the crocheting and quilting.  While this doll may not have all the fancy functions the dolls in the stores do today, I remember loving the size and how it felt holding it.  It was the perfect size for my little hand and arms.  It also had a built in blanket that make it look like a baby snuggled down in your arms.

As I have gotten older, I am amazed by exactly what she was able to make.  They may not have had a lot of money, but if you gave her some yarn she could make some of the most beautiful things.

Modest Mom blog button copy

Jul 182014
 

close up unfinished new porch swing

When someone asks what gift they can get me, I tend to think along the lines of practical.  While a porch swing may not necessarily be something I NEED, the one we had and spend quite a bit of time on as a family, was falling apart.  My wonderful parents gifted us this swing for Christmas, though it was a bit delayed due to weddings and moving by several of the maker’s children.  Understandable.  Besides, with a colder than normal winter and several inches of snow on the ground most of the time, it was not like we were itching to spend tons of time outside swinging.

As a bonus, you all get to see my messy garage.  I chose to stain and seal the swing this particular day rather than clean up the garage.  I thought I would have time for both, but the swing took a lot longer than I anticipated.  That happens fairly often with me. :)

unfinished new porch swingThe sealer I chose to use came tinted (Thompson’s WaterSeal Advanced Tinted Wood Protector).  This saved me the extra step and drying time of applying a separate stain.  It was also a one coat application.  The initial color scared me, as it was quite a bit more orange and … 70-ish than I wanted.  However, once it dried it was exactly what I was looking for.

Now to find a cushion to fit the full 6 feet.  I’ve been looking online but have not decided upon anything yet.  Any suggestions?

Jul 152014
 

Garden Update 2014

♦I harvested all the onions from the raised bed pictured below.  I knew that if nothing else got planted this year, I at least wanted a large crop of green onions.  With all that has been going on, the harvesting of these kept getting put off.  I decided to use some time outside, when the kids wanted to play, to week around my bed and harvest these.  There are probably several that were missed, so I’ll do a quick search again in a day or so.  The wood chips made harvesting easy – I could either pull them up, or turn over the wood chips to reveal bulbs who’s tops had already disappeared.

♦While putting up the onions mentioned above, I figured out what the rabbit had been so interested in in this area – it has been trying to build a nest.  I think I kept chasing it off in time.  Next garden project, new stakes and a fence with smaller openings.

♦Blackberries are beginning to turn.  I really  need to cover them and am not quite sure how to go about it – drape bird netting over them or make a frame.  Any suggestions?
♦The potatoes I planted VERY late are growing well.  I need to mound dirt up around them … after I pull weeds first.  Wonder if they will actually grow any potatoes or it the squirrels will get to them first?

onion sets may 6 2014

♦Jack “discovered” a long line of ants migrating in mass down our sidewalk.  Curious boy that he is, he discovered where they came from, then tried to follow them to their end destination.  (I stopped him when he started to get too far away.)

Then he tried to stop them by putting his toys in their way.  Then he tried his wagon.  Boy was he upset when I made him bring all his cones and wagon back as he was completely blocking the main sidewalk (people regularly use this side walk) and had gone further than I told him – “It is not okay to try something if you have to disobey in order to do so.”  Hard concept for a young boy to learn.

After I thwarted his plans, he decided to take to the road with his bicycle (i.e. he ran them over).

Soon thereafter he comes to me and says, “Mom, these ants don’t bite.  You were wrong.”

“Oh, how do you know this?” I ask back.

“Because I stuck my hand in the middle of them,” he replies very simply and matter of fact.

Yes, he is very much a hands-on learner.

♦The day following the above adventure, the ants were still out and about.  How do I know?  This “news flash” from Goldbug, “Mom, I was wrong.  Those ants do bite.  One just bit my back.”  Now, I’m not sure how it got on his back as he was riding his bike.  I didn’t go there.

Not 5 minutes later George come running to me, crying and screaming “Get it off!  It hurts, it hurts!  Mommy!”  Yup, he had an ant that found its way into his sandal and was not happy.  Thinking logically, I asked him if he had not heard his brother just a few minutes before?  ”Did you think he was telling story or something?”

“I was not on the sidewalk.  I was in the grass (along the sidewalk) watching them.  Mommy, make it stop hurting.”  Much wailing proceeded until I could calm the kid down.

Good thing we do not live in fire ant country anymore.  These kids have NO idea what pain from an ant bite really is.

♦Had a family get together with some relatives we had never met – actually recently “found” them.  Made me think about George and Jack and how adoption can make things like tracing your heritage and knowing your blood relatives harder.  Also showed me just how different things are now than they were a few generations ago.

♦Have four kids this past week would have been a whole lot easier if swimming lessons had not also been happening.  OR if I actually had a vehicle that could hold this many kids.  Walking to the pool took about 10 times as long as it would have driving.  This made making lunches difficult, so I used the crockpot as much as possible and reverted to sandwiches only one day.

Jul 142014
 

Total as of July 14th = 1375 Swagbucks. 3125 Swagbucks left to earn (184 per day).


At the beginning of July I set a personal challenge for myself – in the month of July I wanted to earn enough Swagbucks to be able to redeem for $50 in Amazon gift cards.  This amount came out to 4500 Swagbucks (450 SBs for one $5 gift card x 10, note* you can only redeem for five $5 Amazon cards each month.)

Not only did I want to reach the goal of having a certain amount of Swagbucks, but also to be able to do it without spending all my time earning these.  I found out in June that it was very easy to earn this amount (earned enough to buy cloth training pants), and more, but it also took a lot of my attention.  I wanted to see if it was possible, while having Life happen.

So far in July we have traveled out of state, added another kid to the mix, added back in babysitting, beginning major home repair work, and lack of a clothes washer for a bit.  Yup, I think we have Life down.

As things are always more fun with others, I also challenged you to set a goal for yourself and see if you could reach it.

There have been many days when I have not been able to do much or anything at all.  For certain I will not be getting the 30 Day Daily Goal Bonus.  That does not mean I should just give up. I need to start from where I am and keep going.  Any progress is better than none.

 

Below you can see my progress, at the beginning of each date listed:

July 14 – 1375 Swagbucks

July 12 – 1368 SBs

July 8 – 1206 SBs

July 4 – 897 SBs

July beginning balance – 487 SBs

Jul 132014
 

Weekly Menu Plan May 2013

3 weeks without posting my meal plan may have left you thinking I have not actually done this vital planning for our family.  Contrary to the evidence, that is not the case.  The menu planning has been active and well in our household.  It was the step in posting it for others to see that was lacking.

Somehow, that last step is what actually makes it seem “real”.  Is my meal plan an actual plan if I am the only one to see it?  Yes, I post it on the fridge.  In a household with 3 learning or non-readers and a husband who doesn’t take time to look, though, I’m pretty much the only person who takes note of the plan.  Since I make all the meals, I guess it does not really matter if anyone else sees them … I just love the fact that it all looks so nice and orderly printed off.  Oh how I ENJOY a great list.

Simon is still here and I am learning likes and dislikes.  Compared to George and Jack, who have food issues related to their pasts, Simon is odd: he does not over eat, actually has foods he does not like, and can control himself around “free” food. So this is what it is like to have a “normal” kid.  :) I am learning his appetite is not as large and George and Jack, but neither is his energy level.  I try to make something I think he will like at every meal, but am still learning.  He did not really like the beef stew I made two weeks ago, but ate a bowl full of beef curry and rice last week then asked for more.  The difference was the form of meat – chunks versus ground beef.  These are small things that most parents learn over time and may not even realize they are learning.  I feel like I am on a crash course in “Learning Simon”.

Breakfasts:

  1. Traveling
  2. Cereal
  3. Cereal
  4. Bread Pudding (crockpot)
  5. Shakes
  6. Hot Rice Cereal with Nuts
  7. Traveling

Lunch:

  1. Traveling
  2. Pizza (one homemade, one frozen)
  3. Breaded tenderized meat, steamed carrots, peas, potatoes with paprika sauce
  4. Dad’s Meatloaf with Tomato Relish, shredded carrot salad, oven baked sweet potato fries
  5. Sweet and Sour Chicken, beets, corn
  6. Red Lentil Dal, cornbread muffins
  7. Husband – on his own/sandwiches, Everyone else – at activity (they are serving lunch)

Supper:

  1. Watermelon, PB&J sandwiches
  2. Eggs, toast, grits, fruit
  3. Tomato soup, cornbread muffins
  4. Spaghetti and Meatballs (using leftover meatballs)
  5. Falafel, leftover carrot salad and veggies
  6. Leftovers
  7. Spicy Pan Fried Sirloin Steak with Noodles

Desserts/Snacks:

  1. Bananas Foster – crockpot

 

Linked up with OrgJunkie and Feeding Big.

For more ideas also check out This Week For Dinner.

Also check out Confessions of a Homeschooler’s  July’s Monthly Meal Plan.

This post contains an affiliate link for Plan to Eat.  I have been blessed by this service and highly recommend it to anyone looking to make their meal time planning (and shopping) easier.

Jul 112014
 

mason jars

With the 2014 Gardening season in full swing, you may have already started to add to your canned produce supply.  Even if you haven’t, here are a few things you may want to consider before things get too far along:

  • take stock of what you have.  What are you running low on or have too much of?
  • are you short of or beyond blessed with a certain kind of jar size?
  • what are some of the things you canned last year that were a hit?  which did you family have to be coerced into eating? (You may not want to can that last group this year.  Just a suggestion.)
  • do you have leftover supplies from last year that need to be used up this year?
  • is there anything left in your freezer that you want to can or cook before this season’s fruits/vegetables become ripe?

While you are looking at what you have canned up, make sure you follow the FIFO rule – First In, First Out.  Move the jars from the 2013 season to the front and add new jars from 2014 to the back.  This way you will avoid the wonderful surprise of 5 year old jar of peaches that now look more like creamed corn.  (Can you name the movie that comment was inspired by?)

After spending all the time canning produce from your garden or elsewhere, the last thing you want to happen is to have jar go bad and not realize it till you “smell thing funky” when you go to your pantry.

Take a few minutes to look over the jars you have.

Are they all still sealed?

Do any need to be wiped down?  If so, do it now before you forget.

If any have gone bad, dump the contents and sanitize the jars.  Check for chips before storing them till they are needed again.

Happy canning!