Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A Typical Dinner Prayer

"Dear God, thank-you that Daddy gets to go to work and that Jesus getted to die for our sins and for mac and cheese for lunch. In Jesus' name, amen."

Friday, September 25, 2009

An Insanely Sane First Two Weeks

I had intended to write something witty and amusing about our crazy first week of school, but here it is the end of week two and nothing remarkably bizarre has happened yet, which is rather remarkable in itself.

I had anticipated a stressful year because I'm essentially teaching three grades (Levi and Luke are at such different levels academically), all of which require a lot of teacher time. But to my pleasant surprise, Isaac and Luke are able to work more independently than I had expected, allowing all three boys to be working at once, at least for brief periods of time. Throw in the few group subjects and things have been falling nicely into place.

Despite my optimistic nature, I can't help but wonder "what's wrong?" and "when is this all going to come crashing down?"

I have noticed a few little quirks -- not problems, just quirks -- that I'm not going to let bother me. For instance, Luke does his math problems in random order. He'll start at the top of the page (sometimes), then work down the side, or skip to the bottom and come back up. Sometimes he'll miss one in the middle somewhere, so I make sure to check that they're all completed before he leaves the table.

To my surprise and delight, Isaac is very excited about the journal I'm having him keep. Three days a week I have him write a few sentences about whatever he wants -- really, WHATEVER he wants. I told him he could even write "I don't know what to write. I don't like this journal. Have I written enough yet?" Amazingly he chooses to write about our family, exciting happenings in our home and other things that interest him. It's good penmanship, spelling and grammar practice for him, but really it's more for my benefit because it allows me to assess which English areas need more attention and practice.

Levi has also surprised me with his reading progress. He struggled so hard last year to connect the name, sound and visual of the letters of the alphabet, but now he's putting them together and sounding out simple words and not hating it! Thank-you, Lord! This is truly an answer to prayer. I really thought we had a severe dyslexic on our hands, and maybe there is some of that in him, but the past two weeks have shown me that it's not as bad as I had worried it might be. I know, I know, we're still only on lesson 8 ("Dan has an ax. Max was mad."), but that's eight lessons more than he got through last year!

I'm sure we'll have our share of hairy days this year, and likely by next May the boys will have tired of subjects that interest them now, but for now I'm thanking God for every day that we get through without moaning, groaning, tears or tempers... or me having to lock myself in a bathroom for a parent/teacher conference.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

An Interview with Kerri Howard

(Harv Estman, a deep radio-announcer-type voice) This is Harv Estman with the 2009 garden report and our special guest, gardener Kerri Howard. Welcome to the show, Kerri.

(Kerri) Thanks for having me, Harv. It's my pleasure to be here!

(Harv) Produce is still trickling in from the Howard garden, but already the pantry is well stocked for the coming winter and beyond. Kerri, tell us how you feel about this year's harvest.

(Kerri) It's been a great year in the garden, for sure! With the late planting we had for some of our veggies, and the lack of super hot days, I wondered whether all of the crops would thrive, but I've been pleasantly surprised.

(Harv) Is there anything that didn't fare well this year?

(Kerri) Two things. The cantaloupes really needed a longer growing season. They're the size of baseballs now, so unless the summery weather continues for several more weeks, those just aren't going to happen for us. The other crop flop was the broccoli, which really grew well, but it ended up full of worms. Next time I'm going to have to spray it earlier in the year to keep the bugs away.

(Harv) I see your pantry is filled with beans and pickles. How much produce have you canned this year?

(Kerri) We've got about 30 quarts plus 30 pints of green beans, and those are done for the year, other than gleaning the occasional handful for dinner. I've got 34 quarts of dill pickles, and those are still producing a little, but they're definitely slowing down. I may get another three or four quarts off of them yet. There are also ten pints of salsa hiding in there somewhere and I'm hoping to make another batch this week as more tomatoes ripen up.

(Harv) Does that represent the majority of your gardening?

(Kerri) The beans were definitely a good portion of the garden, as are the tomatoes, but we've also been enjoying lots of corn on the cob, which you won't see in the pantry. Those are definitely the three biggest space-takers in the garden this year, with cucumbers and pumpkins coming in close behind.

(Harv) Is there anything else you planted this year?

(Kerri) We did have carrots earlier in the summer. We've been enjoying strawberries since June -- they're ever-bearing plants and will keep on going until a hard frost. Besides tomatoes for salsa, we also have four cherry tomato plants which have been going great guns! We've got lots of zucchini, which I've been pawning off on anyone who will take it. Would you like some?

(Harv, laughing) That's very generous of you, but remember I'm only a fictional character. I don't really eat anything.

(Kerri) Oh, right, sorry. Let's see, the pumpkins are coming along nicely and I'm optimistic that they'll be big, beautiful and orange by Halloween. We planted raspberries this year, but they're just baby plants yet and only produced a handful of berries. Oh, dill! I'm so glad I planted dill! With all the pickles I've been doing it's been a lifesaver having a very abundant supply of dill on hand!

(Harv) Will next year's garden be much the same as this year's?

(Kerri) Some things I'll always plant -- corn, pumpkins, tomatoes, beans. But I've been able to can enough beans and cucumbers this year that I probably won't need to do any next year, so I may just plant a few to eat fresh and try something different in their places next summer, possibly potatoes, maybe some onions and garlic.

(Harv) Sounds delicious! If I had a mouth I'm certain it would be watering! That wraps up our interview with Kerri Howard and the 2009 garden report. Thanks for taking the time to talk with me, Kerri, and thank-you to all our listeners for tuning in!

Monday, September 21, 2009

And I Quote Again

This morning as Wade scooped Luke up into a big hug, he said to Lukey, "You're getting too big. We gotta get you to stop growing."

Luke's suggestion: "Maybe if I stopped eating my vegetables?"

Sunday, September 20, 2009

And I Quote...

We've instated a new rule in our home -- computerless Sundays (I know, here I am blogging, but the kids are in bed and don't you dare tell them!). Videos are still fine, but no computer or video games on Sundays... which I could go on about, and probably will sometime, but not now; this is all the background you need for this quote.

Papa got out his computer to watch a dvd on with the boys, and he says to them, "Let's be naughty!" to which Lukey replied, "Let's not, and say we did."

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Whatever it Takes

So much for "You have to finish your dinner before being excused."

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Garden Business

It's not that I've been intentionally neglecting the blog, it's just that this is the pile of veggies coming out of the garden every other day, and picking, washing, prepping and canning them takes a bit of time. On the alternate days there's also a pint or two of strawberries. So far I'm up to about 35 quarts worth of green beans and 14 quarts of dill pickles canned and stacked in the pantry. The cherry tomatoes get eaten as fast as I can pick them (the boys think they're candy), and I'm pawning off zucchini on anyone who will take it (if I'd realized how abundant they would be, I would have planted just a few seeds instead of the whole package!).

The corn is also coming on (we've eaten a few ears and are hoping for more this weekend), and three of the literally hundreds of tomatoes (the full-size ones, that is) have finally ripened up. Hopefully the rest follow suit before frost so I can get some salsa made! The pumpkins are small yet, but I'm optimistic that by the middle of October they'll be good carving size. The largest cantaloupes are the size of grapes... I'm not holding out hope for them this year. Oh well. The broccoli is also coming along nicely, but so far the bug spray I used on them has not been effective. If I don't find something else soon I may just have to abandon that crop because cooking up little green worms would gross me out for days!