Friday, August 31, 2012

My Husband Went to Alaska and All I Got Was Nine Days at Home with Four Kids

The jobbity-job has been getting the old man down lately, so I sent him away to burn some of his vacation days at his ancestral home in the wilds of southeastern Alaska. For the next nine days, this will be his view...

Literally, this is what you see out the window of his parents' living room. Well, unless it's rainy and foggy, which is likely. Fortunately, my mountain man delights in the drizzle of his native climate.
For the next nine days, my view will continue to be this...

Really I couldn't ask for a better day to start my stretch of single parenting. We've been hanging out in the yard in the lovely weather, playing on blankets and in the wading pool, and eating a nice picnic lunch. I loved hearing the oldest tell his friend, "I've got a few things to do around the house before I can chill." My fears that they just might break me here all by myself have been at least temporarily allayed.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Gooseberry Falls State Park

Last year, we waited too long to do our annual day trip to the north shore of Lake Superior. Morning sickness set in and it never happened. Since Josh is off to Alaska next weekend, this was our last chance before school starts to head up, so we seized the opportunity even though the drizzle was pretty steady for most of the drive.

Our goal was a cookout at Gooseberry Falls State Park. Turns out the rain earlier in the day meant the park was a lot less crowded than usual. We found the perfect spot with an amazing view of the lake. The weather complied and dried up just in time for us to start our fire. We alternated our time between wandering the beach and cooking hot dogs.
The nice thing about a day trip is that you can get the kids out of the situation when the post-toasted-marshmallow freak out happens. When they crash in the car and sleep all the way home, Josh and I get to enjoy uninterrupted conversation.
And I love it  when, the next day at home, we all still smell like campfire.
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Sunday, August 26, 2012

Four Months Old

It's funny to see weather headlines proclaiming things like "Isaac to Wreak Havoc on the U.S." I picture my little baby Godzilla pounding the coast with his flailing legs and fists, his tears pouring like rain over the indignity of a wet diaper. It appears the news is as obsessed with Isaac as we our with our own darling hurricane in the making.
He's developing some heft. Papa calls him the Michelin Man, and I rejoice over his rolls of fat because everything he eats at this point comes from my body. I'm clearly making whole milk this time, and he cries out "ma ma ma ma" when his tummy is empty. We love his smiles, coos, and nasally laugh. When we take him out, people are drawn to him, but usually the feeling is not mutual. He's still a mama's boy, but is starting to realize that his dad and brothers are not so bad. He will allow them to adore him...sometimes.

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Tuesday, August 21, 2012


Neighbor Girl: Do you want to have a baby, Charlie?

Charlie: We already got a baby.

Neighbor Girl (putting soccer ball under her shirt): No, I mean when you get older, do you want to have a baby with me?

Charlie: Okay.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Crab Apple Jelly: Adventures in Urban Foraging

On my regular walk to the YMCA, I noticed a couple of crab apple trees on the grounds of an office building I pass. Since Josh's foraging adventures with wild black raspberries were so successful, I thought to myself, "Maybe I can make something out of these. They're just falling on the ground and rotting."
Thankfully we live in the age of the Internet and there is a magical portal of information accessible at any time that can give a would-be forager ideas of what one does with things like crab apples. After learning some basics on the web, I ended up finding a good recipe for crab apple jelly in my old standby, Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving. I picked a bunch of crab apples for a couple of days on my walk back from working out.

Crab apple jelly is a two stage recipe, which starts with making crab apple juice. You cut off the stem and blossom ends, quarter them, cover with water and boil them until they are soft. I put some cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, and ginger crystals in the mix because I thought it might add a nice mulled cider quality to the jelly. When the crab apples are soft you strain the whole mess through a couple of layers of cheesecloth and get this awesome bright pink viscose liquid.

Part two is to make the actual jelly. Now here's the part where I admit the epic jelly fail I had the first time out of the shoot. Turns out when they say in the recipe that you are supposed to monitor the boiling juice/sugar mix carefully and stir frequently, they mean don't go play with your baby for 10 minutes in the middle of the process or you will leave this lovely pink foaming solution and return to a brownish, caramelized sticky mess that hardens into something like burnt-flavored hard candy when it cools.

Nevertheless, a spirit of adventure is a prerequisite for being an urban forager so I was disappointed but not disheartened in my endeavor to make that jelly. More picking, more trimming and quartering, more juice making ensued followed by VERY CAREFUL minding of the jelly.
I haven't tasted the final product yet (and I was conservative in taking it off the heat, so it may end up being more of a syrup than a jelly), but it sure looks lovely in the jars.

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Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Swim Lessons

This boy needs stuff to do. He's a bounding, whirling, chatty burst of sunshine as befitting a babe born on the summer solstice.

 (The rare thoughtful side of Charlie)
So weekday mornings, we go to swimming lessons and I watch as he applies the enthusiasm he has for everything to learning how to be safe and have fun in the water. So far, Isaac seems less outgoing than Charlie, so unless I luck out and he's asleep, I bounce around with a crying baby who hates being in the bright sunshine with a bunch of strangers. Children can be so different.

It makes me happy to make Charlie so happy with all the activities I find for him. It seems my job is to direct his energy and go along for the very fun ride. When he's home and he draws pictures and writes stories about swim class, and dance class, and whatever else I've signed him up for, I know I'm doing right by this boy, who wants to move at a full-on run out into the world and embrace what he finds. 

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