30 September 2010

Late night update

It's after 11 p.m. here and I have a baby boy inside me who has hiccups, I think. Only they are the kind of hiccups that apparently cause his entire body to flail rhythmically against my bladder. I should be asleep. But feeling like I need to pee every 30 seconds is not conducive to sleep, regardless of how tired I happen to be. So, I sit here. Very awake.
I have been working for a bit on trying to begin crocheting a rag rug. I bought a bunch of sheets from the thrift store today for $1.25 and ripped them into strips. I was inspired to do so after looking for rugs for the bedrooms of the new house and realizing how bloody expensive those things are, even second-hand. I am sure I'll be able to make a couple of decent rug for the girls' room and the nursery for less than $10 each. If my wrist holds out, that is. Right now, my largest hook is a K hook. I think I need at least an M. My hand is cramped from pulling the fabric so hard. On the plus side, though, the rug is nice and tight. On the negative side, I may not be able to use my right hand tomorrow.
I'm doing my crochet while listening to Andrew Peterson. I am so, so, so excited to have found a Christian artist, other than Fernando, whom I absolutely adore!! I love Peterson's voice, his melodies, his harmonies, the way his albums are produced, his lyrics... everything. Love it. I think Counting Stars is my favorite album, but that might be just because I've listened to it most. It's just so good!
I really should be asleep. We had a mostly good day which, once again, had a bit of friction in it today. This happens to us most Thursdays and I think it's because we just don't have enough sleep/ rest/ recovery from the night before. We have a great kids' program at our church on Wednesday nights. Annalivia was involved in it last year and really enjoyed it and Dennis ran the sound for the program. But this year, Dennis is working on the house, so Daniel, Emmeliese and I have been taking Annalivia to the church and then helping with the nursery care. We get home late about 8:30 on Wednesday nights and get in bed by 9:30, usually, but I think it's kicking our rears. I'm considering having us take a break until after Christmas. In fact, I think I've mostly decided that we need to take the break. I hate to leave behind such a good thing, but I know we need to choose the better thing, which is peace between us all at a pretty hectic time. I just need to get up the courage to tell the pastor that I'm leaving him without a nursery attendant.
Tomorrow, we are going to go to the apple orchard, I think, with my niece and pick the last of our fall apples. I've been canning applesauce and apple butter and apple/cherry jelly, but I think I need to get some apples and make some applesauce to just freeze and eat in the next few weeks. My children love homemade applesauce so much; they will eat quarts of it at a time if I let them, which I do since I don't add sugar to it and the fiber in it tends to help their little digestive systems. I'd like to have some available over the next weeks without breaking into the canned stuff until later in the winter.
Anyway, I best go to bed. In just a few minutes, it will be the first day of October, which means 4 weeks until we move into our house, 8 weeks until Thanksgiving, 11ish weeks of pregnancy and 12 weeks until Christmas. Goodness, that's a lot to do.

19 September 2010

Because blogs never tell the whole truth

It was a day when nothing and no one fired on full cylinders here. It was cloudy and raining and everyone in the family was tired and fussy from the beginning of the day, all the way through to the end. At some point we sent Daniel and Annalivia up to their beds to just chill out for a bit, away from us, and sort of separated from each other, and Daniel fell asleep. It was obvious from his behavior before his nap that he was exhausted, so we were thankful. Until we realized he was going to have to get up again. I was getting supper together and Dennis asked if there was anything he could do. I told him he could go wake up Daniel. He grimmaced and said, "Is there anything else I can do?"
His foreboding was spot on. Daniel got up and sat on the stairs and sobbed for a good 20 minutes while the rest of us ate dinner. And in the midst of that lovely ambiance, Dennis declared, "I think we need a do-over today."
I think so, too. It's time for bed and, thankfully, we get to start over tomorrow.

11 September 2010

Yum, yum, yum...delicioso!

Last week, my sister tipped me off to a great little apple orchard near here that only charges $1/lb of apples. The kids and I went and picked a bushel of gorgeous, juicy Jonathons. That many apples inspires apple pie and applesauce. But I wanted to do something new, so, the last few days I spent canning applesauce and finally decided to make apple butter for the first time.
Since I've never made apple butter before, I didn't really know what I was doing. I just put two big batches of pure applesauce in my dutch oven and added some brown sugar, cinnamon sticks, ginger, cardamon, and cloves -- way too many cloves since I added the other spices first and assumed the cloves had one of those little sifter things over the opening. It didn't. I ended up scraping up a whole lotta cloves and throwing it away. I also tasted it as I got it going and decided it needed some molasses and stevia, so I added those, too.
About two hours into it cooking, it occurred to me to look up a recipe for apple butter. All of the recipes I found referred to reducing the applesauce and adding a teaspoon or two of cinnamon and a bit of cloves in the last hour or just before finishing. I was worried. I had added a whole lotta cloves... and other spices. And up front.
But I kept stirring for hours. Finally, I was tired of checking on it, so I turned it up to high and pulled up a stool in front of it and stirred it near-constantly until it was reduced by half. Then I canned it.
There was just a bit left over and I stuck that in the refrigerator. I had been tasting it as it was cooking and thought it was good, but just that -- good. Tonight I got it out of the refrigerator for our bedtime snack and spread it on some thick slices of homemade bread and.... ooooooooh, aaaaaaah....mmmmmmm.... total deliciousness.
I was thinking that the stuff I canned I would give away as Christmas presents, but I'm not sure I can wait to share this goodness! Apple butter -- the highly spiced kind -- is going to be a regular fall event around here. It is SOOOOOOO delicious!!

02 September 2010

School and play

What a day this was!

School went fairly well today. I've realized, though, that Annalivia needs to go back and do the Primer in Math-U-See instead of starting with Alpha. I had read that the Alpha program covered everything in Primer and that it was very repetitive. But she is genuinely frustrated and I think she inherited my propensity to be truly anxious about math if she doesn't understand. (Aside -- if Math-U-See was not such a cool program, I would ditch it based on the pain-in-the-rear website and terrible phone customer service. Talk about frustrating!)

As I took the kids to Mom's for lunch, I "happened" to turn on the radio and heard a Family Talk program about homeschooling with a mother and father with 7 kids who are veteran homeschoolers. It was such a reassuring message and reminded me to focus every day on why we've decided to start doing this in the first place. One of the main reasons was to be able to teach our kids at their pace and instill in them a real love of learning from their first educational experiences. I think we'll change some things around to do that. Probably I'll understand more about what changes to make after four months, as opposed to four days. :)

Also around lunch, our kitchen cabinets were delivered to the new house. They are so amazing! We had a friend from church who was laid off from the custom cabinet shop where he worked for 13 years and then decided to form a business with a friend, do the work for us. They are so amazing. The kitchen and bathroom both have a 10-foot floor-to-ceiling cabinet in them that house the laundry chute and the space for the future dumbwaiter. It is so cool -- exactly what we imagined! Awesome!

For dinner, Dennis and I got to go on a date without the kids thanks to my mother's generous offer to hang out with all three of them for a couple of hours. It was so nice to just be together without having to cut up anyone's food or make sure the drinks were out of the way of Emmeliese's grabby hands.

When we came home, we drove through a major rainstorm and then picked up the kids and went to the new house. The rain slowed when we pulled in the drive and Daniel, who has been wearing constantly his "fire boots" (rain boots that look like firemen's boots) began jumping in puddles in the yard. Pretty soon Emmeliese joined in. Annalivia finally got into things and all three got very wet and muddy. I asked if they wanted to walk back to the house we rent and they said yes, so the four of us walked home while Daddy drove the van. We went through another dozen puddles. Daniel's boots were full of water, Emmeliese sat down in a puddle and Annalivia did so much jumping that her skirt and legs were splattered with mud all the way to her belly. It was so fun to see them having so much fun! When we got about halfway down our block, here came Dennis with his rubber boots on over his jeans. I was more impressed than the kids, I think, but it was sweet to see Daddy join in.

And, finally, tonight after the kids were to bed, I made up some baking mix and I'm going to turn on the oven tomorrow!! The storm was the leading edge of a big front that is bringing wind and cooler temps overnight. The high for tomorrow is supposed to be 74! Oh, so glad for fall!! I think we'll celebrate by taking a field trip to an apple orchard. Since we're homeschoolers now, we can beat the weekend crowds. At least, that's how I hope it will work!

01 September 2010

Hump day

Tonight the kids started our church's mid-week program. Daniel desperately wanted to attend, though the program is supposed to start with 4-year olds. Dennis volunteers and so, technically, Daniel could get special dispensation to attend. Dennis and Annalivia left early and talked to the pastor who agreed Daniel could try it so Dennis called me and I took Daniel over to the church.

Before we left, I gave Daniel a little lecture about listening to his teacher and obeying. He was ok with that. I also told him he couldn't fuss and he couldn't cry for Daddy. His lip trembled a little and he said, "Can I just give Daddy a hug?" I told him I was sure it was fine. I'm anxious to hear how it went when they all get home in an hour or so.

We've been working a lot with Daniel about fussing. He throws himself on the ground way too often, kicking his little legs and hyperventalating. I haven't figured out the solution. Time-outs are ok, but not effective enough (i.e. there's too much time to fuss until he turns it off). Daniel doesn't respond very well to swats, either. I don't know. Dennis and I are sort of just praying through it, trying new things, and asking for wisdom from God in how to treat Daniel with both truth AND grace. It's a little hard.

As for school, after yesterday's success, I was sort of thinking today would be smooth. But it was a more challenging day in the McStew house. We all slept late, it was grey and raining, and it was hot and humid. Not a great combination. Annalivia got downstairs before I did and turned on a movie, which I had to turn off to eat breakfast and start school. But we soldiered through, managed the punky attitudes during math, and set some ground rules on tv usage. And it was ok -- not ideal, but ok. That, in and of itself, was sort of comforting.

And now, Emmeliese and I are home alone, getting ready to give her a bath and then put her to bed, clean up the house and get towards bed myself. It really has been a good day, in retrospect. I'm thankful for it.