Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Over the river

We weren't able to decorate cookies last night, due to Number Three Son's Tae Kwon Do testing running late. He tested for his blue belt and passed with flying colors. Three kicks to break his board, which is pretty awesome considering he was doing a step-behind-side-kick to break. He is always on such a high after testing, it is a huge ego boost for him to succeed. I love it.

So, we decorated cookies this afternoon. I whipped up some colored icing and fished out the sprinkles, chocolate chips and M&Ms from the cupboard. Surprisingly, most of the icing did end up on the gingerbread men rather than on my monkeys. Great fun was had and the sugar high from snitching candy and licking iced fingers only lasted for an hour or so.

Even Hubby participated in the decorating. While baking them on Saturday, I had experimented with pressing some of the dough through a garlic press, trying to make gingerbread hair. On one of the cookies I used the 'hair' to make a long beard. After baking, hubby and I realized this particular 'man' looked very much like an 'Ood,' which for those of you who aren't Dr. Who fans (you poor souls), is a particular alien with face tendrils. So hubby laid claim to that cookie and decorated it appropriately.

It may be awhile before I post again; tomorrow morning we are all heading over the river (several rivers, in fact) and through the woods (again, many different woods) to Grandmother's house for Christmas. It will be a lovely, family-filled holiday and we are all looking forward to it. I just hope the heavy snow holds off until we get there ...

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Morning so far

I woke up late to the smell of pancakes. Downstairs the boys are just finishing their breakfast and hubby hands me a plate and a cup of tea. Owen and Graham rush back upstairs to play and Benjamin climbs up to sit on my knee while I eat.

Benjamin tells me 'I want a snack' and points to the countertop. 'You just ate breakfast' I say. Benjamin says 'I want one of those' and slides off my knee to point to the tupperware full of naked gingerbread men that I baked last night. 'You can't have one of those,' Hubby says. Benjamin's face begins to pout. I tell him, 'We'll decorate those when I come home.'

'But I already have one,' he says. Hubby and I look at eachother. 'Can you open that container, Benjamin?' Hubby asks. Benjamin grabs the tupperware and pries off the lid in mere seconds. 'Did you already have one of those this morning?' I ask him. 'Yes, I did.' He is very pleased with himself. I smile. 'Well, no more until later.' 'Okay,' he says and scampers off to find his brothers.

A little bit later I bundle up and head out to work. We've gotten a few inches of new snow since last night, light airy snow that brushes easily from my windshield. Sally Cat and Calico run toward me, hoping for table scraps. Sorry kitties, we ate all the pancakes. I tell them they'll likely have lots of meaty bone leftovers from our spare rib supper tonight.

The goats bleat raggedly at me. The first bleats of the day are a bit hoarse, like the first words spoken in the morning. They stand at the door of their barn, staring at me. I tell them I'll give them grain when I get home. They watch me as I get into the car and drive out of the yard.

Seven minutes later I am at the park. Two cars have been here before me, leaving their tire tracks in the new snow. They must have scared the deer away from the office; all I see are trails of tracks loping away into the trees.

I walk up to the building and see the stalagmite icicle beneath our furnace vent. I am reminded to check the LP level on the tank -- down to 22%. Better call the co-op tomorrow morning for a delivery.

Inside the office it is warm and quiet. I sit at my desk and look up to see the pictures Graham drew for me on post-it notes hanging on the wall. They are pictures of him and me holding hands. On one he drew us inside a house, and asked me to write 'I love you.' He is in kindergarten, still learning to write. Soon he will be able to write his own love letters to me.

I sigh, and try to focus on work. There are lots of deadlines coming up, lots of reports to write before the end of the year. But all I can think about is decorating gingerbread cookies and how much frosting will stick to my kids vs. the cookies this evening. And how much fun we will have, listening to Christmas carols and sneaking gingerbread bites.

I smile. It's been a good morning so far.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Things and other things

The family has mostly recovered from the stomach funk. I am the only one that has any lingering effects, the details of which I will spare the reader. Needless to say I am still fairly weak, which makes it a whole lot harder trying to catch up with all the stuff that didn't get done last week. I still have presents to wrap, cookies to bake, an entire house to clean and errands to run. And only four more days in which to do it, before we leave for Grandma's house on the 22nd.

We'll have two Christmas' this year, one on the proper date at Grandma's house, and another on New Years Day at our house. Hence the need for house cleaning. Hubby's father and brothers with their families will be staying with us for several days. Lots of family and kids and fun, but lots of preparation to be done. I haven't even thought about menu planning yet. It's hard to ponder cooking when the thought of a simple cheese sandwich makes you emit tiny gurgling, gagging sounds.

The weather outside right now is cold, about 20 degrees, which is not as cold as it was last week but is still cold enough. It's also very grey outside. And very still. The days are so short that even now, at 3:30 in the afternoon, the skies are starting to darken.

The weather echoes my mood. I'm feeling kinda grey. Partly due to the recent sick, but also due to several things going on with my extended family. Several not-very-good things that I can't really talk about, because they don't directly involve me but still affect me. Not just one or two things, but several things that have piled upon eachother this holiday season.

So, I am trying to look around for other things, more cheerful things to think (and write) about. Let's see.

One thing -- our goats are back! And hopefully bred. After being gone so long, it is strange to suddenly hear them bleat at me whenever I go outside. Strange, but comforting.

Another thing -- Number Two Son had his kindergarten Christmas concert at school yesterday, which was very fun. Here is his class with their antlers on, preparing to do the 'reindeer hokey-pokey.'

Another thing -- Number Three Son pooped in the toilet again today. Might not seem like a big deal to most folks, but for parents with little ones who stubbornly refuse potty training, it is. We've been potty training for two weeks now, with little progress to show for it, but we have faith that eventually something will click in that young brain of his and he'll start heading for the bathroom all on his own.

There are many other cheerful things of course. Health, happiness, security, home, love -- all the things that really count. I just need to focus on the good things, and not get bogged down by the rest.

I hope all of you are happy and healthy and hopeful this holiday season. Much thanks to all of you who leave comments on this weblog, I do enjoy hearing from all of you! Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Dropping like flies

Okay, Number Two Son is feeling much better. That's the good news. However, Hubby, Number One Son and Number Three Son are now down and out with this stomach bug thing. So, I guess it's only time til I get it too. There's nothing like taking care of a house full of sickies, knowing that the clock is ticking on your intestinal well-being as well. Gah.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

No longer naked

The tree is trimmed. And so far (knock on wood) no ornaments have broken. The needles are very prickly, enough so to discourage tiny fingers and tiny paws from grabbing at the pretty danglies.

Number Two Son has had a stomach bug for the last day and a half, but we think he is over the worst of it. This evening he was mostly back to his old self, arguing with his younger brother over legos.

It is very cold here. Our house was built in 1912, with little insulation and lots of drafts. If there's no wind, it stays fairly warm, but if the wind is howling (like it is right now) we can definitely feel the cold spots. The thermostat is kept at 62, but in the cold spots (brown chair by the window, downstairs bath, boys' bedroom) it can get downright chilly.

I've been traveling a lot recently. Trip to St. Paul, trip to New Ulm, trip to Spicer. Next week I go back to St. Paul to pick the goats up from the breeder. Fingers crossed for better birth results next spring than we had this spring. Fingers crossed for a couple (or trio or quad) of bouncing fuzzy kids in April.

Our quarter beef arrived this week and is now safely stored away in a basement freezer, alongside the pork we got in September. This quarter was smaller than others we've had. It ended up being about half the amount of meat as the hog we got. Oh well. Must've been a small cow. How now, small cow?

It's late, and I'm a bit loopy. Sorry for the rambling. Time to hit the hay.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Tis the season

We got a Christmas tree! It is standing in our dining room, naked and unadorned, but it is up. Tomorrow night we will put on lights, garland, star and ornaments, and turn off all the lights in the house to see the tree at its best. Then hubby will brave the frigid temps to hang our Christmas lights outside. Already the chocolate advent calendars are hung on the walls, and boxes of Christmas cards are stacked on the table, waiting to be written and mailed. It's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas.

Tonight we watched our first television Christmas special: Phineas and Ferb's Christmas. Not one of the classics, but we liked it. Soon we will begin to see the real classic holiday shows, like 'Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer', 'How the Grinch Stole Christmas', and 'The Christmas Story.'

But my all-time favorite TV special has gotta be 'A Year Without a Santa Claus,' if only for that song. You know, THAT song. You know the one I'm talking about.

Oh, heck. Let's all sing along!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Jumpin' Jehosafat

Land sakes, deary me, heavens to Betsy! It's been a long time since my last post. These past few weeks have FLOWN by. We've been treated to some wonderful late fall weather. Right now a few flurries are floating down outside, a herald of colder temps for the next week.

No, I haven't butchered the roosters yet. And it looks like it won't happen before next week anyway. Besides, I've still got three bushels of apples in the root cellar to process. Nevertheless, we've managed to finish up just about all of our autumn tasks. Goat barn cleaned out, chicken coop cleaned out, yard tidied up (mostly), garden cleaned up, garlic planted, fences around two apple trees, and snow fence up.

And our new hens have started to lay! The eggs we get these first few weeks will be smaller sized, aka 'pullet eggs.' But they taste just as good, with their orangey orange yolks and hard, colorful shells. We've got a half-ton of chicken feed stored for them, plus a hundred bales of hay in the barn for the goats. We're set on livestock feed for the winter.

Overall, this summer was a good one on the farm front. Yeah, we had another chicken massacre, and we had some garden failures (potato blight and sweet corn slump), but overall it was a good year. I grew (and processed) more garden goodies this year than in any other year past. The goats are doing well, and my latest shearing might actually be sale-able if I find time to wash and sort it. We've got a new root cellar and a stocked pantry. We put up a new chicken fence and managed to raise fifteen new chickens to add to our flock. So, overall, we're doing pretty good.

There are two things that I wanted to accomplish this year that didn't get done. I wanted to have a hand pump installed on the top of our well, and I wanted to get a woodstove. Both of those things are pretty spendy, and relatively hard to find, and I just never managed to get it done. Hopefully old man winter will hold off on any really bad, electricity-killing blizzards til next season.