The Bandwagon…

I’ve been spending over $3.50 a bottle for store-bought kombucha since I took the plunge and decided to implement fermented foods into my diet.  Honestly I was a little disgusted by the idea, but after it was put in my head that gut health might affect how one feels mentally (thanks, Diana!) I gave it a try.  Of course I loved it instantly.  I didn’t, however, enjoy the price tag.  Feeding a family of four is, believe it or not, extremely expensive.  I couldn’t justify continuing to spend that much money on a single drink (even just once a week), regardless of how much better I felt after.  What does one do when they desire something that is too exorbitant store-bought?  Search Amazon for a SCOBY, of course.  By now most people know what a SCOBY is–Symbiotic Colony Of Bacteria and Yeast–but many don’t realize how easy and, more importantly, cheap it is to make at home.  All you need is a box of black tea (no flavors), some sugar, a live SCOBY (maybe a splash of white vinegar at first if you don’t have enough starter liquid), and time.  A SCOBY on Amazon is approximately $8.  Not only can you continue to brew kombucha with the original mother, but each subsequent batch will yield a baby SCOBY.  You can keep these babies in a “SCOBY hotel” for use when your own has become compromised by contaminants (mold, for instance) or you can give it away.  Even better, you could probably seek out your local farmer’s market and ask a few vendors if they’d be interested in buying the extras!  Just make sure that your utensils, jars, and work areas are scrupulously clean.  Hot water and soap (not antibacterial and no bleach allowed) are all you really need to clean the jars between uses.  It is that easy.  A gallon of kombucha, which equals approximately 4-6 finished bottles depending on the size of them, cost exactly $9.56 per batch to begin–that number includes the starter SCOBY.  It’s only $1.56 if you are gifted a SCOBY, and any batch after with your babies.  In addition, you can secondary ferment your kombucha with any flavor you like.  My first gallon is ginger lemon, and it is so good!

kombucha

I’m not going into the particulars of brewing it at the moment.  If you order a SCOBY online, chances are they’ll provide specific instructions with the product.

All I can say now is that I’m a believer!  Don’t be afraid of fermented foods and beverages.  I feel so much better now that kombucha (and milk kefir!) is a regular part of my diet.  I have more energy, my complexion is absolutely glowing, and my food is digesting wonderfully.

Potato quality photo, but look at that beautiful baby SCOBY!

Potato quality photo, but look at that beautiful baby SCOBY!

 

Wooly Days…

I live in a farm-rich area.  This is a good thing for me, and an excellent thing for the kiddos.  Today we visited a local historical site to see their in-house sheep get shorn and to indulge in a few pioneer tasks such as washing freshly cut fleece, combing dry wool, and spinning it by hand to make yarn.  I got to hold a lamb, which was particularly enjoyable, and the kids had a blast running amok in wide pasture fields, picking flowers (dandelions) and begging to see the sheep again.

wooly days 2

It’s been a long time since we’ve gone anywhere that wasn’t the local park.  This was an excellent change of scenery, as pictured by Olivia’s cheese-face.

wooly days 5

Not pictured, the fourteen pound lamb I was allowed to cuddle. Several bags of fleece (that were for sale for a mere $5!) were shorn off these beauties.

wooly days 7

The process of washing wool and spinning it into yarn/thread actually takes between 2-3 weeks, but for the purpose of the demonstration a thorough toddler scrubbing with some homemade soap did the trick.

wooly days 9

Aiden, of course, became overly attached to his piece of soap.  It was a little bit of a struggle to encourage him to leave it for the other visitors.

wooly days 10We were instructed to rinse twice to ensure the soap residue didn’t attach itself to the lanolin in the wool.

wooly days 11

And fun was had by all, including a home-cooked lunch by their staff and eaten on the grass.

We will all sleep very well tonight.

 

Revelations…

Today I looked around my home and there wasn’t a path of destruction in the walkway.  There isn’t dust on the furniture.  The laundry is folded and put away (and not, in fact, strewn across the floor in several heaping piles).  I walk across my room, glance in my bathroom mirror, and I am I’m showered.  Dressed.  Hair dried and put up in a tastefully messy bun.  I am not wearing leggings and a sweat shirt.  I open the refrigerator door and there are leftovers from the home-cooked meals I’ve made this week, fresh vegetables, and a jar of strawberry kefir that has finished fermenting.

Ask me how difficult it is to admit that my life has been a mess for the last seven months and I’ll tell you that it hasn’t been as tough as living it.

It’s been hard taking refuse to the trash can.

It’s been hard vacuuming.

It’s been hard showering.

It’s been hard sleeping.

It’s been hard being awake.

Now, I’m finally at the tail end of what I could easily define as the hardest time in my life.  And it’s incredibly revealing.  Reliving.  Flat-out mortifying.  What must my family have thought of me when they had to skirt past random toy eruptions on my floors?  How disgusted were they to use my filthy bathrooms?

I can’t get that time back.  It’s utterly useless to lament having lost it.  I was in an emotional coma and I’m just waking up, little by little.

It’s good to be back.

Snippets…

DSC_0006Jude Pude.  My solitary salvation when the older two are visiting Andy.  So close to crawling he can taste the fuzz on the carpet two feet in front of him…except he scoots backwards instead.

DSC_0023 (2)Examining a beam of light with Jake, our hu-ge Maine Coon rescue.  Souxie’s salvation.

DSC_0031Souxie.  Wild thing.

DSC_0027Annie.  Blue Tick Coonhound WONDER from the same rescue, only months later.  Recently she battled an intestinal infection that required several different shots of antibiotics, anti-diarrhea, anti-nausea, and a $300 price tag at the emergency vet.  Worth it.  Love my girl.

DSC_0322My GIRL.  Sweet, gregarious, affectionate, voracious learner.  My awesome only daughter.  Daytona Beach last month.

DSC_0370My BOY.  My hilarious, well-spoken, driven–did I mention HILARIOUS?–little Poot.  Not the baby anymore but still my baby.

 

DSC_0019Tile is tasty.

 

That is all.

Take Two and Call Me In the Morning…

DSC_0037Two in the morning.  Three in the afternoon after lunch.  One as needed.  Two at night, different kinds.

Some of them are supplements because my B12 is low.  I’m anemic.*  I’m trying to get my hormones under control.  My kidneys could use a little help lately.  Most are to help me sleep.  Help me deal with panic attacks.  Fix whatever is wrong with my brain these days.  The latter doesn’t really work anymore.  I’ve developed a tolerance, and after that happens it’s either up your dose or switch to a different kind and hope that it helps.  Hope the side effects don’t overshadow the underlying depression.  Underlying.  Hah.  There really is nothing else anymore.

My house is clean.  Clean enough.  I’ve Pinned a few cute graphics to make me feel better about it.  “Excuse the mess, we live here.”  “Dirty kitchens and messy rooms means happy kids.”  It doesn’t really work.  Last night I felt the tension creeping into my shoulders, the pit ball up in my stomach.  I just folded all this laundry, I thought.  I get help with money.  Child care once or twice a week, as needed.  But all the menus, meals, housework, laundry, and everything else that fits into the definition of “keeping house” is all on me.  You would think it would be easy to feed the people in my home.  Food is essential, after all.  But the numerous allergies, intolerances, preferences, and lack of time–always the lack of time–make it impossible to follow the mantra alone, “Eat food.  Not a lot.  Mostly vegetables.”  I use Pinterest, but like Netflix the site is overwhelmed with variations and choices.

So I stress.  Pop another pill.  Listen to family members call me “crazy” and “zombie.”  Try hard not to take it out on the kids–the way I feel isn’t their fault.  Try to get up in the morning.  Try to fall asleep at night.  Try to find little passions that are repetitive and relaxing, like weaving on my loom or working on a paint-by-numbers.  I’d like to go to a sewing class, but I can’t afford the time or the money.  I’d like to run outside, but I don’t want to take the kids in the jogger.  I spin inside with the window open.  A nice breeze cools my skin as I sweat from lifting weights.  I try to adapt.

I’m trying to adapt.

*(I honestly have no idea why my folate and iron levels are so low, considering I practically eat an entire bag of fresh spinach every two days blended in green smoothies.  Why my white blood cell count is so high though I’m not sick is yet another mystery.  I’m wont to blame the meds–they’re draining everything else from my life, why not my nutrients, too?)

Mother…

I am so much like you.  I remember your small hands, smooth, and your flat nails cut short.  I wonder if my children will close their eyes, too, and inhale.  Try to remember the depth of your scent.  Your hair, untamed, too like my own.  Always unhappy with a haircut.  Enviously looking at my dad’s hair and wondering why I’m more Irish than Cherokee.

Our souls are the same, too, or even just what heals them.  I awoke this morning melancholy.  I sat at my computer and found the most soothing melodies to heal what’s agony in me, deep in me.  Things that not even little pills, take twice a day, can begin to graze.  And I know now why you filled your brain with music.  The house, booming even until two a.m.  I know now.  And I am you now.

My hands shake like yours.  Then my brain, and the bass is doing its job.  It’s drowning out the thoughts I don’t like to have.  How much easier it would be if I hid away.  If there were only darkness, an empty room with a stripped bed.  Some place I could lay supine with only my breath as company.  Forever.

And then I am not like you.  At least not yet.  I pull myself out of it every second.  I indulge myself when I am alone, but that’s almost never.  I am present.  Present for my three children.  I will fight to recall, years from now, how Olivia climbed the grounds on her own, jumped into the deep mulch, and though my heart stopped–for just a moment–it began swelling.  With love.  Pride.  Amazement.  I looked away for just a second to check on Olivia’s course and Aiden fell on the sidewalk.  Scraped his nose.  A cold water wash and he was running, squealing.  That’s what I battle.  The second I look away, they’ll be hurt.  Irreparably someday, maybe.  And I could justify it by saying I need time to myself to be a good parent, but that’s such a load of shit, as I’m coming to realize.  I am no longer me.  I struggle still with accepting that.  I am their mother.  That is my identity now.  That is my sacrifice.  One I grapple with disappointment and delight, resentment and readiness.

I love you, my beautiful mother.  No matter how you age, and I see the look in your eyes, the disappointment I know I’ll see someday when I wonder where I went.  Where is my unmarked face?  In whose body am I?  What is this?  Where am I?  Who am I?  I know I’ll struggle with that, too.  But you are amazing.  You had four where I had three, you had only yourself where I have many.  And yes, your struggles were thorough.  You swam in despair more often than I’m sure I can even remember.  But you were mine.  And I am yours.  And I love you so very much.

Stops and Starts…

I’m still here.  Still breathing.  Still not getting a lot of sleep.  Writing essays, studying for mid-terms(!), cooking vegetarian dinners (yes, we took the leap finally), and trying to stay afloat of the mass of laundry a family of four makes.

I feel like everything is a different version of the same steps on repeat.  I’m extremely tired of late.  I went to Florida to visit my mother the week that my grandmother passed away.  There’s been a lot of loss in my dad’s family over the last couple of months.  My aunt Barbie died from a sudden brain aneurism almost six months ago.  That hit us all very hard.  She was only 56.  The last time I saw her was when she and my uncle David came to visit us.  She complimented the garden and said how beautiful the kids were.  And now my grandmother is gone.  No grandparents left.  It’s weird to admit this, but I’m more comforted that my grandma was almost in her 90’s, and from all accounts was ready to see my Pop in Heaven (they’re religious folks) than I am that my aunt Barbie was taken from this world in minutes at such a young age.  I miss her.

Right now it seems like all the good things in life are being stripped from the world and how ever much I try to scratch and paw at happiness it’s discontentment that follows me through my days.  I have three wonderful children.  A supportive family.  A weird situation with my husband but it works for the kids.  I have a home, clothing, food (healthy food), running water…and still.  I’m sad.  Yes, I’m on antidepressants.  I took that leap a couple months ago when I talked (or sobbed, but who’s taking notes) to my OB about everything.  I didn’t want to, desperately wanted to try to recover on my own.  But I couldn’t.  So that trip to Florida, guess what I forgot?  My medication.  And rather than calling in another prescription while I was there, I decided to take the plunge and just detox.  The first few days were okay.  Ideal, even.  I didn’t have that pesky lock-jaw to keep me awake at night or make my face sore in the morning.  I found a health food store and picked up two boxes of Blues Away tea to help me with the transition.  Then, the day after we returned, the flood gates opened and I was distraught.  Nothing worked, I dropped everything, and I yelled at the kids in the car (who wouldn’t stop fighting over Aiden’s foot too far on Olivia’s side) for the first time in months.  I said, “STOP IT, OH MY GOD.”  And it made my daughter cry.  And I felt like the worst person in history.  So I took my medication that night.  And the next.  And here I am, trying to physiologically acclimate to having the meds in my system again, but hating every second of needing them.  Whatever passes through my breastmilk is negligible, but I worry every day what it’s doing to Jude’s brain chemistry.  I hope nothing.  I hope I don’t change my sweet baby into something he’s not supposed to be because I am not strong enough to endure this life without pharmaceuticals.

Anyway, that’s where we are.  Same old, in a different way.

How are you?

Mundane insanity…

5:30 a.m. Awaken for no reason.  Paddle to the kitchen for some water as throat is dry from saw-snoring half the night.  Stuffy nose.  Wake up cat.  Regret it instantly as she commences meowing for over half an hour.

7:00 a.m. First stirs from the older children.  Walk into bedroom.  Stub toe on bed frame.  Silently suffer.

7:05 a.m. Cuddle Olivia in right arm while nursing Aiden from left side.  Squeeze a precious ten minutes of relative darkness from the morning.  No quiet.  Just dark.

7:30 a.m. Children beg for breakfast.  Cat is let out by the four year old.  Cat jumps on my face.  Gross.  She sifts in her poo box.  I am tempted to wash my face.  Too lazy.

8:05 a.m. Make coffee in the Chemex with beans I grind the night before and keep in the fridge.  My only salvation.

8:10 a.m. Breakfast is being smeared across the table and floors.  Forks are overrated.  Today they are eating their meal instead of complaining about it.  A holiday miracle.

8:30 a.m. Jude awakens, smiling and cheerful.  I lied.  This is my second salvation this morning.

8:45 a.m. Kid and kitchen clean up.

9:00 a.m. Kids retire to their bedroom for “imaginative play” while Jude nurses and begins the first of his morning naps.

10 a.m. All kids nap.  If I’m lucky, Jude will stay asleep for an hour or so and I’m able to rest with the kids.

Between 12 and 1 p.m. Kids wake begging for lunch.  Usually a cold plate of fresh vegetables and fruit with some kind of protein.  Cold beans, boiled eggs, yogurt, tuna.

12:30 p.m. Ah.  There’s the refusal to eat.  How did I go so long without you, old friend?  How are you kids not passed out by now?

12:32 p.m. Oh.  You just wanted to eat off of my plate.  It’s the same damn thing.

12:33 p.m. Jude nurses, then plays in his Mama’s and Papa’s chair with his wooden teething rings.

12:40 p.m. Horrifying gaze at the refuse littering the table and chairs.  Leave the dishes in the sink and the hummus on the floor.  Fuck it.

12:41 p.m. Bring children into their room, quick toy cleanup singing the ever-popular niece-demonstrated “Clean Up” song (to the tune of that annoying As Seen On TV! Light Pets commercial).

12:45 p.m. Home school hour, otherwise known as “Olivia learns one or two items off the list while simultaneously trying to fight Aiden off of her paper/pencil/paint/scissors/book.”

1:45 p.m. Freshly learn-ed, kids pick an activity of their choice for the next hour and a half to occupy themselves.  No, you can’t watch TV.  I said no.  Well, I’m not Daddy, now am I?

1:48 p.m. Jude begins to get red-eyed, signaling the need for another nap.  Nurse him to sleep.

2 p.m. Second cup of coffee.

2:04 p.m. Bitter black coffee consumed in three swift gulps.  Write “maple syrup” on the grocery list.

2:15-eternity: Laundry.

2:35 p.m. Break up first of several fights among Olivia and Aiden.  This one is over possession of the choo choo train.

2:36 p.m. “You woke up Jude!”

2:45 p.m. Jude calmed from his rude awakening, grab laptop.  Surf Pinterest for meal planning ideas.  Lament diet and relative poverty.  Click on “Health and Fitness” and scoff and quinoa on the front page.

3:00 p.m. Kids clamor for “a” book.  I read seven.  Twice the same book.

3:40 p.m. Time for dinner prep.  Jude wakes up cranky.  Tickle him without success.

3:42 p.m. Clean chunky spit up out of hair.  Wait…I still haven’t showered?

3:45 p.m. Jude sitting happily while playing with his feet, I decide I can get away with one more day of not washing my hair and scrub quickly.

3:46 p.m. Rush into kids’ room, soapy, to break up second fight of the afternoon.  This conflict is over the Poo Bear Truck.  Designate sides of room to each toddler while I’m in the shower.

3:48 p.m. Peek at the video monitor.  Miraculously they are staying on their own sides of the room, stealing occasional jealous glances at the other toys.

4:02 p.m. Dressed.  Try to do something with hair.  Regret not washing it.  Too late now.

4:10 p.m. Dinner prep, including looking into the cabinets and fridge four or five times and finding nothing tangible to make.  Write “Food” on grocery list.

4:22 p.m. “Okay, okay, fine.  You can watch one episode of Curious George on the Nook.”

5:00 p.m. Two episodes later, dinner is nearly done.  Children come downstairs.

5:30 p.m. “Please eat your food.  Please.  Just…here…here’s a choo choo!  Open your mouth for the choo choo train!”

5:32 p.m. “But you like sweet potatoes!”

5:35 p.m. Headache develops.

5:40 p.m. Give up on dinner.  They’ve eaten enough.

5:42 p.m. Bath.

5:43 p.m. “Mommy, I’m still hungry!”

5:50 p.m. Yogurt in the bath.

6:00 p.m. Kids dry off, run to bedroom to pick out nightclothes.

6:01 p.m. I never folded the laundry I washed.  Kids return to bedroom while I tear apart the clothes basket to find them underwear.

6:10-7 p.m. “Please stop running.  It’s time for bed.  No, don’t hold the cat like that, it hurts her.”

7:00 p.m. Jude is overtired.  Nurse him and Aiden.

7:20 p.m. Jude’s tired enough to lay quietly while the kids are falling asleep.

8:00 p.m. Kids are asleep.  Quietly retreat with Jude onto couch.

8:04 p.m. Clean kitchen.  Why must there be so many dishes?  What is that on the wall?  Ewww, is that a booger?!

8:30 p.m. Jude fusses.  Poops.

9:00 p.m. So tired.  Please go to sleep, Jude.

10:00 p.m. Jude finally sleeping deeply.  Crash hard.

10:43 p.m. “Meow!  Meow!  Meow!”

Staples: Part 1…

Man, do I love food.  It’s only by some miracle that I’ve maintained a relatively healthy weight throughout the years because my preference is decadence over restriction.  I’ve denied myself enough to last a lifetime.  Time for full-fat butter from grass-fed cows; whole milk (sometimes raw) still smelling and tasting of the pasture; mellow orange sweet potatoes dug up from rich soil; dark and hearty coffee with homemade black-strap molasses brown cane sugar; fresh eggs with a thick shell and dark yolk tossed with salsa–tomatoes and jalapenos from the garden, of course.

I made muffins from scratch recently (whole wheat–rare!–bran muffins with carrots and raisins) and while sharing them with a friend I discovered, to my shock, that not everyone grows up with the cuisine I did, or that my children do now.  I have the benefit–and it’s weird to consider it a benefit, because it’s all I know–of having a father whose palate was incredible, and who was raised to cultivate his own garden.  My mom is a wonderful cook, but she claims my father taught her everything.  Well, that makes two of us.  My friend’s parents basically cooked from a box or can.  That’s technically fine, I suppose, but you really can’t beat tasting a completely homemade meal, and there are far fewer toxic ingredients in scratch-made foods which, to me, makes the extra “work” worth it.

As I mentioned previously, I don’t have my garden (or a plot, for that matter) and I’ve returned the chickens, so I’m mostly stuck purchasing goods from the grocery store and, when I get the opportunity, the local farmer’s market.  Unfortunately the growing season is winding down, so there’s much less selection from the local market and I’m having to shop at conventional stores mostly.  Because I’m trying to eat seasonally, I have staples in my fridge and pantry that keep me going week after week.  They’re functional, affordable, and I rarely, if ever, grow tired of cooking with them.

Here is my list of things I cannot (and will not) do without, in no particular order:

  1. Real butter, usually grass-fed.
  2. Brown eggs.  I rarely buy conventional eggs.  You can definitely tell a difference in freshness here.  I still long for the production of my beautiful hens, but what can you do?
  3. Oatmeal.  We either eat oatmeal with various ingredients or eggs each morning.  Sometimes I’ll make banana oatmeal pancakes, other instances I’ll concoct GF muffins, rarely cookies.  Either way, I’m always stocked with oatmeal.
  4. Pumpkin puree.  It’s probably better that I do this myself, but I’ve never been a fan of roasting any squash or pumpkins.  It’s a hassle, what can I say?  Luckily I can find BPA-free organic puree in cans pretty easily (and cheaply).  I put this in our oatmeal with a little pumpkin pie spice.  Yum.
  5. Real maple syrup.  The darker the better.  I’ve got pure cane sugar and usually make my own brown sugar, but for some reason maple syrup just tastes better in coffee.
  6. Speaking of coffee…the fresher the bean, the fresher the bloom.  I finally took the plunge and started using a Chemex brewer with a burr grinder.  Oh. My. Goodness.  There is no better coffee.
  7. Half and half.  For the coffee.  I can’t drink it black.
  8. Cheese, cheese, and more cheese.  It’s expensive, so I try to get the blocks and shred it myself, but occasionally the kids will request string mozzarella and I acquiesce.
  9.   Tomatoes, canned tomatoes, tomato paste.  Oh so versatile.  Oh so delicious.
  10. Frozen vegetables (no soy or corn).  I tend to buy these in bulk at the market during the summer and use them for soups, sauces, or sides.  Not as good as fresh, but it works.
  11. Brown rice.  We don’t eat this often, but if times are tight we’ll mix it with some black beans and canned tomatoes, top it with cheese and sour cream or plain Greek yogurt and voila.  Dinner.
  12. Organic “bone chicken.”  The kids love chicken legs.  Lately I’ve been trying to implement less animal products into our diets, but if we eat it, it’s probably chicken.
  13. Sweet potatoes.  I’ve begun slow cooking several to last a couple of days for lunches or as a breakfast side.  If I catch the potatoes on the firm side, I slice and peel them for sweet potato “cookies” for the kids.  They love it.
  14. Bone broth.  Any bones I have, whether it be from a leftover rotisserie chicken (they sell the hormone-free rotisseries at a local store for $5 on Fridays) or roast, I’ll pop it on the stove with a few cups of filtered water and let it simmer for about two or so hours.  It breaks down the marrow and is very nutritious.  On cold days it’s particularly comforting.
  15. Black beans.  Our favorite.
  16. Produce for juicing.  Aiden can no longer eat apples (GI distress) so I buy less of those than I formerly did, but basically I try to stay stocked on organic carrots, apples, oranges, celery, cucumbers, ginger, and lemon.  I juice on days I don’t really want a caffeine rush.  It’s better fresh, of course, but generally I’ll make a huge batch in the morning and we’ll drink it all day.
  17. Bananas.  I buy at least 10 pounds a week.  Smoothies, snacks, “ice cream,” you name it.  It’s cheap and amazingly versatile.
  18. Almond milk or almonds to make it.  That or coconut milk.  Occasionally we’ll buy 1/2 gallon cartons of “moo milk.”
  19. Spinach.  Green smoothies, sandwiches, sides.
  20. Spices–I dried a ton of herbs this year.  Hopefully they’ll last us through the winter!  I also use sea salt frequently.

That’s about it.  Listed, it’s incredibly simplistic, but the combinations you can create with these ingredients are vast and amazing.  We eat other things too, of course–roasts, tacos, soups–but these are my basic “must haves.”

What are yours?

Where We Are…

Hello?  Is this thing on?  *taps mic*  Check?  Okay.  Good.  Hi.  It’s been a while, hasn’t it?  Life with three little humans tends to get in the way of posting.  I’m sitting here eating a very rare warm breakfast (but drinking cold coffee) and I had two options during nap time:  play Hayday on the tablet or post to the almost-forgotten blog.  I decided on this venture because I truly feel the need to document our lives a little better, to get myself organized, to have that outlet I once did because I feel like a crazy person lately!  Time is slipping from my clenched hands all too quickly.  I don’t photograph enough, I don’t write enough, and frankly I think it’s contributing to the feeling of general despair in my noggin.  Here’s a brief update before I get into business–

I’m physically separated from the husband and raising the wee ones semi-solo about 90% of the time.  No, I’m not a single mother–I have an abundance of support (and I thank the Universe every day for that).  It’s been tough, but the outcome of this separation has done wonders for our parenting.  Olivia isn’t having night terrors anymore, Aiden has leveled out in his moods a fair bit, and Jude–well, he was born at the tail end of everything so he hasn’t been exposed to the damage–let’s just say he’s as sweet as ever.

My sisters are the loves of my life (barring my kiddos, of course).  Things got a little nasty for a while and I honestly thought I’d succumb to a pretty horrible outcome, but they have been a phenomenal support through it all.

I chopped off a good bit of my hair.  It was incredibly long and cumbersome.  I’m now sporting a long, edgy bob.

Jude is five months old today!  He is an absolute joy.  It’s really strange to have an infant who doesn’t cry constantly due to digestive issues.  Don’t get me wrong, he’s still a baby, still does all the typical baby things, but for once I feel like I can comfort my child and fix the issues!

I’m no longer in my house, no longer have the expansive garden, and I returned the chickens to the farm from where I purchased them.  About half of the original flock succumbed to cocci.  I purchased more from the breeder, and Mars totally demolished five of them.  Those were all pullets, around the age of 12 weeks.  I had three left from the first flock, and I added six chicks.  I raised all those happily and healthily to egg-laying adulthood, and adopted two older roosters from someone who needed to find them a home ASAP.  Even after having Jude I spoiled those chickens rotten.  They will always have a place in my heart, and I’m grateful that the breeder was willing to take them all in (and put over half the flock in the breeding pen because they were “so nicely cared for!”).  Eventually I’ll get back to my roots, but for now the kids are a priority.

I’ve begun a fairly rigid preschool program at home for Olivia and Aiden which is primarily Montessori based.  Aiden in particular seems to respond well to the activities.  Normally he’s incredibly unfocused (what two year old isn’t?) but his most favored things to do are bean sorting and animal matching.  He speaks very well and has a large vocabulary.  I’m quite sure Olivia contributed to his speech moreso than even I did.  We are reading the first Harry Potter book in the series.  Olivia has taken an interest in German, so we’ve been practicing that pretty stringently, too.

Home care is always hectic and difficult, but I find if I maintain about an hour daily rather than letting it all pile up and spending all weekend cleaning it’s much easier.  I sometimes split the hour throughout the day (10 minutes cleaning the kitchen/doing dishes, 30 minutes folding laundry, 5 minutes wiping down bathroom fixtures and toilets, etc.) or do it all at once during play or nap time.  Every night I try to wash and fold at least one load of laundry, because otherwise it becomes unbearable and depressing.

The one major change in the last year is enrolling in school to finish my degree.  I think, out of everything, that’s the most challenging aspect to existence.  I’ve been spending as much time as possible caring for the children myself and trying to give them a good foundation at home, but even I had to acknowledge one day that I simply cannot exist long-term without a stable career of my own.  It will never be easy, but it will get easier.  That’s my mantra.  Emphasis necessary.

Next up on the blog front:  food, pantry, and beauty/healthcare staples!

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