Monday, October 25, 2010

Apple Picking

I've always wanted to go apple-picking.  I never did much fruit-picking growing up.  It wasn't something my family did, though we did enjoy an afternoon of strawberry-picking with friends the summer I was 14.  Still, that one experience didn't convince my parents that it should become a yearly ritual. 

When I got married, I hoped it would be something John and I would do together.  John was all for the idea and we eagerly anticipated loads of fresh self-picked fruit all summer long, and maybe even learning how to can jellies and preserves.  And then morning sickness set in.  My PGP put a stop to our plans the next year...and the next one, too.  This year was better.  Not a whole lot better, but enough to give it a shot.  It was kind of a last minute decision, after picking up fresh veggies.  We decided that if the produce was cheap enough this week, we'd take the extra money to a nearby orchard to pick our own apples.

John ran in with my list in hand, and bought 2 large heads of cabbage, 3 bags of carrots, celery, 5 lbs of sweet potatoes, 3lbs of green peppers, 2 large bunches of grapes, a bag of oranges, 3 large zuchinnis and 3 romaine hearts for $15.  We could definitely squeeze out enough money for apples.  I love the price of produce here.  The grocery store prices can add up quickly, but farmer's markets, produce stands, the Italian market...they all help keep the cost down significantly. 

So we arrived at the orchard and were given a large cardboard box and a wagon to haul our goods.  The man in charge told us we'd have to walk way out, as the pickings were slim, and my heart sank.  The ground was uneven and "way out" really WAS waaay out.  I couldn't even see the end of the orchard.  John looked at me and I nodded my head.  I'd give it a shot.

Within 10 ft we found our first apple.  Joshua picked it and threw it in the box with great enthusiasm...I can identify that apple by the large bruise it now bears.  We showed him how to be gentle, and continue along our merry way, Joshua and John sharing the duty of wagon-hauler. 

    (last minute decisions usually mean I don't have the camera with me- these were taken on the cell phone)

The apple guy wasn't joking when he said there were slim pickings, but somehow we managed to find a dozen apples in the first row.

It was fun.  A LOT of fun.  Maybe I have serious thrill issues, but I enjoyed it immensely and would have loved to fill our box full of fresh-from-the-tree red delicious apples.  That's when I started feeling the pain, and that return to reality helped remind me of another reality: we didn't ask the price.  So we headed back and paid the bill: $6.  That works out to about 50 cents an apple.  In light of what we pay for produce at the store, that $6 seemed like a lot, but on the other hand, it was well worth the experience, and next year we hope to return for more.  More apples... and strawberries, blueberries, apricots, tomatoes and peppers.  Better still, maybe we'll plant a tiny vegetable garden in our own backyard. 

By the way: how do you say apricot?  AH-pricot?  Or A-pricot?

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Friends and Things Green

Raina and Andrew came over yesterday.  Joshua was out-of-this-world excited to see Andrew again.  Between family emergencies, my trip to Canada, and a few colds, it had been a while since we were last together. 

Naturally, once they arrived, Joshua was a little quiet and uncertain, as was Andrew.  They warmed up quick enough in their own two-year old way, and were soon screaming and laughing and running circles around the house.  The toys were surprisingly neglected, as they seemed to find it more fun interacting with each other.  When they left, there were just a few cars and Little People to clean up, and nothing more than an average day with Joshua.  I also found a full glass of water on the floor next to my recliner, which I had failed to notice the whole time they were playing.  I couldn't believe it had survived the visit!

Raina and I enjoyed "girl-time" which neither of us get very often.  Time with friends was at my constant disposal before marriage, and I enjoyed every minute of it, but having less of it now helps to increase my appreciation for friendship.  It's a gift.


We've been going green around here.  When I was in my third-trimester with Joshua, I had my gallbladder removed, and while the doctor assured me everything would be fine- I'm finding it's not.  Research has uncovered the fact that I'm not the only one having problems, either.  Digestion, vitamin and mineral absorption, weightloss, etc. all become harder.  And of course, this is due to extra stress on the liver, which is responsible for all those things and more, including filtering out toxins and chemicals.  So all that to say, in order to give my body a bit of a break-- I'm going green....ish.

I bought a bottle of "Tea Tree Tingle" shampoo at Trader Joe's for $4.  I was skeptical, especially when it didn't suds up like regular shampoo, but I love it.  My hair is softer and shinier after just one washing.  John likes it, too.  I also bought a bar of oatmeal soap.  There were only a few dollars left in my "miscellaneous budget" so that's where I started.

With the next paycheck, I'll find chemical-free dish soap and liquid hand soap, and maybe even some lotion.  Right now, I'm trying caster oil as a moisturizer, after reading great reviews online.  I'm finding that, as with most things, different things work for different people.  Caster oil might be the miracle that Jane Doe was looking for, but for me, it may be just the opposite.  It's all trial and error and time will tell.

I already make my own cleaner. 

So it really wasn't that hard, after all, to make a few small changes, and hopefully my body will thank me.

Ps. I am NOT a tree hugger.  Thank you very much.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Quiet Nothing-ness

Today was simply delightful.  Delightful in warm and cozy kind of way, just the way I would have ordered it, if living one's day to order were possible.  Not all the time, but just once in a while.

It started out with Joshua sleeping in- which means we all slept in.  What better start to a day than that?  Other than the daily pleasure of waking up next to the man I love, of course.

At nine o'clock in the morning, when the little munchkin had breakfast, we decided on a whim to rearrange the living room furniture.  Okay, I decided on a whim, and John graciously agreed to help.  There was a time in our marriage when getting this kind of assistance was like pulling teeth from a shark, so I appreciated his willingness to accomodate me and my furniture-moving disorder.  A magazine article I read this afternoon said it so well:  "Every one of my projects has a beginning- but no project has an ending."

The living room hasn't felt restful or uncluttered since the day we squished the train table into it, and I had been thinking about how to go about fixing the problem for several weeks now.  By 11am, we had the best furniture set-up that we've had in this house yet.  It just works perfectly, and even the train table has a home without being intrusive.  It opened the room up, giving it a lighter and fresher feeling, and- well, change of any kind is good for the soul.  I still couldn't manage to make room for a big, fresh-cut Christmas tree, though.  (sigh)

John's Mom came for lunch.  I baked sweet potatoes and smothered them in black bean sauce, sour cream, black bean salsa and cheese.  It's one of my favourite lunches and can even be made dairy-free with Tofutti sour cream and pumpkin seeds in place of cheese.  Comfort food.  And remember the spaghetti squash pie from yesterday?  Edible, but a genuine waste of pie pastry. 

We played with Play-Doh after lunch.  It's become Joshua's newest and favourite amusement.  When I was pregnant, John and I went to yardsales on the weekend for baby things, and even though Play-doh isn't exactly a baby thing, I couldn't resist picking up various accessories to put away for the future.  I brought them out earlier this year, but Joshua had little interest in it until earlier this week when it was actually HIM who asked for it.  And continues to ask for it multiple times a day.


My mother-in-law left and Joshua went for his nap.  John had a project in the basement- he's been fixing the furnace and making it more effecient- and when I finished washing the dishes, I went down to visit him.  At the bottom of the steps, I spotted a blue container that has housed an old cross-stitch project of mine for some years, now.  I started it for my mom.

I used to crochet all the time.  In fact, I had a hard time traveling, watching a movie, playing a game, or anything where my hands would normally be still, without having something to crochet.  I outgrew the habit when my back started giving me grief, but when I saw the cross-stitch, I knew it was something I could handle, so I took it upstairs and picked up where I last left off.  I also remember, while doing it, why I had stopped in the first place.  It's really one of the most mundane of activities.  I am determined to finish it though, for I know I'll never bring myself to throw a perfectly good project in the trash, and I don't want it following me everywhere I go for the rest of my life.

Joshua woke up and John came upstairs.  I cross-stitched steadily on, John learned a new song on his guitar and Joshua ate his snack and played with his trains.  We talked.  My grandparents called.  We talked some more.  John and Joshua went for a walk.   


Yes, it was just a day of quiet-nothingness that doesn't happen too often.  Aside from the walk, nobody left the house.  Aside from baking sweet potatoes, no food had to be made.  It was just...nice.  Really nice.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

I spent my entire day in the kitchen, and that's just barely an exageration.  While that may hint at an extremely industrious day, I hate to say it wasn't.  I move so slow right now, it just takes me that long to make breakfast; clean-up and wash dishes; lunch; clean-up and wash dishes; clean up Playdough; put Joshua down for a nap; rest for an hour. 

When Joshua woke up, he seemed unable to cope with the stresses of his young life, so with a lot of going back and forth, I assured him that life would go on, even if his cookies weren't arranged properly in the bowl and that he could NOT watch the TV and his DVD player at the same time; that if he wanted his soother so badly, he should stop throwing it on the floor; and no, Joshua, you are not allowed to hit people when life gets rough.

Joshua's world eventually turned right side up, and I made salad dressing and chopped vegetables;  put dry dishes away; spilled potato salad all over the floor- and cleaned it up, too, of course;  made dinner; washed dishes; prepared leftover spaghetti squash for a pie (yes, a dessert pie- it should be an interesting experience, to say the least); and eat.  John was a sweetheart and washed the last load of dishes for me; and now he's putting Joshua to bed.  In case you're curious, we had BBQ chicken, roasted potatoes and onions, and salad.  The pie is cooling on the counter, and I'll serve it in an hour or so, with whipped cream and hot tea- I mean, the whipped cream on the pie and the tea with the pie.  Pie is not a part of my restricted diet, but I've found that digestive enzymes work almost as well as a diet, so in life and death situations such as three cups of spaghetti squash is about to go to waste, I can cheat.  Just a little. 

Anyway, that is how I managed to spend an entire day in the kitchen- yes, I move that s-l-o-o-o-w.  I'm hoping that this will one day become a memory that I shake my head at and wonder how it was possible.

Towards the end of the evening, Joshua came along, tired of his trains and cars, and wanted to help me, so I decided to let him set the table and handed him a glass.  I didn't tell him what to do, but let him decide for himself.  He took the glass between his two hands, very gingerly, and walked to the table.  "Daddy sit right here?" he asked, looking at me for approval.  He came back for the next glass and walked to another chair.  "Mommy sit here?"  That glass went dangerously close to the side of the table, but I let it bed.  I handed him forks, knives and napkins, and the salt and pepper shakers.  When I wasn't looking, he opened a drawer and added a second plastic knife to his own personal collection.  I guess he doesn't approve of the way I've been setting his spot in the past. ;-)

I still can't believe how much he's grown up- he helps out so much around the house now.  If he spills something, he wipes it up.  If he gets crumbs on the carpet, he asks for the little dustbuster and takes care of it.  He wipes the table for me.  Takes things to the trash.  Puts his dishes in the sink.  Dirty clothes in the laundry basket.  Cleans up his toys. 

And knows how to run a DVD player and the phone, haha!

If only he would learn to use the potty ALL the time....

Saturday, October 16, 2010


Last June, I walked into Target with $20 in my pocket, to purchase a navy blue bathroom rug for our house. I walked out with a bucket of sidewalk chalk, a “Thomas the Tank Engine” DVD, a package of pens and a notebook. The destiny of the first three items should be rather obvious, but there are quite a few options for a notebook, so I shall tell you. This lovely green and pink striped notebook, with a somewhat vintage appeal, was intended as a journal. I’m sad to say that now, on this chilly autumn day, five months later, the journal is nearly as empty as it was when I purchased it. I DID manage a few entries, but none of them were finished.

Now, I had pretty much given up altogether on the idea of keeping a journal, before that sunny summer day, but a blog update came to my email earlier that week. I don’t know the author personally, but fell in love first with her photography and beautiful children, and later with the pieces of her heart that she shared with hundreds of readers. She inspires me; challenges me; makes me laugh. Through her blog, written many miles away on the opposite side of the country, she has touched my life.

The particular morning I am refering to, she had copied out a large portion of a journal she had kept when she had only three children (two toddlers and a newborn), and oh, it was very funny. I laughed, actually. But what really struck me that day was how nice it must be to look back on a day- a bad day, at that- a decade later, and be able to remember life in such detail. And that she had written it by hand! In a notebook! After a bad day (did I already say that?)! I felt at that moment, that my excuses for not journaling were very small and pathetic, specifically the “I don’t have time” excuse.

So I bought the aforementioned journal and with the noblest of intentions, I began writing. My first entry was short and sweet. My second one a little longer and more detailed, but I was sick that night and so very tired, that I found it necessary to put the notebook down and get a few hours of sleep. A week went by and I was too sick to pick it up again. To my credit, I did as soon as I was able, and my third entry was an out-pouring of my heart and soul. Then following day, I entered the first day of a long, three-month period of back spasms and I honestly couldn’t move from my chair, other than to put Joshua to bed at night. Journaling was no doubt out of the question.

Then one warm, sunny day when my spasms seemed to be gone for good, I took lunch outside that day, along with Joshua’s trains for him to play with in the backyard, and I set about eating and journaling some more. I filled a page, and then another, and still I hadn’t finished all I had to say. After all, what’s the point of journaling if I am constrained by time to short, empty updates that outline the skeletons of my days with no flesh to add interest? Well, Joshua didn’t seem to understand the important task I had at hand, and I ended up packing my little office away in the plastic grocery bag I was using to transport it, and set about to teach Joshua that flowerpots were for flowers, not choo-choo trains, and that my flowers would never grow if he didn’t take the matter to heart. My nasturiums never did come up that summer, and I daresay I gave my lesson a little too late in the season.

Well, perhaps after all this, my “I don’t have time” claim was valid after all. Maybe I’m a slower cursive writer, or even a slow thinker. I DO tend to overthink things. The notebook became a space for storing menu plans for the week, and to-do lists for the month, and once again, the days go by unrecorded and soon-to-be forgotten, or if not forgotten, hazy and indistinct with time.

Because I have a very random thought process, or maybe just because it was an obvious solution, I have turned to my blog as a place to dump my thoughts and memories and little bitty tidbits of random information, probably significant to only myself. I just thought I should explain the possible shift in my blogging intentions (if my intentions are genuine as I believe them to be- which, unfortunately, they often are not), and why there might be more lengthy posts that are seemingly random, trivial and unnecessarily boring. Ha, maybe you already thought I was being random and trivial and boring! If that’s the case, you will either find my future blogging to be more boring than ever, or, perchance, more interesting, because I will not be trying so hard to restrict myself to what I personally found to be boring-to-write updates. If you prefer my blog the way it was before this fateful day, look for the posts with pictures, because writer Ashley has given herself free reigns on her bloggy.

Ps. I don't know why I am explaining this, except that I felt like writing, and journaling was what was on my mind.  I guess this makes the first for random, as I would never have posted this before today. 

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Around My Home

It's been a good week.  Joshua and I were in Canada for a bit, and coming home was oh-so-sweet.  I am still enjoying the bliss of being home with my two guys.  I missed being a family so much.  We've been reveling in togetherness: talking together, shopping together, eating together; cooking, laughing, playing, planning together.     

When I came home, I discovered that John CAN keep secrets from me, after all.  When I walked through the front door, the last of our old carpet had been ripped up.   

We now have hardwood floors through our whole house (minus the kitchen)- mottled with pain, worn out and in need of repair and refinishing, yes, but they're still hardwood.  =6

John had also sealed the cracks and painted the ceiling of the upstairs hallway.  He went to Home Depot to buy a new light for the ceiling, as the old one looked very...old....but he ended buying a can of spray paint and fixed it up quite nicely.  It looks so bright and fresh up there, now. 

He did a bunch of yardwork, too, and put a new lock on the back door and windows throughout the house.  Somehow, I don't think the locks would make very interesting pictures.

Another change, this one by personal request, was moving Joshua's big boy bed back to the "big room."  He was adjusting well to it, but after a few nights he decided he prefered his crib, and he's informed me on many occasions that he "don't like big boy bed."  So that, along with a dozen other reasons, made me think that having the big boy bed and the crib in the same room would make for an easier transition (I guess that should have been obvious to me in the beginning).  I'm not in any particular rush to have him move from one to the other, but at least it's ready for him when he decides that's what he wants.

We don't have an official guest room anymore, but we can still manage fine, I think.  I guess we'll know better next time we have company- which isn't too far off. 

I love these Thomas wall decals- they're so fun and easy to use and move around. 

I found these glow-in-the-dark decals at Target.  Actually, my parents bought the Thomas decals from Target, too, last spring.  We don't have any pictures for the walls, so between Thomas and the stars, some of the empty space is filled in.

Now I'm on my way up to that very room to get Joshua up from his nap.