Sunday, July 4, 2010

Blackberries, jelly, and prickers...

This whole week I have been picking wild blackberries and trying my hand at canning. I'm having a great time (aside from a few thorns here and there!) I have cut paths into the best bushes across from the house, and it has made the instances of prickers stuck in my hands and the kids hands drop drastically.

So far I have picked about 18lbs of berries and made jelly from about 15lbs of them! I am making my jelly with only sugar and lemons, and it is working great! The kids love it and we have eaten about a pint already!  Needless to say, I have been busy with that and not online too much.

We have a few more weeks of blackberries, and then it will be time for blueberries! I can't wait.

Other goings on:

The boys seem to have gotten over the death of Houdini, and there is talk of a new hamster soon.

Cute Hubbie is almost done the closet and I can't wait! I need somewhere to put all of these canned goods. Arden is the designated helper and is constantly under foot with his toy tools, waiting for something to "help" with.

The weather, while beautiful, has not produced any rain here in over a month, and our poor gardens are starting to show the signs of it.

That is about all I have for updates! I hope everyone enjoys this wonderful 4th of July!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Goodbye Houdini.

This evening we found Houdini the Hamster dead. He was up and about last night and this morning when I checked his food and water. We assume that he fell asleep sometime midday and didn't wake up.

We were his second family after receiving him from a family on freecycle. He was loved by many. He was quite the escape artist (ergo the name), and was found many times running around the house and on the bathroom counters.

We held a funeral for him this evening and buried him in the yard. Rory is understandably upset, and Arden seems to have taken it well. Canyon is just to young to get it, and knows that Houdini is "all gone". Arden and Rory both petted him one last time and helped us bury him and said goodbye. Thanks to our neighbor, Deb, for her support and presence at the funeral.

So, rest in peace dear Houdini. You were well loved and you will be missed and remembered.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

An Action Packed Sunday!

Today was busy and interesting to say the least.

We think Rory is having food allergy issues again. He has been having rashes again, and has been eating a good amount of dairy which I think is the culprit. He actually ate way too much yesterday, and as we pulled into church my darling son began to cry and say he didn't want to go in (which is really weird for him), and then he proceeded to vomit... EVERYWHERE in the van, on his seat, on himself, on the back of my seat, just everywhere. Cute hubbie took the other boys in while I took Rory home for a shower and to wash the van out. (Why was I the one to get the wonderful chore of cleaning it? Well, as wonderful as cute hubbie is, the one thing he cannot do without making more of a mess, is clean vomit, lol).  After that though, Rory was fine.

We then went to Lowes so cute hubbie could get some parts to work on our water/well/plumbing. I wondered about halfway through our little project what the divorce rate for that kind of thing is, but thank goodness the project went well (and fairly quickly) and there were no violent outbreaks or threats of divorce from either of us, (although I do have to admit the thought of both crossed my mind for a few fleeting seconds, lol).

After that, the boys and I (and later cute hubbie) spent a few hours picking black berries and black raspberries from the wild vines around our house. They are just in the beginning of the short season, and there are a ton more to pick, but we got just about 4 lbs of berries!

After a nice (but all too short) thunderstorm passed, we decided to make jelly with the berries. I made it without any "sure-jell" type products, just lemon, water, berries and sugar. I'm proud to say that my jelly came out perfect and on my first try :) I ended up with about 5-6 pints (although I canned it in half pints). I'm guessing that I will end up with about 10-15 more lbs of berries over the coming week or two. I hope to make enough of these and of blueberry jam (and maybe strawberries too) to get me and my neighbor through the year without buying any... (and between 5 kids, us moms, and 2 cute husbands, that is a lot of jelly and jam to need!)

I made a few batches of fresh pesto this week too from our herb garden! It is wonderful and I froze a lot to have over the winter.

All the wonderful families at our church have been donating their old canning equipment to me to try my hand at canning. Cute hubbie and my mother think I might be insane for trying my hand at being as self sustaining as possible, but I am wanting to can as much homegrown food and local produce as possible. I am really looking forward to it! It isn't a matter of the cost (which really isn't always better), it is a matter of the health of the food and subsequently our family!

My darling hubbie will have to knock out a closet wall for me soon so that I can make a canning pantry  (we have a closet that backs up to the stairs, so I want that under-stair space for storage), I am excited and hoping that happens soon! Our current kitchen space is great, but our storage is minimal. This closet extension will help a TON!

 Maybe I will leave that job for next Sunday...

Friday, June 25, 2010

Local Asheville Peeps (and others)

I just thought I would throw this out there, we are looking for a few items around the house for free or LOW cost...

1.) Air Purifier - We had an Ionic Pro which we loved, but it has finally died and we are having allergy issues like CRAZY!

2.) Working TV - our bedroom TV bit the dust...

3.) Working AC unit - Poor Carl needs this for when he is in the shed, which is a lot.

Let us know if you have these items to pass on! Thanks!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Father's Day Fun

Well, after our week at the beach, my camera is officially on the fritz. There was an incident with my camera and my nephew pouring water into my diaper bag (where said camera was well hidden and away from all water). It is still turning on, and still taking a few photos, but I don't anticipate it lasting much longer. The shutter release, auto focus, buttons for the flash, multi-shot function, macro function, focus choice, white balance, and other settings aren't working. So it looks like you folks may be getting more text then photos until I can afford a new camera.

Here are a few photos from father's day, which may very well be the last from my camera. We headed out to Looking Glass Falls, the National Forest, and the Davidson River. It was a blast! (None of the photos of Carl or myself came out...)

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Arden on his bike for the first time...

Here are a few quick videos of Arden riding a 2 wheel bike (no training wheels) for the first time. We got him the bike for his birthday while we were at the beach. He did great and loved it! What a natural!

Friday, June 18, 2010

The past few weeks...

The past few weeks have been full of fun and changes for the kids. Here are a few shots of what we have been up to (including Arden's birthday, Arden's first bike ride, Rory's Kindergarten Graduation, and our mini vacation to the beach). In case you can't tell, we have been BUSY!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Trout Fishing

Today we got up at the crack of dawn to go fishing with the boys on the local delayed harvest streams here in WNC.

The cool thing about this is that these streams are catch and release only for months and stocked a number of times, and on the opening day only children are allowed to fish until noon. Children should be pulling in fish left and right. That wasn't the case today, while we did have a great time, only Rory caught a trout after hours of fishing. Carl had been fishing this stream routinely and catching (and releasing) fish (sometimes 30 in a day) over the past few months... this pretty much means that poachers have been taking the fish out over the last few days leaving very little for those that follow the rules. It is sad that the large numbers of children we saw on the river didn't get to experience the thrill of catching fish the way they should have.

Anyhow, that being said, here are a few photos of the boys having fun down on the river... (I couldn't for the life of me get them to all look at the camera at once, lol).

Monday, May 24, 2010

I just don't understand Better Homes and Gardens...

I'm a fan of breastfeeding. I do it. I have a kid who is over 2 years old and still nurses. I do it in church, at restaurants, school events, and honestly, anywhere that I need to. I don't think twice about it.

I know that here in the US, public nursing is deemed a incredibly taboo thing, but aside from the health benefits, emotional benefits, and the support from medical groups (like the World Health Organization), the plain and simple thing is, it works for us.

Recently Better Homes and Gardens author Heather W. wrote a blog about the 10 commandments of dining out with children. She is admittedly not a parent, nor does she really have a clue what it is to be one (as shown in her article.)

The entire article was arrogant, condescending and offensive, but what REALLY set off the readers and subscribers of Better Homes and Gardens, was the tenth commandment. "Thou shall not breastfeed at the table". She didn't suggest feeding a child with decorum, or even something like positioning yourself away from other diners. She didn't even say for moms to go to the car or waiting area. She took it as far as to say,
Yes, I have seen table-side breast feeding at a four-star restaurant. If at all possible, take it to the ladies room. (Note: most upscale restaurants have really nice restrooms!)
 WHAT? She actually said that? While working for a magazine whose entire base is women who stay home and work on their homes and families? Really? What is even worse is that the editors ALLOWED this to be published! The first commandments (as condescending and rude as they are) were something I could ignore and pass by... but the last one?

Here in the US it is illegal to force a mom to go to the bathroom to nurse. I have talked about how I think women should act with some decorum for the sake of those that are uncomfortable, but I have never thought a woman should remove herself from her meal (that she is paying for) to go to a bathroom to eat, or to feed a child. The thought is absurd, and quite honestly, it turns my stomach. I don't care what class of restaurant you are in, if someone takes a crap, it stinks. People change feminine products in restrooms, have sex, miss the bowl, squat-n-go, all leading to the point that a restroom can never be "clean enough to eat off of".

As for Better Homes and Gardens. A few different apologies have been written, but the article still stands, as the 9 commandments instead of 10. They admit that it is offensive, and that the article was not sent through the proper editorial steps before publishing.

The first apology was this:
Editor's Note: We sincerely apologize that this blog was posted! It was not vetted by our editors, and it reflects poor parenting advice and an offensive tone. We have removed the most patently inappropriate sections. We support breastfeeding moms -- and all moms -- in their desire to include their children in their public lives.

We pledge to do better in the future in both the tone and content of our posts. We will be posting our positive parenting tips for eating out soon. Send us yours at

--The editorial team at Better Homes and Gardens 
Then that was retracted and a shorter, less "real", more watered down apology was issued.

I for one will not renew my subscription to Better Homes and Gardens for no other reason than this: the editing staff allowed this article, allowed the comment about feeding children in a bathroom, and obviously doesn't find the entire thing offensive enough to remove.

A facebook group calling for the boycotting of Better Homes and Gardens has been started, and there is a lot of support for them on various breastfeeding and natural parenting sites... which is funny seeing as how these women are the target audience for Better Homes and Garden.

It is amazing that someone would put their job on the line and be this offensive to the millions of women who read their publication. I just don't understand.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Happy Birthday Canyon!!

Today Canyon turns 2 years old! I can't believe it. He is still my little baby boy, but he is getting so big, and fast!

Canyon is talking up a storm, and is my most adventurous child! I swear he has no fear what-so-ever. He chases his brothers everywhere and tries to do everything that they do. He is genuinely funny, and he can make anyone laugh. His smile is bright and beautiful, and it melts my heart.

It is such a bittersweet day for me to see him growing up.

I'm very glad that he is growing up, and while I love babies, I am thrilled that we are out of those baby stages. As a friend of mine said "I'm a great mom to babies, but an even better mom to little boys." I totally agree with her, I much prefer the moments now, and the interactions we get to have as the kids get older!

I will always love the moments of holding them close, and cuddling with a baby who still has that "newborn smell", but there is nothing like those first bike rides, trips to amusement parks, and talks that you get to have with them as they get older.

I'm happy to say that we have made it 2 years nursing. While a lot of people don't understand, it is a wonderful thing to have a child extended nurse, and there are a ton of wonderful health and mental benefits to it. While he is 2 years old, he is still a baby, and still needs those benefits.

So, without further-to-do, here are a few shots of my (no so little) baby boy over the last 2 years. Some of these photos are take by Sonya Stone an awesome local photographer and wonderful friend. Others were by me.