Thursday, October 29, 2015

Not perfect at all... but then again, pretty perfect

Although you, dear reader, might get the impression from this blog that I am a perfect mother, since I raise my kids in such a beautiful place, and since I offer them plenty of adventures, let me tell you: I am NOT a perfect mother.  Not at all.  In fact, most days I wish I had more patience, were more emotionally balanced, and paid more attention to my kids, which is probably how every mother feels some of the time, if she's honest with herself.

However, there was one day last week when I felt like a perfect mother for about five seconds.  Lukas had a stomach ache all day and didn't act like himself.  So I made him chicken noodle soup with a chicken I had raised (and Luke had slaughtered many months ago), with carrots, onions and garlic I had grown in the garden (and Luke had weeded many months ago), and with herbs and spices I had grown and dried.

I also made him freshly pressed juice from beets, carrots, celery, cucumbers and apples to boost his immunity with vitamins and minerals so his white blood cells could kick better butt.  As I sat rubbing his tummy, smelling chicken soup on the stove, sipping veggie juice, I thought, "Wow, I actually feel like I am doing the exact right thing here."

It's a good sensation to feel like you are the perfect mother, even if it only lasts for five seconds.

Talking of offering my kids adventure: The other day, I took them up the hill behind our house, which is actually more like a mountain bordering on wilderness all the way up to Canada.  Luke carried his bow in case he came upon a grouse, and Kai, Eva and I lumbered behind him trying not to make too much noise.

30 minutes after leaving our house, we reached one of my favorite spots: the fairy pools.

It's a powerful place, with massive moss-covered boulders, a wild creek carving its way through a steep valley, tumbling and falling along the way and making a heck of a racket.  Eva was scared of the loud, raw energy of this spot and kept requesting to go home so she could "hug the house".  The boys bribed her into hanging out there a little longer with hot chocolate and marshmallows later.  On the way back, we felt like fairies, stomping through moss and ferns, and finding more beautiful spots by the creek.

Since I'm showing off nature pictures:  Here are some more, from our fishing adventure at the local fishing hole.  The creeks are all so low that no new salmon are coming up.  The only thing we catch are bear tracks, and Eva.

Oooops.  Eva got caught in the fishing net.
Other news of the week: my goat ladies got a new boyfriend.  His name is Cowboy, and he is a dashing and not too stinky Boer buck.  We hope that he will do his job and breed the girls, so we can have cute baby goats and fresh milk in the spring.  The ladies didn't know what to think of him at first.  They butted heads and sniffed each other a lot.  If you want to read more about the hilarious courtship of goats, you can read my earlier blog post about that here.

This view from the back affords a great view of his... ahhhh, assets, shall we say...
And since I'm mentioning milk, I thought I should show you a picture of my friend, neighbor and student Cindy Lou, who took my online cheese making class in June and came by to cut into her first-ever wheel of Gouda.  She used pasteurized, store-bought cow milk, and the cheese tasted absolutely fantastic!  I'm so proud of her!!!  I will teach more of my online cheese making classes next year.

I will leave you with a couple of domestic scenes of pumpkin carving and a home-brewed kombucha drink.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Gramma, Auntie, and lots of real German food

This week, Steve's mother and sister Beth visited us for three days.  They live in Minnesota, and we don't see each other as often as we'd like.  With three grown children of her own, Beth seemed to relish Eva's little kid energy and the boys' preteen vibes.  Grandma, of course, lives for her grandkids.

We had a wonderful time and spent a lot of time cooking and enjoying made-from-scratch meals, some of them original German fare (kaesspaetzle, sauerkraut with ham, apple pie).

The kids relished the visit, of course.  Getting that much one-on-one attention all day long is rare with us boring parents, so having Grandma and Auntie Beth to play with was a treat, especially for little Eva.  Steve took Eva to pick them up at the airport, and upon seeing Beth for the first time in years, Eva remarked, "Wow! Auntie Beth looks like a teenager girl!" I bet this statement helped cement the immediate love between the two.

Grandma and Beth spent hours playing games with the kids.  Bless their hearts and their patience with Eva, who kept proclaiming how smart she is, since she beat everyone at "Memory" almost every time.  Nope, my daughter doesn't lack in self confidence (but could use some humility.  Ahem).

One excursion involved ice cream and the pumpkin patch at Cascadian Farm.  Although I grew plenty of pie pumpkins in my garden, the boys insisted on picking a huge one at the pumpkin patch.  Who am I to stop them?

After hauling giant orange vegetables on our shoulders, we went fishing by the river, where poor Grandma had to sit in the grass on the bank, while the kids fished and, in Eva's case, baked mud pies with her best friend.

See poor Gramma sitting over there on the other bank, merrily knitting away?
On the way back from the river, we ran into some friendly cows who licked our hands with their grey (yes: grey!), slimy, sandpaper-y tongues.

On the last day of their visit, we visited the "East side" (a two hour drive over the North Cascades), stuffing our faces at the Cinnamon Twisp Bakery, fishing at Pearrygin State Park, playing in the fall leaves, and visiting Sun Mountain Lodge with its stunning views and tame deer.

My sweetie and I

This beautiful spot is a mere one hour drive from our house and is called Washington Pass

I will leave you with images that touched my heart this week:

The morning sky after milking the goats...

...fall leaves...

... and more fall leaves...

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Morning scenes...

We are up to our eyeballs into our homeschooling routine again.  The easy rhythm of summer days has given away to more structure, where the kids sit down at the kitchen table after doing their morning chores and start on schoolwork.  By the time the boys have finished math, language arts, social studies, science and German, it's lunch time, and they are done.  Yep, done.  The whole school thing takes them three hours instead of all day (our kids would have to ride the school bus for a total of three hours to attend public school), and the rest of the day is free to do whatever they want ("Wanna help me muck out the goat barn, boys?").

Lately, this free time has involved fishing.  We are waiting for the Silvers (salmon) to come upriver, but so far they are not complying.  We know the sunny days and blue skies are numbered, so we really take this task seriously.  As seriously as it can get, basking in the sunshine, bald eagles flying overhead, water twinkling, mountains showing themselves off in the distance...

I told you that I have been bitten by the fishing bug, right?

Instead of catching fish, Luke catches Eva
As always, I'm very focused on food: growing it, tending it, harvesting it, preserving it - and eating it!  The other morning, I was struck by its beauty.  Chevre drained by the sink, Greek Yogurt hung above it, oatmeal with blueberries and blackberries picked months before bubbled on the stove, and a frying pan with greens from the garden and our own brilliantly orange duck eggs finished up the still life.  Beautiful food!

While the boys do their schoolwork, I make cheese, do dishes or finish making pickles.  One of my friends gave me her cucumber pickle recipe, which our family has fallen in love with.  I store the finished pickle jars in the fridge, because although they kind of seal, they are not really canned.  These dill pickles are super crisp and super easy, so I cranked out a total of 25 quarts one morning.  That should keep us in pickles for a while, although the kids eat a jar a day.

Yes, yes, life is busy, with homeschooling, farming, finishing up my online cheese making class, and trying to keep the house somewhat clean (good luck with that).  I try to find a quiet, peaceful moment whenever I can.  So the other morning after milking the goats, I wandered in the yard for a few minutes, while Eva helped do chores.  I found some peaceful fall scenes I want to share with you.

With all this business and attention on the boys, I make it a point to give Eva some quality time.  She plays contentedly by herself for hours, so it's important to do something special with her every now and then, don't you think?

Yesterday, we walked up the dirt road behind our house.  Here is where it led us.  Not bad, eh?

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