Tuesday, July 22, 2008

"Check out my Cherry!"

My family loves cherries. We also love blueberries, Marion berries, Logan berries, strawberries, huckleberries, raspberries, and black berries. In fact, if a person could survive entirely off of berries, I think we would give it a go.

These pictures were taken during our last cherry-picking trip. We know a lovely couple who have a cherry orchard on their property. The arrangement is quite simple really - we bring them several bags of 100% Kona Coffee that the IL's send us from Hawaii and we get to pick as many cherries as we can cart away.

We went berry picking for the first time about five years ago, right after my husband and I moved to Oregon from Colorado. On a whim (because you can do things 'on a whim' before you have kids) we visited a local "u-pick" berry farm and for about 15 bucks we left with more raspberries, blueberries, strawberries and black caps than we could shake a stick at. Needless to say - we were hooked.

Now every year around April or so we start to get antsy waiting for the sun and the warmth of summer to come and ripen the berries. We practically start foaming at the mouth as we daydream about the red, sweet, swollen fruit and how it will taste right off the branch, in our pancakes, on top of our cereal, and in a cool, refreshing smoothie. We also freeze a lot of fruit to get us through the long winter months and we give a lot to neighbors and friends.

This year I want to try something new. I have always wanted to learn how to make jam and to can fruits and veggies, but some reason I'm a little intimidated by the whole canning/jam making process. I just don't know where to start! So please, if anyone out there has some good advice, I'd love to hear it. You never know, there could be a jar of homemade jam in it for you!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

My Search is Over

I would consider myself to be a pretty decent cook and I always enjoy trying a cool new recipe. I have been searching the internet for a while looking for a good food blog and now my search is over. For those of you who love food and love to cook, you have to check out this blog, Use Real Butter, by Jen Yu. (You'll have to click on it from my blog roll section though because I still haven't figured out how to link to things within my posts. Hey, I just said I was decent at cooking, not using a computer!)

Anyway, I just found it today and it's awesome. The photography is ahhh-mazing! and it's packed with mouth-watering recipes! The entire site is delicious! Just do yourself a favor and don't visit on an empty stomach or you'll find yourself clawing at your screen in a useless attempt to get at some of the delicious looking food. Happy drooling!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

This I do not like

I had the extreme pleasure of grocery shopping with both boys not just once, but twice over the weekend. Let me say now that I would rather pluck my eye lashes out one by one instead of go grocery shopping with my kids.

You're probably wondering what the big deal is, right? Honestly, it's not just one thing that makes shopping with my kids so stressful and exhausting - it's a lot of little things that combine to transform the entire experience into one big 'ol clusterfuck.

To begin with, there's always SO MUCH FREAKING EFFORT that goes into just getting out the damn door. I know this is a constant, but still. There's sunscreen to be applied, sun hats and Transformer sunglasses to find, sandals to put on, snacks, drinks, and a daiper bag to pack, butts to wipe, etc. etc. I'm usually done before we even start!

And of course there's everything that happens once we get to the store. I always, WITHOUT FAIL, have to switch carts several times because I pick the one with the 1) broken/missing safety strap or 2) the safety strap that looks like its covered with crusty, year-old vomit.

And what would a shopping trip be without the fussing and the whining that starts approximately 8.5 minutes after entering said store? Since Captain Crazy is older he usually starts in first. Our conversations usually go something like this:

"Mommy, can I have some candy"
"Mommy, can I have some gun"
"Mommy, can I have a toy"
"Mommy, why do you say "no" all the time?
"I waaaant a toy, Mommy! Please Mommy, please!"
"You're such a terrible mommy!"

By then The Destroyer is usually starting to act out too. He can't talk yet, but boy does he let me know when he's unhappy. Usually he wants to look at something in the cart, and I of course can't figure out what that item is. Our conversations go something like this:

The Destroyer -(pointing)"um, um, um"
Me - "What do you want, Dane? Do you want to look at this box?"
The Destroyer - (Shaking head "no") Ahhh! Ahhh! Ahhhhhhhhhh!
Me - "Here Dane, look at this can, isn't it neat?"
The Destroyer - AAAAHHHHHH! Gaaaa NAAAAAAA!. Chucks can out of the cart into the middle of the isle.

I try to keep my cool but by now people are clearly gawking at me - the incompetent, clueless mom in isle 7.

The only time I can keep my two lovelies relatively happy during a shopping trip is to take them to Freddies where they get to ride in the race car shopping carts. The boys LOVE them. I LOATH them. They weigh damn near a ton, are cumbersomb, and they make a shitload of noise. They usually get along fine until one of them starts hogging the wheel. Anyway, if I remember correctly, that shopping trip took a little over 45 minutes. We left the store with a package of hamburger buns, some deordorant, bananas, and some cat litter.

So what I want to know is this - what things do you avoid doing with your kids? Is there any activity that you avoid doing at all costs and why?

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Do you Believe?

It's been over a week since my visit with the medium and I have been struggling with how to write this post - you know, exactly what to share and what not to. I just don't want to sound like a completely crazed maniac and make my tiny readership vanish like cupcakes at fat camp.

With that said, what follows is my best attempt at describing my hour and a half visit with her, which I must admit, I really enjoyed. And in case you're wondering - and I know you are - that is NOT her in the picture but that is exactly what I was afraid she would look like. In fact, I was so afraid of it that I almost chickened out at the last minute, but I mustered up the balls to go and I'm glad I did. For those of you who might just be stumbling upon my site for the first time - you can read my post The Fear of Death to catch you up to speed before you proceed any further - it will help you make sense of all of the gobbledygook in this post.

Anyway, the morning of my visit I pulled up to her "office". She greeted me at the door and I was instantly at ease with her. She was warm and friendly and very normal looking which I was very pleased with. Turns out she wasn't a quack at all and has in my opinion, quite a bit of "street cred", the main bit being that she works with four different police departments around the state of Colorado to help locate missing children and she's been doing this type of work almost her entire life. Good enough for me.

We sat down and exchanged pleasantries and she asked me if I had any particular issues I wanted to explore or any one in particular I wanted to contact. I was hoping to contact my grandfather, who passed away when I was about 5, but I just said that I was new to all of this and didn't really know where to start. She encouraged me to ask whatever questions came to mind so I decided to ask her what she thought was "out there" after we died. She couldn't say if there is a heaven and a hell, but she doesn't think it's all over when we die or she wouldn't be able to see and hear and what she does. Funny as that sounds - it made me feel better.

She spent most of our visit doing a general reading where she touched on quite a few things that really hit close to home. They're all too complicated to try to explain but suffice it to say that I was hanging on every word. If our visit had ended at this point I would have been happy with the whole experience, but then my grandfather dropped by for a visit.

I was just sitting there and she suddenly got really quiet. She said that she saw a "grandfather type" figure behind me. She said his hand was over his chest, like he had heart problems or suffered a heart attack (my grandfather died of a heart-attack). She said he was showing her his hands and that they were big and said that he looked like a big man (he was over 6'4) She said that she was seeing roads and bridges around him (he was a highway construction worker) and that he was saying that his back didn't hurt anymore (When he was alive, his back often hurt from sleeping on the ground or on cots at the work site when they were on long jobs. She said that he said that Mary was there with him (Mary was his sister. She and her husband owned the construction company that he worked for) She said that Mary said her legs felt better now (When my Aunt Mary was alive, she had bad arthritis in her legs) And then she asked me if there was a new baby on the way. I told her that the newest baby in my family was my youngest son who is now 15 mos. She shook her head and said that she saw a little girl there with my grandfather and that she would be in our lives by next Christmas. I told her that we were done having kids and she said that the little girl was very much meant to be in our lives and that it wasn't a matter of "if" it was a matter of "when". Needless to say, this last part took me by surprise.

I told my husband all of this, which he thinks is all a big fat load of hogwash. In his mind he's done having kids. He believes that once the kids outnumber the parents it can only spell disaster. Needless to say, there hasn't been any action at our house since I returned from my trip, but things will resume sometime in the near future once all of this fogs over in his mind. The trouble is, I don't think it will ever fog over in my mind. Am I cheating a little soul out of a chance at life if we continue to make sure we don't have any more kids? Do I want another baby? A couple of my friends say that I/we should just go about our lives as we would normally do and that if it's meant to happen then it will. I guess that's the only thing to do and doing anything other than that would be pretty stupid. And I know that I'm pretty lucky to have the biggest piece of shocker news be that we might have another baby - it could have been something worse.

As I was leaving I thanked her for her time and she siad "just call me when she's born" Talk about no pressure.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Back from the Void

Have you ever been so happy to return home from a trip that you almost busted out with a happy dance and kissed the ground when you landed? I sure have - once when I returned home from South Korea with my Army unit and almost every time I come back from visiting my parents.

Not that I don't love my parents. God knows I do, but.....over the last few years going home has morphed into this angst-filled, hand-wringing, exercise in frustration. I can't pinpoint what exactly makes it this way now because nothing bad happens really. It's just stressful now and there's always so much DRAMA. Oh, the DRAMA!

We've never been the type of family who gathers around the kitchen table and plays board games while happily reminiscing about the "good 'ol times" - probably because we haven't experienced many "good 'ol times". My father suffered a major stroke when he was 48, when I was in the 5th grade and my brother and sister were in college. My mother carried the family financially and even though we didn't go without much, I know the stress of taking care of my dad and being the sole bread-winner took it's toll on both of them.

My parents are now in their mid-seventies, and they both have so many health problems that I've lost track of them all. Conversations revolve around doctor's visits, the latest aches and pains, and which one of their close friends have kicked the bucket. Yet they do NOTHING to help themsleves feel better. They think take out pizza is a healthy meal and a huge piece of cake is an completely appropriate bedtime snack. To top it all off - my mom smokes like a fucking train. It's enough to make me want to slam my head into a brick wall.

To utter a word about their chosen lifestyle or shitty habits is equivilent to shooting oneself in the foot - so I bite my tongue, hold my breath and repeat calming mantras over and over in my head.

I guess what I'm beginning to experience is just the norm with aging parents. I'm trying to accept my mom's growing grumpiness and constant irritation with the world and everyone in it. I'm trying to accept the fact that my dad is totally incapable of making it on his own if something happens to my mom, yet he's totally against the idea of moving in with any of us so we can take care of him. As my dad always says, "getting old is the shits" Yeah dad, it sure is.

On a little brighter note - I did see the Medium I mentioned in my last post. It was a pretty awesome experience overall. I'll write about it soon - I'm still trying to process the whole experience. If some of the things she said do come true - my life is in for a big change.