Apples to Apples, A Reality Tale

Once upon a time, there was a hard-working man who

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Showing 4 of 7 boxes.

loved his family. Always on the lookout for ways to provide for them, he scoured the land for opportunities and offers. One day he found one, and he brought it home.

All 400 pounds of it.

Determined to help his excited but slightly overwhelmed wife, he collected his beloved children and dove right in, because there is no time like the present.

Late that night, the first 4 gallons of canned juice sat on the counter, and many more gallons waited in buckets for processing. And the man who loved his family worried.
“I shouldn’t have juiced them all at once,” he said. “We might not get it canned before they start to ferment.”

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Keeping it Real (A Kitchen in Canning)

The faithful wife, feeling slightly less overwhelmed under the sudden pressure (it seems backwards, but this is how she often responds to pressure), determined to rise early in the morning.

And so it was that she canned 16 gallons of juice in 6 hours thanks to three large pots, four helpful children, and an abundance of tea.

Except for the final cup of juice, which she drank while it was still hot, and the delicious, glorious flavor reminded her yet again of all the good things her loving husband did for their family. 

All the same, when he later suggested getting another 300 pounds of apples, she didn’t much hesitate to discourage the thought!

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Remembering Nannie

The Dearliest’s grandmother passed away last Wednesday, and I have spent the recent days thinking about the conversations we shared over the years. Stories about WWII, movie stars she met, and life in Ireland before her immigration. My favorite stories of course were the ones she told of the Dearliest. I could listen to her all day.

You will be missed, Nannie, but you leave a legacy behind, and not one of your children, grandchildren, or great-grandchildren will forget you.

Nannie, Me, LK (2008)

Risky Ventures, Parties and Bumps, the Quiet in Between

We went for a walk the other day. It was a risky venture, with rain in the forecast and all that, but we didn’t much care. At least, we didn’t until we heard the first rolls of thunder.

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“Uh, Mom?”

“Yeah,” I replied, turning the stroller around. “We’d better head back now. That’ll be here in 10 minutes.”

The first sprinkles fell just a few hundred feet from home, and fortunately for us it was a slower storm so the hammering wind didn’t hit until after we made it inside. By that point we didn’t care again, because we all had hot chocolate and popcorn and a warm heater.

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Squeaky turned 5!

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Drama-loving Pokado brought excitement to the party by splitting her head half an hour before people were scheduled to arrive. Fortunately it wasn’t super serious, the Dearliest was working nearby, and he was able to come home and patch her up with only minor delays to cake and ice cream.

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Quiet time happens almost every day (Sunday is often an exception in favor of family excursions). It is more difficult here than it was on the mountain, since space is more minimal, but I have found a setup that works (most the time) and allows me an hour or so of (mostly) quiet while Arc and the Princess take their naps.

Quiet time generally looks like this (complete with laundry waiting to be dealt with):

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The kids switch off which location they get, and the rules are simple. No talking, no noises, no getting up except for water or restrooms. They read/ look at books, color, or do other quiet activites that don’t involve toys. Legos/ Magformers are sometimes allowed.

The key, I have found, is to make sure it is ALONE time. Even my social butterfly benefits from an hour of not seeing her siblings, and my go-go never still LK seems calmer the rest of the afternoon if he has some time away from the others.

Does it always work? Nyet. In fact, as I’m writing this the kids have taken their quiet time creations and banded together to form a rescue squad of horses battling floods and burning buildings. Quiet time is nearing an end anyway, so I’m inclined to let it ride this time and not enforce the last 5 minutes.

Cherry Marinara

When we realized just how much our cherry tomatoes were going to produce, I made immediate plans for canning marinara sauce. The Dearliest was somewhat skeptical at first, because cherry tomatoes aren’t Roma tomatoes and they were loaded with seeds.


A week passed, during which there were grapes to process and colds to fight. Finally, it was time to mount the first ever Mass Marinara Cook-Off. We spent two days picking tomatoes, and I really should have taken two more days to do the remaining steps. But no, I decided to blanch, puree, sauce, AND can in one. My feet were sore.

Fortunately I did have some faithful helpers!

There is at least one more batch of equal size still ripening in the garden, and I look forward to it with eagerness. And promise of a foot massage.

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An Unaverage School Day

tmp_6694-wp_20160929_18_11_53_pro449149053Last week we were coming off colds and in that state where physical energy is wild (but limited) and book concentration is a joke. Too well to stay in bed, but not well enough to study, we took a walk instead.

It became primarily a lesson in observation. One of them noticed a bird on the wire above us, so I asked them to I.D. it, which they did (dove). I then asked for more information, and they proceeded to mimick the various dove songs, tell me about its food, and then a cat wandered across our path.

So we talked about cats.

Pokado saw a pretty purple flower in a garden, and I intended to steer discussion to parts of a flower and root systems when the 3 year old shouted, “PLANE!”

Guess what we talked about next.

The walk went like that for 20 minutes, then when we got back I spent another 20 minutes looking up things like basic aerodynamics*, do female cows have horns, and is there gravel in asphalt.

To me one of the best things about homeschooling is when a kiddo asks me a question, and my answer is, “You know, I don’t know! Let’s find out together.” They see me excited to learn along with them, and that fuels their own excitement.

* I should mention that I now try to look up potential walk topics before we leave, because I KNOW why a plane flies, but I hadn’t thought about it in so long I couldn’t think how to explain it in kid-friendly terms.