Friday, August 30, 2013

Jen Can Cook

Hey so.  I hate to cook.  OR DO I??  Ha ha.  Not anymore!

I used to be a great "fixer of foods."  But then Matt took over the kitchen and I was all like, "Dude take it."

And so it was for 10+ years.  I did cook, but on the sly.  Like when Matt was out of town.  But then I had a kid.  And then I had another kid.  And I was suddenly a stay at home mom.  I was like a rat trapped in corner.  I had no excuses left!  Argghhhhhhhh!!!

Luckily for me, my sister-in-law is a classically trained chef (French Culinary Institute in NY mhm) who teaches CHILDREN how to cook.  So I felt confident that if anyone could teach me how to cook properly, she was the super woman to do it.

And so we started with basics.  Knife skillz.  I learned how to chop onions in that nifty lil' cubey way and how to dice n' julienne n' chiffonade n' well, you get the picture.

We quickly moved on to applicable basics such as, searing, baking, meat temps, how to make a rockin' roux, how to make my own dough and much much more.

Armed with KNOWLEDGE I learned to improvise in my own kitchen.  I learn by doing but also being able to reference back to my notes gave me a sense of comfort.

I will never be an intuitive cook.  But I can look at a recipe and improvise enough to not ruin it.  If I look in my pantry for "ideas" I end up calling Matt to order pizza and pick it up on the way home.  I still struggle with meal planning.  I also often fall back to my favorite:  soups.  I can make an awesome soup.  Most of the time.

I'm learning.  I don't LOVE to cook; however I LOVE to eat.  So if I want to eat a home cooked meal that I've made from scratch using ingredients from my farm share or our garden and no preservatives then I will make it.  Because now, I can. 

Monday, August 26, 2013


So, Ethan's camp is over and school is just around the bend.  This is the first full week he has had at home in the past 2 months!  Sadly, it rained today but he did get some bug catching in for a few minutes.  A really HUGE grasshopper which I wouldn't let him bring with him in the car.  I know, I'm mean, but seriously, you just KNOW that he would have lost control of that bugger in the car and it would have gone straight in my hair!  Good thing there is no shortage of grasshoppers at our house :)

Tomorrow we are, of course, going to have to "do something."  Mommy bought some Unisom so hopefully I can sleep tonight.  Amazing what a week or so of insomnia can do to you . . . *squint . . . twitch.*

Despite my attempts to get crafty with the eldest (and I mean with crafts,) he wanted none of it.  I don't get it.  Ethan used to love, love, love coloring.  Now I have to beg him to color with me.  Toby is sort of getting in to it so maybe once he gets the "bug" Ethan will join in!  I even tried painting but that was a no go.  When it started raining and he couldn't "go catch Mommy a purple snake" everything spiraled out of control.  I put in a movie but it was too long, so we tried puzzles but he wandered away.  We read books for a good while but Toby isn't exactly "gentle" with Ethan's books.  Toby, for his part, refused to nap until well after 4pm which upset Ethan because I had to keep focusing on the fussy baby. 

I felt bad for Ethan in a way.  He has been surrounded by peers and teachers that make him the focus for the past two months and the transition back to the real life at home must be hard.  Mommy and Toby just weren't cool enough.  He finally resorted to crawling around with Toby (who would follow him ANYWHERE) and it was ridiculously cute.  Ethan would then race to the kitchen, run outside then make Toby laugh through the glass.  I attempted to get this on video but their spidey-senses picked up my intentions and they stopped.  Of course. 

I'm hoping the weather holds tomorrow.  I would really like to take Ethan to a park.  We haven't gone to a park together in months.  And while we have the most awesome play gym EVER in our backyard, Mommy has yet to be able to conjure up the friends that need to go with it.  Let's just say that out of 30 kids parents, I was the only one trying to get a play date together and after a few cancellations (due to flooding and then sickness) they stopped responding . . . I digress.  The park I want to go to generally has people we know there so I'm crossing my fingers the weather holds (although it doesn't look promising.)

I have back ups in mind.  One of which is the um, er, grocery store *blush*  What!  He is a great help at the store! 

So I have a few weeks with my growing up boy until he goes back to preschool 3 days a week.  I've missed him a lot, but I'm not so sure he missed me!  

Monday, August 19, 2013

Bye Bye Baby

I haven't written about this yet.  Except to make abject statements of denial on Facebook but . . .

Toby is walking.

Truly walking.

He started about 3ish weeks ago with a few steps here and there.  During the Family Shuffle of 2013 in which Maine, Vermont and Florida were all traveled through/in/stayed at for various time periods for various reasons (some incredibly tragic and some starting sad and getting better,) he improved.  While at my dad's house in Florida, where he was recuperating, Toby took 6 steps . . . then more. 

Every time I see his little body just STANDING THERE it trips me out.

I have a few bad videos of him walking.  I never seem to grab the iPad in time.  I should put one up on here but really . . . I think I'm still in denial.  His little chubby feet shouldn't be able to balance, those wee chubby knees and that little body . . . nuh uh.

My last baby is now walking.  And he is always walking away from me.  He thrusts out his little wee chest and his happy feet just pitter patter away.  Ugh.  Heart.  Ache.

At least he is still nursing like a champ.  I can't begin to imagine how I will feel once he undertakes that "milestone."  (insert dagger in heart.)

Friday, August 16, 2013

Words . . .

In case you hadn't noticed, I tend to be prolific.  I enjoy writing in many forms and it is a great exercise for my baby soaked brain.  Werdz?  I haz werdz in ma brainz?  Yes, yes I do.

I have been writing for a long time.  Some stories seemed awesome (still do) and some petered out after I got whatever "writing bug" had burrowed into my consciousness onto paper.  (Or computer errr . . . screen.)

I start stories all the damn time.  I have A.D.D. when it comes to writing.  I get super excited, plunk a couple dozen (or hundred) pages down and then . . . . fizzzzzzzzzzzzzzle.  I walk away.  And then the next shiny idea happens and I'm all like, "Ahhhh I lurve the shinies!" and I write furiously for a few days/week and then fizzle out again.

I mostly write fantasy, but some plain fiction.  I've never written an urban fantasy bit that felt original enough to pursue; however, I never write fan fic either. I've made one foray into what I'd loosely call urban sci-fi.

Well, a few years ago I had an emotion that needed to be expressed.  So I started a story.  I am not an organized writer.  I rarely sit down with an outline, I lose track of characters and plot lines because this is how I am when I write . . .


As you can see it gets a bit hectic in my brain so I just dump it all out.  Then I go back and edit, edit, edit and edit some more.  Then I generally lose interest because the whole reason I even started writing was for ME and no one else is ever going to read it.

Well, now I done did it.  I actually FINISHED a story.  I've had (or rather asked) OTHER people to read it.  I haven't actually gotten much feedback yet (except I need to add page numbers . . .) so I'm not really sure if people think it is better used as toilet paper or they are just busy with their lives.  I suspect it is the latter.

Regardless, I finished it last night.  The ending needs to be heavily edited.  I swear no matter how many times I try to shorten something, it ends up longer.  Need to simplify?  Do it!  But let's add some more because my brain keeps making wordssssssss.

I've joined a writer's workshop in town but have yet to attend a meeting because it is at 6:30, prime dinner/bedtime hustle in our house with two wee kids.  I've also researched self-publishing (no thanks) and probably found ever single tip on how to "write better/more efficiently/more obsessively."  I write because it is fun for me.  I doubt I'll ever be super organized.  But that is okay.  We'll see where it goes.  I'll keep writing forever I suspect.  And if no one ever likes it, that is okay too.  Because I like what I write so na-na-na-na-boo-boo.

My house might be a messy but I FINISHED a story!


Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Series of (Un)Fortunate Events

So as I've mentioned, my father-in-law passed away a few weeks ago.  On the heels of arriving home from said trip to Maine I found out my father was in the hospital.  Like, 4 hours after we got back from Maine.  The next few days were a blur of waiting by the phone as I received updates and the mega-wrestling that I did on whether or not I should go. 

In the end, I went.  Scavenging clothes from one suitcase to put into another much smaller duffel I headed out with the littlest in tow.  While my father was mostly "out of the woods" (pun so very intended) by the time I arrived I was incredibly thankful for the family time I had.  Dad got to see Toby without Ethan around to suck up the attention in the way only a 3/4 year old can.  Toby has been working hard on walking and Dad got to see the progress in just 4 days.  Those milestones are special and once in a lifetime.  I'm very thankful he got to see them.

So, in the "find the silver lining" way that things happened in the past few weeks we got to see a boatload of family.  While I would never want a family member to die in order to pull us all together, that is exactly what happened.  We traveled to the family farm in Maine and the boys got massive time with loved ones near and far.  We then traveled (well, half of us) all the way to Florida to get as many hugs in as we could in a short amount of time.  Again, I wouldn't want a family member in the hospital to be the catalyst again but this time it was the kicked in the derriere to get me down there. 

But now, after most major events, I seem to have lost my brain.  I don't know where I left it but I'm hoping I find it in one of the partially unpacked bags.  I'm quite certain I'm forgetting things.  I'm so very discombobulated at the moment it is comical.  The vacuum left behind after a massive dose of upheaval.  There will always be "something" in life to keep us on our toes.  Let us hope we are done with death and hospitals for a while.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Do worms have hearts?

The questions a 3 year old asks when dealing with loss. (Answer is:  Yes, they actually have five hearts.)

My father-in-law passed away on 7/27.  It was a sudden affair and it left the family reeling.  Ethan didn't have a very close relationship with him, but he did know him.  Ethan is; however, very close with Grammie and his aunties and uncle.  Ethan's go-to response when presented with a situation where adults are distracted or not paying attention to him is to present you with the full on "Ethan Show." 
In an attempt to thwart this response, I began preparing him for the funeral and visitation with family the best way I knew how.  With honesty and information.

I explained in plain terms that his grandfather had died, his heart had stopped and he was gone forever.  This led to the aforementioned question about worm hearts.  Which then led to questions about dog hearts, cat hearts, whale hearts, oh you get the picture.  Also, not sure that was the point but all questions are "good" questions (usually.)  I tried to prepare him for the sadness, the crying and the possible short tempers.  I bought him two books thanks to some recommendations from moms (The Invisible String and Sad Isn't Bad.)  We talked about it often.  I made it a priority to repeat myself, to drive home the fact that this was a sad time, but that sad wasn't bad.  That people were sad for a reason (especially daddy) and it was okay to be sad for a little while.  This went on for several days. 

But in the end, what can a 3 1/2 year old process?  Well, he technically can process it all, but it is the making sense of such a complex emotion that they falter.  It was okay though.  Ethan, in all his story telling goofy glory made it his goal to cheer people up.  He had his moments, but he handled himself incredibly well during the funeral.  I'm proud of my little man.

Rest in Peace Grampa Jeffrey
10/16/53 - 07/27/13

And now for something a bit lighter.

We finally made it to "The Farm" in Calais, Maine.  We had been planning a trip for the fall but in that bittersweet manner that a death brings family together, this trip was "special." All the grown up children were there as well as the littles (and one teenager.)

Ethan was over the moon to play with everyone, exploring and as busy as a 3 1/2 year old can be.  Catching frogs at the pond house was a highlight.  I also caught him telling all of the bumble bees in Grammie's garden, "I love you."  I am so proud that he is such a nature lover.  We also got to go out to Pokey aka Pocomoonshine Lake Lodges.  A place that was up and running when I first met Matt but now is more of a family retreat.  So many fond memories.  Ethan got to do a bit of fishing but we didn't spend much time there.  Only enough time for some good byes.  There is always next time.
Just hanging out at Grammie's Pond (with monster gloves!)
Lil' Rascal
Master Angler Unca Addie with the largest catch of the day!
All the wonderful shells on the beach of the St. Croix River

Storm a'brewin' on the shore of the St. Croix
Ethan, Auntie Sarah, Auntie La and Unca Addie on the beach.
Checkin' out some little tidal pools amongst the rocks.
Pocomoonshine Lake
Auntie La helping Ethan with his fishing skillz
Flower child
Two of the guys I love.
Unca Addie (not) catching fish
Future Master Angler
Also, did I mention Matt brought our dog, Brogan?  Yup.

Monday, August 5, 2013

My First Whale Watch!

To be fair I have seen whales before.  But it was in Alaska from a cruise ship.  So, while still pretty awesome, it wasn't as up close and personal as a whale watch on a lil' boat. 

To be MORE fair, we didn't get that close to the whales anyway . . . but we did spy whales!  Other than the birds (seagulls, bald eagles and cormorants to name a few,) we got to see our fill of the cutest widdle Harbor Porpoises.  I just wanted to snatch one up and bring 'em home.  You ask, did I get one good picture?  Nay, I say . . . nay.  I have this problem when I get super excited about wildlife.  Brain turns off and my excitement turns into squeaks or squeals and I point and jump.  Never mind that I had Toby strapped to my back, I still jumped.

The whales we were watching for were Minke whales and Fin whales.  Now, I wasn't fully aware of the SIZE of the Fin whales until the boat captain said they were second only to Blue whales.  I remember pictures of them being looooong and pointy.  They are also pretty damn big.  The only picture I really got of one was way off in the distance, but I saw a good half a dozen spout sprays and fin backs.  Also, I caught a GORGEOUS view of a Fin whale belly and tail as it was feeding.  Not on camera though . . . only in ma bwains.  The Minke's were very far off but I could still see them spraying and cresting.

Okay, so we departed Eastport, Maine and headed into the Bay of Fundy.  We took a few minutes to admire Old Sow but thankfully she wasn't active.  We did get to see a few little piglets though!  (Here is the link:  Largest tidal whirlpool in the Western Hemisphere!)

As we headed out, we were skirting a storm.  The clouds were PHENOMENAL.  Now, I'm not saying this to exaggerate.  Dude, just look at the pics below.  Some were downright heavenly which was quite appropriate. We were one of at least 4 boats in the area - two were from St. Andrews New Brunswick.  Back off Kanuks!  Those are OUR WHALES!  YARRRRRRR.  Ahem.  It was pretty comical because the captains were all communicating on their radios about locations and sightings.  Sort of like at Yosemite where you drive for miles and miles and suddenly there are 80 cars all piled up on the side of the road to look at a lone moose way far off in the distance.

Nitty gritty was the boys did awesome on the boat, no one got sea sick (yay me!) and it wasn't as cold as I thought it would be.  Everyone else seemed chilly but I thought it was delightful.  I'm fairly certain I was the most excited out of everyone, but it was my first whale watch and I was pumped. 

Also, it was Matt's birthday (also my Momma's!!)  He normally hems and haws about not wanting to do anything but I'm pretty sure the sparkle in my eye at the mention of a whale watch was enough to convince him otherwise.

Now . . . PIK-CHAHS!
All aboard!
Ready to go!
Leaving Eastport, Maine
The cutest hunchback a gal could ever have . . .

Looking for sharks n' stuff (P.S. we didn't see any.)
Don't take my picture anymore but I'll still pose all cute for you Mom.
Unca Addie
Campobello Island
Hello Harbor Seals
Ethan thought they were pretty cool.  I think Toby was skeptical.
They were pretty skeptical of us as well.

Daddy's gotcha!
One of the many inhabited islands in the Bay.
The only picture of a Fin whale that I was able to capture on camera.  And you probably can't even see it.
On the way back into port - keeping warm with Daddy.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Kung Fu Mastah

I'm just going to go ahead and shamelessly plug my newfound friend and Master in Photography Kung Fu, Kathleen 'North' Porter.  Here is her website:  Prepare to Oooh and Aaaah.

From birth Ethan learned that I was really just the paparazzi that fed him every once in a while.  Around the age of 2 he grew tired of my constant pleas to smile and "look at mommy!!"  Thus the bribery came into play.

It was no different in regards to bribery for this photo shoot (ice cream of course.)  HOWEVER, what WAS different is that Kathleen got him to actually smile of his own volition - and it was a REAL smile, not that crunched up fake shizz he gives me half the time.  I might have been jumping around behind the scenes like a tater tot hopped up on too many Pixie Stix (name that movie) but it worked.  Smiles all around. 

Now . . . you guys will DIE.

Ethan Alexander Charles:  3 1/2 years old
Toby Malcolm Alan:  1 year old (!!)

Thank you so much Kathleen you are The Awesomeness.

(Seriously one of my favorites . . . I might have cried a little.)
Well, we had to have one with Toby and his beloved bunny.