The Family

The Family

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

CSA Wednesday

On Wednesday we head to a local farm to pick up produce as part of a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program. Here's what we got today:




Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Middle-earth and Mississippi

Many days these past few months have been spent in Middle-earth.

For those unfamiliar with Tolkien-ese, Middle-earth is the land of orcs, hobbits, dwarves, elves and wizards.

We read "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy first, and at times, I thought it was never going to end. Not knowing much about Tolkien's works, I had no idea we should have begun with "The Hobbit."

I'm actually glad we didn't. It has turned out to be my favorite of the four books. I think I identify well with the hobbits. They are always thinking about when their next meal will come, even while they are busy eating their current one. They get into a bad temper if they go hungry for too long. And, they love bread, coffee, tea and breakfast in general.

Jack has gotten into "The Hobbit" and "The Lord of the Rings" Legos since we began the books. We follow up the end of each book with the movie. He is fascinated by what I consider to be the scarier creatures: the orcs, wargs and goblins.

In my spare time, and by that I mean when I should have been sleeping, I recently read Faulkner's "The Sound and the Fury." I go back and forth between thinking it is a work of genius and something uncomfortably disturbing. Sometimes those two things go hand in hand.

It was first published in 1929 and includes language that was common in the south in those days, but is no longer something one would hear in civilized conversation anymore.

It centers around the Compson family, of Mississippi, and deals with suicide, incest, prostitution and just an altogether unhappy lot. It is divided into four perspectives, and for most of the first two sections, the reader is not completely sure what is going on. Luckily, I checked out a 1956 copy of the book from our university library and there were a lot of side notes scribbled throughout those sections.

Even though the unhappiness of the family is obvious, it didn't leave me with the same sense of despair I have when I read Hemingway. Both authors can be dark and deal with moral dilemmas in unsettling ways, but for some reason, Hemingway leaves me feeling unhappy for days whereas Faulkner, at least in this text, just left me wondering why he didn't focus more on the sister's perspective to go along with her three brothers from the other sections.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

It Feels Like Summer

"Hurry is a pace of life that is seldom conducive to godliness, to relationships, to anything that ultimately matters to us."
                                                                       -Nancy Leigh DeMoss
I'm trying to keep the gist of this quote in mind this Memorial Day weekend before the housework, cooking and constant training and correction that is part of daily life as a mom turn me into a nagging, frantic mess. I'm reminding myself to slow down and enjoy the sights, smells and tastes of summer.

Like the scent of sunscreen on Mattie's skin while we snuggle. 

The feel of the sun as we play in the water and observe flowers, trees, birds and ladybugs while dodging wasps, yellow jackets and mosquitoes.

Eating watermelon, strawberries, roasted corn and firing up the grill for steaks and hot dogs.

Letting Jack spray everyone and everything in sight while washing cars.

Enjoying an impromptu lunch with a friend that also invites us to spend an impromptu afternoon at the pool.

Letting these long days of lounging quiet my soul and draw us closer together.

Here's to the carefree nostalgia summer brings!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Someone's in the Kitchen

The Pixar movie Ratatouille has become a new favorite for Jack. We've had the movie for several years, but he had no interest in watching it until recently.

This morning, he wanted to "cook" like Ratatouille.

Here is the recipe for Jack's Famous Soup:
3-4 cups water
Excessive amounts of salt and pepper
2 Saltine crackers
A tiny bit of vegetable oil (because his mother told him he could not use the whole bottle)
A good bit of cinnamon
A handful of golden raisins
A lot of dried/crushed basil leaves
Even more onion powder - the scent should be overwhelmingly strong, and then you know you have enough

Dump it all into a pot and bring it to a boil.

It makes for one disgusting concoction!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

CSA Wednesday - Two Weeks Worth

On Wednesday we pick up produce as part of a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program.

Because we were in Vermont last Wednesday, Farmer Zach made a special exception and let us pick ours up when we got back on Friday. Here's what we got that day:

Summer Squash
I chickened out on pickling beets. I've been roasting them in the oven instead, and they are delicious!

And it was much of the same today:

Lots more squash
More beets, a good bit larger than the others, to roast
Those farm-fresh eggs I love so much

Monday, May 20, 2013

Good Book Finds

I'm not one to pass up a good book.

I saw two on a table in Waterbury, Vermont last week that I knew I was unlikely to come across again.

I love old books with sage advice from the past. This one has a lot of old wives' tales, facts and games related to seasons of the year and holidays.

I bought the book, first published in 1887, hoping Mattie might someday like it. If it doesn't interest her, I'll  hang on to it.

This one is a humorous reminder for the children about our trip to Vermont. I picked it up mainly because Mattie loves dogs, but then realized Jack can also practice his reading with this one!

Matt got a real kick out of this page where the dogs greet each other upon meeting for the first time.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

A Note on Where We Stayed

I could get used to waking up to this view!

Lest you think all we did was stay in the car traveling from site to site, here are some pictures of the lakeside house we rented while in Vermont. We actually spent a lot of time outdoors at the house letting the children run and play in the enormous yard.

The house is on Lake Champlain in the small town of West Addison.

There were steps leading to the water below. Jack had a blast playing down there with all the rocks. There were even kayaks, canoes and paddle boats that came with the rental. I'm sad to report we didn't get a chance to venture into the water.

For those of you that read my Vermont post in February, you might be wondering what happened to the original idea. Turns out it was a bit more expensive than we had hoped. So once again I checked and found a listing for this place.

It just might be the best deal I've ever gotten on a vacation rental. There was so much space, and the views were wonderful from every room in the house.

We had a window over our bed and were able to look out into the night sky as we dozed off to sleep. There was also a large basement equipped with a pool and ping pong tables as well as many other games.

The best part about this rental was that there was a spring special that allowed four nights for the price of three!!

While I could get used to the views and the fresh air, two things I probably couldn't handle would be the cold winters and the massive spiders - we killed six monsters within 24 hours and four others escaped our grasp. I know, I know, everything has its place in the ecosystem. I just don't like that place to be so close to my head as I sleep.

Friday, May 17, 2013


My favorite part of our Vermont trip was the stop we made in Manchester to the home of Robert Todd Lincoln, Abraham Lincoln's son.

The home is known as Hildene.

The beautiful mansion, sitting on a hilltop far off the main road, is a hidden treasure.

Because almost all of the original furniture and books are still in the home, no photographs are allowed of the inside.

I've toured a lot of old homes, but I had never been in one which had an organ installed so that the pipes reverberated throughout the home.

The garden area reminded me of Versailles, though on a miniature scale.

It was a wonderful way to spend Mother's Day!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Discovering Vermont

We spent the past five days traveling through this vast farmland known as Vermont. We've driven through New England towns that evoke images of painted scenes, and here is a glimpse of some of what we were able to do and see along the way:

1. Covered Bridges - We saw only three of the numerous covered bridges in the state. We were able to stop and walk along the side of one, but the other two were drive-by shots.

Jack was so happy to find a trail leading to this during our covered bridge stop.

2. Calvin Coolidge's Birthplace and Grave Site - I knew we would be making a stop in tiny Plymouth Notch to get a look at the 30th president's birthplace.

Coolidge was born in the brown house attached to the building.

He grew up in this beautiful home, located across the street. It was here he was sworn in as president in the middle of the night upon being notified of Warren G. Harding's death.

He is buried in this cemetery, alongside his wife and children, located across the road from his homestead.

3. Vermont Cities - We traveled to both Stowe and Burlington today. We stopped at this outdoor sculpture area in Stowe for some running around and play time.

Flowing brooks from all the mountain snow abound throughout the state. This one was on a trail near the sculptures.

We also happened upon this great cider place in Waterbury, right outside of Stowe, where there was plenty to see and do.

We ended the afternoon in Burlington. Rain was not in the forecast, but upon our arrival it began. We had hoped to take a stroll along the River Walk, but instead happened upon the ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center. Talk about perfect timing!

And just incase you didn't pick up on it in any of the pictures, Jack is very much into wearing a toboggan right now.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Bennington, Vermont

We flew into Albany, N.Y yesterday and made the hour-long drive to Bennington, Vt. We arrived in Bennington about 2 pm, which gave us plenty of time to explore.

We spent one night here at this cute Vermont inn, The Knotty Pine Motel:

Jack and Mattie loved what was awaiting them.

We were able to walk to breakfast this morning. The Northside Diner was next door to the motel, and the blueberry pancakes with Vermont maple syrup were the way to start the day!

We spent only one day in Bennington, but it was well worth the stop.

Imagine my surprise as I was researching the town last week and realized the poet Robert Frost lived and is buried in Bennington. Anyone that's read this blog for a while would know I've gotten into reading poetry this past year. I wouldn't say I have a favorite poet, but Frost's poem, "The Road Less Traveled," might possibly be my favorite poem.

Here's the Robert Frost museum. I took this picture just as a bumblebee flew into Mattie's face. A massive meltdown quickly followed.

I'm not sure if you can read that is says Frost wrote "Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening" on a hot summer day.

I was completely freaked out by the many notices posted throughout the place about not venturing into the woods near the house because of all the ticks carrying Lyme Disease. Lucky for us it was raining, and we didn't hang around outside long.

After the museum, we made our way to his grave site, which is located in town, several miles from the home/museum.

Before leaving Bennington today, we visited the Bennington Battlefield Monument.

I loved this neighborhood by the memorial. It fits the mental image I have of New England homes.