Monday, August 29, 2011

Safeguarding vs. Overprotecting

Last week, a barefoot man was discovered in a tree at a public park. The tree was in a wooded area and the man was staring at the children who were playing in the woods.

Creepy, yes?

Dirty needles and condoms have been found at this park. School teachers have been videotaped having sex at this park and last year a sex offender that had been recently released from prison threatened to hurt a child.

Should I keep taking my children to this park?

I would be naive to think that these kinds of shenanigans don't happen at other public parks, however, why would I go to a park knowing that just last week an adult male who no one knew was watching the kids play from up in a tree. I can think of a million different scenerios for what could happen, although thankfully, nothing did.

Does that fact that nothing happened last week safeguard my children from what could happen this week? No. Is that me living my life in fear? Absolutely not. As a mother I am required to protect my children from danger. If dirty needles and condoms were found in my grocery store, I would raise hell with the manger and then go to a different store. Why? Well, dirty needles and condoms are disgusting, pose a health threat and aren't something I'd want my children to come in contact with while shopping. Why should this be any different with a public park?

If we were at the mall and an adult male was in a tree in the children's play area, yet had no child of his own, would I feel comfortable taking my kids there to play? No. Is that out of fear? No, it's out of common sense.

Do I live my life in fear of what could happen? No, but you can be sure that I take every precaution to safeguard my kids from crime.

There is a difference between safeguarding my children and being overprotective. Oren is a crazy toddler who often times makes poor decisions. While I'm not going to let him fall off of the kitchen counter, I won't rush to keep him from slipping on the bucket of water he just dumped all over the floor. Yes, it is my duty to keep him safe, however, there are good learning moments when mistakes are made and consequences are realized.

Where is the learning moment when your kid steps on a dirty needle at the park? Or when that man jumps out of the tree onto your kid?

Perhaps the man in the tree was just a man in a tree. A man with no day job who likes to climb trees at public parks and watch children he doesn't know play in the woods. That sounds innocent enough right? RIGHT?


Thursday, August 25, 2011

Almost Eight Weeks

I am exhausted. I am typically a night owl, but need to be in bed by 9:30 every night or I feel like crap the next day. I am keeping up with house work okay, but the sink is always full by evening, the laundry isn't quite caught up and it takes a couple of days to clean up the junk that accumulates on the floors. It's frustrating.

I have my first midwife appointment in two weeks. I couldn't remember when I was making the appointment if you were supposed to be seen at eight weeks or 12 weeks so I split the difference and made it for 10 weeks. I will feel so much better about everything when I hear the heartbeat. For some reason, it's going to take hearing the heartbeat for it to really sink in that I am pregnant. We had been on the fence about trying for another baby since January and the month we finally decided to give it a go...

I am always amazed at life. I don't use the word "miracle" all that often, but how else do you describe a baby? This creature has only been in existence for seven weeks and already has a beating heart. I think of all of things that can go wrong and then I look at my three perfect children and am in awe. And to be blessed with one more? It takes my breath away.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Menu Monday

Spaghetti and meatballs
Out to eat
Chili and cornbread
Ham and bean soup
Pork roast
BBQ shredded pork sandwiches
Quiche and hashbrowns

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Get into the Groove

This is our third week of school and we are settling into a groove. I helped myself tremendously by outlining all 36 weeks of history and science. All I have to do on Sundays (my planning day) is fill in the blanks with daily activities, experiments, readings, workbook pages, etc. It sounds sort of rigid, but having a plan and being organized keeps me sane and makes me better able to adjust our day according to what the kids are up to. I still follow my kids' cues, but they really enjoy having set, structured things to do.

I am using a binder this year to help me keep everything organized. I love my binder. I may invest in something that is more Trapper Keeper-ish because Oren often throws my binder off of my desk and I'm tired of things spilling out. The binder, in addition to my planning out weekly topics, has helped give me a clear idea of what I want to accomplish this year and how to accomplish it. I am a very tactile person and need to see everything in front of me to make a plan. Last year, I organized almost everything on the computer and it stressed me out because I couldn't see it all at once.

I am also loving all of the Usborne books I ordered. We have several science experiment books that are great. We've been studying magnets and the book has a lot of fun ideas and explains things in a way that makes them easy to understand.

Anyway, I'm tired now and will ramble on another time. I initially wanted to blog because we are studying matter this week and I'm excited for all of the fun stuff the kids get to do.  I will post more on that later when I'm not fighting my eyelids.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Fried Rice

There is a Japanese steakhouse around us that makes the best fried rice. This place is always my last good meal before giving birth. In fact, we were dining there when I was pregnant with Finnegan and I was certain I was in labor. Anyway, my point is that you haven't eaten fried rice until you've tasted this stuff.

I tried to replicate the rice tonight and came very close. So close, that I'm going to share the recipe.

1 1/2 cooked white rice (I refrigerated it before I fried it so it wouldn't stick together as much)
3-4 Tbsp butter
2 tsp minced garlic
2 tsp garlic salt
soy sauce (I didn't measure this, but I probably ended up using about 2 Tbsp)
2 eggs

Heat your electric skillet and melt your butter. Add the rice. Add everything else and stir until the eggs are cooked. When the rice was done, I added slightly caramelized onions and carrots that had been cooked in butter, garlic and ginger.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Sneaky One

We recently picked up 15 roosters to butcher. As we were well into the process, we noticed that we only had 14. We both assumed that we had miscounted.

I had to run an errand later the same day and when I pulled into our driveway, I saw a rooster happily pecking the grass in my front yard. I was able to catch him rather quickly and my goodness did I have a good laugh.

As luck would have it, the renegade rooster is actually a pullet (young hen). She has been named Dandelion and is held at least twice daily by Maeve and/or Oren. Dandelion is very gentle with the kids, however she is quite skittish and is not yet friendly with the other girls. I haven't seen any evidence of pecking so I'm hopeful they will all eventually be buddies.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Menu Monday

Baked spaghetti
Out to eat
Stuffed squash (recipe from Smitten Kitchen blog)
Teriyaki chicken
Waffles and eggs
Eggs, toast and bacon

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Doing Without

I met a nice mom at the park today. She said that she's been substitute teaching twice a week for the past few years so that she could stay home with her kids. She went on to say that she has an interview for a full time teaching position and is excited because she's tired of making financial sacrifices in order to stay home. The example of sacrifice she used was that all of their vehicles are paid off, but they want something nicer.

This conversation got me thinking about what we sacrifice so that I can stay home.

Our only vehicle is an 11 year old van. We paid cash in order to avoid monthly payments. All newer vehicles were out of our price range.

Our kids share rooms. We have three bedrooms and will have four kids.

We are treated to dining out once a week and rarely eat out otherwise.

We don't take expensive vacations.

I could keep going, but I think you get the idea. We live frugally and really do our best to live within our means. I do not, however, feel like we are missing something. I am perfectly content with my older van, I like having the kids share rooms and I like knowing that we are eating food that was prepared by my hands.

According to


  [sak-ruh-fahys]  Show IPA noun, verb, -ficed, -fic·ing.
the offering of animal, plant, or human life or of somematerial possession to a deity, as in propitiation or homage.
the person, animal, or thing so offered.
the surrender or destruction of something prized ordesirable for the sake of something considered as having ahigher or more pressing claim.
the thing so surrendered or devoted.
a loss incurred in selling something below its value.

It seems to me that if you are well fed, can clothe all of your children, have a solid roof over your head and have a vehicle that runs well, you're not really sacrificing much in order to stay home. Are you sacrificing a bigger house? More stuff? And what is more valuable than raising your children?

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Garden Update

 Ah, my garden. I love my garden. I love growing things and I love harvesting things.

There has been one huge, hot problem lately that has kept me from doing much in the garden. Heat. It is HOT. I can handle high temperatures, but this is high temperatures with humidity. I'm starting to sweat just thinking about going outside.

These pictures were taken at the beginning of the heat wave when my precious garden was somewhat weeded and under control. All of my bean plants in these pictures had not been eaten by Japanese Beetles. My tomato plants were still in their cages and the weeds were not taller than the kale. Sigh.

My tomatoes are crazy now. Like five feet tall crazy. I have never grown tomato plans this large. They are loving the heat and I'm going to be loving salsa and homemade sauce soon. We have an insane number of plants this year (around 50) and I am hoping we planted enough to satisfy us until this time next summer.

My squash is happy in this heat too. I have a few tiny butternut squashes and can almost taste the squash soup I will be making in a few months. The pumpkin vines are doing well and I'm ready to roast the seeds and puree the pumpkins.

The rest of the garden is not worth mentioning at this point. Except I'm going to mention it anyway. I planted a drying kind of black bean this year and they are producing. I might have enough to make a pot of soup. Maybe. I doubt I will grow them again unless they are so incredibly delicious that I crave them in my dreams.

My green beans are ruined. I went out there today to pick some beans, but the plants aren't producing much anymore probably largely due to the fact that all of the leaves have been eaten by bugs. If I was still motivated, I would pull the beans and plant more peas and carrots. My onion and carrot patch looks terrible and my kale and swiss chard patch is full of tall weeds. I can't even see where I planted six pepper plants.

I'm not complaining too much though because a lot of the garden has been very successful.

Monday, August 1, 2011

New Beginnings

I took the kids school supply shopping on Sunday and they were sooooo excited to get started. So we did. I was originally planning to start school on August 29th. Then I went and got myself pregnant so I bumped up the start date to August 8th, but then we started on the 1st.

We are working on magnets, a chicken lapbook (per Maeve's request), classifying and organizing animals, the flag and the Pledge of Allegiance. I am going to let Maeve take the lead on math and reading since she does better and is more motivated when it's her idea.

Speaking of math, Maeve was very happy to have found a green calculator at Target. She said that now when she does math, she'll just use her calculator. Good idea,

I gave Oren his own workspace (again) and he seems to like it. I need to find some neat stuff to put in his area so he'll stop taking everything off of Maeve's desk. Oren's scissor privileges have been temporarily suspended because he cut (another) chunk out of his hair.

Finnegan has me a bit stumped. The kid is a whiz at math. He LOVES math. Everything he does is somehow put into numbers. He's also learning how to spell at an alarming rate. Maeve asked me how to spell "new" and Finn answered her. Correctly. He already completed his Teach Me Kindergarten app on the ipod touch and is working through Teach Me First Grade. I think, at least for this year, I'll let him keep doing what he's doing: math, Explode the Code for writing practice and computer and board games. If he wants or asks for more, I'll provide it.

Here is our clean, organized space (ignore my will never be cleaned or organized):

Menu Monday

Pasta alfredo
Out to eat
Greaser's Delight
Summer Squash Soup (recipe from Smitten Kitchen blog)
Chicken and noodles
Beef and potato hash (recipe from Cook's Country magazine)