Wednesday, October 31, 2012

October 2012 on FB

Oct. 1: How do billboards talk? Sign language!

Oct. 2: I love learning more about my students through "Roll & Tell", a weekly positive listening & sharing time that I conceptualized. Apparently, my students have all come to love it too, because on the days when we don't do it, they all ask for it! I love teaching music...even on days that are stressful and exhausting like today.

Oct. 4: SOOOO grateful for 4 day weekends. We have a lot to do to get ready for the pumpkin patch opening next weekend!

Oct. 5: What a gorgeous fall day today! I've been working on preparations for the pumpkin patch opening next weekend... Corn bag toss--check. pumpkin carriage backdrop--check. strawbale photo area--check. Working on the pumpkin slingshot and the haybale maze next!!! I'm getting SOOO excited!

Oct. 6: One bonus for having two bathrooms is buying the nice fluffy toilet paper for Josh & I, and saving money on buying the cheap stuff for the kids!

Oct. 8: SO flippin irritated tonight...I wanted to make a recipe to use the pears I just got off the tree, and it called for fresh or frozen cranberries. Do you think there's any of that in this town? A big fat NOPE! Sometimes it sucks that Salmon has just the one grocery store!!! I drove to every possible store in town that has freezers, and not one had cranberries!!!

Oct. 10: SOOO proud of Ammon today! He got 3rd place at his final XC meet of the season. It was a beautiful day, and he raced on the Salmon XC course at the Salmon Valley Golf Course. I loved being on Josh's gorgeous course and watching my amazing son race his heart out!

Oct. 11: TGIT! I had such a difficult day at school...because of my own child. He cried for an hour, and threw a giant tantrum at school, and I ended up crying off and on all afternoon because I don't know what to do to help him anymore. I've initiated the process to get him back on an IEP, even though it's been 10 months since he's had one. He was diagnosed with PDD on the Autistic Spectrum when he was 2 years old, and he's been struggling so much lately and I feel helpless and I hate it.

Oct. 11: TGIT! I'm so grateful for 4-day school weeks. Even though the schooldays are longer, I love having 3-day weekends to recuperate and rejuvenate myself before another work week!

Oct. 11: TGIT!!! I am SO very excited for the pumpkin patch season opening tomorrow! The Lil' Munchkins Patch of Pumpkins will be open EVERY Friday & Saturday in October from 11am - 5pm. 9 varieties of pumpkins, and all orange ones are 15c/lb. Also, the patch includes: Hay Bale Maze, Corn Bag Toss, Garden Slingshot, Guessing Games, Prizes, Pumpkin Food, and Photo backdrops so bring your cameras and Join the Fun for all!!!

Oct. 12: It was such a beautiful day at our pumpkin patch!!! I made some pumpkin fudge for the special occasion, and it is delicious!!!

Oct. 13: Had a wonderful day in the Pumpkin Patch! 2 days down, 4 to go (Fridays & Saturdays til the end of October). Sold out of spotted pumpkins and pumpkin fudge! I had a great time...being in the patch fills me with such happiness!

Oct. 15: Happy thoughts for today: my Kindergartener Kanyon had a good day at school, my twins Jonah & Micah want to play SkipBo with me, Ammon went hunting with Josh, and my laundry is clean! So grateful for a happy Monday!

Oct. 16: Dreading: in one month from today, I will be going under the knife to fix my left knee. Anticipating: good weather this weekend for pumpkin patch sales. Sad about: there's no ice cream in the freezer. Happy about: my students performing and winning at Salmon Idol Jr. tonight!

Oct. 18: Just finished making another round of pumpkin fudge and pumpkin pies for the pumpkin patch sales tomorrow! I love the way that it makes my house smell! So yummy!

Oct. 19: I love fall. I love food, too. I love our pumpkin patch; it's the perfect marriage of the two.

Oct. 20: What a long, fulfilling day. Thank you to all of you who came out to our Pumpkin Patch! I just LOVE our customers! I have so much fun and am always filled with such happiness after spending the day there!

Oct. 21: What a beautiful, perfect Sunday! I spent the morning cleaning the house (it needed it SO badly), ate lunch in our [clean] home with extended family after church, and this evening the kids spent a lot of time outside because of the warm weather. I love fall.

Oct. 23: this snowy, blustery, cold weather makes me crave Chai tea! Guess some baking & hot chocolate will have to do since I have no Chai in this house.

Oct. 25: One more weekend of Pumpkin Patch fun, and then we're done! Just finishing up making another round of fresh pumpkin fudge & pie for it. I'm hoping for weather other than snow for the next two days!  Although I was not complaining when I woke up to the white stuff this morning!

Oct. 27: Despite the snow that's on the ground, the Lil Munchkins Patch of Pumpkins will be open today for the last time this year!!!!

Oct. 29: Carved pumpkins with the kiddos tonight. I absolutely enjoyed every minute! this was the first year that the boys carved their own, because we finally broke down and bought pumpkin carving kits instead of using kitchen knives! They did so good...we have a deer, a pirate flag, a grimm reaper, and a scary face. It reminded me why I love this time of year so much!

Oct. 31: Being a mother of 4 boys means life is never boring. In one week's time, one boy broke a school window (accidentally at recess with a basketball), one boy had a trip to the e.r. (fell off a haybale head-first onto a rock & got 4 stitches), one boy got pink eye (it's been going around something fierce in Salmon), and one boy broke his glasses (he swears it was his friend's fault!).

Thursday, October 18, 2012

palatable peaches & potatoes

I realized something profound this week: I have an addiction to the way that food makes me feel.
I was checking out my "365 things that make me happy" journal (on my blog sidebar). Every day this year, I'm adding something new to the list, so by the end of this year there will be 365 different items. I don't want to duplicate myself, so I was looking the other day if I'd already put something on there, and I got distracted by all the food items listed. Then I started counting how many food items I actually had listed. Then I started counting other items listed that would belong to other categories such as "friends" or "Josh" or "kids". There is more FOOD items listed than items regarding my friends or Josh or my sons! Isn't that sad?!
So, the fact remains that I love food; food makes me happy. And even though the consumption of food continues to make my body grow, I still continue to eat it.
One of my 2012 goals is to make a new recipe each month (Yay! NEW food!!!). In September, I made two.
Some friends of ours, the Foote's, gave us a box of Utah peaches at the beginning of September. I was in heaven. I loved those peaches! I ate peaches for breakfast--cut up and put in a bowl of milk. I ate peaches for lunch--sliced. I ate peaches for dessert--crisps, milkshakes. Every day for about 3 weeks, I had peaches 3x a day. None of my boys like peaches, and Josh would only eat them in the dessert format. I tried a new recipe with the peaches called Raspberry/Peach Crumble, and it was SOOOO delicious! I loved the colors & flavors from combining the two fruits together.
We planted peach trees next to the new raspberry plants this summer, and I'm hoping that in a couple of years from now, I will able to make this same recipe with all our own home-grown food.

At the end of September, I made homemade french fries for the first time. My boys have been bugging me to do it for the past two years since they had some of Aunt Linette's homemade fries. I bought a potato/french fry cutter last fall, and finally used it. I got a recipe from "Joy the Baker's" website for "Chili Cheese Fries", and decided to give it a try (
The fries were very good! I didn't want to use a deep fryer to cook the fries, because I didn't have enough oil on hand, so I was glad to find this recipe in which the fries are baked. The flavor was really good, and the boys really liked them! Yesterday, we had store-bought fries with our dinner, and Ammon said "I like homemade fries better". Since we grow so many of our own potatoes, I'm glad to know how to use them in a way other than soups and mashed, since the boys don't like regular baked potatoes.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

how much wood would the woodboys hack

We have a wood stove that is the main source of heat in our home throughout the winter. This means that every year we have to go get wood to supply the means to burn the fires in that stove. A lot of locals also do the same. Josh doesn't like to go in the summer when it's super hot, but we have to go before it snows in the mountains, so we usually take the time to go get wood in the early fall. We always go about 10 miles up the road to the top of the mountain to a specific spot to get the wood.
This year, the boys were all such a good help, I don't think we'd ever gotten firewood so quickly before! Josh gave them all hatchets, and they worked on hacking off branches on downed trees:


Ammon also helped Josh cut down some of the taller trees:

He would push against the tree with a pole to help aim it in the right direction when it was falling:

After 14 years, our first chainsaw broke. So Josh purchased a new (and much bigger) Stihl chainsaw this fall. Josh LOVES the power and the longer arm on it so that he doesn't have to bend over as far to make cuts:

After Josh & Ammon cut down the trees, the boys cut off the branches on the logs, and I moved all the branches from walkways (and help the younger boys cut off large branches that were harder to remove), then Josh cut the logs into 6 foot lengths. Josh and I worked together to load the lengths onto the trailer that we pulled behind the truck.

We all worked really well together as a team! I was so proud of the way the boys all worked so hard together to accomplish the task! We took 2 trips in September and October to go get wood, and now we have enough to make it through another winter!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Heart and soul food

I LOVE fair food--especially the big-time fairs. I look forward to our own Lemhi County fair food each August, but there's only minimal food vendors there. So when we go to the Eastern Idaho State fair, I'm in hog heaven! I look forward to going to that fair each September, following Labor Day. It's held in Blackfoot, and some years we aren't able to go, but this year was NOT one of those years! I was so glad when it worked out for Josh and I to be able to go, and I was so excited and couldn't wait to eat the food there again!

Last year, we had smoothies that were to die for, so we got one again this year, trying a different flavor this time around:

We never go to the Blackfoot State Fair without having funnel cakes. This year, they had a new kind that we tried: Red Velvet. It was SOOO delicious! I love the Tortatoes so much, so I've gotten those for several years, too.

Also, another one of our favorites is the turkey leg. It's so huge, just one feeds both of us. It's mouth-watering goodness in every bite!

Josh and I tried two new items this year, too. We had the chocolate-covered bacon. It was surprisingly a good combination, but wasn't our favorite food of the night. We also consumed deep fried cheesecake bites, which were hot and warm, crispy and juicy and creamy. Mmmmmm...

Josh's dad gifted us tickets to see Heart in concert, and we sat next to him. We hadn't gone to see any concerts yet this year, so I was so happy to be able to go to one. I've always liked Heart, and was so grateful to Edward & Kathy for the awesome gift!

Surprisingly, after all these years, Heart is still going strong with new hits! The two sisters are still very excellent with their string instruments and their vocals. I was very impressed! It was a great concert, and the weather was awesome for the outdoor venue!

I enjoyed being alone with Josh on the long date. We had a good drive, were able to see Ammon run a XC race, eat some over-the-top good food, and enjoyed listening to a great concert. It was exactly what I needed to feel rejuvenated after a difficult start to the new school year.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

garden goods

This year's vegetable garden consisted of: corn, carrots, onions, potatoes, cucumbers, and radishes. We planted it all on the outskirts of the 1/4 acre pumpkin patch.
We ate the radishes this summer when they matured (which was so fast! I always forget to replant them to keep having crops all summer long).
We began eating the cucumbers in August. We had 5x the crop that we had last year, and couldn't stay on top of consuming them, and several ended up wilting. But they were SO big and SO delicious, and I loved them! I used to not like cukes when I was a kid, but changed my mind about them when we started growing them in our garden. Now when I eat our own cucumbers, I think they're so delicious. But I've discovered that the store-bought ones I get (before ours are mature enough to eat) don't taste good--they're more bitter and not as juicy and I don't like them. Growing cucumbers has truly proven to me that home-grown really is better than store-bought produce.
The last week of August, the boys helped dig up several items from the garden to enter in the fair. I laid out all the items on the deck, and grouped them together, and then they decided what they wanted to individually enter. The choices were 3 kinds of potatoes (red, yukon gold, russet), carrots, and cucumbers, and they all helped pick one pumpkin out of the patch to take as well.
Micah's pumpkin choice won 2 purple ribbons at the county fair, for which he was SO happy about!
The kids had never entered garden produce in the fair before, but were pleased with the experience. They entered pumpkins last year, and thought they would expand the number of entries this year. They were so happy with the premiums they received, and it ALMOST made all that weeding of the garden worth it! ;)
We planted two types of corn: sweet corn & Indian corn. We sell the Indian corn at the Pumpkin Patch, and eat the sweet corn. The Indian corn stalks (on the right) are always so much taller than the regular corn stalks (on the left)!
The corn was planted in two rows. 3/4 of the rows were sweet corn.
We ate it several times on the cob for dinner in August and September, and it was SO yummy! The boys wish we could have fresh corn on the cob all year long! Over Labor Day weekend, I worked on making freezer corn. I did 50 ears a corn a day for 3 days. The boys helped me shuck it each day out by the front door.

I got into a routine each day...I could boil 8 ears at a time in one pot (black or silver--both were being used), then I would put the blanched ears in cold water in the large chrome pot. Then I would let them dry on a towel on the counter before cutting the kernels off the cob onto the cutting board. Then I scooped up the kernels from the cutting board and put them in a 2-cup measuring cup. When the container was full of kernels, I poured them into freezer baggies. After I got the first round of ears boiled, I had multiple things going at once (boiling, cooling, drying, cutting), and each day it took me about an hour and half to get the 50 ears done.
150 ears of corn and 3 days later, I had 40 quart freezer bags full of corn! It's the most I've ever done! Last year I did 30 bags and we've used all but 5 of them, because I was cautious with them the last few months not wanting to run out. Now I know we will definitely have enough to make it through this coming year; I use them in casseroles and soups a lot! Even after all that, we still had corn left over on our stalks. So next year, I think I want to start making frozen corn on the cobs, too.
The onions were also planted in two rows; they were between the potatoes and carrots on the east side of the field. Obviously, as this photo proves, towards the end of the summer, we weren't too keen on weeding anymore! When the pumpkins become tall, it's difficult to wander down to the far end of the patch where the garden is to weed it!

I pulled the onions from the ground in 2 segments. This photo is of the first half of the onions that were pulled. I let them dry for 2 weeks outside before bringing them in and then pulled the 2nd half of the onions from the ground to repeat the process.

After they were dried, I cut their stems and peeled off the outer layers, then I put them in an old pair of nylons and hung them. I've never tried this before, but it totally makes sense--the nylons let them breathe, they are separated from each other, and as you need an onion, you just cut a knot from the bottom of the leggings!
The carrots were also planted in two rows. This is a photo of just one of the rows at the end of August. The deer had eaten the tips, and the weeds were crouching in on their space.
I pulled the carrots from the ground in 3 segments. We ate a lot of them fresh, dipping them in ranch sauce. This is just 1/3 of the carrots we grew this year:

I peeled, cut, and boiled the rest of the carrots and put them in 5 quart-size freezer bags to use in casseroles, soups, and pot pies in the coming year. I've never cooked this much carrots before, either, but I know I will use them in this capacity:

We planted 3 types of potatoes in two long rows--Yukon Gold, Russet, and Red. We started eating a lot of the red potatoes in August. We've dug up approximately 100 pounds so far, and we've dug 3 separate times. We've completely gotten one row done now, but we'll wait a little longer before starting to dig up the next row. This is a photo of the first dig...the potatoes all grew together so you can't see the two separate rows.
At the beginning of each of the long rows is the red potatoes. You can see Jonah (in the purple shirt) holding one here before putting it in the burlap bag:

The vines grew SO big this year! Josh is throwing out just one potato plant vine here:

This is almost at the end of the Reds before the Yukon Golds begin:

We mostly eat the potatoes when they're mashed or in soups, but I also eat them fried and I made French fries with them once. Neither Josh nor the boys really like baked potatoes, though. The Reds are my favorite, but they don't store well for long, so we try to eat them first before they go bad. I like the Yukon Gold, too. They have good flavor, but they disintegrate while boiling way more than the other kinds. And the Russets have the best shelf life, so they're the ones we store and use through the winter.

We were so blessed to have a great crop of produce in our garden this year! I enjoy being able to see the plants grow and develop through the summer, and then eating the food fresh in the early fall!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Sleeping Soundly (& Strangely)

Every single weekend, our boys sleep in the living room. They bring their pillows & blankets out to the couch or floor, and they watch TV movies until they fall asleep--extending their regular weekday curfew.

I don't understand why--they all have TV's in their rooms hooked up to DVD players or VCR's, and surely their beds are so much more comfortable than these positions:

Since I know they're willing to sacrifice sleeping comfortably to stay up late watching TV, I don't feel guilty about getting just one hotel room (with only two beds) when we go places!

I admit I find it hilarious when I discover their strange sleeping positions! Silly kids! I guess I'm just too old to give up my own bed just for the sake of watching TV...although I don't ever remember doing that as a child, either. My boys truly love their weekly tradition, and look forward to Thursday night each week because it means sleeping in the living room, despite the lack of quality sleep they get while there!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Back to School

The first day of school this year was Tuesday, August 28. The boys all got new shoes and new backpacks for school. The day before, we attended school orientation all day for the different grades and classes they would be attending this year, and that evening we filled their backpacks with all their school supplies. They were all excited to start school and woke up early on Tuesday morning because they couldn't contain their nervous excitement.

Kanyon is a big Kindergartener now! He was so glad to finally be going to the same school as his bigger brothers. His teacher is Mrs. Foote, and he was so happy to know that! He already knew Mrs. Foote, and really likes having her as his teacher. He goes to school the first half of the day. I take him to school with me in the morning, and then I pick him up at my lunch break, take him to lunch, and drop him off at daycare where Josh picks him up in the afternoons. Kanyon really struggles with change, and had difficulties the first few weeks of school with his new schedule. He had several meltdowns due to his frustrations, but he does like school and has had fun at recess and is slowly making more friends and is doing better at daycare now.

Micah is in the 3rd grade. I put him and Jonah in the same class again this year, because it makes it so much easier for me to be able to volunteer in just one classroom since I'm working full-time and have less time to offer. He chose to wear his new shirt from our trip to Glacier National Park for the first day of school! And he's maintained his mohawk hairstyle to help others discern between which twin he is!
Jonah is also in the 3rd grade. The twins' teacher this year is Mr. Lund. Jonah & Micah have never had a male teacher before, but they really like him, and I'm so glad! For the first time, Jonah & Micah both chose to have lace-up shoes for school. Jonah chose the color blue to help people know which twin he is! He also chose to wear his new Glacier t-shirt for the first day of school.

Ammon is now a 7th grader, which makes him an upper classman at the Middle School...I can hardly believe how quickly time passes. He loves his new schedule--he has many of the same teachers he had last year, so he's already familiar with their classrooms and teaching styles, but he also has 2 new teachers, so it's different than his 6th grade schedule. He attends 7 classes daily and gets his own locker again, and is really enjoying school thus far this year! 

I was the only one who wasn't excited to start school...I was still trying to recover from my long (and exhausting) vacation to Utah! My schedule has changed this year--instead of playing piano for the H.S. show choir two hours per week, I was supposed to be teaching a 6th grade vocal & instrumental class. But the week before school began, I learned that that was no longer going to happen due to scheduling conflicts. So I used my two extra hours per week helping out in the PM Kindergarten classroom, which I've really enjoyed. They just hired a para to assist in that classroom, so now my schedule is changing again. The first four weeks of school were extremely difficult because we were short on staff, so everyone was taking on added responsibilities, and the smoke was so bad outside due to local forest fires, so we had indoor recess every day, and it made all the kids (& teachers) go antsy-crazy! But the past two weeks, the smoke finally dissipated, and the school is now fully staffed, so my job as the elementary music teacher has greatly improved. I feel like I'm finally getting in the groove and I'm enjoying working at the school once again.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Kids will be Kids

I'm so grateful for the opportunity to listen to the LDS General Conference being broadcasted today. I've been thinking about a conference talk from the October Conference 4 years ago, given by President Monson, in which he said, 

"I begin by mentioning one of the most inevitable aspects of our lives here upon the earth, and that is change. At one time or another we’ve all heard some form of the familiar adage: “Nothing is as constant as change.”

Throughout our lives, we must deal with change. Some changes are welcome; some are not. There are changes in our lives which are sudden, such as the unexpected passing of a loved one, an unforeseen illness, the loss of a possession we treasure. But most of the changes take place subtly and slowly.
Day by day, minute by minute, second by second we went from where we were to where we are now. The lives of all of us go through similar alterations and changes. The difference between the changes in my life and the changes in yours is only in the details. Time never stands still; it must steadily march on, and with the marching come the changes.
This is our one and only chance at mortal life—here and now. The longer we live, the greater is our realization that it is brief. Opportunities come, and then they are gone. I believe that among the greatest lessons we are to learn in this short sojourn upon the earth are lessons that help us distinguish between what is important and what is not. I plead with you not to let those most important things pass you by as you plan for that illusive and nonexistent future when you will have time to do all that you want to do. Instead, find joy in the journey—now.
...If you are still in the process of raising children, be aware that the tiny fingerprints that show up on almost every newly cleaned surface, the toys scattered about the house, the piles and piles of laundry to be tackled will disappear all too soon and that you will—to your surprise—miss them profoundly."
I just loved that talk! I have always delighted in watching my children play. I like listening to them use their imaginations. I like seeing their creations with building blocks. I like knowing that they are capable of entertaining themselves. The older they get, the less and less they play imaginatively and creatively. I savor the moments that I get to witness them playing, because I know that someday I will miss moments like these: