Wednesday, December 16, 2009

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas....

Happy Snowfall!

This is the picture of my guys walking up the lane to get our Christmas tree a couple weekends ago. Thought you might enjoy some of the beautiful scenery. Almost looks like a movie set or something, doesn't it?

Last weekend my mother-in-law took us out to eat and then onto our fabulous sleigh ride. She gives us this as a family gift rather then presents, which I LOVE. We had a wonderful time and even got to see Santa this year! Last year, we had earlier in the season reservations, but due to a monsterous sized ice storm, we had to delay them until after Christmas, and of course, Santa's on vacation then. This year, he was there with his reindeer, dressed in plaid overalls and chatted with the kids. It was magical and we had a great time. It's really wonderful to spend time with my mother-in-law, all of us as a family. I know she's making great memories for my boys and I'm very happy that they will have those. I have comforting memories of my grandparents as a child. I would go to their house and play with my cousin there. My grandfather would hide butterscotch candies on himself, in his cuff, or collar or something like that and we'd spot them and get to have a treat. I don't remember him well as he passed away when I was 9, but the memories I have of him are warm, wonderful and definitely added nourishment to my childhood. I'm glad my children will have the same memories of their grammy, too.

My parents live far away and can't be as interactive with the kids as I know they want to be, and that's hard for all involved. Time gets away from us and suddenly it's months since we've seen them. But, I'm thrilled that I will be seeing them again next week as they come down for our annual Christmas gathering. Which I'm hosting. The last time I tried to host was in our beautiful post and beam house of past and everyone had a flu (both my sister's families!) and could not come. I had decorated the house to the nines, bought lots of food and cleaned for days to get everything ready...and they could not make it. I had a very special announcement to share with everyone as well, but ended up doing it a different way. I had made a special card to share with our families that we were expecting another addition to our family tree...our second son was due the following August. I was sad that I was not able to make it a grand announcement for the whole family, but it was nice to have my parents open the card just the same. Wow, that seems like so long ago to me, and it was 6 years ago now. Like I said, time gets away from us.

Well, Little Red and I are baking brownies for him to bring to school and Music Man to bring to work for all his coworkers. I wish you all some delicious smells in your kitchen and wonderful Christmas memories as well.

Peace to you, ~Peacemom

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

It's a nice little tree

Joyeaux Noel!

Is this not a cute little picture? These are my three men, all hauling in the lovely Christmas Tree that is now adorning our living area. We decided last Sunday to go in search of a tree. Two years in a row now, we've been on our way to cut a tree in a town a bit away. There aren't as many cut-your-own tree places as there used to be, so we've been traveling a bit further each year. This year, we had a destination in mind, but thought as we did last year, if something promising pops up, well, we'll try that. As we were driving our way out to the tree farm, we passed by a sign for Green Tree Farm. Looked promising, so we took a side road to find out what it was all about. Pulled in, found the sign said they were getting out of the tree business (sigh) and that they only had cut-your-own this year (perfect, just what we were after) and all trees are $35.00 (within our budget). We needed to go in search of an ATM machine as I did not plan for this excursion ahead of time. Got the necessary funds and returned to the farm.

As we walked down the snowy lane, we came across a tree all decorated for us. There, I took the sweetest picture of the boys in front of the snowy tree. And yes, it is honoring the front of our Christmas cards this year. I was truly hoping to get snow (we did!) before we got our tree as I really need it to be snowy to enjoy the process to it's fullest. Then we found an honest to goodness blessing. Music Man pointed out to me that sometimes when you don't plan everything down to the letter (we rarely do), you have wonderful experiences. We happened upon this farm and met some truly nice people, got to pet a Christmas donkey (and Morgan Horse) and enjoy the stunning rolling hill beauty of their farm. It was peaceful, lovely and just one of those perfect moments in life. The boys got to throw big snowballs into a little pond, Music Man and I wandered around choosing the right tree (which for a change was so easy to do, we had to narrow it down from all the perfect ones!), and enjoyed the moment for all it was worth.

As we wandered back out up the lane towards the cars, hand in hand with our happy, chattering offspring wondering over lots of things, like the reindeer crossing sign (Little Red pointing out to me that not only SANTA has reindeer, you know), the tracks in the snow, and the beauty of their surroundings, I felt truly blessed. To live in such a gorgeous place, to have happened on such a fun moment, and to have met some new people in town, oh, that's a bit of perfection. I had peace in my soul on that walk back to the car, and felt honored to be part of that snapshot in time with my family.

May you have such blessings for your soul this holiday season,


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Giving Thanks

Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone!

Today is about those moments I'm increasingly adding to my life. It's about gratitude. It's amazing how much richer your life is when you take the time to be grateful for the blessings. I can honestly say I am a happier person all the way down to the soul level for having taken the time each day to recognize the wonderful blessings of my life. So many, so much, so thankful.

Of course, as always, I'm thankful for the wonders of my family. My boys are little people that give so much to me without even knowing it. They have opened a whole demention in my life that did not exist prior to their arrival. I knew I always hoped they would be in my life, and now that they are here, I can only thank God for the blessing of them. They offer me the ability to love more deeply then I ever thought possible, to grow in my heart and soul in ways I never knew I would, to feel more then I ever dreamed was available. That is not to say that all moments are bliss, because that is far from the case. But even in those hard moments, I can say I have had the feeling, whatever it is, and that's better to me then living a life unfulfilled. Mine without my boys would have been less whole. Since each person knows what works for them, what fulfills them, each can say what is best for them. I completely understand and respect people's decision not to have children in their lives on a daily basis either by circumstances or choice. But my life, in my time would have felt wholly unfulfilled without them. So, I am grateful that they are here.

I am thankful for the blessing of my husband. He's also one of those wonderful people in my life who allow me to feel things I never knew I could. I love him in a deep and wholehearted way, I care for his soul and know with great joy that he cares for mine. All my boys offer me the chance to give the love that was always within me, and I am so very thankful for that. Not only is he my husband, my love, but also my best friend. We truly enjoy each other's company, laugh together, brainstorm together and plan our future together. I am so thankful that at no time in our lives do we only "tolerate" each other as I see other couples do, only bearing the other. Oh, my life has grown immeasurably since the first day of a new job when I saw him and said "WHO'S that??" to my coworker. That was over 11 years ago and we're loving, enjoying, laughing, knowing, caring, commisurating, dreaming, learning and sharing our lives. That is not to say that every moment is easy-it is not-but we have grown enough together as a couple to weather the rough spots, and allowed each other enough individual identity to not lose who we are in the process. And a sense of humor doesn't hurt either. Yes, Dr. Phil, he's my safe place to fall.

I'm thankful for my friends that offer me the chance to love, to have fun, to care about someone other then my immediate family, to give and get advice, to listen, to talk, to laugh with, to cry with, to be joyful with and to share with. I honestly believe that friends are the family we chose for ourselves. I take moments to recognize the very valuable gift friendship is in my life.

I'm thankful for the rest of my family, extended, near and far. They offer me the chance to have the past, recognize the past, learn and grow from the past. To feel comfortable in a way that only people who've known you your whole life could do. With my family, I now understand what a gift that is. To not have to feel like everything I say or do (and let's face it folks, I'm fairly out there, what you see is what you get) is judged. That's not to say that they accept it with a "That's great!" to my every emotion, but have allowed me the safety to know I could express those feelings and not have them be taken as who I am on a soul level. They recognize that the emotion in the moment is not me, but only a part of me, and for that I am grateful. I will always be thankful for my mother and father and sister's love in my life, I don't take them for granted and know that they are special in their own ways. Ahh, they are all special in their own ways for sure.

I am thankful for many other things as well, I'll name a few quickly. I'm thankful for the job my husband has not been laid off from in this tough economy, I'm thankful for the blessing of my job that allows me so much freedom for the time with my boys that is so important to our family right now. I'm grateful for the warm home I live in on it's beautiful 3 acres, the town we're growing to love, the right school for Maestro and the courage to make the move to allow that to happen for him, the right preschool for Little Red, who is flourishing in his environment, the teachers who recognize the wonderfulness that is my boys, the beautiful country that surrounds me, the opportunities for growing food and eating the way we know is best for the planet, the friends that help make that possible, enough money to get us through and the help when that wasn't always the case, the maple trees that cast their fiery show every autumn and give us syrup for our pancakes, the food that is so abundant everywhere in our country and the skills to make my own and enough money to buy what I can't, healthy family, oh so thankful for healthy family, the car that safely gets me where I want to go, the eyes to take the photos I love to take, the brain to think clearly enough to write what I want to see, the list could go on and on. I am so very thankful for so many things. This thankfulness allows me the ability to give back what I receive, to live a life uncommon.

Thank you for reading, and bearing with me on my walk down thankfulness on this, the Eve of Thanksgiving. May you enjoy bountiful food, blessings and love in your day. Take a moment to be thankful for all you have and all you are to another.

With abiding thankfulness, ~Peacemom

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Old New England Foodstuffs

Good Day, My Friends!

Last evening I went to a lecture called "Baked Beans and Fried Clams, How Food Defines a Region". The talk was given by author Edie Clark. You fans of Yankee Magazine may know her from her many articles penned for them. She was quite enjoyable, funny and witty. It's a series of lectures from the NH Humanities Council. If you don't know how this works, basically, they provide lectures on different topics in a catalog of sorts. When a group wants to have a lecture come to their area but can't afford it, they can apply for a grant from the Council to pay for the speaker to come and give the lecture. I'm not sure about the finer points of how it all works, but that's my basic understanding.

Since the lecture was posted to start at 7:00, but had been told to some that it didn't start until 7:30, I had a chance to chat with Edie for a few moments. She was lovely and I got to hear bits of her life in Dublin, NH. She had some of her books with her and I browsed them. Got to tell her about the cookbook I've been working on for far too long now and she was very encouraging that I should complete it. When I told her I have no idea if it would ever get published, she told me "you never know, keep going". To be honest, this cookbook is a labor of love for me, and even though I don't have enough time to work on it with my life and adding working 30 hours a week to the mix, it's never far from my mind. I'm often working on it in my head and planning and trying new recipes and always wondering if they are good enough to make the cut. I know to my test kitchens, it may seem that the project is dead at the moment, I assure you good folks, it's always in the forefront of my planning. Right now, it's just not possible to find the time to make it happen as fast as I'd like. This is life with 5 & 6 year olds and working and all of life's duties, it's gotta be in the planning stages a lot right now.

I enjoyed Edie's lecture quite a bit. She has some wonderful and funny anecdotes about Julia Child and Fanny Farmer and author named Pearson whom I was unfamiliar with. After hearing some of the passion he had for food, I've got to find his now out-of-print books to bone up on the history of New England cooking. Hearing how he felt about his corn meal mush actually made me want to fry up a slab! He had a love affair with New England cooking that may be unrivaled these days with the advent of global eating upon us. Edie told us of some of her cooking escapades and in giving the history of a few of the most regional dishes, like Indian pudding and fried clams, made me want to put fingers to keys and get some of my recipes down. I also realized that there is much more history to be gotten before I can call my recipes traditional in the sense that I need to experience more about them. I've never had corn meal mush, scrapple or bean hole beans, so I definitely need to make a point of learning the finer points of the preparation of these recipes. Yes, there's more research to be had.

I know to Edie that this conversation with me was probably a passing moment in her life, she probably won't remember me in a bit. But for me, having a very published author, say to me, keep going, you never know...well, that was amazing. I love that my family and friends read my blog and enjoy my cooking and encourage me, and that means the world to me. But you know, they are going to do that because they love me, aren't they? That they would encourage me anyways, even if I was a mediocre cook or just write with no talent, they would do the same. And this is why I love them back. Because they have faith in me that I sometimes don't remember to have in myself. But to have an author that I know many, many people have heard of and read and published, tell me, keep going. Well...that's just an amazing touching of my soul. She somehow gave validity to that dream, that dream that I've been working on for 4 years now, that is really important to me, that preoccupies me to distraction and frustrates me with it's insistence, a dream I hold dear. That's a gift I can't ever repay, is it? It cost her nothing but to give a word of encouragement to an aspiring author, but it was bigger to me then a whole lot of things money could buy. It led validation to a dream and made it seem possible. And that's what life is all about, isn't it?

One of the other things that was great about her, her trust in a total stranger. I did not bring cash to this event, as is the way of most people these days, I don't carry much, I use my debit card for most purchases. But, I really wanted her Baked Bean Supper book as it gave a lot of the history of New England food along with some of her favorite recipes. I asked her if I could purchase her book locally as it's produced by a small publisher and not carried by larger bookstores. I explained that I didn't bring cash with me, but wanted to purchase one. She said, "I trust you to mail me a check and this way I can sign it for you if you'd like.". A defining moment of grace on her part, and I was humbled to think she would just do that for me. After her informative and fun lecture, I went to grab a book and she autographed it for me, handed me her card and I assured her I would send her a check in the mail tomorrow. It was not until after I got home that I read that inscription, and it set tears to lids.

It read simply, "Vonnie, Good luck with your cookbook" Edie Clark.

Humbled and renewed, ~Peacemom

Monday, October 5, 2009

All 'bout the Color, right?

Hello All,

I just realized that the whole month of September went by and I did not post a thing. Since my mother tells me she reads these little diatribes, I decided to put fingers to keys today and jot a little something down.

Here are 20 of my favorite things about October:

1. Crisp autumn morning air
2. The beautiful turkeys that are frequenting under my bird feeder and when the sun shines on them, their feathers are AMAZING. Who knew wild turkeys had so many colors in their feathers?
3. The smell of woodsmoke on a country lane.
4. Blustery rain storms that settle you in.
5. Blustery rain storms that make you want to hit the trail in them just to feel how alive you can be!
6. Pumpkins...EVERYWHERE! At the farmstands, on farm signs, over doors (a New England tradition, a little row of pumpkins across the front door, truly love), adorning scarecrow bodies...just everywhere.
7. Watching the leaves drift across the 3 open acres that are blown from the trees down by the road. Little Red and I have done this together on many occasions as I drag him outside to learn the finer points of becoming an autumn lover.
8. Seeing my boys in their dog-in-a-truck and lobster sweaters, so cute.
9. Wool socks and cozy slippers.
10. Chopping wood and the buzz that comes from that exercise. There's nothing to making you sore for days like chopping wood by hand.
11. Seeing how long you can take the chill before you break down and turn on the heat!
12. Apple picking and making applesauce, right through to the canning jars and all.
13. The smell of baking in the house. I love baking this time of year so much. There's nothing like molasses cookies, gingerbread or anything pumpkin baking in the oven to warm you to the soul.
14. The way autumn leaves look when floating on water.
15. Our now annual camping trip to Freeport, Me., where I hope to procure a new sweater and enjoy some breathtaking coastal beauty all it's own.
16. Speaking of sweaters, dressing in wonderful sweaters. The weight of them somehow makes me feel secure and cozy, just love to be wrapped in one.
17. Playing in the leaves with the boys, taking pictures of them in the leaves and rolling around and throwing leaves at each other...this is seriously high entertainment when you're 5 & 6 (and hey 41, too!).
18. Hiking on the splendor and beauty of an autumn trail, preferably one surrounded by hardwood New Englanders know what I mean.
19. The crackle of a fire in the fireplace, the wonderful taste of s'mores just made and enjoying both with a cup of hot pumpkin spice tea.
20. The LEAF symphony!!! Need I say more? The grandeur of country road driving with the trees ablaze on a sunny afternoon, preferably after a rainy night so the trunks are dark, is just amazing. There's no better site to this 'ol New Englander' soul then this.

So, I hope you enjoyed my little walk down a few of the reasons I love October. There are several hundred more, but for today we'll start here. Leave me a note and let me know what you like about the month.

A wonderful October feeling to you, ~Peacemom

Sunday, August 30, 2009


I'm beginning to wonder if I only write this blog for my sanity, or if anyone actually reads it...leave me a message with a recipe idea for fennel if you would...I got fennel at the CSA this week and not sure what to do with it...any suggestions?

Feeling lonely, ~Peacemom

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Oh, it's in the air, my friends!

Howdy Everyone!

Can you feel it? The nip in the air? Woke up this morning and needed to pull on the quilt. We left the windows open last night so we could hear the storm that elsewhere had been Hurricane Danny. We got some pleasant rain and a bit of breeze and it was lovely. And it brought even cooler winds with it, enough so that I happily pulled up the quilt and sighed with the coziness of it all. Ahhhhh, it's approaching, my friends, Autumn in all it's glory.

I really never tire of, and wish dearly that, Autumn and it's beauty and crispness could be 9 months a year and the other three snow. If I had my way, that's how it would work in my corner of the planet. There's nothing like putting your feet to hardwood in the morning and realizing that the wool socks are in order, or getting the woodpile ready for burning (we finally get to use that firewood we've had for 4 years now!), picking the Fall Gooseberry Patch cookbooks down from the shelf (and my favorite Susan Branch cookbook, Autumn). I host an Autumn inspired tea for the girls in my family in October and I usually start thinking about what I'm going to make about now...okay, so really I usually start in July, but since summer was short here in New England, I wasn't as inclined until now. The last two weeks of brutally hot weather was enough for me to tip those scales in a sweater clad direction.

I noticed mums at our local farm stand last week. Little Red wanted me to buy some...but I explained to him that I can't buy mums when it's 97 degrees outside. It's somehow sacrilegious. As I can't pick apples in shorts and a tee shirt- flannel and sweaters are a must- I can't buy mums in the height of a heat wave. It offends my sensibilities. Now, today, is a different's raining, there's a big bucket of tomatoes from my garden just waiting for me to can today, and I have an urge to go forth and procure mums. But, I don't really want to be planting in the rain. For today, my goals are simple...find something I can make with the fennel I got from the CSA yesterday, get some delicious aromas of the tomato sauce with fresh basil variety going, and relax before I'm called to mom duties again....and perhaps another slice of that warm peach coffee cake I made this morning.

Cold wood floor blessings to you, ~Peacemom

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A New School Year

Hello All!

Today is the first day of first grade for Maestro. He was so danged cute walking into that big school this morning. He was anxious about it and had a "tummy ache" the last two nights, but this morning, he was raring to go. We had an orientation yesterday and got to see his classroom and meet his new teacher (she seems like a total peach) and now he's offically an elementary school student.

We were originally going to have him ride the bus to school. But, I have my reservations about this as the bus is K-8 on the same bus. Now, they say the younger kids sit in the front, and it gets progressively older as you descend towards the back, but honestly, they are packed in like sardines, three to a seat and how can they really keep an eye on what happens there? Plus, I've learned from other moms that a good portion of the "bad" things that kids learn is on the bus, and so, wanting to keep him innocent at least one more year, I'm driving him. I've got to take Little Red to preschool 4 mornings a week anyways and they are about a mile or so apart, so what's the big deal.

Speaking of Little Red, he's not at all happy that his all day playmate is now gone all day. Not a bit happy about it. Not sure how we're going to fill up whole days, he and I, but we'll manage. In two weeks, he'll be starting preschool at his new school and I know it's going to be a tough transition for him, but I also know he'll be okay. He's learning in his own way that he can do more then he thinks he can.

But, back to Maestro as this is his day. He is really excited to be going to his new school and looking forward to the adventure of it. He gets to eat his lunch in a big cafeteria and play in a big gym, both things his last kindergarten didn't have. AND he gets his own desk and everything. I don't know how he'll do with having to sit still all day long, that's not our strong suit in our house. For any of us, really. Working at a desk all day is a killer physically for anyone isn't it? It's not what our bodies were made for at all.

So, no tears on this mom's part this morning. It gets easier to let them do these things as the years go on. This time last year, I was a weepy mess. Maestro got on the bus and I lost it when he drove away. I can't imagine what it will be like to say good bye when he goes off to college, for now, I'm just trying to let him get to the first grade okay. Wish me luck.

Happy first school days to you, ~Peacemom

Monday, August 10, 2009

Pontifications and such

Hi Ya'll!

This was a weekend of productivity. Music Man and I were able to get a very large part of the garage cleared out from boxes and furniture we've not had time to put away yet. Felt really good to finally make some progress on that 6 weeks after we moved in. And, Music Man took the boys to the tall ships on Saturday and I was able to get some very much needed time alone. I'm just worn out from unpacking, keeping a house running, caring for two boys full time while I'm also working almost full time. Just plain tuckered out. So, it was nice to have a few hours where I was not needed for anything other then what tasks I assigned myself. It was a breath of fresh air to my world.

I've been trying very hard to do more and more living in the moment and trying not to judge situations, but to see them for the facts that they are. One such situation is that our old house still is not rented. I have been battling a lot of emotions over this that run the gamut from anger, helplessness, disbelief and a bit of panic as we can't afford to basically pay two mortgages for very long. So, I am angry because we are on our third set of tenants that backed out on us. For various reasons (wanted to be closer to "town", not the right time to move after all, etc), they have taken time and energy away from showing and renting our place to people who might have stayed there. The last ones wasted 3 weeks of precious time waffling until they finally decided they just didn't want to move right now. I understand that people's circumstances change, whatever, but to have taken three weeks of our time to decide this, in the time of year when people are moving for school was very angering. I am confounded by people's lack of regard for others. We've not had may bites as of yet for reasons I'm about to expound on.

I am also angry because we listened to advice in the know about what to charge for rent (we were initially WAY too high, but didn't figure that out right away), and wasted time with that. It's just been much more of a stressor in our lives then we ever anticipated. Now, we've dropped the rent three times and still no bites. And this place is very pretty and in good shape. I don't say this as the owner and part of the team that did the work to get it way. Lots of other people think the same thing.

Frustrating...then...I try very hard to release the thoughts that are causing the anger and just accept that this is what is. I approached it differently, reworded the ad, etc and am trying a new way to accomplish this task. If nothing else, it's given me a peaceful sense of the situation I had not had before, and for that I am grateful. I'm trying to just feel the faith that brought us to this move in the first place and allow the light of that to shine through. It's all a work in progress.

I spent some time on our front deck this weekend, enjoying the birds, the beautiful surroundings, the whineys of the horses and crows of the roosters in our "neighborhood", reading in the cool breeze and sunshine and just listening to my little corner of the world. It was a healing time for me as I've not spent enough time in the being lately, but too much in the worrying. As I said, it's all a work in progress.

Please send some positive energy to get a warm body in that condo soon! ~Peacemom

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Blueberries, Heat and a Little Bit of Autumn

Hello All!

Went blueberry picking in the incredible heat and humidity yesterday with a dear friend and her daughter. We were all covered in sweat when we were done, but I've got a beautiful $9.00 worth of blueberries to freeze. Four or so cups will grace a pie in January. There's not much to compare to a blueberry pie made with berries you picked last summer, crust from scratch while you're watching the snow fall. It brings you a bit of a summer warmth and memories when you take a bite and taste some blueberries you picked with your own hands (or little hands helped you pick!) back in August. If you don't have that option, you'll have to believe that it's just one of life's little pleasures that can't compare. No blueberry shipped from Mexico or wherever will ever taste as sweet. I implore you, take advantage of the fruits of your local produce while you can, it's better for you and certainly better for the planet, and will provide your own bit of summer in January deep freeze.

Blueberry picking was unbelievably hot, and the youngest two of our crew were ready to be done long before their mothers were. And I will admit to actually turning on the air conditioning in the van when I got back in. That's not something I feel the need to do often, but yesterday, it was seriously welcome relief. Some days, all you want is an ice cold coke and some air conditioning, and there's nothing wrong with that either!

On another note, I work most of my hours in the little sunroom on the back of our new house. It smells a little musty and dog-like from the last tenants, but I love this little room just the same. I get to work in fresh air and sunshine without the bother of copious bugs, and I'm at peace in that space. I have seen a mink, a young deer and turkeys from this room in the short time we've been here, as more wildlife travels in the dawn and dusk and that's when I'm hard at work on my new laptop. Loving the new laptop SO very much. It allows me a lot more freedom then I used to have with my desktop, makes me wonder why it took so long to talk me into it.

I'm any case the most wonderful thing I've seen out those windows is the one branch of about 10 leaves on a maple out back that have turned on their fall glory. Now, I have no idea why they would have done this already, there is nothing else out there with that kind of color show going on. All else is green and in full summer regalia, but that one branch. And I have chosen to fully believe that this is there for me. Because the universe knows how in love I am with AUTUMN, and knows that I start planning fall baking and such in July, and so it decided to give me such a wonderful autumn gift to please my soul. Just one more sign, not that we needed any more, that we are in the right place for whatever story is supposed to be unfolding for us here. Grateful, contented and peaceful describe my heart at the moment and so perhaps that's all that's supposed to happen here. Wouldn't that be wonderful?

Wishing you your own little piece of autumn glory...~Peacemom

Friday, July 24, 2009

A Few Things Which Make Me Happy

I have to take a moment to list a few of the things in the moment that are making me happy, so here goes...
1. Blueberry season is upon us. This in and of itself is enough to elicit a big smile from my little face. When my friend and I went to pick berries, we went at 2:00 in the afternoon not realizing that picking ended at 2:00. When my friend got there, they were closing. The people ended up letting us pick for almost an additional hour, without giving us any kind of hassle. This makes me very happy, good customer service. This is our third year picking there and not only am I happy to have local fresh blueberries, but a place that will honor us by staying even when it's not the easiest thing to do. I told him we'd be back, and that our friends will hear about it. So, here I write to my friends. Go, pick blueberries at Derouchers Blueberries in Litchfield, NH if you're near.

2. Canned goods on the shelves of my the root cellar in our new home makes me very happy. Of course the fact that there's fresh local food sitting in jars that I've canned with my own little hands makes me happy, but it's a way of life we've been trying to find for a long time. And now we have it. That makes me immeasurably happy.

3. Blueberry pie sitting on my counter top cooling that my oldest son and I baked together today makes me happy (and hungry!). I know Music Man will be thrilled when he comes home from a long day at the office to fresh made blueberry pie, and that fact makes me happy as well. And the fact that I made a pie crust (NOT my forte) that came out yummy looking is making my little heart sing just a bit. The key is not over working and chilling before you roll the dough out.

4. Our new place of residence is making us all very happy. We've finally settled in a place that feels like home and is cozy and has enough room for us with a lot of land for the boys to live on. We wish we could buy it some day, but it won't be for sale...ever. At least not as long as the owner is alive. But, that's okay, we can stay as long as we want and that makes me happy as well.

5. The fact that my husband and I have jobs makes me very thankful. So many don't now, we have friends who've both been laid off, three weeks apart and they have 2 young children to safeguard. I truly feel for them as we've been in that predicament two times and it's scary and disheartening. So, I'm appreciating the grace that allows me to have the job I have, and remind myself of this in it's less then satisfying moments.

6. On to smaller things that make me happy...all the fresh veggies from the CSA, waking to morning light from our big windows, hearing my boys playing and working together to build a marble run...without fighting, seeing the birds discovering our feeder, just the fact that I can have a feeder here and not have anyone complaining that the birds are pooping on their deck, to not have the constant feeling of oppression by the neighbors at the old place, it gives me a lightness to my soul I've not had since they moved in, the beauty of Brownie's new calf Candy and her long eyelashes and doey eyes. Anyways, the list could go on, but today, for this moment, I'm feeling thankful for the blessings of my life in so many ways. Thought I'd share that with you and wish you gratitude for your blessings as well.

Enjoying the moment, ~Peacemom

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


Hello All!

I know, I know it's been forever. But honestly, if you could see the list of things I have to accomplish each and every day, you'd understand why. Since I started working in March, I've not had a whole lot of time to do anything but work and take care of our lovely offspring. I was determined to find a balance, but I think, as my wise friend told me, accept that right now, there is no balance. That's a tough one to concede, but I think I'm beginning to embrace the concept.

Oh, yah, and we moved in that time frame as well. I know most of you know that already, but it's been something not everyone is aware of apparently. Thus far, we've not found a tenant for our old place yet, and we're leaking money like water basically paying two mortgages, so we're making a tough decision about whether to keep trying to rent or try to sell it. Now that we are out of it and emotionally unattached, the decision doesn't feel as tough to me. I'm aware that it's okay if it goes, in fact I would almost welcome it since we've lost SO much money on it, we're just feeling it's a weight and not a blessing anymore. So, we'll see what time will bring.

Last week, I took the boys to the beach. It was MONSTER packed, I don't think I've seen so many people at the beach at one time. Too many rainy days here in NH and everyone is trying to cram the fun into what time we have left of the summer. We also went on Sunday evening so Music Man could go and it was a lovely time. The beach was still pretty crowded by the time we left at about 7:00pm, no one wanted to leave such a beautiful place at a beautiful hour. We were feeling much more relaxed after spending some hours with one of us body surfing (the waves were GREAT!), and all feeling the sand between our toes. There are many ways to recognize God in nature, but surely one of my very favorite is spending some time at the ocean. Rejuvenation and uplifting are the two words that describe it for me most.

I've felt my soul long for and somehow bring me to the ocean at many times in my life. When I was very troubled, when I was happy, when I had a lot of thinking to do over a concern in my life and just plan when I need to have some fun. My life does not have nearly enough fun in it at the moment. Music Man and I have resolved that we are going to make that more of a priority in our lives, not only for our own sake, but for the sake of the two little men pounding on the drums in the garage as I (try to!) write this.

I will say that the day I went with just the boys and I, I was really missing my friend Kristen, who used to be my beach buddy before she moved to Texas (where she has no beaches). She is a wonderful soul, and I miss her in my everyday life. So, I spent a few moments digging in the sand, and thinking about how I wish she were there with me. Life physically splits us from people we love sometimes, but never in our hearts. So, I sent her some warm and loving thoughts from a beach so far away from her, and prayed she could come home to New England soon.

Well, I will try to keep up with this blog more often, but honestly, I just can't promise that right now. I hope you're all happy, healthy and resolving to find a little more fun in your own lives.

Peaceful moments of rejuvenation to you, ~Peacemom

Monday, July 6, 2009

Moved...well almost!

Hello All,

It's been a whirlwind couple of months. I can't even begin to tell you what all has been going on here at Casa de Peaceable Kingdom. We're buried in stress at the moment, but happy to be in our new home.

1. moving did not go as smoothly as expected because we lacked help. The help we had worked like dogs, and for them we are eternally greatful, but wow are we ever tired. It has taken us over a week to get 95% of our belongings here from there.

2. After discovering that too much STUFF has accumulted in our lives in the last 4 1/2 years since our last move, many trips to the GoodWill were made. And, in unpacking, Music Man and I are realizing that we still have more then we'll need anytime soon. Once you own a house, the tools and floatsum & jetsom that accumulates needs to be disposed of once you no longer need them. Problem is, and I've told you all this before, I live with the human packrat...though he's slowly coming around to not needing so much. I really think it's a left over emotion from his childhood when he moved so many times that he was not allowed to accumulate and so is making up for lost time now!

3. The boys have been really wonderful during this process and some family jumped in and helped out with them for the two days of the largest part of the move. It was truly great to know that they were having a good time and not having to deal with watching the only lives they remember getting packed into boxes and trucks. It was a stressful process for them to have to deal with, and I know it's weird for them to see their old house basically empty.

4. I way overdid it last weekend with the move and had some heart problems coming up from the deep dark places to add to the stress factor. Having to drive myself to the ER at 3:30 in the morning, not knowing anyone here in our new town who could sit with the boys at that hour, Music Man had to stay with them. I was okay in the end, it stopped on it's own, but 2 1/2 hours of very irratic heart traffic just plain stunk. Not fun and pretty scary.

5. This past Saturday, we woke up on the 4th of July to a completely toasted computer. Can't retrieve a thing off it at this point. A latent Trojan some idiot infected our computer with. Those people have a place somewhere special waiting for them, just not funny at all. Too much time on their hacking little hands and people who can't afford it have to replace a computer so one half of the income earners can work. Music Man has put some great effort and worry into the darned thing, but it's not happy at all. So we went to Sams and bought a new laptop, which we've been wanting for a while and finally took the plunge. Wasn't in the finances right now, but we have been contemplating getting one for over three years now and since it seems we'd need a new computer, might as well do it now. For the record...I LOVE MY NEW LAPTOP!

6. After not feeling up to much this whole week with some sort of stomach bug for 5 days, the unpacking is coming along so much slower then I hoped. But, I got the upstairs of the old place cleaned and will work on the rest of it this week so that Music Man can paint a few rooms that need freshening up and we'll be renting it soon we hope. Gotta get the income coming in from that or it's gonna get interesting around here!

Well, hopefully I will be able to post a little more often again. Don't know if anyone has been missing my posts, but I've certainly missed having the time, energy and the outlet of this blog.

Peace to you all on this glorious sunny day,


Monday, June 15, 2009

Moving Day, Rain and Gardens

Guten Tag!

I can't believe it's been so long since I wrote last. My life is currently spiraling out of control with stuff to do and all that's going on. I'm trying my hardest to not let it get me crazy, sometimes that happens when so much is going on. I started to think that I seriously may have lost my mind when I totally spaced my appointment for my mammogram. Totally spaced that I had the appointment because I also had 4 other appointments that week for dentist and doctor and blood work. But, don't worry Ma, I've got another appointment this week already set up, let's just hope I remember that one!

Well, we're fast approaching moving day here at Casa de Peaceable Kingdom. I think for some strange reason, we've been sort of living like it's happening, but not really believing it. Only had about 10 boxes packed as of yesterday (though, I've been to the GoodWill 3 big van full trips already, PURGING! Purging is soooo good!). The kids were not very amused this morning when I went through their toy bins in the living room and basically threw away or recycled or put in the donation pile about 2/3 of the mess in those bins that they NEVER play with. Gone! I know they will be upset the first time they want something from there that they've not touched in 6 months, but I can't bring myself to have the chaos at the new place that has taken over this one and I figure, moving is a great time to take care of all of that nonsense. Now...if I could just get Music Man in the same frame of mind, we'd be doing really well. I've told you all before, he IS the human packrat, and not only is he the human packrat, but he's also a very disorganized packrat. I'm the human minimalist and I'm an organized minimalist, so seeing his chaos and how he can possibly be productive in that environment is a complete mystery to me. I don't embrace that characteristic about him, I've got to be honest. I basically just refuse to make my eyes see into his abyss of mess, even though my washer and dryer face right into it. What can you do? He's got so many great qualities, and who's perfect, right?

Anyways, we're at T minus 11 and counting as moving day is offically to begin on June 26th. We don't have a whole lotta help yet, not hiring movers this time. Not sure how this is gonna work because I am not physically able to lift washing machines and sleeper sofas, so hopefully Music Man can pull off arranging some help. We'll have bbq and cold beers for the help when all is said and done, so maybe that will help.

It's been raining here for a long time. We had a nice sunny day on Saturday, but we're back to rain yesterday and today and it looks like it's gonna continue. Not thrilled about that, but boy we sure did need the rain here, so it's okay. My garden, which I will miss terribly will be happy.

I planted about 1/2 of it before we made the big decision to go, so I'm gonna have to come back and keep it watered and stuff until we get a tenant, who will hopefully appreciate organic lettuce, herbs, peppers and tomatoes. Sniffle, will be the hardest thing for me to let go here. That and the wonderful neighbors we have (save the ones we have to share a wall with). We have a close knit neighborhood and I will miss that...a lot. But we're on to new adventures and hopefully all will go well. Our new landlord seems great so far, has done a lot of work on the house we're renting (it's gonna be weird to rent again, for sure!). But, the new place is great and so much of what we've been looking for in our lives and the school is just perfect for Maestro, it's gonna be good.

We got to pick up our first part of our share from the CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) farm this week. Got 2 kinds of lettuce, fresh spinach, salad turnips (a cross between kohlrabi and radishes, yum!), and vitamin greens. Also hit the local farm stand for some strawberries which are out and oh SSSOOOOO good. I bought 6 quarts of them and made my first ever strawberry jam yesterday. The first batch came out perfect, the second is too runny, but hey I figure that will taste great on pancakes and popovers, so it's all good.

Well, I've got to put a call into Maestro's new school today. Gonna talk to the counselor about the gifted program for him. Can't wait to see what they have to offer. Until next time...
Peace to you,


Sunday, May 24, 2009

Changes, exhaustion and Fiddling

Hi Everyone,
I know, I know, I've been gone forever. I'm getting it from all sides and everyone wanting to know what's up in my corner. I'm sorry I've been away, life has taken so many turns in the last month, it's impossible to keep it all straight.

The first and foremost thing to tell everyone is that we're moving. This has been a change we've been wanting to make for a while now and due to unforseen idiotic neighbor issues, we're feeling the time is right for many reasons. The most pressing reason is that Maestro will be starting first grade in the fall. To say that we live in a town with a great school system is an understatement, it's a great school system...for the average student. We have not been raising the average student, we've got a kindergartener that can read at a 5th grade level and can do math at around a 3rd grade level (or could easily if we taught him all the goodies he would be learning in third grade). I've been less then amused by the present school system's challenges. They just don't have anything in place for "gifted" students, which Maestro is considered to be (not our judgement, it's just the way it is). So, we wanted desperately to get him into a school system that would know what to do with his particular talents. The new school system has a program already in place for him, with peers instead of just meeting with an administrator for 15 minutes every month or so and them sending worksheets home for him to do. We already do that at home, along with much more then that, so to say I'm not amused is also an understatement. So, we feel he's got the best chance at an education that will challenge him at the new school.

One of the other big issues is that our neighbors have just gotten to be too much for us to take. After a blow up with the blow hard next door (NOT my normal course of action, I usually don't let people get to me that way), we've decided it was a great impetus to change for us since the situation in our home isn't going to change if we don't make it happen. They have a spineless landlord, tell him lots of lies and have no intention of leaving any time soon, so we're gonna be the ones to go. Which is okay since we feel it's a move in the right direction for us on so many levels. I'm thrilled with this change as it gets me closer to the rural life I love and also lands me in the same town as not only Brownie's farm (you'll remember that's where we get our milk and eggs) but also the CSA (community supported agriculture) farm we joined for our veggies. It makes my heart incredibly happy to be able to get those things even more local then we do now.

We found a great little ranch house on almost three acres. I get to have a garden and a clothesline and we have a lovely fireplace and lilac bush right outside our bedroom window. We walked over and met the new neighbors today and also found out that they have 3 and 5 year olds sons living there themselves, so our boys will have boys to play with that are almost the same age. It's a blessing for us on may levels and we're grateful and thankful for the opportunity to experience this place. We're renting the house and in turn renting our condex out until the market turns around enough for us to get out from under it. Don't want to lose all we've invested, so we're in the wait and see. Actually not 100% sure we're waiting, we've not completely arrived at that decision yet.

The exhaustion continues for me as getting up at the ungodly hour of 4:45 am is hard for me. I'm asleep very early in the evening most nights and feel like I never catch up on housework and kid time. But, I'm humbly doing the best I can to make it all work and now we get to pack and move in the process of this. Should be an interesting month!

The fiddling is in reference to Jenna Woginrich's blog. She's challenged everyone to learn to play the fiddle, a secret desire of mine for so long now. So, I may just take her up on it as she's got a whole group of people doing it together all around the country. Sounds fun and like I might make the time to do it if I just set my mind to it. I'm pondering it, but sure sounds like fun to me!

Gotta kiss the cherubs goodnight now. Peace and lilacs to you all, ~Peacemom

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Spring Has Sprung

Hello All,

A newly rediscovered friend has reminded me that I don't post enough pictures online. So, thought I'd put a couple of old ones out that I liked. Enjoy!

Reveling in spring, ~Peacemom

Saturday, April 18, 2009

A Few Things That Disturb Me

Hello All,
Been a heck of a week here at the Peaceable Kingdom. All four of us have come down with the second round of spring cold/flu/bubonic plague. It's not a pretty site here, folks. We're all coughed out, exhausted from not sleeping and fever wracked. But, life must go on and so it has. The boys are off raking the baseball field as opening day for our little people is next weekend and we are required to volunteer a couple of hours to get the fields ship shape. A good cause, so we'll rake a bit and let the boys feel involved as well. I'm home, enjoying the first peace and quiet I've had in a while and I'm spending that time changing beds and washing bedding. Lots of fun for you to hear, I know, but with my little-to-no personal time since starting my job, I've gotta fill it with what I can get done.

A few things have struck me as disturbing as I'm spending some time cleaning. Like gardening, I get some thinking done while I'm cleaning. Here are a few things that I just want to keep my head in the sand about our youth of today, but alas, I can't.

1. I don't want to know that the 11 year old girl that lives next to us (shares a wall actually as we're in a condex) wears see thru pink shorts with a black thong underneath. I don't want to know that a thong is considered okay for an 11 year old. Nor the amount of makeup she wears or the bra straps always showing under her little skimpy spaghetti strap tops. Don't wanna know.

2. I don't want to know that at 4 years old, my son is expected to be "self sufficient" at preschool. He's FOUR, right? The fact that he can't open his ziploc sealing containers by himself does not make him helpless. The fact that he has trouble with his zipper on his coat does not make him less of a big boy in my eyes. The zipper sticks, help him with it, is it that hard? And another thing, not all kids like water bubblers, just give him water in a cup, is that so hard either?

3. I don't want to know that the kids next door to us also have drug use in their house and we are powerless to get it OFF of our property unless the police catch the older brothers in the act. I also don't want to know that these two 10 & 11 year olds are being basically raised by these two deliquent older brothers and what chance do they have in life at all when that's their example to follow. When their 21 year old brother will smoke a joint while kicking the soccer ball around with his little sister, what chance does this girl have for a cleaner more innocent life?

4. I don't want to know that girls in school as young as 11 and 12 are giving boys oral sex in the bathroom at school. Apparently, according to Oprah, this is a very common occurence these days. When I was a kid, I didn't even think about boys in any way other then yukky until I was at least 14, and then we're talking kissing, nothing more. Where are the teachers??? Where is the school administration that this is allowed to happen? Where are the rules set and examples to follow and family foundations for these children? How is any boy taught that it's okay to victimize young girls in this way, or their peers to victimize them into these actions? I'm not saying that all boys who are doing this thought it up on their own, peer pressure is tremendous. But as an adult, I wonder how they are handling the emotional fall out from this. I don't care how mature you think you are, 11 is too young for this kind of activity. Just too young. Makes me want to homeschool my boys until they are in college, I'm telling you.

5. I don't want to know that there is such a lack of respect for adults by children anymore. Some of the things I've witnessed and been told would make you want to regress your children's lives to about 40 years ago. When I was a kid, if a neighbor was driving up the street and you were riding your bike or playing street hockey or what have you, you got the hell out of the way. You might have given them a shy wave or looked away because they were watching what you were doing and your parents would definitely hear about it if you misbehaved yourself. Now, I witnessed above said neighbor kids riding skooters and bikes in the street with a hoard of their little deliquent friends and when my neighbor drove towards them, they looked at her with defiance and did not move out of her way. When they decided they finally would after making her stop and wait for them, she told them they needed to move when a car was coming (which at 11, they most certainly already know). They just laughed at her and made some rude comments. That would have gotten me smacked 6 ways to Sunday when I was a kid, I'll tell you that. I would never have even dreamed of speaking to an adult like that. Where has the respect been allowed to go?

6. I don't want to know that another neighbor's son is considered weird because he's got some delays in his development. I don't want to know that the teachers would forceably pick this child up and carry him out of class if he's yelling (a frustration response for him, he really can't help it). If my child were ever picked up and carried from a class room, I would be so up and down the school staff. It's degrading and demoralizing for him and embarrassing him in front of his classmates just plain sucks. He's not acting violently, he's just yelling. He's actually an incredibly sweet boy who socially is about 3 years behind his chronological age due to some birth injuries. But the other kids pick on him on the bus and in school and I really hate that this wonderful family who have big hearts and kindess abounding have to have their son treated this way because he's "different" then the other children. It hurts my heart to learn this, it really does.

6. I also don't want to know that there are so few programs in place in our schools today for children who are above the "normal" in development. My son, who is 6, but reads at a 5th grade level and is academically so bored every day in school, has no real resources that we don't provide for him. And I've met with the kindergarten coordinator several times regarding this and what are they going to do and they come up with some stuff and then it falls through. Why are there all the resources in the world for children who can't keep their standardized test scores up, but when you've got a child who's exceling and thursting for more knowledge, they sweep him under the rug. Why am I paying all these taxes again? Someone, please tell me! So, it's left up to us, his parents to make sure that he's challenged outside of school enough to keep him learning and not complacent in his abilities. How else will he learn that not everything in life comes easily? Please tell me this is going to change once he hits elementary school, but I fear in my heart it will not. We will be advocates for him throughout his schooling to get what is rightfully his. If he were not able to read at all they would have him in special reading group after special reading group, but when he can basically teach reading to the other children, he's put in the holding pattern. Makes me and Music Man hopping angry.

Well, these are a few of the things I've been pondering today. Perhaps it's my fever addled brain, but it's been getting to me lately and I thought I'd share some of the things that scare the heck out of me as a mother.

Not able to keep my head in the sand, ~Peacemom

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Blustery Easter Greetings!

Hello All!

Happy Easter to you! Today we celebrated Easter with my sister's inlaws. I know, it sounds a little strange to do that, but if you knew these fine people, you would not wonder why. My own parents live about 3 1/2 hours away and we could not be with them today due to time constraints. Music Man's mother is a snowbird, currently down in Texas enjoying the holiday with her youngest daughter and family. So, we got the invitation to come to my sister's parents-in-law's home, where we spent last Easter as well, and jumped at the chance. They are truly wonderful people, so kind and generous and sort of surrogate grandparents for our little guys. We enjoyed a lovely meal accompanied with grand Easter baskets for the boys (they were VERY spoiled) and an egg hunt in which the boys had a rousing time with their cousin hunting up eggs. Pretty fun. And the topper of it all is the company. We all enjoyed each other's company and had a great time connecting.

It's been really interesting to me to see that they have become part of our family, and we part of theirs. We see them several times a year at functions for my sister's family, and they are always so warm and welcoming. They have great, positive energy and are always upbeat. They've had their share of challenges, but they never let it get to them, or don't seem to. I very much treasure that my boys can spend time with people who are like this in their lives. They engage the kids and make spending time in their presence a pleasure, and make them feel special and cherished. The boys have their own set of wonderful grandparents and a grandmother that loves them very much as well, but since she's gone a chunk of the year (and the busiest retired person you'll ever meet when she's home!) and my folks are far away and can't travel, it's nice that the boys get the chance to have other older people in their lives that they can connect with. I'm thankful for their presence in our lives on many levels.

And, my sister's father-in-law races drag cars, so for my car-loving boys, that's an amazing feat! He lets them sit in his race car and pretend to drive it and everything. I don't think that two bigger or happier grins could exist on two little boys faces as when they are strapped in, real racing jacket and helmet on, brrrmmmm-bbbrrrrmmming away while steering that car in their imaginations. Really, truly a fun time for them. We all feel blessed to know them. No strings, no challenges, no dramas, nothing needed from one to the other, just the pure enjoyment of knowing. How many relationships in your life can you say that about? Kinda neat and unique, I think.

The other fun thing we did today was when we went to "get Brownie's", we got the chance to meet the new baby goats on the farm. OOOhhh, was Little Red happy about that, this kid LOVES his baby goats. And they are so cute and wobbly and adorable. Long ears and little noses, so soft and cuddly. The mamas were pretty good natured about us petting their new little charges. Surely spring is in full force when the paddock and barn are full of baby goats. We also saw their new chicks, which are actually quite a bit bigger then the last time I saw them, and they were so cute also, getting their not-so-downy-more-scruffy-teenager feathers, looking a little gangly. The farm owner tells us the next to arrive is piglets. And anyone who has ever seen little piglets has seen cute incarnate. I'm not sure I'll be able to stock the freezer with one if I get too attached to them, so not sure how that's gonna play out, but man I love to scratch behind a piglet's ears. Those little grunts of pleasure they let go are sooooo daggone cute, it's pretty hard to resist.

Well, off for now, hope you and your's had a wonderful Easter celebration today yourselves.

Wishing you too much candy and a new awakening of your own, ~Peacemom

PS, pictures to follow, I promise...

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Gardening, Easter Eggs and Sunshine

Good Sunday to you all,

Today has been a good, spring inspired day here. We took the boys to the annual town Easter Egg Hunt that is put on at our local soccer field. It's really more of an Easter "Gather" since the eggs aren't actually hidden, but there are thousands of them laid out on the fields for the free for all-ing hoard of children to run out and pick up. It was a lot of fun and a great time to see others in town that have been spending the winter tucked away in their respective houses. We got to meet two of Maestro's friends and catch up with some good family friends as well. It was a blast. And to see all the kids just smiling and running and gathering, well, that was a treat. The police department does a great job putting this on for the kids, it's a good time.

A couple of other things had me feeling an extra spring in my step as well. One was that I was out in the garden bright and early on this blustery spring morning. I was adding soil to the beds and just checking out the overall condition of things our there. If you remember, last fall I spoke about the mouse tunnels we found under the compost spinner. Well, they branched out and I found 3 balls of grass that were obviously their little homes throughout the garden. Kinda fun. The thing that I didn't necessarily love doing was pulling up all my strawberry plants. I let them get completely out of control when the runners started producing babies, and the bed was so overburdened that last year the strawberries didn't taste very good. Some of them were highly perfumey tasting and some were just downright bitter. So, I decided to just dig them up and replant some and do a better job policing those babies. I will miss fresh organic strawberries this year, but it had to be done. Hopefully next year I'll have a good crop to be proud of.

When I'm working in the garden, I usually get to musing about things in my head. Lots of ideas, thoughts and sometimes dialogues come to me. I do some of my best working things out in my head when my hands are deep in the soil. It's my church really, as is the rest of nature. I would be a person who would most certainly go insane if I could not have access to soil and nature. How do people living in high rise apartments in big cities do it? I don't know, and never want to find out.

So, I was raking the grass around the beds, generally neatening up the joint when I bumped into a board on the ground. Now this board has been in the garden since early last spring, pretty much in the same spot. I don't know how it got there, most assuredly one of the boys left it there from some adventure they were engrossed in. I've moved things over this board many times, it's in the corner of the garden plot. Never once did it occur to me to move it. Strange, because I'm a person who likes things in their place. Not much in my world works that way with the three men I call my family, but in my own surroundings, like my office, or garden I need things to be orderly. So, it's kind of strange that I never thought to move this board before today. But, I decided to pick it up and when I did I got a glimpse of a whole little world unto itself. I saw some dead grass, mud and lots of bugs and things. I spent a good 5 minutes examining the little world that existed right under that board that I never knew about. One of those moments of musing that are very cool to me. To make me connected to a bigger (and smaller!) world around me in just an instant. A snapshot of reality if you will.

I also had to take a run to pick up the eggs and milk at the farm. Sunday is the day we get our allotment for the week. The boys have dubbed this run "Getting Brownie's" as you'll remember Brownie is the cow we get our fresh milk from. When I go to get Brownie's, I always love the ride. It's through a neighboring small town and brings me back to my hometown and the beauty of fields and woods and peace. I love this old farm and the barn. I love old barns anyways, especially ones with animals still residing in them. The quiet of mornings, the hay underfoot and the gentle crrruuukkk, crrruukkkk of a chicken as it peacefully goes about it's business. Like they are having conversations with themselves, it's fun to watch. I love the big old beams, the smell of well tended animals and hay mixed together. Unless you've experienced this joy, I'm not sure you'd understand the thrill it provides.

When I got to the farm, there was no one around. But, I got my blue tub filled with quart jars, we buy 1 1/2 gallons of milk a week and a dozen eggs. Since I really do need to get some 1/2 gallon jars and have not as of yet, found the ones I need, I use quart mason jars. I walked up the flagstone pathway to the front door of the house and when I got there found a cooler on the porch with my name on the cover. I opened it and there was my milk and eggs for the day. I knelt on the porch and transferred the milk from their 1/2 gallon jars to my quarts. I took the full egg carton and left my empty one. In the empty one, I tucked the money that I pay for these these bits of heaven and left it inside the cooler. As I walked away from the house, my heart was singing. This is the kind of life I want to be living where the farm owner leaves me my fresh milk in the cooler when he's not home and I in turn leave the money for his product and hard work. This kind of transaction is honest. This kind of transaction shows the trust we have in each other. This kind of transaction is exactly where I want my world to reside.

It's been a good day here at Casa de Peaceable Kingdom.

Wishing you chicken conversation and spring smells, ~Peacemom

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Where have I been?

Hellllooo Everyone out there!

I know, I've not been around. I've been hearing about it, people wondering when am I going to get a new post up here. I promise, it's for a very good reason that I've been away. And way too preoccupied and way too tired. I'm pregnant.

Okay, so perhaps that wasn't so funny, but I made myself chuckle. Everyone seems to want this to be a big cliffhanger, so thought I'd humor my loyal followers. Of course, I'm not pregnant. I did tell you, I'm 40 right?! And those who know me know that I've more then got my hands full with the two little cherubs already graced to me by God. Sorry, didn't mean to startle you. Music Man and I did have a way of just springing that news on people when we were at the stage of sharing such news.

No, the real reason I've not been around much is that I've started a new job. It's been exhausting so far. I had to go into the office all last week for training and then this past week I started my real schedule. I work from home 4 days a week and I'm in the office one day a week. My hours are mine to set, so I work 5-10am and then again from 6-8ish at night. My title is "underwriters assistant". I'm basically doing the grunt work for the underwriters at an insurance company. It's all computer work, so I'm on my butt for 6 hours a day, not something I'm at all used to now that I've been in the world of stay at home mom for 6 1/2 years. That's going to take some getting used to because I rarely sit during the day usually.

This job has been a long time coming. I have been diligently hunting for a job I could do from home for almost 3 years now so I could be home for the boys. And finally, staring into the abyss of a recession, I've obtained this job. And, it's a good job. And the people I work for and with are great. And I feel very blessed and more then thankful for this opportunity to help our financially struggling little family unit have some monetary breathing room again. And it allows me to still be home with my boys during the day, getting Maestro off to his bus, fixing them breakfast, lunch and dinner just like always, allowing me to still bring Little Red to his beloved story time at the library and volunteering for the multitudes of PTA happenings and Maestro's classroom, and sitting down to dinner together as a family. And, best of all, I get to kiss them goodnight...EVERY NIGHT. I'm not off working while they are getting into their jammies and reading with Daddy. I do not take these things for granted, I do not overlook the specialness of these occurences in our days. I am so thankful to whatever planets finally aligned (and a little help from my guides in life and sister who tipped me on to the job). I feel very humbled to be able to finally add some more money to our mix and do it in a way that allows me to still be here for the boys just like I've always been. I am sorry that one day a week they are in day care and Little Red has not been adjusting to it well, for that I am sad, but the other 98% of things about it that are wonderful do not get ignored. My heart is proud, humbled and thankful. Grace does happen sometimes when we least expect it.

Anyways, I have been getting up at 4:45 am (thank goodness I'm a morning person, huh?) to take my long commute across the hall, log on the computer, go get a cup of tea and sit down to work while the house is still quiet. I have been working for 2 hours already when Maestro makes his appearance. His inner clock works like mine and he wakes up at 7:00, if not before, every day, no matter what time he went to bed, no matter how tired he is, just like his ol' Ma. I turn on some music and sit in my jammies and work away. I really could not ask for more right now in my life, except for about 6 more hours in the day to replace the time I used to be able to spend on other things that now take a backseat to working.

I will figure out the balance, I'm trying to be patient with myself. It's not easy for me, I have lots of patience with everyone else, but not myself. It's a work in progress. I need to get back to exercising, which I've not had the time to do since I work 6 hours a day now. I will figure out how to still manage the housework, cooking, laundry, running the kids around, all that stuff. I will figure it out, because if there's one thing I am, it's resourceful. I will make it work because I have to. This is too good of an opportunity to pass up. I will make it happen, just like I did finally getting the job.

Anyways, if you've been wondering where I've been, that's it. Happily figuring out my life now that I'm gainfully employed. Just hoping the fatigue gets better soon, too.

Feeling useful again, ~Peacemom

Friday, March 20, 2009

Stonyfield Fun

Hello Everyone!

Today being the first official day of spring, I wanted to wish you a Happy Spring Equinox! It was not so long ago that I was wishing you a Happy Winter Solstice, but it sure feels like it was. What a winter here in New England, we had 6 days without power, under layers of ice, snow storm after snow storm to contend with and me VERY tired of shoveling our long driveway over and over. But, here we are on the cusp of rebirth and I for one am singing a happy song! Perhaps one of my favorite enjoyments of spring is seeing the birds returning. I greet each new one I see with a happy "Welcome Back!". My telltale signs of spring include the return of the turkey vulture, red winged black bird and the great blue heron. I know the traditional-sign-of-spring bird is the robin, but see, we have robins that hang around all winter, so for us that's not the case. The other three are my signs, gifts of hope given to me in the time when I need them most. Birds, wonderful little dinosaur offshoots, aren't they?

Little Red and I were officially invited to Stonyfield Farm for a yogurt tasting. This was cool and a lot of fun. We went to their headquarters right here in Londonderry where we were met in the lobby by a life sized cow they have decorated with recycled yogurt container labels. Very cool. I truly love the fact that I can get organic yogurt made right here in my town. It costs a bit more, but is worth it, so yummy. And really, I can't beat local, now can I? We got to taste test 2 different blueberry and two different strawberry flavors and rate them on a bunch of categories. They did not pay me in money, but ohhh, they gave me free yogurt coupons and you know, to a coupon hound like me, that IS money! They also gave me a copy of Gary Hirshberg's book, shown in the above photo. It's autobiographical about how he started Stonyfield and his amazing ability to produce a successful organic product while still being a steward to the planet and making lots of money doing it. Great read if you are interested in companies that are helping the planet along the way. He tells about other businesses that share similar philosophies and I gleened a new appreciation for the companies that are getting it right, even more then I did before. Unfortunately, I had already gotten a copy of this book free when I sent in qualifying yogurt lids. They run LOTS of great promotions sending in yogurt lids. I've gotten the book free, voted for new flavor names, a year's subscription to Organic Gardening Magazine, donated money to my favorite charities and most recently will be getting a year's subscription to Prevention Magazine, cool man.

So, I find myself in possession of an autographed copy of "Stirring It Up: How To Make Money And Save The World". Hmmm...what to do with it?...I decided I would offer it up on the blog here! If there's anyone who'd like to have a hard cover copy of this wonderful book for absolutely FREE, I would love for you to have it. I only ask that when you are done reading it, you pass it along to someone who might find it equally interesting. I've learned a lot from it and would love to have others do the same. The only thing you need to do to win it is impress me with a trivia fact. Something about nature that you think I don't already know (I'm pretty knowledgeable about that passion of mine, so you'll have to really wow me, okay?). This should be fun, don't you think? Pop me an email with the trivia fact and I'll decide who is the winner once I have all the facts in. Okay, so it's a little silly, but I'm always up for new and fun things to learn.

Have yourselves a great day out there, ~Peacemom

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Winter Beach in March

Good Almost-Spring-Morning to You!!

As you can see from the picture, we made it to the beach on Saturday. Now, for those of you not in New Hampshire (where we only have 18 miles of coast anyway), beach days in March can be quite interesting. It was a balmy 54 degrees at the sands that day, but some of the surfers (yes, there are ALWAYS surfers, even in the dead of winter) told me that the water temperature was about 38 degrees. So, as you can see, the boys are in the surf in their winter insulated boots. Maestro got so much water inside his, that 4 days after the fact they are still drying out. When I pulled his boots off at the car, literal streams of water ran out of them. Ugh. But the boys had so much fun laughing and playing in the surf, it was too much of a temptation not to let them get wet. A little cold feet never hurt anyone and they were having a great time. In the above picture, you can see that they are watching a couple of kayakers who were also enjoying the surf. Since their Mommy and Daddy kayak, it was fun for them to watch these crazy diehards. We do ocean kayak, but our boats are 17 feet long, not these little waver skirters. We've got the yacht of kayaks, where the above are the sports cars.

In any case, it was a beautiful day at the beach, because, well, any day at the ocean is better then just about any day anywhere else in my eyes. It was a little hard for the boys to understand why they couldn't put on their swimsuits and dip in the tide pools, which is our usual activity in the summer. Until they felt the water, that is. But they still had a great time playing in the pools with their trucks and a red boat that Little Red is particularly fond of. It has wheels on the bottom and so fills with water, not really sea worthy, but he likes to play with it in the pools just the same.

We then travelled up to Kittery, Maine for a fried clam dinner at Bob's Clam Hut. Usually we really enjoy their fare, but this time, it was good but not outstanding. I think next time we'll look for a different place to try out. We managed to bypass the Kittery Trading Post as pretty much anything new is not in our budget right now. That's a tough one since we really love that place. It just gives you the feeling that you want to be doing all the stuff they sell equipment for. This is where the kayaks were bought and we're hoping to get them back on water this year since we've not put them on since Maestro was multiplying cells in utero. I miss kayaking...ALOT. So, now that the boys are older, we're hoping to have the chance to actually take the boats to the ocean and putt about for a day while they stay home and have some fun adventures of their own with a babysitter (or family member if there's any wanting to help out with that unfulfilled dream!).

It's really tough when you first have young children. Especially when you have them older in life as Music Man and I have. It's a lot of adjustment to go from complete freedom for years, enjoying your many passions, to having to plan every detail down to the nose to just go to the grocery store never mind outdoor adventures. I truly admire the parents who figure that out, being able to just bring the baby everywhere they go. We had two children that were born ill and when that happens, your complete focus is just on getting them well and getting through another day with your sanity intact. Ours were also born a little closer together then we might have planned, but now that they are older, it's a great age gap because they are able to play together well, enjoy the same types of experiences and are best buddies. Just as we always hoped as brothers they would be. So, for these 6 years, we've given up just about all our past times to focus on them solely. I don't advise doing that, to any new parents out there. Keep some of your passions alive and also be prepared to discover passions you never knew existed.

When Maestro was born, he was quite ill and would literally screamingly cry every waking minute of his day (which was literally about 16 hours a day), except when he was eating. He was in constant pain and as a new mother, that was just about impossible to take. To not be able to relieve his suffering, and then to find out that the breast milk he could not tolerate was partly to blame was more then I could handle. I had some pretty serious post partum depression after he was born as well and so all that combined led me to start writing. I would write just to stay sane, to get it all out and to not torture my husband even more then he was being tortured already. Poor man had a crazy wife to come home to in addition to a screaming baby. I still write for many reasons, but I truly enjoy the process of it and it has become another passion for me. It is one that has managed to help also ease the loss of some of the others in my life, like horses and kayaking. Perhaps the kayaking is only on hold since the boats are still in our lives, we're hoping to figure that out this summer.

Well, I'm off on a tangent and just wanted to share some winter adventures, New Hampshire beach lovers style. Spring will officially arrive on Friday and I'm hoping to not have snow so I can barbeque something on the grill. After this picture was taken, two days later, we got 8 more inches of snow and THAT'S spring in New England folks. I keep telling myself that gardening season is just around the corner now.

Salty air and waves to you, ~Peacemom

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Facebook, Awards and Amoxycillin

Guten Tag!

It's a chilly start to the day here in Peaceable Kingdom. We're very ready for spring and it's coming, I just know it...or, I keep telling myself this to get me through another cold and windy day here in NH. We've had wind for 5 days straight, and this is cold wind that takes your breath away. The boys have not wanted to play outside at all. We finally relented and let them ride their bikes about 2 weeks ago because the road pavement is clear and so it gives them a way to burn off their cabin fevered energy. Round bout this time of year, we're all just sick of winter and ready to get on with spring already!

The peas we planted a couple weeks ago are going strong. Maestro's "Leo" is in the lead with 6 sprouts from 8 seeds. Leo is also the tallest and growing like crazy, tiny little vines forming, so cute. I think that Little Red and I overwatered ours and they are not doing quite as well as I wish they would be, hoping for the soil to dry out some. I may have to punch a hole or two in the bottom of our containers to let some water evaporate from the bottoms of the cups. Little Red's "Henry" is next with 4 sprouts and my "Matilda" is hanging in there with two sprouts. It's so fun to me to see the boys hootin' and hollerin' everytime they look in their respective containers to see their little seeds growing away. I'm going to have to devise some sort of trellis the plants can climb up on, I'm looking forward to having a window full of pea vines and blossoms soon.

Well, I finally put a page on Facebook. I really am not behind this stuff at all, I think it's how we're losing face to face contact with other human beings. But, I figured one of these days, my boys are going to want to do this and so I better learn how it all works. It's very scary as a parent to have all this cyber stuff now. Parenting used to be a much less complicated matter when you could somewhat control who your children associated with. Now, the whole world has access to them, and let's face it, the whole world doesn't always have the best intentions. I've learned that a facebook page is not something I will allow the boys to have until they are much older, like maybe adults! So easy for anyone to request to be their friend and then it can just go from there because though you may tell them, they don't really know what can happen to them when someone who means them harm lies their way into your child's life. Scary prospect to all parents, I know. I don't really care about technology myself, but I'm not a parent with her head in the sand and so I better get up on some of it anyways.

Now, one of my favorite new authors, Jenna Woginrich, just won an award for Made From Scratch. I talked about it in my last post, and it's a fun read. I was proud of her for this, it was the "Books For A Better Life" award. She's in some pretty impressive company, like Michael Pollan for instance, and so for someone who's only 26, she's accomplished something here. Kinda cool.

Maestro went to the pediatrician last Friday because he's had a cough that won't quit, very wet, gross and nasty. So, after a few days of this, I was worried about him having pneumonia (it's going around his school), so brought him in. Lungs nice and clear, but he did have a double ear and sinus infection along with the flu, so the poor thing was not well. Never had an ear infection before and he gets slammed with all that mess. So, he's on amoxycillin, which is wreaking havoc on his digestive system. He's not at all a complainer when it comes to being sick. In fact, sometimes it's just a mother's observation that I know he's sick at all, not because he's said anything. So, we know that Maestro had been suffering more then he was letting on and that made me feel guilty as can be. But he's recovering now and he and Little Red are back to bickering more, so I know he's feeling better.

That's about news from Lake Wobegon. We've been recovering mostly (we've all had something going on the last three weeks) from being sick. Spring is always the season that knocks this little family flat, not sure why.

Wishing you spring breezes in your days, soon! ~Peacemom

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Working my way to homesteadah!

Howdy All,

Well, for some insane reason, 9 days has gone by since I last posted. I am not sure how that happens, but when I looked at this blog this morning, I saw the picture of the pumpkin plants from the last post. That's when I realized it had been 9 days because the peas that the boys and I planted that long ago have sprouted! We've got growing going on like gangbusters, though I do find some poetic justice somehow that they each have more sprouts then mine does. Maestro's "LEO" made the first appearance, and he has 5 shoots coming up in one cup. Little Red's "HENRY" followed quickly on his heels with 4 sprouts and my "MATILDA" is showing a meager 2 sprouts. It will be really fun to have our window covered in vines and blossoms and peas in no time now.

Monday's adventures for me included making my own butter. I have read that this is not a hard thing to do, it just takes some time and a lot of shaking. Shaking? you may be asking. Yes, no fancy equipment needed, you just need to put cream in a jar and shake. Now, this seems easy enough on the surface, but I did have some learning involved in this. After quizzing the woman at the farm who makes her own butter about how exactly she does this, she gave me great instruction. BUT, she failed to mention one crucial thing...the cream needs to have room to move in the container. She told me to take a quart of cream and shake for awhile and it would become first chunky looking milk, then more solid until if finally makes a ball floating in the middle with the buttermilk all around it. Yeah well, here's a known fact about me that those close to me already know...when I set my mind to something, it's very hard for me mentally if I don't accomplish it. So, I shook...and shook...and shook the heck out of a quart of cream. I shook it for over an hour with no changes. My arms were falling off, well the part near the wrists that have the tendonitis anyway. I was getting seriously grumpy, thinking this is something soooo simple in process and I can't seem to make it work. So, I reviewed the steps in my head...make sure the cream is at room temperature, check. Make sure the cover is tight, check. You don't need to go crazy with the shaking, a nice steady gentle shake is all it takes, check. So, my mind is screaming, WHY CAN'T YOU ACCOMPLISH THIS? Pioneer and colonial women made their butter this way all the time, this can't be that hard, right? My mind is very self punishing, yes, I know, I really need to work on that.

So, the next thing I did was pull out my copy of "Made From Scratch" by Jenna Woginrich. In this book, she talks about many homesteading skills that people can learn easily to make a more handmade life for themselves. None of the information is earth shattering in there, but for people who don't know where to start when wanting a more authentic and homemade life, it's a great place to go. Plus, she's funny and that always adds to the information for me. So, I remembered in reading it that she talked about using this method to make her own butter. So, I opened the book, I'm not kidding, right to the page about making butter. I took this as a good sign that someone was appreciating my efforts and also knew how annoyed I was getting over this seemingly simple process gone unfulfilled. I love it when the universe gives me these little gifts, don't you? In this, I read quickly and found that I was doing what I was supposed to be doing, she had all the steps listed that the farm owner told me. EXCEPT, when I went back and read it again, I noticed that Jenna talks about putting one cup of cream into a pint size jar...ahh, the light begins to dawn on my sleep deprived brain. Put half as much liquid in the jar as the jar will hold and see what happens. So, I took out half of the cream, and started to shake, really hopeful that this was the answer. Simply that the cream needed more room to get it's groove on. I shook and shook and shook for 15 more minutes, when suddenly, I noticed it was getting to chunky milk stage. I was so excited, I could barely contain myself. This renewed the efforts and in another 5 minutes or so I had the butter ball both helpful mentors told me about.

I scooped it out, and put it in a dish, pressing out the excess milk. It looked a whole lot like butter once I stirred it up some. Whipped butter, you know the gourmet kind. Not only had I made butter, but I made the gourmet kind! I was giddy, seriously, I was. So, I followed another of Jenna's suggestions and kneaded it (well, I stirred it in a bowl, but same difference) while running cold water over it. This got out the excess milk that couldn't be pressed out. Jenna tells us that it helps the butter last longer in the fridge.

At this point, with great expectation, I tasted the fruits of my (well, and Brownie's, after all it's her milk) labor. Hmmmm, creamy, delicate, nothing like butter I've eaten most of my life from the store. Also had a faintly grassy taste, which I'm going to attribute to Brownie's diet being all grass. She's an organically grass fed cow, no grains, just the way nature intended it for her. This stuff was amazing. And once I added a little sea salt to it, because let's face it, that's the way we are used to eating it, aren't we? it was beyond beyond. We had some sesame bagels in the house and so I made half (not really on my eating plan, but come on, it's gotta be done), slathered it with this wonderful concoction and took a bite. I was almost drooling, really, it's that good. I did manage to share half of the half with Music Man, and he raved about it. That night's supper was whole grain apple cinnamon pancakes (with real maple syrup, I live in New England after all!) in honor of Brownie's butter as the kids call it. They may have been the best pancakes I've ever had.

You really have to try this, just make sure your cream is room temp and that you're using a container double the size of the amount of liquid. It's so simple and one more step closer to a handmade life for yourselves. All these little experiments I'm making are not new to the universe, after all, they've been done for centuries, but they are helping me feel closer to the authentic life I want to be living. Some day, we hope it will include chickens of our own, perhaps a goat or two, but for now, until we can be in the right situation for that, I'm contenting myself with learning the skills generations before mine learned. I told the woman at the farm, I'm a 19th century girl, living in the 21st century. I really feel this way, like somehow time left me behind. I'm happiest when I'm making my life more simplified and learning how things were done in a time that did not ruin the planet for convenience.

Creamy butter on apple pancakes to you, ~Peacemom