Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Oh my....

I'm sorry, I know, I'm shamelessly bragging, but...could he be ANY cuter? This picture makes me tear up as I can see the boy he is becoming. He's lost so much of his little boy look in the last 3 months, and is getting his big boy looks...time's going by too quickly, the boys are so big already.

When we were in the throws of misery with them when they were infants and screaming most of their waking hours, it seemed like it would never end. Those first 6 months with Maestro-sick, skinny, us not able to comfort all his deep and unending pain-were the longest 6 months in my life. They felt like years every day. And when Little Red had the same problems at birth, well.... I knew the first night he was with us that he was in the same pain as his brother. We knew how to comfort him better, he was on prescription formula instead of breastmilk much sooner, so his discomfort didn't last as long and wasn't as severe as Maestro's, but the hours and hours of walking around with them on our arms just enduring the was all we could do to help them, just hold them and let them know they were loved in whatever way we could. Those days were eternities.

Now, I look at them both and realize that in a moment the last 7 and 5 years have passed instantly. Little Red has changed so much this year, his new school is really blossoming him into a wonderful young man. He has his challenges still with his temper and patience, but he's learning to play together with others and his teachers adore him, which is so amazingly special for him. He's just flourished there and we know we made the right decision for him to be where he is. The day care that he was at when I first went to work was okay. It did not afford him the individual attention that he dearly needed and so he really didn't like going there. Each time for drop off, he would cry or just sadly walk away from us. In his current school, he's out of the car like a shot, heading in the door with a big smile on his face with hardly a glance back at mom or dad. He just loves it there and we are so very thankful that he landed in a place where they love him back. That sort of thing doesn't happen every day, and we don't take for granted just how much that has meant for his self esteem. If anyone out there is looking for an amazing preschool experience for their child, Chester Preschool and Kindergarten is definitely IT.

Well, I'm gonna stop writing now as I've put a lot of posts on here today. I just wanted to take a moment to remember Little Red (and Maestro, too!) for the wonderful little person he is. I love them both with all my heart.

Blessings to your little people, ~Peacemom

Don't get it on the patio, or Alice will kill you!

Above is a picture of a really awesome volcano errupting that Maestro built. How cool is this? He had to mix the plaster, put it in the mold, let it harden, take off the mold and WAIT 24 hours (that's the hardest part for him!) to paint it, which he did, then waited to dry (more waiting? What?) then he put baking soda in the middle, added dish soap (which the chinese directions called "washing up soap") and vinegar and watch the erruptions commence! It was a bucketload of fun.

Wishing you your own fantastic lava experiments, ~Peacemom

Wolf Scout

Last Friday was our "Blue and Gold" banquet for Cub Scouts. Here is our proud Tiger Scout, about to receive his new neckerchief and manual to become a Wolf Scout. We are very proud of him and Music Man is having a blast with him working on getting his badges and experiences in life. They have done a bunch of fun stuff so far which even included a trip to a local radio station where they all got to be on the radio! Fun times!

Wishing you your own badges of fun, ~Peacemom

Spring has Sprung!

Hello All,

This is a picture of the beautiful flowers that are blooming in front of our house. Aren't they fetchin'? I love the deep color of the petals, I am becoming very fond of these little flowers. I'm pretty sure they are a type of crocus, but look different then the other ones that I posted previously. The green leaves look similar, though, so I think perhaps they are the same family.

We are planning a walk on Plum Island off the coast of Mass. this Saturday. We've read in the past that it's a wonderful view of all the migrating birds, and we should see some really great ones that perhaps we're not used to seeing here. My mother-in-law also confirmed this for us as she's gone out during the springtime as well.

I was thrilled this past weekend to see a bluebird on our feeder. We don't see those on the feeder often, and in fact, this is the first one I've ever seen on our feeder. We also got some purple finches, NH's state bird, feeding there as well. So many of the spring birds are arriving here, we've had goldfinches, cardinals, grackles, starlings, a cow bird, red wing black birds, blue bird, purple finches and many different types of hawks and a big 'ol turkey vulture. Since we have robins here all winter long, my testament to spring is the arrival of the turkey vulture. That's my true "spring's here!" bird. Music Man and the boys also sighted a great blue heron last weekend. It's a little early for some of these birds, so it's exciting to see them all arriving here in our neck of the woods.

On a bummer note, our basement has not stopped running water in over a month. Music Man likes to say he's going to just embrace it and put in a water feature down there. But seriously, it's causing big mold issues for all of us as we're all allergic to mold. Since the root cellar has a dirt floor, it just smells gross over it when it's wet- over it happens to be our bedrooms. The boys are on two different allergy meds to try to help them get's not much fun. So, unfortunately, we'll be looking for a new place to live again. Not looking forward to moving again, but we don't feel like we have a choice with the health of our children at stake. Not very many rentals in Chester, so that's causing us some concerns, but we're trying to make it work here.

Hope you're all enjoying your spring. Take a moment and notice the birds and natural wonders around you.


Sunday, March 21, 2010

Happy Birthday, Music Man!

This week was Music Man's birthday...and lobster was on special and is local! Perfect combination for a delicious meal. And since his birthday falls the day before St. Patrick's Day, and with it being one of his all time favorite beverages of the grain, Guinness was also in order. Maybe it's his Irish heritage, maybe not, don't know, but he sure enjoys one every now and then. I, myself, even with the Ire in my lines, do not enjoy it at all. I liken it to road tar. But I am not a beer drinker, so that may have something do with it also. And I do like the way it pours into a glass, the whole foaming of bubbles sinking in the pint glass before rising again, that part's kinda neat. I even splurged a bit and got some asparagus (though to be honest, felt wholly guilty that it was from Peru :^( ). We also had his favorite cake, Boston Creme Pie, we all feasted in his honor that night!
The asparagus is the furthest away vegetable I've purchased since last spring, so not too bad, I guess. I even found that Hannaford's carries tomatoes from Maine in the dead of winter. There's a place with a greenhouse there that grows year round, so I'm very happy about that. And they aren't even mealy and gross, they actually taste vine ripened and are firm, cocktail sized ones. I have to pay $2.89 for 8 tomatoes, but they are worth it to me on many levels. And 8 of those babies can be stretched well here as Little Red won't eat tomatoes, Maestro will eat about 1/2 before he's all set and I use them for Music Man and I. They are large enough to have to use only one per salad if I cut them right. Yummy for winter here in New Hampshire, and I'll take it! I made a conscious effort to try to not buy as many fruits and vegetables from away the last couple of years. I did fairly well until citrus season arrived, I have bought a very few this winter...I have to admit, I LOVE fresh citrus. That may be having spent the first 10 years of my childhood being able to walk into my grandparent's back yard and have my pick of oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruit, bananas, figs and tangerines. There may have been more, but those are the ones I remember. And we had an orange tree in our back yard as well. But, when we moved to NH in 1978, I discovered apples...and these were apples like I'd never had. And to this day, I adore apples. And in fact, up until last month, we have been buying apples and pears from our local orchard. They store them all winter and sell until they run out. It will be interesting to get to September without apples, but I'll do it.
It makes the tastes of the season so much more amazing when you actually eat them only in season. I find it interesting in our time that we are unable to fathom that generations before us didn't have access to fruits from all over. In fact, children would get oranges in their stockings as a gift from Santa because they were uncommon and wonderful and a divine treat to people living in the dead of winter (there's a reason they call it that!) in New England to procure an amazing, glowing orange orb (is it just me, but why do they seem to glow in the winter time?) with such succulent juiciness and sweet/tart taste. Nothing tastes quite like a fresh orange picked from the tree...just as the same can be said for an apple you've twisted from the branch. In our day and age it seems almost perverse to some people that I reserve buying fruits out of season for very, and I do mean very, special occasions. Like, my dear husband's birthday, and this wonderful meal was his gift as we're on a tight budget right now.
There are a growing faction of people that are beginning to come around to thinking more closely about where their food comes from, how far it has to travel to get to them and the deep environmental impact that process has on our earth. And more people are thinking about overfishing in the oceans (a great article on sustainable seafood in this month's Cooking Light is proof of that) and the health of our oceans (DOUBLE BRAVO for the folks in the Australian city that have BANNED plastic water bottles! The residues from these are killing our oceans, not to mention our own bodies). I see progress. It may not be as quickly as I'd like, but progress is happening. Education, forethought and a little planning can pretty much negate the use of plastic water bottles (stainless steel refillables and tap work much better and learning about what the plastic residues can does to the endocrine system is scary enough to make some stand up and take note).
Not eating Atlantic farm raised salmon because not only is it not as healthy for you being farmed and fed man made food rather then the natural diet that increases all that healthy Omega 3, but it's terrible for the environment. The use of antibiotics, man made food and when the farm raised "frankenfish" escape and breed with wild salmon affects the health of all wild salmon population. When we eat salmon, it is now shipped from clear across the country from Alaska because it's more sustainable. I'm so saddened that we had a very viable salmon population right here on our own coast, that has been degraded so much that they need to dye the food pellets so that the meat will be the pink color we've come to associate with salmon.
If we don't buy the Atlantic farm raised salmon, then of course the way they are provided to us will change. Speaking with your dollar is the most powerful tool you have as a consumer, and I for one, even in our challenging financial situation, still speak with that dollar. Yes, it means we don't get to have oranges in July, or strawberries in November (unless we're eating the ones I've frozen from last summer's picking!), but it also means that we go back to eating in season. Which has many benefits of connecting me to the season and the natural cycle of it so much more. I have made a conscious effort to gear the food I prepare for my family more in season with things like pumpkin in fall and winter, with soups and stews which are more comforting for a long winter's night. With more salads and cooler foods in summer when the weather is warmer and our appetites aren't as big. I've tried to listen more to the tune of my body, and nature and it's really brought me to feeling more in tune with that cycle of life. Because if we don't do this, and sooner then later, we'll have a planet too badly degraded to support our grandchildren. It all starts with one dollar spent at the farmer's market and NOT the grocery store. Or deciding that the mangoes in NH are just not worth the sacrifice that will affect the health of our future generations. There's a Native American saying that is something like this: We have to live in a way that will ensure the next 7 generations will have an earth that is like our's for themselves. I'm really trying to do my part to make that happen.
Wishing you the joys of eating in season, ~Peacemom

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Happy Spring Equinox!

Music Man discovered Spring had sprung today. I thought it was very fitting for the first official day of spring! Though, of course, we New Englanders know not to be lulled into a false sense of comfort, the snow and cold are not yet done...but we'll take the 70 degree day we were given today and smile and be thankful. Sometimes, that's what it's all about.

Wishing you crocuses of your own today, ~Peacemom

Homeschool Day

There are days when I have something planned that I feel will be more informative to the boys then what they will be learning in school that day. Friday was one of those days, and I've dubbed them "Homeschool Days". Friday dawned absolutely beautiful here in southern NH. Since Little Red doesn't have school on Friday, we sent Maestro off to school so that he could take his spelling test, then picked him up early and headed over to the coast for the day. We have a favorite beach over there that we frequent all year round, and decided this was the perfect day to make an appearance.

I thought that a really fun thing for the boys to start doing is keeping nature journals. Friday's lesson included a totally wonderful scavenger hunt in all the amazing things that washed ashore from the big storm a week ago. There were literally hundreds of huge clams (they may be actually quahogs, not sure, but they were BIG), which multitudes of seagulls were feasting on, crab shells, many types of sea weed and kelp, floats, naturals sponges and some flotsom and jetsom. But by far, our favorite find was pictured above. A true blue lobster claw. Very cool!

Maestro and Little Red are loving their nature journals so far. They listed what they found, three facts about each thing, and drew a picture of it. I had taken photos of many things and printed out some for them to put in their journals as well. It's pretty neat, and they did a really great job! We're going to further the lesson by going online and finding out some facts about things even Mom doesn't know about, like Razor Clams...I'd like to learn something new about them, too.

Wishing you learning and wonder in your own way, ~Peacemom

Monday, March 15, 2010

A Good Day for Soup...

It is raining and blustery out, yet again. We've had over 4 inches of rain fall in the last 48 hours. And yes, our basement flooded again. Worse then the last time. We are so sick of dealing with it. And our landlord told us that is why we have a sump pump, but the sump pump does not work on the parts of the basement that are not level enough to actually drain to the sump pump. And the water is pouring down the walls on the inside of the basement, so everything is now up on pallets or in plastic tubs, but not before Music Man lost another large amount of his very cherished "stuff". He's sad, angry and sick of it. And I'm feeling the same for him.

I decided, in light of Little Red's hoarse voice and the boys having no school today that it would be a good day to make some soup. I also like to clean out the fridge of left overs and see what kind of concoction I can come up with. The boys and I had gnocchi on Saturday night and then we had a delicious farm fresh baked chicken last night along with mixed veggies. Last Friday night, for date night, Music Man and I had some wonderful ginger marinated chicken wings along with a rice mix I made up and some sauted kale. So, in the fridge I had left over gnocchi, chicken, mixed veggies and kale. I sauted some onion, celery, carrots and garlic and added some chicken stock, the gnocchi, mixed veggies and kale and a mix of herbs (basil is a favorite!). The soup came out pretty good for a "kitchen sink" soup and I whipped up a moist cornbread which I make in an iron skillet in the oven. First browned the butter in the pan and then added the batter and baked up. It's quite yummy!! Served this to the family and even the world's pickiest 5 year old ate it up. A success!

Bailing tonight, hoping for the rain to slow down and we moved Music Man's office upstairs into the kids playroom for now until we can figure out what to do with all the wet mess down there. I'm thankful he was home to deal with this today as I don't think, along with working most of the day, I would have been able to handle it. The water was at least an inch deep all over the basement and I couldn't have swept it all day like he did. He sure can come through for us when he needs to, that's my beloved hubby. Especially appreciated since our landlord only makes excuses and doesn't lend a hand when it's his responsibility.

Hope you're all dry and fairing better then we are tonight. We are eternally thankful that we didn't lose power this time around as we would have literally had at least 3 feet of water without that sump pump. Little graces, we'll take 'em.

Wishing you a dry place to lay your head tonight, ~Peacemom

Friday, March 12, 2010

My Seasonal Fav

I know, I know for an organic, local foodee like me, this picture and my fondness for these is a travesty. Well, okay, so I never claimed to be perfect...this is my very favorite Easter candy...because sometimes all you want is some Peeps and a Coke, and that's okay, too.
Sweetie treaties to you, ~Peacemom

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Laundry Time

I was hanging the clothes on the line in a wonderful breath of fresh air yesterday. I have been taking full advantage of our lovely 55 degree temps and breeze to save some energy and money by not using the dryer. I realize what I'm about to tell you is revealing something deeply disturbing to some people...but, that's okay with me.

I love hanging clothes on the line. In fact, when we signed our lease, I wrote in the stipulation that I wanted to put up a clothesline here (along with a garden, both of which the landlord approved...gotta love rural living!). At our condo, we were not allowed to have a clothesline, it was written in the stupid. And I love the scent that line dried clothes have- fresh, clean and sunny- and the stiffness and roughness that drying without chemical dryer sheets affords.

There are so many great things about the art of hanging clothes. First of all, the time it takes to perform this chore. It makes the pace of life automatically slower for that moment. Really, there's no way to rush through hanging clothes out. It takes as much time as it takes, and that's that. In this time, which invariably includes sunshine and warm weather to enjoy (not many household chores afford that luxury!)-- I think. I spend a lot of the household chore time thinking, pondering, working things out. Today, it prompted me to consider the sacredness of this chore. It gives me time to be alone, inside my thoughts-silence if you will. For a Quaker, there is divine in silence, and with the three men in my life that are constant chatter boxes, I don't get enough silent time. I crave and revere it, in fact. In silence, the opportunity to hear God's message for me is available, there isn't all that other noise to clutter up receiving it, and I am able to speak to Him without distractions.

I'm able to take a moment and just breathe, to listen to the birds (which I was thrilled to discover were around in full force!), to feel the sun on my skin and feel the refreshing thrill of spring. All the while, performing the methodical task of removing clothes from the basket, shaking the wrinkles out and pinning to the line. It's a tangible reward, this chore. To go from a full basket of wet clothes, to an empty basket and a full line, then when dry on a full line and empty basket back to a full basket and empty line when removed. Tangible feeling of accomplishment for me, and I do appreciate the reward of that.

I also feel the sacredness of caring for my family in that moment. It gives me a chance to really see the clothes. A loose button here, a rip in a seam there, I'm given the opportunity to see what repairs my family's clothes may need. When stuffing into the washer, to removing to dryer, I don't see the clothes as well, don't analyze their appearance the way the slower method of hanging to dry allows me. My hands are on each piece individually as I carefully pin them to the line, so my sense of responsibility to my family is right there in my cold, damp fingers.

I know, I'm in the crazy minority of people in our lovely country who would actually enjoy such things. I'm very aware that my desire to keep my life at a slower pace is in direct contrast to most Americans. I don't have any wish to cram as much as possible in my days to fall into bed exhausted and, what for me, would be unfulfilled at the end of my days. I'm always looking for ways to slow it down, to make it more sacred, to honor my time and job as a mother and homemaker. Yes, I make a home for my family, that's no small accomplishment. To be responsible for the health, cleanliness, nourishment and well being of three souls beyond myself every moment of every day. That is sacred, that is valuable, and that is where part of my heart lies. I feel good at the end of a day, like today, when I've cleaned the bathrooms, washed the clothes and come in from taking them off the line to the smell of bread baking that will nourish my family, and know that I made a difference to them today.

Wishing you your own moments of sacredness, ~Peacemom

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


Hello Y'all,

I'm currently listening to the Gin Blossoms cd while I attempt to do our taxes. The album is aptly named "New Miserable Experience". I've got to tell you all, I literally detest doing our taxes. And it was okay before we had a rental "income" (cough, cough, what income?) property. And the fact that we are renting when we own something is making a nightmare of it all. Having to figure depreciation, investment amounts, income...oh and did I mention I also have a home office?? all this is like a foreign language to me. It looks like I'll have to take a crash course in tax filing so I can figure out how to do this stupid thing.

Not my strong suit, this whole miserable tax experience. Anyone with advice in the know about how to manage all this is welcome to offer some assistance. I would give you a big fat kiss if you could bail me out of this depreciation misery.

Wish me luck!

Frustrated and hating the IRS today, ~Peacemom

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Floods, Hurricanes and Homelessness

Hello All,

We are on day 5 without power at our house. On Sunday, which would have been night 3, we packed up and headed north to my mother-in-law's condo. She and her fiance generously offered to have us stay there as they are in FL right now. Their place got power back on Sat, so here we are- warm, have toilets that actually flush AND when you turn on the faucet, water comes out. WOW! And we have a beautiful view of the Merrimack River, which is flowing right outside the back door, about 20 feet from the house. All in all, outside of worrying over our house and how to get the kids to school on time 45 minutes away, we're very comfortable. Once the power comes back on our place, we've got a hella mess to clean up in our basement.

On Thursday night, with the winds howling, rain pouring down in torrents, we lost our power. And along with it the sump pump that was keeping some of the basement water actually leaving instead of entering. The land around the basement is graded very poorly and the water literally pours down the bulkhead stairs. Most of the time, not a problem, it just goes right into the sump pump and back out again. We just don't put anything where we know it will get wet there. When you've got rain like we had, the other foundation weaknesses show up on full force. Water was coming in all walls, up through the dirt floor in the root cellar, and flooded Music Man's office. This house came with a nicely finished office space in the basement, so he was all set up down there, about literally 1,000 cd's out, album, musical instruments, and a bunch of boxes of books, photos and other assundry things that were going to be sold on ebay. Much, much, much of it got wet and ruined. Luckily some instinct took over in him prior to the actual flooding and he got his instruments up off the floor as that would have been the most costly of problems, he's got a lot of them and they're not cheap. And, of course, renter's insurance doesn't cover flooding, so yah, oh well.

Once the sump pump quit and Music Man was bailing with buckets for all he was worth and couldn't keep up, I made a mad dash to the landlord's house about a mile up the road. As I was driving out of the driveway, wind blowing the van about, trees crashing in the road all around me, power lines falling, I drove like a little giddy mad woman to get there in one piece. It was a feeling like the world was ending and I was the last person on earth trying to flee the inevitable. Very weird sensation. We had winds that were sustained at about 65 miles per hour here, though I did hear a report that the winds on the Isles of Shoals off the coast of NH were clocking at 91+ miles per hour. Ummm, we live in New England...and it's FEBRUARY...we don't get hurricanes in New England in February. It was purely crazy. I was driving to the landlord's because we figured, he owns a construction company, perhaps he'll have a portable generator we could use. After waking him up...I don't know how he was sleeping in that, it was insane, we found no, he didn't have a generator. He called the fire department to come pump it out (we were not in that dire of a need, so I called them back to tell them not to come since I was really sure there were people who needed them worse then we did that night!). We were more then a little disappointed at his lack of regard for our plight, he didn't really care and told us, well, that's why it has a sump pump. Umm...that is great if THE POWER IS ON. and it doesn't work on the whole basement because the floor is not graded towards the sump pump, it's totally uneven, so you could have 4 inches or more of water in some places before it would even reach the sump pump. It would have been nice to be told that the basement floods so badly in heavy rain, and why is there a finished office down there if it floods? The previous tenants built it and only stayed a year...we're beginning to understand why.

So, since our town is on two separate power companies (don't ask, we have no idea why), the folks who have PSNH lost their power for about 12-18 hours. We're currently on day 5 with no power. I don't know about you, but I'm seeing something seriously wrong with this picture! As we are driving on our roads we can see houses in both directions that have power, and we do not, it's infuriating. BUT, it also makes you really take note of how dependant we are on electricity and all the comforts it provides. For me, I can basically live without most everything except heat, a way to cook and water. When we were living in our condo and lost power for the ice storm of '08, we had a propane stove (cook, check), we had a little propane heater (heat, check) and we were on city water (water, check) so it ran even when the power was out. It was cold, the little heater could only keep it at about 48-50 degrees, but we were okay for the 6 days we were powerless. Here, where we have a well pump, a basement that floods and the little propane heater can't keep up even with the help of the fireplace, our patience wore thin a whole lot faster. Creature comforts sure do make the world go around.

In any case, Casa de Peaceable Kingdom is moist for the moment, when we get power back we'll survey the true damage, it's hard to do that in the dark. Until then, we are warm, dry and comfortable in the condo that people who love us welcomed us into. We are eternally thankful for that. As before, when the ice storm took out our power and eventually our spirit, some angels gave selflessly of themselves and helped us out. Grace happens even in dark times.

Wishing you your own creature comforts, ~Peacemom