Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Canning Chili - All in the Sauce

For first time gardeners our little garden did very well at the beginning of summer, my son and I were able to freeze a lot of green beans and can a ton of banana peppers. I'm not sure why everyone says 'canning' when they go in jars but that just shows my lack of experience. I'm sure there is a good reason, I just don't know it. Anyway, our tomatoes seemed to be just flourishing at the beginning of summer, lots and lots of green tomatoes, the vines seemed to be growing quickly, and both my husband and I thought we would get too many. Ok, that's not exactly true, I was afraid we'd get too many and I would be juicing them for chili for many, many hours without much help. Well as summer progressed the tomatoes didn't seem to be ripening and no matter how many time we tied the vines to stakes they always seemed to collapse. Now I became a little disappointed because I did want to have some chili sauce stored for fall and winter.

The worry of too many tomatoes comes from when I had juiced them once before when my son was just a baby. It was my first time, it took me all day, did I mention my son was a baby (2 months old) and I was a first time mom and my father-in-law set it up for me in my kitchen with a carpeted dining room attached and I don't like huge messes. I knew I had to do it but I really didn't enjoy it. I remember crying.

After that first experience I was a little hesitant to be excited about doing it again, five years later. I knew it would be great to have the chili but wasn't exactly looking forward to the process. Well this time was completely different - it was FUN!

My husband and I picked as many as we could and he had guessed that we had at least 20 pounds and they should give us a couple quarts. I washed and cut the tomatoes while he put the juicer and table together OUTSIDE! If you can do this outside, do it outside; the tomatoes and juicer make such a mess.

Once we juiced all of them, we brought the pot inside to mix the chili seasoning and bring to a boil. I boiled the chili sauce for about 15 minutes while I brought the cold water bath up to a boil. As you can see from the pictures we don't have the correct pot for the cold water bath. I put the chili sauce into the quart mason jars and my husband lowered, kind of dropped the jars into the water. I boiled the jars for about 20 minutes and then he lifted them out. We also don't have the jar lifters to lift them out so he used mining gloves and a set of tongs. I highly recommend buying the necessary equipment if you do this because we both burned our hands and splashed boiling water everywhere. He guessed from the pot of sauce we'd get six jars, I guessed seven - we were able to successfully get 7 quarts of chili out of our little garden.

Takeaways from today's process:
1. Juice tomatoes outside
2. Have help
3. Get the right equipment

Previous gardening posts
Momma's Little Gardner
First Garden, First Peppers

Monday, August 26, 2013

PreK Interview Round 2

Today was the first day of PreK and last week I interviewed him again. I'm going to try to do this each year until he's a senior. Honestly at this age the answers are so cute and so much fun.

Baby sister thought she'd go too.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Insanity Program - 2 Weeks Left

Well only two full weeks left of our Insanity workout program and I'm feeling a little sad that it's almost over. Now, don't get me wrong, there are many days that I dread taking the time to do the workouts but I always feel better after I've finished. I looked a little like a drowned rat with all of the sweat pouring off of me but I feel like I can do anything after getting a butt kicking workout.

The second month is a lot more difficult that the first and it also takes a lot more time to complete the dvd but it's also fun, especially when my husband and I do one together. This past week my husband was on a tough work shift for us to complete together so some days we worked out separately, it's not as much fun to do by yourself so if you want to do the workouts and stick with them, try to find a partner or friend that wants to participate. A special bonus - the workouts seem to go much faster when you can talk to someone, or at least try to talk after catching your breath.

While working out today, my husband asked me what I'd like for my birthday (we have the same birthday but he's a year older) and I said I thought about asking him to purchase and do another workout program with me. I figured he would be completely against this but surprisingly he was into the idea. So does anyone recommend another workout program? Or should we just repeat Insanity?

Previous Insanity Posts
Insanity Exercise - Update
Body After Baby

Friday, August 23, 2013

Pre-Baptism Photos

Let me be the first to say I am not a wonderful photographer. I have taken a couple great pictures of my son and my husband but hey, every once in awhile a blind squirrel finds an acorn. 

I wanted to take some photos of our little girl in her baptism dress because it's absolutely adorable and I was trying to take a couple outside with the 'right' light, that natural light in the evening - according to a few photographers blogs I have read. Our little one is extremely fidgety so I knew I'd have a little bit of an issue but was hoping I could at least get a couple photos that weren't blurry. Well, I grabbed pillows, a pink sheet, her little chair, a burp cloth, a blanket, and both kids to get these photos. I was keeping my fingers crossed that she didn't spit up all over the dress and luckily that didn't happen. I really didn't even have the movement problem. However, this is the progression to absolute meltdown. 

She's not really thrilled
to be laying this way.

She's not really
liking this way either. 

Starting to get really furious
that no one is picking her up. 

Yes, we are now at meltdown. 

I will need to try again, but her best time of the day is in the morning and that's not the best light outside, lots of hard shadows. Although, for someone that isn't a good photographer I figure if she's happy, no matter the light or the surroundings, and I can get a few decent pictures, I should consider it a win. 

And yes, she was picked up right after the last picture and calmed down instantly but would not lay back down on the pillows for more pictures. She was finished.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Finished the Flying Monkey 5K

We finished the Flying Monkey 5K in under 50 minutes!!! Yes, I know that doesn't sound like anything impressive, but we walked and he's only 5!
After the race! He did it!

Enjoying a chocolate donut
before the race.
Giving his sister a pep talk. 

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Chapter Books for the Kiddo

In our household we read a lot, we are generally at our library once a week, my husband prefers sports and biographies and I like non-fiction mystery and crime. My parents kept a lot of books from when I was a child so my son automatically inherited a small library and he's also received books as gifts. But as much as we read, he knows more than half of his books by heart and can correct me if I miss a page and knows parts of the stories word for word. The Berenstain Bears are quite popular with him as well as with me but after you read over and over and over again, they can become a little monotonous. His dad had told him months ago that when he gets older he'll start to read books with chapters and not as many pictures. Lately he has been focused on purchasing chapter books and I had honestly tried to steer him away from this because I didn't think he'd enjoy it. Without pictures would he be able to visualize and imagine enough of what I was reading to capture and hold his attention.

After repetitive days of him asking about reading chapters I began to search online for age appropriate books for his preschooler age. I saw that Charlotte's Web was recommended but it's a longer book and didn't want to start with that. Then I saw the Mary Pope Osbourne's Magic Tree House Series and thought that it may be a great place to begin.

The next day we went to the library to ask the librarian to point us in the direction of the chapter books. She asked what age we were looking for and when I told her 5 years old, her mouth dropped and she stumbled to answer. I just smiled and said, "yes I know he's young but he's asking to read these, well for me to read these." The librarian very kindly showed us the Magic Tree House Series and we brought two home, Dinosaurs Before Dark and Lions at Lunchtime.

He have finished the dinosaur book and are halfway through the lions. I have to say, they have held his attention and they do include a few illustrations.

I'm thinking the next time we go to the library, we'll have to borrow more than two at a time.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Pledge of Allegiance

When my son was younger he had those few words that he consistently said wrong and as a parent I hated to correct him because it was just so darn cute. Every parent remembers at least a couple that their kids said and some of my son's included:
chep up for ketchup
pamcakes for pancakes
tembers for tenders
My husband would sometimes call him "son" and I used "sweetie" a lot. It got to the point that our son would look at my husband and say, "I not son, I feetie." We still laugh over that one.
But as they grow, it's necessary to correct them because they need to learn and of course you want them to learn the correct words.

Now our son is five, we don't hear these cute little words anymore, now and then we get something that comes out a little funny, but it's rare. So last night at the dinner table I was holding the baby and telling her that her brother would soon start preschool and what he'd get to do during the day. One of the things I mentioned was The Pledge of Allegiance. My son started saying it and when he stumbled, I'd prompt and he'd continue. He was at the very end and said, "...indivisible, with liberty and BEYOND!" Just like Buzz Lightyear in Toy Story. I couldn't hold in my laughter, let alone control it, pretty soon he was laughing at me laughing.

It's these silly little moments that make me really think about and treasure the innocence.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Unstructured Play

I feel really old saying the over-used cliche' but things are different from when I was a kid. I remember my mom or dad saying go outside and play, it's nice out, you need to be outside enjoying the summer. You know what, I needed to be outside, and I found things to do, every kid did. I was an only child but my cousin was often at my house so we played together or I played with the neighbor girl. She was a little younger than me but she was the only kid around that was even close to my age, so we played; we rode bikes, swam, made our own version of the Olympic hurdles, basically we found fun things to do. It wasn't structured.

Now my child has play-dates scheduled in advance, which I am not knocking down, but it's scheduled and coordinated. Kids don't drop by and play, I mean I'm sure you remember knocking on the neighbors door to ask if she can come outside and play, or vice versa. I sure do. Why doesn't that happen in my neighborhood?! We live in a nice, family-friendly place that would be an ideal area for this to happen.

I do have to say we have dropped by one neighbor's house when we were out for a walk one evening but in general, this doesn't go on, at least not at my house. There are at least four other kids that I know of that live close that he could play with but we never see them outside.

Do you experience the same thing or do neighborhood kids still just play together? I found these cute door hangers on Pinterest that linked to Melancholy Smile's blog and I desperately want to be able to use these.

Summer Camp

When I was a child I didn't go away to summer camp and I have a vague recollection of attending a night or two of bible school and absolutely hating it. I did however go to a couple basketball camps when I got older but that was basketball.

I had heard several moms earlier this year talk about their kids doing this camp and that camp too. The church we attend holds a vacation bible school but children have to be in Kindergarten, so that was out for us. Actually, I didn't plan to do a camp at all, I figured it's summer so my five year old will play outside all day, play with neighborhood kids, finish out his baseball season, and play a couple soccer games.

After the short baseball and soccer seasons we were spending a lot of time just hanging out at our house and outside. I say we as in my five year-old, the new baby, mommy, and sometimes daddy. The neighborhood kids that I thought would be outside playing and all of the kids getting together didn't happen. So I started to look into a small day camp because with the new baby I couldn't always be the playmate and he needed to be with kids his own age.

I started to look in August and because that is considered pretty late in the summer for camp, I missed a lot of them and the camps I found were late in the evenings. Late evenings aren't good for our family, we are winding down not up. Plus bedtime around here is about 8 p.m. because when kids are up by 6:30 a.m. it makes for a long day if they stay up late.

As we were driving to an appointment one morning I saw a sign for an arts and drama camp, and after looking into it a little further, I signed our son up. Today was the second day and he is having a great time. They have the kids separated by age (5 & 6 years of age together) and then into four rotating classes of art, drama, voice, and instruments/music. They also provide the kids with a morning snack and lunch; their day runs from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Although our little guy doesn't share any specific information I have received a high level overview of what he's doing in each class and he's having fun so I'm happy. The instructors/volunteers have put a lot of thought into the extra kid-friendly things, like making a ham and turkey kabob with flower cheese cut-outs and bread pieces in shapes. They hold a program at the end of the week for family and friends to showcase what the kids did all week. I'm looking forward to the program and our son is looking forward to tomorrow.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Fun at Nana & Pappy's

Today I drove to pick our son up from his Nana and Pappy's, well actually we decided to meet at my son's great-great grandma's. Yes we have five generations on my side of the family and with the exception of my kids, the rest of us are about 20 years apart. I had my children at 24 and 29 so I broke the tradition. 

Anyway, we don't live extremely close to our family so if my son stays with my mom, like this time, my dad, or my husband's parents he usually stays two nights because it's too much of a drive to only stay one night. He is not always crazy about the two nights but if he's busy he forgets about not being able to sleep in his own bed. As you can see from the pictures, they kept him extremely busy and I'm sure tonight they are exhausted too. 
Dirt Bike, Peddling the Fire Truck,
Temp Tattoos & Side by Side

I don't even have the majority of the pictures my mom took, she's really good at remembering to take photos, especially compared to me who usually doesn't ever remember. I'm trying to get better about this but I was never one to scrapbook or put photo albums together for others. 

I was so thrilled he had such a good time and lately because my son and I have a lot of the same qualities, we were butting heads and challenging each other so we needed a small break to catch our breaths. I teased him and told him that daddy, the baby and I didn't have nearly as much fun as he did or do anything as cool. So he felt especially special! And any parent knows that is a fabulous feeling.