8/31/10

HARVEST TIME....

The Robert's family had a great time in our yard last night! We dug up potatoes and picked strawberries, tomatoes, peaches, and apples.


I learned about planting potatoes in barrels from my friend "Grace" over at www.lifeunderablueroof.blogspot.com. We planted the potatoes in early May and added layers of dirt as the plants grew. Once the barrels were full, we just let them sit and grow.... it was probably the easiest thing I have ever grown in our garden. So, yesterd ay we pulled the dead plants out and started sifting through the dirt for potatoes. IT WAS FUN!!! I felt like we were searching for burried treasures! Elijah LOVED playing in the dirt and every time he saw a potato he would shout "another one" and then take it and put it in our bucket. We did 3 barrels of potatoes (russet, yukon gold, and banana potatoes). We got about 15-20 potatoes out of each barrell. I need to find more barrels for next year because the potatoes should keep for a while. I loved that we got to harvest our potatoes together as a family... I would like this to become one of our family traditions. When Eli is a grown-up I would love for him to tell his kids about picking potatoes with his mom and dad. We are going to eat some of our potatoes for dinner tonight so I will let you know how they are.


We also discovered a peach tree next to our garden. It is a curious thing.... in June I saw these little round fuzzy green things growing on a "bush" in our woods and I commented that it looked like peaches but it couldn't be peaches because peaches grow on trees. Well, it turns out that it is a peach tree but it is covered in grapevines and other overgrown trees so it isn't growing very well. We are going to clear out around it so that it will grow. The peaches are small and spotted but I am going to use them to make peach jam. Very fun!




Our apple tree also has huge trees growing around it so it is not thriving either. We are going to clear out around it also. We did get about 8 apples off of it and they are good! I picked Eli up to pick an apple and he picked it, took a bite, and said "yummy mama". He then ate the entire thing (really.... the entire thing... core, seeds, everything.... oops!)


I can not fully express how much I love where we live and I love that my son will grow up knowing where his food comes from and being an active participant in growing it! Sure, it is educational but we also really had alot of fun together last night!

We put the cold frame in the garden last night and will be planting lettuce in it for a November harvest. I am excited to see if it works, I have never tried this before. I'll let you know!

8/30/10

A LONG TIME.....

Well, it has been quite a while since I last posted. Actually, my last blog was the week before summer staff training started. So much has happened since then, here are some of the highlights:

SUMMER CAMP
We had a wonderful summer at Lutherlyn. The staff did an excellent job and our camper numbers were up from last year (yeaaaaa)! Summer at camp is a TON of work for me but I absolutely love it! I love training the staff and then watching them make a difference in the lives of their campers. I love watching the staff grow in their own faith and maturity. I love seeing campers grow as they come back year after year. I love the noise of lots of happy kids running around camp. I love running around with Elijah as he enjoys the excitement of camp. I love being outside for much of the day. There are so many things that I love about summer at Lutherlyn. It is always hard when it all ends. I feel a little bit of relief from the fast-pace and "urgency" of everything that needs to be done in the summer but, mostly, I feel sad that everyone is gone.


ELIJAH
My baby boy turned 2 on August 1st. I can't believe it! Elijah melts my heart on a daily basis.... he is hillarious and tons of fun! Eli loves summer at camp too. When he sees kids playing a game in the field he runs towards them while repeating; "play, play, play, play". Ocasionally he joins in but usually we do our best to simulate that game right next to where the kids are playing so he doesn't ruin their game. Frisbee and camoflage where his favorites this summer. He often runs behind a tree and starts counting. He has also mastered "hands-up, mouth-closed". When somone puts their hand up in the dining hall for everyone to get quiet, Eli puts his hand up too and waits for the announcement. He loves singing graces too (the superman grace and Johnny Appleseed are his favorites). Elijah loves the summer staff and the campers... when we got home from vacation he noticed that they were all gone... that made me even more sad.



Another big change for Elijah is that Jon (Eli's "manny" for the last year) left in the beginning of August. Jon is going to seminary to be a Lutheran pastor. We miss him alot. At least once a day Eli asks me "Where Jon?" We are going to visit Jon and Laura this coming weekend. Erica started watching Eli last week and she is wonderful! Eli has not fussed at all with this transition and he is having a great time with Erica. Jeff and I are so happy to have these wonderful people spend time with our son and become a part of his life. It is so hard when the come and go but we think it is great for Elijah to develop these relationships with other Christian adults who care for him.

VACATION
The day after summer camp ended we hopped on a plane and flew to Flordia where we boarded the "Disney Wonder" for a 5 night cruise of the Bahamas. PARADISE!!!! We all loved the cruise! It was very relaxing and there was tons for all three of us to do. Elijah LOVED the Disney characters and gave lots of hugs to Mickey and Goofy. We saw shows, Eli saw his first movie in a movie theater (there is a movie theater right on the ship... we saw Toy Story 3.... I cried), we played at the pool, I got a pedicure, Jeff got a massage, we all played in the sand and the water on Castaway Cay (Disney's private island), we had great food. It was a wonderful vacation! There was even an awesome nursery that Eli spent 2 hours a day at. Eli LOVED playing there with the excellent staff and Jeff and I got to spend 2 hours each day together! We also went to the Magic Kingdom and Epcot for 2 days after the cruise. I wouldn't call that relaxing but it sure was fun! Elijah loved the parks and did great the whole time! We were very lucky, we never waited in a line for more than 10 minutes. It was a great vacation!


GARDEN
I wrote a bit about my garden back in the spring. It has been somewhat successful and somewhat frustrating. We enjoyed some squash and zucchini (before the groundhog ate the leaves and killed the plants), lots of tomatoes, 3 peppers, some strawberries, basil, and oregano. Watermellon are still growing, potatoes are ready to harvest, and we planted lettuce late so it should be ready late-September. The groundhog and/or rabbit(s) ate all of my broccoli, beans, peppers (except for the 1 plant that I had growing in a pot), eggplant, cucumbers, and asparagus. We had a suicidal groundhog living in our yard this year... he must have got into our garden one day and couldn't find his way out. He somehow managed to chew through the fence but while climbing out through the hole that he chewed in the fence he slit his throat on the chicken wire. We found the dead groundhog in our yard. Should I feel bad about that?

I am most excited to harvest our potatoes. We grew them in barrels this year after learning about this technique from a friend. I will post the results later this week, hopefully we will start to dig them up this evening. I am also starting to dry herbs for the rest of the year in my dehydrator. I will dry enough basil, oregano, and dill to last until next summer.

REAL FOOD CHALLENGE
Some of you may remember the "real food challenge" from March that I wrote alot about. I have to admit, it was very difficult for me to keep up with it over the summer (we eat most of our meals in the dining hall at camp). So, I am getting back on track with that. I was really hoping to grow enough veggies to can and freeze for the winter but that didn't work out like I had planned so I have been buying veggies from local farmers and freezing them for the winter. Corn and green beans are what I am freezing this week. We are also getting ready to order a local, chemical/hormone-free, grass-fed cow to split with some friends and freeze for the winter. The rest of it is just getting back in the habit of doing the things I was doing in the spring. I am dehydrating apples right now (our favorite snack), I just got the stuff I needed to make granola and yogurt, I have been making our bread since we got back from vacation, and we have been trying to eat "in season" so our food is fresh and recently/locally picked. Baby-steps. Elijah has not been eating well since we got home from vacation, I think he needs to get back in the habit of eating at home too. He has been very picky and wants to live off of fruit, cheese, and bread. The fruit and cheese part isn't terrible but he is refusing veggies (even the things that were his favorites over the summer). We are working on that.

FAMILY
In the midst of all of the chaos and craziness of the summer, we managed to see all of our immediate family (each of our siblings, nieces, nephew, and parents) over the summer, most of my extended family, and all of our God Children also. We had a great family reunion at camp with my mom's siblings and their families.

Jeff, Eli, and I squeezed in lots of family fun too. We have been to Idlewild Park, Soak Zone, the Zoo, Living Treasures, a Pirates Game, the Big Butler Fair, Moraine State Park, lots of trips to the playground, and tons of fun running around outside!


As you can see, we have been busy. I love summer but I also welcome the slower pace of fall. It is nice to settle back into a routine and spend more time with Jeff and Eli and less time at work. Thanks for checking in with us! I hope to have a potato post coming soon!