Sunday, September 26, 2010

Interview with Edie

Note: the luscious locks pictured in this post are yes, indeedy, Edie's. Taken at a much earlier date and remembered at just the right moment.

What follows is an interview that will hopefully give all my/our faithful readers a peek into what our group camping experience was like. So turn down the lights, grab a sleeping bag, and snuggle up with a s'more. You have my blessing.

Hey, Edie, how many years have you been going on this annual camping trip?
As many years as I've been married. Let's see, that'd be fourteen. Unless it's Tuesday, and it's raining.

What was your favorite thing about the trip this year?
Allow me to be perfectly shallow and brutally honest. I had a great hair day. While camping, people. Do you have any idea what that means?

You have to understand that I have naturally-curly hair. Now, stop hating me. It's a fact, Jack. It just is. As such, my hair on any given day is organized chaos. Like it or not, I've learned to embrace this fact. Some days, I love it. Some days, I loathe it. It is what it is. Love it or leave it. And leaving it is not an option. I hope.

The one thing I've learned about my hair is it is unpredictable. ExtrEMEly. Although I'm not exactly sure of all the determining factors, weather plays a huge role in how my hair looks. Humidity or lack thereof, rather, is king.

On this particular day, Saturday, the eighteenth day of September in the two thousand tenth year of our Lord, if anybody is wondering. Ahem. On this day, my hair had met its perfect atmospheric conditions. What I had were soft, billowing tendrils the likes of which I've never seen before and can only hope to see again. I've tried to recreate what I had. Yes, I have. Only to be left in hopeless, frizzy silence. Despondent? Indeed. Great hope for a bright tomorrow? Indubitably.

But for one day, I had some seriously great hair. The likes of which every woman dreams about for her wedding day. Just to know it is possible makes me deliriously happy.

That was my favorite thing, I am ashamed to say. The best hair day of my life. Of. my. life.

Ahem. (smoothing clothes, scrunching hair)

However, I must say in all honesty that I also enjoyed the rousing and rugged hike on
the trails. That is the main reason I look forward to Turkey Run. The other highlight is the chatter 'round the campfire with my peeps. Those two things make camping worth every discomfort known to campkind.

The other fabulous thing -- and I promise this is the last thing until we move on to the next question. And thank you for sticking with me after that hair falderal. The other fabulous thing was having the sites filled with my peeps nearly as far as the eye could see.

You see, we get the very best sites in the entire park. (Why am I telling you this, Chris? You were a part of us.) Ahem. Fair reader, we get the very best sites in the park. It is a shady cul-de-sac. We had friends and family all the way around the bend and then some. It was reminiscent of my childhood days when we would invite friends and family camping. We didn't have much money, so when we did something, we did it big. We camped in a schoolbus. Yes, we did. Everybody who was anybody was there. A little slice o' heaven, let me tell you. Much like what we had at Turkey Run this year. It was sublime.

What was your least favorite thing about the trip this year? --if you aren't comfortable sticking whatever your answer is up on the blog, (
lie like a dog and say something funny) skip it. Use that logic for any of the questions, actually.
The most frightening thing happened on Sunday morning. When it was too late to do anything about it, I knew I didn't have what it takes to make pancakes. I had many mouths to feed and only two-thirds the batter I'd used on days prior. So before that first ladle of batter was poured, I prayed over my provisions in earnest. A lot. I prayed without ceasing. I reminded God of how He fed the five thousand. I told Him I knew He could do it again if only He willed. (I wasn't really kidding.) Lo and behold, I fed more children that day than any other. Some of those pancakes were the finest camping pancakes ever to grace my camp stove. God had indeed made a way.

What was the best part about being the mistress of the pancakes?
Pancakes are crowd pleasers. Children hover around you in eager anticipation when you make pancakes. Little hands love helping. Pancakes make people happy, and they taste mighty good too. And pancake making gives Kellar a reason to hang out with me. What's not to love?
How was the hiking?
Never better. We found the Ice Box. We never find the Ice Box. Collectively we usually tromp right by it not knowing it is there and miss it entirely. One of the children -- Heaven bless them -- remembered where the Ice Box was and led the way. I knew we kept them around for something. The rest of the trail was exhilarating as well. Right down to the last chutes and ladders that we hoisted ourselves up and over and through. Oh my.

How was the sleeping?
Chilled to be sure. When coupled with the right mix of collective body heat, it was quite comfortable indeed. Let's hear it for the buddy system.

How were the campfires?
Toasty, smoky, oft surrounded by wieners, armchair politicians and geeks. Oh yes, and the smores were delightful. Don't ask me how many I ate. I may have lost count.

How was the ice cream?
Oh, now I'm all misty. Vacation just isn't vacation without a little bit of ice cream each day. It touches a place deep inside me that only peanut butter and chocolate can fill.

My favorite dairy treat was a cookie ice cream sandwich with amazingly soft chocolate chip cookies and a band of chocolate chips around the outside of the ice cream. It was a thing of beauty.
Describe your most amusing camp moment.
That had to be watching the horseback riders return from the ride. There was a lot of swankering and swaying going on. And some rubbing and grimacing.

Mind you, I've only been on horseback a couple times in my life, but I don't remember it being all that painful in the end, as it were. Ahem. Maybe I wasn't doing it right. Maybe I didn't tighten my haunches enough during the ride. Maybe I was in eminent peril, and I didn't know it. Or maybe I'm crazy. Crazy like a fox. Yes, that must be it.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

A Camping We Shall Go

Lest you think I've just been lazy the last week or so, let me set the record straight:

I went camping for four days and three nights with four children.

Thank you.

Here's how I used my time during the last week and a half:

Making lists
Buying food
Buying supplies
Packing clothes
Packing food
Packing supplies
Packing bedding
Packing the van
Getting directions
Watching the kids while the men set up camp
etc etc etc
**Horseback riding--yay!!
Braving the bathhouse
Washing children in the bathhouse
Getting children to sleep in the tent
Sitting around a campfire with friends
Keeping children warm through the night
Waking up cold
Dressing children in the cold morning light
Eating breakfast wearing a hoodie, huddled around the fire
Changing children's clothes as the day got hot
More hiking
Respite from the afternoon heat in the GAME ROOM (yay, airconditioning!)
"Saving" children from the ravine behind the playground; they weren't grateful
etc etc etc
Packing, packing, packing
Unpacking, unpacking, unpacking
Dealing with children who want to be outside all the time, but can't because we don't live in a tent.
Homeschooling while doing lots of wood-smokey laundry

One very unique aspect of this trip is that I didn't take a single picture. I had remembered to bring my camera, sure. And for the first day or so, I kept thinking I should be snapping away at all the beautiful trees, the well-positioned water spout, and the horses. But I just couldn't bring myself to do so. I was afraid that if I started taking pictures, I might be taking away from the experience. My personality is such that I find ways of disconnecting from groups of people and watching from an emotional distance as I do some other mental activity. Although I love people, love talking and interacting, the introvert side of me is very good at "hiding" emotionally, oftentimes without me realizing I'm doing it. So I kept my camera in the van and managed to feel like I'd actually been there. A revelation, for sure.

In lieu of having pictures to share, my plan is to post an interview with my camping buddy Edie.
She filled the role of Mistress of the Morning Pancakes. It should be quite enjoyable, as Edie often is. So wait with bated breath, faithful reader. Satisfaction is forthcoming.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Like a weaned child

Disclaimer: This post talks about nursing, but in fairly general terms. Just in case you men out there would rather not read about nursing at all. This has been a public service announcement.

Second disclaimer: Blogger is defying all my efforts to make my fonts and spacing normal. Try to pretend everything is normal. That is all.

Early this morning, Dawson, my just-turned-2-year-old couldn't get back to sleep. It was roughly 5 o'clock in the morning and his little molars were hurting and his tummy was empty. It took me more than a few moments to wake up enough to realize this.

The house was dark and everyone would be asleep for another two hours. I knew his tiny body needed more rest, so I shook myself awake and tended to his needs.

Let me back up a little bit. All of my four children have been the crawl-into-bed-with-Mommy kind. Right up until I would have my next baby, and then they'd have to transition to staying in their own bed more often. Only this time, I haven't had another baby yet, so Dawson is still a nightly installment in our bed. The other thing about him being the "baby" (read: youngest, not actual baby) is that he is still nursing. Just a bit.

I never expected to be the kind of momma that would allow a child to nurse much past his or her first birthday. All of my other children were done much earlier with "momma milk." But so far, I haven't had another baby. And the fact that he now asks for "one minute more momma milk" only endears me more to him, even though I know that means the time has come for him to be done. That's a lot of talking for a nursing child. At least, relatively speaking. I know some countries still nurse their babes for years longer, but here at Casa de Floyd, this means he's about done.

I think that we'll be able to painlessly finish the weaning process this weekend when we go camping. Being out of our normal environment should be all it takes.

Why am I telling you all this? Because at 5:28 this morning, while I was sitting with a finally-sleepy Dawson in my lap, I began thinking about this Psalm:

Psalm 131 (NIV)

A song of ascents. Of David.
1 My hear
t is not proud, O LORD,
my eyes are not haughty;
I do not concern myself with great matters
or things too wonderful for me.

2 But I have stilled and quieted my soul;

like a weaned child with its mother,

like a weaned child is my soul within me.

3 O Israel, put your hope in the LORD both now and forevermore.


When I first read this Psalm earlier this year, I found myself wondering over the symbolism of the weaned child. After all, Dawson was still nursing full-steam, and any time he was denied momma milk (as I tested the waters of weaning), he was heartily incensed at my lack of compassion for him.

How could a weaned child be quiet? After all, you couldn't use nursing as a soothing mechanism anymore. I mulled it over and just wasn't sure. Wouldn't a nursing child be more calm with its tender parent?

But this morning, a nearly-weaned Dawson sat sleepy and safe in my lap, covered by a soft blanket, and did not try to nurse. He leaned contentedly against me and finally fell asleep.

And I realized finally what the Psalm was pointing towards.

As young Christians (read: dependent on the milk of the Word, rather than the meat) we are often restless, unsure of God, hoping that He will always be there for us. Still searching for many unanswered questions. But as we get to know God better, we start to feel safe with God. True, there may always be some unanswered questions (my two year old may not be nursing soon, but I betcha he'll still throw a fit when I tell him it's time to leave the park because he doesn't understand he needs a bath before bed...orwhy that's necessary.) but we'll get to the point where we can trust God more fully.

We can lean on Him contentedly, not demanding that He give us everything the easy way.

My baby, learning to go to sleep with a book.

My baby, learning to grow up.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Roasted Pears with Feta

I peered into my refrigerator at lunchtime today and hoped for something adventurous. Something that would rocket me past an ordinary peanut butter and jelly sandwich and into a slammingly productive afternoon. I saw a small container with a few crumbs of feta cheese. I saw a pear. The back part of my mind told me that it had once seen a recipe combining these two ingredients. The front part of my mind said "Ick. Why would anyone put those two together? That's a little too adventurous for today." But nothing else looked inspiring, so I did a google search on "pears feta" and came up with a very simple recipe: Roasted Pears with Feta. The reason I ultimately tried it was because it's stupid easy and didn't have any extra, fancy ingredients, only the ones I already had.

I halved the pears. I cored them, messily. I didn't have cooking spray, so I slathered the fronts and backs with a bit o' butter. I sprinkled them lightly with pepper and salt, all the while wondering why I was going along with this crazy nonsense. Pepper on a pear??! Unheard of, at least, in my little world. I popped the halves into the oven and waited for 20 minutes, listening to the butter pop and crackle and wondering again if I would have the nerve to actually crumble the feta over the top before eating them.

The timer went off. I pulled out the baking sheet and stuck it on top of the stove. I studied the pear. I sniffed it. I rolled my eyes, shrugged my shoulders, and transfered it to a cute plate. I cracked open the container of feta cheese and crumbled it artfully over the fruit. At least it will make a pretty picture, even if it tastes gross, I thought.

I procured a fork and knife and sat the plate gingerly on my computer desk. Siiiiiiigh. Okay, taking a bite...

Oh my.

That's not bad.

In fact (nom nom nom) that's pretty good.

But don't take my word for it:

Roasted Pear with Feta

1 bosc pear
1 1-inch cube of feta, cumbled (or it's container equivalent)
salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat the oven to 425. Wash, halve, and core the pear. Spray each half with cooking spray (or slather with a bit of butter). Place on baking sheet, skin-side down. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Bake for 20 minutes.

2. Remove from oven. Allow to cool slightly, and then sprinkle with feta.

3. Eat, while feeling incredibly gourmet.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Apples to Apples

A couple of weeks ago, I was invited to pick a boatload of not-quite-ripe apples from a neighbor of my mother-in-law. It sounded enticing, picking apples from a tree. I succumbed and soon brought home two grocery bags full of beautiful apples. Apples that I didn't know what to do with because, like before mentioned, they weren't quite ripe. And because they were much smaller than I prefer. Everything I usually do with apples involves peeling and slicing, even just eating them raw, because the kids don't like peels. And who wants to peel and slice a bunch of really small apples? Not I.

But I soon decided that they were good for something else--decorating. They really are beautiful.

So I piled them in one of my new vintage baskets and in no time flat, I had a new centerpiece. I felt brilliant. I felt creative. I felt very Country Living.

I started noticing how the wire of the basket matched the wire on my chandelier...and how that matched the wire on my lanterns. Oh, I was feeling really full of my own magnificence now. So coordinated was I that I could hardly stand the coolness.

Until suddenly, I awoke to one small flaw. My really cool centerpiece, full of not-quite-ripe apples, was irresistible to my two-year-old boy. And because I knew that we wouldn't be eating them, I hadn't washed those beautiful apples. Thus they were still possibly covered in pesticide. And spotted with insect holes here and there (those were undoubtedly the ones my children had "helped" me pick--right off the ground, probably). Basically, they were food, but food that shouldn't be consumed. But a two year old doesn't know that. He just sees a huge basket of summer's bounty, finally placed within his reach. And he thinks "Yay Mama! You're so smart!"

So after two or three times of catching him with a small sliver of apple core, I gave up and removed them from their adorable place on the table. Sure, I could just wash all ten or fifteen pounds of them. But the insect holes would still be there. And two year olds don't know how to check for insect holes.

I am happy to report that my two year old is still healthy, with no apparent signs of poison.

I am sad to report that I haven't found any local place that is selling pumpkins yet. And that even when I do, a pumpkin probably won't look quite as cute in my basket as the apples did.

It's a hard knock life. mock dramatic sigh