Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Spring-so close now...

There have been a lot of big changes at our house and I guess I have been reluctant to blog about the lot of them. They are like a pile of mail with some good stuff but one or two big scary things so I just leave the whole mess alone. So here's the update.
Eric and I are pregnant-around 10 weeks, now and very excited. Leo can hardly wait to be a big brother and is already vying to name 'his baby'. Since it is so early and I am just getting a more noticeable bump, he often asks is she's still in there and he made me promise that I would tell him if she came out when he was asleep. I have the first appointment with a midwife tomorrow.

So that's the big good news. The big not so good news is that I got laid off from my job a month ago. I was very sad and it took a week or two for the shock of it to sink in. They were very nice about it and did some things financially that they didn't have to do, but it was still a hard blow after 6 years. Is there the possibility of hire-back? I think maybe 50-50 in a year or so when it blows up on them, but who knows? It was a job without a lot of challenges or any room for advancement, so ultimately not very good for my career and I had put a lot of thought into not going back after my maternity leave, but it was a job with benefits and reasonable pay, so it's still a hit for us.

Now for the question of 2011 - will I try to go back to corporate life? I don't know right now. I am getting ready for the farm season: starting seeds, doing soil testing at my dad's, getting book work ready and setting up all kinds of logistical things for my CSA and I want that to be my focus right now. I will add some shares this year and I will be doing more advertising to help bring in more new families. My dad and I are excited to work together this year and we have had a couple talks about how to do things and how we can help each other and what our ideas are. He bought a small tractor for us to use and we are looking for a couple basic implements. So yes, expect to see pictures later of the preggo driving the tractor.

Eric starts work back at the dropzone and we are praying for a great spring for him and I. I am also leaving for a roadtrip with my dad next week out to California. I'm really excited for some time away and so grateful to an awesome husband who supports me. We will be looking at a helicopter on the way out to Aunt Ruth's and perhaps bringing home a new motorcycle for my dad. I hope to spend some time on the coast like we did last time and do some hiking in the mountains.
I'll try to post while we're gone...

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Winter Wonderland

I don't have a lot of time for catch up, but I will post some pictures from the holidays and the last few weeks. It's been a fun winter so far and we've made a great deal of effort to enjoy the weather in stead of just suffering through. The attitude has made a lot of difference and while I'm not eager to venture outside today (it's 5 degrees Fahrenheit with a strong wind) more suitable days will come.
Some Yuletide/Christmas fun

Me and my mom, dad, and friend Dorothy at the Como Conservatory for Christmas Day

Leo so happy with his new BFF Buzz Lightyear

Some Asian-inspired potholders I sewed that I was really proud of and badly needed.

Me and my awesome friend Lane out skiing. I got the skis from a relative who couldn't use them anymore and went out Cross Country skiing with Lane for the first time since I was 10 or so. It was a really beautiful winter day. We saw woodpeckers, deer and even a roosting turkey vulture. We went about 7k around Pike Island in the Mississippi River in Saint Paul. It was one of the highlights for me of the last month and one I hope to repeat soon.

This is Eric, Lane's husband Luis, and skydiving friend Nich and his girlfriend, Kim ice climbing less than 1/2 mile from our house. They have been doing this a couple times, now, and have really enjoyed it. I haven't been able to go because of a wrist injury that has been slow to heal, but I hope to next year. You can see Kim way at the top with Eric as the belayer.

And these last pictures were taken at Gillette Children's Hospital after our little trooper got out of surgery. His two awesome surgeons repaired his 2 hernias and a small soft cyst that had developed on his foot. The staff was amazing at putting us all at ease and they were so great to us-I consider it one of the most valuable resources we have in our city to have a place like this so close to us meant just for kids.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Post Winter Solstice

I already feel different. I know we have a long winter ahead of us and we'll do our best to be active outside and actually enjoy the winter instead of just hunkering down for 3 more months, but the truth is, as soon as the Winter Solstice passes I start to feel a tiny bit more hopeful and the longer I live where I do, the more I think it's 3 parts perspective and 1 part biological. So, here's a big WELCOME BACK! to the sun. I didn't stay up all night at the bonfire/yule log last night like my pagan eaurpean ancestors would have, but we did have one at our house and a neighbor friend had one at her house I stopped by at and it was fun to reconnect with that anciant tradition.

Life is going well for us and we are looking forward to a mostly quiet, kind of spread out holiday. I ammaking most of our gifts and have been busy with that over the last few weeks-maybe next year I'll start in June rather than November. Oops!
I organized a skydiver Christmas party and am so exited to see some friends from the dropzone and get out a little. We have been in financial lockdown mode and haven't been going out for a couple months so this will be really fun. I'll take lots of pictures of our holidays and post more soon.
Enjoy the sun.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Thanksgiving fun

I'm behind in showing some pictures-this first batch is from one of the last nice days of our beautiful MN fall. We biked down to Harriet Island near our house and Leo and Eric had a skating lesson.

Leo and I cleaned up the last of our farm-stuff and made an organized home for it out at my dad's farm where I will likely be farming in 2011.

And me and my sister on Thanksgiving. Our holiday was quiet and peaceful with a delish turkey locally raised and more of the potatoes we great this year. I read about a family who literally made everything for their family dinner, right down to the butter and I thought I might try to raise even more of our food for next year and see if other family members would like to get in on the fun like this family did. We have limited access to land, so we might have to only make some things, but I thought it would be really fun and I'll think about this as the winter goes on.

Eric and Leo and I had such a fun weekend. on Friday we took Leo to the climbing gym for the first time. He's a natural and we had so much fun, I think we might try to go again this weekend if possible. I didn't climb because I am nursing a sprained wrist, but it was pretty awesome anyway. They have a great kid area so when Leo tired out, he played and Eric made a few more climbs before we left.

Eric is the climber in the distance in the green tshirt.

Leo made it about half way up before he got a little scared and he came down. They have special harnesses for little climbers like him, but even I get a little nervous all the way up there-it's 3 stories high if you climb all the way. We talked about it at night when we were cuddling in bed after story time and he said a little sadly that he didn't climb all the way up. I said, "don't worry , buddy, as you get bigger, you'll climb all the way up and then once you do it one time, you'll want to do it a bunch of times. You are learning to do so many things and I'm so proud of how you keep trying."

Then Sunday we had some more firsts for Leo. we all went to the pool and Leo has been pretty reluctant to put his face in the water during his swim lessons. Sunday we bought him a pair of goggles and despite being hesitant to try them on at first, as soon as he did and understood that he could see people under the water, he kept putting his face in again and again even though he is still learning how to keep water from getting in his nose. It was very cool for Eric and I to see him make this discovery and how the wonder of seeing underwater pushed him to keep trying.

We splashed around and played with the underwater feature of our new camera-clearly Eric was pretty intrigued :). It was a great weekend of family time.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Erich Wagar - bye, buddy.

6 Years ago my group of friends lost one of our best and brightest. A picture & a poem I wrote.

I wonder if you can see us as we are now-
How far we have come
to a whole different life.
How our cast has changed
and our orbits and distances changed, too.

Could you have imagined how
your death would change us;
driving some away and shoving some together,
our edges grinding and cutting.
We righted ourselves in the wake of you
and realigned -
bobbing and gasping in the windy vacuum.

Nothing prepared me for that final loss
so low I was already.
And I remember thinking in the aftermath
that some unaffected person might
see us struggling and throw us a rope,
pulling us out of the stinking mess.
No one threw us a rope.

Instead -
we bumped and thrashed into each other for a time
and finally hauled our separate selves out
in all directions
like broken rays of the sun.

miss you.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Summer's over? = Family time.

We had an awesome trip to Como Zoo last week. It was really fun since we haven't been there in awhile.

I'm an old enough Saint Paul native to barely remember when this Galapagos tortoise was a real creature, plodding around and tolerating children climbing on it for a similar photograph.

I spent this week with a cold and most evenings after work sacked out on the couch. This particular night I dragged my boy-collie up with me. He's so funny when I do that because he loves it so much he stays super still and quiet the entire time in hopes of prolonging the luxury of the couch and blankie. Eric got close enough in the final picture for him to deign to open his eyes.

OK, I know this might not look that appetizing, but I have to say it was delicious. Since this is the time you can still go to your local MN farmers market and get both the potatoes and kale as the main ingredients I'd encourage local food producers if possible. This dish was delicious, healthy and the aged Gruyere cheese MADE the dish. I also added a favorite precooked sausgae from Trader Joes, but keeping it vegetarian is fine, too.

Kale and Potato Gratin
makes 6-8 servings

1 1/2 pounds potatoes
1 bunch kale
1/4 cup olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoon coarse salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1/3 cup bread crumbs or panko
1/3 cup grated/cubed Parmesan or Gruyere cheese

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Get a pot of water boiling large enough to accommodate the potatoes.

Meanwhile, slice the potatoes 1/4"-thick. Set aside. Remove and discard the spines from the kale then chop.

When the water is boiling, add a dash of salt and gently drop in the potatoes, cooking for about 2-3 minutes, until tender, but not cooked through. Drain and spray with cold water to stop cooking process.

In a large bowl, combine the olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. Add the kale and rub the olive oil mixture aggressively into the leaves. Layer the kale and potatoes alternately with a sprinkling of bread crumbs and Parmesan in a 9"x12" rectangular casserole or glass or ceramic baking dish.

Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake another 15 minutes, until top is crispy.


Friday, October 22, 2010

Leo's 4th Birthday

We planned Leo's Birthday party at Aamond's Apple Orchard in Stillwater so all the kids could run around like wild animals and I didn't have to feel bad for not ever dusting at our house. It ended up being a really good idea despite the cloudy weather and all the kids and grownups had fun. Leo wanted to invite lots of kids from his school and also family and some neighborhood friends. The day before Leo was invited to another kid-party from a friend from his preschool. I took several pictures there, but I added this one because it is a sample of what Leo and his friends from school do together when they get ramped up. I get that these wrestling pileups are part of what many boys do and that from a developmental perspective, they are ways children learn to be physical with each other and still monitor and control the amount of force they are using. I get it, but it's such a short step between them all laughing and having fun to someone getting hurt. 99% of the time, it's just a bump in the lip or whatever, but it's still hard to watch as a mom. Whoever said this would be easy? :)

Note the soft bat one friend is hitting the other with. The boy in the red, we'll call him Tuffie, got right up and laughed his head off.

I made the most delicious carrot cupcakes with yummy cream cheese frosting for the party.

This is my neighbor friend, also Ellen, and I watching the mayhem.

They had tricycle-tractors for the kids and an awesome kid-train.

Leo had a great time and I was really happy Eric was able to take part of the day off to spend with us. Things have slowly started to quiet down a little from the fever pitch of our summer. Eric is home many nights in time to help get Leo into bed and we are really enjoying that. I sent off my last CSA basket of the 2010 season last friday and it was such a relief! That family, a chef and culinary teacher, complimented me on the quantity, quality and variety of produce and let me know that they were in for a full share next year. I learned so much this summer about how CSA works and how to try things differently if I pull myself together for another season. I'm still honestly in debate with myself about the if and how of that, but if nothing else it will be very different and for that I will be grateful. It was one of those things that you have to just prepare as best you can and then jump in and try to swim as best you can and take stock when it's all over and that's where I'm at right now.
I'm no food photographer, but I wanted to post a picture of the vat of tomatillios I had on the stove last night in my effort to use up and store the last of this summer's produce. I husked about a zillion tomatillios and added 4 hot peppers, 1 onion, and a handful of chopped cilantro. Boiled down, immersion blended and canned last night, it will make awesome salsa verde this winter.

Sadly, Leo is home sick this week, likely some flu-bug. This is the 2nd year in a row he has been home sick on his actual birthday, but we are celebrating with lots of movies and Popsicles. In a fever-free moment this morning he struck this arresting pose on his airplane, complete with flashing light, one mitten and monster costume. He said he was rescuing skydivers who landed in the water with his airplane which could also land on the water. It's so intriguing to me how kids really do grow up products of their environment in so many ways. What an honor for us to provide that.