Friday, September 30, 2011

Apple Pickin'

I mentioned last year that we have an apple orchard right here on campus. It has over 100 varieties of apples, all ripe (and cheap! fifty cents a pound!) for the picking.

So we made our annual trip to the apple orchard with some friends. This time around, the kids were less interested in playing and tasting apples and more interested in getting their bags as full as possible. Which meant they were far too busy to pose for photos. Which means there are more pictures of Rob than the kids. Lucky for you, he's pretty cute, too!

Next up: learn to make and can applesauce. Anyone have a delicious, no-sugar added recipe?
Have a delightful weekend!


Thursday, September 29, 2011

"Be not simply good; be good for something."

Hey blog friends!
Did I tell you I'm a "runner" now? No?
Well, that's because I think I actually walk faster than I run.
I run a 14 minute mile.

On a good day. 

Recently a friend posted this photo on facebook, and I am pretty sure it was created just for me:

But that's okay, because, as they say, a mile is a mile, right?

I started a Couch to 5K program several months ago, at the end of April. It's an eight week program. I think I am on week, like, 497. In my defense, I really did start from the couch, straight up lazy butt.

Anyway, I haven't ACTUALLY hit the 5K mark. I've gotten close, but never made it.

Alternately, I have spent a lot of time lately thinking about my birthday coming up in a couple of weeks. I am not a huge fan of birthdays anyway, I think they are kind of embarrassing, all those well wishes for basically doing nothing. I mean, really, all I did was enter the world, which admittedly, didn't require a whole lot of effort on MY part. I am turning 29 this year (for the first time), and I just have been feeling like I want to do something GOOD for my birthday, and not "good" like I-want-to-sit-in-my-house-while-Rob-takes-the-kids-out-and-gorge-myself-on-cake-and-Kit-Kats-while-I-watch-too-many-episodes-of-Grey's-Anatomy-and-surf-Pinterest "good" (because, let's be honest, that does sound like a pretty sweet way to spend a day...). I mean I want to accomplish something for good. I want to make my birthday a celebration that shows that one person can make a difference.

And so, the other day, while I was staggering my way through the last 1/2 mile of my 2.64 mile run, I saw some signs for a local 5K the very weekend following my birthday. All the funds go to help building a hospital in rural Kenya, and so, I will be running for GOOD as my birthday present to me. I have little doubt that I will come in absolutely last. But I also know I can finish it! I'd like to enter the race at the $100 level. And that is where the shameless part of this post comes in.

If you are willing and able, will you help me help Kenya? All the proceeds from the race, as well as any money raised beyond the entry cost, will go to Going Beyond Borders, the non-profit receiving the proceeds from the race.

I figure if I can get just a few people to help out, something amazing can happen! And I can't think of a better way to celebrate my birthday and thanking God and the world for the very blessed 29 years I have enjoyed than to give to those in need and accomplish a very personal goal at the same time.

If you are able to donate, please go here. Every little bit will help!

Thank you for stopping by!


Clearing the path...

Hey all. Are you ready for a really vague, obnoxiously heavy metaphor? Well then, I have the post for you! Please read on...

I've been struggling a lot lately with something occurring in my personal life...or my work life. It's hard to tell because they are so heavily intertwined in the position I have. And I realize its basically the same struggle I often have when anything hard passes in front of me. I've mentioned before that I far prefer the path of least resistance. But somehow or another, I always end up inadvertently choosing the other path--you know, the one with all the thorns and scary trees that look like they are watching you? Yeah...I get myself in that neck of the woods a lot, I think.

Anyway, I won't go much into it because I rather like my job, and the people I work with, and moreover, I NEED my job. Let me just say that there is an issue that I feel I MUST take on. It is a fight that isn't necessarily "my fight," but I understood the Spirit when it spoke and said, "It isn't enough. It isn't enough to sit back and be sorry for those who hurt."

I feel that God advocates for women.
I feel it is important for me to advocate for women.
More than that, I feel that God expects me to advocate for women.
Especially in this instance.

But sometimes doing what is right (even what seems right all the way to the core of your being) is really hard, and it seems like you're walking in a forest all by yourself late at night and there is an owl hooting and rustling footsteps in the leaves behind you and faces in the trees, and all you want is to get back on that path with the street lights and the friendly houses along the way and forget that there is a harder path that you could be making less scary for other people who will come after you...and...and...

And then, when you're asking God to be able to let it go, to just be able to sit back and watch things play out, to let someone else take their machete and clean up that scary road for the other people that might have to travel that way...

Then, He calls you a coward. Clear as a bell, He aims a single word at you that is incomparably accurate,  and you know it's true. So you get up and quit crying in the fetal position because a raccoon is following you, and you start slicing away.

Where am I going with all of this? I'm not even sure...but this is my place where I can dump my feelings and feel a little better, even if it leaves the literally tens of tens of readers painfully confused. All I know is that I've found myself in a prickly situation, with no choice but to keep on fighting back at the thorns. And I may hack and hack and hack at all the vines and claw-like branches on that path only to turn around and see that everything has grown back and that the journey was only for me. But at least when it is time to meet my Maker, "coward" may no longer be the most apt description for me. And, you know, that's always a good thing.

Wishing you peace! (And maybe wishing for a little for me too...)

P.S. Sorry for the bizarre, insanely vague nature of this post. This was simply one of those posts that was "for me." There are some "real" posts coming up soon. I have been working on a couple of tutorials for y'all and fall just gets me going...makes me want to write and craft and cook and spread happiness everywhere I go. So hopefully there will be a little more happening in this little corner of the inter-web. I'll try not to beat you over the head with more metaphorical ambiguities in the near future. :)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Harvest Time!

 We have had a woeful garden experience this year. Like last year, we got a plot in the community garden. Unlike last year, someone has been seriously out to kill our plants. First, someone kept taking the sprinkler that fed our plot and several others and moving it over to their plot. Summer+lack of water= very sick plants. We did manage to bring them back from the brink (or in the case of the cucumbers, replant in time). After that, Rob got a drip hose, which he hooked up to a faucet that was unused by anyone else. We wove the drip hose through the garden and made sure it was watering everything, and we were set. Things looked fantastic for a couple of weeks. Until someone started randomly unscrewing our drip hose from the faucet, even though there was another completely empty faucet next to it. (Who DOES that?)

Though we managed to keep most of it alive, the damage had obviously been done on several of our plants. The onions are way small. The zucchini and yellow squash put out two and one specimens each (and for anyone who has ever attempted to grow zucchini, you know that is not only not a bumper crop, but simply unheard of). In fact, when I tried to cook the squash and a zucchini, they were both as tough and seedy as can be, even though they were just the right size for picking...I think that the water shortage must have stopped them from growing, but they were just getting tougher and tougher on the vine.

That said, we did have a few things that were hardy enough to survive a little water-sabotage.

The carrots did remarkably well, especially given their water shortage. Happily, I think they fell in the path of another plot's drain-off, and benefitted from it. We planted a typical carrot, as well as "Parisiennes," which I chose for their hardiness in tough soil and cold weather. They did well, and I am looking forward to throwing them in a pot roast. Carrots are among Squirrel's favorite foods, and so it was all I could do to get her to wash them before eating them. I am honestly really excited about the carrot situation.

Here are Squirrel and Little Bird washing the carrots and taters: 

And here they are, all shiny and clean. Along with a couple of taters (I forgot to get a picture of all the potatoes...but we should have another big harvest of these, and more carrots, in a couple weeks.) 

A few Roma tomatoes from our little plants. 
They didn't get too big (maybe the water issue?) but are still tasty! 

Honestly, our zucchini, squash and cucumbers were so sad, they aren't even worth showing you. 
I have better hopes for next year... *sigh*

We did, however, get some amazing ears of corn from a friend. We didn't have enough space to grow our own this year, so we were super glad to receive this oh-so-succulent batch. So far, my favorite flavor is when Rob grills them up with chili powder and other spices. Mmmm....

Did you grow a garden this year? What did well?
Happy Harvest, all! 


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The rest of Disneyland...

Phew! I am done checking in all 209 of my new boys. They are super fun and enthusiastic. But now that check-ins and our welcome meeting are over, I am looking a little more forward to the slow life.

I have to admit, there were a few times I teared up while visiting Disney, whether it was while seeing the joy on my kids' faces as we watched the parades go by, or the excitement of getting their "1st Visit" pins. As silly as it may sound, there is something so wonderful about seeing your kids experience what they see as magic, and experience pure delight. Here are some of my favorite photos from our trip. I am sure there are way more than there ought to be, but I hope you enjoy!

Our beach trip day one:

Can you tell who her best friend in the world is?


Saturday, September 10, 2011

A Love Letter to Disneyland

Hey all! We just got back from Disneyland (so. much. FUN!) on Wednesday at 2:30 AM. I had a meeting the same morning that I had to get up at 6:30 for. Then I stayed up that night until almost 2:00 AM getting ready for the arrival of my 210 boys the next morning...on which I awoke at 6:00 AM. The cycle continued until, well, now...because it's past 3:00 AM and I am blogging. Because apparently I don't believe in sleep...

Anyway, we had an awesome time at Disney. We really, truly did and it was so fun to enjoy with family and see my kids experience and love the magic that is Disneyland. While we were there, my sister asked, "Don't you ever feel caught up in the commercialism of Disney?" and I had to admit that I sometimes's something I struggle with because I really do love the place so dang much, even with their $10 hamburgers and $6 Uncrustable PB&Js. But, one thing I truly appreciate about Disneyland is the fact that they work hard to make it more than just commercialism for the sake of itself--there is real magic, from the characters to the parades to the way the cast members throughout the park treat you, Disney goes above and beyond to make it truly memorable, and like stepping out of the mundane. In that way, I think they are trying to stay close to the vision of Walt Disney. Say what you want about the shows or the movies, but the man himself was incredible, and more than any other part of the company, I think the parks work hard to make magic a real experience. So, yeah, the food is overpriced and they charge your a million bucks for the soda they are given for free and the light up toys are 98745376 times more expensive than they should be...but if that's what it costs to let my kids believe in and experience magic, I'm gonna have to roll with it.  (Okay, I warned you before we left that I would be all Disney all the time for a while...and it may keep up a few more posts--so, my apologies to those who live cold dead lives absent from a "Disney heart.")

 I'll share lots of pictures of my favorite moments later, but for now I want to tell you a little story that has nothing to do with my family, but everything to do with Disneyland being totally awesome:

While we were waiting in line for Pirates of the Carribbean, I noticed this very distinguished Pakistani (I assumed) gentleman ahead of us. He stood very tall, had a long white beard and was dressed like a tribal sheikh, or elder, in traditional all-white turban and long shalwar kameez, like this:

He was obviously important, based on the way he carried himself and the fact that he had a permanent Fast Pass for the day. I also noticed he had several men accompanying him. One appeared to be related to him, as they spoke closely several times. The others were of considerable size and wore well-cut full suits and ties in the astounding heat. At first I thought they must be crazy (or perhaps very orthodox) to wear black suits in the heat, but after watching the way they led the elder and were very attentive to the people around him, I recognized them as his body guards.

Of course, I thought this whole thing rather interesting, and wondered why this group would choose Disneyland to visit. I rode Pirates and pretty much forgot about it, until we were leaving the ride, and once again, they were just ahead of us. As I watched them proceed away from the ride, I saw the bodyguards, still very serious, looking around ahead of their charge. He, I saw laughing and looking like he had rather enjoyed the ride. And when I saw them all turn to head out of the exit, I caught sight of each of them wearing one of these:

And I have to say, I totally got it. Because if I were in his shoes, visiting a foreign country, yeah...I'd take a trip to Disney too--enjoy my first visit and my permanent fast pass, be awed by the wonder of the parades and shows and animatronic Jack Sparrows, and even let my bodyguards have a little fun on the rides with me. Awesome. Seriously, awesome. And that, my friends, is why Disneyland really is the Happiest Place on Earth. 

More later, if you can stand it!