Hello! Where Have You Been?

OK, so the real question is where have I been, and the answer would be, right here, and over there and everywhere! Can someone please tell me why the last weeks of school are so busy? 

In the weeks since we last sat down together our family has been busy with weddings, prom, graduation parties, field clean-up, gardening, 4-H projects and a few home improvement projects, for starters.

The boy completed his first year of college last month and changed his major from Computer Programming to Theatre with an emphasis on voice acting, which has left us looking for a new transfer college.

The Girl completed her Jr. Year of high school. She is officially a Senior and the countdown begins! It started with the marching of her very last Memorial Day Parade. Of course, we are bad parents and couldn’t find her in the band so we didn’t get a picture of her very last Memorial Day performance. :/

The Boy’s birthday fell on Memorial Day weekend so we had his annual fish fry. The fish fry is my favorite gathering of the summer, not only because it is his birthday celebration, but because of this:

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I can’t exactly put my finger on it, but there is something about watching these guys work the fry stations that makes my heart so very joyous! The Man fries the fish and the hush puppies, my Dad breads the fish and get’s the next basket ready to go, and this year Boy #2 joined the group frying up the delicious Portobello Fries, a newcomer and new favorite to the fish fry! Three generations working together, a cherished moment. 

Of course this crazy kid makes this gathering pretty special too:

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And these little pea-pickers capture my heart too:

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Inspired by a friend, we started a family Summer Reading program here at home. Summer Reading BINGO!

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It’s really been better received than I thought it would. I’m already on my second book (Dracula) and we all are picking out our recommendations for each other! It’s really rather exciting to be immersing ourselves in books this summer. I suppose our Nerd is showing but we don’t care!

Last month also brought us the opportunity to get out and help with post tornado clean-up. It’s been 6 months since the EF4 tornado tore through town and, because it was November when the tornado hit, clean-up did not get completed before the weather turned. There is still a lot of demolition to be done and clean-up as well. We were glad for the opportunity to help on a Saturday morning with the clean up of a field just outside of town.

The couple that lived on the farm, the house and out-buildings of which were destroyed, had only been living there for 5 months before the tornado hit. The farm and the farm house across the street (also gone) were all part of his family’s farm for generations. His father had passed earlier that year and he and his newly wed wife moved down here in June. Their story is one of strength and it was a joy to help them get things picked up so that crops could still go into the field. They were on a deadline and I truly believe they are going to make it happen.

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The field we worked in was closest to where the tornado exited town and the debris clearly marked the path that the tornado took, with swaths of heavy debris in perfect alignment with the ongoing construction in the neighborhood across the road from us. In those areas we found the bent, and twisted metal of roofing truss brackets, PVC plumbing pipe, shingles, siding and broken lumber. Looking up toward the neighborhood we could see these same items being replaced in the rebuilding. The contrast of homes so quickly reduced to broken pieces strewn about the ground at our feet and homes being rebuilt brought on a battery of emotion I had not expected. As we walked the field, I could hear the roar of the beast, the shattering of glass, the snapping of boards, the cracking and creaking as the homes were torn apart. Like nothing I’ve experienced.

As we walked the field, we picked up a lot of shingles and nails and boards. The Man bent down to pick up what appeared to be a 6 or 8 inch piece of 2×4, only to find that it was buried deeply into ground…about 4′ deep to be exact. Slammed into the ground, at an angle, with only a small portion sticking above ground. We encountered more wood, more shingles, more nails and glass and then there would be a tiny little Lego or a part of a Matchbox car. I found a cut-glass egg, many Legos, cars, broken Christmas ornaments and the rear brake assembly from a bicycle. Reminders that these people have much more than houses to rebuild. 

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Another thing we found, and something that many field crews have reported finding in the fields was this:

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A Robin’s nest on the ground, reminding us all of the loss and yet, a sign of hope. With the loss of so many trees, the birds are building on the ground, but at least they are returning to the area. They too are rebuilding. As I type this a rush of emotion rises up in my chest. Because this land was going to be plowed and planted when we were finished cleaning, the group decided that the best chance these eggs would have of survival would be to move the nest to the edge of the field a few feet away, with hopes that the mother bird would find it and not abandon it. If she did, the fate was no different than if we left it in the path of the plow.

It was such a privilege to serve this family in this way. We are grateful for the opportunity and we hope to return to help them clear the last field, the one closest to the neighborhood where the tornado left town. I’m so proud of my community and the way they are rebuilding. Washington is going to be better than ever!

We’ve done some cleaning up here around home too. We took out the stump of the Plum tree that succumbed to bores last Fall. In it’s place, The Man built this:

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Of course we immediately started enjoying it:

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The gardens are coming along nicely, most especially the weeds are coming on strong. My daily workout has become a routine of weeding. No sooner to I finish the last flower or vegetable bed than I find it’s time to start back on the first! Fortunately I’ve put straw down on the largest of the gardens, the main veggie garden and that should help keep that up. I’m looking forward to a LOT of delicious foods to come. Lots of tomatoes and peppers and tomatillos and corn and black berries and cabbage and well, you get it, LOTS of good stuff to eat!

We are still waiting for a bee swarm to move in to our bee trap. The Girl is getting ready to head off to the Big Apple on a school trip this weekend. I told her that the bees would probably move in while she’s gone. 🙂

As you can see, it’s already been a very busy spring and I have a feeling that this is going to be a very BIG summer for our family in many ways! I’m preparing for the business of the Summer by putting up meals in the freezer so that we can have something on deck at short notice or when I’ve been at work all day and they still expect to eat. Can you imagine.

So far I’m made up burger patties, and put some pork chops in marinade and froze them. I made up some pizza dough this week and put it in the freezer before letting it rise. I am also going to be hosting a Prep.Freeze.Cook party this month, where myself and my guests will prepare 10 meals for the grill that will serve approximately five people at a cost of $120 per person. Best of all, the shopping and the chopping are all done for us!

I chose the following menu: Bacon Cheddar BBQ Burger, Pizza Burger, Cheddar Spinach Turkey Burger, BBQ Chicken Thighs, Honey Sesame Pork Chops, Honey Mustard Chicken Tenders, Balsamic Chicken Breasts, Mojito Chicken Breasts, Teriyaki Pork Chops and Garlic Parmesan Pork Chops. I’m pretty excited to try this out and will make a full report after the party!

I’m still working on the weeks menu so I will report back on that in a separate post. It is harder to project how things will go with the schedule now so I’m trying to work “back up meals” into the mix. I’m finding that I’m falling into bad habits while eating on the fly, but I’ve managed to keep the weight fairly stable and I’m in the 120’s still. Went shopping for new clothes too! 🙂 It is so much fun to be wearing dresses and skirts and shorts that don’t have elastic waistbands!

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I continue to work on the weight and most importantly the muscle structure. I have better definition at the waist and in my arms. These things make me happy. 🙂 I will have to stand still for a good picture sometime soon.

So, now you know where I’ve been. In this very busy time, I find it more important than ever to plan meals and join together around the table on a regular basis. Wherever your busy lives take you this Summer, I hope that all of you take time to come around a meal together during your busy weeks too. It is so important to gather and keep up with each other. It is the love that makes whatever you eat taste so good.

 

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