Monday, October 10, 2011

Jack O'Lanterns!

My blog has been sleepy lately and that's because life has been anything but!

A few weeks ago Craig and Jacob went on a Royal Rangers (like a Christ centered Boy Scouts) father-son campout. They had a huge amount of fun but also unfortunately had a too close encounter with a hornet's nest. Craig was stung about a dozen times and Jacob 3 or 4 times. When they came home on a Sunday they both entered the house with their left eye nearly swollen shut. No kidding. I thought, "what the????? And why didn't Craig mention they both got punched!" Craig said they woke up Sunday morning both looking like that and feeling much worse than they did on Saturday when the stings actually happened. Weird. Things progressively got worse for Craig. He looked worse and worse and the bee stings, all over his body and head, continued to swell, redden, and get more itchy. It was terrible! Jake's also wasn't improving much although we'd been icing the stings and giving plenty of Benadryl.

Here's the selfish bummer for me- that weekend was also the Moms and More Berry Crisp sale. That means I spent all day Friday [with a group of great women] preparing, baking, and packaging 100 berry crisps. Then I had the kids all day Saturday alone. Then Sunday I sang on the worship team in the morning and sold berry crisps when I could. I was SO looking forward to Craig coming home and helping me and giving me some relief. Between the bake sale, worship team, and parenting alone, I was wiped. So then the boys walk in the door looking like a total mess and yes I felt bad for them but I also felt bad for me. There goes my relief! It took almost a whole week for Craig to get better. He couldn't even go to work on Monday it was that bad. He was just so out of it and quite frankly looked really bad. His swollen face actually reminded me of how he looked after his accident. That was hard to see. One time I actually started crying after looking at him. Something in my brain went, "Holy crap. Craig. Accident." That trauma lives under the surface in different layers depending on the day. I think in my exhaustion it wasn't buried very far that day. By midday Monday Craig and Jacob hadn't really improved at all so we sent them both to the drs. That's a hard choice for us because we don't have insurance for Craig and me. Craig's appointment cost us $150 :( Basically he was told that yes his severe reaction is pretty normal with that many hornet stings and it would be a good idea for him to take a prescription that is stronger than Benadryl and has something to help with infection also. The Dr likened the stingers to using unclean hyperdermic needles. Whatever is on the surface of your skin and also the needle get shoved into you making the swelling and pain worse. Jacob was told the same thing and also given a prescription. What a crazy week that was!

Since then we've been busy with homeschooling, Royal Rangers, Moms and More, choir practice, worship practice, Marriage Small Group, and learning to can. Since my first canning adventure I have also made 1 batch of blackberry freezer jam, another batch of apple pie filling, and 2 batches of crockpot applesauce which I then can.
                                                                   Crockpot Applesauce!!
Very easy. The hardest part is peeling and coring apples which is pretty darn easy with the Pampered Chef peeler/corer Craig found at Goodwill last week for $2.99! The recipe link is great. My change is that I peel them first and I don't put in the orange juice. Once they are cooked very soft I just mix with a wooden spoon until fairly smooth but still lumpy. Then fill quart jars with 1/2 inch headspace and give a 30 minute hot water bath in the canner. Ohhh, I'm talking canning lingo!!! Yay me :) The applesauce is really good and sugar free. Eliana LOVES it.
Here's my beautiful apples packed into jars and awaiting their sauce. These apples all came from trees on our farm. LOVE it! I was just thinking today how much God blessed us by giving us this big home on lots of property with amazing fruit we get to use :) There were many dark days we never thought we'd ever be in a place like this. We are thankful.

The amazeballs sauce. Totally delish! Here's my recipe.

All 7 jars sealed and I didn't break any. YAY! Craig asked, why does the recipe only make enough for 7 jars when it takes 2 jars to make a pie? Good question! Most canners only hold 7 quart jars :)
These jars are so pretty in person. You can see the fresh apples, but also the cinnamon-y goodness of the filling. Awesome.

It often feels like the days pass in a blur for us and like 3 or 4 days go by before I really get to see or talk to my husband. I hate that. Last week he worked a lot. Wednesday night he got home and had to leave 20 minutes later because of an issue on a job and subcontractor not answering their phone. That meant I had to take all 3 kids to our Wednesday night stuff by myself. It was not a good day. I feel like something has to give and we need to start weeding out the important stuff and things that are not so important. But it's hard when it all feels important!

Today we intentionally had a really fun family day. We went to church then to Central Market with my family to pick out pumpkins and eat pizza. Then we took the kids home and put the girls down for naps. MIRACULOUSLY Evie slept 3 hours in her crib. Totally unheard of! I was able to clean, sort, organize and get stuff done I normally can never get to. When the kids awoke we carved pumpkins. Craig did one for him and Elly, Jake did one, and I peeled and cored apples to make another batch of applesauce. Evie happily played and snacked in her highchair in the center of the action :) As far as he could remember this was Jacob's first time ever to carve a pumpkin. He was excited about it all week. We all had so much fun just hanging out and doing something together. Elly would scoop all the guts out of her pumpkin, put them all back in, scoop them all out....over and over. Kept her happy and busy. She kept saying, "this is so much fun!" I also cleaned and dried the seeds and roasted them. I did one batch with butter and sea sealt and then another batch with cinnamon sugar, pumpkin pie spice, salt, and a touch of oil. Very cool!
We had planned to make caramel apples as well but it got late and we lost steam so that's on the agenda for tomorrow. Organic Jonagold apples are on sale for $1.48 at Central Market and they look delicious! And yes, I have tons of apples out in my yard but they really aren't big enough to make beautiful caramel apples. So we spent $4 to get pretty apples :)

                                                            They are such buddies :)

Covered the table with paper bags the same way my mom used to. Makes clean up much easier.

Right here she was saying over and over, "this is so much fun!"

Dad giving a tutorial.

Little miss "I napped 3 hours for the first time EVER" :)

Yeah, I had to take about 6 pictures to get one with them all looking. Ha!

My job: peeling and coring. I think these apples are a Granny Smith type. Very firm skin and flesh and quite tart.


Happy snap!

Elly said, "how about a picture of us hugging, daddy?"

(The back of Jake's- ghosts)

Jacob is really loving building memories and traditions here. I consider it all 'normal', but to him it's new and I'm very glad he's getting to see this kind of life. He's already super excited about Thanksgiving, cutting down our own Christmas tree, decorating gingerbread houses, etc. I had him start writing his Christmas list today. We do this stuff every year, but he's never been able to be a part of it until now. Cool beans.

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