Peppery Weekend

13 pints of Hot Pepper Relish canned – check

Poblano peppers frozen – check

Jalapeno peppers frozen – check

Sweet peppers frozen – check

The only thing left is the tobacco peppers that are still in the garden.

Then it’s on to cleaning up the garden until next spring.  Clean-up is going to be the hardest part this year, but then I can focus on planning out next year’s garden.  Yay!!!

 

Life’s Challenges

Life is challenging right now.  Not that it’s a bad thing, it’s just challenging.

Every day we see improvements in the boys, but every day we have challenges, especially with FS1.  As foster kids do, he came with baggage.  Every day we preach kindness and respect.  Every day we see him trying to demonstrate those things in little ways.  Knowing a little about the environment he came from, I have no doubt it’s a challenge for him, but he is putting forth great effort.

Kindness and respect is also something that Naomi is hearing a lot about these days.  She has been displaced as the youngest child in the family and while she was very excited about it at first, she isn’t always handling her new role in the best way.  Jealously has reared its ugly head more than a few times and time-out has become a popular past-time for both Naomi and FS1.  It’s one of the many challenges right now, but there are little signs that it’s improving.

FS2 has done remarkably well.  I recently found out that he was a co-sleeper.  I had a strong suspicion that was the case, but he wasn’t sleeping soundly with me the first few nights and has since become a pretty good crib sleeper.  We’ve learned that he HATES being covered up, so warm jammies take the place of a blanket and most nights now he sleeps thru the night.

Teething has been another challenge we’ve been facing.  FS2 came to us with 4 bottom teeth and a ton of drool.  This week his first top tooth emerged and 3 others on trying to work their way thru.  He has had some rough moments with the teeth since being here, but overall he has proven to be a pretty happy little guy and is attaching and bonding well.  He has made it clear that he prefers me and will whip his head around when he hears my voice.  He also cries when I walk in the room and immediately wants me to pick him up.  He craves that attention and it’s challenging.  With 3 other kids to care for, I can’t give him all the attention he wants and probably needs, so we’re trying to find a good balance.  We’ll get there.

Lili has probably handled all the adjustments the best.  She went from the big sister of one to the big sister of three.  She has become a wonderful momma’s helper and enjoys caring for FS2 when my attention needs to be elsewhere.  She is learning how to feed him, will give him a bottle, but isn’t eager to jump in and change diapers yet.  Naomi, on the other hand, is all about the diapering.  She’s even willing to try changing dirty diapers.  Between the two of them, I’m just about set 🙂  Not too many challenges with Lili right now and that’s a good thing.

I took FS1 in for testing and he qualified for the pre-k program.  We now have the new challenge of sending him off to public school each day and getting our homeschooling done.  This is something new this week and we’ll find a good rhythm that works for us.  It’s just not going to happen this week.

Another challenge is the boy’s visits with mom and dad.  It’s part of the deal in foster care.  Parents need the opportunity to fix what was broken and kids need to continue their relationship with mom and dad while things are being fixed.  They’ve been with us 1 month on Sunday and they’ve had one visit with mom.  I really can’t go into detail, but I will say that punctuality doesn’t appear to be a strong trait of moms, so they’ve spent very little time with her and haven’t seen dad at all yet.  Getting regular weekly visits has been a challenge, but it’s much more a challenge for their case worker than it is for me.  My challenge comes in making sure they are ready and then sitting back and waiting to see if things will work out.  So far, it hasn’t worked out, but it’s early in the game.

Harvesting and preserving the harvest has also been a big challenge this year.  Getting sick really set me back and my energy level still hasn’t returned to normal.  I managed to pick tomatoes last weekend and canned 6 pints of tomato sauce, but that’s all I could handle.  I still have tomatoes that need to be canned and more tomatoes on the vine to be picked.  The weather has also hampered things.  We have had a tremendous amount of rain this summer and it’s raining as I type this.  I’ll do my best to get everything done, but between the kids, school, activities, and my recovery, it’s not going even close to what I had planned.

Hubby begins a new job on Tuesday.  It’s with the same company, just a new position, but we had to making some scheduling changes.  One of those changes was cancelling our cross-country field trip.  The boys were another reason we had to cancel.  We could have taken them, although we aren’t sure we could have taken them for two full weeks, but the bigger problem was hubby getting started in the new job.  I can’t provide details other than to say that it was a slow process moving into this new role and the customer wanted him in the job weeks ago, so taking 1-2 weeks off right now really wouldn’t have been the best decision for his career.  So we cancelled for now and will work to reschedule it for a later date.  My challenge now is not focusing on the fact that we were to leave early tomorrow morning on this trip and instead we’ll be staying home.

Like I said, we have challenges, but they are manageable challenges and aren’t necessarily a bad thing.

There is one other challenge as well and that’s my computer.  It’s beginning to die a slow death and we’ll be replaced soon.  As such, I’m limiting my computer time and not uploading pictures until I have a new computer to use.  Of course I can’t share pictures of FS1 or FS2 and I do apologize for the lack of pictures on my blog.  For now, I’ll share some picture quotes which seem very applicable to my life right now.

A First for Me

Our asparagus crop has been fantastic this year. I have filled 4 gallon sized zip lock bags with asparagus over the last 5 days. I would guess each bag weighed at least 5 lbs and that’s a lot of asparagus for a family of 5.  I should also mention that asparagus season isn’t over yet.  I can’t seem to cut it fast enough and have already had a few stalks go to seed.

In the past, we’ve eaten some, but a lot we gave away to friends and family. This year we wanted to preserve some for our own family, so Hubby sent me a link to pickling asparagus.

It was a rainy day yesterday, with thunder rolling in the distance, so a good day to pickle some asparagus. I got out the supplies and before I knew it, I had 6 quart sized jars going into my water bath canner. Unfortunately, two of the jars broke, so only 4 jars came out, but it looks yummy.

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They will sit for at least a week before we open a jar and give them a try. Hopefully, they taste as good as they look.

Sweet Satisfaction

100 = How many jars of my fresh garden produce I’ve canned so far this year.

I’m still getting zucchini, tomatoes and peppers from the garden, so there is more harvesting and preserving in my future.  I’m also canning black beans today, which happens to be a staple food in our house and will add to the number of jars already stored in my basement.  No, I didn’t grow the black beans, although if I like the results I get today from my canning adventure, I may try to grow my own next year.

Overall, I have to say that our garden rebuild was very successful this year.  Yes, we had some things that didn’t do well, like my pickling cucumbers, but the vast majority did even better than I expected.

All the produce sitting on my basement shelves are things I will not need to add to my grocery list for at least the next year.  No store-bought canned tomatoes laced with BPA.  No produce that has been sprayed with insecticides.  This fall and winter we will be enjoying soups, stews, casseroles, tacos, breads and more that will include food I grew and preserved.

Ah, sweet satisfaction!!!

We Be Jammin’

Making jam!! A first for me. But not just any jam, I made mango jam.  Mangoes are Lili’s all-time favorite fruit.

It looks like jam, but does it taste like jam.  To find out I turned to the mango lover in our house.  She gave it a taste and loved it.  So much in fact, she tried to put her spoon back into the jar for more, so I would say it’s a keeper. It was also a great way to use some mangoes that weren’t quite ripe enough to eat.

 

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