Summer

It is now the beginning of September. It is hard to believe we have already been here 5 months and most of the summer. Virginia is hot and humid like Mexico but it cools off at night and we live in air conditioning which makes life so much more bearable. Even so, I am eager for the cooler temperatures that the forecast is predicting.

We did spend almost a month in North Carolina with my sister and her family. The mountains with so much water it just flows out of the ground and pours down the street. Hot coffee on the deck in the cool shade before the sun makes its way around to heat up our skin. Walks and hikes with babies and we did not sweat. I miss it.

 

We managed once again to get all of us together. Two parents, five children and their spouses, one more son, and now 6 grandbabies! It was a week’s worth of late nights, early mornings, volleyball, hiking, river swimming, and laughter!

family-shot

Life for Ben and I keeps on changing in unanticipated ways. We encourage one another to keep on smiling and do the best we can with what we’ve been given, which is so much grace upon grace. And we get these beautiful gifts all along the way: a warm evening in the lake, snuggling kids into bed with campfire smoke still lingering in their hair, lightning and thunder at night, dew-wet feet in  the mornings. Always good coffee. And crickets.

The crickets sang in the grasses. They sang the song of summer’s ending, a sad, monotonous song. “Summer is over and gone.” they sang. . . Even on the most beautiful days in the whole year – the days when summer is changing into fall. . .
~ from E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web

 

 

Mother of three

Well, here I am. Mother of three. I love it. And I hope I am blessed with a few more babies on top of these ones I love so dearly. Yes, I’ve had a few sleepless night since Liam came into my bed. I have fought to control my frustration with my two older kids as we all adjust to this new normal. I have wanted to snuggle up with my husband at the same moment that Liam decides he wants to nurse. But when I watch my two older kids as  they run laughing through the sprinkler on a hot summer day, or when I hear them apologize to one another without being prompted, or anytime that this new little baby smiles I know I am blessed. My heart overflows.

I feel like I am finally emerging from the post postpartum haze and becoming interested and aware of things again. Christy and I have started meal planning – which is so much fun with all the produce available through the local farms – and working out a rhythm for our collective children. So far the rhythm revolves around meals and an afternoon rest period with plenty of outdoor time. They love any game involving water and Ethan (3) and Willow (now 4!) spend much more time naked than clothed.

The garden is producing broccoli, squash, zucchini, and lettuce. We have lots of herbs that get thrown in everything from pastas and salads, to iced teas. The tomatoes and peppers are getting closer to harvest. We finished up the last of the strawberries just before the strawberry moon of the solstice and are now on to wild blackberries. Our first harvest brought in enough for a night’s dessert, this morning’s blackberry lemon scones, and Sunday’s pie!

Ayden is into superheros these days and runs around in a cape and mask much of the time. Thankfully, his recent superhero power is helpfulness. He is growing up so fast and loves to spend time working with Ben and Dustin. Or just working in general, preferably outside in farm boots. He does well with Liam although he is not always as gentle as I would wish.

Willow is still the princess in the games. But a princess with super powers. She falls in love with one dress at a time and will refuse to wear anything but that dress until I manage to sneak it into the laundry without her knowledge. We went bowling for her 4th birthday and she loved it. She will sit with Liam sleeping on her lap for 30 minutes before she needs to move.

Liam is a darling boy. I think his favorite thing to do is nurse all day, every day. He sleeps pretty well; I have only had a handful of those exhausting and frustrating nights. (Quite the change after Willow, my little fireball.) When he wakes up from a nap he often opens his eyes and starts looking around. Twice now, I have gently said his name as he is laying awake and he smiles, turning his head to look for me. Melts my heart.

Parenting in this community style – two families in one house with 5 children ages 5, 4, 3, 1.5, and a newborn – is a challenge, to say the least. But it is also such a blessing. To have another young mother encourage me when I am having a hard time holding it all together is a gift I have not experienced very often since becoming a mom. I am thoroughly enjoying sharing life with Christy here on the farm.

Becoming. And a few recipes.

Life is much quieter now than it was even two weeks ago. Most of the American and Canadian crowd have gone home to their beautiful, blooming Springs. The two weeks of vacation time surrounding Easter that brought in Mexican tourists from all over has ended and the beaches are emptying. I can hear the waves pounding in, much like the waves we hear and that shake us all summer. The temperatures seem to slowly be creeping up and I keep reminding myself how much farther they will go before we get our first rain.

I am also in a quieting season. Lent, as hard as I tried to make it quiet down, never actually did. It was a bit raucous and exhausting with little glimpses of glory in the silence of a moment or the brevity of a prayer. If you have been following my last few posts you already know a bit of the journey I’ve been on: trying and learning to trust God with many different layered fears. Now I am at a place where I can slow the pace of life and recuperate a bit from the intensity of this learning curve and the pace of our high season. However, it has recently been made clear that I make plans but life doesn’t always follow them. So I am also trying to be flexible.

It’s funny how we get used to a certain pace of life. Ben and I have been looking at each other almost every afternoon and wondering what to do with our time. We don’t have roasting or baking or product orders or emails that need attention. But we haven’t been able to just settle right into the slow life that summer becomes. We look at each other and try to figure out how to fill our time. I am starting to remember the books on my shelf waiting to be read, the plants that need desperate attention, the painting I’ve been wanting to do. I could get my ginger bug going again, make some cheese, sit and color or play memory with the kids. We’ve started to take walks again and sit on our terrace with our coffee a little longer. It’s becoming a lovely pace of life. I feel like I am always becoming and not quite arriving; for the moment, becoming is a fine place to be.

Part of my slowing, unfortunately, has included meal planning which means at about 4 every afternoon I panic because we don’t have anything for dinner. I’ve heard that meals are proving difficult for many of you so for our families and our stress levels, here is a collection of simple meals and ideas.

Here is a crockpot soup that is so simple – I add a bit more flavor with garlic, salt and pepper, and greens or sauerkraut stirred in at the end. Ham and Bean Soup

The family favorite salad we eat almost every night is a simple tomato, cucumber, red onion, and feta salad – I let Ayden dice the cheese and veggies – sprinkle salt and pepper and it’s ready.

I’ve found that having salad dressings already made in the fridge is an easy way to stress less about dinner. Not that it really takes that much time to make a salad dressing but when the kids are hungry it’s hard to do anything, really. A popular one these days is a simple balsamic reduction with a little honey and fresh ground pepper – it doubles well as a dipping sauce for left over cold chicken.

Roast chicken is a staple at our house, not only for the meat but because the bone broth is so amazing and delicious! I usually just salt and pepper the chicken and throw it in the oven but sometimes I will stuff the cavity with used lemon rinds and sage leaves or garlic. I just made this Ricotta and Herb stuffed chicken which is not really a quick and easy process but it was delicious.

I am relying heavily on fermented veggies right now not only because we have been fighting colds but also because it’s just so easy to put a side dish on the table when all you have to do is pull a jar out of the fridge and open it. I made Nourished Kitchen’s Hot Pink Jalapeno Garlic Kraut and ginger carrots last week to go with our regular sauerkraut and lacto-fermented pickles.

I find that eggs and beans are the simplest go to meals. If I have beans or lentils cooked in the fridge it’s easy to make a pot of rice and put out some chopped carrots or jicama. Eggs I just can’t say enough about. They fit every category: breakfast, lunch, snack, dinner. Fried, scrambled, frittata, quiche, soft boiled, on salad, on stir fried vegetables… we go through about two and half dozen farm fresh eggs a week in our house.

And bacon, of course. Good quality bacon can be added to just about any dish, in my opinion. It provides flavor and excitement to eggs, salads, meatloaf, fried potatoes…

Another quick and easy recipe and I’ll stop, I promise. Can you tell I love food? Even if I do tend to forget about meals. Frequently. Lemony Greek Beef and Rice. Oh, and fish. Ben makes the best fish, fried in butter and coconut oil with tons of garlic and salt and pepper. Yum. Oh, and the easiest side dish: cut a cauliflower into four equal pieces, pour a little oil in a baking dish, sprinkle with salt and pepper, place cauliflower in dish, sprinkle more salt and pepper, cover with foil and bake 350 for about an hour. Delicious.

we made it

Now that we are home it seems we were gone for so much longer than three weeks! But here we are; we are so thankful to be back! The trip home was, in a word, miserable. From one of our bags ripping open on the way out the door, to finding out we had no seats on the last leg of our flight, to being sick with a stomach flu and throwing up in a garbage can of the Delta check-in area in the Mexico City airport, then being told I would not be allowed to board the plane (leaving in 35 minutes!) unless the airport doctor cleared me to fly… yes, it was miserable. Now Ben is suffering quietly through his 24 hour bug on the bed upstairs.

And it’s hot here, guys! Yes, I knew it would be but, man, I always forget just how hot it can be! I am freezing fruit to munch on and water bottles to drink and filling tubs with water from the hose for my hot kids! It is still relatively cool in the early morning and we sit around drinking coffee and enjoying the peace while we should probably be doing all the activities that requires any physical movement before the sun gets up!

Our trip to the States was great: family time with both sides, plenty of excellent beer, wine, and specialty cheeses,  hearing Willow mimic a whippoorwill in the night, sitting around a campfire laughing and watching fireflies, cheering Ayden on as he learned to trust and jump into uncles’ arms in the pool, a wedding planned and enjoyed.

I am making my plans for the summer and letting this house unfold around me. It’s so nice to be here without the cafe operating! We are thoroughly enjoying the luxury of the time we have now and quietly anticipating the secrets this slow summer with speak.

My beautiful sisters
My beautiful sisters