8.26.2014

Blueberries and MORE Blueberries! And some recipes.

To our utter delight, we have gallons and gallons - and more gallons - of blueberries in our chest freezer right now.

At our monthly chiropractic appointment a couple of times ago, Kathy offered to take us blueberry picking.  I jumped up and down and screamed with joy at the chance!








Bright and early one Saturday morning we headed to meet Kathy - trying to get the majority of our work done before it became too unbearably hot.  (We left G at home still asleep, with Lao Lao watching over him.)





There were rows and rows of big, beautiful blueberry bushes to pick from.

These bushes had already been mechanically picked and anything left was just going to go to waste.



























There were SO many blueberries left behind...and so many green-red ones that weren't even yet ready to be picked.  If I was the owner, all these left on the bushes would haunt me.  I know you'd just have to get used to the fact that you can't get them all...but that would be so hard for me!


We love blueberries...but they are just so expensive that we don't have them very often at all.  Maybe about twice a year I will break down and buy the bag of frozen blueberries instead of the bag of strawberries or assorted fruit that we put in our smoothies.  But the 3 lb bag of blueberries costs MORE than the 4 lb bag of the other fruit....and that math just hurts!


Hence, we were excited to pick blueberries and have LOTS to enjoy!




Elisabeth took all these candid pictures that follow - I'm sure she was just wanting to document our trip, not trying to get out of work  ; )
















This was the best picture E captured of me that morning.  No, you can't see much of me.  Exactly.







We ended up bagging and freezing 9 gallons of blueberries that night.  And who KNOWS how many blueberries we ate that never even made it to the bags!































And it is such a good thing that we went ahead and finished all the bagging that night (it took hours!)...because the very next morning we got the call that Miss Priss was on her way...and we had to get on our way to get her!!!



Here is what we've been doing with all those yummy blueberries:



Perhaps our favorite way to eat the blueberries is just straight up.  This is a daily scene at our house since our berry picking trip....the kiddos plopped down right on the kitchen floor (for some reason blueberry-eating can't be done at the kitchen table???):




























But feeling like I have been given such a precious gift and need to be a good steward of it and find other fabulous ways to use these blueberries, we've been trying other recipes.



We liked the blueberry banana fruit leather




























He **is** smiling



And we've added blueberries to some of our regular standby recipes...making blueberry pancakes and blueberry muffins.  Yummy!


We also recently had a church-wide fellowship at church, and Elisabeth used some of the blueberries to make our recent favorite Lemon Berry Skillet Cake.


I also got brave one morning and made this fabulous fail-proof fruit custard for us.  Good!

And when our "Walker Boys" came over to eat recently, we made this yummy blueberry cobbler.  Really liked it!




And all of this was GAPS-friendly...bonus!




Another bonus - in addition to the ton of beautiful berries we got that morning - when we were done picking, Kathy walked the children down the little lane....





....to meet the pony and goat.










It was just a great way to end an already great morning.  Thank you so much for inviting us, Kathy!  Anytime you want company while you pick...you know who to call!




8.22.2014

Nai Nai's Working Vacation

Jason's mom, Linda, (better known around these parts as "NaiNai", which means "paternal grandmother" in Chinese) left to fly home to Colorado a week and a half ago.

I'm still in mourning.

I've never been able to relate when people complain about their mother-in-law.  I've always really appreciated Linda.  And I happen to love what she did with her first-born!

Linda is great with the children...and very helpful.  She just jumps right in, whether it is diaper-changes, feeding, baths, etc.  When she sees something/anything that needs to be done, she dives in - including dishes, laundry, etc.  That is my kind of house guest!!!





Abigail is Linda's 12th grandchild.  The other six live very close to her in Colorado.  To mine and Jason's way of thinking, it is way past time for Linda to move HERE, so we can have equal time with her!  Those other kids and grandkids have had more than their fair share of granny!




We graciously offered to sell her our house in town (no, grrrrr, we still have not sold it...but more on that soon).  But that is several miles away, and we'd really love to have her even closer than that, so we offered that we could get her set up in a precious cottage back in the far corner of the garden.  We'll see...I'm not giving up hope!





While Abigail was ostensibly the reason for Linda's visit....we took full advantage of the opportunity to get other much-needed projects worked on.


We ended up painting everything in the house before we moved in last year...except for the family room and hallway.  They looked ok (not great, but ok), and we were ready to be IN the house already!  

Jas bought five gallons of paint several months ago for us to get that painting done....and it has been sitting there ever since.

But before we could get started painting in the hallway, we needed to address the places where the paint had begun to peel.

And address we did.  This is SO WEIRD!

Check out this paint, it doesn't flake off...it peels off in sheets...



....sometimes HUGE sheets.




So when Linda wasn't feeding/cuddling/bathing grandchildren...you could find her working away in the hall.










Linda is a woman on a mission when there is work to be done...so glad she's on our team!




Besides the fact that we always set Linda working while she's here, a couple of other factors may make it hard for us to talk her into moving here.  

First, we live in The Deep South.  And she was here in August.  Put those two things together, and you have heat index well over 100 degrees while she was here.  Not exactly what that Colorado lady is used to...and she almost melted.


Second, snakes.  We have snakes around our homestead here.  Jas spotted one out our family room window (where we all were hanging out at the moment).  He went hopping over children and tearing to the back of the house...and came running back out with a gun.  




(Don't read this next paragraph if you're the squeamish sort)
The snake was climbing through a bush when he got out there...and he shot it out of the bush.  Right in half.  And when the front half kept crawling and he poked at it and it bit. at. his. gun. (oh yes it did), he then shot it in the head. That finally did it in.

contemplating the two parts of the snake



G has talked about this numerous times since then.



Why is G only wearing a diaper...and boots?  See the above-mentioned temps around here.



But work, and critters and heat aside....




...we have much to offer Linda down here.




We are formally requesting a Granny-sharing arrangement be implemented immediately...




...and Nai Nai come live down here with us!

And amen.



8.21.2014

Abigail is 6 Weeks Old





Our little missy is 6 weeks old now.











It is flying by.  Having been a mom for 10 years now, I know (pointing to head) that the time flies...so why is it a surprise that it is happening again with this precious bundle?





It feels as if she's always been here.




Did our little family ever **not** include this littlest sissy?  It's hard to remember.

Hindsight is always 20/20, but during those months of working on paperwork (that turned into a year and a half, ahem), I never could have imagined anything as perfect as this little bit.  It blows my mind.  She is supposed to be here.  The Lord always knew that she would find her forever home with us.  He takes the hard things of this world, the "bad" things, the broken things...and He works them for good for those who love Him.  He ordained before the beginning of time that we would have the privilege of parenting her.  That our kiddos would get to be her big sisters and big brothers (and be great ones at that).  That she was a SHE, even when we thought our next treasure would be a HE!




We are having so much fun with her being a SHE!  This picture is one case in point:  her onesie in this picture says: "this is my little black dress", big headwrap with flower and huge rhinestone in the middle, polka-dotted pants (with an adorable ruffle on her bottom that is not visible), and zebra print/pink ruffled shoe/socks






"Little" Miss is not so little anymore...hovering right at 10 pounds now (she was 9lb 13 oz at last appt, which was a week ago, so she is very likely over 10 pounds now).





As her papa (my dad) put it nicely the other day, "She hasn't missed any meals since she came home!"  Ummm, no she hasn't.  She makes quite the "pig-hogger" out of herself daily (the very expressive term LK coined last year).  About the only time Miss Abigail will really cry is when she is hungry...and is ready to eat NOW!




When we went to the library yesterday, our favorite librarian, Mrs. B (a wonderful African American woman) - after she got a peak at the snoozing Miss A in her car seat - said "Ooooh, she's getting fat!"  I take that exactly as Mrs. B meant it: a compliment.  Abigail is thriving on her homemade formula, and I love it!  I love the rolls on her neck.  And her thighs?  So scrumptious!


We are having fun with her.  The kiddos are enthralled with her.  Noah says over and over, "She is just so precious!"


As these pictures show, Abigail has begun smiling.  She began at about 3.5 weeks.  That seemed so early to me that I wasn't sure at first, but at 3.5 weeks we knew for sure.   Here is the first official picture we caught of her smiling:


Picture 5 or 6 of us practically standing on our heads to get that smile...and you'll have it about right.  But we were rewarded for our efforts...she was tickled.

The picture is not great....I took it with my phone.  I suppose that is one of the downfalls of being a baby these days:  many of your pics will be taken with phones instead of actual cameras.


Here is another phone pic I took:





Missy is multi-tasking: smiling and drinking at the same time.  She does this often - has to stop drinking because she is smiling so big!  It is adorable!  I was specifically trying to catch a picture of it here.



My kiddos love using my phone to snap her picture.  I never know what I'll find on my phone when I pick it up.  Here are some of the cutest...and I have no idea who took these:












Miss Priss just goes where ever we go in the house during the day.  We love the bassinet that Dr. Kathy gave us...I don't know what we'd do without it.  She sleeps in it in the master bedroom at night, and then we wheel it out to the family room (or kitchen) during the day.




She just snoozes away, right there in the middle of all the chaos of us.


Abigail has started being awake more during the day, so sometimes she just hangs out with us while we're doing school:


See her in the lower right of the picture?  She looks like a baby doll, doesn't she?




Or she hangs out with me while I'm working during the children's afternoon rest-time:








The children love to hold and snuggle her.



D isn't asleep, just having a "moment" with A























And Abigail loves to cuddle with them!












One thing Abigail is not too crazy about is her baths. 





But once we're done and laying down and getting her lotioned up, she calms down quickly.



When pulled to straighten it out, Abigail's hair is over an inch long.  We haven't needed to start "doing" anything to it yet, according to this great site.  But I am beginning to read lots more on the site, gearing up for doing HAIR!







I get asked a lot how Mr. G feels about Abigail.

Truthfully - happily - he loves her.  He hasn't shown one iota of jealousy.  (Don't get me wrong - he's a rascal about plenty of other things...but she isn't one of them.)







He asks multiple times a day to hold her.  






At first he called her "Ahgail".  



But about a week ago, all on his own, he began enunciating very carefully: "Ah-Bih-Gail!"


Cute, but sad at the same time.




Abigail likes G (and the rest of her siblings) right back!




Gabriel always wants to help with Abigail (not that he always gets to)...from feeding her...




...to supervising diaper changes:




The kiddos are very concerned about A's outie belly button (it is actually bigger now than in this picture).  The doc says there is nothing to be concerned about...but they're not buying it.  



Abigail got to bond and spend loads of quality time with Nai Nai during her recent visit.  



Nai Nai flew here from Colorado to meet her newest grandtreasure (her 12th).  





While Nai Nai was here, we had Abigail's dedication at church.



It was wonderful and beautiful...



...and she'll have to take our word for it, because she slept/ate her way through the whole thing.





Sissy had her days and nights backwards for a while at first.  She would snooze away during the day, sleeping for sometimes FIVE hour stretches.  I would just let her sleep, and be amazed that she could/would go that long.  But then....she'd be awake eating like a mad woman during the middle of the night:  It wasn't unusual to be awake for 2-3 hour windows, with her just eating, going to the bathroom, eating more, going to the bathroom more, eating more...

I finally (duh, Joli) realized that I needed to feed her every 3 hours during the day, whether she woke up on her own or not.  That has helped tremendously...and now it is all going much better (read:  we're all getting more sleep during the night!).


Abigail is settling into a routine.  A typical day looks like this...

6:30 or 7 a.m - drink a bottle

11:00 a.m. - bottle

2:00 p.m. - bottle

5:00 p.m. - bottle

8:30 p.m. - bottle

2:00 a.m. - bottle

She is taking about 5 ounces at a time now...so that equals about 30 ounces in a 24-hour period.  

She will be awake for a little bit here and there....but really not very much yet.  

The above routine looks good now that I look back at it.  But wow, has the sleep part (or not sleeping part, actually) been painful.  Is it ok to say that out loud?  

I apparently blocked out this part with G...I don't remember the sleep deprivation being this hard.  But I was breastfeeding him, and I know he was waking up more than that during the night and I know it had to have been just as hard and probably worse....and I apparently blocked all that out.  And that makes me very hopeful that I will block all of this out in the future and only remember happy, well-rested thoughts about A's infancy! 


Because this won't last long....



...and I want to treasure it all!



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