Wednesday, September 9, 2015

School has started. Some people love the start of the school year as it brings them back to routine, to schedules and plans and normalcy. Some people dread the start of the school year as it signals the end of the precious and limited "family time" that they so enjoyed over the summer. To some it brings sadness, some fear, some relief.

I'm not 100% clear on how it makes me feel. I feel a little excited for Gavin as he enters first grade and gets to know his new teacher a bit better, has the opportunity to develop new friendships with kids who were not in his class last year and further develop his existing friendships. He will begin reading again - we failed miserably at keeping up the reading this summer. That is all very exciting. 

At the same time, it's a reminder that we are another year closer to the kids becoming more independent and although I know this is the ultimate goal in raising children, I really struggle with the distant thought of them not being in my house, not needing me, not climbing into my bed each morning. I have a real fear of losing my sense of purpose, my reason to get up out of bed each day. 

On another plane, although the school year (really it's just the winter months) seem to be so chaotic and feel as though we are driving recklessly around a racetrack just trying to get to the finish line (the weekend) so we can breathe, I do crave the routine just a little. I love plans, checklists, being prepared. I love getting lunch bags and backpacks packed the night before and hung neatly by the front door. I love setting out clothes for the kids and laying them out with socks and underwear all ready to go. I love putting their shoes and coats by the door and having a breakfast plan and getting everyone out the door with a hot fresh cup of coffee in my hand. I love having a reason to get the kids in bed by 8:00 and I love that the kids aren't in the house everyday making lovely little messes (bless their messy, beautiful little souls!)  If I clean the house one evening, it's still clean when I come home from work the next day.

I wasn't nearly as anxious, sad, nervous, emotional WRECK, as I was last year or even the previous two years. I know Gavin is just starting first grade, but he has already attended three years of school - Preschool, Pre-k (4k), and Kindergarten. However, even though we was an ace with the whole school thing by last year, it was the first year this little heartbreaker rode the school bus, and man oh man, was that ever hard on me!  This year though, is his third year at this school, his second year of riding the school bus, and now he not only has one grade of kids younger than him at school, but two whole grades of kids younger than him, so that is fun that sometimes he IS the big kid on the block.

He sure is growing into a kind, smart, funny, witty, gentle, compassionate little man right before my eyes.

Not even the slightest hesitation as he boarded the school bus this year. Of course, he missed the first day of school because he was home with a stomach bug, but he was ready to go on day 2. 

...and the little lady of the house? I'll have to share about her tomorrow. Wow. 2 going on 15! 

Wednesday, August 26, 2015


We all have our faults, right? I mean, some people appear to be just perfect - they're athletic, beautiful, fantastic cooks, kind, thoughtful, they always send birthday cards on time, and mail you photos of a fun time you had together, and run in every tough and muddy race there is, and their kids love poetry and puppet shows, and...  but they can't be perfect in every way, can they?  I mean even Mary Poppins was only practically perfect!

Well, I know that perfection is not the goal. I know that people's lives are never perfect, no matter how they may look from the outside. I know that everyone has things they're not proud of. Me? I have lots of them. But I also have things I am proud of.

One thing that gets me over and over and over? I'm a quitter. Really and truly. I don't finish anything. I am a great starter! I start all kinds of things, come up with ideas, plans, strategies... I even gather supplies! I plan, plan, plan and then I quit. I don't intentionally quit. It just happens and then I realize that it's been four months since I've written a blog post and...   wait, this isn't about blogging. But... it kind of is. I take thousands of photos, hundreds and hundreds per month. I organize them on my external hard drive and then there they sit. Remember those commercials that showed the people in the computer screens trying to get out? Yep, that's my family, my kids. 

Gosh, it seems like I have written this post before. Well, I'm not going to say I'm back. However, I do  really miss writing. I miss blogging... even if it is just for me. So, we'll see...

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Mushrooms - Springtime Morel Hunting!

I'm so excited that spring has finally arrived and one of my favorite parts about spring is our early spring walks in the woods, discovering the magic of a woodland waking up again after a long sleep as the sun begins to warm it's branches, the soil, and the breeze. We recently spotted those first tiny lavender petals of Hepatica nodding on their furry stems...

I'm anticipating seeing the tall and eager Jack-in-the-Pulpit reaching for the trees...

and the Trillium, dotting the wooded hillsides with it's happy white faces.

...but what I am most excited about...

what I can almost taste already...

is these...

these delightful, delectable, complicated, evasive, nuggets of earthy goodness.

I just love mushrooms. I love mushrooms sauteed in butter, I love mushrooms deep fried, I love mushrooms sauteed and stewed. I love pan-fried onions and mushrooms on a steak, I love grilled mushroom kebabs, I love rich and creamy mushroom soup, I love mushrooms in butter and ranch dressing mix slow-cooked in the crock pot. I do NOT love raw mushrooms. I don't like them at all, really. But a good, rich, meaty pan-fried mushroom? Yummmmmmmm!

I typically use portobello mushrooms, or cremini / baby bellas (little baby portobello mushrooms). They're relatively inexpensive, easy to find, and delicious! In my very unprofessional, yet worthy opinion, they're more flavorful and rich than the standard white button mushroom and equally as easy to clean, use, understand, and cook with.

However, my real love? The elusive Morel. If I were to write about hunting and cooking Morels, this is what I would write:

and I just love the way Sylvia from Feasting at Home describes the Morel's elusiveness and apparent free-will:

If I were to buy a mushrooming book, this is probably what I would get for the area in which I live (Wisconsin), because of it's vibrant photos of both the yummy mushrooms and the poisonous look-alikes.

Morels can be tricky, tricky, tricky. They hide among the dry leaves and old bark on the forest floor. You scan and stare and scan and stare and look as hard as you can and you don't see them, and then you step on one!

Last spring we took Gavin and Addison Morel hunting with us. Gavin hunted on foot with me and Addi rode in the Ranger with Cliff and toddled around in the woods here and there while Cliff did his hunting maintenance up in the woods. Gavin and I looked and looked and looked. We looked around the old bare elms who had lost their bark. We looked in the damp green areas where all of the other mushrooms were growing. I think we counted about 26 different types of mushrooms along the way, but we never saw one single morel. We finally gave up as it was long past lunch time and Addi was falling asleep on the seat of the Ranger. On the way home we stopped at the farm to pick something up or drop something off and Gavin mentioned to Grandma what we had been up to. Gavin told Grandma all about what they look like and how they're so hard to find. Grandma walked us over to her flowerbed, right in her front yard, and there in the cedar mulch around her flowers, were three beautiful Morels! We snatched them up, took them home, and fried them in butter! Apparently a day or two prior, Grandma and Grandpa had pulled out a few bigger ones that had popped up and tossed them in the compost. Goodness, gracious! We didn't find any Morels in the wild of the woods, but we sure did have fun looking and noticing all the different kinds of mushrooms that were out there! We have so much fun exploring the wooded hills and valleys of our farm and surrounding lands!

 Yes, it really was this green in the woods. Everything was wet and the air was humid and we 
felt just like we were inside a greenhouse. 

When we got to the farm, Grandpa was out getting the newspaper, and Gavin joined him to walk him back to the house. Just a sweet and tender moment. 

and then... THIS of all places, is where we found our five little morels. 
Directly in front of that frog garden figure.


(photo source for flowers: