Thursday, September 30, 2010

Move the Antenna 30* degrees

Alas my mountain of laundry STILL awaits!  It also grew larger and I believe is taking on a life of its own.  It is really impressive actually.  I am wondering if anyone will be able to find clothes to wear tomorrow morning as practically every stitch of clothing is buried somewhere in the mountain. I must make this a top priority tomorrow.  I had every intention of getting it done today but every time I headed for the mountain, something came up.  I mean I need a good dedicated 2 hours to get that much laundry folded. It is going to take at least one episode of Grey's Anatomy plus an episode of Private Practice before I can call that chore finished.  I just didn't have a dedicated block of time that big today.  I did however manage to get to the store and finally get all the shopping done.  My list was so large I actually had to type it up so I was sure not to miss anything.  I had everything arranged in the order of the store so I wouldn't spend half the day in the store criss-crossing back and forth. My kids were especially glad to see me when I got home and they all helped to put everything away.  You would have thought they were all starving.  "YOU GOT YOGURT!" "YOU GOT CHEESE!" "YOU REMEMBERED BANANAS!!!!" "YOU GOT TOOTHPASTE!"  I didn't know that all I had to do was delay shopping for about 3 solid weeks and then just by the mere act of shopping, my status would be elevated to super hero.  I might have to pull that one again.  I was ever so appreciated today!  I also helped Mr. Yesteryear Acres align the roof TV antenna.  Evidently it was all askew from the last wind storm so it had to be re-positioned. Now I am sure you are thinking that I am again, a super hero - climbing up on the roof and adjusting the antenna and basically just amazing - but no - that wasn't exactly how the job got accomplished.  Mr. Yesteryear Acres THINKS he told me just how the antenna needed to be positioned in relation to the chimney.  I heard a lot of "blah blah blah" but he believes he told me the exact angle in relation to the neighbors, the wind, the compass direction, moving it exactly 30* degrees, the chimney etc.  Any way I thought I had the position of the antenna down just right and told Mr. Yesteryear Acres he had it perfect. Ummmmm well....evidently I was WRONG.  I was so wrong in fact that Mr. Yesteryear Acres drew 2 pictures for me on index cards.  One was a picture that was the exact replica of what the antenna looked like at that moment.  He wrote OMG WRONG! and a sad face.  The other one was a picture of which direction he wanted the antenna to face, with YES! and he drew a big happy face on the card.  Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.  Why didn't he just give me the love note/antenna instructions in the first place? After all of that work - we still couldn't get ABC on our TV.  I might have said something like that is why we have DirecTV - but I don't think Mr. Yesteryear Acres appreciated my input.  He wanted to get the digital feed of the local channels in case of a tornado, hailstorm, hurricane or some other natural disaster.   Hey - NBC still works. What else do you need? Tonight I am thinking Mr. Yesteryear Acres will be very very sleeeeeeepy and I will wait until exactly 12:00:00 to yell "HAPPY OCTOBER FIRST!" That will be sure to make him smile.  He just loves me!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Doing All the Things I Don't Want to Do

Can you even believe that tomorrow is the very last day of September?  I mean how in the world can the month of September be gone already?  I don't know where the time went. October means pumpkins, and fall leaves, and apple cider, and sweaters, and hot chocolate, and ... and ... and ... no more summer! I had about a million things to get done before summer was over - so today I decided to have a "Let's do allllll the things I don't want to do" morning. It started with......the bills.  I mean, who likes paying bills? Who likes balancing checkbooks?  Who likes watching hard earned money disappear in an instant?  I am serious - with online banking and bill pay - it really is gone in an instant! I had a pile of bills stacked quite high and somehow managed to get through the entire pile.  Today marks the official end of paying for my hospital bills from my heart attack last year.  I sent the last check out today. UGH!  Talk about depressing. I don't really enjoy PAYING money to remember that day.  I did it though.  Every last bill.  All the end of the month bills and all the medical bills and school fees and feed store bills - done.  My inbox looks amazing.  I felt quite happy when I finally got through everything. The minute I was done I ran to tell Mr. Yesteryear Acres about my morning's accomplishments and what do you think he did? Do you think he gave me a nice pat on the back or a "job well done" speech? Nope. Mr. Yesteryear Acres said now that I got all of that done, I should go ahead and call my cardiologist.  What the heck.  I mean I just finished PAYING for all that heart attack business and I didn't even get five minutes to relish the glory of being done with it. Confidentially, I was supposed to make my "one year recovery" appointment with the cardiologist in August but I just didn't want to.  I really don't want to go back to the doctor. I don't want to sit in the waiting room, I don't want to be reminded about that day and I don't want to go back and talk about the heart attack and the medication and all of that BUT Mr. Yesteryear Acres came up with some long story about how he loves me and wants me to hang around so he doesn't have to clean up all the puppy poop by himself. He is so romantic isn't he? So Mr. Yesteryear Acres stood there and waited for me to call to make my appointment. Of course they answered right away and they were so accommodating. Grrrrr!  They were ultra friendly and said things like "oh we need to see you right away - we will get you right in". UGH.  So now I have to go for a full chemical nuclear stress test the second week of October.  I have to have an IV and everything.  I have to be there for six hours! I know. I know.  I already heard how I should be grateful that I am well enough to go and blah blah blah but I DON'T WANT TO. I don't like IV's.  I don't like chemical drips.  I don't like any of it. BUT when that day comes, I WILL go. And I will even be pleasant and cheery and nice to everyone there and I will do allllll the things they say to do. I won't even complain as I already whined enough today but honestly, it is one of the things I do not want to do.  The rest of the day was spent cleaning - which again HELLO - who likes to clean?  Mr. Yesteryear Acres and I put away all the canning supplies. I think he made about 100 trips up and down the stairs.  We also put away the summer lounge cushions, floats for the pond and other end of the summer type supplies. We cleaned and vacuumed and got the room off the kitchen all nice and tidy. We then set up a new puppy box in there so that Belle's puppies could have more room.  With 14 pups - the other box was a bit crowded so now we have them split up and they have tons more space to play.  They look pretty darn happy and pleased with the new living arrangement. After all is said and done, even though today was a day spent doing things I didn't really want to do - I am glad I got it all done. It feels good to finally cross those things off of the list.  Who knows - maybe tomorrow I will have time to tackle my laundry mountain in the living room!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

As happy as your least happy child

Have you ever heard the saying that a mother can only be as happy as her saddest child? It is a true statement.  No mother can feel true happiness if one of her children is suffering in any way.  If my children are sad - I am sad. I am sure all moms/dads feel the same way about their own children. We are all connected and our own happiness can never be greater than the happiness and well being of our children. I also feel this way about my business. One of the hardest things about raising live beautiful four-legged creatures is that sometimes - things go wrong.  Animals get sick despite all our best efforts.  It is the absolute worst and most difficult aspect in raising puppies. Luckily, it doesn't happen often - but when it does, it totally fills me with complete sadness. Sometimes I have a puppy that gets sick here.  I worry about the puppy every minute of every day.  I stay up all night with the puppy around the clock.  I do everything I absolutely can to try and get the puppy well. In over 15+ years of raising puppies we have had 4 very sick puppies. I worried for them as I would worry for my own children. I felt physically ill from worrying and I suppose if I felt any differently, than I shouldn't be the type of person that raises puppies.  I love my puppies.  I love their squishy faces. I love the way they look at you with unconditional love.  I love how puppies make you feel like all is right with the world. To me, puppies are just the purest sense of love. Right now I have a sick puppy that has already left here to live with its new family. I feel horrible. I know that puppy family doesn't really know me and they are suffering because their puppy is sick, and they are worrying because their puppy is sick and I am sure they are just about as unhappy with me as they have ever been with anyone. I take that sorrow so very personally. I just wish they would know that if I could have one wish - my wish would be that the puppy would be healthy right this instant. Puppies are like little kids.  They can be absolutely fine one minute and then they can get sick - just like that. Raising little puppies for a living can be really tough emotionally.  It isn't like having a business where you sell toasters or blenders and if the toaster breaks, you can just replace it.  No one really gets upset with the toaster business because they can just get a new toaster and there is no emotional attachment or deep love for the toaster.  Raising puppies is much more involved. I have a serious and deep commitment to making sure my puppies are healthy, happy and well loved.  When things go wrong, all types of emotions are involved, and most of those emotions are full of heartbreak. All I can do is say, I am so sorry. What can I do to help? How can I make things better for you?   I am not one to pretend that bad things never happen.  I am not one to lie and say every one of our puppies is perfect. Once in a while, puppies do get sick. It happens. I am however the type of person that cares, that feels genuine and true sorrow when something does go wrong, that loves her puppies, that works hard to make sure these kind of things rarely happen and will do the right thing for her puppies no matter what happens. I once read that the measure of a good breeder is not what she does when her puppies are well, but what she does when things go wrong. I am here for every one of my puppies.  Today, Tomorrow, and every day after that. Hopefully that is enough to weather the storms that pass by once in a great while.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Good Ole Dinner Time

Each day we try to share with each other what our favorite thing of the day is. Some days we have to work really hard to come up with something good and other days it is hard to narrow down our favorite thing because the day was just that good. Many times however our favorite thing of the day ends up being dinner time.  We used to write down everybody's favorite thing of the day in a book.  Each night we would go around and ask each other what was the best thing of the day and then keep a journal.  After we wrote in our journal for about a year, we noticed a trend in good ole dinner time being consistently chosen as the best thing of the day. Sometimes dinner is chosen because the meal is that outstanding. Other times dinner is chosen because the company couldn't be better. The biggest reason we choose dinner - is well - because it is just fun.  We never have a dinner without laughter. We never have a dinner without sharing something interesting.  We have never have dinners with TV, radio, texting, emails or distractions.  We have dinner with family, with fun, with smiles, with sharing, with good food, with good stories and good memories. You know - dinner time the way it is supposed to be done.  One of my very favorite "jobs" is cooking dinner.  I really love cooking.  I love making something delicious and I love making other people happy with my food. I also love that my cooking is most appreciated.  Dinner time is a priority here and we all like it that way.  In the summer months, dinner time often is served super late at night.  Mr. Yesteryear Acres does not even think about eating dinner while the sun is still shining. He uses every drop of sunshine every day. Now that Autumn is upon us, dinner time will start much earlier as the lovely Sunshine goes to bed at a decent time. I think that secretly - shorter days might be my very favorite part of fall/winter.  It is nice to have dinner at a normal dinner hour. It just makes everyone's favorite part of the day happen that much sooner and once your favorite part of the day is here - you might as well keep it going for the rest of the night.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Finally PICTURE DAY!!!!

After having our lives in a bit of an upheaval these past 2 weeks, I think things are getting back on track.  My older daughter made it home and yesterday we all spent the entire day at my neighbor's house.  It was a big step towards the healing process and being together really helped.  My older daughter had to go back to the Naval Academy at noon today so our time was short - but we packed a lot of love into the short stay. I feel like things are moving forward now and today I actually got things accomplished on my list. Most important thing that I crossed of the list - I finally got alllllll the puppy pictures done today. YEA!  My younger daughter is feeling better and she is my very best camera puppy picture assistant and I feel so relieved to get the pictures all done.  I hate not having them done on time. It bothers me so much because I feel the weight of letting people down and I hate to let people down. The sun was not so cooperative today and it was actually a bit chilly outside but the puppies had a blast playing with us and it was a fun afternoon.  I have 2 super red puppies but without the sun, they look dark apricot - but it is still easy to see how cute they all are.  Belle's 14 babies are all doing SUPER!  They are so beautiful and I think I got some really cute pictures of the bunch.  I must admit even though it might seem like I am ALL powerful and was able to change a GIRL puppy to a BOY puppy........I am actually someone who counted the same girl twice and thought I had 7 girls and 7 boys in Belle's litter.  With 14 puppies all squirming around it was actually an easy mistake to make.  Belle's puppies can fill your lap and then some!!!  So now that I had my bestest assistant and we had the puppies all sorted and posed for their glamour shots today - I realize that in fact we have 8 boys and 6 girls.  Oops!  Belle's puppies have amazing coats and some are so silky and wavy, they actually look like goldendoodle puppies.  My daughter and I also got all the puppies' nails trimmed. It was nice to spend the day with so many kissing sweet babies! Lots of puppy breath today!!! Now we are off to make a delicious yogurt parfait for dinner.  For the puppies of course!  We humans are having leftovers. If I am lucky - I will be done just in time for the Amazing Race! Yea Sunday!!!!!!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Cardboard Box

When my kids were little, they were the kind of kids that would be equally, if not more interested, in the box a gift came in rather than the gift itself.  Nothing was more fun than a great big box.  One day the box would be a ship, the next a fort, followed by an igloo or treasure chest or any number of things.  Cardboard boxes were decorated with paint, crayons and markers. Secret clubhouses were created along with magical worlds and castles and it was always a sad day when the boxes became so ragged that they had to join the trash pile. Whenever gifts came with bubble wrap - well - that was a bonus as that meant at least an hour or two of pure happiness and enjoyment.  Sometimes they would pop each individual bubble slowly and methodically and other times it was a full out popping festival complete with jumping and twisting the bubble wrap until every last bubble was popped. The package wrappings and boxes were their favorite things for many years and then like most children, what was inside the packages began to hold their fascination more than the plain wrappings they came in........or so I thought. Yesterday Mr. Yesteryear Acres and I received a very kind gift in the mail. It really brightened our entire day and was just the most thoughtful gift.  Our gift arrived in a big styrofoam cooler and was packed in dry ice. All 3 of my kids thought the gift was wonderful and were definitely appreciative but when they saw the DRY ICE.....well that is when the excitement really began. Our entire evening last night was spent watching our 3 kids come up with different experiments with dry ice. Did you know that if you add dry ice to dishwashing soap, you can create the most interesting bubbles you have ever seen? And if you clap the bubbles in your hand, they turn to smoke. It was actually really fun and to see the joy on my kids' faces was just priceless.  They performed a number of interesting science experiments with the dry ice but their favorite by far was the grand finale.  They put dry ice and water into an empty water bottle and closed the lid tightly and then set it down OUTSIDE FAR AWAY FROM EVERYTHING AND EVERYBODY.  Then we waited at a safe distance. Did you know that when a water bottle explodes - it is REALLY LOUD?!!  When the first one exploded we all jumped a mile high and then fell down laughing.  It was very impressive. We repeated that experiment several times. We ended the evening using a very thick litre container. It took almost 20 minutes for the gas to explode and WOW that was so loud it shook the earth. My son got the biggest kick out of the evening. He decided at that very moment he would follow in my daughter's footsteps and major in chemistry. He said he couldn't imagine anything more fun than blowing things up.  I guess now I will have two chemists in the family. When my daughter comes home over the Thanksgiving Holiday, she and my son have already drafted the secret "AA BOMB".  So if anyone hears a nuclear type explosion out in the fields around our home, please don't be alarmed.  It is merely young chemists hard at work.

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Dash In Between

Have you ever listened to words that were so moving, you felt the words go straight to your soul? Something so meaningful that you know you will carry it with you forever? I heard those words today at the funeral for my dear friend. The minister talked about the dates on your tombstone.  The beginning date and the end date.  Everyone looks at those two dates.  We know when that person was born and when exactly that person died.  She said that those two dates were not nearly as important as the dash in between. The dash in between is what you did to make a difference in this world. The dash represents who you are, what you did with your life, what you left behind and how your life will be remembered. Too many people waste that dash. They get caught up in life's busy little things and forget about the big picture. They don't stop to think about how each day brings something special, or they forget to tell the people they love how much they mean to them, or they forget to try to give something back to the world to try to make it a better place. Every day is a chance to make your dash meaningful. Some people get long dashes. Some people get dashes that are way too short. You never know what kind of dash you will be given in life and no dash should ever be taken for granted. On the way home from the funeral, Mr. Yesteryear Acres said that life's perfect recipe is using a dash of goodness, a dash of kindness, a dash of honesty, a dash of love, a dash of optimism, a dash of faith and to make sure to mix all those dashes together and carry them in your heart every single day. I will be sure to follow Mr. Yesteryear Acres' recipe and to follow Paul's example and fill my dash with all the goodness I can. I choose to do good and to be good and to remember to always be thankful for my many many blessings.  Paul's dash was very full. What recipe of life will be inside your dash?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Long Line of Love

Today was the visitation for my dear neighbor Paul.  If there was any doubt as to what a truly special and wonderful individual he was - one only had to look at the line of people waiting to pay their respects.  The line wrapped around the funeral home and went out the door. Paul's family had 2 visitations today - and both the afternoon visitation and the evening visitation were equally full of people waiting to show their love.  We arrived at the funeral home shortly after the visitation began and stood in line for 2 hours before we were able to pay our respects.  There were that many people in line before us - and just as many people in line after us.  Paul touched so many people's lives and I don't think there was a dry eye in the house.  As we walked in line through the funeral home, there were pictures of Paul and his family everywhere. We got to see Paul as a young boy, a newly engaged man, a just married groom, a brand new father, a brand new grandfather and all the moments in between.  There was a lovely video slideshow of more photos and each one brought a fresh tear and a heartwarming smile. It was incredibly moving to see the photo timeline unwind the memories and special moments in Paul's life. No matter what age Paul was or how many people were in the photo with Paul, you could always pick him out because he was always the one with the smile that would light up a room. In a room full of people that all loved Paul, I could feel how rewarding it is to live a life that is full of optimism, good intentions, hard work and to live by the golden rule. Paul treated everyone with the kindest heart I know. To follow the example that Paul left behind is to live each day with thanks to God, thanks to family, thanks to friends, thanks for the beautiful and bountiful harvest, and to give thanks for all the blessings bestowed upon you. I believe we would all do well to follow in Paul's footsteps.  I try each and every day to live with the same enthusiasm and appreciation for life that Paul had. I know that Paul was up in heaven today, waving at all of us as he drove by in his gator, picking up golf balls, feeling the breeze in his hair, grateful to have lived a life so well loved. I can see his bright beautiful smile every time I close my eyes and in his smile, I know that he will live inside my heart forever.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Call of the Wild

Every Wednesday at exactly 12 noon, the sirens for the county's tornado warning system go off.  Our country runs weekly tests on the emergency warning system to make sure everything is operational.  Long before my human ears can actually hear the sirens  - my dearest doggies are already answering the call of the wild.  My dogs mistakenly believe that the tornado warning sirens are in fact their long lost ancestors calling them.  Being the ever so polite doggies that they are - they answer right back.  All of them answer. Most of my doggies do the long drawn out wailing: HALLLLLOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! How are YOUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU?  A few throw in a staccato answer: "YEP! YEP! YEP! YEP! WHAT. IS. UP? This goes on for the entire duration of the siren call. Today we were hit with HUGE storms.  A big cell of thunderstorms and tornadoes headed straight for our county.  My son had his Home Meet for his Cross Country today and Mr. Yesteryear Acres actually finished all his work early just so he could go watch our son run.  My son was super excited to see us both at his meet.  Literally seconds before the starter gun went off, the tornado sirens started.  The meet was cancelled and we barely made it home before getting hammered by the storm. My doggies, being the thoughtful good citizens that they are, had been diligently warning every one within ear shot of the incoming storm.  Even after we let them know that YES, we could actually hear the sirens ourselves, they continued their song of the wild. They were quite proud too.  Heads thrown all the way back and noses straight up to the sky, "IT IS WIIIIIIIIIIIIINDY!!!!!!!!"  "IT MIGHT RAIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIN" "HALLOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO" "IT IS A RATHER BLUSTERY DAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY!"  I am sure my entire county thanks them for their vital assistance in getting the message across that there could  be the slightest chance of impending doom. I believe my doggies are much more enthusiastic and skilled at sending warning messages that the county is and the county could just stop the official siren business all together.  I feel confident that my doggies would never let the dear citizens of our county down. They will faithfully announce any weather system - day or night. Now that the storm has passed, my doggies are all sound asleep.  All that hard work just knocked them out.  It is a very hard job to be such a good watch dog. I am sure they are all dreaming about how excited they will be when next Wednesday rolls around. " is NOOOOOOOOOOOON!" 

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Coupons of Love

This morning I kind of dreaded opening up the newspaper.  It isn't like I don't already know that my dear friend has died, but somehow seeing it right there in the paper in black and white just feels so oppressively heavy and overwhelmingly sad.  The tribute in the obituary was beautiful and they had the best picture of Paul.  Just how he looks with his big bright smile on his face.  Sometimes people submit pictures from way back in the day - but I was so glad to see Paul just how I think of him. He was always smiling and always grateful.  I doubt he complained about anything his whole long life.  I am keeping a copy of his obituary to save forever. Even if you never knew Paul - if you saw his obituary- you could easily see he led a life well-lived. Mr. Yesteryear Acres and I racked our brains this morning as we just didn't know what to send his wife Wilma to share our sympathy.  I know that she will be swimming in flowers. Paul was loved by everyone so I imagine the flowers she will receive will fill her house.  Wilma will be surrounded by a sea of fragrant kindnesses from all the people who loved Paul. We thought about planting a bush or lavender flower garden or something like that but didn't want to bother her with the decision as to where she would like it planted.  We thought maybe we could do that in the spring sometime.  We thought about contributing to her beloved church - but every idea we came up with seemed to fall short in showing just how much Paul meant to us.  No flower or contribution or memorial type offering seemed to be worthy enough to express the depths of our love for Paul.  Finally Mr. Yesteryear Acres thought of giving Wilma some homemade coupons from us.  We cut each one out and came up with more than 2 dozen coupons for her. We have ones like "Good for One Handyman Service Call", "Good for Help Canning your Vegetables", "Good for One Snow Removal", "Good for Help Getting your Furnace Started for Winter" and things like that. We put a couple extra coupons in for mowing her lawn as they keep about 10 acres neatly mowed. Mr. Yesteryear Acres delivered our coupon package to her house this afternoon. I hope Wilma will use every single coupon.  I think each time she uses one, I will secretly replace it so that she never runs out. Paul's funeral service is this Friday morning. My older daughter could not get leave granted in order to be home in time for the funeral, but thankfully her leave for Friday evening was approved.  She will be home Friday in time for a late dinner. She has to go back to the Naval Academy Sunday at noon so the two of us will go see Wilma on Saturday.  My younger daughter and son will be missing school Friday and will join Mr. Yesteryear and I as we all say our good-byes to Paul. I will be bringing a big box of tissues in my purse.  I know I will need every single one.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Blah and Blue

Today was actually kind of a blah day.  We woke up with puffy eyes from all the crying we did the night before. We all looked pretty horrible. The very first thought I had when I woke up this morning, was that Paul was gone. I think just about every minute of the whole day that thought never left my mind.  My kids are just devastated. This is the first true loss they have ever known. They are having a hard time saying good-bye to their adopted grandpa. It has been a long emotionally sad day for all of us. I have a list of "must do" things a mile long and after today, I have a list of "must do" things a mile long.  Not much got accomplished today.  Today was a day spent in mourning. I imagine the whole week will be very tough.  My older daughter is trying to get an emergency leave granted so that she can come home this weekend to pay her respects. I hope that she can come home.  I think it will help with the healing process. Despite the shadow of sadness hanging over us today, some good things did happen.  My younger daughter actually ate her very first meal since getting so sick last Monday.  For her dinner, I made a 2 egg omelet with just a little bit of diced fresh yellow tomato and she ate the entire thing.  I know her body is desperately needing nourishment and I was SO happy to see her plate empty! I think this will really help her feel better.  Mr. Yesteryear Acres and I also got our beets cooked, peeled, sliced and put away for the winter. Just slicing the beets and getting that done actually felt really good.  Beets were Paul's absolute favorite vegetable and it felt fitting to get our beets done today.  I could feel Paul smiling down on me as I peeled each beet.  I also spent a little time today playing outside with the puppies.  I can tell you that there is no greater comfort that a lap full of happy, kissing, tail-wagging, little puppies to make you feel better. They seem to intuitively know when you need an extra hug.  Mr. Yesteryear Acres spent the entire day caring for our doggies. I think he needed some extra doggie hugs and our dogs were only too obliging to deliver all the extra TLC he needed.  I caught him a couple of times just sitting down on the ground surrounded with love by his doggies. They say time heals all wounds, and I suppose that is true, but I am quite certain that unconditional puppy and doggie love coupled with the deep devotion and support of a loving family help the most. We are lucky to have each other and lots of furry bundles of love to help heal ours.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

A Real Life Living Angel was Lost Today

My dearest friend, wonderful neighbor, and loving adopted grandpa to my children died today. If I were to write all the words that I possess in my heart to describe how truly special and kind he was, I would write until the end of time. My dearest friend Paul was the most optimistic, friendly, hardworking , grateful, honest, happy person.  No matter where he went, or what he did, he did it with a smile. Paul leaves behind his loving wife, Wilma, and they were married for over 65 years.  They did everything together and always were so sweet to one another. You just never saw a kinder couple. We were garden buddies:  Paul, Wilma, Mr. Yesteryear Acres and I.  We shared our fresh vegetables with one another and spent many hours talking about our harvest and the number of quart jars of veggies we put up for the winter.  Sometimes we would race to see who would get the peaches done first or who got the very first red ripe tomato of the season. Paul loved my family and we loved Paul.  He and my son would do tractor things together and Paul said out of everyone he knows - and that included adults - he would trust my son with any of his tractors, wagons or equipment.  At our parties, Paul would always give the best tractor/wagon rides.  Everyone loved them.  He would take them all over our property and his property and there wasn't a finer hay ride to be found in all the world. We shared dinners together and if you ask my younger daughter, spending the night at Paul and Wilmas was the very best place to be in all the world.  Paul was a true believer in ice cream after dinner.  He would say, "there is always room for ice just fills in all the cracks and spaces."  Paul served in the Army and was a confidante to my older daughter.  They shared a bond that will never be broken.  He once told her, "Never let them know where you keep your goat" and he always made sure to ask her if she was holding up.  My daughter always told Paul that she hadn't let anyone know where she kept her goat.  That always made him proud.  Every single morning Paul made his wife a cup of hot chocolate.  Every single morning.  When we were out of electricity for a week one Christmas, he had tried to heat up her milk with a torch just to be sure she got her hot chocolate.  We helped them out that winter and made sure the hot chocolate would be made.  To say they were important to us, is a huge understatement.  They enriched our lives in so many ways.  Paul was truly one of the best men I have ever known. If it were possible to capture the essence of kindness, the essence of all that was good and loving in this world and put that inside of one heart, he had that heart. He loved God, his wife, his farm, his garden, his family, his neighbors and his life. He blessed this earth with 83 years of true goodness.  To say goodbye to someone that special is like saying goodbye to a piece of your heart. He was an Angel on this earth. My children will forever miss him.  Mr. Yesteryear Acres will forever miss him and I will miss him with all my heart. Kahlil Gibran so eloquently writes what I so deeply feel, " When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight."  Thank you Paul for bringing so much delight into our lives. Our memories of you will fill our hearts and we will never forget your smile, your laughter or your love.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

A Handful of Cheerios and Happiness Reigns

When my daughter woke up this morning, she asked for a little cup of dry Cheerios.  I don't think giving someone a handful of Cheerios has ever brought me so much joy. She hasn't eaten anything since Monday evening and to hear her actually ask for some food was music to my ears.  She is definitely on the road to feeling better! YEA!  With my daughter feeling stronger today, I felt comfortable spending some time outside with the puppies.  They were so happy to have a long fun recess playdate today.  I was even able to get new pictures taken of all of Lola's puppies. I have felt so horrible about being unable to get the updated pictures done.  I know how much the weekly pictures mean to my puppy families and I hate to let them down. I have the joy of seeing my sweet puppies each and every day and I make it a huge priority to get my puppy picture updates done each week.  I just was so busy caring for my daughter and getting the vegetables put away, I never had a free moment all week long.  Luckily today my daughter was comfortable enough to take a nap and while she was napping, I hung outside with the puppies and brought my camera along. I think I got some really good shots especially considering I didn't have an assistant. Believe it or not, puppies do not just sit in one spot and look right at the camera and smile.  Puppies run all over the place, stopping just to look at you long enough so that you THINK you have the shot, only to find that yet again you have captured your 400th picture of an ear or tail.  I ended up getting really good pictures of every one of Lola's puppies all by myself.  That alone is reason to smile!  Tomorrow I will try and get all of Belle's puppy pictures done.  She has the biggest litter so it will take creativity to get all those puppy pictures done.  They are all doing really well and are growing like weeds.  Belle is such a good mommy to care for all those sweet puppies.  We have been extra careful to make sure she is eating like a queen.  She needs plenty of calories to make sure she continues to have a plentiful milk supply. 14 puppies is a lot of work - for humans and doggy mommies. Thankfully Belle is AWESOME and is really doing an amazing job. I am so happy that things feel back on track here at home. Time to start crossing things off the ole list once again!

Friday, September 17, 2010

So Grateful for Good Doctors

Things are finally looking up in "The House of Sickness".  Last night was a particularly rough one.  I stayed up until 2am with my daughter and then was up again with her just after 4am when she started feeling even worse. I knew that she was suffering from something more serious than the stomach flu and we headed off to the Emergency Room. It was a really good thing that we went.  It turns out that she has Salmonella Poisoning and a bacterial intestinal infection.  She has been placed on very strong antibiotics along with other medications so hopefully she will be feeling better very soon.  We have NO idea how in the world she came down with Salmonella.  We never eat out. She packs her lunch for school and doesn't eat other people's food.  We eat really healthy foods and all of us have eaten the exact same things. Where in the world she could have possibly contracted Salmonella is a mystery. Nonetheless, she has it and now thankfully is being treated for her illness.  My older daughter also received excellent medical care today and she should be back on the road to better health as well. I am so relieved.  Even though both my daughters are the exact same sick as they were this time yesterday - they have been cared for by good doctors and my girls should be feeling better in no time. My world seems a lot brighter today!  The puppies also had excellent medical care today as well.  Roxy's puppies got very good check ups and received their first booster shots.  They were good little troopers and their tails never stopped wagging.  They will be ready for their new homes starting next week.  I feel badly that I didn't get their picture updates this week for their families.  They are just so cute and I wanted to share their cuteness with everyone.  The really good thing is that they are even more adorable than last week so they are sure to bring a lot of smiles when their new families come to pick them up. Hopefully with everyone on the road to better health, we can go back to the normal crazy busy schedule. You know the one that has me canning, and making sundried tomatoes, taking puppy pictures, making delicious meals, playing with puppies, laughing with my kids, running to sporting events, sitting on my dock and all that other fun activities that I love so very dearly.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Well....At least the Salsa is done

Total count of sick children.....THREE!  Yes, it is true - all 3 of my children are sick.  My oldest is sick at the Naval Academy.  She went to medical this morning only to be told she has allergies. Allergies? That is so odd - because she does NOT have allergies. In fact she is not allergic to anything.  And since when does allergies cause fevers? And a very productive cough? And deep chest congestion? ACK!  How frustrating! This is one of those times where I wish parents of Naval Academy midshipmen were allowed to be parents.  It is hard knowing your child is sick and you absolutely cannot do one thing about it. To make matters worse, my younger daughter is not any better.  Our physician is on call tonight and she said if she isn't improving or gets any worse, I have to take her to the Emergency room tonight.  If we make it through the night here at home, we need to go back to the doctor again tomorrow morning to see how she is doing. She is that sick. The only bright spot in the house of WHY IS EVERYONE SICK is that my son is starting to feel better.  I think he will make it to school tomorrow.  I am grateful that he got over his bug so quickly. Tonight we are all going to just hunker down and ride out the storms. Luckily I picked up some more yogurt for our puppies at the store this afternoon before the storms rolled in. I had to be sure my little puppies had their "parfait" dinner tonight.  They just love that. Right now, we are being hammered by quite a display of Mother Nature's awesome power.  We have high winds, drenching downpours, hail and tornado warnings until late evening. I am so glad we have worked so hard all week long getting our veggies in.  I am not sure how our plants will survive this storm.  It was so lucky that we got all our tomatoes picked before this hit. I know for sure this amount of rain coupled with the high winds would have pretty much wiped out all the ripe tomatoes. Thank you Mr. Yesteryear Acres for picking the tomatoes yesterday. We turned yesterday's tomato picking into salsa and finished right before midnight. Last night's total count of salsa....36 quarts!!!!!  How awesome is that?!  I am completely done with the salsa for the year! Yea!!! And for those wondering about my crushed tomato haul.....Total count of canned crushed tomatoes....129 quarts!  Now that is a serious pantry stockpile. I still have a few things left to process before the end of the season but most of the hard work is behind me.  I think the only things left are picadilly green beans and then several days working to make dehydrated tomato quarters. I make my own sundried tomatoes and they are really yummy. It is a pain to do as each batch takes about 12-24 hours and the end result is SO much smaller than what I started with.  It is amazing just how much room water takes up inside a tomato.  Once the liquid is gone - just a little sliver of tomato remains, but the flavor is intensely delicious. I might not get to the last of the garden projects until next week.  I need to get my little babies all feeling better first.  It doesn't matter whether your baby is 6 feet tall or 17 years old or a Navy midshipman - in a mother's eyes, they are still that sweet little helpless baby you brought home from the hospital.  When your babies hurt - you hurt.  Plain as that. My only thoughts this evening are filled with the hope that mine get better soon.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Red Polka Dotted Monster

I know that the very first thing you thought of this morning when you woke up was, "I wonder just how many cups of tomatoes Renee peeled and chopped today?" I bet it was difficult to concentrate on your own work as the suspense was killing you.  Wondering all day long about the sheer volume of tomatoes that I painstakingly diced for SALSA day must have driven you almost mad. Well - I will put an end to your misery right now and share with you the number....126 cups. That is right. I peeled and then chopped 126 cups of tomatoes today. Doesn't that sound like fun? I made salsa all day long and I believe the nose hairs inside my nostrils have completely disintegrated.  Every last one has been eroded by the spicy salsa cooking on the stovetop all day.  I look like a red polka dotted monster. I think I have splashes of tomato juice everywhere! My fingernails have turned an odd yellow orange color that may never go away. In short, I AM a walking tomato! And just in case your second thought this morning was, "I wonder how many sick kids Renee has at home today?" The answer to that question is two. I got the other dreaded "MOM, I am SICK" call this morning at 11am from my son. Yes, I had to go to school to pick him up and he is down for the count as well.  He even missed his cross country meet this afternoon which made him really sad.  My daughter is not any better at all and if she is still the same tomorrow, we are definitely headed straight to the doctor first thing in the morning.  Her fever has been around 103* or higher all day.  She is really sick and I feel awful for her.  I ran back and forth from the living room to the kitchen at least 1,000 times today.  I have filled about 100 glasses with just the right amount of crushed ice and gatorade/water/ginger ale. It can't be too much - or it is too watery. It can't be too little or else - it is not cold enough. Ahh the joys of a house full of sick kids! And please do not forget the STRAWS! I hope tomorrow they are better. I think I might have to declare tomorrow a canning FREE day.  I don't think I can stand to think about cleaning one more stock pot, peeling one more tomato or looking at one more kettle of boiling water. I realize I will still have to fetch 100 glasses of gatorade/water/ginger ale but maybe not have the torture of doing that with another canning day.  I am pretty sure Picadilly day can wait until Friday. Mr. Yesteryear Acres and I hope to be done canning our salsa tonight by midnight which would be awesome as it is a whole hour earlier than the previous evenings. I haven't been to bed before 1:30 am all week long. I think once I get today's mess all cleaned up - it will have to stay clean for at least 24 hours. I have some other things to do - like...laundry! ... and grocery shopping! ...and cleaning up puppy poo! ... and going to the doctor's office to sit for hours!  I mean doesn't that sound AMAZING?!!!  I am sure you are so jealous right now and wish you were right here with me to join in on all the fun.  I am going to have to insist that I do this alone. I know you are feeling the tears welling up in your eyes and are moments away from crying, but alas, I must insist that I do all of tomorrow's fun filled activities without you.  I sure hope you can get over your deep sorrow.  Please go out and enjoy some sunshine for me. Tell Mr. Sunshine and Fresh Air that I said Hi!  I hope to see them both soon!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Harvesting and more Harvesting

Last night I was totally right on my estimated time when I would finish canning my tomatoes.  The last timer went off at 12:55am. Sadly, I was off on my total quart count and only amassed 38 quarts for a full day spent elbow deep in tomatoes. *sigh*  That means I need just about 15-20 more quarts before I call this year's crushed tomato canning officially over.  Mr. Yesteryear Acres and I were totally swamped all day. Our day started much as it does every day with.....yes you guessed it....PUPPY POOP!  I was up early and got all the puppies cleaned and fed and watered and then cleaned up the kitchen from last night's canning mess.  I had HUGE stockpots soaking overnight and can you believe it?????  They were still there this morning! And still dirty!!! Honestly!  You would think that I would have earned a little magic last night! I had planned on getting the rest of my tomatoes canned this morning but as always here at Yesteryear Acres - plans change in an instant.  I got the dreaded "MOM I am SICK" call around 9:30 and had to go to the school to pick up my daughter.  She has a high fever and hurts everywhere and is beyond miserable.  Poor thing!  She is really sick.  She couldn't even drive home from school so Mr. Yesteryear Acres and I went to get her and her car.  She has been miserable all day long with no signs of improvement.  I might have to run her to the doctor tomorrow if she still looks as bad.  She has some wicked virus that is for sure!  In between caring for her and the puppies, I did manage to slice and chop fresh picked veggies and they are now roasting in the oven.  We had beautiful zucchini, eggplant, onions and tomatoes just begging to be roasted. I think I made about 2 full gallons of roasted vegetables. I also had the (notice the sarcastic font coming up) COMPLETE JOY of doing my quarterly taxes today and take them to the post office.  Ahhhhh. So much fun. I am fairly certain that whilst paying my taxes - that was the only moment I actually sat down today. I still have tomatoes to do this evening. It is almost 7pm and Mr. Yesteryear Acres is just now getting to the garden to pick the tomatoes for tonight's canning festivities.  It will definitely be a late one. Tomorrow we hope to start bright and early and it will actually be Picadilly Day!  I totally forgot about getting my green beans pickled.  They are REALLY good!  Nice crisp fresh green beans that taste like pickles. Mmmmmmm. After that - ALL I have left to can will be my famous delicious Salsa! MAYBE just MAYBE by the end of the weekend the constant harvesting and canning will come to a close.  This week will be non-stop work as the vegetables all need picked and my pantry needs stocked for the winter.  Reminds me of the Aesop's fable, "The Ant and the Grasshopper" and I hope being the busy little ant will bring much appreciation this winter. As the fable goes, "To work today is to eat tomorrow".

Monday, September 13, 2010

What? My work is still waiting for me?

I can not believe it. Evidently - magical fairies do not exist.  No magical fairy came to my house to answer all my emails. No magical fairy came to my house to do all my laundry. No magical fairy came to take new puppy pictures for the website or update my website or vacuum my house or pick the veggies in the garden or grocery shop for me. I double checked and everything but alas - all my work was still waiting for me! I have to admit, I feel a little disappointed.  I definitely saw a shooting star the other night and I definitely made a wish on the falling star and I definitely wished for a magical fairy to come to my house and do all my work while I was busy having fun in Annapolis.  I didn't even tell ONE soul about my wish so I didn't violate the "FALLING STAR LAW" where you can't tell anyone what you wished for or it won't come true.  How does this happen? Where did I go wrong?  This morning I awoke to 100 hours of work for my 24 hour day. I am not even close to being done despite the fact that I have worked nonstop all day. Mr. Yesteryear Acres picked an entire trailer load of tomatoes and I have thus far peeled 4 bushels of tomato and will be canning and canning and canning all night long. Tomorrow another trailer load of tomatoes will await me and it will be SALSA day!  The house will smell VERY SPICY all day long!  After 6-7 hours of making salsa - every one's eyes in the house start to burn and noses start running. It is quite potent! I can't wait to chop 3- 4 CUPS of minced garlic.  I hope you noticed my sarcasm font on the previous sentence. There is just not enough soap in the world to rid one's hands of that much garlic odor! In between the salsa festival happening in the kitchen, I hope to get all new pictures of the puppies tomorrow. They all look SO cute and really grew over the weekend. They are so cute.  I had a lap full of puppies today and just loved them all.  I missed them when I was gone!  I guess I better get back to my fun filled activity of filling quart jars with tomatoes.  By the sheer volume of tomatoes cooking on the stove - I am guessing that by 1:00am this morning I might have an additional 50 quarts to add to my count.  Yea!!!  Well back to alllll my fun!!!!!!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

A Little Crabby

One of Scarlet's double doodle puppies is now happily living by the seashore. His name is Skipper and he has a wonderful sea loving family. When we brought Skipper to his new family they greeted us with the most fantastic feast imaginable! Earlier that day they threw out their own crab pots and caught 2 dozen fresh crabs for us! They then cooked them and seasoned them with the husband's top secret spice rub. I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw the 24 beautiful delicious mouthwatering crabs - all for us! They even brought crab hammer/crackers for us. When my husband and I sat down for our fantastic crab feast, we were all smiles! Oh my goodness they were so good and were without a doubt the very best crabs ever! The crabmeat was so sweet and the seasonings were perfect. It was so deeply appreciated and we loved every single bite. After we had happily consumed our feast, Mr. Yesteryear Acres said that I looked a little crabby. I assured him that I was beyond happy, but he said not my MOOD but that I was ACTUALLY crabby. Evidently all that crab cracking and hammering had resulted in little flecks of crab everywhere. I was pretty much covered and as he kept laughing, I let him know that he was crabby too! We thoroughly and completely enjoyed our crabs! Skipper's family was so thoughtful that they even brought us homemade delicious fudge and some really special fresh salt water taffy. They said we had to try all their specialties. WOW! I am so glad they shared their favorite things with us! To thank them for their kind thoughtfulness, I shared one of my specialties and brought them fresh homemade tomato corn tortilla soup. It was so fun to exchange something that I love with something someone else loves. I hope they loved their little slice of midwest garden yumminess as much as I loved my slice of seaside yumminess! Thank you Skipper!!!! Your family's gourmet talents were much appreciated and that wonderful crab feast will never be forgotten!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

And my world got just a little bit bigger this weekend

The internet is a miraculous thing.  You can instantly look up the lyrics to a song, find out the name of an actor in a movie, find a recipe for dinner and keep in touch with friends no matter how far away they are.  One thing I never expected from the internet was how wonderful it would be for meeting new lifelong friends. This weekend I got to hang out with the nicest group of Naval Academy moms - who without the internet...I never would have known. A mom of a midshipman from the class of 2012 started a facebook group for the mom's of 2012 midshipmen.  We all post on our group page from time to time and are an awesome support system as we all know how it feels to deeply miss our children.  We understand the demands of the Naval Academy and are there for one another to laugh and sometimes even cry.  Until this weekend, we were all just "facebook" friends.  We had never met but appreciated our connection. This weekend we ALL got together.

 We went to dinner together when we arrived in Annapolis and this afternoon we all sat together in a huge group at the Naval Academy football game. It was awesome. There were over 70 of us! It was so fun to meet everyone and actually shake hands and give hugs. At the tailgate party we got to meet each other's children and it was just the best time.  We all marveled at how through something as simple as a social network - we all found each other and now will be "facebook" friends AND real life friends too.  So hello to my new friends! It was so nice to share my weekend with you.  I can't think of anything better than sitting with friends that have the same deep passion for their sons and daughters that I feel for mine. USNA class of 2012.....Two down.....Two to go!!!!!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Back to School

Today was absolutely the best day at school EVER!!!!  Mr. Yesteryear Acres and I left the hotel at 6:30am this morning and headed to the Naval Academy for a full day of classes.  Our daughter was there to greet us as soon as we got there and we spent the whole day together. First up was Physical Chemistry.  Now I don't profess to be a chemist at all but I think I might have just grasped the lesson details today and felt ultra smart.  The professor was amazing and so engaging.  It was really interesting.  Her next class was biochemistry and again - it was a great class. There is something to going to a place where everybody says "Afternoon Ma'am" and the students are really there to learn.  The hallways were so respectfully quiet, it was an honor to be among such dedicated students.  You could really tell the professors liked teaching. They have an audience of attentive, polite, thoughtful students that show up to class on time and have insightful questions and contributions. I had an awesome college experience and went to The Ohio State University. I love love love the Buckeyes! I loved going to school but I can tell you that my college experience in no way mirrors the college experience of my daughter. It was incredibly fulfilling. I am grateful the Naval Academy opened their doors and allowed us to shadow our daughter for the day. We got to eat in King Hall along with the other 4400 midshipman.  That is quite an accomplishment to feed that many students all at once!  The food was really good.  We were told many times that the meal at lunch was an exception to the rule - but honestly, it was a great meal and I had one of the best cupcakes of my entire life for dessert.  After lunch we got to go with our daughter to her 3 hour integrated chemistry lab and that was a lot of fun.  I can see why she likes chemistry.  There is so much to do and learn.  It is a very hands on major and it was easy to become immersed in the classes and labs. After her classes were done we got to go to her room. Ahhhhh. FINALLY!!!!  I was sooo happy to finally have the opportunity to see her room and meet her roommates and many of her company mates.  We ended the day by going to dinner with her entire class of 2012 company mates and their parents.  There were more than 100 of us for dinner and the stories and company couldn't be better.  We were laughing and well entertained all evening.  I have to say Best Day Back to School ever!  Thank you Naval Academy!!!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Country Roads......

The puppy mobile is in full swing and we are on the road to Annapolis. Mr. Yesteryear Acres is our pilot and so far the trip has been nothing but smooth sailing. The puppies love their living room on wheels. They have been happily playing and have been the best passengers. We stopped at the 3 hour mark and met our first puppy family on our journey. They were both so nice and fell instantly in love with their new sweet puppy. They had a big thick monogrammed leash and the puppy looked sooo cute with such a big leash for such a little puppy. I told them they should get a picture so that in 6 months they can compare how much the puppy has grown since that very first time wearing the leash. Remarkably, all the puppies pooped at our stop! I got all the lovely "presents" cleaned up, said our goodbyes and we were once again on the road. Now as for Mr. Yesteryear Acres taste in music...... Gordon Lightfoot? Bread? America? Honestly. He is stuck in the early 70's. We have had the station stuck on "The Bridge" and I have relived all the old songs from way back when. I have to say....I am impressed with my lyrics recall ability. Man I was on it! Best music moment....John Denver comes on the radio singing, "Country roads take me home", and I kid you not, right as he sings, "West Virginia" we crossed the West Virginia Border! Now that is a classic moment! I am sure that Mr. Yesteryear Acres wont admit this but....he totally missed the I-79 South exit!! I mean totally. We (really I) didnt notice that he was going the wrong way for 4 miles. After we turned around and finally got on the right freeway there was the most massive accident. A huge fuel tanker truck crossed the median, hit a big portable construction zone sign and then ended up on the other side of the road up in the woods! It was unbelievable! Cars were everywhere on both sides of the road. We literally had to have missed it by a mere 5 minutes or less. People were just starting to get out of their cars. Mr. Yesteryear Acres said that is why he took the 4 mile scenic detour on the wrong road. Had he gotten off on the right road we could have been in the accident instead of driving right by it unharmed. Good ole Mr. Yesteryear Acres. Always thinking!!!! We still have 2.5 hours of driving to go which gets us to our destination about 30 minutes later than planned. I guess the adage "Better late than Never" is particularly appropriate today! Puppies and all passengeers safe and accounted for....even if we are stuck listening to Dan Fogleberg and Jim Croce LOL.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Puppy Mobile hits the road again

Tomorrow morning bright and early the Puppy Mobile will be hitting the road.  I am heading east to go to the Naval Academy Class of 2012 Parent's weekend and I will of course be bringing furry friends along with me. Mr. Yesteryear Acres is getting the mobile Puppy Living Room all ready for the trip tomorrow.  It is the nicest travel box and makes driving all day with a car full of puppies SO easy.  The puppies like it too!  I will be making one stop for a delivery about 3 hours away and the other puppies are going all the way to Annapolis. It should be a great trip and the weather is supposed to be terrific.  The Parent's weekend at the Naval Academy is a big deal and I cannot wait!!!  I am sooooo excited!!!!  My daughter started her junior year at the Academy in August.  As in she has been there 2 whole years already and THIS weekend will be the first and only time I will get to see her room!!!!  My daughter keeps telling me it is just a plain dorm room but she doesn't understand that I don't care what it looks like or if it is plain or ugly or boring or beautiful and amazing - I just want to see it!!! That way when she tells me about her day or what she is doing I can visualize just where she is and just what it looks like.  I also get to meet a lot of her midshipman friends and that will be awesome!  Friday I will be going to all her classes with her including her Chemistry labs.  We get to eat lunch in King Hall with all the other midshipman at the Naval Academy which is a real treat! I am sure I won't sleep a wink all night!!!  I have "met" a lot of really nice moms of other 2012 midshipman on facebook and we are meeting for dinner in Annapolis tomorrow evening so we can actually MEET each other.  I think there is something like 50 of us!!!  That will be the biggest dinner outing I will have ever been to.  We have a football game on Saturday, tailgate parties, lunches, dinners, friends, food, classes, shopping - I mean this is going to be one full and very busy weekend.  I have some baking/cooking to get done this evening along with getting all the puppy care packets ready and make sure the puppies are all ready for their big adventure.  My music list is updated and ready to play!  USNA Parent's Weekend...... here I come!!!!!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Chicken and Dumplings

Did you know that if you make homemade chicken and dumplings from scratch that you will instantly become the most interesting person in your entire house? Last night I slowly cooked chicken broth overnight from a leftover roasted chicken I had made over the weekend. I thought a good batch of homemade chicken soup would make my daughter feel much better. The house smelled heavenly when we woke up.  I noticed that I had quite an entourage follow me to the kitchen as I went to get my morning cup of coffee. My furry friends were quite interested in every move I made.  Despite the fact that I told the doodle doggies and puppies many times that the soup was in fact for the human residents of this house, they refused to believe me. If I raised my arm, they raised their heads with intense longing. Every move I made was instantly mirrored by the dogs. Straining the soup almost made for audible "mmmmmmmms" coming from my furry companions.  From time to time I will make homemade stock for the doggies so the dogs continued to be convinced that I was making a birthday dinner for them. I have not been left alone the entire day.  Trips to the basement....doggy companions. Trips to the garden....doggy companions.  Trips to the bathroom....yes you guessed it... a bathroom full of four legged friends.  My chicken stock perfume must be heavenly. I even had company when I took my son to cross country practice.  And if the furry gratitude wasn't praise enough - the human members of my family were also following me around wondering when the soup would be ready. I think the longest 20 minutes of the day came after I rolled out the dumplings and added them to the pot.  No sneaking a peek. No lifting the lid. Just plain waiting. The end result.....mmmmmmm. It made everyone's tummy happy and even made my daughter feel tons better. Sadly for the doggies, the chicken and dumplings were so delicious that not one drop remained for them.  I guess next time I will have to make the doggy version.  From the looks I have been getting this evening, I think I better make a batch soon!

Monday, September 6, 2010


I am sure this comes as no surprise but today in honor of Labor Day we here at Yesteryear Acres.....worked. I know, I know - you are shocked. This morning, my son was quite thorough in providing Mr. Yesteryear Acres and I with the definition of the Labor Day Holiday.  He gave us a nice explanation as to the reason the holiday was created and suggested we all celebrate. I loved his enthusiasm but alas there was just too much work to do, so on this Labor day - we labored. The puppies all had lots of attention today as the weather was fantastic.  We took tons of pictures of the puppies and I got everything posted to the website this evening.  I think they turned out really well.  Roxy's puppies are now eating all their breakfast and dinner and have started to fill out and grow.  They are so cute.  I love the shiny black satin beauties.  I secretly want to keep one but I am well aware that we have enough puppies and just can't do that right now.  I really really really want to though!!! They are so snuggly and so cute.  My son worked all day long today and was so helpful.  He is a great helper and I don't know what we would do without him. He did the work of at least 2 people today and even helped with the vegetable processing. Sadly my younger daughter has the stomach flu and was flat out sick today.  Poor thing.  She couldn't even move from the couch for the whole day and was just miserably sick.  I was so busy that I didn't even get to sit with her.  I felt bad because when you are really sick it is nice to have someone nearby.  I hope she feels better by tomorrow morning. Along with the garden work and puppy care, Mr. Yesteryear Acres and my son worked on installing new waterlines in the barn.  We had hoped to have dinner before 7pm so we could sit and relax tonight but everything took too long and we didn't get to sit down for dinner until 8:30pm tonight. Mr. Yesteryear Acres grilled delicious pork chops so the wait was worth it.  We had a pretty awesome feast of pork chops, fresh sweet corn and a roasted sweet potato/baby new potato medley.  I have to say - they were awesome!  I am hoping that if we get everything cleaned up from our Labor Day we might, just might make it to the couch by 10:00pm.  That way Mr. Yesteryear Acres and I can finally sit down to watch TV.....with our eyes closed. Happy Labor Day!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

You Can't "Beet" This

Today was a busy productive day with an awesome end. Of course the day started with.....MORE tomatoes!  I know you have to be SO jealous that the very first thing I did when I woke up this morning was to start peeling 3 sinks full of tomatoes. I mean can there be anything better than waking up to a couple of bushels of tomatoes to peel?  Once all the tomatoes were peeled and cooking away on the stove we had some really nice families come and visit their puppies.  Roxy's puppies are just old enough for their very first visitors and I have to say the puppies did really well.  They were super happy to meet new friends and had a lot of fun romping around the yard.  They just get cuter every day.  Scarlet's puppies had lots of time to play outside today as the weather couldn't be any nicer.  The day was just perfect for puppies and tomato canning.  The puppies got their little nails trimmed today and they all were very cooperative and the job was done in no time.  We finally got all the tomatoes for this round done by 6:00pm this evening.  Total count so far = 68 quarts. That means just ONE more big long day of tomato work and I should have my 104 quarts for the year.  I think the next tomato day will be Wednesday.  We should have enough ripe tomatoes to pick by then to get the job finished.  You would think that after doing the tomatoes and puppies and all of our work, we would take the evening off......HA!  Mr. Yesteryear Acres went out to the garden and pulled up some beets so tonight became Beet night.  I ended up getting 4 gallons of beets processed this evening.  Just as I thought I would collapse and never stand up again, Mr. Yesteryear Acres had a lovely campfire going back at our pond.  He had smore fixings ready and off we all went.  It was a perfect night.  The stars were amazing and the night air was so cool that the fire felt wonderful.  My ever so thoughtful sister (who always gives the most perfect presents in all the world) sent us "magic" pinecones and sticks for our anniversary.  This is the first chance that we have had time to use them. Oh my goodness! They are amazing!  The treated pinecones and sticks turn the fire all sorts of incredibly vibrant colors. We had flames that were the greenest of greens and neon blues, purples, raspberry blue, seagreen and a whole palette of amazingly vivid colors. It was really fun.  We stayed out for hours gazing at the aurora borealis in our firepit and catching an occasional falling star light up the sky.  It was a perfect end to a really busy day.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

53 Quart Jars per Dishwasher Load

Yes, it is true, TOMATO FEST 2010 has begun.  Mr. Yesteryear Acres went to the garden early this morning and picked an entire trailer load of fresh beautiful tomatoes.  We have Golden and Red tomatoes, Early Girl, Better Boy, Roma, Beefsteak, Celebrity, and Sungold.  There is hardly a blemish on any of them. I can't remember the last time we had so many beauties!  While Mr. Yesteryear Acres picked the tomatoes, I started washing all the empty quart jars from last year.  I got a few cleaned and ready and then I thought how brilliant it would be to use the dishwasher. If you take out all the baskets for silverware....53 Quart Jars fit into each load!  How awesome is that?! Then the fun really began. Sink load after sink load of tomatoes to peel and cook down.For those who aren't aware of all the ins and outs and of course endless joys of tomato preparation, first you fill the sink up with tomatoes.  Then you pour gallons of hot boiling water over the tomatoes and let it sit for about 30-45 seconds. The fun really begins then with the peeling off of all the tomato skins.  I have a 5 gallon bucket that I use just for the skins and empty it often.  This part of the processing is where a good movie is essential!  After all the tomatoes are peeled, I squish them down into a huge pot and cook down the liquid by almost half.  That usually takes a good hour or more.  After the tomatoes have reduced it is time to fill up all the quart jars. You need hot jars, heated lids, rings, lifters - just put it this way - tons of dishes - tons of work. The canner only holds 7 quart jars at a time and each batch of 7 jars takes 45 minutes to process.  I am not even halfway done with today's load and it is already after 9pm. It will be a long evening but with any luck at all....I might maybe perhaps get around 28 quarts done. A little over 1/4 of the way towards my end goal of 104 quarts. And for all those who have been anxiously wondering who kept me company during my day of tomato fun - why John Travolta himself.  He along with the puppies made for awesome tomato companions. Back to the grind!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Man's Best Friend

Mr. Yesteryear Acres stood in the driveway this morning at 11:12am and sadly waved good-bye as he watched his best friend head down the road. Now before you become overwrought with worry and think that you are going to need a box of tissues to read today's blog, please know that in this situation, man's best friend is not a dog. Man's best friend is not his wife.  Man's best friend is in fact not human or canine or even breathing for that matter. The best friend that Mr. Yesteryear Acres said good-bye too, as he wiped away the tears of sorrow, is.....his tractor. Yes, sadly our faithful companion, our reliable friend, our trusty hard-working tractor would not start this morning. There seems to be something amiss with a gear or shaft or  differential blah blah blah that even Mr. Yesteryear Acres himself cannot repair. Our good ole tractor had to be picked up and taken to "GASP" a repair shop!!! Never in the history of owning a engine type piece of machinery has Mr. Yesteryear Acres had to use a repair shop because Mr. Yesteryear Acres can fix everything.  Seriously - he can fix anything.  Dishwashers, refrigerators, cars, houses, wiring, plumbing, fencing, tractors - you name it and Mr. Yesteryear Acres has fixed it.  Not only fixed it but fixed it to perfection.  He is a master. But today, was not one of those days and Mr. Yesteryear Acres most trusted companion went away to the repair shop.  It might be WEEKS before it returns.  If you have ever seen the look on a little kid's face when they didn't get what they truly and really wanted for Christmas, you might begin to imagine what poor Mr. Yesteryear Acres looked like as his tractor was hauled down the driveway. I don't believe he has ever spent one solitary day without spending time on his beloved tractor. We bought the tractor back when our kids were still really young and my now 6ft son was then just a little toddler.

The tractor has brought us through many summers and winters. It has plowed our garden,

raked our hay, snow plowed our driveway, mowed our grass, given snowboard rides,

 and hayrides, dug holes, planted trees, helped build fences, water our garden, hauled wood for our wood burner and has even been decked out in full Christmas lights pulling a wagon fully lit with the magic of Christmas to give us a ride over freshly fallen snow on Christmas Eve. Everyone saw Santa that evening. Our tractor has been reliable day after day, year after year and has never faltered until this morning. It was a sad day but I reassured Mr. Yesteryear Acres that his tractor will be back.  The tractor people will fix our good ole tractor and it will be ready to go back to work in no time.  Don't fret Mr. Yesteryear Acres - your best friend will be home soon.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Endless Childhood

Today after school my daughter and I had what could only be considered a cry fest.  My daughter is busy sending in her college applications and with each essay, comes the realization that her childhood is almost over.  My daughter doesn't want to leave home and go away to college any more than I want her to go. We talked about how we wish we could stop time and forever be in this moment and cook together and work together and have fun together for always. We wanted so much to wave a magic wand so that she could just be the age she is right now and we could have a lifetime of moments together that never ended. We talked about how no one told me that my children would eventually grow up and leave and how no one told her that she would have to grow up and leave and that wasn't quite fair.  When you are little, it seems that you will always live with your mommy and daddy and dinner will be ready at 7pm, and laundry will be clean and ready for school, and your bed will always be waiting in your room, and that whenever you need your parents - there they are.  When you are a mommy of young children, it seems that your children will always live in your house, you will always get to make dinners for them and do their laundry, and hear about their day, and kiss them good night. It never occurs to either the child or the mommy - that all of that will end. So we cried.  Then we cried some more. Then somewhere in the middle of all that crying we talked about hopes and dreams and aspirations. I said that no good mommy really wants her child to stay home and not follow her hopes and dreams. No good mommy would want to keep her child home and keep her from being all she could be.  And then I said that no smart and talented child would really want to stay home forever and forget about all her wishes and aspirations and dream for an amazing future. That isn't how growing up works. I asked her if all those hopes and dreams were still inside her and of course they are.  I asked her if she thought she could be all she was destined to be by staying with me and of course she can't. She wants to be a marine biologist and an environmental scientist and she wants to serve our country and attend the Coast Guard Academy and spend her life protecting our Coast from all that threatens it. And so my daughter with half of a full and loving heart so rooted in home and half of a full and loving heart rooted in becoming something wonderful.....put the stamps on the envelopes. We both silently acknowledge that things will never be quite the same. The tears freely flow but inside each tear is the knowledge that the future is bound to be amazingly bright and beautiful.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Happy September 1st!!!

Way back when Mr. Yesteryear Acres and I first started dating we began what has now become an epic battle of timing and wits. Mr. Yesteryear Acres and I met on July 31, 1984. I believe it was Mr. Yesteryear Acres who then called me the very next day to wish me Happy August 1st. Being the ultra competitive person I am, I was of course first to wish him Happy September 1st the following month. It was all very sweet and mostly innocent back then because we were celebrating the fact that we had been together another month. We couldn't wait to wish one another Happy October 1st - because that again was another small milestone as we celebrated our 3rd month being together. By November 1st it was a race to see who would be the first to wish the other "Happy 1st" and thus the "Happy _____ 1st" battle began. You would think in the 26 years to follow, our "Happy _____1st" contest would lose some steam. Au contraire!  In the entire 313 months that have passed since we first met, we have never missed a month, nor have we weakened our resolve to be the very first one to wish the other one Happy first day of the month. We have called each other on the phone at wee hours in the morning to leave voice mail messages that say "HAPPY _____ 1st.......HA HA HA I WIN!"  We have taped notes to gallons of milk, boxes of cereal, toothbrushes etc.  One of us will often wait on the last day of the month and act as if we have NO idea that it is 11:59pm and that in ONE short minute VICTORY will be HERE.  I often will win that one because Mr. Yesteryear Acres almost always falls sound asleep sitting on the couch waiting for midnight. He then likes to pretend the next morning that he doesn't remember me winning. He is sooooo funny.  If I don't make it until midnight, you can be sure Mr. Yesteryear Acres will most likely win the month.  He likes to wake me up around 6am just to say "Sweetie,...... HAPPY ______ 1st! HA HA HA HA! Ahhhh so lovely to wake up to LOSING the game!!! Grrrrr. Often on the last day of the month you can catch us watching the second hands on our watch just to be sure we are FIRST to bring in the wishes for the new month. Mr. Yesteryear Acres will go to the trouble of syncing his watch exactly to the official atomic clock located in Boulder, Colorado so that his "Happy ____ 1st" will be the most accurate. You see? It is a full on war.  When our kids got a little older, they joined in the contest.  We didn't invite them to our game and secretly we both get really mad when they win. I mean who said they could play?  This morning right on the glass door to the back porch was a little purple sticky note written by our younger daughter.  It said (of course) "Happy September 1st".  As soon as she came home from school she asked if she had won. Well NO she didn't win.  Last night was actually...a TIE!  Both Mr. Yesteryear Acres and I waited until exactly 12:00:00 and said "Happy September 1st" at the same time.  It was pretty funny because I thought I had it WON as Mr. Yesteryear Acres looked as though he were sleeping.  He was just lying in wait. I think it was our first tie in years!  So to all my dear readers....HAPPY SEPTEMBER 1st!!!!  I hope the month of September brings happiness to all!