Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A Wifely and Motherly Pride

The Bible says we shouldn't be proud, but I think there are times that are exceptions. I'm not proud of myself, but I AM proud of the men in my life.

Yesterday, we had home school co-op (which I just LOVE and am so blessed that we live in an area that offers so many great classes for home schoolers....). The first week of classes, there was a little girl who made quite a positive impression on me. She is cute as a button, but not in ways that one would immediately think. She fell down in gym class (or "phy ed" as it's called here in northern Minnesota) and got all teary, so I took her to find mom and some comfort. Poor Christy, one of several children, was told to "buck up" -- Mom told me in an aside that Christy tends to be dramatic...and I can relate with our own drama queetn at home. Christy did. She bit her lip, dried her eyes, and went back and joined the other kids. Christy has great big eyes, made even bigger by the great big glasses in front of them. She is usually wearing an adorable dress with a matching hat (which she calls her "thinking cap") and is about 5 years old. Luke has taken a shine to her, but more like in a protector way. Monday at co-op in phy ed, one of the other boys took the ball away from Christy when she had it, and Luke went after him, effectively blocking him and keeping him occupied so Christy could get the ball and play with it. In classes later that afternoon, she had to make sure she sat right by Luke because "he's my friend." During History/Science, she did guess that the circumfrence of a pumpkin was three inches (it was 25) and there were probably 100,000 seeds (there were 269), but then again, Christy wasn't wearing her thinking cap yesterday. I love how Luke always talks about Christy and how he is her "protector" and no kids are gonna pick on her again when he's around!

The other reason I'm so proud right now is my husband is currently downstairs making a start-from-scratch pumpkin pie -- baked the pumpkin, working on the crust, everything. He did come up to ask where the blender was as well as the cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. What a guy! And this is after he made supper (wrapped tortillas), cleaned up the entire kitchen, including emptying and reloading the dish washer, and bathed the kids before putting them to bed, too. What a guy! (Of course, I choose to think this is all because he loves me and not because I'm tapped out and fighting pure exhaustion right now...it's off to bed for me once this is posted).

I'm also proud of my sweet pea, too. We've been struggling again with lots of disobedience and attitude problems, so there aren't a whole lot of things immediately coming to mind, but I sure did appreciate her coming over to rub my shoulders and back as I was laying on the couch after supper (even if she almost knocked me off the couch a few times in her enthusiasm).

On a completely unrelated note, I've never seen the need to make a start-from-scratch pumpkin pie before, although I've made some quick ones to sell during our pumpkin parties before. I'm not a fan of pumpkin pie, personally. I make squash occasionally for my husband, even though I don't like it, but I've never thought of making him a pumpkin pie before........

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

It's Been Awhile....

Wow, I thought I'd have more time after the market closed, but I've been....

*dealing with a daughter who had the flu (she was the worst although I think we all had some mild version)
*dealing with a son who has strep throat (and now we're all on meds)
*trying to catch up on the farm accounting
*trying to catch up on the house work (I moved the sofa today to dust and sweep behind it, ugh! Actually, we're trying to figure out where to put the Christmas tree this year!)
*avoiding -- I mean, trying to catch up on OUR accounting
*trying to get my expense and commission reports turned in to Greenstar (yay! Money!)
*trying to figure out staging for our Christmas program
*trying to keep up with email newsletters and catalog requests from Pioneer Woman (keep 'em coming!)
*slowly getting back into the home-school swing of things
*canning the rest of the apples into apple pie filling (and it's been yummy...but I still have a bushel!)
*figuring out when I can start canning chicken soup for the winter
*enjoying my husband
*enjoying my kids (usually, although under-the-weather kids are usually whiny kids)
*getting things finalized for our Christmas showcase

We also enjoyed having Tony's brother Paul and his wife Lori over for supper Saturday. Well, except when, as we were sitting down for supper, Susanna turned to Aunt Lori and said, "Aunt Lori, I have to tell you something. I pooped today." Luke then chimed in, "So did I! Right before supper! Can I have a banana now?" Please...join us for supper sometimes and some very, um, enlightening conversations!

We've also been dealing with our water going on and off. Tony is afraid the switch may be going. He did something to it, but it isn't quite fixed. How did people live before conveniences of indoor plumbing???

And then last Friday, I got a call from one of our local coffee shops. They buy Watkins extracts for their baking (which is why their goodies are so yummy!), and they are having a craft-type fair from Black Friday through December 23 and wanted to know if I'd like to have a booth there...Monday thru Saturday, during their open hours (no sense being there when they're closed!). I called a few of my team members, they all want to help out, so YAY! Ya gotta come check us out at Jack Pine Java on Main Avenue (for those of you who are local).

Next week we start our Thanksgiving crafts -- most of them are edible, so we can't do them yet. And then will start the Christmas cookie baking...ummm!!!!

It makes me laugh when people ask, "so, are you finding more time to do things now that the market is closed?"

But I am thankful that even with some mild illnesses, we haven't had anything pretty bad.

And I'm still hoping to get to MOA for Pioneer Woman's book signing this Saturday! Although Tony doesn't understand why I want to go.....ah, come on! LET ME OUT OF HERE!!!!! (I love you, honey...)

And we're still hoping to get away one night this week for a stay at a local B&B (we won it at a silent auction...but the B&B is closing its doors at the end of this month....and we can't find a babysitter! Anyone available Thursday night????).

And my kids remind me continually that they don't belong to me....they belong to GOD Who is only loaning them to us. Sure hope we're doing an okay job!

Okay, gotta go get some more stuff done....

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Thanks, Pioneer Woman!!

Wow, have you ever had something really good happen that you weren't expecting? Okay, I've had lots of things like that happen....like two wonderful babies being born (yeah, I literally WAS expecting babies, but I didn't know they'd be so wonderful); a handsome, kind, hard-working, God-loving man propose marriage to me (I said yes...ten months before the first wonderful baby made an appearance -- and when you get to your mid-30s, you aren't really expecting too much! But God saved the best for me!); a warm, nice, completely paid-for house (yeah, paid for!); lots of kind, thoughtful friends that amaze and bless me when I'm least expecting it....and so many more things!

But something happened yesterday that made me (again) thank God....and a dear friend I've never met. Yet.

My readers (all 3? of you...okay, more than 3 -- there's someone in Denmark reading my blog now....how did that happen? That is SO cool!) know that I really like and admire Ree Drummond -- The Pioneer Woman. (check it out at www.thepioneerwoman.com) I've linked several of her recipes and made reference to her. Love her family stories (do you think her kids are going to be super thrilled about some of the things she's written about them when they get older? That's the beauty of being a parent.... you can write what you want...and hope they still love you later!). Smile at her courtship story.

Are you still following around with all these "rabbit trails" I'm taking?

ANYWAY! With all her cooking posts, I was surprised (honestly) that she wasn't using Watkins products. Watkins quality is so superior to anything else you'll find, although some may beg to think otherwise (but they'd be wrong). Thru a series of comical events, the box was overlooked for almost two months. Then I got an email from her telling me how excited she was to try everything....that it was Christmas in July....and that she wanted to do a give-away linked to my Watkins website (www.watkinsonline.com/lindasuecarter) ON HER BLOG!!!! She wanted time to review the products to see what she thought of them first.

Seriously, folks, I was so excited I couldn't sleep that night. And that was the middle of our county fair where I was working my Watkins booth for 13 hours a day. With no breaks. I was tired. But too excited to sleep (that ever happen to you?). See, when she does give-aways (which is at least once or twice a week) she often gets over 40,000 comments and entries. Wow! Hello!

Then life got busy again -- a few different magazines did features on her. She was on a few television shows. She won best blogger in the US again for the second (maybe third?) time in a row. She started her new home-school year (and as a home school mom, I know that takes ALOT of time!). She published her first cook book. She's now on a national book tour. And each of these things got even more readers to her blog(s). But still nothing.

Until Saturday. Ree posted a new recipe. One I'm going to try simply because my husband asked me to. I won't have any though (sorry, Ree, if by some chance you stumble on my blog and read it). It's carrot-and-squash curry soup. You can find the recipe here: http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2009/11/carrot-and-squash-curry-soup/. Well, she posted it on her main blog...which immediately posted it on her Facebook page and to all her fans and friends there...and also to her new recipe blog, The Tasty Kitchen (you've GOT to check out this blog if you like cooking! http://thepioneerwoman.com/tasty-kitchen/ -- Mark, you'd like the recipes, you really would).

And I've been getting catalog requests. Orders placed. And am sooo thankful to the generosity of Ree for linking my Watkins site to her blog.

I think she likes the spices. I hope she liked the rest!

THANKS REE!!! (yeah, I'm still excited!)

Friday, November 6, 2009

Catching Up...at last!

Wow, it's been awhile! But...I've been BUSY! Okay, maybe not as busy this past week now that the market is closed, but I've not been motivated to do much but laze around this week. And having a daughter succomb to the flu kinda ruined those plans. Shoot. Oh well, gave her lots of snuggles, even more meds, even more prayers...and praise God, today's the second day with no fever or meds!

Right now, I should be doing our final payroll...but I HATE accounting! So I'm procrastinating (sorry employees!). But...tonight is our employee party, so they have to be done by then! Which reminds me, it was a year ago that my brother arrived from Vegas then rushed me to the ER an hour after he got here...I went home several days later missing a body part....which I really don't miss....

We closed the market for the season last Saturday with a tiny whimper. Weather wasn't too bad, but attendance was way down. Not a problem; God blessed us with an abundantly good year, so much so I'm still very much in awe. The Lord has been very good to us, and I pray we've been a small mirror of His love to our employees and customers.

I've done LOTS of canning this year, but no where near what I've done the past several years...not enough time! Still have to do apple pie filling and chicken soup...but I did over 50 quarts of spaghetti sauce, peaches, and green beans, not quite that much of peas (for Tony, yuck!), cherries, and salsa. Also froze lots of strawberries, raspberries, and cherries, strawberry jam, raspberry jam, and combos of strawberry/raspberry, raspberry/peach, and strawberry/raspberry/peach jam. We still have a good amount of pork left from the half pig we got earlier this year, but our beef is gone...for now. Tony is butchering again really soon. Can I wait another three weeks for a good roast beef? It's so hard..... Regardless, we're set for quite a bit of our winter food! Have some potatoes in cold storage as well. Oh, and I dried a bunch of honeycrisp apples this week, too (not that many of them are left....we've been eating them almost as fast as I've been dehydrating them!).

I've also been trying to gear up to start some serious home schooling with the kiddos...but haven't been too motivated as of yet. Maybe it goes back to that whole kid with the flu thing this week....or just needing to veg out and not do much of anything. But...we do have co-op on Mondays with LOTS of stuff the kids are learning, and Luke and I worked on writing yesterday and more on telling time today. He and Susanna are wrapped up in lots of coloring and art crafts each day. I've been telling myself it's helping them work on their fine motor skills (does that excuse fly right now?).

Tony has been busy taking things down from the Market, winterizing things at the farm, mulching strawberries, spreading manure, you name it. The weather this week has been fairly nice and unseasonably warm (okay, in the 40s), so he's been trying to get as much done as possible before the start of hunting season tomorrow morning. Supposedly, the deer population is down this year (but not according to anyone who actually lives in this area, pesky deer!), so the limit in our area is one deer for the season....and to be able to get a doe, you had to enter a lottery. Tony's name was drawn, but the first deer he gets, the season is done for him. We've been praying that he'll get a deer first thing tomorrow morning! Maybe be able to be home a bit more!

We've also spent lots of time laughing at the kids, as usual. For some reason, Luke has taken to calling Susanna 'missy' -- "okay, Missy?" "Whatcha doing, Missy?" "Want me to help you, "Missy?" You can also tell we spent a bit more time watching PBS kids this week than normal. He looked at me the other night, out of the blue, and said, "Mama, did you know that McDonald's is a proud sponsor of Sesame Street?" I started laughing and asked what that meant. "I don't know....but they are."

He continues to be a quick study in endearing himself to women and saying just the right thing. One day last week when I was feeling a bit out of it, I was sitting at the table downstairs at about 11:00 still in my pjs and glasses, hair flying out all over, hunched over my cup of tea, trying to wake up, when Luke looked at me and said, "Mama, you are so beautiful to me." "What? I'm beautiful? Looking like this????" "Yep, you are VERY beautiful to me!" "Susi, am I beautiful to you?" "Well, Mama, um, I like your shirt and you ring is VERY beautiful!" Yeah. She tells it like it is.

And like I mentioned earlier, she had the flu earlier this week for several days -- red, raw throat, aches and pains, fever, misery. I spent most of Monday just rocking her and snuggling, trying to get her to have any kind of fluids (she did eat grapes but wouldn't drink any kind of water, juice, soup, nothing...hurt too much on her throat). That night, as I was tucking her into bed, she took my face in her hands and said "Mama, you tried so hard all day to make me feel better, but I didn't. I still love you, though." Wow. Thanks, Sus!

I'm also realizing that as much as I love the time change in the fall, it is NOT enjoyable when little people are involved. Today was the first day they both slept until almost 7:00. Most of the week it was before 6:00 (okay, Susi was also up several times a few nights because of the flu). And usually, it was only one of them waking up before turning on their bedroom light around 5:30 and deliberately waking the other one up. So as I tucked them into bed last night, I reminded them "If you wake up first tomorrow and the other is still sleeping, do NOT wake them up. You stay in bed and don't talk." This is what I heard a few minutes before 7:00 today.

Luke, LUKE, LUUUUUKE! Wake up!
What, Susanna?
I had a tewible dweam about satan! Want me to tell you?
Okay. Oh wait, Susanna. Remember what Mama said last night?
If you wake up and the other one is still sleeping, don't talk and don't wake them up. I'm still sleeping, so STOP TALKING!
Oh. Okay. But I just want to tell you my dweam.
Okay, you can.
We were dancing and satan was watching us from a twee!

We also had fun this week with dress up. We don't "do" Halloween, but since it is so hard to find dress-up play clothes, I usually hit the stores right after Halloween and buy costumes at deeply discounted prices. Found about 6 outfits for each of them Monday morning when I ran out quickly to get more meds for Susi. They've had so much fun being a bride, a princess, two different dancers, a gorilla, a race car driver, a clown, a fire man, Captain America, and GI Joe. It's also helped me be able to not do much of anything in my totally unmotivated state.

I mentioned a bit about our home-school co-op. One of the classes they are taking is US History and Science. In the short hour the teacher has, she also covers about 5-10 minutes of Bible, too. I'm amazed at how much she covers in such a short time. The kids have learned about the Vikings, Christopher Columbus, the Mayflower and Jamestown, the Revolutionary War, and we're now starting to learn about the 50 states (2 each week). They've also learned to do some general map reading, what direction is what way, and that's not counting all the science things that have been covered. Each week, we get about 10-20 "recommended reading" books on a list to check out of the library. I've been requesting the books, but most of them are mainly for review since I usually get them several weeks after we've studied each subject. But...the classes are sinking in, as are the books! A couple books in particular have made a big impact.

"The Courage of Sarah Noble" is a book we spent reading over several nights at bed time. It is about a young girl who goes with her father to build a new cabin. Mom and baby cannot come yet, so they go to get things ready for her. Then Dad goes back to get mom and baby while Sarah stays with a new neighbor. All along, through her fears, she remembers how her mother told her to keep her courage...and she does. This has REALLY helped with bed time fears, the darkness, and things in general. And yesterday, when I was pretending to be scared of Luke when he dressed in the gorilla outfit, Susanna looked at me and sternly said, "Where's your courage, Mama?"

"What Happened Next, Paul Revere?" is another great book. It is a little above their heads, but understandable enough for them. And I cannot believe what all I learned about Paul Revere! Did you know he was captured the night of his big ride? That he made dentures? That he had 11 children who lived and another 3 or 4 who died in infancy? That he was born on January 1? Well, at the end of each page there is a question along the lines of "And THEN what happened?" After about the third or fourth time, the kids were really into the book and started answering "We don't know! TELL US!!! WHAT HAPPENED NEXT?????" Luke now pretends that he is Paul Revere warning everyone that the Red Coats are coming...he also likes to pretend he is a Red Coat but is quick to assure me he is a GOOD Red Coat.

I've also been continuing to train my monkeys...I mean my kids....to do all my work around the house so I can sit and watch soaps and each chocolate (not really....soaps are stupid and chocolate doesn't sit well since my gall bladder was removed, sigh....). I do, however, try to get them to do quite a bit of things around the house. They honestly love emptying the trash cans and know how to knot the bags closed and put new bags in, hauling the garbage bags up to the front door for Daddy when he gets home. They also set the table, clean up their own messes before bed time (otherwise, their toys aren't there in the morning...which they've learned twice the hard way). And one of my favorites...they sort the clean laundry for me! All the clean clothes get dumped into a large pile with empty clothes baskets circling the pile. They then put Susanna's clothes in one basket, Luke's in another, socks in another, towels in another, Daddy & Mama's in another, and hanging up clothes on the couch. Since the vast majority of clothes are theirs, this GREATLY reduces what I have to fold. I've tried having them fold the towels and match the socks, but alas, to no avail. Yet. Towels are a bit too challenging still (not the folding, just the amount of them!). And neither of them like to wear the same two socks on their feet, so folding socks to them just consists of putting any two socks together. Which wouldn't bother me so much (after all, matched socks just get taken apart so they can be unmatched...or Barbie dresses...or gloves....), but when they start wearing my socks...and even Tony's, that's a bit too much!

Enough about the kids! My Watkins business is continuing to grow, too. Not just in sales for me, but with my team, too. There are now 50 people under me -- about a dozen of them are under other of my team members. And my volume has greatly shot up, too, as many of my associates are really growing their businesses. I love it! I've earned enough points for a trip to Hawaii in March and hope that Tony and I will be able to go to celebrate out seventh anniversary. My parents offered to come and stay with the kids, yippee!

I've also been getting things ready for our second annual Christmas Showcase. Last year we had ten different home-based businesses involved as well as two non-profits. This year, we have more than fifteen different groups -- Shaklee, Mary Kay, Pampered Chef, Discovery Toys, Tastefully Simple, Tupperware, Young America Essential Oils, Cookie Lee, and several others as well as a MOPS bake sale and Kinship will be doing something, too. One of our local grocery stores will be displaying holiday deli and bakery platters. We have some massage therapists who will be doing 15 minute chair massages for $10. Santa and Mrs. Claus will be there for the kids, and David Overly who starred (and excelled!) in our local production of Fiddler on the Roof will be doing dramatic story-tellings of traditional Christmas favorites. We are also requesting people bring a food item for several local food shelves. It's gonna be a GRAND time...so if you live in the area, mark your calendars for Saturday, December 5, from 10-3!

And a brief update on my nephew Caleb...he and his family are in Washington DC right now at the first National Bible Bee. Caleb did an awesome job yesterday for semi-finals, but not quite enough to make it to today's finals. Ron told me what all was required, and WOW! I am sooo impressed with all those kids and especially Caleb! Thanks for all your prayers and support.

And if this wasn't enough to keep me busy, I still have to catch up with the farm accounting (and ours!). Which reminds me...gotta do pay roll! But we've also been asked to be the featured growers at our Minnesota Fruit & Vegetable convention in January. So I'll be working on that, too......

Keep in touch, and I'll try to post more often! Wash your hands, cover your coughs and sneezes, stay healthy...