Tuesday, June 26, 2012

8 Years

Eight years ago hubby and I were married.  It seems like yesterday and forever all at the same time - both in a good way. To celebrate we are having a date night .... on Friday.

Today we dropped son off at the fire academy.  He will have his "graduation" on Sunday.  Hubby made a few phone calls for the drill he is in charge of tonight at the firehouse and then he went to bed.  I'll make sure he's up in time to get the pizza for the meeting.  It's the middle of his work week and he was up all night and will be back in again tonight making the world safer.

I took youngest to the post office (wohoo) to mail a care package to oldest.  She's in need of toiletry items.  She would love cookies but food is still not allowed.  We then went to the library.  The place I could stay forever.  She picked out three books - two comic and Sherlock Holmes four books in one binding.  I looked through the cookbooks.  My group is cooking Mediterranean for the potluck dinner at our next class.  I wanted a few ideas.  I'm trying out the recipe I picked tomorrow night on the family.

Youngest then received a manicure and pedicure because I'm such a meany.  Her nails are now a pretty magenta.

She's off to the firehouse tonight with hubby.  So, I'm watching Bridesmaids.  I was able to pick that up at the library.  I hope it lives up to all the hype my coworkers gave it.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Phone calls

I either receive none or a whole bunch.  Before I completed yesterday's blog I was interrupted again - in a good way - and lost my train of thought.  Not that it takes much for that to happen.

Here are the other things going on in my life at the moment.
  • My new garden bed is dug, composted, turned over and planted.  I have some beautiful perennials planted in the center of the bed for a pop of color and herbs all in picking distance from the "walk way."  I have lavender, anise hisop, patchouli, lemon basil, basil, dill, lemon verbena, parsley, rosemary, thyme and lemon thyme in the bed.  I also moved all of my rhubarb up to that bed.
  • I've put bark mulch down in all the beds that were neglected last year.  I rotate which beds get a fresh coating of mulch.  I do this out of budget restrains more than anything.  I weed the bed, put a layer of newspaper down and then cover with bark mulch.  This tends to keep the weeds down and the moisture in.  I have no special weeding technique - good gloves (most days) and my hands.  Once I'm out there time slips away and I find it very meditative.
  • Oldest is at boot camp.  She has joined the National Guards to pay for her college.  She is in the military police.  We have heard from her more since she went to Fort Leonard Wood than we have since she moved.  The letters are coming fast and furious.  We have been trying to keep up.
  • Son goes to the fire academy next week.  He'll be there a week. 
  • We meet with the recruiter when he gets back for early sign up for the Marines.  He had to wait until he completed his junior year.  I just hope the Marines can live up to his expectations.
  • Since son's goal is to be gone right after graduation next year this summer will be the last family vacation with him.  We're headed to Northern Maine for lots of hiking.
  • And since he won't be with us next summer we've decided instead of day trips for April vacation we'll take a vacation.  It looks like a few days in Gettysburg, then Dayton, Ohio to the air museum (I'm told it will take at least two days to see the entire museum), and then off to Indianapolis before heading back home.  The kids like the plan.
  • Yesterday we headed to the New England Fire Chief's show.  Hubby and son headed up in the morning and youngest and I joined them.  This gave the guys time to look at trucks, lights and equipment without us getting bored.  Youngest snagged a t-shirt and stickers for the back of her helmet.  She wanted a remember 911 one and one with a female firefighter that says "Fear this boys." Yeah, she's my girl.  I found a sticker for son's bronco.  It's a bull dog fire fighter.  Sorta combines the marine mascot and fire fighting. Then we headed to this little hole in the wall pizza joint.  Hubby said the servings were big but....  Youngest and I each ordered a small pizza and the guys ordered calzones.  We couldn't all sit at the same table.  The small pizza was bigger than most larges.  I'm looking at 5 servings at least.  I took pictures - I just have to figure out how to get them from my phone to the computer.  OK, I loaded the pictures - that small pizza takes up the table at a booth for four people. 

  • Youngest flipped through the clearance catalog of a teen clothing catalog.  I told her to circle anything that sparked her interest.  Does she circle the sexy sayings or outrageous things?  Nope!  She circles the green t-shirt that says "mean green recyclin' machine."  Yeah!!!!!  OK, she really is my girl because she also circled the shearling lined "leather" motorcycle jacket.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Where was I?

I started typing this blog post and my mom called.  Dad is out to breakfast and she had a few moments to chat without interruption. Plus, she needed help with her e-mail.  I talked her through finding her contacts, editing contacts, adding contacts and getting her e-mail to show up in her in box. 
I believe I was reflecting on the fact that I blog more when there is drama going on.  And I'm happy and blessed to say life is pretty drama free.  I've learned over the years to step away from the drama and to pick my battles.  So, let's see what have I been up to lately. I'm stealing the bullet point idea from another blog.  Maybe it will make my scattered thoughts more coherent. I'm not promising anything though.

  • School is out for the summer.  Report cards are in.  Youngest did great and son passed everything.  Youngest had her promotion ceremony and is now in high school.  This came on the heals of winning the Principal's award.  My proud bragging mom moment.  This is awarded by recommendations from the teachers for students who show great character.  Both my girls have received this award.
  • Son's bronco is on the road.  The 1987 Ford Taurus that his sister left for him was totaled.  A woman pulled out in front of him.  No one was hurt! :)  He was kinda happy because the car was not cool.  It was free and the insurance was cheap but....  He was able to pick up a 1994 black bronco.  Hubby and him did a few minor repairs and now he has a manly man vehicle.  And we don't have to drive him back and forth to work.
  • I'm slowly reading my homework.  The assigned book is for our teacher in August.  It is a tough read.  Usually herbal books are pretty quick reads but this.....  It goes from the authors text to his journal entries on the text to quotes from various sources.  I've started skipping the quotes which really distract from the text way more than they clarify it.  I'll give a full review when it's done.
  • I have completed the first draft of my herbal intake form and plan to tweak as I do my first intake.  I'm starting with my mom.  This way I can get some family history and a list of her meds.  I know most of the family history and my parents assure me that they have a list of their medicines written out and in strategic places in case of emergency. 
  • I had my review at work.  We have new clients starting soon and my boss wanted to know if I would be willing to go back full time.  It was made clear that if I wasn't I could be laid off when a new full time person was hired.  So, after much talk with hubby I let my boss know I would be willing to go full time.  This may never happen.  I'm praying it doesn't. At some point the money just isn't worth my time. 
  • And now, the count down is on for vacation.  And plans are being made for our April vacation.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Herbal Training

Week end number two of my advanced herbal training has come to an end.  This month we studied face diagnosis/organ systems with Margi Flint.  Laurie Freeman helped us with an A&P crash course on the nervous system Friday night and started Saturday and Sunday morning with a plant biology walk.  Around here we call those weed walks.  But, not there.  One person in our group said weed walk and everyone looked at her like we were talking a walk to smoke.  Any way, it is a great plant ID walk.  And Sunday was a vigorous hike on the medicine trail.  It's great looking at the some of the same plants each month as they change so much.  The most difficult part is sitting for so long.  But the info is wonderful.

I'm slowly learning more and more names.  There are 35 people in class. 

Friday night rained.  Really, really rained.  OK it hailed.  It made it really difficult to hear as we sat in class in the yurt in the woods.  Saturday and Sunday were wonderfully sunny.  Enough that we had class outside. I started Saturday in my cute little skort and matching shirt.  For the weed walk I threw on a sweatshirt and my muck boots.  I planned to change for class.  But, even though it was sunny there was a cool breeze.  My outfit received many comments on my funky sense of style. I think I might have to repeat the ensemble.

Sunday was sunny and warm.  Class was great.  And Margi was able to fit in lots of face diagnosis.  Classmates were able to look at volunteers to see what they could see on a person's face, nails and tongue and then Margi would confirm and add to the comments.  I was lucky enough to be one of the volunteers.  Yeah!

Next class is July 6, with David Winston.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Garden time

Friday night hubby and I took the kids for dinner and then stopped and picked up a truckload of bark mulch.  It was supposed to rain Saturday so we put a tarp on it. 

Sunday morning I woke to sunshine and put on the gardening gloves and boots and set to work.  I moved the rhubarb to the new bed and planted a hydrangea from MIL, the last of the plants from my week end at the farm and the herbs I had bought on Earth day.  I relocated a rose bush that needed a little more sun.  It seems no matter how far apart you plant things they are soon encroaching upon each other.  And I dug out the last of the "weeds" in my front bed.  I'm not sure what they were but those roots were big and deep.

Then I started on the bark mulch.  I pull weeds as I go, layer newspaper and then a generous amount of mulch.  Youngest came out to join me with no prompting.  She was a big help.  We managed to get half way through the mulch before I needed to shower and head off to my shamanic dream group.

Today hubby and I are off together.  If the rain is not to heavy we will be spreading the last of the pile. And then I can take a few pictures. 

As I go from flower bed to flower bed I reflect.  When I first built the house every plant I bought had yellow flowers.  But I see also that I went through a blue/purple phase.  Lately it's hot pinks and red.  Interspersed among my hosta collection and herbs. 

And it looks like the chipmunk enjoys green strawberries.  There were big berries on all of the plants not even a hint of being ripe yet and now...... nothing.  The gooseberries though are plentiful and will soon be ripe.  Now if I can get the blackberries to ripen before hubby gets weed whacker happy I'll be all set.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Step Mom

I know many people seek out this site looking for advice or kinship as a step parent.  Let me just say that this -  I am a step parent and this is my diary. I write about what is on my mind at the moment.  Some days it is a vent session so that I can go on about my day in a more joyful manner and other days it is about my day to day activities.  From my lay out you can see that I love to cook and travel. Lately I've had very few things to vent about and a lot more of life to talk about.  And that is due to a combination of bio moving away, oldest joining her and the drama going with her. 

When I met hubby (again for the first time) I knew he was a single Dad of four.  I knew he had custody of all his children.  I knew dating him would involve a total package - him, kids, a dog and an ex-wife.   And I took the step off the edge of the cliff......   and don't regret it for a minute.  Hubby was the man I'd been looking for.  He compliments and supports me - he doesn't complete me.  I'm complete all by myself.

We were a couple months shy of our 35th birthday when we met.  I knew that a relationship with hubby meant I would not be having any biological children.  I was OK with that.  I know women have have healthy babies into their 40s.  But that is not for me.  I always thought I would have children but had never seen myself pregnant.  For me the clock was almost done ticking.  And when I saw the mind games bio played on her children I knew a blended family would never work.  Bio would have convinced the kids I loved my biological child more than them. 

I love children.  They come into this world so innocent needing love and guidance.  So many do not receive this and it breaks my heart.

A few people told me not to marry hubby.  Being a step parent is hard work with little reward I was told.  And being a parent is any different I asked.  These children come into our lives by birth, adoption, foster care, step parenting or other means and we love them.  I don't love my children for the reward. 

Parenting is the hardest thing I've ever done.  I knew it would be.  I have done everything I know of to be a good parent.  My job here is not to be liked or to be their friend.  My job here is to put myself out of a job.  It is to raise children who can function independently as adults.  Adults who have a foundation built on love and the skills to be themselves.  I gave up a lot of things to raise my children.  I would have done the same if I had birthed them. 

I went part time at work to spend more time with them.  I am at every parent teacher conference, school function and open house.  I cheer on their sports games.  I drive them back and forth to.....everything.  I teach them to care for themselves - cooking, cleaning, maintenance, checkbook balancing, budgeting skills and the list goes on.  I cut back on my volunteer work to involve them in life.  I have taken them to museums, restaurants, vacations, hiking..... and showed them that life exists outside the bubble of the house. I learned early that there are no maybes.  Hubby answered son with a maybe when we were first dating.  That means no he said.  Hubby said it meant maybe.  With bio it means no.  From that moment on my answers were yes, no or an explanation.  Maybe, if the weather holds out (or whatever the case may be).  I would hold family meetings in the morning to lay out the game plan for the day.  My kids really need structure (I think most do).  They are looking for boundaries as well and it is up to the parent to define them.  They can't cross the line if one isn't set.

I modeled what a mature relationship between a husband and wife is.  There are no screaming matches, stomping out of the house and unfriending each other on facebook.  There is communication.  There is mutual respect.  There is agreeing to disagree. 

At the end of the day I can sleep well knowing I did my best.  It may not have been perfect but it was my best.  And if I was wrong I apologised. 

Being a step mom works for me for many reasons.  I'm not a week end mom.  I have them 24/7.  Hubby parents with me.  He sees me as a partner not someone trying to discipline HIS kids.  They are our kids.  They do not call me mom.  I let them call me what they are comfortable with; that is Kim.  When we were first married the girls started calling me mom and bio put a cabash to that.  And as far as youngest is concerned moms give birth and step moms take care of you.  I don't take anything personally.  They have lots of issues.  They love their mom even though she is abusive.  I have never referred to them as my step children.  They are my children. 

Friday, June 1, 2012

Rhubarb

This past week end was the family Memorial Day picnic.  My in-laws host a huge family picnic for Memorial Day, 4th of July and Labor Day.  Everyone brings a dish or two to share.  The first time I attended my rhubarb looked amazing so I brought a rhubarb pie.  It became sort of a tradition.  And although I'm told you can bring any thing to the picnic one year I didn't bring the pie.  I'll never do that again.

My rhubarb looks awful.  It is spindly and in need of some TLC and an enriched soil.  I put in a new bed loaded with compost and will be moving the rhubarb.  This way the rhubarb can thrive and I have room to work on the old bed.

My mom scored some rhubarb for me.  Our old neighbor's daughter's ex-husband said my parents could harvest his.  {My Dad has the gift of gab.  He could talk to the door post and make friends}  And score they did.  I need 4 cups of chopped rhubarb to make a pie.  That was two stalks.  I had to slice the stalks in half lengthwise before I could start chopping.

 I made two pies.  One to take with us and one for us.  I also made bread.  I then chopped the rest of the rhubarb and put it in freezer bags in four cup allotments.  It really makes it easy the next time I make a pie.  I had enough for 6 bundles.

And I make rhubarb pie; not strawberry rhubarb pie.  The thought grosses me out.  I had a bad experience with strawberry as a kid.  It wasn't the poor berries fault but it's something that sticks with you for life.

Crumb Top Rhubarb Pie


Crust:  1 cup flour
            Pinch of salt
            1/3 cup shortening
            3 to 4 Tbsp. cold water

Filling: 1 ¼ Cups sugar
           3 Tbsp. corn starch
           ½ tsp. cinnamon
           ¼ tsp. nutmeg
           4 cups sliced rhubarb
          2/3 cup chopped pecans

Topping: 1 cup flour
              2/3 cup sugar
             ½ cup butter

Heat oven to 400º.

In a large bowl combine flour, salt and shortening until crumbly. Mix in water one tablespoon at a time until moist and you can form a ball. Roll out dough and put in a pie plate. Crimp edges.

Stir all filling ingredients together. Pour into pie shell.

Mix toppings together until crumbly. Cover the filling. Put foil on the exposed crust. Bake 50 to 60 minutes. Remove foil during the last 10 minutes.


Rhubarb Nut Bread
1 ½ cups brown sugar
2/3 cup oil
1 egg
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup buttermilk
2 ½ cups flour
½ cup nuts, chopped
1 ½ cups rhubarb, diced

½ cup sugar
1 Tbsp. butter


Beat together brown sugar, oil and egg. Add baking soda, salt vanilla and milk. Mix. Add flour. Mix. Add rhubarb and nuts. Mix well. Pour into two greased loaf pans.

Mix sugar and butter. Sprinkle over bread. Bake at 350º for one hour or toothpick comes out clean.

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