Harrison Farm

for now, the only thing we're growing on this farm is kids - not the goat variety

Author: Milkmaid (page 1 of 30)

He thinks I can

By nature, I’m really not a very ambitious person. I’m happy to go along to get along, to do just enough to keep up with what’s average and call it good enough. No need to overdo things, right?

A reverse layup going up…

Then there’s Marathon. He gets kicks from pushing himself. There’s always something new, always something to understand more deeply, some new way of pushing himself.

Marathon also pushes the kids to work hard and go deep…and I get pulled along too, you know, because I don’t want to miss out and get left behind.

But I am getting left behind as they pass me in height, physical, and yes, even mental strength. And that’s okay. It’s wonderful, really.

But I don’t have to get left completely in the dust, especially with Marathon in my corner. Somehow he knows what I’m capable of, and he believes in me more, I think, than I do myself at times.

Case in point: chemistry. We’re started the Khan Academy chemistry course as a household. Ugh. I really thought I would have had to bail out weeks ago, that it would just be too much to tackle with keeping up with the household and with work obligations. But I decided to try to carve out an hour a day and see if I could hang on.

Yesterday we reached the end of a unit, and Marathon went ahead (so like him) and did the unit test. It took him X minutes, and he told me he thought it would take me about double that. Today I took the test. I didn’t rush. It took me exactly the amount of time he had predicted. The test was nine problems — no multiple choice or matching. It wasn’t easy. I got every single one correct! Moles, balanced equations, limiting reagents — this stuff is sticking to me in my mid-40s!

Another case in point of how Marathon seems to know what I can handle — reverse layups. Do you know what that is? It’s a basketball move where a player moves under the basket and as he passes underneath, he reaches up and lays the ball in. It’s backwards from the “normal” layup. All three of our basketball-playing kids love this move.

Well, as you can imagine, as the kids are getting taller, faster, stronger, it’s getting hard for me to keep up on the court. Doodle can shoot threes, Sudoku “moneybags” is dangerous anywhere within 15 feet of the basket if left unattended, and Rosebud’s ball handling can leave even grown men flummoxed. Where is there room for me?

Usually I just help the kids with their basketball quests as needed, stuff like rebounding for someone’s shooting drills. If I’m not needed, I’ll go and hit a tennis ball until someone works up the teams for a game, and then I’ll typically get matched up against Rosebud.

About a month ago, Marathon encouraged me to start working on reverse layups. He thought having that skill would be a way for me to take a greater part in games.

Ugh. Really? Me? Okay, I’ll give it a shot.

So, I’ve been working under the basket on those neck-tiring shots. And, yes, I’ve been getting better and better.

Today was the day I successfully executed a reverse layup in a game. There were cheers all around, from both teams. I think Marathon was more excited than me. It was also special because Carman had come out to play with us this morning, which is quite rare.

Thanks, dear, for believing I can when I’m not so sure.

Thanks to Michael Li for the image.

Filling a child’s tank

By the time Thursday rolls around I’m having withdrawals. I’m ready to get my weekly toddler fix. For over a year now Sudoku and I have been volunteering weekly at a SANAME orphanage, and we love going. There are some horror SANAME stories that occasionally make the news, but there’s a lot of love to be found at the “lactantes” home where we help. From my point of view, the problems are not with the quality of care, they’re with the system. Children and parents go together. Not children and group homes.

Today one little toddler was unusually fussy. This little girl is a bit moody and can quickly turn from smiles to tears. A couple of weeks ago, I picked her up when she was ornery and was promptly warned by a new worker that the child wanted to be “en brazos” (held) and that she would cry even more when put down.

This wasn’t the first time I’ve heard such warnings. I remember getting comments from well-meaning adults about my own babies. Put them in a sling instead of in the grocery buggy and you hear, “You’ll spoil that child. He’ll never want to be put down.”

Nothing could be further from the truth. Fill a kid up, and they’ll feel secure enough to walk away from you. Did you ever see an 8 year old who wanted to sit on an adult’s lap all day? Of course not! Not even a 4 year old. Not even a tiny toddler, if they know they can get their fill of affection and security when they need it.

So don’t be afraid of spoiling your little ones. If they want to be held, do so with confidence and without feeling guilty. Enjoy that they want to be near you! It won’t last forever…and that’s as it should be.

Painting a memory

On the short trek from our apartment to the nearest park, maintenance workers from the condominio often roll out the garbage cans for the daily trash pickup. With hundreds of apartments, you build up a lot of trash in just 24 hours.

Oftentimes, the trash crew is there, shuffling the cans around, putting them one by one in the mechanic device that lifts and dumps their contents in the truck. The trash crew is a friendly bunch and have grown accustomed to our scanning over whatever is sticking out of the trashcans. We have no shame.

Most of it is truly just trash, but we’ve found a few treasures. We had a working telescope in our apartment for a year, thanks to not being too proud to bring home what was left in the trash. “Is that what I think it is? Do you think it works?” “Let’s take it and see.” It was! and it did!!

Then there was the time I found a beautiful, large woven basket. There’s one particularly friendly trash man who saw me pick up the basket. He walked over and said something in a serious, almost concerned tone about “huevos” (eggs.) I didn’t catch much else he said. I thought he was probably saying something about it being a traditional Chilean basket for gathering eggs — lots and lots of eggs (as it was a BIG basket). That’s what I wanted to believe he said, I guess. I noticed a bit of colorful dust in the bottom. No biggie. I shrugged, and told him I wanted it. He shrugged back and held out his hands as if to say, “Take it. It’s yours.” 

Take it I did. When cleaning out the colorful “dust” at the apartment, I saw little tiny worms emerging from the thick straw. Now the “huevos” comment made sense. At least he tried to warn me. He probably got a chuckle when the basket showed up in the trash again the next day. If I had had a big enough freezer, I could have frozen the little buggers. 

One day, we found a large, nearly blank, approximately 3′ x 5′ canvas. On it was a crude sketch of a rooster, done in pencil. The frame was very slightly warped but otherwise in good condition (and no sign of worms), so we brought it home. That faint rooster sketch lasted about a year or so before we 1) had the time and energy and 2) the inspiration to do anything with the canvas.

Over our “Christmas” holiday in June (I know, I know…sounds crazy. But try celebrating it during the longest days of the year and you’ll understand why we do it in June instead), we set to work. 

We chose a photo of a happy memory back in Chattanooga and planned our painting by superimposing a grid on the digital picture. We then lightly penciled in a corresponding grid right on top of the old rooster. And then we set to work painting the background. When needed, we avoided painting over the intersections of the grid to help with the placement of things in the foreground.

I say “we” because this was a family effort. All six of us took turns sharing ideas, techniques, and doing the actual painting.

We’re newbies at this. This is just our second attempt at a painting like this, but it’s so much better than our first.  It’s far from perfect. There were a few parts that we really messed up and did over, and there are some funny mistakes we made and just let be. I don’t know that we’ll ever “fix” them.  We used 3M strips to pin the frame to the wall, fixing the slight warp. 

It’s a happy memory — the time and place of the subject and the process of creating the painting.

Update for Ralph Moody (“Little Britches”) fans

Long-time readers know that we’re big fans of Ralph Moody and his memoir book series that begins with Little Britches. We have several posts around Moody and his books, this one being the most popular.  If you’ve not visited that post lately, the comments — of which there are many — are worth reading. You’ll find bits and pieces of hard-to-find Moody family history, for example, and a comment from one of Ralph’s granddaughters. Read and enjoy!

“Ring of Fire” Solar Eclipse

The skies were cloudy in Santiago this morning, but in the south of Chile, a rare sight occurred in the sky: a “ring of fire” solar eclipse. We watched it online. 🙂  And even on our computer monitors it was breathtaking.

Here it is, seconds before the “ring of fire” eclipse was complete…

And here it is complete…

Here are those images again, lightened so it’s easier to see the red.

Music Makers

Part of Doodle’s daily school routine is to write a short piece of music for Rosebud to learn and later perform for us on the recorder.  Doodle’s compositions kill two birds with one stone: they press him forward with music theory, and they provide Rosebud something new to play now that she’s worked through our recorder book.

Doodle picks out a tune using a keyboard app on a smartphone.  He’ll sometimes have a question for me (“I forgot how to make an eighth-rest,” or “How can I show that she should repeat this section?”)  Then he neatly writes his song and passes the composition book (a spiral bound notebook) to Rosebud.

He’s come up with some clever tunes.  And though Rosebud sometimes complains (“This one is too hard,” or “Doesn’t this measure have too many beats?”) the overall verdict is that she enjoys it.  How do I know?  It’s Sunday afternoon.  She has no music obligations, and she’s in her room playing through some of Doodle’s tunes…for fun!

Most of Doodle’s tunes are original; sometimes they are inspired by a piece of music he knows or has heard (I’m talking to you, VogelJoy); sometimes he’ll write a round or duet; and sometimes Doodle will write a descant for a song we already know.  So sometimes the family can sing along while Rosebud toots out the harmonizing descant.  Fun stuff.

Here’s a sample of his work.

DSC00395

 

 

 

Animando

The Santiago Marathon was a couple of weeks ago, and a leg of the course for both the marathon and half-marathon was a block away.

Sudoku, Doodle, Rosebud and I walked around the block just in time to see the tail end of the lead runners skirting by.  We stood on a street corner at about the 13km mark of the 42km race with a few other spectators to cheer on runners as they passed by.

I’m always struck by the diversity of people who attempt this 26 mile run: young, middle-aged, over-the-hill — they are all present.  Rail thin, overweight, long and short-legged…it’s a mixed, motley crew.  They all are suffering together.  I prefer to just admire them from the sidelines. 🙂

Doodle jumped in and ran a short piece while things were still thinned out.

Santiago Marathon bandit

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Gluten Free Yum Bars

Yum bars

This is an original.  And they’re good!  Good enough to serve to gluten eaters.

Here in Chile, while shopping at La Vega, I managed to happen upon a tiny health-foody booth.  They didn’t have a big selection at all, but they had some puffed quinoa I had never seen before.  It is quinoa “inflatada infusada con miel”.  That is, puffed quinoa infused with honey.  It tastes as sweet and crunchy as bad-for-you boxed cereal.    I decided to get a small amount, not sure how I would use it.

Months later (I’m slow) I had the idea of trying a granola bar.  After finding several different recipes, I came up with my own concoction, and have made it twice now.  Just thinking about them, I’m ready for more, but alas! my bananas are too green!

If you don’t have access to honey infused quinoa, just use regular puffed quinoa, or any other puffed grain (millet, rice, etc.)  You might want to increase the honey just a tad,  but really these are quite sweet.  I plan to cut back a bit on the amount of honey the next time I make them.  Hope you like them as much as we do.

Ingredients:

4-1/2 cups old fashioned oats
3 cups puffed quinoa (infused with honey or not), rice, or millet
1-1/2 cups chopped nuts (walnuts, almonds, peanuts, etc.)
1-1/2 cups raisins
1 Tbsp vanilla
3/4 tsp salt
3 tsp cinnamon
3 mashed bananas
3 eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 cups melted butter
1 cup honey

Directions:
Grease a 9x13" pan.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix all ingredients.  Press into pan.  Bake for ~20 minutes.  (I'm really not sure about the temperature of my oven, so you'll want to watch it closely the first time.  They may need to cook longer.)

 

 

Gluten-Free, Protein Rich Pancakes

Inspired by Kimberly of vogelJoy, the kids and I tried her pancake recipe.  Only a fellow busy mom would think to bake her pancakes in a baking dish.  Really, now…why hadn’t I thought of that before?  So practical and yummy to boot!  You can find the recipe in the first episode of the vogleJoy show.

The next time I made them, I went messing around with the recipe and came up with a runny concoction that was so thin it would take forever to bake in the oven.  I sighed since I’d ruined everything, and proceeded to cook the pancakes one at a time in the skillet – old style.  And you know what?  They were super yummy!  As in, I made them again on purpose.  Even though I had to stand there and flip.every.one.  (I think you’ll like these, Mom.)

Here’s my you-have-to-stand-at-the-stove-and-flip-every-one spin off recipe:

Ingredients:
7 eggs
1 cup yogurt
1/4-1/3 cup butter
1-2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
2 bananas
1 t soda
1 cup rice flour

Direction:
Put all ingredients in the blender and blend well.  Then cook in a buttered skillet.
Not having maple syrup, we topped ours with fresh raspberries & yogurt.

Fresh French Cut Green Beans

fresh French-cut green beans

Until recently, to my knowledge, the only French-cut green beans I’d eaten were canned and from the store.  Enter the Wonderful Man.  As I’d mentioned in a previous post, he has a few family members who work with him.  He’s a quiet man who prefers that his younger helpers assist the customers, collect payment, and make deliveries, while he mostly stays back in a far corner of his produce stand, keeping the zapallo wedges cut and replenished.

He also slices (not snaps) green beans back in that corner.  He slices them longwise, and they. are. so. good.  I usually cook them the day I buy them, which is the day he cuts them, so they’re super fresh.  I prepare them the way I imagine my mom’s mother would: boiled/steamed in a bit of salty water with a spoonful of meat drippings.  Yum!  Wish you could be here for dinner tonight!

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