Monday, June 25, 2012

Grace Enough and Some Summer





Pool Playdate Party celebrating Summer at our house this past Friday

Our summer nature table


Dancing to music at a local summer concert

Ah it seems summer in in full swing here. Since my last blog (I believe it's been two weeks) we have been having lots of fun, with some tribulation. I think I am beginning to hit my stride with three children. Don't get me wrong, I have tough days. Days where I feel like I get nothing 'constructive' done. But I try not to let that get me down or define my day. In the end, loving and connecting with my children is more important than stressing myself out by cramming our schedules or cleaning like a maniac. A friend recently told me that as long as nothing is growing then we're doing OK, and so far that hasn't happened yet! 


And in all honesty I think now I have the perspective to know how fleeting these days are. I'd rather remember playing, cooking, and cuddling with my kids, than dusting. But that's just me. 


Right now my family is in an interesting state. We are trying to plan out our 'school' for the next year. Our intention was to home-school all the kids until at least the 1st grade, and we'd still like to do that. However in recent weeks, my husband and I have come to realize that Jonas is having some real issues with speech, versus just taking his time. I am not going to get into too many specifics because at this point we just don't know what exactly is going but we do knot that something is awry and that he needs help. Help that I alone cannot just give him. So he is going in for an assessment on July 22nd. 


In the meantime, my husband and I are in a big 'what if' stage. Since it is looking like Jonas is going to need us and our help a bit more, what about Deirdre... and homeschooling? Will I have the time to do it? What is best for her? What is best for Jonas? Oh yes and the baby? Ah, as you can see there are many questions. I think I change my mind 3 times a day about it all. Not to mention the whole gamut of emotions I am feeling about Jonas and the hardship he is going through. I had some really low points recently. Nothing brings you low like when your children experience hardship, as I am coming to find out. 


The upside is that it is just speech that Jonas is having trouble with. He understands everything we say, interacts, and is just such a loving fun guy. Last week we started potty training him and I am happy to say he is now trained, and he did it himself mostly! 


So all in all, things are going well. I am enjoying the kids and this time, even if I don't have all the answers and everything planned out. But then again, I never did before now either. I have faith that God has grace enough for me and my children and the Craig and I will make the best decision we can for them and our family. And quite frankly that's pretty freeing. 


So I'll leave you with some photos of the past 2 weeks. And please remember my family in your prayers. We could really use some discernment and peace. 

Until then, 
Nicole 

Making homemade icecream

Making pie-crust for our blueberry cream pie

Potty training, woo-hoo! Also yes Jonas got a much needed haircut in the past two weeks. 

Saturday, June 23, 2012

{this moment}


{this moment} 
A Friday weekend ritual birthed by SouleMama. A single photo - no a few words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.
If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.

Brynna Lisette at 10 weeks old. 
She has fully discovered smiling and cooing. 
Be still my little heart...

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Virginia's Peaches: Picking and A Canning Recipe








Hello dear friends! I am so excited to share with you bit of our peach picking trip that my family took this past Tuesday. As I mentioned in my last post, Summer for us is fruit filled. Beginning with strawberries in May and ending with blueberries in August (plus apple in September),  we spend our summer picking and day tripping. 

Last Summer we managed to squeeze in strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, and apples. However this year my daughter is determined to pick everything that comes in season... in our state! Sadly we already missed cherry season by two days due to a late frost that killed most of the orchard's crop but I was happy to discover peaches just came in season. So we packed all the kids up- baby too- and headed to Charlottesville which is about 2-2.5 hours away. While the weather was a bit cloudy and sprinkling on our way up, the trip was so worth it.  Once you've picked and eaten a fresh peach- all other peaches will pale in comparison. 

The orchard we went to was the same one we visited this Autumn with our co-op, Carter Mountain. I have come to really love this place. The set-up is great, especially for families. It is also beautiful. Every time I visit this area of our state, I don't want to leave. I adore the mountains.  After we picked, and treated ourselves to some fresh baked peach donuts and peach cider slush- we headed home to make peach cobbler, juice, and jam. 

I used my bread maker this time to make jam. My machine specifically has a jam setting! I was given this maker for Christmas from my mother. I use it almost daily. You'd be surprised how many things is can make. I primarily use it to make dough, so I can shape and bake my bread it myself. But I digress, I will just have to write a bread maker post another time!







I doubled and slightly modified the recipe that was included in my bread maker cookbook. You can also follow this recipe by using your stove top, just skip down and I explain that process below. 

Also if you blanch your peaches first, it makes peeling them so much easier! 


Virginia Peach Jam

Ingredients:
-4 cups of peeled and sliced peaches (if yours are not mushy ripe yet then you'll need to slightly mash them)
-2 cups organic sugar
-1 tps of apple pie spice (optional but I liked the extra kick it gives) 
-5 tps of lemon juice 
-3 tbls regular fruit pectin (optional but since peaches have less natural pectin in them and your jam will be a bit runny and more like preserves if you omit this)

If your using a bread machine, select your jam setting and sit back! Once it's done transfer your jam immediately to their jars. If you don't process them in a hot water bath, then you will need to keep your jams in the fridge or freezer. Processed jar will last 6 months in your pantry. 

If you don't have a bread machine, just add all the ingredients to a large boiling pot and bring your jam to a boil, stirring constantly. Once you've got a rolling boil add your pectin and boil for two minutes. Then remove from heat and transfer your jam immediately to their jars. As I said above, if you aren't going to give them a hot water bath to seal the jars, you'll need to put them right into your fridge or freezer. 

Cheers and Enjoy!
Until next time,