Saturday, June 26, 2010

Holy Cow: Part Two

And finally what you've all been waiting for.
All four of you who read this (thanks, Mom).

We are buying a cow! Yep. As in meat on the table, not Pet Bessie in the backyard (though if Chris would let me I would do it in a heartbeat). That means ground beef, steak, burgers... you name it, we will have it in our freezer by the end of the summer. And by "we" I mean our family and three others are going in on the heifer because frankly we can't afford the whole thing by ourselves, not in one fail swoop anyway. Can you taste the freshness in your mouth... ohhhhh yes.

We were originally thinking of going with River Ridge Farms down the road from us to help support local economy...the huge and bustling economy of Ten Mile. We will likely purchase other things such as chickens or eggs from them, but after casual conversation with one of our summer staffers we learned that his family has a farm outside of Knoxville. It's a small family-run farm that has about fifty head of cattle right now. Forrest, whose father owns the farm, told me that those cattle would likely pay for his college. I was sold. Hands down, these were the folks that we would get our slab o'beef from. I was elated and began to ask several questions of the poor boy who graciously humored me with answers and repeatedly told me he would give me his dad's number and I could talk to him... I guess I just couldn't contain my excitement and got a little bit of tunnel vision - eyes on the prize, if you will.

Our beef is free-range, grass-fed up until the last two weeks before it's sent to slaughter, in which those two weeks it is given corn in addition to her regular diet to fatten her up. I can live with that. And even better, Mr. Stroud has a relationship with the folks who process the meat, his family has used them for years, so theoretically we will "know" the hands that have prepared our food. God bless them.

In other food news, I am reading this book:
 I've also read this book of hers:

This woman is my hero. Seriously. She kept me entertained through the first book and now has my complete and intense focus on the story of her family's life-altering decision to move across the country so that they can eat (mostly) locally and tend a garden themselves. Hero.
Chris and I have been tossing around the thought of doing this ourselves, even before picking up her book, and now I just feel affirmed in the decision. Now, I know this isn't something that can change overnight or without a ridiculous amount of planning and calculating, but I wish I could start tomorrow. I think we will start after a rest from our busy summer season. Here are some things I am considering and loopholes we may create:
1. Noah won't be totally included in our "local only" harvest, at least not at first. There are certain things he needs and enjoys that I don't feel is right to cut out for him right now (e.g. Yo'Baby from Stonyfield, whole grain cheerios, etc.). But I am considering figuring out how to make my own yogurt...could be interesting.
2. We live in the country. We have a local farm right down the road that sells produce six months out of the year which could potentially cut out our once a week grocery runs... which the closest store is seventeen miles from our house. That's a big deal.
3. Local equals in-season produce and Barbara's website provides seasonal menus and recipes. Score.
Now, I will likely have to alter her meat selection because of the whole cow we will own in a few weeks.
4. We are considering joining a local co-op, Three Rivers Market. This will help us in the local and in-season part.
5. Chickens. I really really really want chickens. You all should message Chris, phone or facebook, and push for chickens for me. 'Preciate it.
6a. I've already canned (halfway) my first mess of beans. I've learned that one bushel is equal to twenty quarts... I opted for half a bushel. I don't like green beans, but my boys love them. I am giving two away, but the other eight should last us a good while. Next up on the canning menu: tomato sauce. Six to eight quarts of it. This will be my trick: stock up now, can, enjoy in the winter when there isn't much "fresh" to choose from.
6b. If anyone has a pressure cooker they would like to donate I would gladly take you up on it. Or a deep freezer.

Whew. I am wearing myself out and the work is just beginning. We will be busy in the upcoming weeks sorting out the details, making a plan, and hopefully we can hit the ground running after the summer heat. Lots to do. Maybe there will have to be a Part Three to this saga.

So I will leave you with a thought from my dear friend, Barb:

"It is not my intention here to lionize country wisdom over city ambition. I only submit that the children of farmers are likely to know where food comes from, and that the rest of us might do well to pay attention. For our family, something turned over that evening in the diner: a gas-pump cashier's curse of drought was lifted by a waitress's simple, agricultural craving for rain. I thought to myself: There is hope for us."
Taken from "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle", page 8

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Scenes of Summer: Part 1

This photo series will help paint a picture of our life out here on the in the summertime.
(Farm and camp, maybe? I am working on it...more on that later.)

As it
is a summer camp, this is our busy season, which much to my chagrin translates to our family being strangers passing in the night on many days. Not just for me, but Noah now, too. (Except as I sit here Chris is at the dining hall or en route to somewhere with a freshly soiled diaper and a cute boy that I strategically dropped off with him after lunch. Mama has tricks, too.) We are getting better at this summer thing, but it still brings it's fair share of challenges. We seem to be figuring out more tricks to spend more time together on those busy days and it just makes our day much better when we get to play with Chris around camp.
Here is the first glimpse, from our Capture the Flag evening last night:

More to come next week...
Oh, and I have a cow update...check back soon.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Hanging By a Thread

Almost a year ago, eleven months to be precise, Chris and I celebrated the upcoming birth of our sweet baby boy at our first shindig hosted by my best friend, Krystal and her wonderful mom, Diana.  It was here that we all tied a small piece of twine onto our wrists that would serve to remind us to pray for Noah, his birth, his mama, and the world around him as his arrival date was quickly approaching. It reminded me on the "I am so pregnant I can hardly move more than a waddle" days that the Creator was doing something amazing inside of me, knowing my son intimately as he was nestled in my womb - continuing to shape his face, his hands, his feet, his heart, his love, his laugh, his personality - for he is fearfully and wonderfully made. This little bracelet meant a lot to me, not just mine but our friends and family who joyfully kept theirs until Noah made his debut. I became a little more sentimental with mine, continuing to wear it long past October 2nd.
Kristi and Krystal tying on their strings at the Corner Kitchen.
(Noah in womb,thirty weeks)
Well, it was a sad day yesterday here at the Ford Casa.
Worn and tattered, loved and ragged, it was barely holding on... and yesterday when Chris picked it up off the kitchen floor and put it in my hands, asking me if it was mine, I felt a rush of sadness. That little piece of string has been through a lot with me, with us, and has taken on a much larger meaning than just a piece of string. I could have tied it back on, but I didn't. I tucked it safely away with Chris' that had fallen off a few months back (I think around early May according to photos) into my jewelry box where it will likely stay forever. I could put it in his baby book or give it to him when he's eighteen or on his wedding day, but to him it would probably be two pieces of frayed cotton that would get lost or tossed aside.

I know the meaning that it holds and the many times it has reminded me that I am not in charge of my life or Noah's, he is simply mine on loan, and I will keep him and take care of him until he's worn and tattered, loved and ragged. Even on the tough days, which let's face it, are a cake walk to some of the stories I hear, that little string has brought me peace and serenity. It's my hope that even though the string no longer sits on my right wrist, that the peace and prayer and reflection continues. 
Here's to you, little string, for your strength and consistency for the last eleven months:
Noah found the string within hours of his arrival.
(Noah at ten hours old)
Chris' string surviving explosive spit-up. 
(Noah at six weeks)
My string and I enjoyed snuggle time with the boy. 
(Noah at three months)
The string during Noah's first tastes of solid foods. 
(Noah at four months)
Chris' string journeying on our afternoon walks in the crisp spring air. 
(Noah at five months)
The strings traveled to Kentucky for Wilson's play.
(Noah at five months)
At the time when my sister had us all tie this string around our wrists I could have never imagined the sentiment it would have all this time later. I am convinced even more that it's the simple things in life that bring the most joy - the non-complicated, no strings attached, generous, timeless, better with age and experience, photographic, burned into your memory moments that can never be broken or replaced. 
It's just that simple.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Moo Moo Mr. Cow

Welcome to Moe's!
Oh wait. Wrong place.
Welcome to Mayfield Dairy, where our milk is vacuumed and you must wear a hairnet!
And if you are one of the lucky few, a beard net. Yes, there's such a thing. Luckily, Allison, Noah, and I narrowly escaped the amount of facial hair one must possess to score one of those bad boys. Whew...

I like to learn new things about food, agriculture, why fresh milk is amazing
, the area I live in, etc. It makes me feel smart and well-informed...

  • Ever wonder why their milk is bottled in yellow bottles? Let me tell you: Mayfield packages in the yellow plastic because it helps protect the milk from UV rays that decrease the nutritional value and the taste. Within the first two hours of sitting on the store shelf, milk packaged in the regular carton loses 25% of nutrients and flavor. Who knew? (Apparently Mr. Mayfield...)
  • Here's a fun cow fact: Cows spend six hours a day eating and eight hours a day chewing cud. That's fourteen hours of food consumption. Holy cow...
The free tour (checked off Al's bucket list of things to do before she leaves the great state of Tennessee) was "entertaining" as usual, though Al and I both agreed that we could never work in a place like that - showing up for the same job in the same room using/cleaning the same machines with very little human interaction and extremely loud noises every single day. Thanks, but no thanks. I am grateful for the folks who do, but that ain't for me.And of course we grubbed on some Ice Creamier and did a little front porch sitting (thanks for treating us, Allison) where littleford got his first taste of rainbow sherbet (I think this word should end in -bert, not -bet, right?). Like everything else he puts in his mouth, I think he approved judging by the fact that he downed half of our scoop. The boy is an eating machine.

I found a little joy and humor in watching him figure this out.
No babies were harmed in the taking of these pictures.He did eventually figure it out.Allison & Noah... I am pretty sure Al is his first attempt at a girlfriend.Can you see his dirty little feet? Love it.
Love the boy, love the dirt.

I will say that even with knowing the ins and outs of the Mayfield's Dairy, their milk is so dang expensive it's hard to justify buying. I wrestle with this because I know it's better, more controlled, fresher (hello, it's basically coming from my backyard), but I am still a cheap, self-indulging, look-for-the-best-bargain-and-don't-ask-questions, processed-product-filled, American.
Maybe they should start charging for the hairnets to drive down the milk price.
I can't think of anything better than a cherry red hairnet to spend my money on.

Working Nine to Five

What a way to make a living...
According to Dolly anyway.

There's no clocking in or out at my job, but I sure wouldn't trade it for one where you do.
Last week my workload tripled with the addition of the Giusti guys. I am not sure that I was totally prepared for how tired I would be at the end of the week (I am still recovering) with two extra fellas running around. The boys had a blast (I think) all except for the dehydration, exhaustion, and "loss of lunch" on Day Four with Mason... not so fun for anyone involved. He handled it like a champ, me - not so much. If there is anything in the world that I abhor with great passion it is throw-up...mine, yours, the dog's - doesn't matter.
Anyway. Three was fun for the week, though I don't think that we will plan on adding anymore little ones for a while...long, long while. Mamas of multiple children are my new heroes, for real. Especially boys...whew.

Here's a look at the rest of the week, capped off by a visit to Dollywood:
Catching fireflies, or lightning bugs as I was corrected several times.
Mason with his catch, that we later released.
To say Noah loves Aunt J's cornbread is an understatement.Think he's tired?
Introducing Little Chief Streaking Wild Horse.Noah likes to give his paci just about anyone. Mason and mama braving the heat at Dolly's place.
Noah loved spending the week with his cousins and can't wait to do it again...
Let's all get some sleep first.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Fashion Police

We all know (and love) that I am not the person to consult when it comes to anything fashion related...for myself, my child, my husband, my dog, my home. The Good Lord just did not bless me with that sixth sense.
And to be honest I am quite alright with that, and so are Chris and his wallet.
To prove it, this is what you can find me in most days, in some color variation:On some days you may find me with a little more pizazz:Oh wait, not that. Here it is:
And on really extra special, eat-your-heart-out boys, occasions:With all the being said and shown, lack of fashion sense and all, I do know when something is bad.
Bad and tacky.
Bad, tacky, and overpriced.
I give you the latest in the Gucci line of handbags:
The Granny Panty Extraordinaire
#1. Grandma called, she says she wants her bloomers back.
#2. Mr. Gucci and designers, you are all fired.
#3. If I wanted to sport my undies as an accessory, I've got plenty to choose from in my maternity stash.
And lastly, I think I'll save my bajillion dollars and buy something a little less "fashionable".

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Bathing Beauty

It's been a whirlwind around here for our pseudo family o'five this week... worth every less minute of sleep, speck (read: chunk) of dirt on the floor (which may or may not have been there before this week started), a potentially broken shusher, extra dirty underwear strewn about the house (extra as in "in addition to" not "extremely"), puddles of spilled milk on the table, and anything else that comes our way. I might not be able to stand up, sit down, or toot at the end of it, but I am so thankful that Chris and I live and work at a place where our nephews and nieces can come and experience things they never have before, learn something cool and fun that blows their little brains, and hopefully fall more in love with this wonderful thing called summer camp. It's in our blood, they might as well go on and love it...or at least pretend.

Day two and three: Cheese, fuzzy "daddy" caterpillars, nature center, naps, lightning bugs, blue jello, water galore.
.Dos Giusti Boys at Camp John Knox, waiting for the dinner bell.
Have you ever seen anything cuter?Now you have...Hmm... looks like he could be up to something down at the waterfront... Well-balanced meals: three food groups: cheese, cheese crackers, & jello.
He had water to drink?
At the end of the day, full of sugar and out of energy.
Or full of energy and out of sugar?
Oh well.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Cutie Patootie

Shockingly this post isn't about how stinking cute my boy is, though he is still rocking the adorable factor.
It's about this sweet boy:
Carver, five months
This is the darling boy of my friends Kristi and Daniel (check out their blog for hilarious adventures in parenting and K's insights on today's students), and he is too darn cute for words. He is entered in a Cute Baby Contest. Go here to vote for him and pass it along to your friends.
I mean, really, who can't say "yes" to that face?

And because I know you are all going to vote, here's a freebie (but if you don't vote you cannot look any further on this page):

Monday, June 7, 2010

Footloose and Fancy Free

The benefits of living at camp and not having neighbors:
A little front porch fun...
Nephews feel right at home. And that is perfectly fine by me.
Day Two of the Giusti Fellas: swimming, sunbathing in the buff, crafts, new friends, corn dogs and ranch dressing, movies galore.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Not-So-Happy Meal

We all know how great I am at being on time for things...
And unfortunately this usually manifests itself not so much in my arrival time to destinations (most people probably don't care what time I arrive), more in sending things like birthday cards, gifts, RSVPs... so it always appears that I am aloof and can't seem to keep my days and weeks straight. Partially true, however, to my defense, if I am late sending something it usually has more to do with the fact that I am lovingly laboring over thoughts and ideas of how to make your day extra special. Just a few days after the fact.
I am working on this.

So for Mother's Day, which these "holidays" I am particularly bad about, I decided to make something for our mothers that they would both find useful and enjoy using. There is a big "reusable shopping bag" craze right now, so I thought I would make them one that was their very own since our mamas are hip with the latest fads, you know. I finished my mom's first and sent it out the day before Mother's day-- a day late to her, not too bad, right? It took me a little longer to finish Mama Nancy's due to my week's work schedule, but alas, it too was finished and ready to be sent. It may have even sat in our car longer than it took me to make, waiting to be mailed the next time we were in town.
Chris was running some errands one day so I asked him to go on and send it... this would make my life much simpler than the time that I mailed out four items at once with a baby on my hip. I am sure it looked like a three ring circus...but it got done, nonetheless. So like the good little boy he is, he sent it on its way, note inside and all.

It just so happens that the Fords were coming up a few days later, but I thought we could get it to her before they left, and then she could proudly don her new digs when they were up. And had the "incident" not happened, that's probably how it would have gone down. But no...

Oh, no.

I got an email from N last week after they arrived home that went a little something like this:
N: we are home from north carolina
. thanks for my happy meal mermaid doll for mothers day.

Me: happy meal mermaid doll? what are you talking about?

N: thats what was in the package...

Me: from me and chris? um. no, that's not what we sent you.

N: well that is what i got, indeed i thought you made something for me...but when i opened the package, mailed on may 19th from kingston, tennessee and with chris' handwriting on it, there was a long blonde haired mermaid doll inside a happy meal plastic wrap. (she is 5 1/2 inches long, teal body and purple tail) i thought there was some hidden message...and said thanks. was it for abigail or anne lois maybe? also it was in a ready post photo document mailer sent first class at $1.73. anyway thanks.

-----Sidenote: At this point I am thoroughly confused as you can imagine... thinking to myself: I sent Chris to do one thing, ONE THING, and he sent his mom a mermaid? What the heck...-----

Me: I have NO idea what in the world happened. Someone must have swiped your gift... we have no idea how a Barbie got in there. That is weird weird weird. Was there a note in there? We know nothing about a mermaid doll... Chris says that sounds like the packaging it was in and the price it was to ship. It was a reusable shopping bag, like I made for my mom as well. I will have to do another one. That is freaky weird... I am a little perturbed. Did the package look like it had been messed with? Maybe the labels got switched? You look around your apartment complex and see if anyone is carrying around a green flowered bag with blue edges. They stole it...

no note, the end with the tear strip was not tampered but the flap was packing taped closed. there was no return address on it either. my name and address was written directly on the envelope. i will save the envelope. yep sounds like someone made a switch. you may want to report mail fraud but i don't know those rules, etc.

Me: Yep. Someone definitely messed with it...ugh. Makes me angry. I will be reporting it for sure. That's so sketchy.

What the heck? Who steals a Mother's Day gift? I mean, I thought it was special and priceless and all that other sentimental stuff, but I would never expect some random person to covet my work so much that they must have it at any cost. Including mail fraud...

Really, mail thief, really? You will go down for a felony for a shopping bag? They will think you are
real tough in the slammer. Maybe your cellmate will like your flowery bag... Oh, but thanks for replacing it with a HAPPY MEAL MERMAID! Very nice... wouldn't want the receiver to think that I had sent them junk.
Maybe it's a USPS conspiracy.
They really want you to insure your packages. Their budget depends on it.
Or else they will take your flowery bags hostage.
Until you break...

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


Alright, Seven, I have a bone to pick with you. You went by far too quickly, ushering in the heat and summer rains as you scurried through. But, I should say that you've redeemed yourself, bringing these amazingly cute and fun things for my boy at eight...and Eight, you better behave yourself or you're next (how does my mama voice sound? Good?):

1. "buh buh puh puh": these are Noah's first "words". I think the "buhs" are his attempt at "ball" as he will find the ball in the room as he says it and someone else repeats it. His "talking" (not squealing) is also done in this faint whisper, like he's really thinking hard about it because he doesn't want to mess up what he's saying. Very cute...
2. Littleford has two new chompers. Well, more like one and a half... but still. They are so darn cute up there on his top row...kind of big and bucky like his mama's. Poor guy. Should we start saving for braces now?
And he likes taking them for a test drive--on my shoulder, finger, cheek, and most other fleshy parts he can get his grubby little paws on. Ahem, except for two in particular, thank goodness. For those, he will be cut off, thank you very much. For now, he knows where his bread is buttered.
3. He plays with the things in his crib by himself after he wakes up now. I listened to him for forty-five minutes talking to his teddybear that his Aunt KD gave him and his pillow buddies. When I scooped him out of his bed he was just sitting there, talking to them contently. Maybe he was being bossy and telling them what to do, who knows? I know that I love that he loves his bed... makes my life very easy.

4. Standing on his own isn't too far away. He's started to take his hands off of whatever he's holding onto while he is standing, briefly letting go before realizing he's not touching anyone or anything. He then either grabs ahold again or sits down. We thought we were in for it when he started crawling--bumps, bruises, mischief? Oh man, it's only just beginning. And I still hate the tile floors...

5. Papa Bo taught him a new game--it's called "You Squeal and I Will Echo as Loud as I Possibly Can". Very funny to watch. I think he relates it specifically to Papa though because when I started playing the other day after his nap, he was looking around for the person squealing as I hid behind the door. Once he realized it was me, he continued to look for someone else. Funny boy.
6. Independence is already becoming important to him. He doesn't want you to put the food in his mouth if he knows he can pick it puffs, fruit, bread. He wants to do it and lets you know that he does not approve if you attempt to do otherwise. These are the peculiar type things that each kid does differently, which makes it interesting to watch other people try to live in his world. I know he's quirky, he's my kid, but I think he expects other people to know the "rules", too.
7. He's experienced grass for the first time. I know, I know, probably shocking that the girl that wears a magical crystal and wants to buy her own cow hasn't had her boy in the grass until now, but you see, our yard isn't really a kid-friendly yard. It's slopey and rocky and full of things that he wants to eat. Not to mention, there is no grass to speak of. But alas, he's gotten to feel the tickle of the blades on his little feet down at the waterfront and then again in Florida... though I am not convinced he likes it.

8. We may have a pompous one on our hands. He got it from his daddy... Noah loves to look at pictures of himself, specifically the one at the top of the blog. He grins real big and makes this "eh-uh" noise, as if to say, "what's that?"... and I tell him that it is Baby Noah and he gets all bashful. If I close the window or look at a different page (not that I would ever want to look at anything other than my own blog) he continues to make the noise until I put it back on that picture. Silly guy. He will also grab at the frames in the hallway, specifically the one that is mostly of him, and wants me to tell him all about the photos. Same with "the baby in the mirror"... it's okay, he can love his own face. I sure do... Love his little face I mean.

There are dozens of other new and fun things that he is doing and continues to learn that I could go on and on about, but alas, they will have to wait until Nine. I will say, though, that as he continues to develop his own personality and (sometimes) sassy-ness (can't imagine where that came from), I am finding it more difficult to leave him with other people or let other people help me with him. Not in a "you can't take care of my child way", more in a "but if he makes this noise or that face you couldn't possibly decipher what that means" sort of way. I have been learning him and getting to know him for almost seventeen months now and it's tough to let other people into our little world...especially living in the 'docks where we are mostly on our own the majority of the time. It will take baby steps for me (no pun intended) but really what I have to remind myself is that more than likely he is fine, it's only me who feels the anxiety. And granted, it's usually unwarranted, but nonetheless it's there. And as long as I can figure this out now, which I am, hopefully my moodiness and anxiety won't transfer to him or get to a point where he notices. I'm not a headcase, yet, but I don't want to get to that point.


The Giusti Two (Mason and Walker) are coming to stay with us for a week of camp. We are super pumped and looking forward to a fun-filled week of craziness. This may help us to decide the number of kiddos we can handle...some people are blessed with large families and do a beautiful job at being big, like my sisters. Others, on the other hand, are fine and dandy a tad smaller. We shall see... chaos can be addicting.

And if they are all this cute, who could resist:
I mean, really.

Humbly Proud... be "published" on the Living Felt homepage!

Beth Fords
First Felted Project!

Beautiful Baby Mobile!
This Baby Mobile Was
Made Using Our
NZ Corriedale Roving
Visit Beth's Blog
'Produced Locally' For More Pictures

Yes, that's right. Humor me and please go check it out... the bird mobile and blog are pictured and linked on the right side of their homepage! I am so honored...I'm like a kid on Christmas.

I received a very appreciative and encouraging email from Marie at Living Felt about how she read the blog, loved the pictures I sent, and congratulated me on my first project. She also mentioned that she would hopefully be putting the mobile up on the blog later this week. More folks could take lessons from this sweet company in customer service. I will continue to purchase my felting supplies through LF, regardless if I can find it cheaper elsewhere. I am that impressed in just a short time...

Not only do I get to be on the homepage and blog, I am also entered to win a gift certificate for supplies for their monthly contest. It just gets better and better...