Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Ford Excursions

Cheesy, yes I know.

In case anyone was worried, Hotel de Ford is back in full swing after a sweet little lull right at the close of the summer season. As mentioned before, we kicked it back off with the Giusti family escaping the heat of their AC-less house and getting in one last footloose jaunt before the booger picker, I mean, Mason started Kindergarten. (I am wrestling with whether or not I should re-word the previous sentence because I could potentially make my sister cry for two different reasons in-between that capital letter and period containing only thirty-five words. Well, if she's going to cry anyway, might as well leave it.)

This past weekend Matt and Heather, the married ones, made the eight hour trek from Savannah to come and spend a way-too-short weekend with us. This was their first time to our house (Matt came last summer to the first house we lived in at camp, remember, the big one.) and we were so glad they came up. The funny thing with them is that we go long periods of time without seeing each other, like since Christmas, and then it seems like we see each other a few times close together, like in two weeks in Tallahassee.

We ventured out to the Market Square Farmer's Market on Saturday morning, admittedly our first time going since we've moved here, and let me just say, I may have found my heaven on earth - or at least my heaven in Tennessee.

Fruits, vegetables, fresh bread, jellies and jams, handmade goods, hippies, diaper-clad bathing beauties, and sideshow-Joes galore. Heaven. We even got on "the list" to join a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) in the spring! We could have joined now for the rest of the year, but we decided that we would save up our cash and join next May - $17/week for a half-box containing 5-7 variations of farm-fresh goodness. I wish I could remember the name of the farm, but crazy enough, I didn't write it down or take a picture of their stand - come next May, say good riddance to Kroger's produce aisle.

The five of us grabbed lunch at Tomato Heads which happens to be right in the middle of Market Square - how convenient. And delicious. They are all about the local, in season, and fresh - music to my ears.
Our pizza was phenomenal and a victory all in one - it's not very often you find ONE pizza that all four folks, especially with me around, will agree on and love. And that's saying a lot considering I typically pick off at least one topping on every pizza I eat, but when you know it's so fresh and local it's hard to disregard the hours of love that have been put into that mushroom and olive.

Matt, Chris, Heather & Noah at the Market
Accordionist on stilts and his lovely lady.Noah and his daddy playing in the water.
Next year he will be one of the naked babes running around.This kid loves the water. Loves.
You would think after being surrounded by food galore we wouldn't be able to eat for at least a week. For us, this is not so. In Ten Mile fashion, we had to take Matt and Heather to eat at the Marina - it's a must if you stay with us for more than one day. And the Braves game was on - bonus!

Noah is trying out new smiles these days.
I am partial to this one.
The gang outside the Marina.Matt & Heather at Watts Bar Lake.

Sadly, or not so sadly depending on how you look at it, the more I educate myself about food, our food industry, where it comes from, where it doesn't come from, I find myself more and more picky about what I eat. Maybe not so much picky as I expect food to look good, taste good, and that I feel good about eating it. For me, this was not so with my selection at the marina. Breaks my heart because I love the little place, but it opens up a whole world of questions about the quality that they are serving when I can visually see the problem - makes me wonder what I can't see.

Anyway, that's for another post.

We had a briskly wonderful weekend with the married Uncle Matt and Aunt Heather...they have to come back when they can stay longer.

Oh... and one more thing:
Happy Birthday to my mama!
She had me 26 years ago so that makes her at least 37.
Here's to a year full of blessings and bliss!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Booger in the Sugar

...no it's-not.

To show that I play fair and not favorites, it is pertinent that I share a story that my sister, Heather, specifically looked at me and said, "Please don't put this on the blog,"... even if it makes her crawl out of her skin, it's a must read. Kids say the darnedest things and this kid in particular is quite funny.

Mason, age 6
The Giusti clan (minus Mike) came over and stayed with us for a few days last week. We were busily cooking dinner and maintaining the other wild banshees while Mason was taking a bath. (Note: The bathtub is practically in the kitchen. No children were left unattended while bathing.) He was playing, pretending, make-believing when he asked Heather what this blue plastic pot was that he was playing with. She said "That's Aunt Beth's snot-cleaner-outter!"...to which he promptly dropped in the water and scurried for something else to play with.

He landed his hands on a clear plastic cup that has lime green coloring on the bottom to which he asks, "Why is the bottom of this cup green?"...to which Heather responded, "That's where she puts her boogers." I tell him it's green because the boogers turned it that color. His face distorts and again, he promptly drops the cup.

Seeing the opportunity of a lifetime, because after twenty-six years and plenty of tattling I know the way my sister feels about the olfactory and it's functions, I ask, "Mason, what color are the boogers you eat? Green or yellow?"

He thinks about it for a minute.

"Yellow."

And if you listened close enough you could hear a little part of my sisters heart breaking. And her skin crawling. And her head spinning. And the steam blowing. And her innermost being dying.

And me laughing, quite loudly.

And Mason going on bathing.

Random Fact: There are studies that show that kids who eat their boogers turn out to be healthier adolescents and adults. The boogers boost their immune systems and ultimately help ward off the common cold and other such funkiness.

Explains why I've always been so healthy...

Friday, August 20, 2010

Sweetness

Nothing is finer than sipping sweet tea and blogging in the moooooorning. 
Oh yes. There is.
Doing all of the above with this little face looking up at you:
I mean seriously.
Fiiiiine.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Hi Ho the Dairy-O

...the Farmer in the Dell.
Remember that game Hi Ho Cherry-O? Oh my word, it was one of my all time favorites. I am sure I owe a lot of siblings, cousins, and friends many apologies for incessantly asking to play this game. But I was really good at getting those little cherries in my bucket.

And we're back...


We have been going down the road, literally, about once a week for the past couple of months to a local farm. And I mean local, as in, it doesn't even have a name. So "backyard" that I have tried to introduce myself to our "Farmer in the Dell" and I can't understand what he says when he tells me his name in response...and I've been raised a southern gal, still can't catch it. He probably thinks I am a stalker, always asking his name.


He has all sorts of stuff: corn, beans, melons, okra, tomatoes as big as your head, cucumbers, peppers, squash, zucchini, cantaloupe, potatoes, sunflowers for a quarter a piece. They are open ten in the morning til sundown and you can buy as much or as little as you want.

Just put your money in the jar that is screwed shut and bolted to the table to which Chris commented, "I don't even know how he gets his money out of the jar," when I asked him if he thought we could make change in the bucket.

And if you buy seven bucks worth of stuff and only have a ten, leave the three extra. It's going directly into local economy. It couldn't be more direct than that. Farmer Dell will greatly appreciate it and it will likely be fruitful for you next season. More money = more seeds = more crops. The plenty is bountiful.

These melons were beyond huge... like 42 weeks pregnant huge.
Corn anyone?
Find a Farmer in the Dell and take your kiddos. They will love it, too. And what could be better than feeding your kid fresh goodness grown in the same dirt you walk on everyday?

Noah is especially fond of the cantaloupe...and his daddy.
And get your canning britches on because your kitchen will be covered in garden goodness...that you can enjoy all year. Local and in season. Legit.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Kick the Can

In the spirit of our Earthloving reduce-reuse-recycle mantra, Chris has found a way to wildly entertain Noah with an empty puff canister.
For hours.
Days.
And it's hilarious to spectate:

video

I assure you, no babies were harmed in the filming of this video.

Can't Teach an Old Dog New Tricks

...but you sure can learn a new trick for the dog.

As promised, Noah's new trick that highly benefits our four-legged eating machine:
video

Come have a meal with us. I bet Noah will throw his beans to you, too.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Always, Sometimes, Never

I snagged this little self-assessment piece from Kacey, one of my co-counselors my first summer at Camp Crestridge. I stalk her blog frequently, well, because I am inspired by her creativity and insight on life's little blessings. So when I read this I wanted to turn the mirror on myself, Second Nature style, and see what I could find. Here it is and don't you judge me:

I always:
  • laugh at myself for silly and random moments.
  • love the smell of Noah's head after he takes a bath.
  • kiss my husband good night.
  • have at least two projects going on/unfinished at the same time.
  • get annoyed when watchers clap after a good movie.
  • could spend hours in a craft/fabric store.
  • cringe at the thought of having a Popsicle stick in my mouth.
  • go straight to the clearance rack of clothing stores.
  • roam the "Natural" aisles of the Kroge looking for good deals.
  • wish the crispness, not cold, of fall would last a little longer.
I sometimes:
  • shower twice in a 24 hour time span.
  • wish we still worked at Second Nature.
  • over-commit myself to make people happy.
  • miss living in Tallahassee - Gordos, you will be mine in three weeks.
  • think it would be nice to have more friends our age in a close proximity.
  • reminisce on Crestridge days, wishing I could go back just one more summer.
  • feel shy and awkward when giving people things I made for them.
  • act like a girly girl - pedicures are good for the tomboy's soul.
  • wish I could prove the Ford's Nothing-Else-Is-Going On-When-Focused-on-the-TV-Especially-When-Sports-Are-On Gene to be absolutely genetic - and sometimes annoying.
  • cry at PBS specials.
I never:
  • lock the door to our house during the day.
  • carry cash - though we may go on a cash diet.
  • could be a vegetarian.
  • want to see Noah feel pain, physical or emotional.
  • have, do, or will like green beans - or any cooked greens, with the exception of okra and peas, for that matter. I am twenty-six years old, I don't need to "just try them" anymore.
  • mowed a lawn.
  • am good at saying goodbyes, I often avoid them altogether.
  • have watched any of the Star Wars movies, new or original.
  • air my dirty laundry on Facebook - if it seems like I am complaining I am likely being sarcastic. If you want the dirty drawers, you'll have to look here.
  • thought I would live out in the country in East Tennessee - and love it.
So what does your reflection show?
Be honest, be real, but be kind to yourself.
I found myself going to a "picking" place quicker than seeing and acknowledging good qualities in the reflection.

We are often our own biggest critic - challenge yourself for the next week to put one positive thing in each category each day. I'll do it if you will...

Leaving on a Jet Plane...

Meet Allison. She's my friend.

Al, Noah, & Me at CLS.

Allison & Noah at our Easter pancake picnic on the porch.
I have shared our adventures on here before - Mayfield Dairy, Easter, pumpkin carving, coffee shop talks, loving on Noah, etc. - and today, she is flying across the country to move her life to Tacoma, WA for at least a year. And from Ten Mile, TN, friends, that's a little more than a hop, skip, or a jump - combined.

Our friendship has unlikely roots and an even more interesting path, though it seems inevitable that God wanted us to be friends long before we actually met. She is the little sister of my college friend, Rebekah, who I graduated with in 2007, but I never met Al in the two years I knew of her while in Tallahassee. My brother took a job at Camp Living Stones that summer, where Allison had been a counselor in previous summers and was returning once again. I emailed (maybe even myspaced) her randomly telling her who I was, who my brother was and what he was going to be doing, and asked her to please be nice to him. (I'm a good little sister like that.)

Little did I know, or anyone for that matter, that Matt and Allison would eventually date after that summer, Al would move to Englewood, TN to work at camp in the office, I would meet her a year later, and that she would tenderly change my life, my outlook on friendships, and be a constant and a blessing in an ever-changing season of my life.

This all sounds normal and simple, right? And for the most part it is... except that a little over a year ago (March-ish of 2009), unknown to me, Allison and my brother learned that God had other things in mind for each of them, but they decided to remain friends as best as possible.

In my opinion, this is when most folks would sever the ties with the significant other's family members for the sake of healing and moving on. Nope. Not only did this not happen, I was not even aware that the relationship had changed. Allison treated me, Chris, unborn Noah, my mom, dad, sisters, nieces, and nephews the same as she always had - sweetly, tenderly, genuinely.

I cannot begin to explain how thankful I am for her. For the time she spent loving me (us) when I know at times it wasn't easy. For putting herself in awkward situations. For being comfortable in my home with my family. For listening. For listening. For listening. For praying with and for me. For snuggling Noah. For warm, familiar hugs. For hilarity. For humility. For strength and encouragement. For tenderness. For her passion and love for others. For her selflessness. For her might and her sass. For her creativity and giving. For her laughter.

I will miss Allison dearly, but like I told her, Tacoma is so blessed and lucky to have her for the next year. I know she will make her way into the hearts of the people she meets there - her new roommates, the people she will be helping, a church she will find, a local coffee shop - and they will feel the same as I do when she has to eventually go from there. God has big plans for her and I can't wait to see where she goes...

I just hope for me she stops by Ten Mile on her way...

Monday, August 9, 2010

Brush Your Teeth and Save the Earth

I will start with a confession of sorts: I rarely shave my legs. Maybe twice a week in the summer, twice in a once in while during the colder months. (Insert whatever synonym of weird, gross, and repulsive here...feel sorry for my husband here...continuing reading when done.)

I have much better things to do with my time than remove hair from my body that God obviously put there for some rhyme or reason. I think I have the woods to blame for this... camp, Second Nature, being married to a fella who doesn't really care about the hair on my legs...it all kind of melds together.

But I have had my eye on an amazing razor that I stumbled upon several months ago in the "Natural" section of the Kroge. It's bright greenness - color and earthloving - called to me.

The beaute that may change my hairy legs forever.

And what, one may ask, is so special about this seemingly normal and disposable looking piece of green plastic?

It is made completely out of recycled yogurt containers, minus the blade part of course.

Scratching your head at this one? I know I was blown away.


Yep. This company,
Preserve, has been around since 1997 when they made their first toothbrush out of recycled #5 plastic. And they have been making and developing more products -tableware, razors, kitchen utensils, etc.- ever since. There is tons of info available on their website, but the gist is this: The founder, Eric Hudson, was committed to the need to use our earth's resources more efficiently and responsibly. Starting small with the toothbrush he recognized the growing market for recycled products and capitalized.

Amazing. It made me wish that I shaved more to justify the purchase at the time. Unfortunately, it's price, at first, didn't beckon quite as friendly as I had hoped. Considering I still had several disposables at home, I could't justify the $6. Ugh.

But the thrill of living on a budget is watching and waiting for products that you really enjoy to become affordable. And today, ladies and gents, was our lucky day. The razor and refill cartridges were on a closeout sale at Kroger, for half price! Not only did I score a razor (feel less sorry for Chris here because I may just be enticed to shave more) but we are the proud owner of two new toothbrushes, also half price. (Sidenote: I also found an expired coupon that would have saved us another buck. Blast.)

Can it get any better? Shaving, brushing, and recycling all at the same time?

Precious.


Being the good earthloving nerd that I am I came home and researched all about the company, who they are, why they do what they do and I stumbled upon the greatest thing I've seen in a long time: Toothbrush Subscriptions.

What does that even mean?

Well, it's simple. For $13, Preserve will send you one toothbrush every three months as the dentist recommends. They send your first one in a travel container, the remaining three in mail-back packages for you to send your used one back so it can be recycled into lumber used to make picnic tables and park benches. Oh yes, it just got better.

I think I am in love.

And I think I've just found my new favorite gift to give...I just need to know your bristle preference.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Ten

For sake of not having an emotional breakdown over the fact that my little baby has hit the double digits in months, I am going to skip the cutesy antics and conversation I typically have with the next month and get right to the list.

But, Eleven, I'm watching you.

1. Noah's parents aren't the only ones with the watersports bug, he got his start this month on the boat as well. Dennis and Stephanie took the Ford Family out on our own tour of WBL and I think Noah enjoyed it as much as the rest of us... Once more and he might be as good of a skier as his paternal grandpa.
Noah lulled in the arms of Mrs. Stephanie.
Can't tell who is enjoying it more.

As soon as we docked he woke right up.

2. Our home has been like a daggum revolving door this summer with folks coming to and fro, in and out, just stopping in or passing through. We've had parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends - lifelong and new, and a partridge in a pear tree. And I love it. It gives me an excuse for my house being dirty.
Abigail was able to come and spend almost two whole weeks being "Mama Helper" while her brother and sister were at camp in North Cackalacky. We played, swam, skied, ate ice cream, crafted, watched movies, and loved on Noah. You would never guess the amount of help an almost-six-year-old could be, but I could definitely handle a little helper more often.
Pretty girl at the marina for dinner.
She made her hair flower.
Also among those visitors were the Chanceys, Chris' mom's side of the family, who had never been here before. Their visit was too short, but we managed to pack a lot in. Oh, and I am pretty sure Noah was likely the draw that brought them across the mountains. I mean, who can resist him?
Aunt Meg, Chris, Jamie, Shelley, and Uncle Roy on the two-cent camp tour. Jamie helping Noah enjoy his newly crafted JD tractor,
an early birthday present from the Chancey family.
Can you believe he's to the point where he can be receiving "early birthday" presents?
3. Grits has learned that it's to her benefit to have a baby in the house, now that he knows how to feed her. You see, instead of leaving it on his tray or in hiw bowl, Noah thinks it's a good idea to pitch his food on the floor when he's done. The instant gratification to watch the pup gobble it up makes it even better. Once our computer is released from the Geek Squad, I will share a video of this lovely pasttime. Until then, this will have to do.
These two are quickly becoming partners-in-crime.
4. Camp was, is, and always will be part of the interwoven fabric of my being, Chris' too. (We became one when we married, so do we just have one fabric now, or are we looking a little more like stonewash denim?) So naturally, being born into our family, brought home to a camp house, Noah's fabric is already tie-dyed with splashes of camp...which is why it's incredibly special for us that he has gotten to meet a whole slew of Crestridge folks, and his first Crestridge baby friend.
Ashley/Templeton came to see us the first weekend of July,
thus winning the prize for meeting our little guy first.

We jet-setted to Boone for a few days, meeting Krystal and her family for the first time.

Capping off the month with a Bridal Shower, Noah was pleased to meet Kristi & Carver...

Picture to come.


As well as Debbye and Nancy who joined us for the shower in Black Mountain.

5. Noah and I spent what seems like half of July in the mountains, either in Balsam or Boone. He's explored mountains, streams, wildflowers, abandoned houses, blackberry bushes, wild ponies, rock climbers, mountain peaks, and more...all from the comfort of my back. He likes to hike, looking around to take it all in. Of course, I would probably love it even more if I got to ride on someone's back. Any takers?

Hiking around with my mom and dad on their first visit to YASNY.Hiking up to see the original homestead on the mountain.

6. Teeth numbers five, six, and seven are poking there way on through. I am fairly certain these little boogers have been the most painful for him, even still, he takes it like a champ. These little white specks are constant reminders that he will never stop growing, never stop changing - no matter how hard I try to convince myself otherwise. I find myself wishing he could just keep the four little charming chompers he has now... we do live in East Tennessee, that's a lot by some standards.

Beware of biting baby...I recommend visually counting the teeth.

7. All along our sweet guy has been extremely laid-back and very low-maintenance, rarely putting up a fuss for much of anything. And now he's discovered all the new things his voice can do - and boy, does he use them. He has learned/taught himself/concocted this high-pitched-nails-down-a-chalkboard-make-your-hair-stand-up-glass-shattering scream that physically makes my body hurt when he does it. This cry is reserved for when he is not getting his way, say at naptime when he thinks naps are for babies (I've got news for you, kid) or at mealtime when brocolli just ain't cutting it. It makes me want to leave the room - and if he is adequately supervised (some days Grits counts) I may just walk away.

Don't let those big blue eyes fool you.

8. Alas, our child is no longer a vegetarian. Unless he chooses to go Veg some other time in his life, he can always say he was until he was ten months old. And the first meat of choice? An all-natural beef frank - yep, a hot dog. He devoured it piece by piece and probably would have gone back for more. His face is all shiny and his little fingers are slick with all-natural grease (ha) when he finishes. I wonder if my strange hankering for hot dogs when I was six months pregnant could have been Noah letting me in on his preferences while in the womb? I wouldn't have touched a hot dog for nothing before then...


Noah says, "Thanks, Aunt KD, for my first (of many) scrumptious hot dogs."

9. Noah has learned the wave. Not the sportsfan phenomenon of people standing and sitting in repetition as the "wave" moves across the stadium, though that would be impressive. He's telling people "bah-buh" while awkardly waving his limp hand in the air. He doesn't really have the timing down yet, so he will likely kick visitors out of our house or try to depart early from places, but it's so darn cute you can hardly stand it. He uses "bah-buh" for greetings and salutations accompanied with a wave so far... though he does say "ayeee" which is definitely his hello.

Hola. Aloha. Bonjour. Hiya. Hello there. Hey y'all.

10. And last but absolutely not least, our little one has found his M's and has been working on his "ma-mas" all month. Melts my heart, yes it does. Does he call me mama? Well, no - anything can be "ma-ma" at this point, but it's started, and that's all that matters.

Loving on his mama before we floated down the river.

So yes, time flies when you are having fun and even sometimes when you aren't (see number seven). We are looking forward to lots of fun things in months eleven and twelve, but it's okay if they take time getting here.

Sidenote/Apology:
There are LOTS of pictures and videos that go along with this update, but our computer has been captured by the Geek Squad, so they will have to wait. I thought I ought to finish the post itself before I got fired. From life.

Upcoming on the blog: More of my thoughts and opinions on life, love, saving the planet, changes, and things I find consuming my time these days. Stay tuned.