Wednesday, March 7, 2007

A Day in the Life...

I think a good place to start is to describe our day, a typical, wonderful day of living.

We woke up; T-Guy (age 8) was snuggled in bed with me (he was wiggling and not sleeping, which is why I woke up). J-Baby (almost 7) was still asleep in his bed. Papa had gotten up early to go for a bike ride.

Thomas and I made our way into the office; I did a quick email check. We checked the weather as it was very cloudy, but it turned out that it was still supposed to get relatively warm. We heard Papa at the gate so I turned off the computer.

We said hello to Papa. Papa went to wake J-Baby, who refused to wake up. T-Guy told me that Papa was singing the song (When the Red Red Robin Comes Bob Bob Bobbin' Along) wrong, and that J-Baby needed us to sing it to him so he could wake up. So we did; I snuggled him while we sang because we all think snuggling is a great way to wake up. Papa showered, I got dressed. T-Guy and I took a peak at the garden.

We met in the kitchen for breakfast. T-Guy wanted toast, J-Baby had the last of the granola I had made (note to self: make more granola), and Papa and I had oatmeal.

We decided to hang out in the office. I wanted to calculate our average March electricity usage for the past 5 years and set a goal to use 15% less this March. We've been very successful at lowering our consumption by 15-25% each month since last May. We now use about 1/3 of the electricity that an average North American family of four uses. I then updated the finances.

While I was doing this T-Guy started writing some words, and he decided to make a book. J-Baby was expressing some frustration that he can't make his own train layout (we are building a large layout as a family), so I suggested he draw a picture of what he would like his own layout to look like. He wrote a couple of words as well, then moved on to draw another picture and to create a game using colored bits of paper stapled together. T-guy was stringing wooden beads.

Once I finished the finances and a post to the Waldorf at Home message boards I decided we needed a snack, so we made our way to the kitchen. On the way there I saw the dirty laundry, so T-Guy and I finished sorting clothes and got the first load started. Then I did the breakfast dishes; sometimes Papa has time to do them before he leaves for work, and sometimes not. Everything had been rinsed and put into the sink, so it was just a case of loading the dishwasher.

T-Guy ate a banana and an apple, J-Baby ate an apple and a piece of string cheese. I skimmed the cream off of the raw milk we had purchased, and we proceeded to make butter (just a was only 2 quarts of milk and I am inexperienced at skimming). The boys were enthralled - obviously they don't remember doing this a few years back. It took about 20 minutes total, to shake and then wash the butter (we put the small amount of buttermilk into the refrigerator to use in cornbread for dinner). After that we made ice cream. I thought about making an easy cottage cheese, then realized I had put the stove grates in the dishwasher.

While the ice cream was freezing T-Guy stepped outside to shoot a few hoops. J-Baby played with Legos in his room. They came back to taste the frozen product. I loosely adapted from Sally Fallon's Nourishing Traditions vanilla ice cream recipe (I finally decided that I had to read the book instead of fairly well dismissing it each time someone recommended it). We used:

1.5 C. cream (organic, pasteurized but not UHT)
1.5 C. raw milk (organic, some cream skimmed but certainly not all)
.5 C maple syrup (organic)
1 T. vanilla extract (organic and fair trade)
3 egg yolks (from pastured and organically fed local hens, a small flock of 50)

I combined it all in a VitaMix, then froze it in a Cuisinart ice cream maker.

If you've been a long time reader of my blogs, you know that most of the time we've tried to follow a vegan diet. It wasn't working out for Jake after he went gluten free, and we had introduced pastured eggs, but then he was diagnosed with an egg white allergy. Anyway, to make a long story short he is eating raw cheese, organic vanilla ice cream, and raw and/or cultured butter, and he is doing really well. I tried dairy, but promptly broke out in eczema and had some other allergic reactions. Thomas and I can manage the butter, however.

Papa came home for lunch, and we started a quick flurry of various food preparation. I heated refried beans (made yesterday) and organic corn tortillas for the boys, while Papa made T-Guy a salad. T-Guy ate the salad and requested another one. I grated cheese for J-Baby while Papa made guacamole for T-Guy. T-Guy ate 3 big bean tacos, J-Baby ate 2. Papa had a big salad. I had a medium-sized salad dressed with ventresca tuna in olive oil, which is a delicious way to dress a salad when you are not allowed to consume any vinegar, citrus, or juices, or dressings made from those ingredients.

Our lunch conversation started with subtraction, but quickly made its way to division. The boys love dividing numbers. T-Guy told me he'd really love a subtraction workbook; he has a Kumon Addition workbook that he pulls out once a month or so and seems to enjoy. I recalled having some DK math books and promised to look through them to see if they'd be suitable.

Papa did the dishes, I cleared the table and wiped the counters, then switched the laundry with help from J-Baby, and folded the dry load. T-Guy was out shooting hoops again, J-Baby asked to do a handwriting practice sheet.

T-Guy started a story CD for their quiet time. I researched Native American stick-dice games. I looked at the DK books and decided that I prefer Kumon workbooks. The DK books have easy concepts and good visuals to reinforce them, but they assume the child is reading. With my beginning readers it's best not to require too much reading when they are working on other concepts, because they will tire easily. I finally remembered that we can buy the Kumon workbooks at the independent toy store, so we won't have to go to Barnes and Noble, killer of independent bookstores everywhere.

The boys joined me in the office (I'll admit it, I spent quiet time working on the blog post). I remembered that I needed to start a pot of beans, so I did that, chatting with T-Guy. The boys looked at their workbooks a bit, but decided not to do any work in them. T-Guy went out to get his Rhyming Words book from the car. I switched the laundry again, started to fold it, and then decided to pull the binding off the wool blanket I bought at the thrift store a few weeks ago. I wanted to full it in the washer to make a mattress pad, and the washer wash free and I had time to rip the binding stitches. So I sat on the floor in my room and did that (it occurred to me halfway through that I should have sat outside to do it!), and got it going in the washer, and then T-Guy and I had an impromptu box step dance lesson in the kitchen. J-Baby was playing outside. I finished folding/hanging the clothes and put them away.

T-Guy was ready for a snack, so he had some rye crackers with butter. At barely 8 years old he already eats more than I do each day. Still, he's lucky to be 60 pounds with his clothes on, even though he is tall. Sometimes it worries me, and then I think of the pictures I've seen of Papa at that age, tall and very thin, and I remember that I didn't hit 60 pounds until I was 11 or so.

We went out to work in the garden. We were busy yesterday and didn't water, but it had looked alright this morning. A day of neglect and finally the onions sprouted (well, it might have something to do with our warm spell of weather). Today was warm again, so we had to water thoroughly. We pulled the spent plants in some of the squares, and I thinned most of the sprouts. I should have worn my gloves; the vermiculite in the mix dries out my hands, and my thumb is stained from pulling beet sprouts. Our broccoli had all flowered (don't believe nursery staff when they say we can put broccoli starts in the garden in February), so we cut the stalks and put them in a jar of water. They are really lovely little yellow flowers, and brightened up the breakfast nook!

I made gluten free cornbread, then read the boys a trickster tale while it was baking, said hello to Papa, set the table, and served the beans. We had our tiny bit of fresh butter on the cornbread. After dinner I cleaned up and did the dishes while the boys got ready for BMX, and they left right around 6.

I read while they were gone. I picked up Helen of Troy at the library Tuesday, and decided to give it a try.

Once they got home we put the bedtime routine into motion. We made the boys' bed, using the now fulled wool blanket as a mattress pad. They were given quick baths, then I rubbed organic jojoba oil into J-Baby's skin because he gets so dry. They put pajamas on, and had their snack while Papa read Eragon. Then it was time to brush teeth, have hugs and kisses, and sing as we tucked them in. Lately we've been singing Sidewalks of New York. A friend turned us on to Dan Zanes and we have 3 albums and a DVD now (mostly gifts...people are thrilled to get input on what to get the boys).

After that Papa and I had a chance to talk (while we folded the third load of laundry), mostly about our upcoming vacation. Then it was time for bed, except my body temperature was low so I took a hot bath at 10 p.m. Papa zonked out and I stayed up reading my book.

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