Monday, May 25, 2015

Double Double Toil and Trouble

Quite the conversation with Grandma
Last weekend there were some family birthdays to celebrate, so we made the trek across state to visit Green Bay while Gretl spent the weekend at the Farm. (It was pretty much providential that she was not with us for the road trip, but more on that later.)

We got together on Friday night for a smaller gathering of Charlie's
Playtime with Grandpa
immediate family, enjoyed a nice dinner, and had some birthday cake. The Little Girl got to have lots of time snuggling Grandma and Grandpa, and she got plenty of time to play with her cousins too. She got to bed a little (ok hours) past her bedtime, but it was completely worth it to have the time with family.

Saturday was a surprise birthday for Charlie's aunt, so we were able to spend time with the extended family. Food, birthday cake, more snuggles for the Little Girl, and a chance to play on fun playground equipment with her cousins = a super fun time for us all. 

After things got wrapped up a bit from the party, we were able to pick up a number of tools and such that we had not been able to get moved 
She loves Great Grandpa!
yet. I still have no idea how Charlie got it all in there. Apparently playing Tetris as a child really did teach important life skills. Who would have ever thought?

Sunday morning we went to Mass with Charlie's folks and then got ready to head for home. The Little Girl decided that life was just too exciting for a nap, so she refused to take one despite all of our efforts to convince her otherwise. (We finally gave up and just loaded the car.)

On the road home, we had the battery light pop on at Oshkosh, so we pulled into Menard's to change it. In the rain. With all of the tools to do it sitting in the garage at home. After six trips into the store to get the right tools, buy the battery, and change a very stinky diaper on the Little Girl, we were ready to get back on the road - soaking wet, but hopeful that we would still be able to make it home by bedtime even with needing to pick up the dog from the Farm. There were still lights on, but we were going to make every effort to get home, so we could get the car looked at when shops opened again on Tuesday.
Waiting for the tow truck

It was not to be. We made it to Coloma (about halfway), had dinner, got back in the car and made it a mile down the road before the power steering went out and the whole electrical system went crazy on us. I managed to get to the side of the road to call AAA for a tow (and offered a prayer of thanks that we had decided to keep the Plus membership that covers a 100 mile tow - we were about 90 miles from home!). They went about trying to find someone to do the tow, and we ended up calling the local police for assistance since we were not in a very safe location. (The side of the road, cresting a hill, on a curve, in the rain. Definitely not ideal.) The found someone 20 miles away to do the tow for us, and Charlie was able to get the car to start again and make it the 100 yards down the road to a safer place to wait. Our new buddy Tom loaded the car up and drove us the rest of the way home even stopping once for the half hour that we needed to feed the hungry and overtired Little Girl who had finally had enough. We finally made it home about 11pm after more than double the normal amount of time for the trip. ("Double" the time, "Toil"ing in the rain, and just a spot of car "Trouble"...I'm trying to keep upbeat about the whole thing.) The repair shops are all closed today for Memorial Day (as they should be), so we will not know for sure what caused the problem until at least tomorrow. We are currently praying for it to be a loose wire or fuse, and we all have a good laugh about it. (The suspicion, however, is that the alternator is toast. Please let it be a fuse!)

Since it would be really easy to get upset and negative about it, it would probably be good to make a list of the things to be thankful for about the weekend:
  • We got to spend time with family enjoying their company and having conversations about new ideas and constant learning. This alone makes it a good weekend.
  • Even though the car crapped out on the side of the road, no one got hurt. 
  • We had renewed our AAA membership on Friday before we left town, so the 90+ miles on the tow did not have any additional out of pocket cost for us.
  • The Little Girl was a total trooper throughout it all. We only had one real meltdown and that was when she was hungry, tired, and in a strange, noisy, diesel truck.
  • Tom (the tow truck driver) was an incredibly nice guy who made the ride home as enjoyable as it could have possibly been given the circumstances.
  • My dad was willing and able to watch the Gretl, and she got to play out at the Farm for the weekend. He also was willing to bring her back home since our car was out of service, and lent us a vehicle to use until ours is working again.

Monday, May 18, 2015

What We Did While We Weren't Here

This morning I realized how long it had been since I posted here. A quick review of what has happened at Chez Sheffer these last weeks makes the reasons for that much more clear. We have been getting a lot of good stuff done around here.

To start, someone is now able to really start playing on the equipment at the play place in the mall, and we stop there whenever we are at the mall which is at least once a week. For a kid who does not yet walk, she sure can climb. I have been working really hard at allowing her to explore and have some 'ventures on her own. It is rather nerve wracking to say the least. Her protective daddy just might have a panic attack the first time that he takes her to play there. She is a little daredevil. 

Speaking of daredevils - she and I went to the Cities for a weekend, and a certain little someone decided that lots of exploration was in order. She managed to fall on her face and tried to put her front teeth through her lip. (After unsuccessful attempts to hold ice on her bleeding lip, we went with a couple of small bites of ice cream that were like magic. I am a little surprised that she did not do it again in order to get more ice cream.) There was also an attempt to bring home souvenir slivers in her toes, but her buddy took them out. She thought that the process of removal was way more interesting than how they got in there in the first place. No fussing at all while they got pulled thanks to Josh's way with kids and gentle touch. What a guy!

I found a rock for you Papa.
We have been making lots of trips out to the Farm over the last couple of weeks. The little girl may be wary of touching the grass, but she has still been having a great time riding in the wheelbarrow and playing on her mat while we work in the gardens in addition to getting to "hike" through the woods. There have been reports of toads and garter snakes in the area that she will probably start finding in the near future. I am really not a fan of either of those, so she will need to be finding someone else to play with those and teach her which ones are not to be touched. I can almost see my hair getting more gray at an exponential rate.

Dandelion Jelly!

The other day I was going through food storage (both in cold storage and the freezers) to figure out what we have and what we will need to try to stock from this year's garden, and I discovered a couple of pails of strawberries and rhubarb that I had frozen last summer with plans to make jam over the winter when heating the whole house up with the stove wouldn't be a big deal. Oops. At least it was still early enough in spring that I had cool days and near frosty nights that I could get all of it made and canned. I also made a couple of batches of dandelion jelly with dandelions that we had picked out at the Farm. It sure was nice to start replenishing our jam and jelly supply since we were getting dangerously low. This year, I am tracking how much I make, so we can start to gauge how much we will need to have to get through the winter - we eat a lot of PB&Js around here, and homemade jam is absolutely delicious on homemade yogurt.

Greeking it up
Ah, the deliciousness of homemade yogurt. I have been experimenting a bit to decide what will work best for us. Regular or Greek yogurt? A big tub or individual sized containers? How much of it do we really eat besides "a lot of it"? Which of the homemade jams and jellies go well with the yogurt and which ones do not? In the upcoming days, I will also be experimenting with different recipes for homemade granola as the current one ("crush crunchy granola bar") is not really the route that I prefer to go.

For those not from around here, right now we are in the heart of rhubarb season. As such, I have spent a large percentage of my waking hours the last five days devoted to making sure that we take full advantage of the season. It is really astounding how much time it has taken to harvest, clean, and prep 15 pounds of rhubarb (so far). We have had muffins and pie this week, and I have a bunch measured and frozen for later. There is just something fantastic about being able to make a favorite rhubarb comfort food outside of when it is normally ripe - a summer treat in the heart of winter. It just makes me smile. 

Last but certainly not least, we have been prepping the garden for planting. There has been a lot of weed pulling and compost spreading happening to get the bed ready for the tomatoes and peppers that will be planted next week. I will be taking the day off from working on rhubarb to see what can get accomplished today between catching up on all of the chores that did not get done the last couple of days while I diced rhubarb. It will be nice to not be spending all day leaning over a cutting board.

So, there is the short version of what we have been doing for the last few weeks while our digital life was limited. I will try to do a bit better in the coming weeks. We do have a lot to do though, so it may or may not happen.