Friday, July 31, 2009

Tucker has ESP

Seriously. Tucker is in this routine of sleeping in a bit, but it is impossible to walk out of our bedroom in the morning without waking him up. We open the door completely silently, and 10 seconds later without fail he is awake. Let me repeat: we make no noise.

I think he has some sort of ESP that fixates on when his parents move in the morning which immediately wakes him up.

In other news, Austin watched a show about blue crabs last night on PBS and is now spending half his daylight hours thinking about how to procure steamed crabs. Apparently he's found a place in Richmond where you can buy them and is contemplating driving all the way there and back for them, as long as they don't go bad in the hour and a half long ride home. Also, he has officially started his Christmas list: a crab knife.

He kept asking me during the show if I wasn't dying for crabs; the show had the opposite effect on me. I much prefer to eat things on land than things in the sea. When I do eat things in the sea, I don't want to have to viscerally interact with it, like tearing it apart. It reminds me of the time in high school when we dissected lobsters, but our teacher was too cheap to BUY lobsters. Instead, he went to the fish market and collected the ones too old to sell, and so we dissected rotting lobsters. I gagged just now, just thinking about it.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Ice cube trays

Ice cube trays are the solution to all my food storage dilemmas. We have a delightful chest freezer, but defrosting blocks of frozen tupperware is not a highpoint of my day. First, it takes forever (have I mentioned patience is not my strong suit?). Second, we don't microwave plastic because plastics leach into the food, so not only does it take forever, but I also have to figure out a way to pry the frozen stuff out. The end result? A big mess.

Well, ice cube trays are the way forward. Simply freeze whatever leftovers you have into the trays and then after they're frozen put them into labeled freezer bags. When you want some, you can conveniently select however much you need, AND it heats up super quickly in the microwave.

Also, there are some things we can never eat a whole package of before they go bad: pesto, pizza sauce, hummus, baked beans, coconut milk. It's pretty fun to have all of that perpetually at your fingertips without the responsibility for finishing off a whole container.

I just finished boiling two more (big) pumpkins from our garden, and freezing them into (lots) of ice cube trays. Actually, I ran out of ice cube trays so I resorted to putting dollops of pumpkin on cookie sheets to freeze in individual portions. I think I might've just taken care of all our pumpkin needs for the year. (Incidentally, pumpkin is really good in yogurt, and in chocolate cake....)

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Things that are fun...

...Chasing butterflies (Tucker cannot get enough of them!)
...Touching the ceiling on the way down the stairs
...Turning the light switch on and off three times (the maximum we allow!)
...Collecting pairs of things and exclaiming "two!!!"
...Pretending to blow his nose with a Kleenex and then putting the Kleenex back in the box (he just learned how to blow his nose and he thinks it's awesome)
...Pointing out pumpkins to me
...Stealing Austin's tea ball to put in a little plastic play cup he has and run around yelling "tea" and "sipping" it.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Tucker's Daddy Withdrawal

Tucker loves his daddy. But there are some days when Tucker is so into Austin that he is incapable of leaving him alone. Today featured Tucker draping himself on top of Austin at every opportunity, bouncing on Austin's stomach, even coloring with markers on paper he placed on Austin's chest.

This was all cute, of course, except for the fact that Austin has the flu and has had a temperature of up to 102 all day. I was reading yesterday that one tactic to prevent the spread of the flu is to maintain a six foot distance between sick people and others. Six feet is a bit extreme, but SOME distance seems prudent... but apparently not to Tucker. Tucker even tried to get Austin to share his pacifier with him. It will be amazing if he doesn't get sick.

Incidentally, we're wondering if Austin has the swine flu. Apparently it's widespread in our region right now, and what other flu goes around in July? If it is the swine flu, it's not been worse for Austin than the regular flu (they're both miserable!). If Austin still has a fever tomorrow he might go to the doc and get to find out which strain he has!

Sunday, July 26, 2009


We have three volunteer pumpkin plants that randomly sprouted in different parts of our garden. I think they're from seeds from our pumpkin last year that didn't compost thoroughly. Our planned pumpkins have just gotten in the ground, but our volunteers are almost ripe (the one in the pic is the first one we picked). Not sure it feels like pumpkin weather to me, but I appreciate their enthusiasm.

In other gardening news, I am really sick of summer squash. This past week I took six grated squash (14 cups!) and sauteed them with garlic and onion and olive oil and herbs, white beans, and then pureed it and added some sausage. It was decent; a good use for squash, but not so good that it all got eaten up before it needed to be frozen. That is on top of the five or so I pawned off on Helen and David for a Michigan BBQ, and another 6+ that I brought to church (and left, before I could see if they were all claimed).

Saturday, July 25, 2009

The County Fair

We went to the best county fair today, in a rural county near where we live. There was no midway or rides, just an old-time fair with lots of animals and exhibits and 4H kids and lots and lots of tractors. We had an amazing time.

Some highlights:
*Tucker loved watching the kids show their pigs, and clapped for the riders as they jumped their horses.
*There was GREAT BBQ... the best fair food I've ever had
*A huge line of tractors on the way in, for Tucker to sit in
*Watching the frisbee dog competition... it made Austin ask Ben "do you ever think about how athletic other dogs can be?" (Ben didn't acknowledge such a derogatory question)
*A big petting zoo with alpacas, ducks, Wiggles the sleeping pig, chickens, calves (including a week old calf!), goats, and more.
*A sandbox filled with feed corn
*The police did a demonstration with a K9 unit, and had the dog take down a guy dressed in protective clothing. (Tucker was wide-eyed on that one.)
...and much more!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Pray! More!

No, I'm not quoting a Bible verse, I'm quoting Tucker. He is really into giving commands right now. Like ordering us "Down!" to play on the floor with him, showing us where he wants us to stand, what we're supposed to be doing, etc.

He also likes to tell us to pray, and then when we're done, he'll say "More!" His enthusiasm is pretty cute, though I wonder if he just says it because he likes to tell us what to do?

The other night during our dinner prayer, Austin looked at Tucker halfway through the prayer to see what he was doing. Tucker saw that Austin was looking at him and dropped the food he was eating and put his hands together. A guilt complex already.

On an unrelated note, today my mom and I went shopping to find her a dress for my brother's wedding; on our trip, Tucker discovered that Talbots is the perfect place to play trucks. The store is divided into a couple sections by a ramp on one side and stairs on the other, which is the perfect combination for doing loops. Ramps are also fun in their own right because they slant, and today he discovered pushing the trucks down the ramp. Tucker would've stayed in Talbots all morning and we could've skipped the park altogether.

A surprise

I had forgotten that hosta can flower because the deer nibble our hosta to the ground. Maybe the deer are being nice to me this year, or maybe their quality control is going down, but they forgot to decimate one of the hostas this year, and even let it flower.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


I stumbled into the wrong exercise class at the Y this morning. I'm into their spinning and weights classes, but instead I found myself smack in the middle of a Zoomba/Step class. Before I figured out what a big mistake I'd made, the music came on and there was no graceful way to bow out.

I've never done any sort of cardio aerobics class like that before, ever. It's a lot like dancing, requiring rhythm, some grace, and (gasp) coordination. There's a reason I'm a swimmer.

Apparently, not only did I stumble into a Zoomba/step class, I stumbled into an ADVANCED Zoomba/step class. About five minutes into it, I gave up almost entirely on trying to copy what they were doing with my arms, because my legs were so hopelessly behind.

The class would have been a lot better if there hadn't been one of those wrap-around mirrors in the room that reminded me of how ridiculous I looked in my fifteen year-old soccer shorts and two left feet. I felt like a cross between Napoleon Dynamite and Little Miss Sunshine doing their dance routines.

I did get a great workout, I met two new people, and I had a very good laugh at myself, though I'm not sure if I'm brave enough to ever go back. I have a lot of respect for people who do aerobics classes now.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Ducky goes swimming

Now that I'm a master with the video, here are two more of Tucker's adventures captured for posterity. The first one is Tucker's new game of having Ducky go swimming. There are several problems with this activity: first, he likes to collect all the Duckies he can find and suddenly they're all wet (and not suitable snuggling-during-naptime material), second, he has taken to using Ben's dog bowl inside as a personal Ducky swimming pool. I've also caught him lately trying to feed Ducky, which I think is hopelessly cute, but not something to encourage (it seems hard to believe that Ducky could get dirtier more quickly than he already does... but eating ketchup would definitely do that).

The second video is of some serious lawn mowing in a puddle from yesterday. He also later on methodically drowned his car and all the balls in the back of his car.

Austin on tractor video

I tried to upload this video the other day, but I hadn't exported it from the video program I use, so it was just too large to upload. Now that I've conquered this technology, uploading videos will be no match for me! Or in other words, thanks for your help, Mike. What are big brothers for?

Bye Bye Birdie...

...hello dinner.

We are down to five chickens. But this last dead chicken was intentional: it was time for the rooster to go. The rooster woke us up with his crowing for the second or third morning in a row before 6 am. The bigger problem is that the chicken coop is equidistant to our neighbor's house, and I hear quiet chickens make good neighbors.

It was time to silence the bird.

Don't we want a rooster, you ask? The short answer: no.

You don't need a rooster for eggs (just for baby chicks). Given our current chicken predation problems, what we really need is some electric poultry fencing to keep predators away. Until we get an adequate set-up like that, we really don't want to bring more baby chicks into our coop. Plus, roosters are rough on hens... you tend to only want one rooster for every 10-20 hens, or the hens start getting beaten up. The first chickens we got came to us in rough shape because the rooster they had been living with (affectionately dubbed "Agent Orange") had defoliated them so badly.

But what do we want, then? Chicken dinner.

By the time Tucker and I got downstairs (still before 7 am), the rooster was headless and plucked and getting ready for a nice ice bath.

Austin got lots of points today for not making me kill the chicken. :)

Monday, July 20, 2009

Oral Allergy Syndrome

Austin has always claimed that certain foods make his mouth itch. This isn't any kind of harbinger of anaphylaxis that would accompany him eating a peanut. Instead, it's an annoying mouth itch that is strong enough to dissuade him from wanting to eat a food, but has little other consequences.

Anyway, not that many years ago when he was in grad school he figured out that his weird mouth-itching thing actually had a name and was a documented occurrence called oral allergy syndrome.

This is from Wikipedia:
"Oral allergy syndrome or OAS is a type of food allergy typified by a cluster of allergic reactions in the mouth in response to eating certain (usually fresh) fruits, nuts, and vegetables that typically develops in adult hay fever sufferers.[1] Another term used for this syndrome is '"Pollen-Food Allergy."' In adults up to 60% of all food allergic reactions are due to cross-reactions between foods and inhalative allergens.[2]

In OAS, the immune system produces antibodies that are capable of binding to both pollen proteins and structurally similar food proteins. Consequently, the same immune system response can trigger allergy symptoms in two different situations: hay fever (in the presence of pollen) and food allergy (in the presence of certain foods). Histamine releases from mast cells located in the oropharynx, gut and skin when IgE binds to the molecule causing local inflammation - itching, swelling, pain, and so on."

So, basically, something about a lot of uncooked fruits and vegetables is similar to some seasonal allergen Austin's allergic to, and so he gets seasonal allergies of the mouth when he eats them. Bizarre.

Tomatoes, cut cucumbers, lettuce... all those are fine, but I start getting into lots of trouble if I add green peppers or carrots to our salads. Any peeled fruit doesn't bother Austin, but the last thing he'd want to do is bite into a crisp apple in the fall. It makes apple picking with him funny, because the whole point of the expedition is to eat apples, right?

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Peach syrup

We ran out of real maple syrup this week. Obviously, this is a catastrophic occurrence on any date, but even worse when we realize it the night before we're having a brunch featuring malted waffles.

What is a Vermonter stranded in the deep South to do? (Just kidding, central Virginia is a lot more Mid-Atlantic than anything else, despite the Southern drawl Austin is convinced he will one day have.)

What saved the day was Austin's work. On Friday he had come home from a site visit loaded down with two big bags of peaches and nectarines from an appreciative farmer. Because they make Austin's mouth itch when he eats them uncooked (this is actually a fascinating phenomenon called oral allergy syndrome that deserves its own post), that is A LOT of fruit to us to go through in the next few days.

So what's the solution? Peach syrup. I thought it was so fantastic that I'm thinking of canning a bunch for the rest of the year.

Here's the recipe:
5 c peaches (pureed)
2 c sugar
2 T lemon juice
Bring to a boil
Add 2 tsp vanilla [we were out of vanilla so I added maple extract, which was great]

Wisdom of a Three Year-Old

"I don't need to wash my hands [for dinner]. I had a bath last night."

[Our friend's daughter said this last night at a picnic we were having.]

Friday, July 17, 2009

How to Upload Videos for Dummies

I need help. I have spent all day trying to get a video to upload on this blog. The file is really big--about 40 MB (is this a normal size for a 30 second video clip?).

Is there a way to reduce the file size of videos? Is there a reason that my videos are so large?

Any other hints for uploading a video in less than four hours?

I'm sure someone out there is more technologically oriented than I am.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

My tractor men

Austin rented a tractor this week to plant a native grass meadow in our floodplain. This is exactly what he does for work, so it's neat to have a demonstration site in our own backyard. The cost of the planting is covered with our enrollment in the Conservation Reserve Program which is trying to take marginal floodplain land out of production and restore it for wildlife habitat and to protect water quality.

Maybe you're wondering what grasses are considered native and why it's so desireable to plant them. The types of grasses we planted include gamma grass, indian grass, little bluestem, big bluestem, and switchgrass. They're good for wildlife habitat because they form clumps, so birds like quail can easily run around between plants while protected. They also have extraordinarily deep root systems so they're especially helpful for stabilizing erosion-prone areas.

Because I have the inside scoop on these things (ie I'm married to the contractor), I know that you can also slip in wildflower seeds into the grass mix. So not only are we going to have native grasses, but we'll also have a sprinkling in of everything from coreopsis and black eyed susans to gallardia, false indigo and partridge pea.

Here's a video of Tucker enjoying the tractor... I took one of Austin doing our field, but it is refusing to load up.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Beach stomping

It turns out that some family members REALLY like videos, so I'll try to be patient with these uploads and put more up. Here's one from vacation of Tucker and Austin stomping on the sand.

Bad hospitality

First I made zucchini muffins for my Book Group. But then, my hospitality sunk even lower, as I begged and pleaded with everyone to take some squash home with them.

I managed to pawn off 15 summer squash on friends last night, not counting what I slipped in the muffins.

It was a great night.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Lions, Tigers... Snakes, Oh My?

I just want to say that I accept that there will be the occasional mouse in our house. I accept that we live in a 200 year old farm house that is never going to be as tightly sealed as what can be built today.

But I absolutely positively DO NOT ACCEPT having a snake in the house. Not even a little one. Not even a black snake (the "good" kind).

I don't like mice, but I positively hate snakes. The mice seem to have been making inroads into our house during our vacation, so I started up the post-vacation battle tonight; with mouse trap in hand I opened the door to the downstairs closet in the dim light and realized that that squiggly black thing on the floor was too thick to be a shoelace.


Sunday, July 12, 2009

Tucker preaching

This is a video of Tucker preaching to us. Sometimes he lifts his hands over his head to emphasize a point, but we weren't able to capture that.

Back from vacation

The better a vacation is, the harder it is to come back! Here are some of our last pics taken from our video cam (those darn videos take way too long to post, but I'll put some up soon!).


I have been having the worst allergies lately. I'm allergic to dust, but it feels more these days like I'm allergic to breathing.

I usually am able to maintain a stable truce with my dust allergy... don't bother me, and I don't bother you. I know I'm in for it if I clean, or organize, or wear clothes that have sat in my closet unworn and unwashed for too long. I basically ignore constant congestion and periodic sneezing fits. Antihistamines are my friend.

But somehow the equilibrium has been seriously thrown off. Antihistamines are barely taking the edge off of my problems. We gutted our bedroom several weeks ago and did about 10 loads of laundry washing every part of our bedding and room that could be dismantled. I even used a rug cleaner on our rug. And still... misery.

Vacation was a wonderful respite (for the most part) from this sneezing plague, but about 5 minutes after we walked through the door of our house, it began again.

So, the good news: I'm not allergic to the dog, or to outdoor allergens. The bad news: I'm allergic to our house!!!!

I have been turning the house upside down today trying to de-dust as much as possible. Here's a sampling of my crazy dust-elimination strategy:
*Roll up the area rug in our bedroom, remove our dust ruffle and curtains
*Steam clean all area rugs in the house
*Move all furniture and vacuum and mop behind all pieces of furniture
*Wash all overheads fans and A/C vents
*Use the AC continually to reduce the humidity to discourage dust mite growth
*Take off our mattress topper because it can't be easily cleaned
*Put out three air purifiers that we hadn't been using because we always have our windows open
*Spray this allergen-neutralizer on all upholsered furniture
*Have a dust mask available at all times if I get into a room that really bothers me
*Start taking probiotics (which some studies have shown reduce allergic symptoms)

That's only about half of the items on my allergy to do list. Hopefully something will work SOON!!!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Epic Quest for a Malt... and its Consequences

Austin's sister Liz and her husband Matt took their vacation last week. In the course of their wanderings they happened upon a couple really great malted milk shakes. Since then, malt has been on our brains. Austin googled it before we left to figure out what exactly is malt in the first place (I'll let him explain that one!), and of course, like any food item, thinking and talking about it just made it seem more and more attractive.

The first morning we were in Annapolis, we ate breakfast at the famous Chick and Ruth's diner where we noticed malted shakes on the menu. Unfortunately, it was only 9 am so we skipped actually having one. What a missed opportunity! Malted milk shakes apparently are NOT so readily available in Virginia Beach. It has been my goal this week to have one, and I've been reduced to calling any place in the yellow pages under "diner" or "ice cream parlor."

Last night we set out after an early supper with the names of three ice cream places in the area that have malted milk shakes. Sounds easy enough? I thought so.

Until we got stuck in traffic. And more traffic. And got swept away in left turn only lanes. And have you ever noticed how it's impossible to find an address when you're on vacation? Also, those little free maps that are everywhere make things look a LOT closer than they actually are.

More than an hour into our trip, we finally stopped for directions and successfully found one of the places. But it turned out Austin couldn't eat the ice cream there (they used peanut butter and Austin couldn't be sure the ice cream and scooping utensils and blender wouldn't be cross-contaminated).

After having a personal crisis (do I get a malt when my husband can't???), Austin persuaded me to get one and we would go on to the next place to see if he could eat one there. I would tell you how good the malt was but since Austin will read this, it's not really fair... because of course the next place was closed.

But I get ahead of myself, because it was there at the first place that we noticed the funny smell emanating from Tucker's rear parts that suggested a powerful explosion had occurred. Because it was supposed to be such a quick after-dinner ice cream trip, I hadn't thought about bringing a diaper or wipes....

To make a long story short, three napkins and no diaper got Tucker home, after a quick visit to the next (closed) ice cream store and a dirty park. We did stop and get Austin ice cream at the grocery store where the clerk thought I was asking if they had malt liquor.

The whole adventure took a bit more than two and a half hours. To get ice cream. Technical note: we could've almost driven back home in that same amount of time.

Needless to say, Tucker was in bed woefully late and wound up enough that he didn't actually fall asleep till after 9 pm. It was one of the few nights where it crossed Austin's mind that he might be asleep before the little man.

If two and a half hours in suburban traffic last night wasn't bad enough, today was an exercise in damage control with an over-tired toddler. Tucker was down for his morning nap before 11 am, and in bed for the night by 5:30 pm. In the meantime... well, we just endured.

P.S. I managed to lose my camera today. I carefully placed it on the top of Austin's toolbox in his truck while buckling Tucker up, and then promptly forgot about it as we drove away. Unfortunately, that means no pictures of crazy man playing miniature golf at Pirate Land (he was very good at chasing our balls, picking them up and putting them in the hole), grabbing Austin's ears on our bald cypress hike, and generally being amusing. Thankfully, I haven't lost our flip video... yet.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Day 2 at the beach pics

Tucker outdid himself this morning at the beach being cute. He loved the sunglasses and hat I picked up for him at the Dollar Store, and has already gotten used to the waves. The water is so much warmer than at Rehoboth last year--it is positively delightful to swim in.

Day 1 at the Beach

We drove through the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel on our way from Annapolis to Virginia Beach. I'd driven over the CBBT once in college, but the second time around was just as impressive. Tucker didn't know what to think about the tunnel part of it, and was enthusiastic about the bridge part of it. I was trying to figure out 1) why do they have a tunnel in some places and not others 2) if the tunnel is under the bay floor or on top of it and 3) how do they build a tunnel so it's not flooded with water? I'm not an engineer so all that boggles my mind.

We're staying at one of the cabins at First Landing State Park. I can't imagine us not returning here again. Our cabin is a cozy two bedroom with living room, kitchen, grill, screened in porch and deck. It's surrounded by vegetation and the only people we can see from our site are our neighbors across the street. The park has 18 miles of trails all walking distance out our front door, great playground, lots of kids programs, allows dogs (even on the beach!), and has a great beach. The beach is technically on the Bay, not the Atlantic, and isn't quite as wide as the beach along the boardwalk, but the water is a lot warmer and the waves are just as good. And all of this is at state park prices!!

Of course, there are a few downsides: no TV, no internet/phone, and no cozy living room furniture that you can really sprawl out on. Plus, the aesthetic here is pretty bare compared to a hotel (ie cinder block walls, tile floor instead of carpet). But I just look at the people camping and I realize how luxurious it is. :) Actually, I think the no internet thing is good for me... it is amazing how much time I can spend on the computer!

It was a cool, overcast day today with drizzle in the morning. We explored the park of the state park that's on back bay. Tucker loved the calm, warm water and ran through it until he was soaked from head to toe. The first time he fell in, he got up and smacked his lips for about a minute, tasting the saltiness. After we all had long afternoon naps (did I mention I love vacation?), we went to the boardwalk, looking for a merry-go-round ride for the little man. The boardwalk doesn't actually have much commercial on it, and the one dinky place on the strip a block away from the beach that had rides charged $5 a person for a ride... that amounts to highway robbery in my opinion. But we did go into an arcade next door, which Tucker loved. He pretended he was doing Dance-Dance Revolution, then loved sitting in the car/motorcycle racing game stations. I tried to wait him out and whisk him away when he got tired of it, but finally had to carry him out screaming. It's hard when you don't get your way. :)

Tucker didn't even make it up till 7 pm which is surprising because he had a long nap. He was carrying around his duck and pacifier and whining by 6:15, and by 6:45 was just lying on the deck on top of his duck, while Austin grilled. When I picked him up, he was just totally limp as I carried him to bed. Vacation is hard work.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Pics from the Fourth

We went to Tucker's first parade last night, a classic small-town parade complete with lots of fire trucks, several bands, and lots of people running for political office. We came away with two strands of Mardi Gras beads, multiple stickers and buttons, a bag of potato chips, four Lance-Armstrong type bracelets, and a whole bag full of candy (this was without us trying to collect anything!). It must've been Tucker that attracted all the loot, but it was pretty ridiculous.

We are about to take off for Virginia Beach where we won't have good internet access, but here are the rest of our Fourth pics, courtesy of David:

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy Fourth of July!

We left on our summer vacation yesterday. It felt like mobilizing a small army to get out of the house, and we were thrown a few curve balls at the last minute like finding a half-eaten chicken stuck in a small crack at the bottom of our coop. (Keep in mind we found it when we were training our neighbors' elementary-aged children how to take care of them in our absence... it was a grotesque introduction to life on the farm.)

But we were ready to go by the morning, and rolled out the driveway by 8 am. As we were leaving Austin asked me "Does it feel like we're on vacation yet?" Tucker enthusiastically answered "Yes!" from the back seat. Then about an hour later, while we were stopped at a light, a bunch of emergency vehicles flew by. Tucker yelled "YES!" as loud as he could, he was so excited. I guess it's going to be a yes kind of vacation. I can handle that.

Since we arrived in Annapolis we already went on a boat tour around the Annapolis harbor (quite a hit with the little man), played on the cannons at the Naval Academy, discovered an antique ride-on fire engine in the backyard (thanks to the Holdens) and had a bunch of great meals. We also had an informal family book group last night to discuss a fabulous book we all got at Christmas -- Same Kind of Different as Me. But the way I know it's really vacation is I'm already 200 pages into my first book! What a life.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

When I wear my striped cap, I'm the engineer

Tucker's favorite book right now is a library book called "I'm taking a trip on my train." We have read this book at both nap and bedtime every day for the past couple weeks. The little boy in the book has a striped engineer's cap so it was amazingly serendipitous when my friend Leah visited us and brought a little engineer's cap for Tucker. (Thanks, Leah!)

He was a bit shy about putting it on at first, but now it's hard to get it off his head. He slept with it last night and managed to smuggle it into his crib again at naptime today (not on, of course!). He ate both breakfast and lunch with it today.

He keeps adding to his flair--first the rain boots, then the tie, now the striped cap. What an outfit!

Father Tucker

Apparently Tucker has added the ministry to his list of career ambitions (which also includes train engineer and truck driver). Tucker is in the habit of opening one of our Bibles or prayer books and "preaching" to us from his little table in the sunroom. He points at the book, emphasizing his points, and has all the correct inflection and intonation down.

It's pretty cute, but a bit puzzling as we can't figure out when he's ever heard preaching before--he's in the nursery every week in church during the sermon. Where is he learning this?

Apparently, other friends from church have noticed similar things. A couple families have reported that their kids have processionals around the house either with something like a cross or with someone holding a cup with a napkin over it (the communion cup). Tucker loves watching the cross come down the aisle, so I'm sure it won't be long till he re-enacts them as well.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

If you have two summer squash plants...

...pull one up.

This is the wisdom about summer squash in the latest Eating Well magazine. The point is avoiding the dreadful bounty of summer squash that quickly overwhelms a person, a family and a freezer.

We sort of took this advice in that we decided not to plant any zucchini this year, which would cut our summer squash yield in half right off the bat. However, we did plant yellow summer squash, we planted more than two seeds, didn't pull any up, and we are paying for it now.

I spent yesterday afternoon processing about 15 summer squash to get things taken care of before we leave on vacation. That yielded 30 cups of densely packed shredded squash. 30 cups????!!! I wouldn't wish that on my best friend.

What did I do with 30 cups of summer squash? I made zucchini muffins (a triple batch that doubled the amount of squash the recipe called for), summer squash soup, and squash hashbrowns with onion and potato. I still had at least a third of the squash left over that I froze, shredded, in ziplock bags.

The muffins are definitely good... but then again, it would be hard to make a bad sweet bread.

Austin thought the soup was good, and my brother in law Matt liked the hashbrowns. By the time dinner rolled around all of it looked terrible to me. After being elbow-deep in squash all afternoon the last thing I wanted to do was eat it! But there are lots of leftovers for lunch....