Friday, July 30, 2010

Busy Week

Yikes! What a week it's been! Beginning with Sunday ...

My oldest turned 15 on July 25th! Another yikes!! No, it's o.k., really. I love who my son has become and I wouldn't turn back the clock for a second. There are times I see an expression on his face that reminds me of him as a child and I remember. But, sincerely, raising Chad was a challenge and I was so happy when he got to be about 13 or so. And he just keeps becoming more of a joy as he grows older. He's a stinker like his Dad but I'm used to that. He makes me proud nearly every day in the way he behaves and interacts with others; when he remembers to do what he needs to do and even does the unexpected (both good and bad!) and his kindness to me and, sometimes, to his siblings, especially makes my heart sing. I get positive feedback from those who meet him and have gotten to know him. Of course, he needs improvement in lots of areas (show me a teen who doesn't) but my prayer is that God will continue this child on the right path and give him guidance and wisdom throughout his life.

Chad began a volunteer position at a historical museum located about 17 miles from our home. He had his interview last week and I coached him a lot before that. I waited for him in the car and when he returned to the car, he honestly thought he'd been gone over an hour (it had been about 15 minutes!) Nerves can do that! His interviewer liked him as well as the people he'd be working with. He was so excited! I was happy for him but I knew that this was the beginning of change in our home. I'll be driving him (Todd might be able to help with this) every Thursday. It's an hour round trip but I'm not going to sit and wait for him there so I'll get home and then make the trip again in an hour or so. But more than the driving, it's the start of Chad spreading his wings. Know what I mean? I'm so glad for him and proud but am resisting pulling him back to just play with Legos. I know how I felt at his age - I wanted to work, move out, be in the world. I had a 20-hr week job by the time I was 15-1/2. A car at 16. At 18, I was wishing I had started working later and just played during my teens but I know it was good for me. This position is volunteer but I think that's a plus. He had his first day yesterday and he loved it. He's working in the museum's archive room, organizing files of people in the area. He loves history and is good at organizing so he's in his element. He is, however, in another state, as this museum is across the river in WA. It's the first time he's been so far away all by himself and that seems weird to me. The drive is beautiful, crossing the 4-1/2 mile bridge across the Columbia is lovely but terrifying sometimes. I was pretty tired last night but we had a very busy day so I'm sure I'll get used to taking him. It's all worth it.

So, we had Chad's birthday on Sunday, working around Todd's work schedule. I made the cake for Chad. Yesterday was my husband's birthday and today is his mom's birthday. We celebrated last night at her house. Todd made the cake and we brought Chinese take out. It was so nice not to have to prepare any food, since I wasn't home most of the day (Chad had a dental appointment in the morning as well.) I spent today catching up on laundry and dishes but actually got in a nap. And, of course, "that" time of the month had to occur. I am tired. But it's been a good week. The bonus: My 9 year old daughter actually wore a dress last night - and loved it! She never fails to surprise us and is a stinker, just like the rest of my family. I am so blessed!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Oregon Strawberries

Trivia question: Are Oregon strawberries a blessing or a curse? Should the mere mention of the Northwest berry make one laugh or cry? Both, perhaps? Let me explain ...

We look forward every year to the arrival of Oregon strawberries. You can only get them (around here, anyway) from little stands that spring up on busier roads around the area. People make little signs with a big, red berry and the word, "OREGON", with an arrow pointing the way. As you drive closer, more little berry signs beckon you. When you get to the stand, you see a few tables put together under a striped canopy (tent-like covering), holding pints and pints of berries. If you're lucky, that is. More often than not, you are greeted only by empty tables with a few smashed berries underneath. Too late. There have been some years that we looked and looked for a berry seller but those were years that the season was bad or they never made it out here to the coast. Cherries often compete with the berries at stands but that's another story.

This year, we were fortunate. I guess. We found a lady selling berries just down the street - we could walk there (and did!) And, yes, we got there too late several times. Finally, we arrived just in time to buy the last flat she had that day (the lady ahead of us got the next-to-last flat). We took them home and immediately began to prepare them for jam. You see, the Oregon strawberry is so delicate it begins to deteriorate the minute you bring it home. It is evil in that respect. So, being the chief strawberry preparer, I began washing and de-hulling the berries. Each pint took 15-20 minutes (I'm really picky). The beautiful day was passing before my eyes out the kitchen window. At least I could watch. After I prep the berries, Todd takes over with the jam making. Lucky me! The reward is having wonderful, homemade strawberry jam to last for some time. Makes my stiff back and aching arms almost worth it.

The next week, Todd took Chad to his orthodontia appointment. They came home bearing TWO flats of Oregon strawberries! Guess what I did all day? Berries, berries, berries! We had to go to the store before I could begin and by the time we got home, the berries were looking pretty weak (these were day-old berries this time). I got started and by 11:30 pm, I prepped the last pint I could do. I was bushed! Todd finished the jam and we went to bed. He decided that the last few pints could be made into strawberry pancakes the next day - bless him! Refrigerating them helps a bit but they still deteriorate fast.

All in all, I'm glad we go to all the trouble to make the jam but by now, I don't want to see another berry for quite some time. Unless, of course, Todd brings home another flat. Oh, please, don't read this, honey!