Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Happiness: in an eggshell

This past week I've been teaching a crew of Spring Breakers at the Driving School. I love working with my teenagers. It's one of the things about life that I love most... So I was plenty happy 'as is' this week. BUT I got over.the.moon happy when my dad called me while I was teaching.

I was on a roll with my kids teaching them something or other when he interrupted me. He said something to the effect: I'm sorry to slow you down- but I keep forgetting to tell you, You're NEVER gonna believe this. Don't freak out in front of the kids... (okay okay tell me already!) Miss Lovely *our new receptionist* has chickens! You can get as many fresh eggs as you want! (I'm trying not to embarrass myself with excitement) And it gets better... She has Araucanas!!!

And then it happens, I get entirely too excited. That means, that I have an unlimited supply of fresh, organic, free range chicken eggs. But not just any but the most beautiful eggs in shades of greeeeens and blues. Yes, seriously. I danced a jig and my kids laughed at me.


This shot is straight out of my camera.. no editing at all. I placed them next to an Eggland's Best Organic FR egg for comparison.

Here they are next to brown and white eggs...

Gorge, right?

I almost plowed Miss.Lovely over with my egg.zeal- Your mental pic is prolly fairly accurate. :)

So after much careful thought, I've decided to celebrate this windfall of good fortune with homemade custard... banana pudding for these beauties.

Bread pudding with this dozen...

annnd, the rest I will boil and leave in their natural shade as a part of my Easter table decor... *sigh*

They will then be peeled. Whites to one side, yolks to another. Smashed, whipped, matched with fresh herbs and some of my fresh homemade sun vinegar... then stuffed back into their halved whites... sauteed til crisp in a little olive oil to top a bed of fresh french lettuces. Oh boy.

Life is in the details, folks. :)

Peace, love, and hens.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The countdown begins...

The other day I had a "you want my numbers!?!" moment. You know in the movie Erin Brockovich where the next door neighbor dude is trying to hit on her- asking for her (phone)number? And she just let him have it reciting the numbers of her children, their ages, etc? Well I felt sort of like that the other day--- no motorcycle dude was trying to pick me up... In fact, I was alone in my kitchen putting away dishes I think. And my mind just went there.

Parenthood is about stages and phases. Or at least for me it is. As soon as I get cozy in one phase of life, time has a way of pushing me forward forcing change... forcing growth.

We registered James Neal for PreK this past week. I know. It shouldn't be a big deal. Tons of kids are in daycare. Lots of kids are in 'pre'school at age 2 or 3. I'm a early childhood reading teacher turned SAHM--- so James learned at home. With me. But now, it's time for him to get a full year of preschool under his belt before taking on the of kindergarten.

I wanted a good reputable program. Something that would have him home around noon or something... but after much deliberate research and consideration- my area doesn't have a program that is *ahem* up to my standards. That sounds terrible, right? No. Maybe not. Other than God and Family- Education is the most important thing in our house... So whatever it takes. Which means, we enrolled him in the best program available to us in our area- and that program is a full day program. :( I was digging around the school's website last night, like a mommy.stalker- and I just came undone. I'm not ready for this. The idea of my boy being away from me... for the bulk of his day... being taught by someone else- is almost too much to bear. BUT bear it I must. Because that's what parents do. They abandon themselves and their own selfish desires to give their kid every opportunity to succeed in life. And if that means pretending to be happy about it, then okay. Fine. I'll smile. James is over.the.moon excited about going to school... so we are going to give this a shot.

In four weeks, theDuckling turns One Years Old. What? It's hard for me to make sense of that. I can remember being pregnant with him at Easter. I can remember his first smile... the day he found his feet. The day I found him sucking on his big toe. Now he's standing by himself... can say a handful of things... knows what he wants. He's my bebe. Everyday he's learning something new and growing up. If his first year went by this fast- how long before he starts preK?

So here are some numbers for you?

5 months until James starts 'school.'
4 weeks until Jax turns 1.
2 months til I celebrate my 29th birthday.
2 weeks until James plays his first Tball game.
9 months until James is 5 years old.

The good news? *It's all good news really- I know... it just has a way of making my nose tingle and eyes tear up a bit... But the more time passes, the closer we are to filing for adoption of our girl.bebe. And that makes my heart leap for joy... I just don't want to anticipate the future so much that I overlook today.

You know?

I love my kids. I love motherhood. I've never felt more alive or more Purpose in my life... I was made to be a mother. Even though it's hard to parent them day in and day out- loving them is easy. I am forever grateful to have the opportunity to stay at home with them... keeping the out of daycare and being their First Teacher. It's always been my goal to be able to stay at home with my kids- but the fact that theHotness feels the same way, makes it so much nicer. To have him value this job to such an extent, gives me the ability to give this brief time in our lives all I've got. And for that- I think I'll love him forever...

So sweet readers, that's it. I feel flimsy with all this change going on around here. I'm grateful to have so much to hang on to... but I know that being the best parent I can be for my boys means sucking all this Smother.Mother up... and smile as we plan 1st birthdays and talk backpacks. I'll pretend if it gives them confidence. I'll smile if it allows them to dream without holding back.

But I won't like it. Today anyways. Maybe tomorrow. But for today, I'm going to wish for a pause button.

*all the pics in this post are from the past few months... random iphone pics of the little joys that I find every day.

Peace, love, and lumpy.throats.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Lasagna Anyone?

Okay, I hate lasagna. Always have, always will. But this post isn't about food... it's about gardening.

I come from a long line of gardeners. My great.grandfather was a sharecropper in Mississippi. I've only heard stories from my mother and grandparents, but I believe that out of their poverty grew great ingenuity, perseverance and a whole heap of other good things. Traits that I believe I have in my blood... who make me, in part, who I am today.

My grandfather- the whose name was given to my first.born, was a master gardener himself. I grew up between long rows of tomato plants... fuzzy, green towers on either side of me. Heaps of compost mounded into tall, rows with deep trenches on either side for walking- or crawling... rows strait as arrows as far as my little eyes could see.

He had several gardens spaced over his acreage and grew everything.
Corn. Butter Beans. Peanuts. Potatoes. Squashes. Cucumbers...
But my favorite crop was his Sugar Cane. During the warm months, we'd walk to the cane and he'd let us pic out a stalk. He'd reach into the pocket of his work jumper and pull out his pocket knife and in one circular motion ringing around the stalk with his knife and thumb, he'd cut a 6" or so piece off right above the cane joint. Then with the stalk in one hand, he'd run the flat side of his blade down the cane, peeling off the tough skin in one smooth motion. He'd cut little half inch plugs off and spit them in half, and give them for us to chew.

The taste is like nothing else. Warm. Sweet. Sort of heady like syrup or honey. The stalk would crunch beneath my teeth pressing the sweet liquid out... I'd chew and chew, sucking all the sweet out- then we'd spit the pulpy fiber part out on the ground of the pasture as we'd walk from the cane patch to our next adventure.
*Me and Tboy running back from the pond and Back40... along side of one of PawPaw's acre long gardens.

My mother inherited his green thumb and flare for the dramatic. My mom is happiest when she is elbow deep in dirt planting, transplanting, pruning, picking... There hasn't been a year in my life that my mom hasn't grown a summer and winter garden with bumber crop yields. Except the year after my grandfather died... This is her there in the photo below.
I was a married woman before I ever bought jelly at the store. Growing up, we ate what we grew, canned, froze and put up in the freezer. Putting up our produce was a family affair--- we all pitched in scraping those corn cobs, or wiping the tops of the mason jars as they came out of their water bath. We ate the fish we caught fresh nearly every week. I have healthy habits now, because I lived them all my life.

As newlyweds, we bought our first little house nestled deep into my Favorite Forest, I was determined to grow something... Even in my apartment years, I never went without container herbs. My established yard was covered in dappled shade most of the day, but still, I was able to grow tomatoes and peppers along my fence line and fell into raising 82 monarch butterflies from eggs. I grew generations of sunflowers, saving seeds from the spent heads each year.

Even though it was minuscule in the grand scheme of what my mom and grandfather could do- My mom raved over my pesto and laughed over my landscaped beds turned vegetable gardens.

And now... OH! Two summers have gone by in our new house and no garden. It's just so intimidating. First of all, I live in a new construction with minimal landscaping. The majority of space is just sodded ground on top of river clay and other uninhabitable stuff. I hate the idea of having to cut in new beds and amend the soil. It would take so much just to get the soil conditioned enough to support life. And our neighborhood restrictions limits vegi gardens to raised beds only. SOooo that's what I'm thinking!

James loves gardening and growing things. Bugs. Butterflies. Vegis. He's always been underfoot exploring as I planted our garden each summer in Texas. He's raised ladybugs and monarch butterflies from eggs/pupas.
*He's 2.5 years old here...

And besides all that- I believe, I want to believe that part of that lives inside his little soul. That maybe... somehow... they share more than a name. And I want Jax to share the same experiences, too.
*James chewing on a freshly picked Purple Hull Pole bean from NaNa's garden... he's almost 5 months here.

*One and a half years old...

*Three years here after James pulled a bucket full of turnips.

So with all of my reservations aside, I've researched raised bed gardening... and my mom threw an idea at me: Lasagna gardening. She picked the book up for a dollar on one of her thrift/junk/antique shopping trips. It's an organic method of gardening that utilizes a sheet composting method. Basically, I won't be tilling down into the soil, adding amendments to the soil to make it usable--- but rather composting in layers, building my own dirt upwards. I'm very familiar with composting... and having unlimited supply of Black Gold from my mom's pile--- but I've never composted for myself, other than simple stuff like using grass clippings and leaves to mulch in existing beds.

SOOOO... James and I are working on the areas that we want to put our raised bed or three. We are shooing for a small vegi garden with Tomatoes, peppers, pole beans, and maybe if we have space- squash, and cucumbers. And a hefty herb garden... with flowers mixed in. We've got a few blackberry and blueberry bushes that are patiently waiting to get out of their pots and into the ground...

***We've got so much going on at our little house--- our boys are growing up! I hope I can get this together before too long. It would have been better for me to have built my beds in the fall- and let them 'cook' and break down all winter--- BUT I didn't do that. *sigh* So I may just press on and see what happens...

Anyone with barn litter, leaves, and other high carbon materials to compost? I'll totally come and pick them up!!!

Peace, love, and peat.moss.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

To the Moon...

This past weekend, I loaded up the car and drove to Houston to attend Tate Henry's 5th Birthday. He's my best friend's little boy and I adore him. He's James' best friend and we couldn't imagine not being there to help him celebrate.

Tate's dearest obsession is Star Wars. Needless to say, we celebrated his birthday at Space Center Houston. James thought the whole place was magical... and I'd have to agree with him. It was. We left theDuckling with the grandparents- which means I got to be completely hands.on with the Big Boys.

But let's back.track. Stop One: Granna's for cupcakes and presents!

Then to space!

James Neal checking out the current astronaut roster... so attentive!

The Great Slide was prolly my favorite part. It's about 3 stories high or so... and we all went down together in one big smushed pile. You really forget how much fun it is to be a kid... :)

Oh my goodness! What a trip! We treated the boys to matching astronaut suits and helmets on our way out. Aren't they just the sweetest things? *Thanks Moon for inviting us to take part in things... I can't tell you what it means to me to have yall sharing this life with us. :)

I'm so glad to be a mom. Becoming a parent is such a dramatic transformation... but I've never been happier in my whole life. And I believe it all stems from Love. More love than you could ever imagine... it's heavenly. :)

Peace, love, and mission.control.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

UPDATE: Meghan & Moses in Uganda

***UPDATE*** We've sold all the jambalaya we have! But if you still want to donate to this fantastic situation, follow the link to their blog and donate there. Thanks so much to my friends and readers! See yall Thursday. xo

Oh sweet readers!!!

Remember my friend Meghan? And her trip to get her 3 year old son Moses? Remember? Well TWO MONTHS LATER and she is STILL IN UGANDA!

Basically the court systems are still ironing out the new 'details' that will legally allow her and 25 other American citizens to return home with their children. But until then, they must remain in Uganda... it's been 2 months... and is likely to take even more time.

HOWEVER, Meghan has filed a 'new' adoption case citing medical concerns allowing her to adopt Moses in Uganda and bring him back to the states for treatment. This may allow her to return home with Moses sooner rather than later. But starting over from scratch with a new adoption case has it's stresses. One being the new legal fees and plane flight necessary to get her hubby, Chris, to Uganda to attend these necessary hearings.

So........... we plan on pitching in by making sure that The Matts have the money necessary to GET THIS DONE and get this mother and bebe HOME where they belong!

(If you look close, you can see his little dimple right there on the side of his cheek... Which makes Moses the third little boy with dimples that I'm officially in love with. :)

I'm SO EXCITED! YOU can help this sweet Momma and her precious family!

If you live in the Greater Baton Rouge Area, please consider purchasing a Jambalaya Lunch/Dinner this Thursday, March 18th.

Here are the official details taken from their website:

Bringing Moses Home!
Jambalaya Box Lunch Sale

$5.00 a box
We will deliver!

Meghan Matt has been in Uganda for 6 weeks battling for her son. She has been fighting to bring Moses home!


On March 26th, Chris and Meghan will present their adoption case to a judge. He will see their complete and utter love for their child. He will be moved by the attachment Moses has to his Mommy. He will be touched by the extreme lengths The Matt’s have gone to have their son home where he belongs.


The unexpected expenses of Meghan’s extended stay, adoption cost and flights have drained their savings. By ordering lunch you are helping Chris fly to Uganda. You will be helping him be with his wife and son as they prepare for their hearing. You will be bringing a mother and son home. You will be reuniting a family after nearly 2 months.

Ask your office, your church and family members if they would like to enjoy a wonderful lunch and be a blessing to a family at the same time. We will deliver for orders of 5 or more box lunches. Please comment below with your name, phone number, email address, number of boxes and if you would like to have your lunch delivered. We will contact you for directions if you choose to have your lunch delivered.


So! For $5 bucks you don't have to worry about making dinner AND you get to make a difference that will change a life!

Well, I suppose you would change more than a life- but lives (mine included) :) I'm just ready to meet this and I know for a fact that he has new shoes waiting in his closet right now that are meant for his feet! And I, of all people, know how fast boys grow (!!!) We've GOT to get this bebe home before his feet get too big. :)

***If any of my ZACHARY/CENTRAL readers want to order a lunch/dinner let me know! I'll bring it to you!!!

We are going to do whatever we can to bring our friends HOME!!!

Besides, I'm ready to start planning a 'Welcome Home Meg & Moe' party. I want to hear his laugh for myself and see his pearly.white smile in person!!! :)

***And if you are outside of our city, that stinks because WE HAVE THE BEST FOOD EVER here in South Louisiana! Fact.

But if you feel compelled to donate regardless, bring it Sugar! :) I know they have a paypal account set up at

Thanks in advance, yall!

Peace, love, and bringin.bebies.home,

theDuckling at 10 Months

These milestones are coming too quickly for me! James' first year flew by, sure- but Jackson's seems to have gone by in the I know that's what everyone says...

He's still our beautiful.thing... our tiny

I took him to his well visit at the doctor's the other day, and she measured his development. He's in the 99th percentile for height and the 97th for weight. After her assessment, she told me that his development was that of a 15 Month Old's. Which all boils down to one thing for me: he's growing just as he should be! All mother's worry to some extent, right? :)

He's got quite the personality, our littleDuck. He can say Momma, Daddy, and Uh-Oh. He can sign for 'more,' 'milk,' and 'all done.' It's so sweet to have him talk and sign... Needless to say, he's a great eater. Since I've made his up to this point, he's already on table foods. He can tolerate the texture- so I can just mash things up with the back of my fork.

We are transitioning to a sippy cup- and he loves that! Jackson is just weeks away from walking. He insists on standing by himself- and can do it for about 5 seconds or so... now, if he can just get the feet going.

WHICH brings me to the next thing: His 'no' issues. :) He's a mover and a shaker! Which only means we have to reinforce boundaries BUT the good news is he is beginning to understand that 'No' means !NO!. :) I hope this trend sticks around... James has always been a good listener. I hope bebe.Bro follows suit!

Jax loves tub.time, swinging outside, his Blanket, and PandaBear. He can clap and play 'Pat.A.Cake.' He'll grab your hands and clap them together and say 'Pat Pat Pat' to get you to play... so cute. If you ask for a kiss, he'll bury his face in yours and make an long mmmmmmm sound with puckered lips. So that means we pretty much kiss all day--- and theHotness feels slighted. He loves snack time where he can pick up his own food... You Are My Sunshine is still his His big.Bro is still his favorite part of the day- although he loves to tattle on Brother when he gets annoyed.

James Neal still dotes on his bebe. He's a gentle giant and knows accurately just what his brother needs at any given moment. It's so cute. If Jax cries when theHotness is changing his diaper- James has been known to leave whatever he's doing, run in the nursery and say- 'it's okay, Dad. I got this.' and then proceed to monkey.shine for his bebe. He knows Jax's schedule and can predict what he needs next. It's magical to watch them grow together...

I love theDuckling so much... he's pure joy... and the top of his head still smells like a warm slice of heaven. *sigh*

Peace, love, and bebe.bellies.