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Scattered Sundays

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Jack had his 7th grade (SEVENTH GRADE, people) orientation this week where he got his schedule, school supplies, and picture taken for the yearbook.

It was the night before orientation when I was out walking and realized that Jack’s hair looked like a shaggy dog’s and school pictures were tomorrow morning. Whomp whomp.

I have been cutting everyone’s hair in the family for forever, but as Jack has gotten older, I let him get a professional haircut right before school starts. It was supposed to be three weeks ago, but that was during the week we were all passing a cold around. And due to the extreme delay of our covid tests (ahem, six days for results. Freaking Rite Aid.), I had canceled his appointment.

I got home from my walk, shoved Jack onto the deck, and trimmed just the sides of his hair that would be visible to the camera. It was very much a janky reverse mullet, but it worked.

a boy in glasses smiling

And no, Jack doesn’t need glasses, but how dang handsome is he in these? Our friend’s sister-in-law is a doctor in Los Angeles and her hospital has seen good results in preventing break-thru cases internally with masking AND goggles. So, it was recommended to us by someone I trust, to send the kids to school in glasses.

I bought them simple blue light glasses (these for Jack and these for Bennett) for school. They’ve been wearing them around the house to get used to them. This is what our family is doing – I am not providing medical advice. I know it’s shocking, but my medical degree is non-existent.

My team of tiny little soccer players had to cancel a practice due to heat and wildfire smoke, and everyone will be missing a few practices because we’re out of town. I added a third optional practice for the next three weeks, so we were absolutely soccer immersed right now.

I subscribe to a few free weekly emails that send out age-appropriate practice plans for soccer, and on a whole, they’ve been very helpful. But I think they’re also entirely unrealistic. One that I received this week allocated 15 minutes to a practice skills drill. Five and six-year-olds cannot/will not do the same footwork drill for 15 minutes straight.

I tend to cobble together my own practice plans using multiple suggestions from all the newsletters/apps. If you’re also a soccer coach, my favorite source for fun games has been the Mojo app. It’s free and you can customize it to your age group, number of players, and how long your practices are. They also have great videos in the app and on youtube.

Despite all my hard work to keep things fun, Bennett has informed me that practices are “so boring” because it’s not “real soccer” (I assume he means not a game?). Cool kid, glad you appreciate the effort. Guess what? Your knock-knock jokes SUCK. And you’re short.

Bennett had kindergarten kick start for three days this week. It was only 90 minutes each day, but he seemed to have a good time, even though the new playground equipment wasn’t finished being installed. <—five-year-old priorities.

Bennett has always been pretty closed-lipped about school (“how was school today buddy”? “I don’t know”.) so we didn’t get a ton of details out of him each afternoon. As far as I can tell, they had a snack, played outside, did some coloring, were shown where the bathroom was, and maybe read a story?

He attended a Montessori preschool, so he refers to any school-related task as “a work”. And he said they did one work each day. It sounded like the coloring they did was free drawing (draw a picture of your favorite animal, draw a picture of your family, etc.), but knowing teachers as I know them, I’m sure there is something more to those pictures.

Elementary teachers, feel free to tell me if I’m wrong, but my guess is that the pictures were to gauge dexterity and age-appropriate skills(?) As in, can the kid draw a head, torso, arms, and legs on a person? Maybe? Judging by the fact that we did not get these pictures back at the end of the week, my gut feeling is they’re being used for assessment in some capacity.

When Bennett told me that they were supposed to draw their favorite animal, I asked him if he drew a kitty. He said he drew TWO kitties, but one was a kitten. He was bummed because he messed up on the details and “my kitten looked like a furry loaf of bread”.

He said he colored “the good one” with tabby colors (like his beloved stuffed kitty, Baby GG), but that for the kitten he used pink because “THIS kitten was just born and didn’t have much fur, and besides, pink is a nice color for a kitten”. He was throwing off major Billy Madison and the blue duck vibes.

a boy with a shirt over his head carrying a small frying pan

This afternoon we’re having an outdoor lunch with friends at their house. This is the family that was over when Bennett split his head open and ended up getting his noggin’ stapled together. The fact that they still want to hang out with us is pretty spectacular.

Originally we had planned on an indoor dinner, but thanks to that punk, Delta, we switched it to outdoors and lunchtime. Our friends are also a firefighter family and have similar thoughts/comfort levels on pandemic-related activities. It’s always nice to not have to justify feelings in these situations.

tomatoes on a towel

This coming week we’re headed to the ocean for a few days for our last hurrah of summer. We had planned to leave on Wednesday but found out that Jack has three days of track practice this week. Surprise! Because we’re lucky to use my inlaw’s house, we were able to adjust our trip without incurring any cancellation fees.

In the Garden This Week

After harvesting what seemed like a billion tomatoes, I set out to make a giant batch of Crockpot Spaghetti Sauce. That recipe calls for 10 cups of chopped tomatoes, and I had eleventy-thousand. I didn’t want to do it all by hand, so I used the roma tomato screen (like a cone-shaped strainer with large holes) on my food mill, and I have to say, I was so disappointed in it.

My food mill is amazing for tomato soup and applesauce, but I found that too many seeds snuck through the large screen. All those seeds are so unappealing when you’re eating pasta sauce.

a boy using a food mill with tomatoes

I harvested some cucumbers last weeknight, sliced them up for a big salad, and then promptly gagged while eating them. They were SO bitter.

A quick search of the interwebs and it looks like my problem is stressed cucumber plants. The likely culprit is hot dry weather, which is pretty much the definition of this summer. Also, I think my cucumbers are watching the news because that would stress anybody out.

Now I have a bunch of cucumbers in the crisper that I wanted to make into fridge pickles (I use this really old recipe) and it’s like cucumber roulette. I need to slice and sample every single cucumber before (potentially) making the worst pickles on earth.

Our “Fall” raspberries are starting to come in and they’re glorious. I don’t know what variety (varietal?) our raspberries are, because they were hand-me-down plants from my aunt and uncle. And knowing them, they likely also got them as secondhand plants from someone else.

Here’s what I do know – each year in June/July, the plants produce small delicious raspberries. And then the plants go dormant for a few weeks and suddenly start producing these giant and equally as delicious raspberries.

This week I had to tie back some of the canes because they were escaping from the raspberry support system we have. I ended up using some teal yarn that Bennett keeps around to play with when he is pretending to be a cat. Which is always.

raspberry bushes tied up with teal yarn

I have spent years and what seems like 500 hours fighting the morning glory (bindweed) that grows wildly in the raspberry patch. This is the time of year when I just give up because there is absolutely nothing I can do to get rid of it.

Housekeeping

The last two weeks have been REALLY heavy for the world. Watching the news out of Afghanistan has reminded me that living the life that I live was based entirely on the random fortune of being born where I was.

Right now, women journalists in Afghanistan are among the most at-risk populations in the country for reasons of revenge, retribution, and long-standing prejudice against their voices in any public arena. Please consider donating directly to the International Women’s Media Foundation to contribute directly to women journalists in need in the country and attempting to flee.

What I’m Listening To This Week

This episode of Make Me Smart made me stop in my tracks while I was out on a walk. To pull the quote out that really got me, “what this pandemic has taught us is that first world countries have a social safety net. And the United States has women”.

See my ALL previous rants on this topic about the emotional labor that was heaped on females during the lockdown to know how I feel about this. But dang it’s so true.

I sent the quote to my mother-in-law, and she replied with “give matriarchy a chance”, and now I desperately want to put that on a mug or a shirt.

What I’m Reading This Week

(trigger warning. If pandemic-related discussions give you anxiety, please skip ahead.)

Sunday night I was getting ready for bed and heard screaming coming from outside. Troy and I ran out of the house and found my neighbor in her yard on the phone. She just found out that her son who was in his early 40s and unvaccinated had just passed away from Covid. We ran up to her yard to be with her so she wasn’t alone, and had to watch her breakdown.

No decision(s) that any of us ever makes is made in a vacuum. Each choice involves others in a direct or non-direct way. I’m just the neighbor of this person (Troy however was friends with the guy when they were growing up), but bearing witness to that has forever changed me.

I’m not preaching anything or trying to convert anyone because it seems like at this point, lines have been drawn and decisions have been made by everyone. But, watching someone go through that grief and pain will never leave me. Ever.

On Monday I was pretty much in a daze and could not focus on work or anything detail-oriented. I’m not much of a crier but found myself sobbing off and on all day as I processed what had happened the previous night. My heart was just broken for my neighbor, her son’s wife, and two sons that he left behind.

I basically sat around reading, letting the children raise themselves (but also hugging them aggressively and forcing snuggles on them). During that time I flew through The Rose Code. The book was good but it also allowed me to step out of reality for a few hours.

Read books, hug your family, and be good to others. If we cannot agree on anything right now, those three things are a good place for us to start to find common ground.

Reader Spotlight of the Week

Annette left this five-star review on our Stovetop Candied Pecans {Pin this recipe}:

This was so easy to do. I added some sea salt at the end to give it a sweet and salty flavor. Used them in a salad bar luncheon.

A glass bowl of stovetop candied pecans

On Sustainable Cooks This Week

Air Fryer FishsticksThese delicious Air Fryer Fish Sticks have a crispy crunchy outside with flaky perfectly cooked fish inside. Simple for fast dinners or snacks, they’re also easy enough for kids to make on their own. {Pin this recipe}

a dish of air fryer fish sticks

Instant Pot Orange ChickenYou’re going to love this tender, juicy, and incredibly flavorful Instant Pot Orange Chicken! This easy and healthy orange chicken recipe involves no frying, nothing sketchy – just real food ingredients that beats takeout every time. {Pin this recipe}

Canning ApplesauceA step-by-step guide on Canning Applesauce with no sugar added. This easy-to-follow tutorial teaches you how to make applesauce for canning or freezing. {Pin this tutorial}

Bowls of homemade applesauce with a cinnamon stick and apples on a grey board

How to Freeze ZucchiniLearn all the tips and tricks for Freezing Zucchini to extend the harvest. Learning how to freeze zucchini using multiple methods, is a great way to preserve this delicious summer veggie. {Pin this tutorial}

Two bags of zucchini for freezing

The Five Most Popular Posts This Week

  1. Canning Peaches – still #1 but traffic to this post is starting to slow, which is a harbinger of Fall. It will likely peak on Labor Day weekend when everyone tries to get the last of their summer produce put up. {Pin this recipe}
  2. How to Can Pears – our family’s favorite canned fruit! {Pin this recipe}
  3. Canning Whole Tomatoes – the best way to give yourself a squirrel stash for making soups and sauces this winter. {Pin this tutorial}
  4. Crockpot Spaghetti Sauce – I made a batch this week and it looks like everyone else did too. {Pin this recipe}
  5. Air Fryer Egg Rolls – the first non-preserving recipe in the top five in a month or so! {Pin this recipe}

Meal Plan

Tuesdays are quickly becoming my favorite weekday since there is no soccer.

Monday:: I’m trying to make “grilled” chicken breasts in the air fryer for the first time. We’ll eat some that night with stovetop garlic bread and salad, and I’ll cut up the extra to use for Wednesday’s dinner.

Tuesday:: Take a bake pizza + salad. A month or so ago, Troy installed an AC unit for someone at our church, and she was so sweet and sent us a gift card for Papa Murphy’s. (<—this might just be a West Coast chain).

Wednesday:: Leftover chicken breast flatbread wraps + cut-up raw veggies.

Thursday:: Adult Lunchables made from anything we can find in the fridge to eat in the car on the way to the ocean after Jack gets back from track practice.

Friday:: We’ll be at the ocean and the boys will definitely choose Bennett’s Fish Shack for takeout. The irony is this is the restaurant where we first discovered that our own Bennett is addicted to seafood.

Saturday:: Movie night at the ocean.

Sunday:: Organic hot dogs with organic tater tots in the air fryer (yes, we travel with our air fryer. Yes, it’s slightly weird, but maybe we’re also freaking geniuses), and salad.

What We Bought This Week

We got our Butcher Box order this week. We’ve been customers for a few years, and last year I reduced our delivery to every other month instead of every month. It’s an easy way for me to monitor our goal of decreasing our meat consumption.

I was really excited to see tri-tip in this box because it’s one of my favorite cuts for making Instant Pot Beef Tips and Gravy.

a cardboard box full of frozen meat from butcher box

Right now, Butcher Box is running a promo to get free burgers, chicken, and hot dogs in the first box of all new customers. And make sure you’re a Rakuten member to also earn cashback.

 

What is on your menu this week?

 

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14 comments on “Scattered Sundays”

  1. “Read books, hug your family, and be good to others. If we cannot agree on anything right now, those three things are a good place for us to start to find common ground.”

    Amen!

    Also, a good short example of the heart behind the blog, which is why I enjoy it so much. I’ll be praying for your poor neighbor, and for you and your family dealing with the emotional impact.

    • I’m so sorry for your neighbors loss. Praying for you all!!!
      How did the grilled chicken in the air fryer come out?
      Genius!!! I think I will be taking my air fryer with me for future references… Lol

      • I did it last night and it was really tasty. Troy makes a delicious grilled chicken so the bar was set very high. Taste-wise it was great and very juicy, but we did miss the crispy bits from the grill.

        We decided that it’s a great substitution for when we can’t grill, but grilling is still our #1.

    • Thank you so much for your prayers. I think their family will take ALL that they can get!

  2. Love reading your blog. You do you.
    Enjoy your vacation.

  3. I have a similar food strainer. The cone I use on tomatoes doesn’t allow seeds thru. Also, I have the electric motor. It’s extremely helpful to my old, arthritic shoulders! Your crank turner looks like he likes the job. 😊

    • I have a cone that is a fine mesh one that doesn’t let a single seed through, but it is only great for making soup. Does your make a chunkier sauce?

      I had no idea that these have a motor option!

  4. My cousin just buried his 38yo son this week. 😞 One of my 3 adult children refuses to be vaccinated and my anxiety is through the roof. Working in an ER, there’s no reprieve for my soul. Thank goodness for Epsom salt baths.  

    • I’m so sorry for your family Brenda, and hate that you’re even more stressed because of his choices. I know what you see every day and it must be exhausting.

  5. I know this website is your job, but I have to tell you my eyes filled with tears and I let out a sob at your description of your neighbor losing her son, and his wife and children being without a father right now. 

    My heart aches. I too, wish people would take that step to get vaccinated but I also know we can’t change anyone other than ourselves. 

    And hell yeah to “Give matriarchy a chance!” A++++

  6. We have Papa Murphey’s down here in Louisiana! I was glad because we go there a couple times a month 😆 

    Bennet is looking like he’s lengthening too! He’s such a cutie. It’s funny to me hearing the things he’s into and thinking about my son who is the same age. Some things I can see very similar and some things very different. 

    • I’m going to guess you guys get the family-sized pizzas. Ha!

      It’s hard to gauge whether Bennett is growing much or not. I swear he eats almost nothing these days. He has friends who are giants compared to him, and then others who are tiny. I feel like he’s pretty middle of the road in terms of height.