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Scattered Sundays

One of our oldest chickens, PooPoo Sandwiches (yes, her actual name. Jack named her when he was four) seems to not be long for this world. She’s looking ROUGH and doesn’t have the same spunk (read: being a big ass bully) as she used to.

I told Troy she seems to be on her way out, and that Satan is about to gain a chicken. Nobody really likes this chicken, but I do hope that when she passes it is painless and also on a day that Troy is home. I hate dealing with dead chickens, but it doesn’t remotely bother Dr. Doolittle.

I cleaned out their coop this week and I found ANOTHER sneaky egg hiding space! These freaking chickens are driving me nuts.

We have a compost tumbler in their run that we no longer use. But we leave it there because it gives the ladies a dry space to hang out underneath when it rains (and the others kick them out of the coop because chickens are JERKS).

We have a net propped against the tumbler to keep them from going behind the coop, and there is an old wooden box on top of the tumbler to keep the net in place. It’s janky.

For a week or so, Chew-Bawk-a has been squawking her beak off over by the compost. I’m guessing she is the culprit craping my breakfast in an old box.

eggs in a wooden box

Last week I asked our Instagram family to recommend some joggers (pants) for tall girls. And they came through in a big way! The winning suggestion was actually the simplest that I am shocked I never thought of – buy men’s pants!

I found a great pair at Target that is so comfy and comes with giant pockets, something that is never deemed necessary with women’s clothes. Rude.

After 14 years, my Target hoodie finally bit the dust. I think I got my $19.99 out of it. I’m not sure if it is my phone listening to me or just luck, but the same morning it happened, Pact Organic started running a hoodie sale. I ended up with this men’s hoodie for a steal. You can get 20% off your first Pact order via this affiliate link.

Guess what? The smoke is gone! Starting last weekend, a few rainstorms came through and gave us a much needed multi-day soaking rain. I went to bed with an Air Quality Index (AQI) of 255 and woke up to an AQI of 1. ONE. Heaven-sent.

Fires still remain in many parts of the West, and residents and first responders can still use your prayers and good thoughts. And if you feel called to donate, The American Red Cross is still the best bet.

Between the heat and then smoke from the fires, I haven’t gone on a run in three+ weeks. And honestly, I’m fine with it. I was making good progress in getting stronger with running, but honestly…meh. I’ll get back to it soon. And as always, I’ll be two minutes behind my 11-year-old’s slowest pace. That kid is fast.

a boy in a blanket fort

Forts are currently popping up all over the house.

How are things feeling in your neck of the woods? I know many parts of the country as seeing Covid spikes, and Canada is experiencing a second wave. Washington state is one of the few in the US that has decreasing cases. Many school districts are actually looking to bring kindergarten and first-grade students back within a few weeks.

I have so many mixed feelings about it, but I know that the recommendation comes from county health departments. I used to work closely with someone who runs our health department, and I trust her 100%.

My friends who are pandemic-schooling little kids at home are working SO hard and are very stressed right now. I think phasing in makes the most sense since middle school and high school kids are (mostly) self-sufficient. Jack is itching to see friends in person, but for now, we just bide our time and see what happens.

We reserve our right to change our minds 400x a day as to what is the right decision when we have the opportunity to choose the next steps. I keep trying to figure out who thought it was a good idea to let me be an adult because I’m not qualified to make grown-up choices.

a child sitting in a small chair in a messy room

Speaking of online school, things are 99% fine with that. But we did have a dust-up this week and it totally reinforced my “meanest mom” title. I wear that crown proudly.

Jack had forgotten about a hands-on science project he was supposed to do before class. It wasn’t anything dangerous, and the supplies were something that almost all families would have on hand (tape, dry noodles, etc.).

He flipped out when he realized he had forgotten, but I pointed out he still had time to do it before the Zoom call started. I got the supplies for him, and then just held my breath waiting for his normal overly-dramatic freakout.

And he did not disappoint. He was so frustrated and gave up almost immediately. The rubric specifically said that it was a hard project and that if you felt like giving up, you should try a new tactic.

If you looked up “rage quitting” in the dictionary, there is a photo of my kiddo. He is the OG rage-quitter. Jack is the kind of kid who is naturally good at 99% of all things he tries. That’s not a mom brag, it’s just true of who he has been since 30 seconds after he was born and he did a full-on push up followed by a plank on my chest.

Things naturally come easy to him, including academics. He’s been labeled highly capable since kindergarten, and coursework has always been simple. But from time to time, he is faced with a challenge and does NOT know how to work around it or through it. He instantly gives up.

During the science project, he asked me for help. I read the rubric and it pretty much implied it was something that needed to be done on his own. I told him I was unable to help but that he shouldn’t give up.

He got upset and said it was the teacher’s fault he forgot because the teacher forgot to remind them. Oh, hell no child. This is middle school buddy; no more constant hand-holding and reminders.

I mentioned that with science (and many things in life), sometimes the process is much more important than the outcome. And that he needed to stick with it to see if there was anything interesting he could discover.

But of course, he quit. And he tried to enlist Troy’s help but my “I will stab you in the face with a spork if you help him” look shut that right down. And thus, he gave up with nine minutes left to go in the 20 minutes allotted for the project.

They had to present their findings to their classmates and I explained that he could square up (the nice version of what I wanted to shout which was “sack up”), blow his nose, and try again. He didn’t, so I let him know that he would need to explain that he wasn’t able to find a solution but didn’t actually use all his given time.

He did his Zoom call with his class, and…found out that almost every kid failed at it. Even the teacher said it was a process that took him many attempts to figure it out. This is an advanced science class, packed with highly capable over-achievers, and I want to personally deliver a bottle of wine to all those households.

After the class was over we talked about why I refused to help him, and how we need to work together to find a better system that helps him remember when things are due. I let him know that life is really hard and he is going to face many challenges that he’ll feel like he can’t meet. Giving up before you try everything is a guaranteed way to be a very unsatisfied adult.

My sister and I grew up doing a lot more adult things than any of my friends. We had to because both of my parents had physical disabilities that required us to step up and get stuff done.

My parents always let us know that they expected a lot out of us but that they were there to help…but only after we tried and struggled on our own first. Example: I think I was the only 16-year old I knew who had a checking account.

I was working and earning my own money. I did beg to get the account and my parents agreed. They thought it was a good way to help me with money management while the risks were small. I knew I had the freedom to try things.

I constantly tell Jack that it looks like I am being hard on him when I don’t swoop in and fix things when they become challenging. But I do it because I love him and want him to be a functioning adult. Forgetting an assignment now is low-risk, but it sets the stage for expectations of what happens when you drop the ball later in life.

I’ve promised him multiple times that when he is older and wants to give up, he’ll eventually start to hear my voice in his head. And instead of saying “here, let me do this for you”, I want him to hear “buddy, you got this. Square up and keep going”.

Parents/guardians/grown-ups wrangling small kids. What are your Halloween plans? The dumpster fire of this year has already trained my kids to say “IF we have Halloween”. It sucks.

Personally, I think we’re too far out for our family to make a definitive decision. A lot can happen in five weeks. At the very least, I’m tempted to rally just our immediate neighbors to see how we can make it special. Maybe it is me providing them something to give the boys? I honestly have no idea. <—-2020 parenting motto.

In the Garden This Week

I got a few more quarts of tomato soup and whole tomatoes canned this week. I picked as many as I could ahead of an intense rainstorm that came through starting Wednesday. Heavy rain can cause tomatoes to split, making them unsafe for canning.

We also put up 14 quarts of canned peaches on Sunday. It was likely the final haul of peaches we could snag from the farmer’s market. It won’t last us through next season, so I’ll ration those jars like they’re filled with gold. In a way…they kind of are.

jars of canned peaches on a kitchen counter

The pears at the market weren’t looking canning-worthy, so I ordered 20 pounds of them from Azure Standard. That made 12 quarts of canned pears. These are the boy’s favorite, and I will be canning a case of them every two(ish) weeks until the season ends.

We’ve picked some blueberries and raspberries, but the rain has all but ruined the almost-ripe raspberries. It happens. 

The fall seeds we planted (spinach, carrots, and beets) are doing GREAT with the neighbor’s giant tree out of the way. I have a rough time with carrots because I’m terrible with keeping the soil damp (I’m not going to use the “m” word) enough.

So this time, I put a soaker hose in there and covered the whole thing with a floating row cover. It’s kept the soil damp, and I can take it off for a bit during rain and then cover it back up so the soil doesn’t get packed down.

One of the beds contain greens, and I have been having success replanting heads of romaine I’ve purchased at the farmer’s market. Basically, you can just cut off the leaves about 2 inches from the root end. Soak the root end in a bowl for a few days and you should start to see little bits of regrowth on it. And then just plant that whole thing. And pray.


Butcher Box has extended their uber-popular “Ground Beef for Life” promotion for an additional week.

ButcherBox Ground Beef is 100% grass-fed, grass-finished and raised free from antibiotics and added hormones. It is also humanely raised and certified pasture-raised. Take advantage of this incredible deal by clicking here.

What I’m Listening To This Week

Four years ago, a reader recommended the podcast Pantsuit Politics to me. There are two hosts who are both attorneys, close friends, and political opposites.

This episode they did earlier this week did a much better job than I ever could of explaining the whole quarantine exhaustion every “default parent” I know is feeling. If you just want to listen to that part of the podcast, it starts around minute 40.

What I’m Reading This Week

I’m onto Lady Clementine. I have absolutely no idea how this book downloaded itself to my Kindle, but it was there and thus meant to be.

It’s totally my jam – historical fiction that takes place between WWI and WWII in Europe. It follows the wife of Winston Churchill from marriage to the end of WWII. I very much enjoyed it. If you like this book, you’ll love one of my all-time favorites, Fall of Giants.

Reader Spotlight of the Week

Brittany left this five-star review on our How to Freeze Garlic the Easy Way tutorial {Pin this recipe}:

Thank you! Now I can stop buying the overpriced plastic-encased frozen garlic cubes from the grocery store. They’re such a time saver but bad for my wallet and the earth. Definitely going to DIY from now on!

A blue dish with garlic and chopped garlic in muffin liners on a white board

On Sustainable Cooks This Week

This week we have something that never happens – three sweet recipes! 

Grandma Dorothy’s Soft Pumpkin Cookies A family tradition from Troy’s grandma, nothing welcomes fall like baking a batch of Soft Pumpkin Cookies! These easy whole wheat pumpkin spice cookies are topped with an incredible cream cheese frosting. {Pin this recipe}

whole wheat soft pumpkin cookies with frosting on a cooling rack with pumpkins in the background

Rich & Creamy Instant Pot Hot ChocolateYou’ll love this rich and creamy Instant Pot Hot Chocolate! Simple to make and oh so delicious, it’s the perfect cozy treat on a cold day. No Instant Pot? You’ll also find alternative cooking methods. {Pin this recipe}

a mug of hot chocolate topped with whipped cream

^I took these photos during the smokiest part of last week. Even with aggressive photo-editing, they still have an orange or yellow tinge.

Raspberry Lemon Creme BruleeA rich and decadent dessert, this Raspberry Lemon Creme Brulee is surprisingly simple to make. Step by step instructions includes no torch and make-ahead options for this easy creme brulee recipe. {Pin this recipe}

Little jars of easy creme brulee with a spoonful being lifted out

The Five Most Popular Posts This Week

  1. How to Can Pears – cracking open a jar of these in February is pure heaven. {Pin this tutorial}
  2. Crockpot Apple Butter – Make this and your house will smell like heaven. Oh, and it tastes good too.  {Pin this recipe}
  3. How to Can Applesauce – welcome to the leaderboard!  {Pin this tutorial}
  4. Canning Peaches – this post dropping in the rankings is a sure sign that fall is coming. {Pin this tutorial}
  5. Instant Pot Garlic Parmesan Rice – welcome back to the top 5 to this reader favorite.  {Pin this recipe}

Meal Plan

Monday:: Takeout to support a local small business.

Tuesday:: Air Fryer Chicken Fajitas, Instant Pot rice for the boys, and salad. This didn’t happen last week because I slacked on defrosting the chicken in time.

Wednesday:: Ground chicken lettuce wraps and leftover rice (for the boys).

Thursday:: Instant Pot Zuppa Toscana (again) because having a giant batch of this in the fridge makes my life easier. Bread on the side for the boys.

Friday:: Popcorn, leftovers and movie night. Troy and I will be having Air Fryer Tofu (totally not Whole30, but we’re doing it weekly because Whole30 is way too meat-heavy) over big salads.

Saturday:: Takeout to support a local small business.

Sunday:: We have started up family dinners again with my sister and we’re headed to her house.


What are you having this week?

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15 comments on “Scattered Sundays”

  1. My oldest son is also one of those people that most things come naturally easy to and when he was young we talked to him again and again about needing to build up his resilience and patience, knowing that eventually he would come across items that weren’t so easy and we didn’t want him to give up. It can also be hard for those kids to have empathy and compassion to others who have to work hard at things. Fourth grade was when it all came to a head and he was finally feeling challenged by school work. Naturally he wanted to quit. It took a lot of conversations, tears, calls with the teacher and me pointing out adult examples of “naturally smart/talented, but gives up easily” before he finally started to agree that he needed to not give up so easily. He got heavily involved in sports in high school and his coaches were great with reinforcing that persistence pays off. Fast forward to college – My son called me at the end of freshman year of college and thanked me for some of these “life lessons” as he watched some of his peers derail under the pressure. You are on the right track Sarah!

  2. Hey Sarah! My son started in-person school back in the middle of August. That was not the case with many of the surrounding schools although they have begun phasing in in-person schooling as well. I went back and forth a couple of hundred times a day about whether or not to send him. I struggled with whether I could live with myself if he got sick or even worse, if he got my elderly parents sick. In the end, his school did not present an all virtual option and that is the school we chose. I hesitate to say it out loud or put it in writing, but so far, so good. He is loving being back in school and now, more than worrying about our collective health, I’ve found myself worrying about some or many kids getting sick and the school having no choice but to shut it down. I had my money on two weeks anyway. Good luck to Jack, whatever comes next and whenever it comes. I don’t think there is one right answer.

    • Thanks for saying that. And of all the parents I know who have kids in school, most feel similar to you.

      I found out this week that our district may start bringing K-1 kids back at the beginning of November and then phase in the older kids. My guess is if it is an option, Jack wouldn’t even be back until January.

  3. I may be in the minority here and if I am, so be it. But if even the TEACHER had trouble completing the experiment as assigned, it should NEVER have been something attempted over Zoom (or without all the kids and the teacher being in the same classroom, doing it together). Yes, I get that it was an educational moment for you to show Jack how to keep going, but it was 1oo% a jerk move on the part of the teacher. Especially if he didn’t somehow indicate to you, as the de facto in-person educator, that you should be prepared for that and give suggestions for how to handle it. That’s shitty teaching and there’s no getting around that. And Covid is no excuse.

  4. We’ve already told the kids no trick or treating. But, we have one neighborhood family who is in our bubble and we’re going to celebrate with them. We’re planning a Halloween egg hunt since they didn’t get Easter either and a few contests to pass the evening. My odd children asked for no chocolate this year (and then proceeded to argue it isn’t candy) so now I will be forced to eat a million Starburst. Sigh. 

  5. You might enjoy the novel, “The Alice Network” . It is about a group of female spies in France in WWI.

    I too am fretting about Halloween, and my kid is way too old to trick-or-treat. I like to decorate the house and yard, and love seeing the kids and their costumes. Last year, I got my son to bring one of his vintage televisions outside, and we played the original “Dracula” and “Frankenstein” while we handed out candy. It was a big hit.

    I have a lot of ideas for this year, but they may have to wait.

    If we do get to hand out candy, I think I will put up a table, put on a glove, and set pieces of candy on the table for the kids to pick up and put in their bags. A bottle of hand sanitizer or some wipes might be a nice touch.

    • That one has been on my library holds for a month!

      I guess you can still totally decorate, even if the neighborhood won’t be busy. Right?

      The gloves and sanitizer are a great idea!

  6. Wow!  That sounds like some exceptionally good parenting!!!!!   Did the teacher have the kids try the project again after the zoom call, or just explain it to them?  

    I am so happy to not have kids in school right now.  My youngest was just completing her final year of university when the pandemic started.  Fortunately, things worked out in her favour and she did really well that last semester.  And her degree is here, patiently waiting for her woodworker Dad to make a frame for her (for it?).  I *think* he is working on that as I type. My heart goes out to all the parents who have to make decisions about whether or not to send their kids to school.
    Halloween.  Last year we had a wicked downpour so Halloween sucked.  We normally decorate like mad outside, and prowl the driveway in our costumes (hubby is an 8′ tall grim reaper  -he made and learned to use stilts JUST for the costume!-  and I have been Maleficent for the last couple years).  Last year we had zero outdoor decorations, and less that half the normal amount of kids.  The kids we did get were really, soggy, yet still happy kids though.
    I think I will cry if it gets cancelled here.  We are already planning our distanced candy-handing-out technique using a large, long tube.  
    I saw a meme that had a photo of a person receiving their food at a drive-through window and it said something to the effect of : If adults can do this, why can’t kids do this? (followed by a photo of happy kids trick-or-treating.)  
    As I watch our covid numbers climb, I worry that it will be cancelled.  (although I find it interesting that it has not been called off yet, especially when the Toronto Santa Claus parade, that has been running on the Sunday before your Thanksgiving for the last 115 years, HAS been cancelled) I guess time will tell.  But if it is left as an individual decision, you can bet your ass we will be shelling out! A kid last year (maybe 12 years old) made my whole night by expressing his disappointment in the rain because we have “the best house in the neighbourhood” (and a family a few doors down gives out full-sized bars, you’d think the kids would fine THEM the best!). He may have gotten extra candy…..
    I’m very happy that the smoke is gone, and I hope there is more rain to help put out the remaining fires.

    • I hope the frame looks fantastic!!

      I too have seen that meme, but it misses the point with numbers. It is ONE person handing an item to multiple people who line up one by one. As opposed to 40 “drive-throughs” in the same neighborhood handing things out to 40 people at once who all crowd around the window. And I’m not set on what we’re doing. But the meme is not an equal presentation of how disease theory works.

      I did see a few photos of people making “candy tubes” and I think it is so clever. But it doesn’t solve the problem of people touching the candy beforehand. But honestly, everyone is always touching everything. Who the heck knows anymore, right?

      If Halloween still happens up there, I hope your weather is fantastic and the “cool” house can make the neighborhood happy again!

      • Our Halloweens must be VERY different!  
        We usually get a few kids travelling together then a pause, then a couple more, pause, maybe a solo kid…… rinse, repeat.  Never, ever 40 at a time!  That would be insanity!
        So, it really isn’t a whole lot different than a drive through.  
        As for touching things.  That one is tricky.  I know that *I* will have clean hands (seriously considering using tongs as well.  Creepy ones, of course) But I know that does not mean that other people will.  But is it really different than shopping, where people touch things?  
        If I was a parent-of-a-younger-child, I think I would be quarantining the loot for a week, but I would have safe back up treats for the wait time. Or maybe I would wipe everything down as I checked over it, only letting the kids have something that I gave them that night.    What was that motto?  I honestly have no idea.  
        It is a tricky time to navigate, but I still feel like Halloween (at least around here) can absolutely be done safely. (and I hope we live up to that one kid’s expectations!)

        He WAS working on the frame, but I haven’t seen it yet.

      • It varies around here. We have too many hills so most kids and parents skip our neighborhood. There are flatter subdivisions with sidewalks across town that get 300-500 kids per night.

        We haven’t taken the kids into stores since March. At some point, we’ll need to rip that bandaid off.

      • 300-500 kids!!!!   Holy crap!
        Yes, our Halloweens ARE very different.  We were lucky if we got 30 last year in the downpour.  Normally it is about 80.  maybe closer to 100 on a good year (like this one promised to be, on a weekend and all.)   We are in a slightly awkward location that tends to get neglected in favour of more loot in less time.  I understand your initial response a lot better now!
        I hope your kids get some sort of good Halloween.  Even if it is different than normal.

  7. Halloween for our 4- and 6-year-olds here in Michigan is going to look like some special daytime thing with just the people in our quarantine bubble, but we are still doing costumes. No trick-or-treating, but hopefully it will still feel special. Having a neighbor who used to teach little kids makes it much easier, she goes bananas for this kind of stuff. Glad it’s on a Saturday so we have the whole day to do stuff!