Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Summer Week 1

I have an amazing friend named Sara. She lives in Arizona. We met when we both lived there, in the early days of wifehood, both pregnant with our first baby girls, both of us with husbands going to school. Sara would do anything for me, and in fact she has. She was the one I packed up and ran to when my first husband told me he was leaving me. She was the one who called me every single night for, I don't know, years?, when I was alone and trying to figure out what God wanted from me. She and her husband are the ones who helped me get my van so I could go back to school. She even loaned me her amazing house so that my entire family could have a family reunion there.

Sara brought her five children here to visit last week. Her husband, now a physician, had to stay behind to work, and Sara needed to get away, so we cozied up here in California. I was most concerned about feeding everyone, since more than half of the kids are teenagers now. I made up a menu and did some serious shopping. And some serious cooking, for up to 14 people, three times a day, all week long. And I would think to myself, "How does Michelle Duggar do this for her entire life?" But it was very gratifying to see those hungry, growing kids scarf down food, I gotta tell ya.

We spent two days at the beach, just lounging in the sand, while the kids played like they'd been together their whole lives. Kids love the beach, and it is so fun to watch them just love it. Some of her kids got sunburns the first visit, so Sara was the Aloe Police at home trying to heal them super-quick so we could go back two days later. It worked.

Sara and her troop left on Friday morning, and then I got busy packing up to go to Youth Conference as a ward leader. Three of my own kids were there, Lyndsay, Dylan, and Caitlin, which was fun. But I tried to keep a safe distance from them and let them come to me if they wanted to so they didn't feel like Mom was spoiling all their fun.

I was having fun of my own anyway. Two of my favorite people were there with me as leaders, Stacy (on the left) and Mari (on the right). Mari is in the YW presidency with me in my ward, and Stacy is a Stake leader. She'll be the one teaching me the "Single Ladies" dance this summer--so stay tuned for my upcoming music video. That's all I'm gonna say about that. But we had a great time together.

Not sure why this picture is so small, but oh well. The Youth Conference was held at a camp up in the Angeles Crest National Forest. You know, the one that was practically decimated by last summer's wildfires? It was very sobering to drive through the canyons and see the miles and miles of blackened forest. And eerie too, because I already lived through that before, if you remember.

But the Stake leaders had planned an excellent service project for the kids. A group called Tree People is hard at work regrowing the forest. Lots has been cleared, and thousands of new trees have been planted, with 25,000 more scheduled to be planted in the spring. Our job was to water all the new baby trees in our area. 1100 of them. They were less than a foot high, just little baby guys, hanging on for dear life in the heat. We had to give each tree a half-bucket of water, which is all the water they'll receive this year. Sad! It was really great though to see all these teens lugging buckets around the mountain, scouting out baby trees to give drinks to.

And the leaders were not blind to the fact that the Tree People had some pretty hot guys leading the pack. We were expecting some washed-up hippie types, but no. Seriously hot. Which wasn't so bad.

Of course, on the way back, Stacy got her foot run over by a car. The bottom of her foot, if you can imagine (because the podiatrist she called couldn't), but she did a pretty mean backflip trying to get out of it, and the good news is, she can still dance. She'll be fine once the bruising clears up.

It was a lot of fun being up in the mountains with 200 teens. I love teenagers. And we had great speakers, like an astronaut, and Brooke White, who came to speak and sing to the kids. Mari and I were cabin "Moms" to fourteen girls in Cabin 9, and that was a riot. The girls never wanted us to go to sleep! Just stay up and talk with them. They talk about the funniest things! And though I'm still recovering from the sleep deprivation, I am so, so glad that I got to attend.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

In Case You'd Like to Know About Last Week

Last week was crazy. I knew it would be, it being the last week of school and all. Of course, I should have expected life to throw in a few more kinks as it is prone to do. This was the week of Finals, with a capital F. Finals for me, Finals for Lyndsay. There was some intense studying going on, and some short tempers too. (mostly mine) But Wednesday morning, we took a break to attend Caitlin's 8th grade promotion. Yes, I cried. Graduations make me cry. And she's getting so grown up and so gorgeous!

Caitlin and her dad after promotion

I took my Anatomy and Physiology final exam on Thursday morning, experiencing a fairly peaceful heart after a night of studying and prayers to remember. I can't even adequately describe my fatigue over that class. The subject matter is so interesting/fascinating/miraculous/amazing, and if I didn't have to be tested on every cell of every tissue of every organ and know how it all works, I would love it. But this entire year I've been immersed in the human body at a level I honestly didn't know existed. It felt like running a marathon towards the end, knowing the finish line was in sight and really having to push myself to cross it. I just couldn't do it anymore. I think the exam went okay. I had an A going into that last exam, so unless I screwed up abominably, I should do well. It's a class that I really need to have an A in to be accepted into the nursing program. I can hardly believe that it's over, those two classes, and that I don't have to study Anatomy and Physiology anymore! What a relief!

After my exam, and coming home to teach piano lessons, taking Lyns and Aiden to their piano lessons (yes, I bailed and got them their own teacher--one less flaky than I), we hurried over to the church for Aiden's Webelos Raingutter Regatta. Kind of like the Pinewood Derby, except with boats that they blow down a raingutter river.

Conor just used every spare moment to play in the water. At one point when I couldn't see him, I found him running through the church lawn sprinklers. I figured, "Let him. I'm tired; he's happy." Five minutes later, I peeked and he was still playing, without shorts this time. Two minutes past that, his shoes were off. I sent Adam over to rescue the situation before things got really weird.

Aiden came in third place, and had a lot of fun.

The next morning at breakfast, however, he asked me when he could go to the dentist. Not a normal question, and I'm so overwhelmed financially, that it wasn't high on my priority list, even though the kids are due this month to go. I asked him why and he told me he had a tooth that was really bothering him. In fact, he said, he'd been up most of the night and had brushed and flossed over and over again trying to kill the pain. He never woke me up, bless his heart. I took a look in his mouth, and about fainted.

That's a huge hole! I don't know if it's a new fast-acting cavity, a chipped area, or if a filling fell out, but it was very obvious that the kid was in excruciating pain. Knowing what I knew about money and our lack of insurance, my heart sank. I gave him some ibuprofen and sent him off to his last day of school, and I called his dentist. I explained it was an emergency, but they couldn't see him until Tuesday. I made the appointment, but I knew it wasn't good enough. When Aiden came home from school he was in worse shape, but we had to go to Dylan's 8th grade culmination, so I gave him more ibuprofen, and off he and Conor and I went. Conor, who should have been taking a nap.

The graduation was at 2pm in the blazing sun. We had to get there early to get a seat, and Adam was working, so I was on my own. Besides the moments when Dylan entered, and crossed the stage to accept his diploma and I cried thinking back on how quickly he is growing up and how much I love him (he finished junior high with a 4.0GPA!), besides those moments? I hated it. It was so bloody hot. Seriously. Conor cried and whined the entire time. It was a constant whiny monologue that went something like this:

"It's hot."
"I hate hot."
"I hate it here."
"My hair is melting."
"I want to go home."
"I'm hot."
"I hate hot."
"I hate this song."
"I hate Dylan."

It was miserable. I tried to make a makeshift bed with a t-shirt on the grass under my legs so he could lie down and be a bit shaded, but then I heard:

"This grass is itchy."
"It's not shady enough."
"I'm hot."
"My back itches."
"I hate this."
"I hate this grass."
"I hate Dylan."

To make it worse, poor Aiden was next to me, holding his face, groaning periodically in pain, but being such a champ. He was hot too. We all got sunburned. It was a horrible two hours, besides those moments when I was filled with maternal pride and love for my boy. But after we took some pictures, we split. My heart was so concerned about Aiden. And it was so hot, did I mention that?

When we got home, I got out my super-duper First Aid kit and tried my best to help Aiden, thinking that we had to somehow make it to Tuesday. I cleaned the tooth, numbed it with an oral medication, and filled it with temporary dental filling putty. That worked for all of 30 minutes. We put ice on the side of his face and he stayed on the couch in pain. I cried. I didn't know what to do to help him. I could not find another dentist who could see him, and here it was Friday afternoon, and we would need special help because of financial circumstances. I already had a system with my dentist where he allowed us to make payments. Or I thought I did.

Late that afternoon they called me, and I thought, "Oh! Something's opened up! We can get in!" But no, they were concerned about our lack of insurance and the lady who had always worked with us no longer worked there. The new woman couldn't guarantee anything. I was so upset. She could see that we didn't owe anything currently. She could see that our six children have been patients there for five years and that we have paid thousands of dollars with or without insurance. (Dental insurance isn't that impressive.) She said we'd have to come in on Tuesday and speak with the dentist to see if he'd be willing to accept payments. I couldn't believe they would turn away a kid in so much pain and it scared me.

Not knowing what to do, I called Adam, who was working on set for a commercial for Pedialyte (not acting this time, darn it.) I was in tears, asking if he knew anyone in our Stake who was a dentist. He only knew one, the bishop of one of the wards, but we didn't have his office number, didn't have the proper phone book, and our internet had been shut off because we hadn't paid the bill. It was almost 5pm when offices would be closing and I was desperate. He told me to try to track down the phone number and he'd see if he could get a hold of him. Nobody that I called, to help me find his number, was home. Thinking about what I should do, I had this impression to call a woman in our ward to ask her to look up the number on her internet. It was not a person I would normally call, but I just obeyed, and she was so kind and gracious. But her internet was slower than a snail, and as I sat there waiting and waiting, and wondering why in the world I'd felt to call this woman when her internet was still back in the Dark Ages, we began to chat. I didn't want to give her my sob story, but I just said I had a dental emergency.

"For a child or adult?" she asked.

"Child. My dentist can't see him till Tuesday, but he is in so much pain, so we're going to call Bishop Garrett and see if there's anything he can do to help."

"Oh, I have a great pediatric dentist," she offered.

"Really? But, see, I don't have insurance right now, and with how bad his tooth is, I probably won't be able to pay for the whole thing and will need to make payments."

"Oh, my dentist offers a discount for cash paying patients, and they allow making payments," she said. So I asked for the name of her dentist, and wrote it down just in case. Finally her internet gave me the number for Dr. Garrett, and we said goodbye. I hurriedly called Adam and gave him the number. He knew Dr. Garrett, I didn't, so I thought we'd have better luck if he called. Turns out, he was out of town for the weekend with the youth. Fantastic.

Aiden's face was starting to swell. The ice helped a bit, as did the ibuprofen, but he was in a bad way, and I was trying to study for my early morning Nutrition final, with only my poor suffering boy on my mind.

I cried myself to sleep, feeling so helpless. I got up with him a few times in the night to switch his ice, give him more medicine, rub his back. I knew he was in agony. I was in a different kind of agony, as the night wore on.

I left early to take my final, and I thought to take my laptop with me to use the wireless service at the school. I kept thinking about the dental office that the woman had told me about, so I called them. "Bring him in," they said. I told them I didn't have insurance, and barely any money, and still, "Bring him in. We'll work it out."

I sped home and scooped him up and raced out to Eagle Rock. A miracle! He was feeling some hope and so was I. I cried as I thanked the office staff for getting us in. He had his x-rays, and sure enough, the infection was too advanced and the tooth had to be pulled. I was afraid of this, and the ensuing cost of an implant. The dentist laughed, "No, it's only a baby tooth!" It is? Another miracle! They would pull it and put a spacer in and it would be over. I cried again, so, so grateful. The billing specialist allowed me to make a partial payment, which made me cry again with gratitude. I couldn't thank them enough!

On the way home, Aiden was in real pain, but we got him some medication and ice and he has steadily improved. I know that Heavenly Father put that thought into my mind to call that woman. Here, I had thought it was to use her internet connection, but it was really because of what she would tell me in our conversation. I thanked her today in church and she said it was funny, that she almost hadn't said anything about her dentist, but felt that she should. Tender mercies! Thank you!

What a burden was lifted from my shoulders now that Aiden was taken care of and would be okay, and that my classes were now behind me. I was so exhausted! I fell asleep and rested for a good while.

When I woke, I went out to the garden and pulled up all the bolting lettuce. It's time to plant new vegetables, and I'm probably a little behind in that, but I've been so busy. I decided to pull up some carrots and blanch and freeze them to make room for more carrots.

We gave all the carrot runts to the bunny, Chadwick, who loved the greens the best. Good ol' Chadwick.

Then it was time for summer haircuts for the boys who had gotten quite shaggy. I took them to a $7 hair cut place and had them shorn. They look so clean cut now and ready for summer!

Here's Aiden, feeling so much better.

And the Dylan-boy, who won Best Hair at his school, but really needed a change. He wanted it, though I warned him the change would be shocking at first. He's going through some transition at the moment, but public reaction has been encouraging, and I think he's going to make it.

Of course, try to get a decent picture of him. I dare you. He's such a ham. And my goodness, he looks like his dad with this haircut! But he gets his blue eyes (which I haven't seen in years behind all that hair) from me. He said he thinks his eyes and ears are allergic to oxygen, now that everything is exposed.

And Lyndsay. I didn't mention Lyndsay too much in this post, did I? Well, she's still amazing and gloriously beautiful. She made it through her sophomore year with a 4.0GPA as well and has the whole world at her feet.

Next week? Our household doubles. My friend Sara is bringing her five children for the week to do some beach! It's gonna be crazy. But good crazy. Apparently, I do crazy. Crazy's what I do.

Yay, summer break!

p.s.--I'm DONE with Anatomy and Physiology!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Heart and Soul

Tonight I had a little more time to tuck Conor into bed. Often it's a rushed affair, me just ready to end the day of his demands and incessant talking. (Speech therapy works.) I am in a constant battle with the hours and minutes of each day, and often begrudge the other pulls on my time and energy that keep me from just mothering. It's all I really want to do.

But tonight I crawled into his toddler bed with him, spooning his little boy body, still insulated with baby fat, tucking him right up against me. He popped his thumb into his mouth and grabbed his "cozy blanket", manipulating around the perimeter of it until he found "his corner". There's only one he likes, and he twiddles it as he sucks his thumb. He's worn the fabric bare with his love. We stayed silent for just a while, and then he had questions.

"How do the workers know how to make sidewalks?"

"How did Jesus make all the trees?"

"Which kinds of trees are in the jungle?"

"Should I be a barbecue for Halloween?" (what???)

He always asks great questions for a three-year-old. The workings of his little mind delight me and make me giggle. I answer the best that I can--and I promised him a YouTube video of sidewalk-making in the morning.

Then he wanted a story. The lights were already out, so I asked him if he wanted the Three Bears or the Three Pigs story. Bears. Bears it was, one of my best renditions ever, him still sucking away at his thumb. Then he wanted the Pigs. Geez, I hadn't told that one in forever. He followed along methodically. The first pig bought some straw to make his house. (Conor interrupted with "How did he make his door?" Good question.) The second pig used sticks; the third, bricks. "How do workers make bricks?" he wanted to know. We added that to our YouTube to-do list for tomorrow and proceeded on with the story.

He was mesmerized, and when the Big Bad Wolf succeeded in blowing down two houses, sending the homeless pigs running to their brother's house, the tension in the plot sent him flipping his little body around to face mine, and burrowing his face in my arm. "How many wolfs are there?" He wanted to be sure he was on top of the odds. But one is enough, isn't it? Anyway, when the Big Bad Wolf ended up in the pigs' stew that night, Conor was so relieved. A bit disgusted, but relieved. And then he wanted another story.

Enjoying the deliciousness of this rare treat, I went through my repertoire. Jack and the Beanstalk, The Billy Goats Gruff? . . . but no. "How about a Jesus story?" he said in his sweet voice. There was a "Duh, Mom" moment for me. Of course! What am I thinking? So I told him the story of Jesus coming to bless the children and how the angels gathered around. And he wanted another. And another.

This is a boy who loves Jesus. In fact, just today his Primary president approached me after church to tell me how good Conor is during Primary. Really? Oh, what a relief! Cause he's like a circus act during Sacrament meeting. No, she said, he sits there in his little chair the whole time, focused and participating. He even sings, she said, which I knew because I hear him all over the house singing about Book of Mormon Stories and Popcorn and Snowmen.

"He always raises his hand to answer every question," she told me. "Today I asked why we love Jesus, and Conor raised his hand and said that Jesus helps us not to say bad words." I giggled and asked him about it in the car on the way home. "Your teacher told me that you answered her question about how Jesus helps us not say bad words," I said. "Yeah, he does," Conor replied. "Like 'poop' and 'butt' and 'stupid'. Those bad words. Jesus helps us." Indeed.

Just when I think I'm going crazy with the teenage version of these sweet little boys, he reminds me how much I am in love with them. We sang some songs together in the dark, silly songs that I made up, but which we take very seriously. Songs that organically come from real-life, like after bath time when I begin singing, "Where has all the water gone? Long time draining. Where has all the water gone? Out to the sea . . ." He loves that one, "The Water Song," he calls it.

I kiss his soft cheeks and then I crawl out of his bed and kneel next to it on the floor. "Can I listen to your heart?" I ask him. "Sure," he says. I lay my head on his little chest and listen. There it is, that beautiful beating, strong and sure. I know all about hearts now, and I picture the "lubb" of his atrioventricular valves closing and the "dupp" of his semilunar valves following suit as blood exits the heart via the arteries. I picture the delicate valves, valves I have felt with my fingers and marveled at in class, keeping time with the thick and sturdy muscles, tirelessly pumping. I listen to the miracle that is his heart and lost in the steady rhythm my eyes fill with tears. Suddenly I am transported back to a February day in my midwife's office where I hear that glorious and miraculous beating for the first time, proof of life. Proof of his life. I remember how overcome I felt that day, and now, here he is. Full of spirit and vitality and a never-ending hunger for life, and there is that heart, still beating. I want it to beat forever. I want to listen to it forever. It is a miracle.

I look into his eyes and tell him that he is a very important boy. "I know," he says, pulling his thumb out of his mouth only partway. Then he orchestrates a scene, like a director. With one hand on my face he says to me, "You say, (and here he makes his voice sound high and sweet), 'Oh, thank you, Conor.'" So, I do, but he cuts me off. "No, no, after I say something."

And then he says, "I don't want a different Mommy. I want you to be my mommy. Now you say it."

And so I do, in the same high, sweet voice, "Oh, thank you, Conor."

"You're welcome," he says. And back in goes the thumb.

And I am grateful for the gift of bedtime with Conor. And so much more.

Oh, thank you.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Garden Carnage

We waited until nightfall.

It was sad, but it had to be done. The first crop of broccoli and cauliflower had to come out to get more sunlight to all the plants they were shading, and open up space for new summer plantings. Still, it's hard to say goodbye to such tremendous growth that came from such tiny seeds. They done good.

I left the second planting of both veggies growing, and we'll see how they do now that it's getting warmer. They may have to go too.

It took some serious muscles to pull these huge plants out (and keep all the neighboring veggies in place).

Dylan loves to eat the carrots fresh from the garden. I'm not even completely sure if he rinses them first. Dylan? Did you rinse the carrot?

Into the compost bin they went. And back to the garden they'll go. A lovely cycle of nourishment.

I'm sketching summer garden plans! Stay tuned for what comes next!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Book Review: The Road Show

I've never been in a road show, though having grown up in the LDS church, I know that road shows live infamously in Mormon mythology. A road show is what? A talent show of short, often musical, skits, performed in competition? Something like that. Each ward in a stake participates, each with a director who writes the script, auditions and casts the participants, and sees the project through in a short, action-packed time allotment of a few weeks to a few months. Obviously, everyone involved is an amateur, unless luck strikes with ward members' talents. People of all ages and abilities come together and put on a show, so how about that? Braden Bell took this simple backdrop and used it to stage a life-changing event for five different characters, all struggling in very personal and very private ways. All healed by "Our Savior's Love", the theme of the road show.

This is Braden's first novel, and right away my curiosity was sparked by the endorsements the book received. Names that I recognized gave high praise to The Road Show, saying things like Braden had "hit the nail on the head."

The book opens with a heavy hitter. The main character, Scott, soon-to-be-called road show director, is battling an intense addiction to internet pornography. He is a graduate student in theater, marked for his excellence and promise, who has fallen from grace and is now involved in deliberations to determine his future in the program. No one can understand the dramatic decline in the work he produces. But he can. And though he is praying for help, for deliverance from the tentacles of this horrid addiction, he fears God is no longer listening, regarding him as filthy and unworthy.

Each character is introduced, intricate and real. A young mother battling postpartum depression; an older widow struggling with loneliness and rejection; a somewhat eclectic artist-type, feeling isolated and out-of-place in the Church; a spiritually numb, high-and-mighty Pharisee of an Elders Quorum President. Braden deftly crafts each of these characters and their lives so that they seem viable, recognizable even, and he does so seamlessly, as he connects them all together eventually bringing them to the stage.

"Our Savior's Love" is the theme of the play, and Scott, along with each of the cast members experiences beautiful healing, each in a personal way, through involvement in recreating the miracles of healing performed during the Savior's mortal ministry. The meaning of the Atonement becomes real, individual, life-changing. But the storytelling is never preachy.

One of my favorite things about the way that Braden wrote this story was his use of internal dialogue. Besides the narration and actual dialogue, there are three other streams of dialogue revealed to the reader: the characters' thoughts, the whisperings of the Spirit, and the darker, discouraging whispers of the Adversary. I loved this technique because it shows such a clear window into the minds of not only the characters, but myself too. I found myself recognizing patterns that I've slipped into before, and being removed while reading the book, I could see with such clarity the power that both the Spirit and the Adversary can have on our actions, and how sweet the One, and manipulative and self-serving the other. I found myself cheering the characters on to listen to the "good" voice and make the right choice.

Braden Bell has accumulated much insight into the human spirit and its mortal journey through his service as a bishop in the LDS church. His frank, yet still tactful and delicate, portrayal of the nature of pornography addiction was quite eye-opening and powerfully, even painfully, expressed. His tender account of a mother dealing with debilitating depression and her husband's attempts to help her, and the heart of a sweet, lonely widow reveal that Braden Bell's heart has been broken open by witnessing the suffering of others. His writing also reveals that Braden Bell knows how all-encompassing the Savior's atonement is, how sweetly miracles occur, and how available they both are to us all.

The Road Show is a thoughtful, profound read. A quick read too, at under 120 pages. And a read I highly recommend.

For more information on Braden Bell and his novel The Road Show, please visit his website. The Road Show is available for purchase on

Monday, June 7, 2010

Harvest Monday

My gardening-diva sister Hannah started doing Harvest Monday, where she posts whatever she's brought in from the garden that day. I think there's a list to join, but I'm too sleepy right now to find it. I did have a fun harvest today though, so I thought I'd at least post my pictures.

Here's some of it: a whole bunch of green beans, a huge head of cauliflower, some sugar snap peas, and some garden peas.

We have lots of carrots ready, but I only pull them as needed, so today I pulled three. They're about six inches long, which made me pretty proud.

Later in the day, I went and cut the other big heads of cauliflower and the broccoli that was ready. Also, a few more peas, since I decided to just harvest and freeze what we had ready.

I blanched and froze all of these green beans and filled a quart sized freezer bag. I get this amount about every 3 days.

I steamed and pureed all the cauliflower and froze it in ziplocs too, to add to things like mac and cheese and mashed potatoes since other than deep-fried, the family isn't too crazy about just eating cauliflower.

And I blanched and froze all the garden peas. The sugar snap peas are just in the fridge for snacking on. Who can resist?

Then, just before dinner, I went out again and harvested a bowl full of leftover spinach and Swiss chard to chop up for homemade veggie pizzas.

I've had so much fun with my garden so far. The time has come to pull up the spring crops and plant summer ones, and I'm a little sad to see the huge green jungle revert back to its baby self. The broccoli and cauliflower are just about done, except for a few plants I'll leave in. The Swiss chard, spinach, and a lot of the lettuce are done, and the peas vines are starting to lose vigor. But I'll be adding a little corn, melons, and squashes, and of course, more carrots and beans. The tomatoes are about ready to burst forth and that makes me so excited. Yay gardens!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Road Trip, Part 4

I cannot resist farm-fresh produce. I can't! I try, really, but it's no use. I loved driving through so much of agricultural California, and this was the perfect season to do so. Cherries are ripe! It's cherry season! We made plans on our trip up to stop and load up on the way back home.

We stopped at a nice farm with a "Cherry" sign, but they had so much more. We got to sample the Rainier and Bing cherries. I asked when they had been picked and the response was "Yesterday!" He pointed over my shoulder to the orchard. I love it! I bought 22 pounds of cherries for only $20! A steal! In the grocery store, they sell for $7.99/lb, on sale for $3.99/lb. This was a great deal, and so fresh! We also bought about thirty pounds of oranges for $8, a watermelon, and a case of strawberries. Man, did the car smell good!

Once home, we dined on fresh cherries for a few days, snacking, putting them in pancakes (whole wheat cherry pancakes, slathered with butter and syrup=YUM), and baking cherry treats, like the turnovers below. On day two, I was able to borrow a cherry pitter and we got to work like proper pioneers.

The kids and I each took shifts, up to 60 minutes each, until they were all pitted. It looked like a murder scene with cherry juice everywhere, up everyone's arms, and splashed on necks and faces. It was wonderful! We froze all the rest, and shall be in cherry heaven for some time to come.


Here, Lyndsay gets started on her shift.

Cherry Turnovers waiting for the kids after school.