The Homestead Weekly

The Homestead Weekly, 5 April 2020

In the Kitchen

I braved the world outside on Wednesday and went shopping at two different grocery stores, with the plan in mind of not having to go again for the rest of the month (or *maybe* going once for milk and produce and Diet Dr. Pepper…you know, the essentials). Neither store had toilet paper, and when I had Matt go to a third store on Thursday and he also couldn’t find any, it looks like we’ll have to do that other stop for sure since we’ll run out in about a week and a half. The stores were also out of eggs, so we are now officially living only off of the eggs that our own hens produce, which is kind of amazing to think about. One year ago, we hadn’t gotten any chickens yet, and now here we are with our 4 mama hens providing us with just enough eggs to get by. Once our six chicks start laying in a few months, we’ll have more than we know what to do with.

gluten-free muffins

Since Matt got his positive celiac diagnosis just last week, we were seriously tempted to just not try and change his diet until I went grocery shopping on the first of this month, but when he started foregoing his daily toast, the leftover breadsticks he was supposed to take for his lunch, and the like, I figured I’d better step up, too. So we made do last week without having anything that was “gluten-free” other than those foods that naturally were—rice, beans, fruits and vegetables, meat. I felt bad eating stuff in front of him that he couldn’t have, so I stopped baking cookies and started only feeding the bread to the kids, or just waiting until he wasn’t around to eat it. We both lost a few pounds this last week as a result (ha!). I know it won’t always be like this, but I’m trying to ease the adjustment. (Plus I’ve been trying to shed the last of the pregnancy pounds anyway, so this is definitely speeding things up.)

On the menu this week: a sweet potato, pinto bean, and chicken skillet meal, an Instant Pot coconut chicken curry wonder over rice, some more baked oatmeal (for dinner AND breakfast), rice + beans, and finally, some takeout from our favorite local diner to try and support them during this difficult time.

In the Yard

It was another cold, somewhat gloomy week outside, with the bitter wind driving the kids inside after only about 10 minutes of play every time they tried to venture out to the backyard. We did squeeze in a family walk yesterday when the sun finally felt warm again, and another one today. It’s looking like it should warm up quite a bit from hereon out, which will be a welcome change.

Monday night, Matt put up the other two trellises, and we transplanted out all the early spring vegetable seedlings and all the sweet pea plants. Matt thinks that the majority of them are already dead, but I’m holding out hope that they’re tougher than they look and that their tendency to bend over or flatten out is just because they haven’t gotten used to the fierce canyon winds yet. At any rate, I feel confident that at least a few of our pea and sweet pea plants should make it, even if nothing else does.

We also tried direct sowing a few of the same varieties we’d transplanted out, though two of the varieties we were the most excited to direct sow–more sweet peas and then some poppies that do better to be direct sown rather than transplanted–had been misplaced by Raven, who immediately tried to pin the blame on her brother. After a quick search of obvious locations, we still have no idea where the seed packets have disappeared to, which I’ll admit irritates me to no end.

Blooming this week: more crocuses, many of the daffodils.

In The Playroom

Hyrum (the baby, who’s almost 4 months old) seems to be hitting the dreaded 4-month sleep regression, or at least he seems to be going on a nap strike during the day. Luckily our nights are not bad (he usually just wakes up once around 3:30 to eat), but he wails with reckless abandon and waves his tiny fists every time I try to wrap him up for a nap in his bouncer, which meant that much of my days this week were spent planted in a seat by the laptop in the kitchen with my foot rocking the bouncer and the other two kids getting away with a bit more than usual as they ran wild wherever they pleased. I had Big Plans for all I was going to accomplish this week, but very few things got checked off. And by the time I DID actually have a moment to breathe? I usually collapsed right onto the couch to get in a nap myself. Already he was much easier by the weekend (I think constipation might have had something to do with the wailing), so fingers crossed this was just a blip of a week.

Mathias (21 months old) is taking great pleasure in naming everything for us. His face cracks into a wide grin every time he points at an object and proudly shouts out its appropriate title, and he is a miniature parrot of everything he hears. This week I tried to teach him how to jump, which was hilarious–he would bend his knees like we showed him, then sloooowly stand back up again, put his hands belatedly in the air, and shout “JUMP!” Truly, this stage is one of my favorites—the only problem is trying not to laugh when he’s naughty just because everything he does is still so cute.

Raven’s birthday is this next Sunday, a fact she continually reminds us of. Every day: “Mom, how many days until my birthday? Mom, how many days until Easter? Mom, can I check outside to see if the Easter bunny came early?” Our original birthday plans for her have all been changed thanks to the pandemic, but man, she’s impressed me with her resilience. After a solid 10-minute sob session when she found out all our big plans were cancelled (the Hawaii trip we’ve been saving for for so long, the big family party with cousins, possibly a friend party if I felt brave enough, or at least a small play date), she has rebounded with full enthusiasm for the day when she turns “The Big 5” (as she puts it). And luckily, all her eager questions/suggestions/queries are mostly requests we can fulfill—a scavenger hunt where we hide her presents around the house and yard and she has to find them, a big cake with pink frosting, a dinner with grandparents (we’re still hoping this can happen, as we’d still be a group fewer than 10 people and as there hasn’t been a state order forbidding such yet).

No matter what happens, it should be memorable at any rate.

In the Home

I started spring cleaning this weekend, mostly to try and keep myself from going mentally crazy during this time of so much uncertainty and endless news feeds that beg to be refreshed constantly. (Oh, and the fact that our house is a bit of a disaster because as said above, the baby has not been a happy camper this week, which meant a very limited amount of housework got done on any given day.)

I started with the easiest task on the list–swapping out our Christmas wreath (yes) for our spring wreath–then proceeded to the one that called to me the most right now: The Pantry.

As mentioned above, I did a huge shopping trip this week that I’m hoping will be the only one (or almost only one) I will have to make all month. However, since my children, ahem, “reorganized” the pantry a couple months back, I didn’t actually have a clear idea of just where we stood on everything. I also haven’t taken everything out of the cupboards and wiped them down since we moved in nearly 3 years ago, so it was time.

The first thing I noticed was how we have all these “cream of” soups that feel basically useless to me now with Matt’s celiac diagnosis. I mean, I can still use them to make lunches for the kids and me, but I was bummed to think of all the money we just spent on those, as they were one of the things I purchased from a case lot sale just a couple months ago. Of course, if we end up discovering that we’re really not using them over the next year or so, I’ll make sure to donate them to the local food pantry before they expire so that at least they won’t go to waste.

The second thing I noticed was how dirty it was near where you open the cupboards. I didn’t notice until I started wiping them down, but there were a lot of dirty little fingerprint smudges all around the hardware. Apparently my brain has trained itself not to notice grime build-up on things I use every day. I’ll blame that on living with small children, where, if it doesn’t smell like poop or other bodily fluids, I’m not as concerned about it. #truth

The third thing I noticed was the enormous satisfaction I felt in the project—the sense of security I felt from seeing the cans all lined up in a row, the bags of flour and oatmeal, the large tupperware container bursting with rice. I felt gratitude that we’ve always had food security, and that we will continue to have food security for the foreseeable future. I lived in El Salvador for about a year and a half while serving a mission for my church, and I think often of the poverty I saw there. I check the COVID-19 numbers for El Salvador often, and I worry about the people I love there who lack the access to basic health and food resources in the best of times. Thinking about all the problems and injustices in the world can drive us crazy if we think about them too long, but I try and let them mold me into someone who is more actively grateful for the abundance in which we live, and I try and remember that rather than feel guilty for the inequality all around me, I should let that inequality be a constant reminder to me of the need to be generous and to look outward, and to share what I have.

Mathias is, in fact, happy screaming, not screaming-screaming

In the Heart

I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and twice a year we get the chance to hear from our church leaders (who preside over the worldwide church). While the format for the conference looked very different this year because of the current conditions, my weary heart took courage and felt filled to the brim today and yesterday as I listened to their messages of hope and faith, and their reminders of the goodness of God and of His watchful care over us. Although I’ve been studying my scriptures nightly throughout this pandemic (as I’ve studied them nightly without having missed a day in over a year and a half), I sorely needed the extra boost that the combined faith and testimonies of so many others has on my own.

Although I’ve largely felt at peace throughout all the craziness that’s been the past month, I feel an even greater sense of it now. My faith has always been a great source of strength and comfort for me, and I’m so grateful for it. We believe that God has again called a prophet in our day, as He did in times of old, and our prophet challenged us as a church (and all other faiths who want to join us) to fast and pray worldwide on Good Friday for relief from the current pandemic, for the caregivers to be protected, for the economy to be strengthened, and for life to be normalized. He talked about the Savior’s teaching in the New Testament how “some things goeth not out but by prayer and fasting” (Matthew 17:21). My heart is filled with hope, and I am eager to join my own faith with the faith of millions of others in petitioning our loving Heavenly Father for this relief.

Many of the talks over the past two days were about how we can allow adversity and trials to refine us and help us become more like Jesus Christ. I already feel like this current global pandemic has both taught me a lot AND also showed me that I have MUCH to improve upon.

I loved these thoughts given a few days before the conference from one of my favorite modern-day apostles, Jeffrey R. Holland:

“This is a rare time of enforced solitude when we don’t have a lot of trivia or superficial busyness distracting us from considering the truly important things in life. Such times invite us to look into our soul and see if we like what we see there. [This is a] “kind of mandatory Sabbath—a time when we step away from our normal routine, from life as usual, and consider our dependence on God and the blessings from Him we so often take for granted.”

I know that life WILL normalize, and that this pandemic WILL end. And when it does, I hope that I don’t forget the things that I’ve learned over and over again over the past month of sheltering in place—to cleave to God, to cherish my family, and to be grateful for the goodness of life, every minute.

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