The Homestead Weekly

The Homestead Weekly, 19 April 2020

Oh man, what an up and down week! For a long time, I felt like we had this quarantine-at-home thing DOWN, but this week, the whole never-leaving-the-house started to wear on us all. Couple that with the stress about our unknown future with Matt’s job situation and where we’ll be living in the next few months, and it turned out to be somewhat of a doozy of a week, until I finally just let it all out on Wednesday night.

Note: There are some affiliate links in this post to the products I’ve mentioned. This means that if you click through those links and make a purchase, I may get a small commission at no extra cost to you.

In other news, Matt finally succumbed to the dark side (#kidding) and joined the smartphone club. (Yes, both of us have indeed just had flip phones from the Stone Ages this entire time.) The basic flip phone we’d gotten him awhile ago when we joined Tello (where we pay just $22 a month for both of us, baby!) just wasn’t working well, and since he uses his phone so much for work calls, the company he works for said that they would be fine buying him a new one. I thought I’d have more mixed feelings about it than I do, but thus far, the fact that we lived so long without caring much about our phones has translated over to the new phone, and he hasn’t been on it nearly as much as I thought he would be. (In fact, he was NOT on it so much at work that he was totally late meeting me at the hospital to watch our other kids while I took the baby in for his appointment because he’d left his phone charging in his office at work and had gone off to do other tasks. Apparently old habits die hard.)

Turns out, it seems he’s pretty disciplined with his technology use, and now we have a way to access a GPS when we get lost in the middle of nowhere.


In the Kitchen

The bananas on the counter were starting to turn scary-brown, and I couldn’t bear the thought of wasting so many, so I finally put on my big-girl pants and started looking up gluten-free recipes. I already had been making the gluten-free banana oat muffins (which we’ve made for years just because they’re delicious, gluten-free or not), but I found this recipe for banana bread on the website for the Namaste flour blend we like so much, and I made that this week. It was…decent. With some tweaks, it could be even better, so that’s now my mission—tweak it, make it my own, and regain some of my enthusiasm for baking again.

It might be a slow process.

I’ve also started looking into gluten-free sandwich bread recipes, just because I cannot stomach the $7 price tag on the store-bought GF stuff. I found one from the America’s Test Kitchen gluten-free cookbook that might be promising, but it required that I order psyllium husk powder, so I’m waiting on that to ship before I can experiment. (No, I have zero experience with the stuff. I’m not even quite sure I know what it is, other than the fact that it is like a huge dose of fiber and promotes digestive regularity. Guess we’ll see!)

I seem to be addicted to my Instant Pot lately, as you’ll see on my menu notes below. I finally got comfortable enough with it that I made up a recipe of my own for it for cheesy Mexican beans + rice casserole, which I’ll post a recipe for soon, either here or on the other blog.

On the menu this week: Instant Pot creamy chicken and rice with mixed veggies, IP Mexican casserole, IP Cheesy Potato Soup, and broccoli, bacon, and cheese omelets.

In the Yard

It was another cold week, with a few snowstorms thrown in for good measure (all of which melted down the same afternoon). However, Saturday dawned sunny enough to go out and do some weeding, and everyone got in on the action except the baby, who was napping in his crib. Mathias pulled up handfuls of dandelions and ran to feed them to the chickens. Raven wanted to simultaneously do everything we were doing and do nothing that we were doing (all while begging us to “play instead”). I picked up several of the branches Matt had pruned off the fruit trees all the way last fall. Matt fiddled with our watering system to see if the city had turned on our water yet (it appears they haven’t). We all weeded. We all exclaimed over the green popping up everywhere.

Now that there’s a definite possibility we’re moving in the next several months (though nothing is certain—we honestly don’t know which way we’re leaning at this point), our to-do list has markedly changed. Rather than moving forward with the building of more garden beds and the sowing of tons of flower seeds and the planning out of a large kitchen garden, we’re instead talking about curb appeal and weed control and getting truckloads of wood chips and fixing that plumbing problem in the back.

If we end up not moving, this might very well feel a bit like a lost year, as we won’t be planting nearly as much as we had planned, just in case we do end up moving.

Blooming this week: the grape hyacinths (still), more of the forsythia (though we might have overpruned it, as many of the bushes have only a few sorry strands of blooms at the very bottom and nothing else), and *almost* several of the tulips

In the Playroom

Hyrum had his 4-month check-up this week. The hospital called me the day before to check if we had fevers, coughs, shortness of breath (no to all), and to inform me that only one healthy adult was allowed in with him, and no other children. Luckily that had been our plan all along. So Matt came over in the middle of the workday and took the other kids to get frosties and french fries while I took in the baby, my face covered with the mask my mom had made for me. My temperature was taken as soon as I entered the building, and no one seemed suspicious that it was only 95.8 degrees.

Hyrum measured so small that he doesn’t show up on the charts, even after we adjusted for his premature age (in other words, comparing him against 3-month-olds rather than 4-month-olds). Our pediatrician isn’t concerned though, at least not at this point. The baby is still growing and following a definite growth curve, and Mathias was (and is) also very small for his age, so maybe our boys will just hit their growth spurts much later in life. Or they’ll just be 5’2″.

Raven has taken to listening to audiobooks for looooong stretches of time (often 2- or 3-hour stretches) while she draws intently. She’s finally getting to the point where her artwork is becoming recognizable. This week she said, “This is a chair, Mommy,” and I saw the chair. “Show me how to draw a flamingo, Mommy,” and I could see a definite flamingo after the fashion of my own. My dad is an artist and my mother-in-law is an artist, but Matt and I don’t seem to have much of the drawing gene in us…maybe it skipped a generation and went to her. She definitely has the focus and ability to sit still and practice for long stretches at any rate, so if she wants to be an artist, she’ll have the discipline to be one.

Mathias has somehow learned to recognize the letter “A.” I did not teach him this. Matt did not teach him this (I don’t think). Maybe Raven? It shocked me a bit the first time he pointed it out. Made me feel like I should be doing more to help his early literacy skills, but my strategy of just reading, reading, reading to the kids each and every day multiple times seems to be doing the trick just fine, so I’m not going to stress myself (or the kids) out by trying to do some regimented program. That and I learned with Raven a long time ago that I’m definitely not cut out to be a reading teacher—teaching 7th graders was about the youngest I was meant to go.

In the Home

Pre-meltdown (see section below), I had zero motivation to do anything productive in the home. I barely skimmed the top layer of dishes every day and ran a load of laundry in the morning (without folding it in the afternoon), and that was about it. Post-meltdown, I felt completely renewed, so I folded the bundles of laundry strewn all over our bed and room, and I started the daunting task of going through all the hand-me-downs we’ve been given over the past 4 months, as well as putting away all the too-small stuff of the kids’. Other than the laundry, I don’t think it made enough of a difference to anyone else in the house to notice, but it at least made me feel better for having moved forward.

We also washed *almost* all the dishes in the house today (Sunday), including the chef’s knives, which seem to get put off the longest because we insist on hand-washing them all. I’ve also kept the kitchen table clean the past few days (#progress) and have been wiping down the countertops and sweeping regularly again. It just goes to show what a funk I was in that those things weren’t being done for awhile, but I think I’m back on the motivation train for the time being.

In the Soul

Confession: I had a meltdown this week. I joked to Matt that I need to have one about once a quarter to maintain homeostasis–where every few months, I just need a good solid cry. The rest of the time, I’m pretty darn stable. It’s just how I am–not super high, not super low, just somewhere right in the middle (maybe with a trend towards general optimism). So that day (Wednesday) was hard. Everything seemed overwhelming: the idea of moving, the idea of not moving (and having to find a job), the feeling that I was failing at everything (especially housework) lately, you know…the general pity party stuff.

After a good solid tear-fest and about a two-hour talk-fest with Matt, I felt significantly lighter. Buoyant, even. And that sense of lightness carried over the rest of the week, so that I finally had motivation to do All the Things again–to, once again, make the most of this odd time known as the COVID-19 quarantine, rather than feel beaten down by it. To start planning out fun activities to do with the kids, especially one-on-one. To read All The Books.

We still don’t know what the next few months will bring for our family, on many levels. But at least now I’m feeling at peace about wherever we end up.

One comment on “The Homestead Weekly, 19 April 2020

  1. I’m so glad you let yourself have a good cry. Sometimes, it really helps. I’m glad you got back to feeling better, and also kept the table clean for a few days! I need to clean mine off YET AGAIN, and we will see how long that lasts LOL!

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