Saturday, October 24, 2009

Warren's Words

This is not the place to detail our conversations, but I will say we were sharing our thoughts on God's work and the devil's work in our life. Real light conversation for 7:30am Saturday morning. We ended with Warren saying, "Life is just a series of adjustments." So True!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Grammar Woes

On the homeschooling front we've been just skipping along. Some weeks it can be drudgery, but some can be skippy. It's been pretty skippy here lately, well until now. Emily's working through Language of God Level E for middle school students. It's been a great fit for her allowing us to skip along at a nice pace, but today was a little different; she started on adverbs and the words they modify and adjectives and the words they modify. She did quite a bit with this last year and couldn't wait to complete the last page in May. So this year adjectives and the words they modify has been easily understood. However, adverbs is another thing. So we were doing the exercise together reading the sentences aloud with lots of emphasis on the subject and predicate and then softly saying the rest of the sentence except when I would forcefully enunciate the adverb. We did this a few times until she understood better and then I stopped the enunciating part and she would just pick out the words by herself. This worked great and we survived 26 sentences with multiple adverb/adjective/modifier combinations and still love one another. Yes! Keeping with her tradition she always looks ahead to tomorrows page letting me in on the fun we'll be having with grammar. Today she just laughed out loud when she read the next page's title

More Adjective-Adverb Confusion

Matter of fact the next 6 pages have that title which helps her to realize she's not the only one a bit confused. I always tell her the number of practice pages for a particular part of speech is directly proportionate to the number of kids (in millions) who need more practice. She usually turns away at the point, probably because I forbid her to roll her eyes at me. A tiny part of me thinks she might be rolling them, though, when she turns away.

Movie Night

Keeping with tradition, Tuesday was movie night. We went with Domino's pizza this week. It was good, but not great. Last year we rotated between homemade, freezer and Little Caesars pizza. But Little Caesars seemed to be going down hill so we needed to change it up a bit this year. Anyway, the movie was Imagine That. So many movies and TV shows make dads look like bumbling idiots without any parenting skills. I get so tired of that. But not Imagine That, this movie's dad is a hands off workaholic that through lots of twists and turns turns into a loving daddy that his little girl can't live without. He does have a few bumbling moments, but it's Eddie Murphy, enough said. And the Beatles song All You Need is Love is extremely catchy and if you happen to watch this movie you and your family will be humming it all the next day. We also spent a considerable amount of time listening to different renditions at Amazon.com. Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Virtual Cranberry Marsh Tour Day 7

Well here we are at day 7 of the virtual cranberry marsh tour. In reality we are on day 12. During this time of year Warren does work on Sundays, although the harvest crew does not. I still don't have any new pics from this year of the trucks being loaded to share, but yesterday.....wow, what an awesome day, I took a few random pics on the marsh. The sunlight captured the color beautifully.

Note the shorts Sam is wearing, quite different from last week's apparel when it was snowing.

I love the color variations of the cranberries; the way they form swirls is captivating.

There's even time to have a few laughs.

Monday, October 19, 2009

A Little Halloween Prep

Halloween is a hard holiday for me. With talk of harvest, prep for
harvest, worries of harvest, excitement of harvest, visitors during harvest, preparing for and enjoying the harvest party, clean up from harvest, trying to rest after harvest, October is pretty well spoken for. Then BAM Halloween shows up on the last day of the month. It shouldn't come as a surprise considering it's the same day every year, but it does and I won't make excuses for myself. So I'm just tickled that Amber Lou and I carved out some time to make a few paper Jack-o-Lanterns this afternoon. We followed the directions at Art Projects For Kids. I just love Kathy's blog; check it out for tons of art projects to keep you and your children busy forever.
I just love this pumpkin Amber Lou made. I think it looks like a french artist because the mouth looks more like mustache to me.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Virtual Cranberry Marsh Tour Day 6

The exhaustion has taken its grip on everyone here. My eyes are so heavy as I type. Even though I don't get in on the rigors of harvest, the constant elevated awareness is so tiring. Yesterday I had a tour group here. It turned out to be the best day of the week weather wise. After the main part of the tour I gave them a chance to try the old way of hand raking. I wish I'd taken some pictures but with a baby on my back and my mind filled with harvest info I just totally forgot the camera. The tourists had a fun time hand raking. They couldn't believe how hard it was after just a minute or two. And the thought of doing that all day seemed impossible. Here's a link to some cranberry history. The rake used in the picture is exactly like the rakes we have for hand raking. Notice the picture is from 1874. It makes me wonder when our rakes were made.
Again today I didn't have the camera with me. Between dropping off and picking up kids from the horse stable, preparing a turkey and stuffing dinner, whipping up a batch of ginger cookies and heading to Walgreens for a ton of toilet paper, I never made it down on the marsh at all. Tomorrow 25 mph winds are predicted and even though it's the Sabbath day work will be done. This is one time of year that it has to be done. You never know what way the weather will turn from day to day and best to get the fruit harvested before extreme conditions set in.

My Girls

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Virtual Cranberry Marsh Tour Day 5

Rain, snow and then a misty drizzle to finish off the day made for a cold walk for Little J and me, but we persevered to get pics of the booming and loading of the cranberries.

I stood up by our house so I could capture the whole action shot, but that makes it a little difficult to see what is exactly going on. Two guys on 4-wheelers drag a boom (yellow weighted floating device) from one end of the cranberry bed to the the other working hard to collect every cranberry. This is a pretty slow process since the cranberries weigh a ton or more literally.

Once they get to the end of the bed where they will be loading from the guys secure the boom.

They set up the sprayer jets and the berry cleaner and slowly begin to tighten the boom which keeps the berries moving towards the elevator. The water jets help push them along also.

The paddles on the elevator grab the fruit and carry them up to the cleaning belt. High pressure water is sprayed onto the cranberries to wash away as many leaves and bits of grass as possible.

The white bristled rollers spin continuously brushing away leaves, twigs and rotten cranberries. The trash falls onto the trailer and the clean cranberries go on their way up.

The cranberries are elevated once again, this time emptying into the dump truck.

*The above picture was taken on Tuesday when it was cold, yet sunny. I forgot to take a picture of the truck today. I guess I just couldn't wait to get back inside to my pot of chicken noodle soup simmering on the stove.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Virtual Cranberry Marsh Tour Day 4

Our mornings are filled with school and chores so by the time I get a chance to mosy out to the marsh it's typically after lunch. Today though, with violin lessons and then a momentary baking frenzy, I didn't get outside for pictures until 4:00. What I had wanted to share with you all today was the process of booming the bed, but it had already been done and won't happen until tomorrow mid-morning. While reviewing my pics from the last week I noticed a common theme of faces. I'm calling these the faces of cranberry harvest.

And here are my favorite cranberry recipes: cranberry pecan pie cranberry apple spice bars

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Cranberry Marsh Tour Day 3

Sunday was a glorious day. COLD!!! yet just awesome. The sky was incredibly blue and the clouds so wispy and irregular. I bundled up Little J and we were off for a walk with camera in hand to capture more of harvest. >yesSo this is the first year using a new method of harvesting the cranberries. Since the late 70's our marsh has been harvested using the method called beating. For a picture of the beater tractor go here. But, alas, we aren't using that method anymore. This year Warren built what is called a harrow or rake. Instead of a spinning action used to beat the berries off the vine, the rake lifts and plucks the berries from the vine. It also eliminates the use of hydraulics and I was just informed that it uses spring tension instead. The actual time spent in each bed is also cut by.....a lot. We haven't done any official timing this year, but the beater speed was 1 mph. The rake can be driven, he's estimating, 4-5 mph.
The tractor is driven right into the cranberry bed and then driven around the perimeter, gradually moving towards the center. The tines on the rake are under water lifting and plucking the fruit from the vines. The rake on the front removes most of the berries, but just to be sure there is also a rake on the back as well.

As Warren drives through the bed the berries boil up and float until the next step. You get a really good look at the process of harvesting here. It's very easy to see where he's been and where he still needs to go.
And this is a completely picked bed. All the fruit is floating. Usually the wind pushes it all to one end and if luck enters the picture, the berries should be on the right end for the next step of elevating and cleaning the fruit.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Cranberry Marsh Tour Day 2

As I mentioned yesterday, cranberries do not grow in or under water. The reason for the myth is simply because all the pictures shown of cranberries are taken during harvest. During harvest normally dry ditches can be filled with upwards of 5 feet of water. Cranberries are generally hollow and very light weight making them easily floated. The cranberry beds are flooded which allows the cranberries to float up a bit making it easier to pluck them from the vines.

Here you can see a cranberry bed flooded ready for harvest. The berries are floating, yet still attached to the vines by 1 inch stems. This year with the extreme cold, Warren has all the beds flooded. Cranberries can take temperatures down to around 29 or 30 in the fall when they are coloring up, but anything colder than that requires sprinkling.
At night when the temp drops to freezing or slightly below, Warren starts up the sprinklers. The constant irrigation protects the cranberries from freezing. Sometimes though, the temp drops so low that the entire bed is covered in ice. This picture doesn't show it very well, but the vines are iced in. The ice actually provides insulation for the cranberries. This was Saturday morning. The overnight temps were in the upper teens and strong winds were developing so Warren decided to start flooding, a process that can take up to 48 hours, and run the sprinklers. A little added protection to ensure every last berry makes it to the truck. In the foreground is the triangle bed raked so you can see all the cranberries floating. Those berries will float until Tuesday.So water does play a prominent role in harvesting cranberries, but remember they don't grow in water.
I added a poll in the righthand sidebar. Please vote.

Walgreens Freebies

Do you shop Walgreens? I've found that shopping the deals found in the flyer, using tons of coupons and checking out websites that highlight deals is a must when shopping Walgreens. I've been shopping the deals at Walgreens for at least 2 years now and finally feel knowledgeable about how the system works. It's not easy, that's for sure. You have to know the rules to really get the best deals. Click on any of the links above for more info from my favorite sites. The best is to find the freebies. My most recent shopping trip yielded quite a few free items.

My Walgreens Freebies
2 Chapstick Fresh Effects
Halls Refresh Throat Lozenges
4 boxes Cherry Jell-O
2 cans Campbell's Tomato Soup
L'Oreal Infallible Lip Gloss
3 boxes Ziploc Quart Freezer Bags

I also bought many items for pennies on the dollar. If you have favorite sites for finding deals or coupons please leave a comment with a link. That way we can all benefit. Happy Shopping!

Funny Cathy comic if you clip coupons or love someone who does.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Virtual Cranberry Marsh Tour

Cranberry harvest season started for us on Friday and so I would like to share with all my readers the excitement and details of the cranberry harvest. Before I share pics of this year's harvest, here are a couple of summer season pics. In late August the cranberries started blushing and have been coloring ever since. My brother-in-law harvests some of his cranberries at this stage. It's called the white fruit harvest; the berries are used in the white cranberry juice blends.
Cranberries do no grow in water, but they do require an inch of water each week through out the growing season. Below you can see the sprinklers running in the summer. Notice how green the foliage is. Tomorrow's pics will show a much different landscape. I was thinking fall, but the meteorologist just predicted accumulating snow. Tomorrow will tell.
For a preview of cranberry harvest click on the cranberries tag in the righthand sidebar. That'll take you to posts from previous years.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Monday Morning Joke

Courtesy of my always humorous husband:

What's the difference between bird flu and swine flu?

Are you ready? This is good.

Bird flu requires a TWEETment. Swine flu requires and OINKment.

Have You Been Carved by Jesus?

Being a Follower of Christ is a lot like being a pumpkin. God picks you from the patch, brings you in and washes off all the dirt. Then He cuts off and scoops out all the yucky stuff. He removes the seeds of doubt, hate and greed. He then carves you a new smiling face and puts his light inside of you to shine for all the world to see.

Yesterday, Father John started his homily with this analogy. I had to question myself, what kind of face did God place on me? I'm pretty sure it's a happy smiling Jack-o-Lantern.
But some days the devil has a way of turning me into this evil pumpkin complete with scowling face and darkness within.

Jesus offers us a way to become a happy, smiling, candle burning jack-o-lantern again. All we have to do is take time out for confession. Have you ever watched people in line for confession? They look a little nervous, serious, even concerned. Their faces are tight, forehead wrinkled, lips pursed. But when they come out everything about them has softened. Kids, especially, show the grace of confession on their faces. They come out smiling, swinging their arms and have a spring in their step. During this fall harvest season take a minute or two and allow the grace of God our Father to carve you a new smiling face.
Act of Contrition
O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended you. I detest all my sins because I dread the loss of heaven and pains of hell, but mostly because they offend you, my God who art all good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve with the help of your Grace to confess my sins, do penance and amend my life forever. Amen.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Two Non-Typical Book Reviews

Warren just finished a book this morning and since he gave it the highest honors according to him I thought I would share the book with you. I feel like I've read the book, too. He's read so many parts to me because they begged to be shared that I'm slightly in the know about the book. But first I want to say a bit about Warren's reading background. This man doesn't read many books; he prefers to read, in this order, Wisconsin State Farmer, Wisconsin Outdoor News, The Progressive Farmer, Daily Tribune, investment pamphlets that come in the monthly statement, several hunting/trapping themed magazines and Gun Digest (technically a book). Are you seeing a theme? Not many novels can capture this man, but when one does beware because he will hide out anywhere in order to read the book as fast as possible. In our almost 13 years of marriage I've watched him pick up books, read a few chapters, then leave them lay around collecting dust. They just didn't grab his attention. There's so much news happening that can't be missed by reading a so-so book. So when he finishes a book, slowly closes it and says, "I'm not ready for it to be done.", you know it's a top notch read. That has happened twice that I can remember. Once last summer and again this morning. Ironically, both books were authored by Wisconsinites.

In a Pickle by Jerry Apps - I actually read this book first and then passed it on to him knowing it was just his type of book. Farming, country life, entrepreneurship, family business and a love story to boot. He read it in less than 24 hours.

Truck: A Love Story by Michael Perry - I've seen this at the bookstore staring back at me, but never did anything about it. But then Warren's sister recommended it to us in August and after forgetting the author's name and having a crying baby at the library and a very out of date library card Warren finally checked it out last week and finished it this morning. I guess I have 3 weeks if I want to read it, too.

We'd happily take book recommendations (guy friendly) if you have them. Thanks.

Coming Clean

Be honest you blogger readers. Do you sometimes call your kids their blog names? Do you think in terms of blog names? Do you have to let your friends and family in on the secret? When you do that do you feel a little funny, like you're lying? My answer to all these questions is YES. I'm sick and tired of living this double life so I'm coming clean today.

Introducing my real family

The tall good looking guy in the back is my awesome husband Warren.

The sweet little blond in the pink shirt is Amber Lou.

Samuel Ray is in the Bucky Badger T-shirt.

Our responsible hunting, nail polishing 12 year old is Emily Grace.

The boy hiding underneath the hat is Nicholas Lee.

Little J, riding comfortably in the backpack, is really Joseph Edward, but I might still call him Little J because he is still little and I like the name Little J. Besides Little J doesn't seem like such a lie either.

Phew! Coming clean feels so good. Oh yeah, my name is Jennifer. It's so nice to meet you.

Friday, October 2, 2009

A Few Words About Sleep

For quite some time I had basically no words to say about sleep because I wasn't getting any. Little J was a nighttime snacker. He was looking to eat every 45 minutes to an hour. But now we purchased a regular mattress for the futon frame and started laying him down to sleep in the middle of the big bed. The first night he loved it and only woke once at 2:30 and then again at 6:30 for the day. I felt like a new woman. Then he had a couple of rough nights, up 2-3 times before waking for the day. I was disheartened so I brought him back to bed with us for a night and then tried him in the futon again. Last night he slept by himself from 9:15pm until 6:15am. Hooray!! Booyah!! I'm wondering if the Pediasure is helping him sleep better. He's been drinking a small amount for the last couple days since his GI doctor appt. We're trying to bump up his calories to encourage weight gain.

Ray insists on wearing shorts to bed and then wakes up cold in the middle of the night which isn't the worst because he usually crawls in bed with Lee to warm up, but last night he must of sensed that Dh and I were alone so he snuck in with us and literally squeezed Dh right out of bed.

And that's not all I have to say about sleep. I was happily sleeping away when all of a sudden I heard a 4-wheeler going by outside. I jumped out of bed as Dh was looking out the window to see Grace and Lee driving away to check their traps out on the marsh. What time was it? 5:19am When they got back in and we told them it was just 6:00am their jaws dropped and they yelled out, "No wonder it never lightened up while we were checking traps." Somehow when setting the alarm for 6:00am they set the clock an hour ahead, which meant they woke up an hour earlier than desired. We all got a laugh out of it and I had plenty of time to shower, blow dry my hair, wash leftover dishes from last night, start laundry and make pancakes for breakfast. Always searching for the silver lining. Have a wonderful fall day. It's raining pretty good by me today. Hopefully things clear up so the ferrier can come to trim horse hooves.