Friday, December 23, 2011

Angels

Call them Santa's helpers, elves, whatever....I prefer angels.  We had some visit us.  And they gave some very generous gifts to us.  I was surprised and overcome and may have teared up a little.  Our family is fine.  We have income, food, clothing and shelter and heck, we even have a working car!!  We are already so blessed!  So at first it was hard to accept the gifts, I kept thinking of people who are struggling to put food on their tables and didn't feel we deserved them.  But I know they were given out of love and who am I to be ungrateful for such a thoughtful giver.
And I started thinking about how hard it can be for us to accept help from Christ.  He has endless love and blessings he wants to give us, but so often we want to do it ourselves and prove ourselves because of our pride or we feel unworthy of his love and blessings for whatever reason.  But by rejecting His help, we are rejecting Him.
And that was like this gift.  Someone just wanted to do something nice.  I love giving gifts to people, especially those I really care about.  But the real magic of Christmas comes from those that give of themselves and truly make people feel just a little bit of that love that our Savior has for us.  I cannot wait for the day when we can give as generously as we were given to this year.  Thank you, angels, whoever you are!
Merry Christmas to all my readers!  May God bless you during this wonderful season!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Gluten Free

yep.  We're joining the ranks of the gluten free.  Well, Munchkin is.  She's had diarrhea for about a year now.  It just kept becoming more and more often until it was an everyday occurrence.  So a few months ago I weighed her and found she'd only gained a pound the whole year.  Her doc recommended a gastroenterologist and also an allergist.  I cannot believe how many tests they ran and of course all of them came back normal.  He was a lot more concerned about her growth and said her numbers were close to celiac, but not quite there.  Both he and the allergist recommended a food elimination diet.
AGAIN!?  I have had to do that with all my kids now!  So I put it off until now.  I had enough people tell me about false negative celiac tests and I'm just so tired of the bathroom trips that I finally started it. Taking out dairy didn't seem to do much, but 4 days off gluten is showing improvement.  If the change doesn't last we try soy.  ugh!!  I just hope this also cures the eczema!  That'd be a win!
It's not as hard as I thought it would be, but it still sucks.  Sandwiches are my go to meal and she loves them.  For now it's turkey, cheese, and pickles wrapped in lettuce.
School was hard this week.  I think the upcoming holiday made us lazy.  But Jack did a cool report about cranberries today and is breezing through math.  He's been setting his alarm for 6:00 and doing his school work first thing in the morning so he'd be able to play the rest of the day.  I have no idea where he gets that from.  Today he announced he was going back to school is January.  I reminded him he'd have to walk in the snow and he changed it to April.  I told him he'd probably be halfway done with 3rd grade math by then and would get bored.  He asked if he could just go for recess then (he misses his friends).  I think it helped to have a friend over for 3 hours this afternoon.
Tumbleweed is...alive.  She's going through a growth spurt and pretty much cries all day.  She's like a colicky 18 month old.  That's right!  18 months tomorrow!  I could gripe and whine about how she wants to nurse all the time and drives us all crazy, but I'd rather tell you how she dances whenever I play the piano and sings too.  It's a soft "la la la" and I'm pretty sure it's how angels in heaven sing.  She keeps outgrowing her clothes and is catching up to her sister.  Someone make her stop.  I cry a little every time I have to put a favorite dress away.
Friday I'm laying flooring for a neighbor.  There's a lot of emotions about it and I wish the internet was smaller so I could tell you all about it.  But it's not.  So I wont.  But I will say, there's a line between being charitable and being exploited.
I NEED to do a chicken post.  Let you all learn from my, uh, learning experiences.  Meanwhile I hope everyone has a marvelous Thanksgiving and a lovely Buy Nothing Day :)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Thieves

I'm irritable today.  I spent the weekend building a chicken tractor-which is a portable coop.  I built it for a few reasons: 1) to let the girls scratch the yard while still being protected, 2) so they can get more sun, 3) the %$#$^ finches are eating all their food in the regular coop!!
Chicken wire keeps out quail and cats, but not finches.  Chicken food is fairly cheap -$15 for 50lbs.  But with the local birds helping, I'm going through feed twice as fast.  So I built a new smaller coop (called a chicken ark) with plastic mesh (it was half as much as wire mesh) and the birds are staying out.  The only problem is the girls wont lay in the new coop and I can't figure out how to keep the water unfrozen and free from dirt.
I finally found a solution for the large coop though - window screen.  I'll simply buy a roll of window screen (please tell me it's cheap!) and lay it over the chicken wire to keep all kinds of predators out.  Including the grey mouse.  That's right mouse.  I saw you and you're not invited.
Now to figure out what we're going to do over Christmas.  I need someone to feed and water my girls so we can head to grandma's house (only 45 min away, but we did plan to sleep over).

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Halloween

(a little late.  whatever.)

For the church party we all dressed as characters from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.  No, my kids haven't seen the movie, but we own the Lego game on XBOX and my son has some of the Lego pieces.  So he was going as Jones and we saw this gorgeous Asian outfit for Munchkin ($5!!) to dress as Willie (the singer) and the rest fell into place.
Igloo went as Mola Ram the priest and carried around a heart shaped stress ball.  I went as an Indian villager and Tumbleweed was Short Round.  Isn't she adorable?

For the actual Halloween the girls changed their costumes.
Munchkin wore some dress ups from her box.  It's a red riding hood costume, but she insists she was a red witch.  Tumbleweed was a pumpkin.  By the way, we grew most of those pumpkins.  Fun huh?

 So CUTE!  I know all mothers think their kids are adorable, but, seriously, look at those eyes!
Tearing down the sidewalk.

We went trick or treating as a family for the first little bit which was a lot of fun.  Tumbleweed can only handle one block then we went home and handed out candy.  Halloween has traditionally been my favorite holiday, but I'm getting more scroogy about it.  I had a number of teenagers (some not even wearing costumes) and less than half the kids said thank you.  I'm so tired of the entitlement attitude.  Plus, someone stole the candy bowl I left out!  
My attitude was improved when the neighbors across the street invited us over for stew and suggested trying to start a block party on Halloween instead.  I know I took pictures of Munchkin dancing, but I cannot find them anywhere :(  They must have been lost in last week's computer crash :(  At any rate, we all agreed to learn the moves for Thriller for next year and I'm looking forward to it.  I'd rather spend it with friends than getting sulky over ungrateful teens :)
I'm also tired of the sugar.  I still haven't beaten the sugar addiction I developed over Christmas last year and I am seeing how having it around the house affects the kids.  So we decided as a family to limit our sugar.  We let the kids each keep 5 pieces of candy and gave the rest to their favorite babysitter.  We also decided to throw out cakes and treats after the holiday/birthday is over.  I've gotten over thinking it's wasteful.  It's not wasteful if it has no nutritional value.  Hope we can make this last!


Saturday, November 5, 2011

Busy Autumn Days

I have a list of excuses for not writing.  The the chickens died and I got really depressed.  Then we got new ones and I was making sure the coop was more predator resistant.  Last week was crazy busy!  Field trip to the zoo, pack meeting, doctor appointment, Jack turned 7(!!!), church Halloween party; this week had Halloween and Discovery Museum, and I've been busy reading and actually making some of the things I pin on Pinterest....I am ready for a break!  Of course this next week is voting, cleaning the church and then doing service fpr veterans day so I think that break will have to wait.
I am just about ready to be done with K12 and create my own curriculum.  I'm trying to hang in there until Jack finishes 2nd grade math (probably 6-8 more weeks) but we'll see.  I've talked with others about Saxon and Math U See and there's pros and cons for each.  I think we'll probably stick with Singapore.

I've said it before, homeschooling is not easy.  I never quite know what to do with my girls and feel like I'm neglecting them anytime I have to explain something.  So I've been looking more at Robinson Curriculum which is more of a self-taught approach.  I don't agree with everything about it, but I'm thinking I may need to adopt some of it.  And of course since I learn toward a classical approach I am in LOVE with all those classic books on cd-rom!!!  Bottom line, right now I'm spending too much time as a "learning coach" (that's what K12 calls the parents) and not enough time as a mother.

Why haven't I just pulled him out?  Well, I feel good about teaching math, science, and history, but language arts I really need help with.  I have no idea what he should know and I honestly can't afford to buy another curriculum right now.  Can he just read awesome books and have some grammar lessons (and how much of that?!)  Any 2nd/3rd grade teacher input is welcome!! (you know who you are)
Enough of me feeling insecure.  Here's some fun pictures of what we've been up to:
FIRE STATION FIELD TRIP



HEE HAW FARM AND CORNBELLY'S



ZOO TRIP (FOR FREE!!!!)


OH!  AND HERE'S OUR NEW CHICKENS!!!
Fortune and Glory
Hoping to get 2 more of the same breed, but we haven't seen any for sale.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Hard to Say Goodbye

What an emotional weekend.  I was hit (hard) with the stomach flu that is going around Thursday and Sunday morning munchkin threw up (only once) so we stayed home from church and watched movies.  I let the chickens out to graze a little and came inside for a bit figuring I'd put them away soon.  Well, I never did.  My mind wasn't quite back up to snuff after being sick.  And while I was inside the neighbors black lab broke free from it's tether, dug under the fence and massacred my girls.
My husband found them after church, the dog still in our backyard.  There was lots of weeping and wailing all afternoon and I think it took a lot of control for my husband to not shoot that dog.  The neighbor said he would get rid of it (ex-wife's dog), though that hasn't happened yet.  I have to give a public thanks to my superman who cleaned up everything.  I couldn't have beared it.
We got new chickens today, same breed as per kid request.  They aren't as awesome as Fauna and Merryweather.  One is fairly skittish and they just aren't as personable.  It just goes to show how truly amazing our sweet little birds were.  I see no point in telling the previous owners and PRAY they wont call or email to ask how they are.  It's heartbreaking enough to think how they trusted me with these girls and then this happened.
Part of me feels really guilty for not keeping them in the run and the other part isn't because they loved to roam around the yard.  I'm trying really hard to not think about the neighbor and the beastly dog (whom I hated before this).  We only let them free range when we were home, but regardless, there is a new rule: no chickens outside of the run without immediate supervision.
I grew lax because they were such good birds and knew where they could and couldn't go.  I suppose it could have just as easily been a hawk or a cat, but it was the least likely predator instead.  So I think the lesson here is to assume that the burden of flock protection is always on you.  No one else is going to try to keep them safe.  Build a sturdy coop that cats, raccoons (with opposable thumbs), hawks, and dogs can't get into.  Don't assume that a fenced yard is predator proof; because it isn't.  And if you do like to let them range, keep a close eye on them or put them away.


Farewell ladies!  We loved having you with our family.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A House of Order: the Kitchen

God's house truly is a house of order. So a Godly house must needs be an orderly house. Doesn't it feel like this is the carrot and we are the horse forever chasing but never quite reaching it? Lately I at least feel like I've shortened the distance between the carrot and myself.  So I'm hoping (cross fingers!!) to do a series on how we're ordering our house and lives over here.  I can't promise these posts will be regular, but I am hoping to do at least four.
Oddly enough, it all started with my almost 7 year old son. He's very tidy and has taken to heart the lesson that the Spirit cannot dwell in a pigsty.  Once he came out and commented on how nice and peaceful it was in there and that he could feel the Holy Ghost with him.  I looked at the disaster of a living room and frowned.  It sucks to be shown up by a kid and I certainly wasn't feeling anything holy.  He makes his bed almost every day and cleans up his toys when he's done and puts them away (usually). This child, and this child's bedroom, inspired my husband and I. We noticed a couple of things:
  • if his bed was made, the rest kind of took care of itself.
  • it was much easier for him to make his bed if it wasn't next to a wall. So we rearranged his room to make it easier for him to keep clean.
  • he preferred to store the Lego's under his bed (in a tub) instead of in his closet because then he would be more likely to put them away.
Those seem like simple things, but they were a revelation.

  • find the anchor in the room that makes you automatically keep everything else clean (dishes, clear counters, polished sink)
  • Can you rearrange to make more or easier to use/clean space?
  • Put similar items together in a place that makes sense.
It all started when my husband asked what my kitchen remodeling plans were. For those who don't know me well, I rearrange rooms quarter-annually and remodel them in my head bi-monthly. So I told him my dream of moving the fridge and knocking down a wall. He suggested we move the fridge and put our large IKEA cabinet in it's place. I hadn't thought of it before, but figured why not. Kitchen triangle schmiangle!  So we did and it has made a huge difference!  Now our triangle is more of a squiggle, but in a small kitchen, who cares!

Before: Fridge on the left, across from dishwasher.  IKEA cabinet (where I like to do food prep.) on the right across from stove, near door.  It worked, but it flowed weird.

Before: This is a shot after we painted.  It looks open and we thought it was, until....

After: we moved he IKEA cabinet where the fridge was and having that open space makes the whole kitchen feel bigger!  Maybe arms head space makes a bigger difference than foot space.  Food prep is now near the sink and the stove.
After: A view from behind the cabinet.  Now when we come in from the backyard we don't feel cut off and there's space for shoes.  MUCH better flow. (yes, I know I need curtains.  I can't decide between crisp white or colorful curtains.  What do you think?)
After: Now the fridge is over here where we had the pantry/bookcase thingy which was simply moved over. Still plenty of room to move around.  I also know my fridge is a mess.  THAT part is scheduled for later this week.

Unloading the dishes is my son's job, but since all our dishes were in upper cabinets he couldn't put them away.  He'd simply unload to the counter and put away utensils.  So we move the dishes into a shelf in the IKEA cabinet so he can reach them and stay in one spot and pivot to put them away.  He can also set the table without us getting the dishes down for him.  It simply makes more sense (even though I've always put dishes in upper cabinets).  
Speaking of jobs, I'll show you my cleaning charts in my next post.  Still working on assigning tasks, but I'm getting close. The biggest key to trying to organize a routine and home is to view the first few months as rough drafts.  Try it, change it, hone it, adapt it.  It's a process.   I say this more for myself than for you readers, you know, for the tough times.  :)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Routine

Life is so much easier with a routine that works.  One of the first things I did in August was develop a schedule for school.  But it kept not working.  I've been playing with it since school started and I think we've finally found what works!  Roughly, we need 5 hours of math, 5 hours of language arts, 2 hours of science, 3 hours of history, 1.5 hours of art, and 1.5 hours of music/week.  So originally I divided them up: history and art mwf, science and music tth and pe on Fridays.  Transition time was the hardest and we kept getting behind which would frustrate everyone because we want to be DONE at 3:00!
So the l;ast 2 weeks we've done a block schedule and it has been fantastic!!

I firmly believe you have to do math and language arts (which includes reading, handwriting, and grammar) every day.  It's the daily practice that makes it stick.  So we do those in the morning after breakfast.  Then we take a break for lunch and recess and get some chores done.  Afterwards we do 2 science lessons on Monday, art on Tuesdays, 2 history lessons on Wednesday, 1 history lesson Thursday + special interest study, and music & pe on Fridays.  It has made all the difference.  It's so much easier to just keep going with what your doing (especially with art and science!).  The day seems less hectic when you only have to think about 3 classes instead of 4 or 5.

Also, we learned about a fun site: ldd.lego.com. It's virtual Lego's and we're playing with them to duplicate Roman architecture.  It's fairly easy to make an aqueduct.  I'm hoping he might tackle the pantheon...but we'll see.  Anyway, it's on the list of things he can do once all his school work is done and those incentives really help a lot.

I'm still playing around with each child's schedule, trying to make sure my girls get enough mom time and the chores still get done.  It's not easy.  And I have less and less time for the internet, which is a good thing.  I don't really miss facebook, but I do miss reading all my favorite blogs as often as I used to.  


PS-it snowed today.  The coop stays fairly warm, but I'm so worried about my chickens freezing! :(

Sunday, October 2, 2011

I love General Conference

I love hearing the messages of inspiration from the leaders of my church!  But I have to admit that I don't remember a lot of talks because I'm so excited about Provo's new temple!!!!  Squeee!!
I went to so many stake conferences and Messiah sing alongs and visits at the old tabernacle.  Beautiful building with the most ridiculously hard seats you ever sat on.  Then this happened last December,
and we all cried because we thought our city's beloved building was destroyed.
But now they are going to restore it!  And even add the old middle spire that was removed after the roof started to cave in a hundred years ago.

In a matter of years the residents of Provo will get to have this
and I am so excited!!  Since there's usually an hour wait to go to the current Provo temple it will be nice to have another option.  The building was such a beautiful part of downtown and I am thrilled it will be restored!  Yay!!!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

No Timey Wimey

You guys, homeschooling is hard.  Not the actual homeschooling itself, mind you, but that it takes over.  My house is NOT up to snuff for this perfectionist.  I have no time for my own projects.  The last time I actually folded AND put away laundry was back in August.
oh, and these are MY chickens.  The USB cable has been found.

And all of that wears on me.  Because I really DO revel in a clean and organized home.  And I love sewing.  I never talk to my friends anymore because my mornings are filled with school.  I'm having to shift priorities and it is HARD.  I don't like it and I want to stomp my foot and say "no!"  I want to do MY stuff.

But I know it's good for my son.  It's nice to see him have to work at learning, that everything isn't easy. And I'm GLAD it frustrates him!  He misses some of his friends though so I don't know what next year will bring.  I just know I don't want to do a virtual academy again.  I LOVE K12 science, but it's about the only thing I'm enamored with. So I'm looking at other options.

Stealing bread from the toddler

Meanwhile, I'm trying to figure out the best schedule and routine to make this work.  I'm going to try block studies where we do a whole science unit one week and then just do history the next while blocking art and music lessons into once a week longer sessions too.

It definitely not easy and not for the uncommitted.  But so I far I definitely think the rewards of homeschooling are worth it.


He LOVES holding the girls.

Under the coop

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

cluck cluck

I got chickens!!!  And NO I don't have pictures because I cannot find my blasted usb cable.  So I've been putting off blogging about them for 2 weeks, but I finally decided I give up.  I think Igloo took it work so it may be months before I see it again.
Anyway, my lovely ladies are golden sex-linked birds.  That means they are a hybrid (probably rhode island red and rhode island white mix) and you can tell their gender by the color when they hatch.  Pretty useful since my neighbors have had to rid their flock of four birds who ended up being roosters.
Anyway, they look like this one I found on google:


Cute huh?  Their names are Fauna and Merryweather and we inherited them from a family whose 4 year old was terrified of them.  Yes, there was a Flora, but they tell me she flew over a fence and met her untimely demise.  Poor Flora.
These two are so nice!!  They love to hang out with us and let the kids pick them up and follow me around the yard.  I think I'm the alpha bird or something.  Fauna is very well behaved and reminds me of a 70 year old grandmother.  Merryweather on the other hand reminds me of a two year old.  She is our little escape artist.  I panicked the third day when I couldn't find her and she wasn't at any of the neighbors yards.  Apparently she was hiding somewhere in the coop!  A few days later she escaped under the fence while we were in SLC and I got a call from a very kind neighbor when I got home.  She has managed to escape the chicken run a couple of times by herself but luckily now she stays in the yard.
The second morning we had them I decided to do some yard work with them.  I got really into what I was doing when I heard a shriek and my three year old exclaiming "Mom! The chickens are in the house!"  It was a little chaotic.  Fauna was on the kitchen counter and Merryweather managed to make it to my sons room where she promptly left a gift on the floor.  Now they try to get in the house whenever they can so we have to be careful about the door.
But they made up for the mess because their eggs are delicious!  It's honestly hard to eat store bought eggs now.  It's like comparing American to European chocolate.
I am truly a chicken fan now.  I never liked cats and dogs are so much work, but chickens are perfect for me.  Low maintenance but still personable and you get eggs from them!  I'm hoping we can add to the flock in the spring, but I need to spend the winter learning how to care for chicks.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

First Days Homeschooling

Wow!  I really haven't blogged in a month and a half!  Time flies....
So we started officially homeschooling this week.  After trying it out on my own this summer I decided to go with an online K12 program.  It's been good, for the most part.  I earned mother-of-the-year with my patience when I tried to teach Jack how to read an analog clock.  Those hands sure are confusing! But I lost the award when it came time to compare and contrast a couple of fables and he started sliding off the sofa, quite fish like for about 20 minutes instead.  I really don't know what to say about the 3 year old.  I'm sitting here breathing deep just thinking about her.

Please understand I love her.  I adore her!  But she's driving me crazy!!!I made her a "school box" which consists of copies of my son's worksheets so can learn along with us or other activities to keep her occupied while I teach.  The problem: she CANNOT color without singing.  It is SO distracting.  I have no solutions.  If I put her in her room (with TOYS!) she feels left out and cries.  I don't want to punish her for wanting to do school with us, but Jack is fairly environmentally sensitive and it's just not working. I hope I find a solution soon.

Today was chaotic.  I had pack meeting tonight which means stress and shopping.  How the heck was I supposed to do 5.5 hours of school when we were only going to be home for 2??  But you guys, I was brilliant! I really was.  I brought our clock so he could play with it and just see how the hands move.  I brought the language arts worksheet with me and had him do it verbally, and for music we listened to the songs in the car and practiced there.

I am honestly amazed I made that work.  We were actually done by 3:00, whereas Monday we finished right before bed time.  So that's some pretty good progress, right?  So Munchkin might be struggling and I need to figure that out (maybe some special one on one time), but for the most part we all seem much happier having Jack home for school.  He LOVES being able to work at his own pace.  He skipped Unit 1 (numbers to 500) in math Monday, aced the test and went to something he didn't know yet (Time).  And we need to spend some extra time on it.  Thank goodness we can!
I really like teaching them too.  I feel much happier as a mother with this expanded role.  I actually enjoy preparing for the next days class and finding new ways to help them understand something.  I never would have suspected that about myself so it's kinda cool.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

It Doesn't Get More Exciting Than This

I just saw these and had to post this.  Right now.  Because my husband and I watched it with our mouths open and drool collecting on the laptop.  Because they are Just. That. Awesome!  Watch it and squeal with joy like we did (it helps if you pretend you're rich!)

I want! I want! I want!  You know they're ridiculously expensive when they don't even list the price on the website.  You have to request a quote (yeesh!).  After doing some internet perusing, it looks like a the beds average $5000!  Ouch!  So none of us real people can afford it, but I'm still happy someone invented this stuff.  (waiting for IKEA knockoffs!)
http://www.resourcefurniture.com/
I want this one:
Because it also does this:

It's a sofa!  It's a bed!  It's storage too!
You know how people buy expensive things and want to show them off?  "Come see my 98" plasma 3D diamond studded costs-more-than-my-car TV!"  I want to buy one of these and have a party where we just watch modular furniture go up and down.  They even have bunk beds!!!  And the coffee table that turns into a dining table (yours for only $1500!)!!  We'll eat snacks then put our feet up!  I love whoever thought of this stuff!!!  I need more exclamation points!!!!!!!!!

Go check out the website.  It's so much fun!
And just think, after you sell your firstborn to buy it, you'll have one less bed to get!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Wanderlust

It's hitting me hard folks.
I've never lived anywhere as long as we have lived here.  And just when it feels like things are coming together, I want to go.
So does Igloo.  We can't agree where though.  He wants Michigan and I want Arizona.
Isn't this view from my house gorgeous though?  Love those mountains!
Anyone who has ever lived in Utah will tell you it's hard.  Having spent seven years in Provo (off and on), we're feeling burnt out.
And I don't want to do anything but look for farms in Iowa.  It's just hard to stay motivated and on top of the housework.  How do you get over that?  I'm looking at you Mandy who hated coming back here for grad school.  Was it because there was an end in sight?
So I'm looking at vacations (unfortunately they have to wait until next year).  Everything from San Diego (via AZ to visit friends and family) to Ohio to also visit family.  Maybe having that goal to work toward will help.
What do people do when they feel this way?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Am I nuts for seriously considering this?



It's a small fridge.  Only 13 cu. ft.  I mean how much of my refrigerator is empty space?  Probably not 10 cu. ft., but still....  I just feel like it's a poor design and I like how this is designed.  Smaller often means more efficient.

Here's the inside:


Not completely sure where the milk would go.  I can remove shelves if I need to though, and I'm loving the idea of freezer drawers!!  This LG one lists at $500 on google shopping, but most counter depth fridges are $1000+ (sigh).

Of course, this will all change as my kids turn into teenagers....

Our fridge makes funny noises and some day we're going to redo the kitchen a bit and that means we want a counter depth fridge.  Shortening the depth made me think about shortening the width.

Just wondering....

Friday, June 10, 2011

A Family Update

I think sometimes I forget that I have friends and family who actually read this blog and like hearing about what my family is up to.  I just hardly feel like I have time for blogging anymore, and for some reason I try to make more of my posts about small houses than about family and I need to stop that.  I think it's backlash from being so frustrated at the small house movement and the seeming lack of families with children in it.
Okay, stepping off the soap box now.
Igloo has been working his tail off in the back yard now that the monsoons have let up.  Everything looks so much better!  We have 3 new garden beds and he's making some smaller ones for the kids too.  Work is up and down.  He has one coworker his age (the rest are almost retirement age) who is leaving for 3 months for army reserve stuff and I think it has him down.  We're both upset because of politics that are eliminating a job so his boss can't move up which means the promotion they've been dangling in front of him for 2 years isn't going to happen.  But he still loves what he does and the people he works with.  Still, I may start browsing job listings for him.  You know, for funsies.
I am....busy.  Now that the kitchen is painted it's mostly with homeschooling.  I wanted to do it over the summer and make sure this is really what we want to do next year so we've been finding our groove.  Thursday we watched a yellow spider on it's orb web for 20 minutes for science class. :)  I am really enjoying it and never knew this side of myself until now.  I really love to teach and just BE with my kids.  I never thought I had it in me, but I do and it's awesome!
I'm also building a chicken coop.  That part is less awesome.  I have been browsing plans for months and found one I like.  I cut the studs and...it's just too big!  It is!  Maybe we should only have 3 hens instead of 6, I don't know, but I want it cut in half and every time I go out and look at it I just get really grumpy!  So for now it's just the studs framing it.  But I need to make a decision soon.
Jack is now in Tae Kwon Do and really enjoying it.  The more I watch, the more I think this is something for older kids, but it's fun to watch him be so serious about it.  The young ones just aren't that coordinated yet!  He's really excited for swimming lessons in a week.  I haven't made up my mind about extracurricular activities yet.  Some of them are so darn expensive! (I'm talking to you tae kwon do) and I don't know if I see the point at such a young age, except maybe with music or dance.  Any thoughts?




Munchkin is ALIVE.  This child is seriously fun to watch.  She is just happy to be alive.  Sometimes I think I'll lose it when she gets really hyper, but I'm really working on catching myself and trying to stay calm to help her calm down.  It's so hard to not just react to your kids!  She loves to play dress ups and pretend. She gets really into it too.  She wont answer to her own name, only if you call her by whatever she's pretending.  Lately it's Dr. Who. :)
One of these days I'll have to take a picture of her art work.  Apparently she's really good.  It's kind of weird to see her drawings next to other kids' in her church class.  I kind of think she's better than Jack.  Sorry Jack.  Maybe stick with science for now.
Tumbleweed is walking like a pro.  She loves her brother and tolerates her sister.  She also only tolerates goat's milk.  I'm about ready to put chocolate syrup in it just to get her to drink it!  Kid needs to put on some weight!  She just turned one but I haven't taken her in for her checkup yet.  Partly because school just ended and it felt a little crazy and partly because I'm lazy.
I'm hating being off milk, but she's doing a lot better and thankfully sleeping better than ever before.   She still has some bad tummy pains so I'm not sure if there's something else she needs out of her diet or if it's from me sneaking cookies.  She also reacts to cold we've learned.  Igloo isn't too happy about that since he till has dreams of dragging us off to Alaska.  Maybe Phoenix will have to do, right Mandy?
She's a very somber child.  I'm still trying to figure her out.  She loves to play and be silly, like all kids, but she just seems so sensitive to a lot of things.  She loves to swing.  It's an instant calmer for her and I wish I had known it earlier.
So anyway, that's a general update on us. :)  Hopefully I'll find a good rhythm with homeschooling and have some more time to garden, sew, and of course blog!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

New Kitchen Color

Wow!  Things got busy around here.  We've created new garden beds, redid some landscaping and are building the chicken coop.
Over the holiday I also painted the kitchen.  Here's the before:
 You can't really tell the color that well.  It looks whitish, but really it's more of a pasty, pinkish, old silly putty color.  I seriously felt ill with it.  I think it's the color of hospital walls.  I thought about orange (as you can see), but it just didn't sit well with me.  So for 3 years I've thought and put it off.  And finally my friend painted her kitchen yellow and I knew that was what I wanted.  It's so cheerful, but not overpowering.
I knew it needed to be a lighter shade because of the small space and for once I agree with the experts.  Normally I like bold color (I can't bring myself to paint over the green!), but lighter really does help it feel bigger.  Now I just need some new counter tops!! (someday, right?)
Also, I loved this idea.  Another neighbor painted her fuse box with chalk board paint.  Our boxes are located right in the kitchen and they are so ugly.  I have no idea if this breaks any kind of code, but it's so much nicer to look at now!

Also, I started homeschooling my son.  Not a lot, just some math, history and a little life science just to see how it goes for the summer.  He still has mixed feelings about school and I can understand that.  He misses his friends.  We're starting to meet other homeschooling families so he can make new friends, but other than that I am loving it!
As part of the history curriculum, we're looking at ancient grains.  Anyone here eaten amaranth?  I am so curious about growing it.  It's a beautiful plant and I think it might do well here.  It actually might be an invasive weed.  Still researching.  But if you're going to grow your own food, why not grow something you don't have to fret over?

Monday, May 23, 2011

Kitchen Pantry

I've got kitchen pantries on my mind.  Maybe it's because I don't have one.  I could fit one of these if I had another place to put my table.  Isn't it lovely?  You need 4 feet of wall space on either side to fit 24" cabinets on the sides of it.  When I remodel my kitchen in my head I totally have that.

But that involves serious construction.  Possibly the removal of a wall.  A load bearing wall.  But my neighbors removed theirs so it's doable.  Somehow....

The cabinets are working fine since we got rid of the dishes we don't really use.  Mostly I just want some dedicated space for 5 gallon buckets for food storage.  I'm feeling the food storage bug and I want to start canning and need a place to put said cans.  yeah, I could get a framed cabinet and save myself the hassle, but that doesn't fit 5 gallon buckets.  Building a closet does.

What does everyone else do?  We already have the cans under beds and in secret holes in the walls, don't tell me about that.  I want to know what you do with 5 gallon buckets of wheat!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

I Went Off Dairy

I'm more than a little depressed about it.  No ice cream.  No whipped cream.  No creamy cream.
And heaven help me, no cheese!!!

But I'm getting sleep for the first time in over a year.  Take THAT Dr. Jerk who told me she was screaming at night because I spoiled her and to just leave her be.  I actually really like our pediatrician.  But sometimes he's a jerk. ;)

I wasn't going to do it.  I had to go off wheat, dairy, and soy for Jack and I never wanted to do it again.  But then one of my friends had to do it for her new little guy and seeing how little she could eat with the soy reminded me how much I could eat JUST eliminating dairy.  Plus, I didn't know what it was until I tried giving my 1 year old (in 2 days!!!) some milk and saw how much it hurt her.  I had no interest in trying to "figure out" what it was.  Mostly I just love cheese that much.  I eat it daily.  Or I did.

I've had a surprising amount of people ask why I just don't quit nursing her since she's one.  I guess one is the new magic number.
I love nursing.  It's my reward for being pregnant (I HATE pregnancy so much).  My baby also loves it and refuses to give it up.  We're gonna be that weird duo nursing til she's 3.
Some of you thought I was serious, huh?

My consolation is I've lost 2 lbs this week.  Oh, and I'm sleeping.  Kind of a big one.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Double Digging Revisited

To dig or not to dig?  I've read too many blogs about this subject.
Some people say not to; it disrupts the soil structure and makes for less healthy plants.
Others argue that by digging heavily or tiling and adding compost/manure/peat/old leaves...whatever... they have better production.

I can see a lot of value from the amend from above approach.  Ever moved a compost pile or even a pile of leaves and seen the dirt below?  It's gorgeous!!

Having now spent a good month double digging AND SIFTING, I can tell you I really don't love it.  But the reason I don't love it is the reason I have to do it.

I don't have soil.  I have rocks.  And a little clay.

No compost heap can fix that.

I think clay can be amended from above, but rocks....rocks have to be dug out, plain and simple.  But I'm tired and I still have 1 1/2 beds to do and I'm building another!
Am I just making more work for myself or is this a long term investment?  The clay is very rich and has a lot of nutrients so I like adding it back to the beds, but the sifting is so stinking tedious!

We're thinking or just removing a foot of our "soil" and putting it somewhere else in the yard then getting a truckload of compost from the city compost site and filling the beds with that.  Cost $35 vs. 3 full days work of digging and sifting.  Lazy? Probably.
Tumbleweed is so clingy now that I'm finding little time to work in the yard and I'm getting behind.  I think compost wins (now to get a truck....)

So I think the thing I have to remember when I find a new way of doing things, whether it's biointensive gardening, permaculture, or just standard row gardening is that I can't make it work perfectly in my yard.  There will always be rocks or bindweed or clay that is so solid even bindweed can't grow in it. There's no such thing as the perfect yard.

So for now I'm still digging.  I think I'll leave the sifting for the compost heap though.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Groceries

Okay, enough of the crazy spots posts!  Time to get back to business.
JOY!  Pure and simple.

It refuses to get warm here!  How about you?  The only thing coming up here is potatoes and I'm itching for a break in rain/cold to get some squash plants in the ground!

Yesterday my husband met a couple at church who paid off something like $80,000 in debt!  He kept telling me I need to talk to her.  I liked her, met her briefly, but missed the life story part.  Now I'm anxious for next Sunday to roll around.

One of the things they did was cut their groceries down to $80/month.

Can you imagine!?  I mean, I thought $200 was good for us, but I'm curious to see if I can halve that.  I don't know if they just have the one toddler or more kids, but apparently they eat a lot of oatmeal. :)

Besides the obvious beans and rice, what have you done to lower the grocery bill?

We're done potatoes in various forms (baked fries, baked potato night, potato soup).  I'm a big fan of vegetable soup night too.  I need to get back to baking my own bread, especially since Tumbleweed may have a wheat, dairy (or both) allergy and I want to try other grains.  I've been thinking a lot of about our food lately and this has really got my mind pondering...

How low can a family of 5 get their grocery bill and still eat healthy?  hmmmmmm

ps- Blogger restored my last2 posts but deleted your comments.  Sorry :(

Thursday, May 12, 2011

My Other Special Snowflake

Tumbleweed's biopsy came back.........

POSITIVE!!!!
(spots at their worst)

Positive is actually good.  Because if I didn't know what was going on with her, I think I'd go crazy.  Well, crazier.

She has a condition called urticaria pigmentosa, (here's the wiki) and yeah, it's another "rare disease".
 (non-reacting spots)

Just like her sister's disease, she'll outgrow it and the blood tests showed that it's only in the skin so she'll be fine.  We can just plan on allergy issues with her.
And we can't get bee's now. :(  A lot of kids with this are really allergic to insect venom.

So there you have it.  A kid with PFAPA, one with UP, and the other....well, he's just a special snowflake anyway :)