Thursday, August 31, 2006

What is it about four year olds?

Why are four year olds so funny? It isn't just my four year old either. I have seen several posts in the last few weeks about the funny things they say. Here are the latest from my four year old.

The other day Mamaw was running some errands with the kids and I. I was telling her about a local restaurant Tim's coworker recommended. It is called Cajun Kitchen. We were close to it so we thought we drive by for a look. When we pull up Lydia says, "But mommy where is the cage?" (cage-in-kitchen)

Last night Mamaw was telling the kids how excited she was about the new horse and that she had waited her whole life to have a horse. Lydia's response, "I have waited my whole life too Mamaw."

And today, she went to get a pair of socks. When she brought them to me, I commented that those socks looked too small. Proudly she says, "I know I am just growing up too fast!"

She keeps me laughing!

Introducing. . .

I decided to start another blog. In looking over my posts here. I realized that my posting habits have changed. I started this blog to keep out of state family and friends up to date on our family adventures. I love that I have made new friends here too!

I noticed that I am not posting our stories as much. I haven't told you about how much Nolan is talking or how Vivian is starting to move around, or the latest funny things Lydia has said or how Kellen has fallen in love with some neglected ponies. I haven't even told you about the horse Mamaw and Papaw purchased or the chickens we may be getting and the pen Papaw and the kids built.

I enjoy Frugal Fridays and I would like to try some making money on the Internet things. Yet they seem to be crowding out the family stories. Adventures in the 100 Acre Wood is about the family stories. So I am going to move the more frugal, get out of debt, money type things I want to write about over to Stop the Ride!

It is still a work in progress, (actually there are a bunch of changes I want to make to both blogs after switching them to beta. ) but check it out. Frugal Fridays will be there tomorrow. And now back to the stories of the Adventures in the 100 Acre Wood.

Blogger Beta

Have you seen bloggers new program? Check on your dashboard. I know they are making it available a little at a time so it may not be there, but if it is, have you switched over yet? I did last night, (I also started a new blog, still setting it up, but more on that later.) and it is awesome. You can manage your links and add elements without html language. You can make labels for your posts. It is all so much easier. I am still messing with stuff so you may see some changes here soon. FYI to access the new tools you have to update your template. It took me awhile to figure that out.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Festival of Frugality #37

Yesterday's festival was hosted at Blogging Away Debt. Here is what I liked.

Get Cheap Food at the Farmers Market. I don't agree that farmers markets are necessarily cheaper. I don't find that to be true here, but I do like what they suggest about going at the end of the day to get your produce cheaper. As a matter of fact a friend at church showed up with a box of bananas on Sunday and told everyone to help themselves. They had gone to the flea market and at the end of the day and purchased a whole case of bananas for $4.

Young and Broke shares some good tips she recently read about frugal cooking. I especially like the one about spices. In fact I was considering posting on that subject this Friday.

No Credit Needed tells you how you can get free shipping boxes from eBay and the post office.

Hope you find some good frugal information!

Moving to NJ?

Since moving here about a year ago, I have met many people who have moved here from NJ. It is kind of funny to hear that Jersey accent mixed in with the WV accent. Of course, being from the Midwest, I have no accent! :) People have asked us, and I am sure our New Jersey friends also, "Why would you move to WV?" Well if I was from Jersey I would be answering, "Have you seen the price of our real estate?"

Today I was looking at Jersey Shore Real Estate web site and wow is it expensive there. One property I saw was a two acre lot. Ok just two acres of land, no buildings and the price. . . Take a guess. . . how about almost $5 million???!!!!!! Granted this does look like a beautiful and unique piece of land on a river, but $5 million!? I'll take my 100 acres in the woods that cost pocket change compared to that, thank you very much.

Besides oogling at houses that I will never buy, (the lowest price I saw was $295,000 for a two bedroom home) I did find some helpful and interesting information. I thought Ten Tips for Selecting a Realtor was pretty helpful. We have only purchased one home (and are trying to sell one!) and used a friend of ours, but I really wouldn't know how to find a realtor if I needed one. These tips are specific and detailed, down to some interview questions to use.

I also found Eatontown History interesting. It is short and sweet, but I am a sucker for history. The town was started in 1670.

The area and the homes look very nice, but I won't be moving there anytime soon! :) No offense to anyone who is from Jersey! It was fun to look though.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Tackle it Tuesday - Lydia's closet

This weekend I tackled Lydia's closet. The kids rooms are fairly small, but they have these huge walk in closets. Great right? Well mostly. The downside is the closets become play areas. Lydia (4) loves to play house in her closet. The result. . .

It was a big mess. I also had a lot of off season clothes in there that I hadn't worn for a long time. We sorted clothes. Picked up piles and organized. Took things to the consignment store. Threw things away. And the best part officially moved Vivian's things in. She is out of our room and now the girls are together.

We finished on Saturday, and this is when I took the pictures below. So far the closet looks pretty much the same. The rest of the room, well we haven't touched it and uh. . . I will let you have a peek in another Tackle it Tuesday! Check out some more at 5 Minutes for Mom.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Carnival of Family Life #16

Check out the Carnival of Family at Everything Under the Moon. Lots of good family type stuff there. Stories and thoughts to be shared, tips and advice and reviews and news. Good reading!

100 posts later . . .

This is my 100th post. It has been fun. I am really surprised at how much I enjoy this whole blogging thing. The other day I went back and skimmed through some of the old posts. I thought it would be fun to go back and look at some favorites. I would love to know which other ones you thought were memorable too. I decide to pick one post from each month I have been blogging.

My first post was February 6, 2006. Remember the story about the mama mouse? I have to admit I almost teared up again, so I guess it wasn't just pregnancy hormones!

In March, I shared with you my first trip to the grocery store with four kids. Honestly, I think it was easier to go then than it is now.

How could I not pick Hillbilly Scouts from my April posts? Classic!

I had a hard time picking a May favorite, but in the end this post about Kellen won out. I couldn't resist the cute picture of him and Vivian.

In June, I wrote about a Momma Bird that got me thinking about momma me. :)

In July we played a little guessing game about a mystery object. The mystery was solved in a Story about My Grandpa.

Kellen picked the post for August. He picked Quotes from a Four Year Old. I guess he thinks his little sister is pretty funny too!

Thanks for reading it has been fun sharing with those I know in the real world and making new friends here in the "virtual world." Looking forward to another 100!

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Applehead is married to a Potato head

When Tim was in college there were two Tims in a musical he was in. So they started calling my Tim, Applehead. If you don't know us, Applehead fits because the word apple is in our last name.

Today I took a quiz here about what kind of homeschooler I am. The results. I am Mr. (Mrs.) Potato Head. The description is as follows

Mr. Potato Head You have your ideal of how things should look, but you're flexible enough to allow for change. You are not bothered by changing methods, mid-course if necessary. You use an eclectic combination of curriculum sources.

It is a pretty accurate description of how we homeschool.

So I am a potato head who is married to an applehead.

Getting Paid to Blog

I spend a lot of time blogging. Probably too much, but I really do enjoy it. Could I actually make money while doing it? I knew you could make some by using those google ads that pop up all over the place on some blogs. I wasn't really interested in those. Supermom over at Getting Out of Debt. has talked several time about different ways to make money with your blog and I never really was interested until this week when she posted about Blogvertise. Now this one has me interested. This post is actually my entry post for their approval process.

Here is how it works. After you are approved they will send you a site to visit. You check it out and you write about it. You can write about it any way you like. You can write a review of the site. You can incorporate into a story. You can even be negative about the site. You just have to write at least 50-60 words and link to the site three times in your post.

You submit your post for approval and if it is approved and still posted in 30 days Blogvertise pays you $10 to your paypal account. Sounds good to me, so I am going to try it. Just think I could actually say I get paid to write! :)

Thanks Amanda. I fixed the links!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

I thought I'd never . . .

I had this parenting thing down. I knew what I would do and what I wouldn't. I rolled my eyes at parents whose kids were throwing tantrums in Wal Mart. I snubbed those whose kids talked back. I couldn't understand how their children could be so out of control. That was before I had kids!

Now I find myself often thinking, "I thought I would never,"

Let my kids sleep in our bed
I don't think that even lasted the first night home from the hospital

Have the need to say, 'Do not stand/sit/ lay on your baby sister.'

Get excited about poop
You know, the baby pooped she must be eating well and later, yeah you pooped in the potty.

Use my saliva to clean a face

Use a babysitter named TV

Bribe uh. . . I mean reward my child with candy

Lock my child in his room for his nap
I know it sounds awful. I almost didn't put that one down. Let me explain. It was the only way Nolan would stay in his room and take a nap. Don't worry I am no longer doing this. He learned to unlock the door! Now I have to stand there and hold it shut!

Allow the kids to eat in the vehicle
I have traded a clean vehicle for sanity and speed while driving

Be a stay at home, home schooling mom

Want to live beside my parents in the middle of nowhere

Oh how your life (and perspective) changes after you have kids. There are my top ten things that I thought I'd never do as a parent. Oh and yes, my children have been out of control at restaurants and stores and they frequently talk back, in case you were wondering. Fortunately none of those are regular events, but they do happen.

How about you? What do you do now as a parent (or wife or adult) that you never thought you would? Please share in the comments or on your blog! I didn't get Mr. Linky going so if you are posting in your blog leave a link in the comments and I will add it on here.

Check out Delilah's post here. And JSunshine's. And Jake.

Wordless Wednesday

Siblings Playing

Find more Wordless Wednesday here. Join me tomorrow for I thought I'd never.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Tackle It Tuesday

We have been here over a year now. The move was kind of chaotic. Tim was here before we were. I did as much packing as I could with three kids and being pregnant. The move was jammed into a weekend. Our house was not ready so we crammed in with Mamaw and Papaw for a while. We painted most of the rooms in the house. Then finally moved to our house and stayed without electric for about two weeks. And of course this all happened in the height of rental season when Tim works very long hours.

I normally am fairly organized. I like things to have a place and be there. But with all the chaos (and exhaustion), I wasn't up to my norm. I just wanted to get stuff out of boxes and out of my way. So . . . things were (and still are) jammed in to cupboards and closets. Of course we have also accumulated more stuff in this year that needs a place to go.

So why am I telling you all this now? I am ready to start reorganizing and decluttering.
5 minutes for Mom hosts a meme called Tackle It Tuesday. I think participating in this will help me keep motivated. So here goes. My first Tackle It Tuesday.

This is our homeschool cupboard before.
We have been doing some school all summer, but I thought before we kick it back in for fall (and add another student) that I should give this thing a clean out. While cleaning out I also made a list of supplies and things we need to restock.

And the completed project.
The first time Kellen got in the cupboard he found a couple of books he forgot (aka were buried under the clutter) we had. He has been reading them since.

Next weeks project. Lydia's closet.

Festival of Frugality #36

Today's Festival is hosted by Amy at Motherload. As always there are lots of great entries to help us save money. Some of my favorites.

The host offers a menu planner and price sheet from my favorite grocery store; Aldi.

Ever been dumpster diving or curb shopping? HollyRhea shares her experiences.

*Ladies Only*
Tired but happy talks about reusable feminine products. I don't have a need for these right now, (yet another perk of breastfeeding!) but I have seen cloth items discussed several places on the web. The "keeper" is new to me though. I am not sure I am ready to make this frugal step. I do cloth for diapers, yet somehow this is different. The lifetime money savings has to be huge. Something to think about in the next few months.

And since I love curry I had to add The Common Room's recipe for Curried Lentils. She also had a recipe for curry powder a while back, but I wasn't able to find it quickly today.

So check them out for yourself.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Before Kids . . . .

Think back to a time before you had kids. C'mon you can do it. Remember when there were no poopy diapers or runny noses. A time when you didn't trip over toys at three A.M. while trying to settle the crying baby. When half your errand time didn't involve buckling and unbuckling car seats.

Remember the time you were out to eat with your friends or future husband and the table next to you had a screaming three year old and a baby throwing food and parents who seemed to have no control. And you opened your mouth and uttered those famous words, "When I have kids they will never act like that." Now you find yourself the parent who seems to have no control! Please tell me I am not the only one! :)

Isn't funny to hear the things people say they will never do until the reality of a situation hits them? Lately, I have been thinking about the things I now do that I thought I would never do as a parent. I thought it would be fun if we would all share. I will give you until Thursday to think up a list of things or a story that illustrates this. Then I will post my list and you can leave yours in comments or blog about it and leave the link. (I have never used Mister Linky, but I may give it a try)

I realize that not all of you have kids at home, but feel free to be creative and participate with another list. Does this happen to grandparents too? Or maybe other things as an adult or wife you do that you never thought you would.

Think about and share it with us on Thursday. I can't wait to see what you have to say!

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Jumping off a Cliff

On day two of our trip to Monongahela National Forest Tim and Papaw led the group from church through the cave at Fernow Forest, I was happy I didn't need to go again! :) Mamaw and I took the kids and two other non-cavers from the group to play in the river. Tim posted a couple of pictures from this on his blog. I had to take them with his phone b/c he took the camera in the cave.

The next day the whole group went to Table Rock for rappelling. Rappelling is not much work it is pure rush, fun! The first time is mental work to step off the edge and there is a little physical work to climb back up, but compared to the cave it is nothing! The most work was keeping track of the kids. We literally tied Nolan to an adult the whole day. We really had not planned to stay out all day with the little kids, but that was how it worked.

Here is a picture of us watching the rappelling.

Kellen did not go down. I can't really explain why. He has rappelled before. The only thing I can say is I think he was exhausted and he shut down everytime he got to the edge. Oh well maybe next time. He did do some rock climbing at the end of the day.

Here is a good one of Miles. (My nephew)

Lydia went tandem with Tim.

We never did take Nolan down. I think he would have been ok going down, but we were concerned about getting him back up. We have some very small rock faces on our property. I think we are going to let the kids "practice" there (with us of course.)

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

A Journey to the Center of the Earth

Alright so we didn't go to the center of the earth. I am not sure how far down we went, but I am pretty sure we were really nowhere near the center of the earth. It just felt like it. When you are in the cave you feel so far away.

We had a great time. I was hesitant to go in the cave this year. It is hard work and it has been 3 years, 2 babies and about 20 (+) pounds since I last went caving. I decided to go in for the kids. It was Lydia's first time in the cave and I wanted to be there. (well I guess with that logic I will have to go two more times) We took the kids (mine and my brothers) in before the larger group of teens and adults came from our church. Here the kids are preparing to go to the cave.

I had not been in this cave before. It is a lot different than the other one we go to. I liked it better. There was running water in it. We had to do a lot of crawling and even military crawling, but it wasn't the tight squeezes I remembered from the other cave. The wet makes it very dirty, but at least you are not breathing in dust.
Here we are eating lunch.

It was very hard work. My knees were sore and I have the bruises to prove it. (Though most of the scratches came the day we went rappelling. More on that later.) I found muscles that I forgot were there. I am still a little stiff. But I really enjoyed it. There is that sense of accomplishment in pushing yourself and doing it! I was glad I was there with the kids too. Here are the pictures when we got out of the cave.

Kellen wrote you a poem about it . . .

Dirty in a Cave
Very dirty in a cave.
Crawling through the dirt,
Water dripping on my head.
Dirty in a cave.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Festival of Frugality #35

Check out the Festival of Frugality over at Punny Money I haven't got a chance to look to closely yet as I am still battling piles of laundry and what not from our trip. Do you ever wonder if going away is really worth it? But there are always lots of interesting entries. Hope you find some good tips! I would love to hear which were your favorites.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Quotes from a Four Year Old

We are back from our trip. We got back late Saturday. Sunday we went to church and spent the afternoon relaxing at a friends house. I really should be tackling the mountain of mail, or the unpacked suitcases, but the laundry is going and the kitchen is back to decent so, I am having a cup of coffee and I can no longer resist the urge to blog! But I will make it short and sweet and share with you some words spoken by Lydia this weekend.

The two oldest kids rode there with their cousins and my parents. A conversation began about what the kids wanted to be when they grew up. Lydia's response,
"When I grow up, I am going to be an adult."

At camp she was heading for the cabin. I was trying to keep the kids from playing in there so I asked her what she was doing. . .
"I forget . . . but I am going to go do it anyway!"

She was really cute in the cave too. I will tell you more about that later. I am thinking there were some other cute things she said, but I can't remember right now. (I need to write things down!) I will add them later if I think of them. For now I have fed my addictions (blogging and coffee) :) and should return to tackling the piles.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Why am I sitting here?

We met Tim's parents at a half way point (about 2 hours away) on Saturday so the two oldest could go for a visit and to Geauga Lake. So right now two of my kids are out of state (probably on some sort of roller coaster) and two are sleeping. And I am on the computer. I really should be doing other things. And thank you to all who are saying "oh but Steph no kids (for all practical purposes) enjoy yourself, relax, do something for you." Well normally I would be all about that and apparently I am since I am still sitting here.. .

But you don't understand. I pick the kids up at the half way point tomorrow and we leave for a caving, rapelling, camping trip on Wendesday. There is laundry and shopping to do, food to prepare and pack, clothing and toiletries to gather and a house to pick up. (I can't stand to come home to a wreck after a trip.) So why am I sitting here? I think I am addicted! :)

I may try to squeeze another post in yet this week, but I will be gone Wendesday to Saturday so I will catch up with you next week! And my story about how Tim and I have lived in some free and cheap places will have to continue next week. Well back to the TO DO list.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

The Joys and Frustrations of Breastfeeding

An invitation has gone out at 5 Minutes for Mom to share our breastfeeding experiences. I have four children, 8, 4, 2, and 5 months. I nursed the three oldest for right around a year and plan to do the same this time.

I am not sure exactly why I decided to breastfeed Kellen. At that time it was becoming the thing to do, not that I am necessarily a follow the crowd kind of person, but I did like the health aspects of it. Honestly, though, I would probably have to say that the financial aspect was the big seller (I am practical at my core!) I couldn't see buying formula when I could produce something better for free!

Why doesn't anyone tell you nursing is work? Women have been nursing babies for. . . well, forever. I just assumed you put the baby to the breast and they get fed. Easy right? Yeah right! Nursing is work especially in the beginning, and Kellen and I had a rough beginning. I don't want to tell the whole story now or this post will become a book, but the pertinent facts for this discussion are we were in different hospitals for three days and although I was given a pump I wasn't really told how I should be using it and did very little pumping. All this equals a horrible start.

When we came home I was clueless. None of the family had nursed. They didn't know how to help and I didn't have another mentor. We were figuring this out on our own. I had to go back to school and start my student teaching. I didn't want to supplement, so I was pumping too. There were other things going on in our lives that were difficult. It was awful. Looking back now I see it in a different light, but at the time I felt like all he did was nurse and cry. I was tired and completely frustrated physically and mentally.

Now, I wonder why I stuck with it. I guess people who know me would say I am just that hard headed. I prefer the term determined! It did get better. We did get the hang of it. I actually enjoyed it.

What is my favorite part? Ok well besides that it is free :) I think God designed us to breastfeed so that we would stop, rest, think, enjoy and bond. I am not saying you can't do that if you bottle feed, but with breastfeeding you have to. I know me. I am a doer. I like to get things done. I like to be busy. It is hard for me to sit and rest. If I was using bottles I probably would have propped that bottle or let the baby hold it so I could finish the dishes or cook dinner or do whatever I felt had to get done. I also love that I can bring the baby to bed with me and sleep while they eat. (Something I said I'd never do before I had kids!)

Weaning was only hard for the first one. It was hard because we had used nursing as his comfort to go to sleep at night. So, I was the only one who could put him down, and he took a long time to go to sleep. At a year we were only nursing at bed time, and I had had enough. We let him cry it out. We had three long nights, but then he learned to put himself to sleep.

The next three I would not allow to fall asleep while nursing (after the first few months) and we taught them to put themselves to sleep much earlier. It was much easier with a lot less screaming than the first time around. I actually planned to nurse Lydia and Nolan a bit longer
but they weaned themselves when they were a little more than a year old. We have yet to see what Vivian does! :)

I'd like to say everything was perfect with the next three, but that would be a bit of an exaggeration. But it was soooooo much easier! I knew what to expect. My milk supply was better. I asked for help when there was a problem. I wasn't so uptight. It was just all around better.

As for advice . . .
If you are just starting and have a hard time ask for help and stick with it. Set yourself a goal that you will try to nurse for X amount of time and then re-evaluate. The first months are hard work; it does get better.
For later, if you hit a rough spot ask for help. Most moms are more than happy to help!

Sumac Pie

I made the pie for the church carry in. It was a hit! I wouldn't tell anyone what it was until they tasted it. I eavesdropped on comments. I heard "What are those berries?" (I used some of the berries for garnish.) "This tastes like pink lemonade." "It reminds me of a sweet tart."

After telling people what it was I got a lot of raised eyebrows. I explained that it is different than poison sumac. I took a couple ladies out to the parking lot where there is some staghorn sumac growing. I still got some of the "it is good, but you are weird" looks, but hey I never said I was trying to be normal! :)

Saturday, August 05, 2006

The Original Pink Lemonade

We have been foraging wild foods again. This time it is sumac. No, no not poison sumac, but Staghorn Sumac.
This a picture of it.
There are several species of sumac with similar berries. (Poison sumac has white berries that hang down between the leaves) The berries are fuzzy and very tart. If you touch the berries and then lick your finger it tastes like your finger was in lemon juice. You don't eat the berries. They are mostly seed, but you can use them to make things. Apparently, Native American used the berries to make a lemonade like drink.

I put the berries from two flower heads in the blender with water to cover, blended briefly and allowed it to sit for 30 minutes. Strained this through a cloth into a pitcher added water to make a gallon and about 1 3/4 C sugar. It looked like pink lemonade when it was done.

It tastes similar to pink lemonade also. My husband likes it and says it tastes more green. I know that sounds like a strange description, but I have to agree with it. I am not sure how else to describe it. The cook book Bootstraps and Biscuits by Anna Lee Robe-Terry lists several recipes for sumac. They all start with the sumac ade. (What I made in the blender before adding sugar and more water) I tried Sumac Jelly and Sumac Syrup. My jelly turned out a bit runny, but I really like the flavor. The syrup is great. We had it on French Toast. It is a very different kind of syrup because it has a little tang to it, but Tim and I really liked it.

We have a carry in dinner at church this Sunday and I think I am going to try a pie from that cook book. It is thickened and sweetened ade folded with whipped cream in a graham cracker crust. I will let you know if I make it and how it turns out. I am also thinking about freezing some of the ade in ice cube trays to use instead of lemon juice.

If you are new to this blog and want to know some more about what we have been foraging do a search of this blog from the top of the page for "weeds" to see some of my previous posts on the subject.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

What's for dinner?

Need some new ideas for what to serve for dinner? Check out the Carnival of the Recipes #102
at Men in Aprons There are recipes for every course of your meal. I am intrigued by Smoky Citrus Shrimp with Parsley and Cream cheese Fruit Clouds not only looks fantanstic I could use blackberries! I always looking for more uses for those! Enjoy!

It is so hot that . . .

Can you believe this heat? It is pushing 100 here and then add in the heat index for the humidity WHEW!

You know how your glass of ice water "sweats"? Well I went grocery shopping today and while loading the groceries in the car the non refrigerated items were sweating. IE my jar of salsa was wet on the outside. (Good science lesson for why this happens!)

I hung up a load of laundry yesterday I was dripping with sweat by the time I came in. And I don't know why I bother because it is so stinkin' humid it takes the laundry all day to dry.

Our air is set at 78 and after spending 5 minutes outside it feels cold coming in the house.

Thank the Lord for A/C! We haven't always had it, but I sure do appreciate it now!

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Enter the champions!

The training was intense. The competition fierce. The battle difficult. Yet the Royal Book Knights persevered and emerged victorious!

Kellen, Ashley and Miles were members of the Royal Book Knights. This is part of a summer library program in our county called Battle of the Books. The Knights read 10 books and met for practice once a week in June and July. The battle included 12 teams from all over the county. Ten questions to each team. The Knights were the only ones to achieve a perfect score.

I wish I could have gotten more close up pictures of their faces when the questions were asked, but we were pretty far away and our camera is cheap. Their body language told the whole story. Even when the other teams were asked questions you could see on our team's faces if they knew it or not. And honestly there were only a few questions through the whole competition that they had to think about. When it was their turn the knights would have a quick huddle and the spokesperson (the blond boy in the middle) would give a confident answer. They were all so excited and proud of course so were mom and dad!