Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Enjoy it While You Can

Shhh. . . Do you hear that "music?" That would be The Little Appletones; the sibling band. It isn't exactly in tune. Well, who knows what tune they are trying to play anyhow? The rhythm? Well, let's just say they are each playing to their own drummer. Yet, it is music to my ears.

Kellen is joining the homeschool band this year. Tim is the director, and he started Kellen on the trombone a little over a week ago. About a week ago, you would have found Kellen in tears, whining about how hard the trombone was, how he'd never learn to play it, and he certainly would never learn to read music.

Then the light clicked on the other day and he played "Mary Had a Little Lamb." He was so proud. Since then there has been no whining and no crying. He wants to practice and even gets frustrated when he can't because a sibling is sleeping.

This morning the three oldest were holed up in the boys' room while Vivian and I were in the kitchen. First I heard the trombone. Then a trumpet joined in. Kellen was trying to teach Lydia. Soon there was a bugle. That was Nolan's instrument of choice. (When your husband is a musician, you have a lot of instruments around the house.) They were attempting to play together.

It was the first time all morning that the sounds coming from them were not yelling and bickering. It was sweet music. Yes, we should be doing our lessons or our chores, but when the kids are playing nicely together, sometimes it is best to just enjoy it while you can.

Works for Me Wednesday

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Blue Skies

Festival and Carnivals

Festival of Frugality
Article topics include saving money on beauty supplies, food budgets, travel and how green and frugal go hand in hand.

Carnival of the Recipes- Let's Do Lunch. Next week - Late Summer Favorites
Lots of great ideas here for packed lunches, at home quick lunches and of course delicious not so quick ones too.

Make it From Scratch
Yummy recipes, do it yourself projects, crafts, activities to do with kids, they are all found at Make it From Scratch.

Carnival of Family Life
Funny stories, helpful tips, dilemmas and advice all relating to the family all found in one place.

Carnival of the Green
You'll find articles about green living, shopping, alternative power, and much more.

Vegetarian Carnival
Lots of yummy recipes.

Monday, August 27, 2007

A Full Weekend

It was another busy weekend around the farm. Tim was off Friday. He helped Papaw saw boards in the morning for the siding on the house, and for another project that will be started soon. In the afternoon we ran errands together; without kids! Mamaw watched the kids while we dropped an instrument off at one of Tim's customers, did our first mystery shop, had lunch, went to the feed store, and made a quick grocery store stop. It wasn't exactly a date, but it was nice to be alone. It has been awhile.

The mystery shop was fun. We shopped a discount department store. There is a lot to remember on these mystery shops, and of course you can't take notes while you are there. I am not sure I would be able to do one alone if I had the kids with me. We didn't make any money on the mystery shop. Yes, I'm getting paid for it, but we spent more on lunch than that. We treated ourselves to a nice lunch. We also found some good deals on things we needed, and ended up spending more at the store. We still had a nice time together, and bought things we needed so I guess it was worthwhile.

Tim worked Saturday. The kids I were supposed to go on a field trip with our co-op group, but Vivian hadn't been feeling well all week, so we opted to stay home. The kids did school. Yes, on Saturday. They were off Friday after all. I'm a taskmaster aren't I?

We got a surprise in the evening; a husband for Maggie. Yes, we have another animal; a ram. He has no name yet. We have purchased several animals from the same guy. Last time he was here delivering a bull, Papaw mentioned that we were looking for a Suffolk ram, and how much he wanted to pay for it. Saturday night the guy pulls in with a ram in the back of his pickup. He is a big boy, and looks pretty nice. Maggie ran away when she saw him. I think she thinks she is a goat. She isn't ready to breed yet, and that is fine. We will be separating them. We want to wait so we will have spring lambs and not one born in January.

Yesterday, after church and lunch, it was straight to the farm work. Tim butchered a rabbit. I think he will tell that story later. We had her for dinner last night. Looks and tastes like chicken, but the texture is a little different. Then we sexed and separated our oldest litter. They are 8 weeks now and weighing a little over three pounds each. We weighed our young litter. There are only three of them, and at three weeks are already weighing over a pound a piece. They are little porkers; about double the other kits at the same age.

Next we tended to a goat with hoof rot. Poor thing was hobbling around and miserable. Two of her hooves were tender. We cleaned them out well, gave her a shot of antibiotics and squirted some on her hooves too. She was reasonably cooperative for the whole procedure, probably because we let her eat grain the whole time.

Then it was up to the garden to dig a few potatoes and check for tomatoes. We also checked on the wild apple trees up there. They aren't ripe yet, and there aren't many. Only one tree set any fruit. Very disappointing. I am assuming it is because of the dry summer we've had.

In the evening we laid out plans for a new storage and animal building; another new project. When they are sawing logs, they are running into many that aren't good enough for the house siding, but would be just fine for a storage building. In fact, they are finding more wood for the building than the house. So, it looks like the building will be started soon. I'm good with that. I would rather have the building than the siding on the house finished. I'm hoping to get rid of the eyesore of a storage area we are currently using. This building will also be for the chickens, and after it is up I can train them to roost and lay where they are supposed to. I'd also like to get more hens then.

The work and fun never stop around here. It's Monday and that means laundry. Yippee! (Said with extreme sarcasm!)

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

About those eggs. . .

Lots of you had good guesses about those eggs. Some of you even had the right answer. The egg with the darker yolk is from our chicken. She is free ranged, and the egg was within a few days old. Mary, it may have been laid in the rabbit pellets, but I can't be sure of that. The other egg is from the store. Just your run of the mill, extra large, store bought egg; not from free ranged, or organic hens. There is a difference. One you can see and taste.

The ducks aren't laying right now, but adding a duck egg to that picture would be interesting too. The duck eggs are even richer with darker yolks.

Great guesses all and way to go to those of you who knew why my eggs looked so different.

Running Errands with Kids

Running errands with kids is simply a reality around here. Rarely am I able to go when my husband is home, and when you homeschool the kids are always with you. I try to keep all the errands to one day. It can make that one day a busy one, but it seems to work better than dragging the kids out on multiple days.

How do I run all my errands with four kids and keep my sanity? Well the reality is that it doesn't always go smoothly, but most of the time it does. Here are a few things we do that help.

Make a plan.
Try to plan your stops by geography so you spend less time running back and forth. Another thing to consider though is priority. If there are stops that must be done today, try to do them first. That way if the three year old is having a continual melt down (not that mine ever would mind you) you can abandon ship and save the less important errands for another day.

Let the kids in on the plan.
After they are strapped into the car, when you have their full attention, let them know what you are doing today. Remind them of the expected behavior, and when possible hold out a little reward. (I'm not above bribery for my sanity.) Our reward is often as simple as a $0.25 can of pop from the vending machine when we are done shopping. It could be to read a story, play a game, or watch a movie when the errands are done. Use whatever works for your kids. Remind them of the plan, expectations and reward as needed.

Food and drink.
Nothing is worse than shopping with hungry kids. Pack lots of snacks and drinks; a lunch if needed.

Let them help.
Give them small tasks to do while you are shopping. My kids love to pick items up and put them into the cart. They really love it when I let them choose which item we are going to buy. The older ones love to push the cart, and can sometimes be talked into playing games with the baby.

Make it educational.
Talk to the kids about why you are choosing items. Show them how to price compare. With younger ones you can practice colors, and counting.

Running errands with kids is an adventure. Make the best of it. Hopefully some of these tips that work for me will help you too. Please leave your ideas too!

Works for Me Wednesday

The Difference in Eggs

Do you know why these two eggs look different?

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

On a Tuesday

Today it started out feeling like summer, hot and humid. We went to a play date with our homeschool coop. It started raining and the temperature must have dropped 15 degrees. It now feels like a fall day.

It is hard to believe fall is just around the corner. We gave our school cupboard a good cleaning out yesterday, and reserved a bunch a books. I think we will start tomorrow. We traditionally do school year around, but this year it looked different. About mid July when the garden started producing and the busyness started, we gave up on any book work. We've had lots of hands on learning and field trips since then.

The garden has slowed. The cousins went back to their mom's. The apples aren't quite ready yet, but it feels like fall. Must be time to get out those books. I am looking forward to it. I think we could use a little more routine and normalcy to our days.

And todays links:
Carnival of the Recipes - Anywhere but here. Next week- Let's Do Lunch
Carnival of Family Life
Make it From Scratch
Carnival of Homeschooling
Festival of Frugality

Friday, August 17, 2007

Best of Show

This was Kellen's first year in 4-H. His projects were market rabbits and photography. We were all disappointed that our rabbits did not make it for fair time, but Kellen worked hard on his photography. Most of the time he had fun with the project too. He learned a lot about taking good pictures. I learned a lot too for that matter.

The week before and during the fair were crazy busy. We got the project put together, and dropped it off. We had intentions of going to the fair, but we never made it. We were out of town the night projects were supposed to be picked up, so our 4-H leader got it for us. With everything else going on, I'd kind of forgotten about it. That was the end of July.

This week she calls us, and guess what? Kellen's project took Best of Show! He got a nice blue ribbon and a small cash prize. We were so excited! He was playing it cool, but you could tell he was thrilled too, especially about the cash!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

The Great Egg Hunt

I've mentioned Chatterbox, our crazy hen, a few times. She has always been different. She used to be very nervous, putting up a big ruckus for the slightest thing. She doesn't roost where she is supposed to. She doesn't lay where she is supposed to.

This spring when she started laying, it would take us days to figure out where she had made her nest. We did want to hatch out some chicks, but at the time we didn't have a rooster. When we got the rooster, she made a nice nest under some shelves in a storage area. She hatched out her chicks about two months ago.

A little over a week ago, I could tell she was getting ready to lay again. She started chasing the young ones off, clucking and exploring the storage area again. At this point in the summer, we really don't want her to hatch out another nest. We want the eggs.

She went back to the nest under the shelves. I collected eggs there for about four days, then apparently she got tired of me taking her eggs. The next day I found an egg near the ducks nest. The next day Chatterbox was making a new nest in some old screen on a shelf in the storage area. She let me collect a couple eggs there.

Then the kids went out to feed the animals and found this:

Actually what they found was Chatterbox inside the feed bag, but by the time I got there with the camera, all that was left was the egg. I haven't been able to find an egg since. I guess I am going to have to let her hatch out a nest again, or keep her in the coop if I want the eggs. What a crazy chicken!

Monday, August 13, 2007

Roller Coasters, Water, Guests & Shooting Stars

Wow where has the time gone? Finally, it looks like we have a week that we will not be running crazy. In fact, there is not a single thing on the calendar for this week. So that means I will be busy catching up on the garden, the house, and anything else that didn't get accomplished in the last few weeks.

The three oldest had a great time with Grandma and Grandpa at Geauga Lake. Kellen was thrilled because he is finally tall enough to ride all the rides, and because Uncle Kent went to take him on those rides that Grandma and Grandpa aren't so thrilled with. Kellen wasn't brave enough to try some of the bigger coasters, and that is ok. He did promise Uncle Kent they would go on them next year. Lydia and Nolan were perfectly happy with the water park and the kiddie rides, and Nolan did fine with his stitches.

After coming home Tuesday afternoon, Kellen and Lydia spent the rest of the week with Ashely and Miles at a VBS day camp, put on by a friend's church. The camp was from 10-4 with lots of singing, fun lessons and swimming. They had a great time.

Saturday was busy too. The guys went to get hay. I went to a consignment sale. Saturday night Tim and I sat out on our deck to watch the meteor shower. It was so relaxing we grabbed a couple of blankets and pillows and slept out there. It went pretty well until the dog discovered us, at 4:00 AM and thought it was play time.

Sunday, we thought we would finally have a quiet, relaxing day. Wrong. Mamaw and Papaw got a call at 7:00 AM. Two of Papaw's sisters, a brother-in-law, and a niece were nearby and wanted to stop in. We all decided to skip church for the visit, and that we should all, as in 16 people all, eat lunch together. Why so many people? There are 6 in my family; Eric, his two kids, and his girlfriend who is staying for awhile; Mamaw and Papaw; Hazel and Terry who were staying in their camper this week; and the four guests. Tim and I spent most of the morning getting lunch
together. The afternoon was relaxing though. We sat around and chatted with the relatives.

I didn't actually hear this, but Tim said that my aunt, who is Amish, made a comment about wishing she were able to live the simple life like we do down here. After I got over the irony of that coming from someone who is Amish, I wondered if anyone who knew what the summer has been like around here would actually call this a simple life.

We slept on the deck again, this time with five kids; Vivian slept in her crib and we invited Eric's kids. We were all so tired, I'm not sure any of us made it past 10:30, let alone to 2:00 AM, the predicted peak of the meteor shower.

We are all exhausted. You know the fun I've had with Nolan and his naps. He hasn't fought his nap for days. Kellen and Lydia were both dragging today. I think Vivian may be the only one who is herself. And this is the simple life?

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Isn't it my birthday?

Vivian and Gage

Quick Update Quick Links

How many days has it been since I posted here? Life has a been a whirlwind! Nolan is doing fine. You'd hardly know anything had happened to his leg. The only time he complained was when I changed the bandages.

We made a quick trip to Ohio over the weekend. We went up for our nephew Gage's first birthday party and to leave three of the four kids with Grandpa and Grandma for the annual trip to Geauga Lake. The kids were thrilled to be going. They are coming back this afternoon.

Now you might think with three of my kids gone, I'd have a nice relaxing and quiet week. Quieter? Yes, but relaxing? HA! It has been non stop on the go working on laundry, groceries, gardening, canning, and getting clothes ready for a consignment sale this weekend. I still don't feel caught up! It will get done, and I have all winter to relax right?!

More later. Here are the quick links for today.

Carnival of the Recipes - Crockpot recipes. Next week, anything goes.

Make it From Scratch

Carnival of Family Life

Festival of Frugality

Outdoor Odyssey

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Did I say I was picking beans today?

After posting that, I was getting a few things finished up and heard the scream that every mother knows means someone is really hurt. It was Nolan. He and Lydia had been playing on a trailer and he fell, catching his inner thigh on the corner. When I saw all the blood on the ground, I was concerned. When I saw the fat bulging from the wound, I knew we were headed to the E.R.

Four hours later we left the ER with four stitches, and headed to the store for a prescription. Almost two hours later, we headed home where I now sit surrounded by laundry, garden produce and groceries piled around me, frozen by the enormity of my to do list. I thought that taking a small break to check email and blog would help, but I just looked into the kitchen and it still looks overwhelming. Ah, better get moving nothing is getting done with my rear in front of the computer!

The Final Touches

All the girls were primping before the wedding. I am not sure if Vivian was going for the Mountain Dew or was trying to get on the primping. Either way it was pretty cute!
Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday Morning Links. . . On Wednesday

Um....... I forgot all about the links yesterday. Forgive me? Here they are a day late.

Make it From Scratch

Carnival of Family Life

Festival of Frugality
Frugal Babe did a great job hosting, giving you a quick summary of the submissions! Go check out the ones that catch your eye!

Money Stories
Personal stories about money in the context of a presidential debate.

Carnival of the Recipes - Just say no
Recipes for restricted diets. Next week - It's Too Hot to Cook - Slow Cooker Recipes

Vegetarian Carnival

Enjoy your Wednesday links. I'm off to pick beans!