Tuesday, July 31, 2007

My Head is Spinning

What a whirlwind the last few days have been. We traveled to Northeast Ohio for a long, incredibly busy weekend. We had a wedding, a new baby in the family and more family and friends to visit with.

We usually stay at Tim's parents, but with all the preparations and the bride and groom living there, we felt it would be best for us to stay elsewhere. We asked Heather and she graciously welcomed us. Don't let anyone tell you blogging isn't valuable. Tim and Heather were close in high school, but we kind of lost touch when we got married. I would never have asked to stay there a year ago. Since she started blogging though we've all gotten to know each other again. It was a wonderful time, and was very convenient as she lives in the middle of the places we needed to be. By the way, if you haven't seen or tried her recipe for Chicken Wraps, I can tell you first hand that they are excellent.

Tim and Lydia were in the wedding. All of Friday evening, and all day Saturday were committed to the wedding. Everything was beautiful and went smoothly. Tim sang. I haven't heard him really sing for a long time. It was nice and made me think of our early days of marriage when he was a music major and performed a lot.

Tim and Mitch (the middle brother) both got chocked up during the ceremony and reception. I guess it was hard to see their baby brother all grown up. Gail (Tim's mom) tells stories of how the older two would dote on Kent when he was little. Here he is all grown up with his lovely bride, Kerri.

Sunday we went to our old church. It is always so good to be there. It does make me slightly homesick though. We got to chat with several old friends, and found out that some of them read the blogs. I always find it interesting to find out when people are reading that I didn't realize did. I'm glad they do. Keeping up with friends is one of the reasons we started blogging, but I have to say I wish it were a bit more two sided. So those of you who are reading do me a favor leave a comment, shoot me an email or start a blog! I want to know what you are up to too!

After lunch with friends, we headed to the hospital to see our newest niece, Avery Skye. What a doll. New babies always amaze me. It is hard to believe my "big kids" actually started off that small. Jake posted more about Avery on his blog.

From there we headed home, rolling in about 10:30 PM. Since then it has been gardens, animals and laundry. We all were wiped out, even Nolan who did not put up any fight to his nap on Monday!

Ah, but the excitement doesn't stop there. Monday night Kellen had his Battle of the Books Competition. It was a repeat championship with the Milton Battle Wizards taking the trophy with a perfect score. The cousins weren't able to join this year, but Kellen still had a grand time. He was the spokesperson and couldn't have been more proud!

So after I catch up from all of that, it will be time to go again. Yes, we are headed to Ohio again this weekend. It is a first birthday party for Gage. Tim and I will only be staying Saturday night, but three oldest are staying to head to Geauga Lake Monday with Grandpa and Grandma, who will then bring them home on Tuesday. Ah, finally I will have a few days of peace and quiet. Well, peace and quiet in which to work on beans and other things!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Reflection Award


Heather recently awarded be the Reflection Award. This award is described by its creator as
The reason for the title is because this award should make you reflect on five bloggers who have been an encouragement, a source of love, impacted you in some way, and have been a Godly example to you. Five Bloggers who when you reflect on them you get a sense of pride and joy... of knowing them and being blessed by them.
What an honor to receive this award. Now I get to pass it on to five bloggers I who encourage me and are a Godly example to me.

Meredith at Like Merchant Ships
She is such a wonderful example. She is kind and sweet and creates a beautiful and loving home for her family in a frugal manner. She calls it "cheerful frugality - discovering God's plenty secondhand."

Mary at Our Quiver is Full
Mary is a personal friend. She is the mother of four boys. I think that alone qualifies her for an award. :) She is a keeper of the home, and has started another blog dedicated to this art. I will let her tell you more about that.

Katie at Simple Katie
Katie is a gardener, nature lover, and crafter. Her posts are often reflective. She encourages me to live simply. She is not one to just talk about things, she gets out there and does something. Currently she is running for city council. She doesn't post a lot, but I love when she does.

Mary at Owlhaven
Mary is mom to many, 10 in fact. She exudes such patience and joy it amazes me. Their house is filled with love, and there is always something funny going on, but it isn't all fun and games. Mary also gives you a lot of food for thought on parenting, God, and life.

Heidi at Butterfly Mama
I recently gave Heidi a different award, but couldn't resist rewarding her with this one because it is a perfect fit for her blog. Her peace, kindness and love through all situations is truly inspirational.

So thank you ladies for providing such a good example to us. You are an encouragement! Feel free to pass along the award if you like.

As a side note: This award was created by a 16 year old! You should check out her blog. She is a homesteading, homeschooled girl. The second of eight children in her family. Amazing.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

He Wanted Me to Throw Away His Toys

-Yet another story about the stubbornness of Nolan.

Yesterday the game du jour was pile the toys. I'm not sure the motivation this time, sometimes they are pretending they are moving, sometimes going on an adventure, and sometimes the room is an ocean and the bed is the boat. Regardless of the motivation, the result is a lot of toys taken from one place and piled up in another.

When the play was done I asked the kids to put the toys back where they belonged. Nolan flat out refused, claiming he needed help. My theory is generally, if you are old enough to make the mess, you are old enough to clean it up. The other kids were working on other messes, and I asked Nolan to start and I would help him in a few minutes. The response was not very receptive.

I finished up what I was working on and went to check on his progress. Not one single thing was put away. He was still pouting where I had left him. I asked him again to start. He refused. So I pulled out the threat that has worked with the older two every single time. "If you don't put away your toys, I will throw them all away." He did not budge. "Are you going to put them away or should I get the trash bag?" "Get the trash bag," he replied. I think my jaw hit the floor.

After picking my jaw back up, I went and got a trash bag, fully expecting the sight of it to motivate him to clean up his mess. I was wrong. I started putting his toys in the trash bag. No affect. I put his toys in the bag while mentioning the merits of each toy and asking him if he was sure he wanted it thrown away. He didn't care.

Now a bed full of toys sit in a trash bag in my bedroom. No, they are not waiting to be given back to Nolan. There is a consignment toy sale for a local church in the fall. Some of the toys will be going to that. Some, I will sneak back into the mix at a much later date because they are part of a set I want to keep. What is left will hit the trash can. I've been wanting to thin out their toys for awhile now, I guess Nolan gave me a good reason to start.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Our Star

Links for your Tuesday Morning

Good morning! Here are some links I think you will enjoy.

Make It From Scratch #23

Thanks to Bridget for a wonderful hosting job. Thanks to all who participate!

Carnival of The Recipes - Christmas in July
Next week the theme is Just Say No - recipes for restricted diets

Carnival of Homeschooling

Tim found this link for Free Homeschool Resources.
Of course these links would be useful for all teachers and parents.

Carnival of Debt Reduction
Articles about reducing spending, budgeting and other helpful tips to help you get out of debt.

Carnival of Family Life
A little bit of everything relating to the family.

Garden Fest
Brags, Woes and Memories about our gardens.

Happy Tuesday!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Belated Introduction

Another family member has joined the blogging world. Mementos of a Military Mom is a blog written by Tim's Aunt Cheryl. She is the mom of two children, one of whom is currently serving in Iraq. She started the blog about a week ago. She writes stories about her soldier and his sister, patriotic information and thoughts. I don't know Cheryl well, (She and Tim's Uncle married after Tim and I were already married.) but I am enjoying getting to know her better through her blog. Go stop by and say hi. I think you'll like what you find.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Happy Ninth Birthday Kellen

Today my oldest is half way to adulthood, typed with watery eyes! It is so hard to believe. What happened to my baby? He is now a young man. It seems like only yesterday we brought him home from the hospital. He spent his first night home sleeping in a clothes basket. We were getting ready to move and did not want to set up the crib. We didn't have the bassinet yet. I use the term sleeping loosely. It was a horrible night and Tim and I both wondered what we had gotten ourselves into.

We continued to wonder as we spent the next two months with a baby who wanted to nurse constantly, was crying when he wasn't nursing and would only sleep while you were holding him. It was a rude introduction to parenting, and we quickly realized our lives were changed forever. It wasn't all about us anymore.

After the first two months he did settle in. He never was, and still isn't a big sleeper, but at least he wasn't screaming anymore. We took Kellen everywhere with us. He went to the opera at about three months. We took him to movies, camping, concerts, on a cruise, and even to Alaska for the infamous backpacking trip. This picture is from that trip in 2001.

Kellen and Nolan 2004
Kellen talked early, and immediately started asking questions. He still asks me a million questions a day. He loves to learn. He loves to read. Some days I have to force him to go outside to play. Often he will take his book with him.

His hero is Homer Hickam, from October Sky fame. He wants to grow up and go to Virginia Tech just like Homer, and become an engineer.

Birthday 2005
Kellen is a big helper to me. He helps me with the garden, with his younger siblings and with the animals. Though he loves to fight with his siblings, he is also rather protective of them. He is a good kid who is on his way to becoming a good man. He will be there before his mom is ready!

Kellen & Blizzard June 2007

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

For your Tuesday Morning Browsing Pleasure

We are off for an extremely busy day of fun with water, Legos and books. No not all at the same time! Here are the links this week.

Make it From Scratch at the Motherload today!

Carnival of the Recipes - Secrets in the Sauce. Next week Christmas in July

Carnival of Homeschooling- It is a teacher in service day!

Carnival of Family Life

Carnival of the Green

Enjoy your Tuesday!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Growing Bunnies

mother rabbitAfter several tries and many losses, finally on June 30th we had our first successful rabbit litter. At 28 days of gestation we put a nest box in Cream's pen. Almost immediately she began to pull fur for her nest. We thought she would have them any day. She didn't. She just kept pulling fur. After several days, she was almost bald and her box was full of fur. We thought she might never have them.

rabbit nest boxThen, as the kids were loading there stuff in the van to head to their grandparents for a few days, I had Kellen check one last time. Finally she had kindled. We thought there were eight, but in fact there were nine. One died later, so now we have eight. newborn rabbitsThese are newborn kits from a different litter.

four day rabbitsAnd by July 4th they looked like this.

10 day rabbitsJuly 10th. Some were just starting to open their eyes.

15 day rabbitsAnd here they are July 15th.
They are so cute and cuddly now. They peer over the edge of the nest box to see what is going on. We did find one out of the box, but I'm wondering if it came out by holding on to Cream or maybe by using a sibling as a step stool. The kids love playing with them. . . I hope they don't get to attached.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Berries, Beans and Bible School

That pretty much sums up my life this last few days. The blackberries are on full force. They are not as plentiful or as big this year. I think the dry hot spring hurt them. There are still plenty just a little harder to get too and it takes more to fill your basket.

The green beans are also producing like crazy in both gardens. Got to keep them picked if I want them to keep producing. Still waiting for the tomatoes to start getting ripe, but I guess I should be thankful that they aren't ready yet. There are also tons of cucumbers and summer squash!

This week the kids were invited to go to Bible school with a family that is in our homeschool coop. The Bible school was far enough away that it didn't make sense for me to try to come home during it. Since this is a friend that Lydia has been begging to see all summer, I couldn't refuse and ended up sitting there for two hours doing nothing.

With all that going on, this is a snap shot of my days. Thursday I spent all morning picking berries, taking a few hours in the afternoon to make jam and vinegar, and the rest of the afternoon picking green beans. Then sitting for two hours. I did write some letters, but maybe I should have taken the beans with me!

Friday morning I picked a few more beans, and did a little work in the garden. Then I spent the rest of the morning and the better part of the afternoon cleaning beans. I just got one batch processed (seven quarts) in the pressure cooker before shoving some dinner down the kids throats and pushing them out the door for Bible school. Where I sat for two hours.

Today the beans must get finished. I 'm guessing there are about eight more quarts to clean and eleven to can, and only seven fit in the pressure cooker. I forgot how long the pressure cooking process is. If that all gets done, I'd really like to pick some more berries.

Tomorrow the beans will probably need picked again, and we can start the whole process over. Ah, but Bible school is done. . . for now. The kids want to go to another next week. But the good thing about that is it doesn't start until Wednesday, and it is very close. So instead of sitting for two hours I can run home and clean beans or pick berries while the kids are at Bible school.

Lest you think I'm complaining, I really am enjoying this. This is the life we chose when we moved to the 100 Acre Wood. I'm loving it. If my life consists of berries, beans and Bible school (and blogging stuck in here and there) for a few weeks, I am more than happy to have it. It is rewarding work that will seem even more rewarding in the dead of winter while we eat garden green beans.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The Infamous Alaskan Backpacking Trip

I'm sure hearing that there are glaciers in Alaska does not surprise you, but did you know that there is also a rain forest? With a week's supplies strapped to my back, I saw a rain forest, a glacier, and much more in Tongass National Forest near Sitka, Alaska. First I saw it on foot, and then from the inside of a Coast Guard rescue helicopter.

This was a trip made with half a dozen adults,and about twice as many teenagers. After landing in Juneau, we traveled via the Alaska Marine Highway System to a small village named Hoonah. While there we worked with a local church to make repairs on their buildings and offer a vacation Bible School for the children.

Then our group separated into two smaller groups; one to go backpacking and the other to go sightseeing. My oldest son, then 3, went sightseeing with Mamaw. Papaw, my brother Jake, my husband Tim, and I (four months pregnant with Lydia, who is now five) went with several of the adults and the majority of the teenagers to begin our backpacking adventure on the Medvejie Lake Trail. Our group was a relatively large, and included many inexperienced backpackers. Two facts, we now know, to be big mistakes for this particular trail.

The journey began in a forest, somewhat similar to what we might see here in West Virgina. The trail was not well worn, there were lots of insects, but it was relatively level. We worked our way to Medvejie (pronounced Med- i- vee- chee) Lake. If you have never seen a glacier fed lake, it is a sight to behold. It was crystal clear blue all the way to the bottom.

From there the way went up, through more forest, weeds over my head and huge boulders. Finally emerging into a pleasant valley with grass and a small pond. A perfect spot to camp for the night.

About half of the next day was spent climbing out of that valley by going straight up a muddy hill. It was not long before we were in snow fields, and soon we were strapping on our crampons. Crampons are spikes to help you gain traction on snow and ice.

It was here that I was perhaps the most scared I've ever been in all our outdoor adventures. Crossing this snow field involved facing the hill, practically hugging it, while moving sideways kicking your feet into the snow with every step, for about a hundred yards. If you chose to look down between your feet, you could see where the hill ended suddenly with a large drop off. I remember thinking how completely nuts I was to be there, especially pregnant. I kept singing a worship song, "Every step I take I take in you Jesus," refused to look down and kept my feet moving.

After that snow field, the terrain was somewhat barren and rocky. With all the Alaskan daylight in July, we hiked long days, and slept sound, but short night. Then came the fog, at the most inopportune time.

We were exhausted after a long day of hiking, but we also were very close to the last leg of the hike; a relatively easy hike down the glacier to natural hot springs where we could soak away our aches and pains. When the fog rolled in, we were on a ridge, a less than ideal place to camp. We tried to find our way off of it unto the glacier, but the fog was just too thick. We had to make camp.

We wanted to wait out the fog. Our supplies were not plentiful, but sufficient. We needed to wait until the fog lifted to move. We were tired, we were cold, and some were slightly dehydrated from not drinking enough water during the hike. Those issues were all tended to.

The next morning the fog was again so thick we could barely our tents. That is when panic set in. It began with three adults whose conversation was easily overheard by the teenagers in a tent next to them. The morale deteriorated quickly, It was clear that the group was not in the mental condition to continue the trip, and the coast guard was radioed.

The original plan, made with the Coast Guard, was to bring in a helicopter for the few that felt that they could no longer go on. I was to go with them, not because I didn't want to finish the trip, but because a female adult needed to accompany the girls who were going. I was not pleased, but did not really have a choice. Other Coast Guard members would lead the rest of the group out. Of course, the Coast Guard can not land their helicopters in thick fog conditions either. We were stuck waiting it out either way. The atmosphere was tense at camp that day.

The following day the fog lifted and we could see that we were only several hundred yards from the beautiful blue ice and snow that would be the last leg of the hike. Morale was instantly better, but it was too late. The Coast Guard was on the way. I got into that helicopter with tears of anger welling in my eyes. It was a ride with beautiful scenery that I did not even see.

They took us to the hospital where the girls were "treated" by the staff. They took their vitals and gave them a meal. The other members of the group followed the Coast Guard down a path that Papaw and Jake said that they would not have chosen. A group member took a good fall, and though they were not hurt, the hike was called off. More helicopters were sent to "rescue" the remaining members of the group.

This a story that you will hear referred to often in our family, but hardly ever completely told. It has been six years exactly, and it still leaves a bitter, disappointed spot. There is such frustration at working so hard for something, being able to see the end, imagine the reward and then have it snatched from you.

When the Alaskan Backpacking trip comes up in conversation, it usually turns to the future; the trip we will take to complete the adventure. The trip where we go with a small group, including only family or those who are seasoned backpackers. The trip where we walk down that blue ice, and sit in those hot springs, savoring the accomplishment and the experience.

From the perspective of others on the trip: My husband Tim. My brother Jake with several pictures.


There were only three to hatch. Here they are one day old! Oh and that loud noise in the background, that is Bernice, one of the goats. And I guessed I missed that Nolan and Lydia were chatting the whole time too!

Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Tuesday's Linking Tradition

Make it From Scratch
It wasn't intended to be a hot and spicy edition, but there were many hot and spicy recipes. Just what my family loves.

Carnival of the Recipes - Ice Cream
You'll need some to cool off after the spicy recipes! Next week - The Secret is in the Sauce

Carnival of Homeschooling - Reasons to Homeschool
Though this is geared to homeschoolers there are lots of tips for every parent.

Festival of Frugality
This is the place to find lots of great tips to save you money on just about anything. This week with a very creative presentation.

Carnival of Debt Reduction
Learn about using credit card deals to your advantage, great tips about jump starting your debt reduction plan and whether you should sign up for those store card deals.

Carnival of Family Life
Always a wealth of laughs, tips and thoughtful posts about the family.

A Homesteading Neophyte - Blogathon '07
Phelan will be blogging 24 hours for a good cause. Help her help family farms and sponsor her in this Blogathon.

Win a Klean Gift Package
Karen at PediaScribe is looking for your dirty stories. No the kids friendly kind where the kid gets your dirty. Poop stories have been requested. The best story wins a gift package.

Scribbit's July Write-Away Contest
This month's theme is Adventure. My Most Adventerous Moment to be more specific. I have some many stories that would fit this. Who wants to write about our Alaskan adventure? Hopefully I find the time to put one of the stories together before the July 18th deadline!

Happy Tuesday!

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Got Him This Time

Another hard day at play. Another tired boy at dinner. Only this time Nolan couldn't hold out.

I wish the kid would just take a nap! Then maybe he could make it through dinner.

We Have Ducklings!

Our one duck hen has been sitting for the longest time. We were just about convinced that she was not going to hatch anything. Then last night as I was feeding the animals, I saw something yellow near her. Upon closer inspection I saw two little ducklings; one yellow and one black with a yellow belly.

I was excited, but a bit disappointed. She is sitting on at least a dozen eggs, and only two hatched? She was still sitting on the nest, so we thought maybe there would be more.

Right before we went to bed last night, Tim checked and found one more newly hatched. It was still wet and was super wobbly trying to walk. So cute. She is staying with the nest, so maybe there will be more.

In other animal news, after much work to the chicken coop, and the removal of several coons, it seems we have that situation under control. Four chicks survived. They are looking more and more like chickens everyday. They are just starting to get feathers on their heads. They are all roosting too. It is cute they all roost next to each other and the hen and the rooster roost together right next to them. Happy little family. I've been surprised how involved the rooster is. He stands guard, finds food, and protects the chicks. I didn't know that roosters were good dads.

The rabbits are now a week old. We lost the runt, but seven survive. They grow amazingly fast. They already are covered in fur, and are just plain cute. The subject for another post.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

My Favorite Thursday Thirteens TT # 6

In honor of their 100th edition, the folks at Thursday Thirteen have asked us to list our favorite posts. Since this is only #6 here, I pulled some favorites from my other blog, Stop the Ride. The list, in no particular order.

1. I'm No Superwoman
In an effort to expel any myths to the contrary, I share thirteen of my many faults.

2. #2 at Stop the Ride -
A list of 13 educational websites we enjoy.

3. Dealing With a Strong Willed Child
A list compiled from someone right there in the trenches!

4. For the Birds
Birds (and pictures of them) we saw from our kitchen window this winter.

5. Pets
Thirteen Pets I've had over the years.

6. Wild Foods
Unusual and yummy!

7. Odd Recipes in My Favorite Cookbook
Unusual? Yes. Yummy? Couldn't tell you.

8. I'm Dependent
What I learned when we had no internet for several days.

9. Repurpose Recycle
Things we reuse around the homestead.

10 More Repurpose Recycle
This week's post.

11. Getting Out of Debt.
What we are doing to eliminate debt.

12. What I'd Like to Make from Scratch
A list made when we first started the Make It From Scratch Carnival. Can you believe 20 weeks later, and I haven't made a single thing from that list!

13. Spring Plantings
Some of the first things planted this year. We've planted a ton more since!

Thanks for joining me. To find more lists go to Thursday Thirteen.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

In Three Weeks Time

Busy, Busy And Tuesday Links

Wow it has been so busy around here. Tim's parents came for a visit Thursday and stayed till Saturday. We had a great time, and the kids got a big surprise; they got to go home with Grandma and Grandpa. Well except Vivian that is. We are meeting them half way tonight to pick the kids back up so we can spend the 4th together.

I had big plans for what I could get done while they were gone, but I find I am only keeping up and catching up with my normal things; laundry, picking berries, taking care of animals and the garden. Ugh!

Speaking of animals, we have new baby rabbits. They were born on Saturday. There are eight of them. I almost didn't report it here because I didn't want to have to report another "we lost them" post, but so far so good. I couldn't get a picture of them. This rabbit, Cream, pulled so much fur for her nest, she is practically bald everywhere but her back. They looked pretty much the same as these newborn rabbits. They are already starting to get some white fuzz on them. I'll try to get some pictures in a few days.

The bad news is that these will not be big enough for the fair. Kellen will not be able to show market rabbits. He will have to do showmanship in open class, and will not be able to sell any rabbits. He will be disappointed. Lydia is also doing open class with Cha Cha. Kellen will probably take Peter.

My siding is still on hold, though I did get some improvements to my side deck. The project du jour is getting the water, electric and septic set up for Aunt Hazel and Terry's camper. Since that project also involves renting a trencher, setting up our rain collection system has been piggybacked on the camper's projects.

Well I should get back to work! Have a great 4th!

And the links. . . .

Make It From Scratch

Festival of Frugality

Carnival of Debt Reduction

Learning in the Great Outdoors

Vegetarian Carnival

Outdoor Odyssey