Monday, March 31, 2014

An En"Tire" Day

Saturday was a tire day.  We built a tire bike rack and got a good start on Ellie's birthday present.  It felt good to get some items off the "to-do" list. 

We also got a post in the ground for the pig pen.  Well, Bryan got the post in the ground.  I handed him the shovel and bar and post hole diggers.  But the other side of the area still had large ice crystals, so that project has been delayed another week. 

The Bike Rack

I had planned on digging a hole for each tire individuality.  Bryan looked at the picture of what I wanted, and decided that digging a big trench was the easiest solution. Good thing we have a lot of shovels--the kids were eager to help.

Digging the hole with Daddy's supervision and direction
Once the hole was dug, Bryan checked for levelness. (Another step I would have missed).  Then we needed to select tires.

A trip to the junk pile yielded enough tires of around the same size (15 in). 

We worked together to set the tires in place.  Then we had to put the dirt back.  It took some time to really pound it all together.

But it was worth the work!

Ellie's birthday present is also turning out nicely.  We were able to use scrap lumber for one of them, so we'll only need to buy a board for the other.  We decided to just make two, since two children can use them at the same time. 

It needs a coat of spray paint, but is otherwise complete.  I think she'll love it! 

Next on my tire list is another planter.  I'm hoping to get flowers in in a few weeks. I've never planted flowers before.  Any tips for a newbie?  Easy to grow flowers?  I know I want perennials so I don't have to plant them each year. 

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Photo Round Up Update

No pictures to share again this week.  They were really hard to take on my phone, and so I didn't take many.  The ones I did take weren't good quality and are hard to transfer to the computer. In other words, it's not worth the effort for the result. :) 

So I'm not sharing. 

But, Bryan got the iPod Touch up and running again for me, so I'll be taking more pictures again.  While the quality won't be as good as it was on my phone, I'm looking forward to sharing next Saturday.  I enjoy capturing life's little moments.

Until next week...

Why Running Isn't For Me

After February's frigid cold and icy days came to an end, I resumed the C25K Program I started in January.  I recently completed this program.  Yup--I can run for 30 minutes now.  That's pretty neat, considering I couldn't run for more than 5 minutes before starting.
Yup--that's me braving the snow to get in a run.  Thankfully there's no more snow now!!!

The problem?

I still really don't like running. 

I like exercising. I like moving.  Being active is awesome. 

But I don't like running.  For thirty minutes straight. 

And so I've decided that running isn't the best exercise for me.  Yes--some people love to run.  Some people even learn to love running after doing it for a while.  Running works really well for many people.

But I'm not one of them. 

My knees and ankles hurt when I finish. 

I can't take the kids with me. Which limits the time of day I can do it.  A

And I just prefer other forms of exercise. 

I completed my goal--I can run three miles now.  I actually finished the C25K program.  I've started that so many times, it felt really good to finally finish it.  I'm in much better shape.

But despite all of the positives, I really don't enjoy it.  So I'm going to stop.

I'll be walking.  I'll be hiking.  I'll be pushing Owen's wheelchair off-road.  I'll probably even do some running--in intervals.  I really preferred the beginning weeks of C25K...

I will still be active and make it a point to get in 30 minutes of exercise at least three days a week. 

But no more running!  I'm excited to feel excited about exercise again.

What are your thoughts on running?  Do you love it or hate it, or feel indifferent?

Friday, March 28, 2014

My Tire Planter!

Today I felt like being crafty during quiet time.  I had my eyes on these tire planters for a while, and decided to finally try making one. 

The tutorial I linked to above gave the best directions on how to actually flip the tire inside out.  More on that step in a bit...

First I had to pick a tire.  If you remember, we have 100s of tires sitting in our junk pile out back, and I really wanted to start putting them to good use. I wanted a tire on a rim, because I think the planters on a pedestal looked amazingly cool!

Thankfully one of the first tires I came to (read, closer to the barn where I was going to be working) was fairly soft, and on a rim.  I declared it a winner, and rolled it over to the barn.

Next began my trial and error process of cutting the tire.  Cordless saw thing?  Nope--just got smoke.  Hand saw?  Nope--couldn't fit in the space between the treads and the rim like I needed.  Razor blade?  Nope--too short to penetrate all of the rubber.  Boning knife? Yup--that did the trick.  Good thing I had an extra!

I probably should have used chalk and drawn a pattern.  But I didn't.  I just did some freehand stabbing and cutting.  There's always next time!

Once I had the tire all cut, it was time to try flipping it.  Yeah...that was a problem.  I picked a tire that was too big.  I couldn't get my knee up in it like the tutorial suggested. I was too short and the tire too tall.

I tried standing on a bale of hay (not recommended!), on a pallet, and squatting over the tire.  Nothing worked.

So I rolled it over the porch and waited until my dad came by after work.  He got it started for me.  And then I could fit my knee in and we eventually got it flipped.

It was hard work.  We were both sweating and wondering if we'd ever actually get it done.  But then little by little, one bit at a time, it started to flip.  We were so excited! 

The results?  I love it!  I still need to pressure wash it to clean it up, and then I'll paint it.  Once it's painted, I'll add some dirt and some flowers. 

I want to make more.

But I will be using smaller tires next time.  I think it'd be much easier to flip without the rim as well.  But I like the base. 

What do you think?

The "petals" definitely aren't symmetrical.  I'll draw a pattern next time!

I have been working on a bike rack out of tires as well, and Ellie's birthday present--seesaws from tire halves.  I'll share those when I finish. 

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Life Without My iPhone

A couple of weeks ago, I dropped my iPhone.  It was a sad, sad day!  The screen cracked and my husband and I ordered a new part.  It finally arrived today. But despite my husband's valiant efforts, the repair was not meant to be.

So my iPhone has been disconnected.  And I'm back to using my old Samsung Convoy--a standard flip phone. 

Guess what?

I'm okay with that.

What you might not know is that I was really struggling with an iPhone addiction of sorts.  I always had it on me.  And was always on it. 

Kids have a question...just let me Google it.  On my phone.  Immediately.

Need a new recipe? Or just think I do?  Google it immediately. 

Oh, was that an email, better read it.  Immediately.

Text message?  Must be important.  Let's read it immediately.

You get the picture. 

My smart phone provided constant access to the Internet.  It was too easy.  I reached for it constantly.  I put aside other tasks to do something on the phone. 

The contract on my phone expired back in October of 2013.  We really considered shutting it off at that point.  But we didn't. 

Instead I tried to change.  I tried setting limits for myself.  But I kept breaking them. 

It didn't work. 

And now?  The Lord answered my prayers in a way I didn't expect.  With a broken iPhone and a repair that didn't work out. 

We talked about ordering another phone for me.  But you know what?  I don't need it. 

I need a phone.  I have a phone.  My Samsung works great!

I need a way to check my email.  My laptop works perfect!

I need a way to have alarms throughout the day.  Yup--the iPod we have will tackle that task. 

All of the things I NEED my phone for have been covered.  It's a blessing! 

And that extra $40 a month we'll save on our Verizon bill?  I did the math (with an online amortization calculator)...and if we throw that amount towards Sallie Mae (our final remaining debt!!!), we'll be out of debt a little sooner.  We're hoping for six years now.

So out of debt sooner...less temptation to be on technology all the time?  Yup.  A broken iPhone can be a blessing! 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Planning Our Friday Adventures

The snow is gone! The mud is almost dried up!  That means we're able to get outside again as a family.  Last fall, I started doing a Friday adventure with the kids.  Winter's cold and snow halted those expeditions.  But now?

Time to start again!

My rules for our Friday fun...

1.  Must take place on the property.  I don't want to drive all over when the Lord has blessed us with all of this amazing land.
2. Must allow for all of us to participate.  That means Owen's wheelchair needs to be able to get there since he doesn't walk well outside yet.  It means it has to be close enough for the little ones to walk.  Or have logging road access that isn't too scary for me to drive with the Suburban. 
3. Must be suitable for all ages--engage my 12 year old and my littles (and me!!!)
4. Must be simple.  Simple is good.  Learning to be content with simple can be hard!
4.  Must be fun!  Nough said.

Last fall, we did a Pirate adventure and a Cowboy adventure. We also swam at the creek, fished and built a fort. 

Grouse Creek provides hours of summer fun!  We are so blessed to have it running through our land.

Here are some of my ideas for this year.  Some are simple and will be repeated.  Some require more planning.

1. Walk to the waterfall and have a picnic
2. Walk to the cedar grove and play house in the young trees
3. Picnic at the creek & splash play
4. Beaver Adventure (walk to beaver pond & examine the abandoned dam; look for chewed trees & shavings, beaver poo...)
5. Bird Adventure (checklist with different birds to find, listen for bird calls, look for nests, look for Canadian geese tracks in field)
6.  Swimming Fun in the Creek (we'll go to a shallow spot where Owen is fairly safe).
7. Hide and Seek in the back woods (away from roads and the creek for safety)
8. Inventor Game at the junk pile--lots of building material to use! We'll bring a simple tool box and some nails and screws and see what happens.  Owen and Sydney will love climbing on the simple tire structure we'll make for them first. 
9. Go on a knight adventure (look for sword sticks & bark shields, and have a great battle)
10.  Play orphans at the mountain fort when the service berries are ripe so we have food to gather
11. Go wild berry picking and race to fill the containers; look for wild strawberries to go with the service berries.  We have wild raspberries at the creek too--maybe we'll find them. 
12. Gather different wild plants & make a salad at the creek--plantain, dandelion,lambs quarter, etc.
13. Scavenger Quest--Each person goes to a different spot and makes a list (or picture list) of 5 things they see.  Bring all lists to the base, and put lists on the ground.  Go grab a list that isn't yours and get hunting. First one/team back wins.
14. Wild Wolf Adventure--go to the waterfall cave & turn it into our den, play wolf
15. BBQ Fish Adventure--bring the BBQ down to the creek and cook what we catch.  Rainbow Trout and Brown Trout swim through Grouse Creek. 
16. Lunch & Quiet Time Camp-out-- put up tent in the yard, roast hot-dogs in the firepit,eat some s'mores, 'rest' in tent, & sing campfire songs.  

I've never actually camped before.  This will be a true adventure!  I'm too much of a chicken to actually sleep outside at nighttime right now.  Too many bears, cougars and bobcats...oh my! But, I know that people survive camping all the time.  So...maybe someday....

Do you have any adventures planned for the warmer season?

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Homemade Lotion Bars

About a month ago, I tried making my own deodorant.  I'd never really made any personal care products before that.  But the deoderant I was using (a spray on that someone gave me) was making my family gag when I applied.  I knew that wasn't good.  So I started looking into homemade options. 

I've now been a bit obsessed with what I learned.  I can't believe how much junk is in the things I use everyday.  Like toothpaste.  And lotion.   Yikes! 

But, I also learned how incredibly simple it is to make these products at home using natural ingredients.  I've slowly been replacing what we use. 

A few weeks ago, I made my first lotion bars.  I'd heard that they were good for cracked hands and feet.  And I sure have those!

After doing some research, I found an easy looking recipe here.  I ordered Shea butter and beeswax from Amazon, and waited.  When the ingredients arrived at my doorstep, excitement reigned in our house. 

I gathered my helpers, and we started measuring.  We dumped the coconut oil, Shea butter and beeswax into a quart jar.  This jar was placed in a pan of water on the stove.  We waited.

It was neat to watch everything melt.  The coconut oil was the first to turn into liquid.  Followed fairly quickly by the Shea butter.  The beeswax was stubborn and stayed solid for a while. 

But eventually everything was liquid.  I took it off the stove and had Ellie add a few drops of lavender essential oil.  A quick stir was needed to mix everything one final time.  And then we poured it into some silicone molds. 

I was amazed at how quickly they hardened.  During this process, the mixture went from clear and translucent to white. 

When they were completely cooled, we popped them out of the molds. I made 12 bars out of the recipe.  And REALLY like using this lotion.

It truly has healed up the cracks on my fingers and feet.  I'm so happy! And I'm really excited not to have to rely on the chemicals in traditional lotion any more.  These work better and are natural!  After all, our skin soaks in what we put on it.  I'm trying to learn all that I can. 

I've now made toothpaste, deodorant, chap-stick and lotion bars.  I think it's amazing that the ingredients are really similar from one item to the next.  It really helps to save money in the long run!

Soap is my next goal.  I'm waiting on my lye to get here...We'll see how it goes!  What's really neat is that we're getting piglets soon.  When we butcher this fall, I can render the fat into lard and use that in soap. I like knowing where my ingredients come from!

Have you made any personal care products before?  Any recipes you'd recommend?

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

What Is That To Thee?

I just finished the book of John in my Bible studies.  Going through chapter 21, verse 22 stood out to me.  I know I've read this verse before.  I know I've heard it preached on before.

But this was really the first time I started to "get" it. The first time I wondered about how this verse could be applied to my life.

First some background...

Jesus is speaking to Peter.  He had actually just told Peter a few verses back that he was going to die for the cause of Christ.  And history shows that Peter did indeed die a martyr.

But back to the verse.  After hearing that he would die, Peter looks over and sees John.  John is known as the disciple whom Jesus loved.  So Peter knows that he's going to die for Christ.  And he basically asks Jesus in verse 21, "What about him?  What's going to happen to John?"

 So with that quick background in place, here is the verse that got me thinking...

"Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me."

Jesus is asking Peter why it matters what John was called to do.  Peter's job is to not worry about John.  Peter is to follow Jesus.  Regardless of what John does. 

And the same is true for us today.

We are to follow Christ.  Our paths all look different.  Our ministries are not the same. Knowing that, our desire should be to follow Christ wherever He would lead us. To keep our eyes on Him.  

With this important truth, why do we worry so much about comparing ourselves with others?  Why do I worry so much about how I measure up? Why do I constantly feel the need to do more and more?

 I need to stop.

 I need to stop comparing.  I need to stop wishing that I was someone I'm not.

Because God made me me.  He has a plan for me.  My job is to follow Him in that plan.  And not to get distracted by what others are doing. It's not my business.  What is that to me? 

It's hard.

Not comparing is really hard.

And I need to work on it. 

I need to embrace the me that God made.  He knows me.  And most importantly, loves me.

I'm very thankful that the Lord really showed me John 21:22 this morning.

What are your thoughts on this verse? 

Linked up with: Raising Arrows

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

1 Chicken; 4 Meals

We raise Cornish Cross birds for meat.  Each year we start with around 300 chicks.

In 12 weeks or less, the adorable little bundles of fluff transform into not so cute birds ready to butcher.  After processing them, we sell some and keep some.

This meat is much tastier than the store bought variety.  These birds had access to sunshine, worms and grass.  And because of all the nutrients, I like to get as much as possible from each one.

These birds are known for their large breasts.  This means there is a lot of meat on them!  With this meat, here's how we consistently feed our family of 7 eaters 4 meals based around a single 5-6 pound chicken.  I'm sure as my littles grow up and eat more, we'll have to change this up a bit, but for now it's working great!

The secret?  Put the chicken into other dishes. That way you use less meat at each meal.

Prep Work:

Cook the chicken in the crock-pot with celery and carrots. Season with salt, pepper and perhaps garlic.  Add some water.  Let it cook for 8 hours on low.

 Pull the meat off the bones.  Scoop out the broth into a jar.  Add bones back to pot.  Fill with water.  Allow to cook all night on low. Depending on how flexible the bones are when you finish, you'll probably do this twice.  You want bones you can easily break and crumble.  Even the thick part of the bone.  You should be able to easily get 1 gallon of chicken broth from this bird, and maybe more. 

Meal 1:  Creamy Chicken Enchiladas

Assemble chicken enchiladas with the meat off a breast and a thigh.  Mix the meat with shredded cheese and sour cream.  Stir in a bit of taco seasoning. Add a good scoop of this to the middle of each flour tortilla.  Roll and place in baking pan.  When they are all assembled, grate more cheese on top, and smeary any leftover meat mix on top.   They'll bake at 350 for about 30 minutes. 

Serve with tortilla chips and salsa, and all of your favorite fixings (lettuce, olives, sour cream, etc.)

Meal 2:  Chicken Pot Pie

Use the meat from the other breast and thigh.  Cut it up into small pieces.  Place in a large bowl. Add homemade cream of celery soup, a bag of frozen mixed veggies, and whatever seasoning you desire.  I usually stick to salt and pepper.  Stir this mixture up and place in a deep dish pie pan.

Roll out a pie crust and top your chicken mixture.  Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or so.

We usually serve this up with a fruit salad.  

Meal 3: Chicken Noodle Soup 

Remember the broth you  scooped out way back with the bird?  Today you'll mix that with your other broth (if needed) and create a delicious soup.

Saute some celery, garlic and carrots with butter in your soup pot.  Salt and pepper these.  Add the broth.  I make sure I have about 8 cups of broth for my family.  It is a good amount to feed everyone and have lunch leftovers for a couple of us.

Allow this to simmer for a while.  Sometimes I leave it most of the day.  Other times I'm in a hurry and only let it go 1/2 an hour.

In a separate pot, boil 1/2 pack of egg noodles.  When they're finished, drain and add to your soup.  This way you don't suck up all your broth with the cooking stage.

Add in most of meat you have left.   This will be from the wings, back and neck. Reserve about 1/2 cup of meat for the final meal.

 Allow everything to get nice and hot and then serve.

Homemade wheat rolls are our favorite accompaniment to this meal, along with a fresh green salad.  

Meal 4: Egg Fried Rice

Cook 2 cups of brown rice in 2 cups of chicken broth.  It'll increase the nutrients and the flavor.  I try to do this the day before (usually cooking it while I cook the soup).  That way it can chill.  Cold rice seems to work best for this meal, though I have done it with hot.

Melt about 2 tablespoons of butter in a large frying pan.  Gently scramble 4 eggs.  Remove them from the pan before they get really firm.

Melt 2 more tablespoons of butter in the pan and add a swirl of olive oil.  This will keep the butter from smoking.  Heat your rice in this mixture.  As it begins to get warm, add frozen peas. They'll take on a lovely color as they defrost in the hot rice.

Add some soy sauce, garlic, and ginger.  Stir it all together and add the remaining chicken meat.

Gently stir your eggs back in.  Make sure everything is hot, and serve.  

Bonus Meal #5: Egg Drop Soup

If you have broth left over, you can make a fifth meal.  It doesn't have any actual chicken in it--just the nutrient dense bone broth.

Bring your broth to boiling.  Add some green onions and peas.

Beat 4-6 eggs until frothy.  Slowly pour these through the tines of a fork into your boiling broth.  (Sounds harder than it is!) This will break down the eggs and allow them to create the classic ribbons of egg in the soup.

The eggs will cook almost instantly.  When they are done, add salt, pepper and perhaps a touch of soy sauce or sesame oil.


There you have it.  How our family gets 4 or 5 meals from a single chicken. 

What's your favorite way to get the most out of your birds?

Linked up with: Raising Arrows

Monday, March 17, 2014

5 Favorite Outside Activities

With spring here, the kids and I have once again been enjoying the great outdoors.  We love to play together as a family, and here are five super easy games that we enjoy.  You don't need any fancy equipment for these.  And they are appropriate for kids with a wide age span.

1.  Red Light/Green Light

I use this game with all of my little ones to teach stop and go.  One person (It) goes to one side of the yard.  The others line up along the other end.  When It says, "Green Light", everyone else moves forward quickly.  When It says, "Red Light" everyone freezes.  Continue until someone touches It.  Rotate who is It. 

2. Building a Fort 

We've used hay and boards, tree branches and pine needles, and even brought out blankets to drape over the clothesline.  Complicated and simple possibilities abound.

 No matter how we build it, the kids all love it.  They'd stay in there all day if I let them.  Eating a snack or a picnic lunch in the fort makes it even more special.

Here's the latest fort.  Jayme and I built this one during our special time a week or so ago.  It is still standing strong despite winds and rain.  We just used a tree branch that was dangling low the ground and started adding pine needles.  Some raking work cleaned out underneath and added some depth to the fort. 

3.  Hide & Seek Tag

A fun twist on both games that seems to level the playing field for multi-age participation.  One person is It.  It goes in the house (or to another designated area) and closes his or her eyes while counting to 20.  Everyone else runs and hides.

The goal is to make it to the flagpole (or another space) without being touched by It.  Hide as long as you want, and then start running for the base.

You can change it up a bit by requiring jumping or crawling to base and as It.

4.  Scavenger Hunt

Ellie is helping Sydney look for a green leaf.  Great way to practice colors and counting!
Who can find a red flower, three pine cones and a chicken feather first?  No matter what environment you have outside, you can adapt a scavenger hunt for your location.  You can get fancy and create a printable for your kids, or just scribble it out on paper.  An audible cue works too.

Get hunting!

5. Inventor

One of our favorites!  Everyone goes out and gathers four pieces of the same object.  Hay rope, twigs, firewood.  Whatever they can think of.  They just need enough for everyone who will be playing (for us four).

We pile everything in the middle of an outside table.  Everyone then takes one of each object.  Now you might have a rock, a twig and a piece of rope.

Your goal?  To invent the coolest thing in the time limit.  We've had twigs turned apple launchers; bows and arrows, teeter totters and a toy cat swing set.

It's amazing to see what creativity comes out.

You can decide what "extras" can be used.  We've allowed everyone to select three of their own special items.  We've set out extra rope, tape and containers before.  And we've stuck with the only use these items rule.

After the time limit runs out, have a show and tell session.  Everyone gets to share their work.  This is my favorite part.  The kids get to explain what they made and how it works.  

Make it work for your family.  Just decide on the rules at the beginning of each round.  Then get to work.  See what you can create!
The start of a broom?  Or a fan? Maybe a fancy helmet decoration?  Let your imagination be your guide. 

What outdoor games does your family enjoy?

Saturday, March 15, 2014

What Should Be...Pic Week Round Up #11

Notice the title says, "Should Be."

That's important.

Because I dropped my iPhone doing chores this week.  And busted the screen. 

And of course I did this BEFORE I connected to the computer to get the pictures.  So I can't actually share them with you. And I didn't take pictures for half the week.

Well, I did.  But I took them on an old flip phone.  That I can't connect to the computer.  But I can send them as pic message to my iPhone.  But since that's busted, it doesn't help right now...

Thankfully my wonderful husband Bryan watched a video on how to replace the screen.  And we found the part online for $12--including the tools we needed.  Yeah for having an older phone! That price was a blessing. 

So right now my phone is turned off and not being used.  The drop didn't damage the LCD at all, but I read that if you continue using the cracked screen it will eventually cause pixels to go out.  Don't want that to happen! 

Instead of a week's worth of cute pictures, I'll leave you with just one.  I had to share it. Even though I actually took it on 3/6.  So you know--not this week at all.  But that's okay! Hopefully by next weekend my phone will be back up and running beautifully again. 

Ellie told me she was a Grandpa.  It was adorable!

Have a wonderful weekend!

Friday, March 14, 2014

11 Years!

Today Bryan and I are celebrating 11 years of marriage.  Yes.  We married on Pie Day (3.14).  And my husband loves math.  What can I say?  It was the day that worked best.

 He got leave approved between A School and reporting to his first duty station in San Diego.  My Grandpa's 80th birthday bash was on 3/15, so a bunch of family was already in town.

It was a crazy wedding.  Planned in a week.  Well, we knew for a while that we'd be getting married at some point, so some planning was done before.  But not much. I did have my dress though!

A cake.  A ring. A church.  So many decisions.  So little time.

But it was a blessing. 

And you know what?  A wedding is just for a day.  It was over in a few hours.  We made some memories.  Like having to call the Pastor back because he forgot to sign the marriage license.  And staying late with some of my family to clean up.

There were some things that we would have done differently if we'd had more time.  But that's okay.  The wedding event isn't the important part.  The marriage is.  

Our first three years we were mainly separated--Bryan in the Navy in California, Jayme and I in Washington so I could finish college.  I remember flying down to San Diego to celebrate our first anniversary.  With the top layer of our wedding cake (that had been in the freezer a year) in a shoe box as my carry-on.

I'm so thankful for my husband.  He's helped me to grow in so many ways.  He works really hard for our family, and puts in crazy hours of overtime helping us work towards our goal of being debt free.

So today, I'm going to celebrate with my husband.  He was able to take today and Monday off of work, so it'll be a nice long weekend.  We haven't had one of those for a while.  My parents have generously agreed to keep Owen overnight.  It'll be nice to get a good night's sleep.
I have porterhouse steak already to grill after the kids get tucked in for the night.  We'll watch a movie together. Maybe play some Wii. And celebrate another year of beating the odds.

We weren't supposed to make it you know.   We had a baby in high school.  We married at 19--too young for a successful marriage.  We survived a long distance relationship.  With my husband being in the Navy and deployed for a long period of time.

Here's to the way the Lord can change odds.  How he can take two sinners and bring them together in a marvelous way.  Here's to marriage!

Have a great weekend!

11 years of marriage, almost 14 years of togetherness, 6 kids, and lots of love!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Growing Up...Some Random Thoughts

Simon's growing so quickly!  He's seven months old now, and crawling pretty well.  He has the cutest little crawl.

 He gets up on all fours and rocks, looking like he's going to really have a nice form.  And then he gets impatient, drops his chest to the ground and army crawls to where he wants to go.  He also uses his knees at times to propel himself--kind of like a frog jump thing. 

It's neat to watch how quickly little ones learn, and how all of their skills really work together.  How everyone kind of develops in their own way.  None of our kids have crawled the same at first.  They all eventually end up in a traditional, four point crawl.  But they each took a different route to get there.

Owen's developmental delays have really taught us to be aware of how many steps there are in eating, sitting, crawling, walking...all of the things that we always took for granted before.

When you have to break down a skill like that and practice each individual component, you realize just how complicated some of these "easy" things are.  Before you can crawl, you have to have balance.  You have to have strength.  You have to have coordination.  Your brain has to be able to tell different parts of your body to move.  Your body has to respond. 

First one leg, than the other. You have to alternate hands and legs.  Not run into anything.  Be aware of your surroundings.

And more!

So when a baby just picks it up without being taught, it reminds us of what an amazing God we serve.  So many skills.  So many steps.  And babies normally just figure it out.  Without being taught.  And they can pick it up in so many different ways. 

Then suddenly, without warning, crawling turns into this...

Pulling up.  Which will, before we know it, turn into standing.  And then walking.  And then running. 

They grow up so quickly!  Remember to slow down and enjoy the progress.  The little steps to mastery that are so easy to take for granted.  Be thankful when they learn new skills. And don't ever wish that they'd stay this way forever.  Trust me.  Growth is good! Celebrate it.  And get an extra snuggle in today, because they are growing fast. 

Monday, March 10, 2014

Better Late Than Never...Photo Wrap-Up 10

Ugh.  Sickness has hit here at the farm.  Owen had a neurology appointment last Thursday, and the doctor is housed at the Children's Hospital.  His seizures and tremor have returned, and we're going to try to up the dose of one of his seizure meds and hope it helps.  On a positive note, the slightly increased dose is appearing to help with sleep...that's always good!

Unfortunately, it seems like every time we go to the hospital, we end up leaving sick.  Probably has something to do with the ER being there as well, and sharing the elevator with all kinds of little germies. 

Anyways, we had a sick weekend.  And I'm super thankful to be feeling a little better today.  As the kids wake up, we'll see how they are. Hopefully better!

So since I didn't feel up to sharing my photos on Saturday, I wanted to get them out this morning. 

Hope you are all feeling well!


Sunday, March 2nd

Bryan is learning how to braid paracord, and decided to try a dog collar.  Cinders looks rather handsome in this beautiful blue and black braid. 

Monday, March 3rd

I'm trying to get better at re-purposing things around the house to help get organized.  That way I don't wait to get organized until I have money to buy fancy matching containers with. :) Bryan and I upgraded beds to one my grandparents gave us.  And that meant we had this headboard to figure out what to do with.  It works well for holding little baskets and boxes of toys.  It's still a work in progress, but it's definitely helping to keep things neater. 

Tuesday, March 4th

Expo markers work great on windows, and come off clean with a dishcloth!  Jeffrey and Ellie were getting some school practice in while I was cooking.  They wrote their name, letters and numbers.   

 Wednesday, March 5th

I started a blog post about looking for spring in a snow covered winter.  We went on a walk taking pictures of signs of spring.  Here was one, the "river" running parallel with the road from snow melting.  I never finished the post though, because rain hit that night, and by Thursday morning, there wasn't any snow left, the temperatures were in the low 50s, and it was pretty clear that we found spring!

Thursday, March 6th

Successfully made a protected book for Owen.  And learned, thanks to a reader, that when you add tape to ziploc type bags you can hole punch them.  I had no idea! 

Friday, March 7th

Jayme and I took advantage of the snowless, warmer conditions to start building a fort during our special time.  Here, Jayme is trying it out.  The pine needle roof provides pretty good protection from rain! We were hoping to work on the fort more over the weekend, but since we were sick didn't get a chance.  Here's to finishing it this week! 
Saturday, March 8th

No pictures....sick day!

Hope you had a great week!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Protecting Books: Help Needed!

A while back I shared about Owen eating books. I was struggling with trying to balance having books out for the kids to read with knowing that a book left out would be destroyed. 

After writing my post, I felt better--just writing about it helped my mental struggle.  And then, one of my readers offered a great suggestion--to deconstruct pages of a book and then protect them in page protectors and seal them with packing tape.  (Thanks for the inspiration Michelle!!!).

Except...I didn't have any page protectors.  What I did have was a bunch of low quality gallon sized Ziploc type bags.  And so I selected a book that the kids love.  And one that we have two copies of (you case I really messed it up!).  Chicka Chicka Boom Boom. It's a book we read frequently in our homeschool.

And so, with a quick thrust of a knife, I removed all three staples from the book.  And then took advantage of the marvelous creases to carefully pull each page apart.  My spatial sense definitely got a workout trying to get everything back in the correct order.  But I did it.  I now have all the pages in bags.  And I'm ready to put it together.

But I can't...I'm just not seeing how to make this work.  I'm hoping you can help me.  It may be that my bags are just too tough. In which case, I'll just have to pick up some page protectors next time I go shopping.  I was just hoping to get this one book done while I'm waiting. 

Here's what I've got....

A book with each page in a ziploc type bag. 

My problem...

These are too thick to hole punch, even one at a time.  I was hoping to tie them together with some natural bailing twine we have rolls and rolls of.  But without being able to punch the bags...I don't think that'll work. 

I'm not quite seeing how to make taping them work.  I know it probably would...but I don't see it.  I tried using packing tape, and I got the covers taped together.  But then...the inside pages all fell out. I'm sure there is a way to tape the pages to the next one somehow.  But yeah...I couldn't make it work.  Did I mention that spatial sense is my lowest intelligence?  It is...

I thought of stapling, but my stapler won't cut it. 

So....I thought I'd ask   beg for help.  Any ideas?  I'm totally seeing how page protectors would work.  And I'll pick some up for the next book(s).  But anyone have a way to make this work?  I'd love to let Owen have this soon. 

Thanks so much!!!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Keeping the Chickens In...And Safe!

I don't like waking up to the sound of a dying chicken.  Don't know anyone who would actually.  Definitely a gruesome sound.  Coyotes are terrible.  And they can get into spaces they don't look like they should be able to. 

And so we had to do something. 

Now when we lock our chickens in, we take one leg of their ladder and shove it in front of the door.  We also wanted an early warning system, so we could get woken up by something besides a bird yelping.  And we wanted something that would hopefully convince predators to leave.  Without a bird.

Those systems are expensive though.  But we noticed in our research that noise played a big part in scaring predators away.  So we got creative.  An old cow bell.  And a chunk of bailing twine.  Hello early warning noisy system. 

Touch the door trying to get in, ring the bell.  Get scared away. 

Cheap.  Simple.  And we haven't lost a chicken since!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Weekly Pic Round Up: Week 9

Another week come and gone.  Another week of memories.

Here are the pictures I took to help me remember this week.

Sunday, February 23

A weird sight...See that lumpy thing in the tree?  Yes folks.  That IS a robin red breast--the true sign of spring.  On a branch covered in snow from the overnight storm.  Crazy!

 Monday, February 24

We don't usually break out this gadget.  It used to be we could only hook it up out on our porch.  Brr!  I don't want to be standing outside grinding wheat.  But Jeffrey pointed out that he thought it could fit on this portable cart Grandma gave us.  Turns out he was right.  Here's Ellie preparing to grind some of the wheat we grew two years ago.  Bread anyone?

Tuesday, February 25

Our first ever batch of lotion bars.  It was exciting!  We really like these things.  And making them ourselves is much cheaper than buying them.  Only three ingredients! 

 Wednesday, February 26

Timberdoodle -- a homeschool supply company based in Washington State-- was having a doodle contest.  Here's Jayme's doodle that she entered. 

 Thursday, February 27

Who would have thought that an annual appointment at Shriner's Hospital for Children to check Owen for scoliosis (it's typical in kids with Angelman Syndrome) would result in a cool craft idea.

Sure enough!  I had to ask the kind lady in the x-ray check in area if she minded if I snapped a picture of this cool thing.  Yes indeed.  It's made out of Mountain Dew cans.  Recreating it is on my to-do list for March!

Friday, February 28

An organization project in the works.  Those are two of our upstairs bookshelves.  After three boxes were selected for donation.  I decided it's time for a major purge.  We have TOO MANY books! You can't even figure out what to read because there are so many.  And if you do pick a title, good luck finding it in this mess of double layers!

 Saturday, March 1

Look who decided not to go back to sleep after his morning nursing.  He accompanied me out to the barn to chore.  He seems pretty happy about not being in bed!