Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Tips and Tricks for Painting With Kids

Today was a painting day.  We bought paint and primer for our chicken coop yesterday, and I decided that since we were going to be painting outside, we should do some painting for art first.

Painting with children can be a bit messy.  Especially when one of them tries to eat everything.  And you know it'll end up everywhere. 

He started off so well!

I found a few solutions for making painting easier on everyone.  Here they are:

1.  Newspaper is your friend!

Lay a thick layer out.  It'll get painted on.  But it protects the table. At least until your child with Pica rips and tries to eat the part protecting the table in front of him... But that's another story. 

2. Have a variety of brushes. 

I found a pack of twenty some paintbrushes at Wal-Mart for five bucks.  It was  good buy.  The kids can use a different one for each color. There isn't as much fighting over brushes.  Everyone can find one they like. 
Sydney painting.  But you can see our jar full of awesome brushes!

3. Paper muffin cups are useful.

I pour the paint colors into these.  The kids can each have one of each color.  I also gave them a few empty cups. They were able to experiment with mixing colors that way.  And no one could complain that someone else got blue into the yellow they needed.  They have to be responsible with their own colors.

4. Use a variety of paints based on skill level.

Jayme, Jeffrey, Sydney and Ellie used acrylic paint and had a blast.  They know how to paint without making a huge mess, and are pretty independent in their artwork.  I had to talk to Sydney about keeping it on the paper, but she really did well for only two. 

Owen, on the other hand, eats paint.  I mixed cornstarch and water to a thick, goopy consistency.  Then I added just a couple drops of acrylic paint to get the color.  I didn't give him a brush.  He just used his fingers. 

5.  Know that messes happen.

He didn't end up quite as neat as he did when we started....

We don't paint everyday.  When we do paint, I just expect a mess.  That way I'm mentally prepared to clean a mess.  I don't do it on a day when we're rushing around.

6.  Cornstarch paint cleans up really easily!

Seriously.  I was a bit worried about the mess Owen was making.  He dumped it on his head.  He trickled it through his fingers, enjoying the texture.  And dripped it onto the floor. 

Me (well my hand) becoming less worried about the mess when I realize that I can pick up the cornstarch paint!

But...it hardens almost instantly.  I was able to SWEEP the paint mess up! Then just a quick spot mop to get the cornstarch powder off took care of everything.  A damp rag cleaned up Owen's head. 

So I really recommend this mixture if you are painting with really young kids, or any with special needs. 

And our chicken coop?  Yeah---I realized once we got all ready that I didn't have a paint tray.  So I picked one up this afternoon after taking Owen to the doctor to get his eye laceration from 10 days ago checked.  It healed nicely.

So tomorrow?  It'll be another painting day!

Any other painting tricks?

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Last Weekly Round Up of April!

Can you believe that it'll be May before next Saturday?  Crazy!

It's been a busy week.  We had special meetings at church each night from Monday-Friday. With Bryan driving out from Spokane, he made it home just in time to leave for church.  It was hectic, but worthwhile.

On Resurrection Sunday, I didn't take any pictures.  We ate with my mom, and I left my iPod at home.  She took some nice pictures of the kids though!  Maybe I'll have her send me one so I can update this post.  (Hi mom...hint....hint....).

Monday,  April 21

A snapshot of our new chicken coop and pig pen.  The coop now has a door on the hole that you see.  That's a storage area for me to keep bags of feed and scratch in. We are hoping to hear back on piglets this week, and get some growing. 

Tuesday, April 22

Jeffrey has really been into drawing lately.  He's showing off his picture.  Unfortunately he moved right as I snapped so his picture is blurry.  But he looks cute! 

Wednesday, April 23

My little girlies getting all spruced up for special meetings.  Of course Sydney only kept her rubber bands in as long as it took for me to take the picture.  We'll have to work on that! 

Thursday, April 24

As part of my focus verse for the year, I'm really trying to pay better attention to season changes and be prepared.   In that mindset, I ordered swimwear for the kids who needed it.  By ordering early, I made sure that it arrived in time for swimming and splashing in the creek all summer.  Owen looks handsome in his new swim shirt and shorts.  We're still waiting on Jayme's new suit.  We custom ordered one from Stitchin' Times, and it takes a bit longer than just generic ones of the shelf.  It should last a long time though! I ordered mine from them in 2008 and it still looks great!

Friday, April 25

Thanks to Jayme for taking this picture!  That's my hand you see.  Another new purchase for summer.  We ordered 12 silicone Popsicle molds. For their first use, I filled them up with yogurt based smoothies.  Simon approves!

Saturday, April 26

Ellie in the swing at the end of a long day.  It's been a busy day on the farm--fixing fence, moving cows, buying hardware for the chicken coop and working on the coop.  It was nice to relax this evening!

Hope your week was a good one!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Spring Weather

As the saying goes around here in the spring...

If you don't like the weather wait five minutes and it'll change.

That certainly held true today.

As I walked Bryan out this morning, it was snowing.

Later, we had rain.

For a while it was sunny.

And as a special surprise this afternoon, we got this...

Hail. With some beautiful blue skies in the  distance. 

Can you see the random large white things falling? Not the best pic, but gives you an idea.

Got to love spring weather! 

Is it this crazy where you are as well?

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Our Daily Egg Hunt

With free range chickens, daily egg hunts happen here at the farm. Unlike the plastic or colored variety Grandma hid for the little ones this past weekend, our egg hiders aren't obvious.

Nope. The hens select secluded places to create their nests and lay their eggs. And once we find them, they are most likely going to move to a new spot before laying again.

Just to keep us hunting you know.

When we find a nest, we float test all of the eggs. Sinking is good. Floating is bad. Wash up the good ones. Toss the bad.  Jeffrey has it figured out and loves hunting for nests and checking for floaters.

But every time we find one, I can't help but feel estatic for the completion of our new coop with an enclosed run. We have 18 hens. I get 5 eggs or so a day in the current coop. By my calculations, there are dozens and dozens of eggs all over the farm just waiting to be found.

Thankfully my husband has been hard at work on the new coop. It's getting closer to being done. Then I think I'll be amazed at how many eggs we have! And we won't even have to search for them. 

Our chickens will no longer be free range, but I think they'll enjoy their new coop. Bryan designed it and did a marvelous job! It has a removable panel to make cleaning easier, nice elevated built in nest boxes and storage for food. 

The kids get to help us prime and paint soon. They will love it! When it's all done, I will have to give a photo tour of it. 

Until then, we will continue to enjoy our daily egg hunts. I don't think the kids will complain! 

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Weekly Pic Round Up

Here we go...another week completed. 

Sunday, April 13

Our little Ellie turned 4.  Here she is blowing out candles on her birthday cake/cupcake castle.  What a sweetie!

Monday, April 14

Using the great directions and idea from this blog, we worked hard on creating a Resurrection Mountain and pipe cleaner people.   Owen enjoyed the pipe cleaners!  Unfortunately, our mountain caved in during the baking process, but we have been using it all week regardless.  We'll try again next year!

Tuesday, April 15

Sausage making.  I've never done this before, so was excited to try a new skill!  I used my parent's meat grinder, and some basic seasoning (salt, pepper, pepper flakes and a lot of sage) to flavor a ground up pork roast and pork steaks.  It tasted good!  But was too spicy for the kids.  Next time I'll cut the pepper flakes down even more.  1 Tablespoon was too much (the recipe called for 1.5, so I thought it'd be fine). 

Wednesday, April 16

Took pictures for my DVD purge blog post.  Yup--definitely time to do something about the clutter!
Thursday, April 17

Simon really enjoyed his egg yolk scramble. At least his lap did... Oh well.  The table, the baby and the floor all clean up.  The doggie likes helping with this  task!  

Friday, April 18

We took an adventure!  We packed up a small bag each full of essentials (books, paper, toys, snacks) and grabbed a blanket.  We headed out to the woods to find a clearing to set up our base camp.  Then I settled down there with Simon and Owen on the blanket, and everyone enjoyed a couple of hours in the woods.  We found rooms between trees, moved some fallen logs and ate some dirt.  Well...not everyone ate the dirt.  It was great--no distractions, no housework...just time with the kids.  I loved it!

Here, Jeffrey and Ellie were charging ahead to explore a new area.  

Saturday, April 19

Bryan just loves it when he arrives home from work to me saying that I think we would probably be heading to the hospital.  Well, no he actually doesn't love it.  But that was the scene he walked into on Friday night. 

Owen had a drop seizure onto the corner of our roll-top desk.  The desk IS stronger than Owen's eyelid, in case you were wondering. 

Thankfully there was no waiting at the ER, and they were able to glue it shut easily.  Now no bath for Owen for a few days.  That'll be the hardest part!

It looked pretty good when he woke up this morning.  He definitely has a black eye, and it's swollen, but the wound itself is staying closed.  We're praying that it heals well.  He has so many scars on his face from all of his falls, poor guy!

Dramatic ending to the week!  I'm looking forward to a wonderful Resurrection Sunday in the morning.  We start the day with a church brunch at 9.  Enjoy your day!

Friday, April 18, 2014

The Great DVD Purge

Kids are tough on DVDs.

Especially when they are super strong like Owen.  And can force open the movie cupboard and start trying to rip out the papers that tell about the DVD.

And in the process of getting the paper, he dumps the DVD out of the case.  And a DVD on the floor is super fun for Simon and Sydney. Thankfully those two aren't as stealthy about their fun.  And someone usually hears their giggles and gets the movie put away.  But, damage can happen quick.

Which means that we have a lot of scratched DVDs.  For some reason, I've been hanging onto them, hoping that one day they'll just magically play.  But I know they won't.  And my  repair attempts (polishing with banana, using Vaseline, just cleaning with window cleaner etc.) haven't worked on too many of them.

But now...Now I'm ready to let go.  It's time to get rid of DVDs. Except we decided we wanted even the good ones out of the living room...completely!

After doing some research, Bryan bought an Apple TV unit.  And we've been converting all of our DVDs to digital format using DVDFab.  Then we put them into our iTunes library, and can select them all to play on the TV. 

If they are too scratched to convert correctly, I am tossing them.  That's where the purging part comes in.  Getting rid of stuff is such a freeing feeling!  Makes me want to get rid of more stuff. 

We have the majority of our playable DVDs copied over.  Once they are on the network, we take the DVD and are storing it in the basement.  That way they won't continue to get destroyed.  Out of sight, out of mind.

As new DVDs come in, we'll convert them immediately and bring them downstairs.  No more scratches!

And we'll soon be getting the cupboard that held the DVDs out of the living room.  Which is good.  The top of it has been an easy place to put things, so it keeps being a clutter catcher.  So the living room will just look neater without that.  And it'll be even more Owen proof.  Which is good! 

Our current movie cupboard.  Note the flat surface on top that gathers stuff.

A bonus?  Owen is able to really easily pick movies on his iPad now.  Because in order to keep things neat on the Apple TV, we downloaded a picture of the movie case and assigned it to each movie.  So now on the iPad (and everything else connected), the movies show up as pictures of the movies.

See--his movie choices actually look like the cover of the movie.  Very nice!

Owen's favorites?  Wreck-It Ralph, Toy Story and Lady and the Tramp.  Never would have guessed that last one.  I don't think I ever selected it as a movie for him to watch before.  I guess it shouldn't surprise me--he loves dogs.  He's picked each of those for his bedtime movie several times now, so I know it's not just an accident.  He knows which ones he likes.  And works hard on scrolling through to find them.  

It's great when he is able to communicate just a bit, and we can get a glimpse into Owen.  I know the iPad holds great potential for opening up this door.  We just need to keep practicing in fun ways, so he gets better at finger isolation and selecting what he actually wants.

Now I just need a way to convert our VHS tapes to digital.  Any ideas? 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Rain in the Spring = Freezer Filling Day!

Spring is busy around the farm.  There are fences to repair and new fences to build.  There are pens to build, and pigs to purchase.  There are baby chickens to order, receive and take care of.  Don't forget about firewood.  That's essential!

With so much on the to do list, when it rains, it kind of puts a damper in the outdoor plans.  What's a gal to do?

Enjoy a day inside with the kids and get ahead in the kitchen.  Yesterday, we baked three batches of cookies, and froze two dozen of each kind. 

I've been stuck in a cookie rut lately and only making oatmeal and chocolate chip.  While we do really like those kinds, branching out is nice.  We tackled molasses, snickerdoodles and peanut butter.  And we used whole wheat flour in them all to make them a bit healthier.  

It's so nice to know that there are cookies waiting to be baked.  When life gets even busier, having the freezer stocked is helpful. 

Molasses cookies!

Jeffrey and Ellie rolling our snickerdoodles in a cinnamon sugar mixture and putting them in freezer bags. 

 Of course cookies weren't the only thing we did to stock our freezer.  Since the oven was going, I threw in several large potatoes.  When they were cooked, I grated them and put them on a freezer paper lined cookie sheet.  A quick trip to the freezer had them flash frozen.  Then we filled quart sized freezer bags.

Frozen hashbrowns ready to go! Great for breakfast casseroles, burritos and just plain ol' hashbrowns. 

Our hashbrowns getting frozen.
 We also made three loaves of oatmeal bread.  It's one of my favorite breads. I first learned about it in the Janette Oke books about Virginia.  Her best friend Jenny really likes oatmeal bread.  I used Google and found a really easy recipe on a survival forum of all places, and we've been enjoying it for a few years now. 

Mutti's Oatmeal Bread...delicious with jam!

By slicing one loaf up hot with butter and jam to accompany lunch, we were able to stick two loaves in the freezer. 

We also made a gallon each of yogurt and cottage cheese. Those won't go in the freezer though--just the fridge for eating the rest of the week.

Wow--it was a really productive day!  And when we were done, we had to clean the kitchen, so it looks really good now. 

And throughout all our work, we enjoyed the pitter-patter sound of the rain on the metal roof.  And the beautiful smell that comes here when it rains. Rain and a pine forest are a wonderful mix for the nose.

When it was time for quiet time in the afternoon, I noticed something wonderful.  The rain had stopped.  And so I went outside and built a new fence.  And got the cows moved to a new section of pasture. 

What a blessing--a productively fun kitchen day with the kids, and an accomplishment on the farming front.  Yeah!

It's raining again today.  But today is a play day instead of freezer filling day.  There's a time for work, and a time for play.

 We have big plans to play super hero and house.  We'll actually probably combine them.  And play super hero house.  Either way, it'll be fun! 

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Weekly Pic Round Up

It's Saturday again.

Well, I guess at this point, it's been Saturday all day.  And now it's almost Sunday.

Either way...it's time to share weekly pictures again.

Sunday, April 6

I love comparing egg sizes with the little ones.  It makes a perfect real world quick math lesson.  Check out our small, medium and large eggs.  No matter the size, they sure taste delicious!

 Monday, April 7

Ellie looking after Simon while we were working in the field, trying to get the pasture ready for our cows.  She sure loves her brother! And yes...in case you noticed, those are mismatched socks on Simon.  Owen particularly likes to chew on and eat baby socks, so finding a matching pair can be a challenge!

Tuesday, April 8

My mom brought home some wonderful treasures for us from my lovely Aunt Gerri.  One of the items was an old typewriter.  Here my little author was trying it out.  We also received an electric typewriter, so Jayme has been enjoying comparing and contrasting the two typewriters and the computer. 

 Wednesday, April 9

Another treasure from my aunt.  This one has already gotten a lot of use.  It's an amazing pasta maker.  You put the flour in the mixer bowl, and turn it on.  As it mixes, you slowly add an egg, water and oil mixture.  Then after it's all combined, you turn the machine to extrude and pasta comes out.  Fresh pasta in minutes--fabulous!  They are so delicious.  And it makes bagels, cookies (both of which we've tried) and pretzels.  Looking forward to many more experiments with this.  Sydney absolutely loves helping.  Here, she was helping to pinch the macaroni off to size.

As a side note about this picture, that jar with the purple cloth on top is my sourdough starter.  I've finally gotten into a sourdough groove, and we've really been enjoying the bread.  I make a loaf several times a week, and Jayme is starting to mix it up for me.  It's super simple and a great first bread!

 Thursday, April 10

A blurry picture that captures our picnic at the cedars after a long day of work.  We finally finished the fence and got the cows out to pasture.  The deer really made quick work of our fence over the winter, and all of the electric portion had to be untangled and restrung.  And I added more to try and subdivide it better.  Lots of work.

We enjoyed the picnic supper with Grandma and Grandpa.  A big thanks to my sister Mindy and her husband Drew for the picnic basket that makes the picnics more enjoyable! It's sitting next to Sydney on the bench--you can barely see it. 

I'm super thankful that we live on Grouse Creek, with wonderful picnic spots like this one.  We don't have to go anywhere for relaxation and entertainment.  It's all right here! 

Friday, April 12

An unfortunate accident.  Sydney knocked the lid to my cookie jar canister off the counter as she was climbing up on a stool to help me cook.  I was really trying to figure out how to make it work without a lid, but today (Saturday), I accidentally dropped a mug on the canister itself as I was putting cups away, and broke it too.  

So I pulled out a large plastic canister and called it good as my new cookie jar.  Problem solved!

We go through a lot of cookies.  The ones in the background are chocolate chip.  And they are delicious!

Saturday, April 12

Another hard working day on the farm.  When Daddy is home, we really are able to get a lot done.  We finished the pig pen, and got a great start on the chicken coop.  Here, Bryan is teaching Jeff and Ellie about using a chalk line for straight lines.  

They got to hammer in nails all over the floor on the chalk lines Daddy made.  He got the nails started for them, and they went to town.  They had so much fun! 

In the background you can see the new pig pen.  Sydney was having a blast playing inside of it.

There you go...some events from our week captured in pictures.  Looking forward to sharing pictures of the finished chicken coop next Saturday!

Friday, April 11, 2014

My Clothesline Personal Challenge

The element in our dryer broke a week ago.  Again.  We just switched it out two years ago.  So we ordered the part.  And are waiting until the 15th when it arrives to have a working dryer again.

We are blessed and have a dryer we can borrow right across the road (thanks Mom!).  And I took advantage of that this past weekend.

 Then Bryan and I started looking at the weather forecast. It's supposed to be in the 60s and 70s for the next several days.  No rain.

And I looked outside at the clothesline that never gets used (except for picnic forts!).

And I decided that I rely WAY too much on electricity to dry my clothes.  With all the laundry we do, it's no wonder our dryer is falling to pieces. 

I got to thinking.  With the beautiful sunshine that God is shining down on us, why am I lugging laundry across the road to dry in an electric dryer?

Since I was going shopping and could pick up clothespins, I decided to give myself a challenge.  To not use any dryer, at least until our part arrives.  But I'm hoping that once I get in the groove, I can continue throughout the summer.

Ahh. The sight of laundry drying in the sunshine.

I'm now a few days into the challenge.  Here's what I am enjoying:

*The smell of sunshine on our clothing.  WAY better than any fabric softener smell or anything.

*Clothes don't get wrinkly if I leave them too long, like they do in the dryer.

*Our socks are winding up easier to match.  Before, we'd have one in one load and put it away in our mismatched sock tub.  Then the next one would come out a few loads later and it too would go to the tub.  Without getting matched. Now I can see both socks on the line, and match them.

*Sorting laundry for putting away is simple.  Take all the girl clothes off.  Take all the boy clothes off.  Take all the parent clothes off.  Take all the bathroom towels.  Take all the kitchen towels.  Put each into a separate basket and put away.  Done. 

*No lint trap to clean.  You know that lint is made up of clothing?  Kind of makes you wonder....

*No electricity.  At 3-5 loads a day, that's huge!

But of course it's not all wonderful.  Here are some areas I'm struggling with:

*Owen pulling clothes off the line. Seriously.  He thinks they are dangling there just for him!

*Running out of clothespins, and my pins breaking.  Guess that's what I get for buying the Dollar Tree variety.  I've had seven clothespins break apart since Monday.  Bryan is going to stop and buy some different ones for me tonight, thankfully! 

*Actually hanging the stuff.  It's a challenge for me to figure out which way to hang things, and how to best utilize my space.  Especially if I have larger items like bedding. 

*Embarrassment about certain undergarments hanging.  We do live right on the county road.  Which gets way more traffic than it used to.  I'm working around this one by using the middle lines for those articles and putting larger things on the outside around them, but it's still a personal struggle for me. 

*The towels are rough.  

*It's different.  I'm kind of a creature of habit.  This is different.  It's much easier to simply shove clothes into the dryer and turn it on.  This forces me to do something else.  It doesn't actually take that much time, it's just trying to get into a new routine.

But, despite my struggles, I'm enjoying the challenge.  I think I'll continue it as long as the weather allows.   However, I think I will start fluffing the towels eventually. Unless I get used to rough ones by then.  Which I don't think I will!

Any tips for a clothesline newbie?

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

An Award: AKA Random Facts About Me

Random Facts about Me

I was recently nominated for a Liebster Award by another blogger.  I have to admit...I had no idea what in the world this was.  But I was super excited to get nominated for an award.  Especially as I learned more about it.

This award is a fun way to recognize up and coming bloggers and share some blogging love.  It's focus is on smaller blogs, which is awesome. You also get to learn more about me!

Be sure to visit the blogger who nominated me at Lady Lee's Home.

Here is how it works…these rules aren't quite the ones that were passed onto me, but after doing some searching, I found lots of different sets of rules.  So these are the ones I'll go with.  They were found here.

  1. Acknowledge the nominating blogger
  2. Answer 11 questions the nominating blogger has created for you
  3. List 11 random facts about yourself
  4. List some bloggers with fewer than 200 followers that you really feel deserve a little blogging love!
  5. Let all of the bloggers know you have nominated them.  You cannot nominate the blogger that nominated you!
  6. Post 11 questions for the bloggers you have nominated to answer

So without further ado, here are my answers to the questions that Lady Lee asked me.

1. If I gave you a $1000 to spend on yourself only, what will you spend it on?

This is a really hard one.  I don't like spending money on myself.  I'd much rather buy something fun for the kids or my hubby.  But...after giving it some thought, I think I'd spend the money on electric fencing supplies so I can properly rotational graze our cows.  And since that wouldn't take the whole $1000, I'd buy lumber for a really neat chicken coop.

(Does spending the money on the animals count as spending it on myself?  I really like the animals...and it'd make my life easier.  So I'll answer my own question with a YES!)

Besides, there would be just enough money left after both of those purchases that I could pick up a couple of new skirts from New Creation Apparel. They have beautiful skirts, excellent customer service and are located in Washington, just like me!   So easier animal maintenance and cute skirts?  Yup--it's a winning plan!

2. What is your favorite book?

 So many choices...I can't answer in a single sentence. 

Favorite overall would have to be the Bible.  I try to read it daily and the Lord has taught me so much through it.

 Other Favorite: Family Friendly Farming by Joel Salatin.  I've learned SO much from his books.  This one sums it all up nicely.

3. What is your favorite childhood memory and why?

Playing crazy imaginary games on the swing set with my older sister Mindy.  We had such fun.  We each had an invisible mouse.   We blasted off into outer space.  We conquered the wild west.  We pretty much did it all.  Because we were just that awesome! 

4. List one vegetable you can’t live without.

 Carrots.  Raw.  Cooked.  In stuff. Yum!

5. What is your favorite time of the day?

I love the early mornings.  

6. Do you live close to your parents?

Um...do you consider right across the road to be close?  If so...yes.  To my mom and step-dad.

 My dad lives about twenty minutes away.  

We are pretty close to my husband's mom too.  She lives about thirty miles away.

His dad...not so much.  He's in Lubbock, TX. We wish we could see him more!

7. If you could go back to college, what will you choose to learn?

I'd become an SLP (Speech Language Pathologist) and learn all about Speech and Augmentative Communication.  It's the biggest area I really wish I knew more about when teaching Owen. 

8. What is your favorite movie?

Hmmm...right now, I'm thinking The Hunger Games.  It's about the only movie lately that I've stayed awake for...and it got me to read the books which were really thought provoking. 

9. What is your favorite season?

Spring.  The earth just seems so alive after winter.  It's beautiful!  

10. List one important thing you learned from your parents.

To persevere. 

11. If you had to choose between the ocean or the mountains, where will you live?

Note the mountains (well hills) in the background...we are surrounded by them.  See the trees? Now pay attention to the lack of salty water.  Yup--a great place to live! Thanks to my Bryan for the lovely pic!

Mountains any day.  I love them.  And the trees.  Sand?  Salty water? Good for a quick vacation, but definitely wouldn't want to live there.  

11 Random Facts About Me...in no particular order

1. I share a birthday with my Aunt Gerri.  She's pretty special, and I've always loved the fact that we share this day in January.

2.  I have a mild lisp.  I can usually hide it, but when I'm tired, it's definitely there.  Guess what?  With a child with a pervasive sleep disorder and a nursing baby, I'm pretty much always tired at this stage of my life.  Trying to learn not to hate the lisp so much...but I really notice it when I'm reading aloud to the kids.
3. I really like animals.  And want to create environments where they can be happy and productive.  Watching the chickens scratch around for a bug, and seeing the cows kicking up their heels in the field is really relaxing for me.  

4.    I really don't like big cities.  We lived in San Diego for six months (well Imperial Beach) while Bryan was stationed there.  My sisters both grew up and left for the other (much more populated) side of the state.  Me?  We moved back here when it was possible.  Gladly.  I love the slow pace of life on the farm, and really enjoy days when we don't have to go anywhere.

5.I like drinking out of mason jars.  Easy to keep track of how much I'm drinking.  Easy to hold onto.  The wide mouth quart ones are best for water!

6. I'm learning to make my own personal care products.  Yup--that means my toothpaste, deodorant, chapstick and lotion were made by me.  From mostly the same ingredients.   

7. I dream of creating a successful family business here at the farm.  One where our children can join us and someday hopefully take over.  Multi-generational businesses are so amazing to me. So I'll end this fact with a brainstorm question:  If you had a couple hundred beautiful acres to use but not much start up money, what would you do to generate income?

8.  Being with my kids makes me happy.  I miss them when they are visiting Grandma or somewhere else.  I love working with them.  Playing with them.  Reading with them.  Schooling them.  They are a large part of my life, and I'm trying to remember to enjoy it now because they won't be little forever.

9.  I'm not musical.  At all.  I took a piano class in college and my teacher told me I have no rhythm. It's true! But I love to sing.  And I teach the kids a hymn a month.  Thankfully my husband is really blessed in this area and can teach the kids the correct tune.  The changing of tunes really doesn't seem to bother the kids much.

10.  Cooking is something I really enjoy.  I've simplified it for this stage of life, but every once in a while the desire to spend the day in the kitchen to create something wonderful hits and the kids and I get busy.  Potstickers...they're a favorite that fall under this category.  Homemade shells, homemade filling...lightly browned and steamed...yummy!

11.  I graduated from Walden University with my master's in Elementary Reading and Literacy.  With a 4.0.  And I regret it.  I enjoyed the teaching pay raise that went with it, but Bryan and I knew our desire was for me to be home.  Now we owe $35,000 on an education I'm not using.  And without it, we'd be completely debt free.  But that's okay.  Someday we'll get there. 

Blogs I Enjoy... And I Think You Will Too:

(I'm pretty sure I'm meeting the "Under 200 followers" rule....if not, I apologize in advance! I am just counting the followers listed, not Facebook "Likes" or other social media counts). I also made sure that these blogs didn't come back with a search result for "Leibster"...trying to spread the love with others who haven't already had it!

Some of these bloggers will have NO idea who I am...some I've interacted with before.  Regardless, I truly enjoy the following blogs...

1. Gentle Joy (Beautiful photography, and a fabulous chocolate chip cookie recipe...and more!)

2. Diamonds in the Rough  (I've gleaned some great practical homeschooling tips from this one!)
3. Trial and Error Home Ec (Some fabulous tips for housekeeping) 
4.  A Little Wife's Happy Life (Great posts on getting organized as a homemaker.)
5. Plain and Not So Plain (Amy's put out some wonderful series.  I've enjoyed her challenges for simpler living and her current one on losing weight.) 

11 Questions For The Bloggers Above:
1. What is your favorite sandwich?
2. What is one thing you hope to accomplish in the rest of 2014?
3.  What scent most makes you think of your childhood?
4. Where is your preferred locale--Rural, Suburban, Urban, Other?
5. What was your favorite blog post to write so far?
6. Are there any TV shows you can't miss?  If yes, which one(s)?
7. Why did you give your blog the title you did?
8. What genre of books do you most prefer?
9. Where is your dream vacation happening?
10.  Who most inspires you?
11. When do you prefer to write?

Now to go let the above bloggers know....

What fun!

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Pic Round Up

Yeah!  My iPod is taking decent pictures, and I have some from this week to share.  I'm trying hard to capture the little moments and not wait until a picture perfect moment to snap.  After going for too long without pictures, I know that those portrait moments don't happen too often!

Some glimpses into our week...

Sunday, March 31

A picture I snapped this morning of the tire present we're making for Ellie.  It still needs a paint job.  It was a long week! 

Monday, March 31st

Spring cleaning at the farm includes getting our chimney cleaned.  Consider this my public service announcement reminder if you have a stove...annual cleanings are a good thing.  Especially if you live in pine country and get a lot of creosote.  I thought the stove with the pipe missing was neat.

Tuesday, April 1st

Look at this amazing Tom Turkey. He was strutting his stuff for the ladies down the road.  We had a good time watching him.  I love that nature provides so much entertainment around here!

 Wednesday, April 2nd

We had an impromptu picnic under a fort made from blankets on the clothesline.  It was really fun.  Ellie's lunch choice (crackers, meat and cheese) makes an easy to move meal.  We actually were out of cheese this time, so we added a jar of homemade pickles that my mom made last fall, and some stuffed celery.  Yum! Clean up was so simple.  Shake everything off and watch the chickens scramble over.

The grass was really cold, so we brought a bunch of blankets and pillows to sit on.  One side effect I didn't foresee....Owen turned his juice box into a squirt gun.  And I had a fort-full of laundry to wash.  Oops!

Thursday, April 3rd

Blueberry Maggie's Milk.  Yummy!

Friday, April 4th

We are on phase one of pasture restoration here at the farm.  That means we're going through and taking the stuff out of the field.  We separated into three piles--metal, trash and wood (a post next week on what I found...it was neat!).  After working hard, we needed to play.

Using rocks, we outlined a castle making use of the old manure tank area that hasn't been used in a couple of decades.  We hid a special rock tied with bailing twine and separated into teams.  The goal was for one team to storm the castle and steal the rock.  The other team was castle guards.  It was fun!

Saturday, April 5th

Cinders catching some sunlight rays.  He's a cutie!  And loving us working in the field.  He can run around like a crazy puppy, and when he's in the house he's much more willing to play nicely.

It was a good week!  We have plans for more outside work and play next week.  I love spring!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Sit...Good Boy...I Mean Girl!

We took Cinders through six weeks of basic obedience classes.  The kids enjoy practicing with him. Sit.  Yes.  Good boy.

Stay.  Yes. 

Down.  Yes.

Good boy!

This morning, Sydney left her vitamin on the table (it got hidden under the edge).  When clearing the table, Ellie found it and offered to bring it to her. 

I had to chuckle at the exchange that occurred.

Ellie held the vitamin up in the air above Sydney's head.  She said, "Sit!"

Sydney obeyed. 

Ellie replied, "Yes, good boy." 

Then she looked puzzled.  "I mean good girl." 


Well, Sydney did obey.  Perhaps this training technique works as well on little girls as it does on little dogs.

Life is never dull!

Sit..Yes!  Good boy.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

When Your Child Suffers

Owen's seizures are back.  We've been working with the neurologist, and are currently increasing the dosage of Onfi--an anti-epileptic drug that he takes.  If the increase doesn't work, we'll be back to trialing different drugs looking for the combination that works best.  In the meantime, Owen is having several seizures a day, sometimes falling and hurting himself because of them.

He is extremely tired, thanks to the Onfi.  I don't mind him being tired at night (actually I prefer it!), but during the day, it's hard to see him so worn out.  With all of the seizures and his other medical problems, Owen has endured much pain in his short life.

Not the most recent picture, but an example of the type of injury Owen's drop seizures can bring.  This one was from the coffee table...

As a parent, it's really hard to see my little boy suffering so much.  In fact, if it weren't for my belief in the Lord and the strength He provides, I don't think I would be able to be even partially sane any more.  So how do I cope when Owen suffers?  Here are five things that keep me going...

1.  Pray

The Lord is the master physician and the great healer.  I know that He CAN heal Owen, or at least ease his pain.  I pray for the doctors to have wisdom.  I pray for Bryan and I to have wisdom.  Owen's pain can be such a mystery at times, it's hard to always know when to go get him checked out and when it's just typical childhood pain like teething (despite his high pain tolerance, Owen is extremely sensitive in the mouth).

I know that the Lord is in control, and can trust in His timing.  But giving my cares to the Lord helps tremendously to be able to function when there is suffering. 

2.  Know that the Lord doesn't make mistakes

This is a big one.  We know that Owen is here for a reason.  We've learned so much because of him.  Our faith has grown stronger.  Our marriage has been strongly forged.  Our kids have learned to be patient and understanding.  Owen is a blessing.  And we love him.

We often sing the hymn, "Rejoice in the Lord" by Ron Hamilton.  It was one of the first hymns we memorized when we started learning them.  The first line has kept our family going many times: "God never moves without purpose or plan..."

We know that God has a plan for everyone.  Including Owen.  God knows what He is doing.  And we can trust what the Bible says in Romans.  Everything will work out for our good.  Maybe we'll be able to comfort another parent someday. Maybe we'll be able to witness to a doctor and show him/her the life changing power of Jesus Christ.  We don't know.  But we trust in the fact that God doesn't make mistakes.

Someday Owen will be called home to glory where he'll receive eternal rest.  Until then, he is here for God's perfect purpose.  

3.  Offering Comfort

Often there is nothing I can actually to help Owen.  When Owen seizes, we just have to stand back and watch it happen.  Of course we make sure the area is as clear as possible, and administer his emergency med if it occurs for a long period of time.  But, afterwards, we can scoop Owen up and snuggle.  We can fold out the couch bed and watch a movie (one of his favorite activities).  We can bandage any wounds he got from falling, and seek any attention he might need.  But mostly we just spend time with him.

It doesn't feel like much, but I know that it is helping.  He is much calmer when he's surrounded by those he loves.  On bad days for Owen, our schedule often goes out the window.  We do the bare minimum to survive, and work on building fun family memories of togetherness.    Owen knowing that he is loved is much more important than a clean floor.

Owen loves water.  A warm bath can bring him much comfort.  As can playing familiar games on his iPad.  It's important to know what you child enjoys so you can help take their mind off of the troubles.   The iPad has been especially useful in the hospital setting when there's not much to do.  It's helped Owen through EEG prep (lots of wires on the head), and x-ray prep. 

4.  Remember to take care of yourself

In order to help your child, you have to remember to eat and sleep.  You are no good to anyone if you are harming yourself by not taking care of your most basic needs.  Nap together.  Take shifts with your spouse or other friend/family member.  Have a nurse sit with your child while you run to the cafeteria.   A long shower can sometimes make all the difference in the world when it comes to outlook on life.  You might need to be creative, but do what you can to make it happen!

5.  Focus on the positive & Create positive moments

If I only think about what is happening with Owen, it can be overwhelming.  I try to stay positive and upbeat--if not for myself than for the other children.  Having a sibling going through trials must be hard, so I remind myself that they are also struggling.  We spend time together counting our blessings.

Take a few minutes to watch the sunrise (or set).  Smell the flowers.  Make cookies.  Give or receive a warm hug. The small, positive moments help everyone.  Bring as many as you can into life. 

Watching your child suffer is perhaps one of the hardest things we'll ever have to endure as parents.  What strategies help you get through the rough times?