Saturday, February 28, 2009


I finally hooked my camera up to it's little recharge-dock, and actually pushed the transfer button, and uploaded nearly 300 photos.  Apparently I haven't done this since sometime in late October.  My oh my.  Makes me hungry for another Thanksgiving dinner.  It was like the winter in review, knitting projects and smiling kids, and evidence of their existence:

Little Artist was a butter fiend too, and looks like Organique is following in her footsteps...

Friday, February 27, 2009

Note To Telemarketers...

This household is NOT the household to call and pitch your 'economic stimulus', government-subsidized, taxpayer-funded scheme to replace my windows with more efficient ones.

As "Nancy" I'm sure could tell you, I find it morally reprehensible to ask my neighbors (or anyone else) to replace my windows (or anything else) while I'm paying for cell phones, Netflix, satellite radio, registration and insurance on a car, a truck, and a motorcycle, and high-speed internet.

And while we're at it, does anyone have any sense of self-responsibility at all?

Thank you.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

What I Want..

I think I mentioned we were thinking about upgrading our vehicle.  We're not exactly ready to go shopping or anything, but this is the vehicle I want.  It's a 2005 Toyota Sienna.  Do I feel bad about buying wanting a foreign car in this economy?  Not with the way the UAW is acting.  I'm guessing they're already getting a share of my $$ (and my kids' $$, and my grandkids' $$...).  

Why this one?  Well, this and the Honda Odyssey have long been the front-runners in this category for many reasons, but my perusal of Consumer Reports' buying guide clinched it, as did the following option:

This is a view of the optional middle-bench available, making it an 8-passenger total vehicle.  See the little runners on the floor in front of the skinny middle seat?  You can scoot that seat far forward.  They advertise that as handy to put an infant carrier in (and therefore nearer to mama, blah blah blah).  *I* see it as a fantastic solution to whichever child is in need of the most discipline on a long road trip. :)  Ok, I'm mostly kidding.

No, we don't hate our Camry.  In fact, we're going to greatly miss Mary Jane, but my kids just keep on growing, and as big as the trunk is, I'd rather not haul the Green Monster for visits to the grandparents.  As easy as it would be to run out and grab the first roomier vehicle we come across, we're waiting on God to work out the details and lead us to the right vehicle (and boy, we *hope* this is the kind!) in His timing.

Monday, February 23, 2009


I ran across a series of blogposts lately, and was completely enthralled.  If you've ever given birth, plan to give birth, or were given birth to, I encourage you to read these.  The author (Gombojav Tribe) has had six children, and is a childbirth educator and doula, so she knows what she's talking about.  Check it out:

What do you think?

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Systemic Bailout

Spunky Homeschool has an interesting post that quotes from another (very good) commentary, but she goes on to point out that:

One of the biggest entitlements ever put forth by the government is compulsory public education. ... the vast majority of Americans rely on the state to educate their offspring.

And what else is that but a reliance on government entitlements, benefits, bailouts, if you will...  It's brief, but well worth the read.

Thursday, February 19, 2009


I've been remiss on not tending to this, and it's a little awkward too, I guess...

While I was out of town, two lovely blogs granted me this "award" - which I REALLY don't deserve, especially considering their blogs are far 'lovelier' than mine, but I promised I'd acknowledge it when I got back home (which I did) and life smoothed out (which it never will :)).

So, thank you SO MUCH Benny and Meghann for your kind thoughtfulness (way back in January).

I'm supposed to pass this award on to three (or five?) blogs, and while I don't for a minute expect some of these bloggers to 'notice' such a thing here (and no, I'm not going to go tell them about it, either), do check them out.

Annie @ Brighter than Sunshine - ok, she might notice. :)  Expecting her second baby, she lives where it's WARM.  Therefore, lovely.

MamaJ @ Faithfully Following - ALSO living where it's generally warm, she has two active boys, an angelic baby girl, and is another blog "friend" of mine.

Truly one of the loveliest blogs I visit - though she's anything but a frequent poster - Jewels @ Eyes of Wonder always leaves me in tears (in a good way) and inspired to be better, gentler, kinder, and closer to Christ. Even reading her archives is a balm.  If you haven't visited there, please do.

Another lovely stopping place is Pleasant View Schoolhouse.  Anna takes lovely pictures, sews, and raises her family in - you guessed it - an old schoolhouse.

Lindsay @ Passionate Homemaking - the blogger I wish I was, nearly!  Mama to a darling little girl (and another baby due next month), she blogs on many worthwhile subjects, including Nourishing Traditions style recipes, natural living, ministering through the home, and much more.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Square Foot Miracles?

I've been reading "The All New" Square Foot Gardening.  Have you heard of it?  It's really quite fantastic, and I'm not sure I believe it all.  In fact, the author says that total beginning gardeners embrace his ideas/methods quickly, and it's the experienced gardeners who shake their heads.  I don't necessarily think of myself as an "experienced" gardener, but there are definitely some things that I'm having a hard time swallowing.  However, I'm open to convincing.  In fact, he has been tweaking and refining this gardening technique for some 30 years, so it can't be all fluff.

The gist of it is to build raised beds - 6" high - and NOT use your own dirt (which is full of weed seeds, or, if your dirt is like mine, consists entirely of weed seeds), but his special formula of peat moss, vermiculite and compost.  The beds should be 4' x 4' (or longer, but no wider than 4'), and gridded off into individual 12" squares with lath or something.  Into each 'square foot' you plant.  One plant/seed for things like cabbage, 4 for smaller things like lettuce, 9 spinach or equivalent, and 16 radishes, carrots, etc.  I've yet to get to the chapter where he explains how 6" depth will grow a 12" carrot (or perhaps you build a deeper box).  I'm reading about how to build the just-right trellis for vining crops like tomatoes, even squash or melons (he claims to have grown a 35 lb pumpkin 8 feet in the air).

The obvious advantages:  Easier.  He says 80% of a typical row-garden isn't used for actual food-raising, but for paths and spacing, etc.  You till up that 80%, but then you mash it back down, and grow weeds there instead.  There should be "no weeds" in your SFG, and what does blow in and sprout are easily spotted and removed.  You can grow more, because it's 'easy' to replant a square when you harvest it's contents.

Not so sure about: He writes for the family who wants to supplement their table for a few months.  Not so much for someone who likes to fill the freezer with tomatoes.  He recommends removing weeds/grass and laying down weed mat (not plastic) on which you build your box, but he has obviously never met my Evil Morning Glory.  I'm toying with an idea he recommends to deal with gophers; give the 'box' a plywood floor, and set it up on cinder blocks or whatever.  Hehe, that oughta stave off the Evil Weed...  And make for an interesting view.  I'm eager to read about how to plant carrots or potatoes or other typically 'deep' growing crops.

All in all, while I might not typically risk it, I might just do so this year.  Our tax return is expected within a week or two, and if the other looming expenses can be ironed out, I might try to find room for appropriate materials to build a couple-few of these.

Also, the method has a website, if you'd like to see some examples...

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


I think I have a sinus headache.  I'm not sure, though.  Yesterday, I noticed when I bent over, the low, center of my forehead ached.  It ached and throbbed when I touched it, too.  Today it has migrated an inch or two to the right, over my right eye.  I've had some congestion and whatnot, but I can still breathe fine.  It hurts worse today, though.  Is it just 'pressure' and 'congestion'?  Could it be a sinus infection?  I don't have a fever or green snot, or anything, so I don't imagine it would be.  But wow, it hurts.

The other night Hubby informed me that he thought our chest freezer was having problems.  Something on the top wasn't really frozen completely.  I told him the problem was that he stacked so much stuff on it (and I could never gain access) that he probably busted the seal out.  It's an OLD freezer, one that we traded our tiny 5 cubic foot freezer for (this one is around 22 cf), and is jam packed with beef, corn, tomatoes, peaches, all that stuff I blogged about 6 months ago.  He worked yesterday, but still thought there was a problem last night.  Today he unloaded it all into a pile on the floor of the garage, and removed it from it's cubby-hole.  He found a wire from (or to?) the thermostat that had come loose and arced and toasted itself pretty well.  He thought maybe he could fix that, or bypass something, but when he tried, he couldn't get the compressor to work.

So now, as we begin to shopping for a different vehicle, AND he's unemployed (mostly. STILL), AND America's politicians want to mess our economy up even more, we get to spend $6-700 on another freezer.  I'm sorry.  My headache makes me whiny  (and apparently keeps me from accepting responsibility for my poor attitude).

The good news:  After MUCH researching for the right size, brand, manufacturer, price, I was *finally* able to find one available in Town that doesn't require shipping "from the warehouse" (several hundred miles away).

Also good news: I'll be able to cash in on an idea I got while skimming Root Cellaring...  They discuss burying a refrigerator (sideways, door 'up' and after removing the compressor and whatnot) in the ground for use as a root cellar.  If we can find a place deep enough (before hitting rock) to do that, it sounds like an easy way to store all the garden produce I probably won't produce this year.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

More On Mercury, HFCS

Here's another link to information on mercury-in-your-Coca-Cola.  This article makes it a little easier to understand how it happens - but no easier to understand why consumers trust the FDA about anything!  I mean really, "aspartame is fine, stevia is too unknown.  Raw milk will kill you, pasteurized/homogenized is good.  GMOs and clones are tasty."  I'm about ready to live and eat exactly the opposite as I'm told to by my "benevolent," Mother-Government-knows-best media.  Good grief.

Monday, February 09, 2009

New(ish) Sewing Machine!

One night at my folks', my cousin brought her fancy sewing machine over to hem some work overalls for a friend.  I admired the fancy, computerized Pfaff machine, and she said she'd gotten it from our Granny.  Apparently Granny had bought it and was too overwhelmed by the technology to actually put it to proper use.  So she gave it to my cousin.  Actually, the story is longer, and involves a new Singer sewing machine (which my mom ended up with) and something about my aunt, and entails many purchases of machines (by Granny) and something like 'musical sewing machines' what with all the giving/trading being done.  I lamented that Granny never gave *me* a sewing machine, and my cousin suggested I ask her for her old one (which is the one she attempted to replace a time or two, and eventually reclaimed as her standard), which is like her, but not at all like me, and I said I wouldn't do that.  It's not like I'm completely sewing-machine-less.  I just lack a nice one, which zig-zags, and whose bobbin does not eat the top thread when it gets the idea.

The next day I was visiting Granny at the nursing home, and she asks me, "Do you have a nice sewing machine?"  Actually, she might've asked if it was 'new' or something, because I replied, "well, no.  I have a sewing machine which is older than me and eats thread sometimes, and I have a very old one which sews a nice straight stitch, but won't zigzag or anything."  She says,
 "Would you like my sewing machine?"  I couldn't believe it.  I answered affirmatively, and thanked her (and thanked her) and said I would love it.

It turns out it is the one she used to sew a few things for me when I was young.  You see, it makes letters, and little rows of tulips and such.  She made me a dress with tucks or something in the bodice, and she put little tulips across the tucks.  I loved it.  That you couldn't see the white-threaded tulips on the white-and-pink print without a magnifying glass was of no consequence.  I just felt so special.  And I thought it was the most amazing machine, ever.

Apparently, it kindof is.  It was one of the first (the first, perhaps?) computerized sewing machines.  It's a New Home (Janome) Memory Craft 6000 (the photo is one I swiped from the net, not a picture of mine), made in the neighborhood of 1986, I believe.

Some years back, Granny left a task lamp too close to the buttons on the right, and the surrounding plastic panel warped a bit.  The horizontal stitch selector high on the front suffered similar fate, and the little hide-and-show windows were warped and off kilter, leaving me unable to see the scripty letters, or even the alligator.  So, I removed them, and while I have to use my brain to figure out which 'mode' to select for which stitch, at least I can see them and choose.

I've tried it out just a bit - my alligator has some issues, but the tulips come out beautifully!  More importantly, it seems to stitch smoothly and fabulously, and I'm beyond thrilled.  It even came with a darning foot (free-motion quilting!) and most of the fancy feet attachments sit right in their own little niche under the top lid.  *sigh*

Too, my girls play with a "dolly sleeping bag" my (step)mom made for me ages ago.  She must've borrowed Granny's machine to sew it, because she 'embroidered' my name along the corner of it.  Big Sister noticed this a while back, and asked if I could do that to something for her.  I told her I couldn't like that, because that was done with a fancy sewing machine that I didn't have.  Well, let's just say Big Sister is also thrilled about my machine. :)

Thank you Granny!

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Granny Trip Details

I don't think I've ever been gone from home and/or Hubby so long, nor missed my bed so badly. :)

The travel was a challenge, for sure.  On the way over, I hit a stretch of curvy, canyon road that was suffering from blowing snow, in a very bad way.  There were periods in which I could not even see the tall orange markers they attach to the roadside reflectors for the snowplows.  It scared me to death.  Like driving in that white realm in The Matrix.  Only there were unseen vehicles before and behind me (mostly 18-wheelers).  *shudder*  Shortly thereafter was the first mountain range to cross, which seemed a breeze after what had already transpired.  All trucks were required to use chains, and that kept the snow (that was not blowing) chewed-up and treadable.  And I could see.  My folks had mercy on me around that time, and set out in our direction in their Audi.  We met before I had to cross the second, larger, mountains, and I gratefully moved myself and 3 carseats into their car and let my mom chauffer us, whilst my dad took charge of Mary Jane (our Camry).  By that point I was aching and tired and drained and completely worn out.  When we flew by an overturned pickup in the dark, I was glad all over again to be a passenger for the last 4 hours (mostly -- when my fingernails weren't being bitten or sunk into the dash).

When I wasn't researching home-care details, or visiting Granny, I was chasing kids, of course.  It is always busy at my folks' home - my stepbrother and his two kids still live there, they run a business from their home and various people who work for the business are always dropping by for this or that, friends stop in, my cousin works in their office some mornings (and socializes there other times), and there is always a table full for dinner (at least, when we're there).  WOW, I miss that... Sometimes.  We cooked for upwards of 12 at times.  I made a great lasagna for my stepbrother's birthday dinner, and after my brother arrived, we got in touch with another cousin (from my real mom's/Gi-gi's side of the family - just happens to live in the same small area - let's call him Cousin E) and enjoyed hanging out with him as well.  Considering the 'general opinion' Gi-gi holds of my dad, I've totally enjoyed seeing this Cousin E meet and get to know my dad these past couple visits.  Certainly without that exposure, he'd have nothing more to go on than Gi-gi's claims (well, and my brother's and my rebuttals).  They get along fantastically, and Cousin E even brought over an arsenal to target-shoot with when my dad talked about shooting his black-powder pistol the next afternoon.  They, and my brother, enjoyed that. :)

The older girls spent one day - last Sunday - sick and in their PJs all day.  Now all of us have a cold, which seems to get worse if we don't sleep well, etc.  It's not terrible, just annoying.

Our trip home was a bit easier...  I broke it into two days, took a different (farther) route, and stayed a night with a dear friend whom I haven't seen in nearly 8 years (at her wedding, where I was 6 months pregnant with Big Sister).  She has a little boy 10 days older than Organique, and she and her husband were fantastic hosts to this travel-weary mama.  They even moved their little guy into their room and let us use their crib!  I really wish we might've stayed longer, but hopefully we can meet up again before another 8 years is up.

We took a 2-hour pit stop at Gi-gi's, ate dinner, bathed the girls and put them in pajamas, and washed a load of laundry.  Gi-gi had thought we were staying overnight, but there was no dissuading me from getting back to my home and hearth once I was so close!  We got in about 9:30 Friday night, and even with the many evidences of a man-alone-at-home-for-2-weeks, home looked pretty good. :)  

As If There Weren't Already Enough Reasons...

Apparently many products with high fructose corn syrup in them also test positive for mercury.  

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Visit To Granny

Our time with family out-of-state was very good.  Granny is improved, and, we hope, improving.  She is in a nursing home now, with hopes to return home when possible.  I spent a lot of time poring over a long-term-care insurance policy, deducing what might be covered were we to bring her home, what agencies could provide care, the process of setting that up, what specialized equipment we might need, what Medicare would pay for, etc. etc.  My brains began to leak out of my ears, but at least I was somewhat helpful.

It is hard to know the future.  She doesn't eat much, does her physical therapy/exercise sometimes, hurts a lot, has very limited use of her left side (she's had a dozen strokes).  But her mental faculties seem quite intact, when she DOES do her physical therapy, she improves a bit, and the antibiotics they are treating her with (for pneumonia) have given her more strength.  The doctor, et al, don't seem at all inclined to refer her for Hospice (which requires a 6-month life expectancy, and provides comfort care, but no curative or rehabilatative treatments), and we can't tell if they think she's fine, or are just loathe to lose all the $$$ available via insurance and her savings in the meantime.  I know.  I hardly trust the medical establishment.

For the first time in decades, all five of her grandchildren were in the same place at the same time.  One from Alaska, another Montana, another North Dakota, me-from-here, and one from down the hall (one cousin lives in her home).  And, until my brother's baby was born, four of those five grandkids were expecting babies at the same time!  I did not even know about that!  Much to live for, methinks.  Though perhaps it would serve as a hopeful, positive sunset of life, to know that your family lives on.  I do hope so.

My prayers are that she would be free from fear and anxiety, that the pain would be lessened, and that she would further embrace the love from God in these days.  Lord, give her caretakers and the near-family the grace to deal with this challenge.