Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Wow, A Smile!

I love this picture.  Crooked horizon and all.  Any time I point a camera his direction, he makes a bug-eyed look, or bares his fangs, or does something similarly freakish or scary.  He did the same this time, and I lowered the camera, and in my kindest, most pleading voice said, "please, can I just have a nice, warm smile?"

And he delivered.

Thanks honey. :)

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Monday, September 27, 2010

September Update

The coyotes haven't returned, that we can tell.  I'm hoping someone else killed them, though it would be nice to know for sure so that I could sleep with both eyes (and ears) closed.

I uprooted all my tomatoes on Saturday.  I've put up 26 quarts of tomatoes (paltry, I know), and a counter is full of still-ripening ones, but there are a lot more green ones on the vines.  I hope this will encourage them to ripen!  For once, the "Old German" tomatoes I put in are producing well.  They were intriguing, before I remembered what they were.  A yellow tomato, with pink at the blossom end, extending from there in stripes toward the stem end.  Even peeled they are an interesting pink/yellow tiger appearance.  We also have a tomato plant that perplexes me.  It is a nice round fruit, but pure yellow when ripe.  The only tomato of which I bought a single plant was supposed to be Early Girl, but these are definitely not.  I wonder if the greenhouse mis-marked the plant, and if they'll have any idea what it was when I ask about it next year.  It's a nice fruit.

Goldie is still mothering 10 chicks, who are 6 weeks old today.  They probably managed to eat their own 26 quarts of tomatoes, but I've put them out of the garden.  I try to only let them out of their pen just after I've harvested, since they prefer the ripening ones.  This is the first time we've let a hen brood her own chicks, and I have no idea when they should be 'weaned!'  When they come into contact with the rest of the chickens, the other hens attack the chicks and unmercifully pluck out a beakful of feathers.  Should I just put Mama back in with the other chickens?  Is it fine to keep her with them?  How long?  I'll probably just let nature take its course, unless I run across information indicating there could be problems with that.  I do hope most of the 10 are female; for once I've got more egg-wanters than egg-producers.

Big Sister enjoyed her beautiful pet hamster for about 10 days before my mom came with her kids.  The little boy opened the cage the night they got here, and Nutmeg escaped.  He was seen the next night, but wasn't caught.  It's been 12 days since then, and we haven't seen him.  There are signs he might be about, but the live traps remain untouched.  We have seen mice, and we have a terrible dilemma.  Was the gnawed end of carrot we found from Nutmeg?  Or a mouse?  We don't dare put out killing traps for fear we'll find... well, you know. :(  How long do we wait to deal with the mice?  How long do we hope for Nutmeg's return?  I am having a harder time with this than I imagined I might.  He was the sweetest, friendliest hamster at the store, and Big Sister was really taking such good care of him.  My nephew is a handful, and probably no worse than some of mine, but I find myself still upset about this senseless loss. Big Sister is obviously more sad than I, and prays to find Nutmeg each day.

We've started to paint the house.  Or, we've started to finish painting the house?  In any case, the refinance requires that it be completed, so the paint is on hand, and we've been hard at work scraping/power washing/priming.  And we still don't know how to reach the uppermost parts...  I'm excited for it to get done and look nice.  And wow, even at 40% off, decent paint is pricey.  The walls to be Clary Sage, the trim Divine White.  Looking those up doesn't offer much by way of illustration, so I'll just have to take a photo later.  :)

The turkeys need put in the freezer, but with painting we didn't even get to thinking about it.  Not sure how that's going to go, but it's something that needs our attention soon.  Facebook updates are always so interesting this time of year...

I met a homeschool mom whose mother raises rabbits... and harvests them.. (!)  I've wanted to learn a bit more about this, and they've promised to tell us when they're going to process their next batch.  I'm more freaked out about it than my kids (who think bunnies would be fantastic to eat).  Typical weird, uncivilized homeschool field-trip:  "Load up kids, we're gonna go kill some bunnies!"  Yikes.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

You Might Be the R-Word, If...

I'm civilized.  I really am.  At least, I try to be, where it counts, playground notwithstanding.  In fact, Hubby uses the R-Word to harass me upon occasion.  I apparently still have my pride in place, because I always haughtily raise my eyebrows and my nose, and disparage the thought..


A few months ago I had our windshield replaced.

A few weeks ago it cracked.

I wasn't sure if there were warranties or anything, so I called the local installer and they said they'd have someone come inspect it to see if it was from a rock, or stress, or what.

The guy came, found rock damage (doggone it) and I didn't realize until the young man left that I'd: a) stepped out of the house barefoot to talk to him, b) stood in the front yard, and c) held Baby on my hip.  You've heard that, right? (forty seconds at the link will explain it..)  Of course, that's probably happened routinely, but not usually with witnesses.


Cousin was by to let his son try and scare up a bird or two (not my chickens) and loan me a(nother) gun for my predator problem.  He shot his 12-gauge (NOT the one I borrowed), and part of the wood came apart from the barrel, and he lamented he'd have to take it home and fix it.  And THEN he thought he might have some duct tape in his new (old) blazer/bronco/whatever (that he recently TRADED for).  I warned him that such action could only mean one thing, not that his ego is as tender as mine...


And then there was the exchange about the gun he loaned me, that prompted me to say, "If my cousin loans me a gun, and then tells me just to bring it with me to church to return it, what does that make me?"

I'm not sure I can comply with the terms of this loan...

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Three Already!

Yesterday I had this:

And I can't believe she's 3.  Little Organique:  The biggest at birth (9 lb 6 oz), the smallest thereafter.

9 months
Hard to believe.
2 years
Living up to her name "Delight," and challenging us as much as she delights.

2 1/2
What a blessing.

Almost 3

Monday, September 20, 2010

Before & After

Before you realize your daughter isn't just greeting you...

And after you realize she has a camera in her hand...

Sunday, September 19, 2010


This past week has had some visitors.  Some welcome, others less so.

My mom and her kids came on Wednesday.  It's been... busy!... keeping six kids fed and clothed and disciplined and refereed, and don't even ask about the status of the housekeeping....

Oh the housekeeping.  Tuesday it was looking fairly decent around here.  The whole Appraisal Motivation thing, you know...

Before that, however, my kids sadly reported finding the remains of Whitey-Black out near the chicken pen.  She is one of our oldest and nicest (or slowest... the kids can catch her easily) hens.

From our first batch of chickens.  Whitey-Black is one of two that survived the Chicken Massacre of '07.

In any case, I was sorry to lose her, and wondered what may have gotten her.  Aside from the above-mentioned massacre, we've been actually quite lucky when it comes to losing things to predation.  We leave town with the chicken house door open, and they free-range for days without coming to harm.

 a Young Rusty

Wednesday morning, in the wee hours, the dog was barking more than usual.  Our window was open, and the fan on, so it wasn't too much to sleep through, but it was notable.  Hubby left for work early, and the dog would bark off and on as the sky lightened.  I had baby in bed with me, and at one point (full daylight, almost 8:00 maybe?) the dog's bark changed at the same time there was considerable ruckus among the chickens (who were already out for the day of course).  I got up from my bed, and looked out my window to see what I thought were 2 large dogs - german shepherd, maybe? - and they were standing in the weeds and dirt just past the chicken house.  Most of the chickens were scattered about the backyard, clucking nervously.  I yelled at the dogs from the window, and watched them bound towards the north property line (not far from where they were) and then straight west along the edge of my neighbor's hay field.  They paused where Neighbor's ATV track cuts through the field, and I saw 2 patches of white.  When I yelled again, those patches took off south until I couldn't see them.  Unlike before, when I had an impression of the dogs but couldn't identify them well enough later, I noted several things about these dogs.  I inspected the area, and was very sad to find Rusty torn apart.  She was a rust-colored aracauna.  And then I went to find my neighbor, as he uses only a cell phone now and his number is not in the book.  He wasn't home, but I left him a note (he was actually out checking water on his ATV by then, on the very track the dogs had raced down).  Later he called, and didn't know of anyone with that kind of dog in the area, but encouraged me to shoot them. :)

I have just acquired a small handgun of my own, but didn't have ammo for it.  I purposed to remedy that, and considered the situation.  I was perplexed though; while they looked like large, cardboard-brownish dogs, with tall, pointy ears, pale undersides (if that's what I'd seen from a distance).  Problem was, they didn't act like dogs.  If they'd killed Whitey-Black, then they were coming to kill and eat.  Dogs come to play, and when one toy breaks, they go to the next, and the next, and... Several people asked if maybe they were coyotes, but these seemed to me to be much bigger and taller.  I did some research, and decided that my perspective from upstairs was probably the least-reliable information I had to go on, and that they were probably coyotes.

My handgun ammo was harder to track down than I thought, and really wouldn't be useful unless I was right on them anyway, so I had Hubby teach me how to use his .22 rifle that evening.  The next morning Hubby had showered, and was in the bathroom when the chickens freaked out and the dog went nuts.  I ran to the window, peering into the darkness with a gun in hand, but could see nothing.  The birds were closed into their coop, but something was obviously out there, and I was so frustrated to be unable to help.  I threw open the bathroom door, half-sobbed that they were back, and slid open the bathroom window to illustrate my point.  I let him put on a few clothes, and sent him out. :)  Shortly I saw his figure creeping in the shadow of the playhouse.  I watched, anxiously, but heard no gunfire and he eventually turned on his headlamp.  He bent, and was putting something against the wire of the coop, and rearranged a board that was leaning on the side of the structure.  Then I saw white wings in the darkness, lifeless and waving as he picked the bird up from it's feet.  I pounded the windowsill and thought dark thoughts toward the beasts.  Hubby dropped her on the grass just inside where a light (from the wrong side of the shed/coop) spills.  Bait.

He told me it was the petite, pure-white one we call Grace.  There was a gap in the wire, and Grace had either slept just inside there, or had walked by at the wrong time.  Her head was crushed, but they hadn't been able to drag her out, and likely ran off when the cacophony erupted.  Hubby left for work, and I took up my position at the bedroom window, watching and waiting.  Baby woke, and I nursed her, wondering how inappropriate it would be to try to shoot something at the same time.  The creatures didn't come back for their bait, though I watched until 8:00.

a young Grace, upper left.  She lost the coloring on her back eventually.

I was completely certain at this point that we were dealing with coyotes, whether or not they looked too big to me.  The MO was right, and their tails were too fluffy for german shepherds.  I read that they hunted at sunset and sunrise, usually, so Hubby grinned, armed himself to the teeth, and spent 2 hours after dusk in the chicken house, listening to chickens snore.  He did the same for a half-hour on Friday morning, and I took up my post again too, but there was nothing, either time.  Nor Saturday.  Now it is Sunday, and 5:30 had the dog barking again, though not crazily.  Hubby went on patrol, and lay in wait, but nothing now, either.

We're talking about getting someone to trap, have a motion-sensor light to install (but I'd really rather them dead), and I fantasize about shooting the beastly thieves myself.  I'm so ready to do that.

Because then?  I could actually sleep the whole night (excepting my Baby's bad habits), and get some decent rest...

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Um... Wow.

A week or two ago, some blogs I read posted about managing their large families (of which I am not), and the theme was bedrooms, or kid's rooms, or something along those lines.  They use some kind of internet magic that lets other bloggers add a link showcasing their similar blogpost.  While I'm never together enough to plan these out, I was excited as I'd recently posted on my girls' new 3-bunk-closet.   It wasn't a complete room-exposé, but displayed their sleeping quarters at least.

It was fun to get some extra comments on that post, brought, no doubt, from the link I left at the blog(s).

[In case you're interested, here is a link to their blog carnival on large families:  Four Moms, 35 Kids.  At least, it'll get you started. :) ]

Then I got my oft-ignored weekly email that tells me how many (and almost who) visitors I had.  I almost really never check it.  But I eyed the summary and fell out of my chair, when my daily average had gone from the usual 12-16 to a hefty 74.  Seventy four!?!  I had something else to do, and didn't have time to double-check that, and make sure it wasn't a glitch or mistake (yes, I know, that's not worth beans in the blog-world.  But this is my world, and that's pretty amazing).  I really couldn't believe that had happened, or how.

Last week a friend was visiting, and the subject came up, and I was about to tell her this information but I checked myself, thinking I MUST have misread, or even dreamed it (I had to double-check with a cousin to see if she had lately told me another cousin had been a Navy SEAL.  She had not.  He had not.  No wonder I hadn't heard about it before.  I had only dreamed it.).  I checked the email again, and sure enough, that's what it said.  I was still fairly sure it was a mistake.  Later, when I had a moment, I decided to click through and see where the traffic was coming from..  Maybe I had been outed locally and someone was building a case against me for something, and was gathering evidence. :)  But no, the hits were from all around the nation, even places in Europe and Australia/New Zealand (and my friend has moved away from NZ to England, last year.  Again.  So it wasn't her.).  I found a bar graph that showed a sudden jump, and it finally dawned upon me that my little link at the blog carnival must have garnered a considerable chunk of traffic!  Mystery solved.

Today I checked, and while it's not half that earlier average, it's still much more than it used to be.  So I come to the point of all this rambling...

Be welcome here.  And thank you.

I do hope you'll leave a comment or two anywhere you like, or email me at [my name]@ hotmail dot com.  I hope to get to know some of you!!!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Motivation Is...

...Calling the bank on a Thursday with a few questions and having an interest rate locked in just after lunch.

...The appraiser calling you on Friday to schedule an appointment.

...For Monday...!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Homeschool, 2010-2011

We are doing homeschool somewhat differently than we have before, and not just because there is a very active troublemaker (almost) 3-year-old messing everything up, or a just-walking 1-year-old to keep us busy.

I've been drawn to Charlotte Mason style education, but have had a hard time finding the confidence (or ability) to put anything together.  Last year, you may recall, we went with textbooks while trying to juggle new baby and very active troublemaker 2-year-old.  That kept us afloat for the first few months at least, but we had put several of the books aside before the year's end.  While I saw that having a "chapter and questions" on a certain subject gave me a semblance of confidence that I "wasn't missing anything," I also realized that the novelty of such a plan wasn't enough to really instill much of that information for the long term.

The next step, an unexpected one, was ordering Read for the Heart, on a whim.  I have Books Children Love, and was able to use it to some extent, but was hoping for a little more.  More what?  I don't know; more input regarding reading choices for children.  What is a good book for what age?  What has questionable themes or concerns a Christian parent might want to know about beforehand?  What is of good literary quality?  What meets the above criteria, and is good to use while studying the Civil War, or ancient history, or ...?  Is there anything written recently, that's worthwhile?  Read for the Heart really delivered.  I was going to do a post about it, but I'm just tossing it in here instead. :)  It's a great resource.

The next thing that led me this direction was peeking (again) at Ambleside Online.  I've browsed this site many, many times in the past, but it always seemed SO intimidating to me.  Maybe it's the warning on the intro page.  Or the older books with which I was unfamiliar.  But this time it didn't seem so scary.  In fact, a lot of those older books they recommended seemed familiar this time...  Indeed, I had read their summaries recently in... you guessed it!  Read for the Heart.

I dug through the site more and more, and made the leap.  I printed out the booklists/schedules for the appropriate years, and joined some relevant Yahoo groups.  I began a fairly tedious process of comparing used book prices between sites and placed some orders.  I even found several books available for free to read on my Kindle for Mac program (Kindle for Every Other Device offered here).  I had peace, and we started on August 2nd.

Why does this feel so do-able all of a sudden?  Well, I like that someone has put in all the hard work of selecting age-appropriate literature that covers all the bases.  I like that the artist and biography and history readings can all be pinned to one general area on the timeline, and that we might read mention of Luther in two or three different books.  This weaves a tapestry of understanding, I think, and reinforces the inter-connectedness of life, as opposed to the compartmentalization that my education proffered.  I like that the schedule is laid out weekly, instead of daily, so we can work at our own pace through the books (or, perhaps more accurately, I only need to freak out once weekly instead of every day, if things are not completed timely.  :)  ).  I like Charlotte Mason's philosophy and method, and love that I can implement it without all the brainwork of putting the whole thing together on my own.  Have I mentioned I hate making decisions???  Well, someone did most of that for me.  I had to choose math, and Ambleside.  Ahhh...  That's much easier than choosing math, and history, and science, and geography, and literature, english, poetry, art, ...

We're working somewhere around Week 4 or 5 (see how precise I am?  Sheesh..).  We left town for most of a week to attend a cousin's wedding, but I like being a little 'ahead' to start out.  There are days we get a lot done, and days we struggle, but we're making progress, and I'm enjoying the simplicity of narration and CM's other techniques.

I am blessed to have both the major planning done (for me), and be able to use a method/philosophy that sits well in my heart.  I hope the same for everyone else, wherever and however their children are educated!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Smokin' Hot

A few weeks ago we had some lightning storms that set off an extended light show, once the sun set.  This was taken from my back step, the same place I get some beautiful sunset shots occasionally.  The header is a recent one.  Forgive the crooked horizon.. it was really dark, and I didn't have a tripod to steady the camera for the long exposure, or to know which way was up.  A rusty clothesline T can only do so much...

The next morning we awoke to a surreal, dingy light coming through the windows, and from my upstairs window I couldn't even see the quarter-mile to the road.  I also couldn't breathe much.  The wind shifted it, eventually, and driving in to Town for church showed that some places were much clearer, though still affected.  It's nice to not be the only one showing up for services with ash in your hair...

A few days later we drove the other direction, and saw part of where the fire had burned (it was still burning, actually, elsewhere).

Suddenly you could see all the access roads and geographic details.

Just this side of the river are several farms, small acreages, even some fancy subdivisions and a town.  I bet it was interesting watching the fire from there!  Thankfully the fire did not cross the river.  BLM was on hand by the time it was this close that I don't think any infrastructure was even damaged, save possibly some power lines/poles.  As far as I know, no one was hurt nor homes lost.  That would've taken the disaster from "interesting" to "tragic," for sure.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

She's Nine.

Lord help me, where has the time gone???  It took me FOREVER to make it to 9 years old, how is it HER childhood is going by, warp-speed??  Officially, it's "half gone" at this point.  Oh. My. Goodness.

Her birthday was Monday, officially, but we had her 'party' Sunday afternoon.  It was different than most, as we invited a lot more people than usual, and her local grandparents/aunts/uncles were still on vacation or unable to make it.

Left to right:  Cousin, Organique, Big Sister

Even so, there were eighteen children represented, and about half that in adults.  It was so fun, and no one even complained about the 'oatmeal cake' she had requested.  We topped this one with stevia-sweetened whipped cream, though I might use a *bit* of sugar in it next time.  It wasn't bad, but Hubby didn't prefer it, and it was likely more noticeable to others' palates.

Big Sister is really growing up, though, and as every mother knows, it's bittersweet.  There is a loss - a loss of things 'little,' yet so much to gain, seeing her mature and finding little hints of the woman she will someday become.

Yikes.  I don't know if I'm up for it.  What a weighty responsibility is this parenthood!  Lord, equip me!  Fill in all the gaps I leave, for I know they are many.  Hold her close, and don't let go.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Not The Shot

This is not the shot that would've made you laugh.

It's not the one my dad intended, when he grabbed a large rock, and gestured to my hubby to do the same.

It's not what he hoped I'd capture, after they both pelted their rocks in the direction of this guy.

I couldn't get that shot, see.  Yes, it would've been funny to see the water splashing toward this longtime family-friend (and sometime family-foe [hehe] ), and maybe have the silhouette of him flailing about in an attempt to stay dry.

But my brother had just called me.  And because I couldn't keep Baby safe while operating my camera while talking on the phone, I prioritized and handed the phone off.

To this guy.

All I could think, as Dad was implementing his dastardly ploy (and I realized what he was actually doing), was, "That's my phone!!"  Not that such information would've made him pause much, if at all.

This photo was taken post-prank, and you can see my phone is thankfully safe and sound.

Oh, yeah, and that guy is too.  ;)