Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Our April

We are having a home school vacation week once again and so I have found time for blogging! :) I schedule in 16 weeks of vacations into our school year, like the public schools do. We school year round but take a longer break during the summer, usually 4 weeks, before the new school year begins. I really enjoy year round schooling because I schedule in our vacation breaks every 3-5 weeks which helps me greatly with avoiding burn out!

Our sweet, fat Baby T turned one April 19th. A whole entire year already has passed since his crazy birth. I set his cake slice on the table in front of him and here was his reaction, LOL!

We celebrate each child's birthday with a family celebration at home. I bake a cake, decorate with streamers and balloons, serve their favorite meal and just generally make a big deal out of the birthday child all day long, :) We let them pick what they would like to do most that day- play games, have water balloons, watch a movie, color pictures with mom & dad...... We eat the cake with ice cream, open presents and laugh a lot. Oh, and the birthday child isn't expected to do any chores that day. :)

 A few times in the past I've combined birthdays and had one party for more than one child. But I decided that for now we'll let them each have their very own day since they share everything else so much!

Easter was a great day! Besides beginning with such fun, fantastic news , it was an all around good, good day. We started with our traditional "Easter egg pancakes". This time with honey and butter melted together on top...major yum. 

My teen son hid the eggs with me- some goody-filled plastic ones, some of our dyed ones.

How cute is this little French chicken dress?! I found it at a thrift store waaay back 5 babies ago, who were all boys except Little Farmgirl! I finally got a chance to put the super cute dress ON somebody! And then I snapped about 52 pictures of course.

Here Teen Son hangs out with Grendal while the kids wait anxiously in the doorway for us to tell them that we're done hiding the eggs and they are free to find them. 

This year I ordered Resurrection Eggs online. I just kept hearing them recommended over & over & I finally fell for the peer pressure. ;)  I loved them! Love love! I used them after all the egg searching festivities and candy gobbling. I randomly handed two eggs to each child around the table, and to myself. Then I'd read the Easter story (that comes with the eggs) and as I got to each number I'd ask the child with that egg to open theirs and share what was in it. Like, we read about how Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey for the Passover feast. Then we're instructed to open the light purple egg. When the child with that one opened it they found a little plastic donkey and showed everybody. It was really fun and all the kids enjoyed it. 

You know, on that note, someday I would enjoy sharing the story of my own faith journey if I can ever manage to get it put into words. It's such a personal thing of course, and has been something growing and changing for several years now..... But I do hope to write about it one day. :)

Farmgirl enjoying a game of Uno with her big brother.

We have geese! We've never yet raised geese on our homestead. We seem to love just jumping into all sorts of animals and projects and crazy things we've never experienced before, and so, we ordered a boxful of goslings from a hatchery. We also jumped out of super city living and moved to Idaho before ever visiting it, close to 3 years ago now. And then bought a milk cow and sheep and a goat and ducks and turkeys and meat rabbits....mostly before unpacking our moving boxes. Oh plus we bought our dog before our move. Neither my husband or I had ever had a dog in our adult lives so what do we do? Run out and buy one of the largest breeds there are out there, a Leonberger. Oh and hey! I quit my job and moved in with my now-husband exactly 4 months after meeting him for the first time. But then, since he was made perfectly by God just for me, why wait?

But anyway. Back to geese. Aren't they cute!

My husband spent 2 whole days having adventures with 3 of the boys recently. He took them into town twice in a row and they went to a playground, a museum, roller skating, a restaurant, the lake, a pet store, a relative's home (fun with cousins!) and a funeral. And then he took them fishing. And he listened to Veggie Tales CDs through out the entire trip. He says he's quite done with listening to Veggie Tales now. 

We're old fashioned country sorts. We don't often (ever..) drive our family all the way to the city to go to restaurants and big playgrounds and pet stores and such. This adventure with dad was such a fun, memory making treat! It was so much fun for me to listen to them all gush about all the fun they had, just before collapsing early, and sweatily, into bed. ;)

Here is Oscar. He is an amazing mouser. He gobbles piles of mice down. Or he at least chews their head off and the chickens fight over the rest. The chickens LOVE eating dead things. But anyway, Oscar has apparently been hiking all the way down to our neighbor's house and peeing on his things! Naughty cat. So our neighbor let me know he was going to poison the cat. Hmm. Darn cat! So, I took him to town last week and had him neutered (the cat not the neighbor). Maybe just maybe it will keep him from wanting to wander so far away and spray pee everywhere. If not, well, I'll probably guess what happened to him if he goes missing. And I'll get a girl cat next time.

The piglets are out in the movable pig pen now having the time of their lives snuffling and snooting around in the dirt. And hey! My husband has begun building little rabbit pens, too! Rabbit feed is so, so expensive. We're going to try to keep some bunnies on grass during the grassy season to cut down on feed costs. And so far the rabbits seem to love it! And why wouldn't they prefer being on grass and digging in dirt to being in a boring old cage! I'll have to get some pictures of them to post. It makes me happy to see them on the grass!

We recently got another egg incubator in the mail. Here is where I found Miss Two and Mr Four year old just a bit later.... lol!

We're using a Draw Write Now book for some of our copywork this year. How do things like this get past editors? Lol! These are not a "flock of geese", they are a flock of male mallard ducks! They have no resemblance to geese. Silly. 


The children all enjoyed a fire and roasted marshmallows with dad the other evening. I love these long, spring time evenings!

I am feeling just as I should be- queasy and ohso very tired. I'm 6 weeks along now and happy as a clam. However, I have to take back what I said about planning to go through with surgical birth prevention.... Oh my goodness the scary things I read online about it (tubal ligation)! The risks of long term pain and menstrual problems and ectopic pregnancies and hormonal imbalance! Yikes. And sigh. I just want something easy (ha!) that will not potentially cause health problems and hormonal turmoil. But, that just does not exist! 

Much (all?) of my reasoning for wanting to prevent births is fear based! I'm afraid of miscarriages. I'm afraid of having a very premature baby such as Michelle Duggar has experienced. Her last 2 babies were an extremely preterm baby girl, and then a stillbirth at 20 weeks, so sad! I think about her and feel that preventing births is the only wise choice for me... but then I think of other women such as my own aunt who never experienced a single miscarriage, never prevented, and had her last, healthy, full term baby at 46! And I meditate on "fear is the opposite of faith". And I read the wonderful book I highly recommend, "Three Decades of Fertility" in which women just like me chose faith over birth prevention, with differing results but all very encouraging stories. 

Above and beyond all these things, I don't want to "mess with my stuff" in ways that I might regret. My mother's life was taken by ovarian cancer, and now my daughter has been diagnosed with endometriosis. Perhaps there is something genetic going on in my family? I hope not! But who knows... AND. It appears that I will be joining the Catholic Church during this pregnancy. So really, I shouldn't even be considering surgical birth control at all! Yes, this does make me roll my eyes and laugh at myself.

Being human is so un - easy!

Well I let the children cut open a watermelon while I was in here typing this. I'd better go inspect the damage and mop up the sticky watermelon juice that's most likely rained down through the house. ;)

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

high on joy

Our family had a fun and eventful weekend. On Saturday our wee Baby T celebrated his first birthday. :) On Sunday we celebrated Easter and had a wonderful time. My morning began by getting some exciting news. :) I debated keeping it a secret for a time but finally decided to go ahead and shout it from the rooftops. During our family's Easter dinner I handed my teen son a plastic Easter egg. I told the children that they had missed one during our egg hunt and my son was going to open it now. Then I turned on the video recorder. With all sorts of suspense he opened the egg and found my silly drawing inside (my children's names hidden here for privacy) and read it aloud:

A cookie costs a dime,
A biscuit costs a nickel.
Come this December,
Our family is going to grow by one little pickle!

I have a habit of calling my children pickles all the time. It's probably my favorite word, so I just had to make a pickle poem! I am very early still and am praying for a nice, full term pregnancy. God willing, we will meet this new little one right at Christmastime! 

On an (even more) personal note, I expect this to be our very last little pickle as I'll be taking permanent birth control measures after this. This makes me sigh deeply, but it is right for us.

Have I mentioned lately how in awe I am that I get to live this life? :)

Thursday, April 17, 2014

our week

Thanks to each one of you that left your thoughtful comments on my last post. I appreciate them all very much, as did my daughter.

She was sent home from the hospital last night, six days after walking out her door for a visit to the emergency room. She's recuperating at home now, barely able to lift herself in and out of bed. Her recovery is said to be somewhat similar to after a c-section, though her scar is larger. She isn't allowed to lift things heavier than 10 pounds for 6 weeks, is not allowed to drive for a few weeks, among other things. But, she will be just fine. I am so grateful for the medical care that we have access to! And for the magic we are born with that enables our bodies to heal so amazingly! As to whether she will be able to conceive remains to be seen. There is really no way to be sure (apparently) besides trying. I could say more about all that but seeings how it's kind of a personal subject I suppose I shouldn't blab about it. ;) I wouldn't want my daughter to be forced to roll her eyes at me and say "geez, mom..." whilst reading my public blog post. 

My roley poley perfect little Baby T in the sunshine:

Though he doing just fine for his adjusted age (being born 1 1/2 months prematurely), I still found myself surprised to have a baby just about to turn one (this Saturday) who still did not crawl. Well guess what, he began to crawl this very week. :)  He also has begun to talk. He says one word: "uh-oh!" LOL He even demonstrated this new talent while I was snapping the above photos. He kept removing his hat, tossing it on the ground, leaning way over to look at it, and saying "uh-oh" each time. 

One of my new favorite photos of Little Miss Farmgirl:

Baby salad greens also enjoying the sunshine:

Yesterday we dyed our eggs. None of our chickens happen to be laying white eggs right now so we made do with light brown ones and a few duck eggs.

Our 8 and 6 year olds enjoyed this wonderful craft. The print outs are available for free at the Catholic Icing blog. We didn't have 20 bath tissue tubes lying around so I quickly just made our own little tubes with posterboard and staples. I also didn't have an empty Kleenex box so we used a saltines box. Mister Six year old's:

Once they created their people, Jesus, and tomb, I read the Easter story to them and they acted it out. :)

The muddy, splashy duckling went outside to be a proper farm animal this week. He was so funny the last couple days inside. He just sat there like this, looking around the house with his head in the handle of the bucket...

I put my head out the backdoor today and snapped this photo. A lovely, gray, misty, drizzly spring day. "Misty mountains cold" we are fond of calling our hills. ;)

Saturday, April 12, 2014

hardships and blessings

What a roller coaster the past few days have been. We got some unexpected, startling news. It began like this: My 22 year old daughter decided to go down to the emergency room after 10 days of pain in her lower abdomen and other strange symptoms. She'd been battling what she thought was digestive troubles with over the counter remedies but the pain was increasing. So the day before yesterday, around lunch time, she and her boyfriend drove over to the ER. A few worrisome hours later she called to let me know that a CT scan showed "huge, enormous ovarian cysts" that would have to be removed immediately. She was admitted to the hospital and given painkillers (that made the poor girl throw up). 
She went into surgery late afternoon yesterday. I watched the hours ticking by but I couldn't get any news about what was going on until, finally, I was told that the doctor had "found a mass, not cysts. He doesn't know what it is or what organs it is affecting. We'll let you know what the specialist determines....". A mass!? Nobody knows what kind!? Yikes. I trembled and paced for a few more hours. Finally I heard the diagnosis late last night: endometriosis. Huge, enormous endometriosis. Growths had filled her lower abdomen. The lesions had fused organs together. They felt confident they had removed them all, she'd received blood transfusions, had a hefty scar, but was stable and resting.
Whoa. Blessings: Readily available medical care, modern technology, caring hospital staff, her boyfriend who was so worried about her that he hyperventilated while talking on the phone with me, supportive texts from family members, it was not cancer, she has her life and limbs. Hardships: First, a long healing time. Numerous lesions were removed from several organs & areas, all of which are now angry and inflamed. A large abdominal scar. And, it is unknown whether she will ever be able to conceive a child.
Huge, enormous sigh. That's potential heartbreak material right there.
I was up late with phone calls, text messages and Googling the daylights out of this "endometriosis" thing. We had no idea, this was not on my daughter's (or my) radar. Today I shuffle around a bit dazed. I got to talk with her on the phone. Through the deep haze of her heavy painkillers she said this "whole entire thing is just intensely scary". My in-laws are visiting. My father-in-law helped Husband move the pig pen to a fresh spot so we can put the piglets in it soon.

They used these round pieces of wood to roll the movable pig pen up onto to get started sliding it across our field. It worked fantastically.

While the menfolk busied themselves with that, my mother-in-law pulled the children up & down & up & down the driveway in the wagon, and I lifted this old board to see what treasures were hidden beneath. And look! A nest of wee tiny mice.

Littlest Farmgirl, 2 1/2 years old.

In the wagon, Baby T is now 7 days short of one year old!
The lot of 'em. :) Aged nearly-1, 2, 4, 6, and 8. Missing is my teen son who spends weekends with his dad, and my eldest daughter of course.
Plans for this evening: Watching Frozen with my in-laws and excited children, chatting with my daughter from her hospital bed, holding my husband's hand, and being grateful for the many blessings and mercies our days are filled with.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Springtime joys

Judging by my number of blog posts recently you might guess that our homeschool is on spring break. You would be right. :)  We have all been enjoying our break from school and I've enjoyed having so many hours suddenly free. I even- gasp- got every last bit of laundry washed AND put away the other day! A rare thing indeed. So now let me share what we've been up to around our little homestead since spring began.  

This was the first day of spring- it was snowing while the sun was shining! Winter and spring seemed to be debating back and forth whose season it actually was. There was snow, hail, sun, rainbows, clouds, blue sky, the works. 

We've spent several fun evenings playing our recent favorite family game, Agricula. (See, even when we're not outside farming we are inside playing games about farming ;) ). 

First the children built this "temple", and then they hammered with the extra nails and wood my husband provided them for hours upon hours! It's rare one project holds their attention for so long at once. They sure used up a lot of nails! lol

Speaking of holding the childrens' attention, on this day this little creature had quite an audience. If you can see right in the middle of the photo there is the face of a little.. mole, vole?... creature. My 6 yr old noticed him out the kitchen window. Soon the whole family was at the window watching him dig and dig. It was very entertaining how he'd throw dirt out of his hole. And then he dug another hole just the same way about a foot to the right. Must've been the back door we decided.

My dear husband built a bunk bed! I had been wanting one in the little boys' room for quite some time. My husband is so good to me. :) And the way he put that bed together over one weekend- you'd think he builds furniture all the time!

My husband has been having much better luck with his hide tanning lately! Here Baby T is posing between cozy sheep and coyote hides. 

The frogs are back! How I love love love hearing their frogsong all spring.  They are croaking loudly right now as I type. Two nights ago I took a couple of our eager boys out to the pond, flashlight, net and jar in hand. We managed to catch a little froggy guy, plus 2 huge, weird, water bug (?) things. We watched them in the bathroom sink for awhile and then released them back in the pond.

My teen son captured this great shot of Grendel shaking after a dip in the pond. 

The rest of the photos I took today.

We had bad luck with our last batch of eggs in the incubator. This duckling is the only one that hatched! So he's probably lonely and thinks he's a human. He lives right on the floor of our busy dining room so he gets lots of attention. 

This is our naughty Highland calf. He is still small (and naughty) enough to climb right through our fences so he just goes wherever he wants. And these days he wants to graze on all the new spring grass growing everywhere. Down there to the right in the picture is our bee hive. Did our first batch of bees survive the first winter on our homestead you ask? Well, the answer is no. 

Easter crafts made with tissue paper and glittery glue, tempera paints, chalk pastels, crayon and watercolors. Each idea I found on Pinterest. I really only discovered that website's usefulness this month when searching for Easter crafts! Wow, what a handy site. ;)

I never got a chance to type about it but a few months ago we bought a new mattress for my husband and me. It was such a frustrating and confusing thing because we didn't want to get a new mattress full of toxic flame retardants. That is why we had been sleeping on our old (and I mean old!) mattress for so long past its comfortable stage. I researched online until my head ached- I'm sure anyone of you that has mattress shopped understand! We decided we just couldn't afford an organic mattress. But trying to determine what the next best thing is is confusing! There are a lot of different opinions, and not many tests to back things up, and many questions just can't be answered, such as "exactly how long DOES a mattress off gas?" Or, "how badly does one off gas the day you bring it home verses 2 months later"? In the end we finally decided to order a locally made, new mattress that had been out of its plastic wrapping for a few months and had been a floor display. We hope it got the majority of its toxic off gassing done with before we had it delivered. Sigh.

And! The weather is good enough for movies outside again! Last night my husband and teen set up the projector and chairs, and I got the blankets and popcorn. We all watched our library movie on that big white door there (well, it looks like a door, and should be a door, but the people that lived here before apparently took the shop doors with them and plywood was nailed up in their place..). It did get pretty chilly and quite windy by movie's end. And there were mice running around all over the ground in front of the wall! Immediately to the right of this picture is our sea of cans and bins full of livestock feed and grains. The spilled grains provide a lovely buffet for the mice. 

Mr. 4 yr old having fun on some farm junk in the sun. ;)

The piglets are doing what they do best: Eating, growing, and stinking. 

Notice none of the sheep came up to me when I was standing here. They were all too busy with their heads down munching on the new grass.

Squinting in the sun:

This doe is due to have bunnies tomorrow. We actually have 7 due in the next week. 

Here is our garden. Not a whole lot goin' on in there right now, although some of our raspberries and blackberries survived the winter! I know it is calling my husband's name much of the time. There are so many projects and tasks he wants to accomplish this spring! He's still working his software job. Often he commutes to the city (an hour away), sometimes he gets to work from home. 

Since fencing in the last few of our ducks we had left, we haven't lost a single one to coyotes. We've brought their numbers back up and they seem to be doing fine. However, we often talk about how much we (and they!) would prefer to have them on the pond. Maybe we could fence the pond for them, maybe we should have the pond dug big enough it doesn't dry up in summer, maybe we should just keep them fenced and fill in the pond because I am so paranoid of my kids falling in it! 

Tomorrow we are getting an enormous load of wood chips delivered. We'll be using them to cover all the muddy blob areas, such as in the duck enclosure and around the rabbits. The mud has been so deep and gross in some spots on our farm! It's like a cesspool between the rabbits and sheep stall....We're looking very forward to those wood chips.

Here's what I found on my peek into the chicken coop. Several of our new little Leghorns who will begin laying this summer, and a big ol' turkey in a nest box. 

The entertaining things one can find in areas where children play!

And the cows? Nowhere to be seen. Not when there's grass growing up on those hills!

It is time for me to go put dinner together. Tonight we'll have some sort of quiche. We have a super abundance of eggs! :) And then I'll work some more on lesson planning for next week. Which reminds me, just in case any reader is interested, Rod & Staff curriculum is on sale right now, 10% off until April 15th. Then beginning on May 1st, all their prices will be going up by 10%! So, if you are like me, you might want to jump at your chance to pay less on your coming years' Rod & Staff goodies than you ever will be able to again!

Happy spring!

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From the Farm Blog Hop