Family Fun

Family Fun

Monday, January 31, 2011

There is supposed to be a monster storm rolling in. Ice and up to 20 inches of snow. The stores are emptied, there are lines for gas. People horrify me with both their lack of general preparedness and their sheeple attitudes. That said I do get the panic that comes up since the ice storm a couple years ago left us without power for 15 very long and cold days. We are all electric here, so no heat,water, or lights. We do have a fireplace and we made good use of it. I have a large pile of wood already in, and more stacked in a dry spot outside. I am baking multiple loaves of bread in case I can't soon. We have the staples we always have, and I can now cook without electric. We have snowchains for both vehicles. I told Brian we could possibly make some money if we drive into town on the bad day and shovel as a family. We could whip out the work and divide the pay. We shall see if it happens.
I made rice pudding twice now, it is sooo easy and amazing. As long as I make it with raw milk I can eat it. I tried some made from store bought milk and within 10 minutes had a gall bladder attack. Yay for raw!!!
I got some great books from the library.I so look forward to sitting and reading and mulling.
I still feel an odd fog over me since my dad died. Like there is a thought lingering just below the surface and I can't think it but I can't make it go away. I am so sad that he is gone. I don't like to talk about it to people. It is a rock and a hard place.
The chickens should be here in 2 weeks. I am very excited to have the little peepers arrive. We also got an email back about the donkey and so far it looks promising.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

The second 70 degree day in a row. Thank you Lord!!! I just sent the wee bairns out for the second time today. We got a ton done on the Lebanese report before that, so they are ready to run. When they get back in there will be warm bowls of sweet rice pudding to cement the Lebanese food learning. ;)
I found two interesting prospects on Craigslist that may pass the Brian test :P . One is a kid broke white donkey about the same size as our Cleo. This means she would not be at risk of being bullied, and the kids could ride!!! She is soooo affordable too. I am kinda setting my hopes high on this one. The other idea is a pygmy doe and her two kids. Mouse, and the babies are Ginger and Snap. 3 girls, super sweet. I feel they will sell quickly though, so unless he decides yes quickly we probably won't get them. *Le sigh*

Thursday, January 27, 2011

It is a beautiful day here. The older 5 are out playing with no need for coats. Gavin brought me one of Valentine's(one of our roosters) tail feathers. Looks like he lost a scuffle today. His tail looks odd now, short and stubby. His long feather was really stunning. It is now in the nature basket.
Brian got me 10 books from the library this week. All fiction. There is a reason I don't do that...I love to read and could easily sit and read all day. Now I accomplished little for school the past couple days because I can not abide the thought of a book going back unread and I don't like to keep books more than a week. Bah. The upside is they are all read now and I can get on with my life. I do love this particular author...I grew up reading her works and it is wonderful that she still writes books that I love to curl up with. I tried explaining books to Brian...he would never buy a book ever and be happy. I could never buy most books, but some are truly like old friends to me. This authors books are those friends. Silly, I know, but that is how it is.
I placed my first order with Dharma Trading Co for silk scarves to dye. If they turn out well I will sell some at the Farmer's Market this spring. Either way I look forward to dying them.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

This will have to be quick, as I have 5 loaves of bread about ready to go in the oven. The french bread I have been making is a BIG hit and not nearly as hard the more I make it. I am also making some chocolate cookies. I love baking, especially in the cold of winter.
Our herd of 8 deer are visible most of the days. It is such a joyous thing to me to be able to look outside at any given time and know they are safe in our yard. They are losing their fear of us and stay where they are even when we feed the animals. I have told the kids not to try to get to close as their fear is a safety defense for them.
Mandi gets home tomorrow. I know Riley has missed her. I am thankful for how much better behaved he is than even a year ago. Still, and I hate this, but my rhythm is disrupted when he is here. He is so materialistic(already at 4) and has been trained in the ways of my sister that are the center of any disagreements we have. I don't mind her raising her son her is just hard to have him here, vocally disagreeing with my way and trying to influence the kids. He made no qualms about the fact that Jubilee's cake wasn't as good as what he will get(homemade vs store bought) and that he gets alot more presents . I do so love being his auntie though, and am glad that our relationship is much improved. It will continue to improve, I am determined.
I refined our school schedule again. We start next week with the new schedule. It will help for when we open the store and will be schooling there. I am going to buy Large Family Logistics and am hopeful there will be useful tips in there as well.
We are going to build the solar oven this coming weekend I think. I am also researching a brick oven for the backyard. That will be a summer goal though.
Ok...bread time.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Goodbye to my father

I got that call last night at 12:30. I am still not sure if he passed on the 20th or 21st. My strong dad, the one who instilled the strongest of ethics and a severe drive to always excel, was taken away from us by cancer. He was 54 years old. He loved volleyball. He played for the All Marine team, as well as softball. He married my mom while they were both in the Marine Corps. He was a Staff Sergeant. He then worked at the Post Office for over 20 years. He built so many things. Very much the do it yourself man. He fathered 3 strong kids. We feared him, we wanted to please him, we adored him. Some of my favorite memories are going to his volleyball tournaments. We would wake up early and pack a cooler. Always full of Diet Coke and sandwiches with miracle whip,never mayo. Lots of Little Debbie snack cakes too.We would go all over MI, and there was always a lake to sit next to and dream while he was out sweating and winning. Often I would hear him cussing out a ref. He seldom took second, and when he did it was not a happy trip home.
There were alot of volatile times when I was 16. I was so defiant, I was dating a 21 year old. I ran away alot. He screamed, and punched holes in the wall, shamed me, and even got physical. Yet at my wedding two years later he walked me down the aisle and handed me over. We danced. He came to see me when I had my first baby. He bought her a giant Tigger.While I was trying to figure out motherhood he was on the balcony on the phone, grinning, and being mysterious. He had a girlfriend. When Christian was born he came out again, and I met Val. They made each other very happy and I am so glad he had her. My heart breaks for her now...I don't know how to reach out to her. My dad was our connection and now he is gone. I can't go up for the funeral...financially it just won't happen. Plus I have sick babies here. I think my brother and sister understand. I hope Val does.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

We did end up in the hospital last night to help Jubilee rehydrate. I tried urgent care first but they sent us on, saying she was probably going to be admitted. She looked terrible when we got there but after some fluids in the iv she perked right up. We were able to come home and she crashed hard and slept all night! She is still not feeling well, but she is recovering. We have to follow up in a few days because ," Her labs are off." I wanted a bit more info but all they said was that it isn't the flu(I knew this).
I was reading at Raising Arrows about her breastfeeding/conceiving journey and figured I would write mine.
I was told at 18 that I would not have children. Being 18 I really didn't process that info...children were a long way off and I just didn't focus on what the dr at the Army processing told me. 6 months later I was in the neurologist's office being told the meds he wanted to try me on would cause extreme birth defects so was there any chance I could be pregnant? I said I thought there could be a chance seeing as my husband and I didn't use birth control, but that I was told I couldn't have kids. Dr sent me downstairs for a blood test and Wow!!! I was pregnant.
I had Trinity a couple months after I turned 19. I was surely not going to breastfeed...that seemed far too sexual and gross to me. Then I had a traumatic birth and my child...a creation I didn't even know how badly I needed, was placed in my arms. I instinctively cradled her and put her to my breast and she latched on. It didn't feel sexual. It felt natural.The nurse tried to help me, putting her hands on me and moving the baby. That felt wrong. I was repulsed,actually. Trinity was tongue tied, would only nurse on one side. By her 2 week appt she had gained half a pound. The dr said I was doing good with nursing her! I was amazed...we were completely alone and struggling, but it was working. When she was 4 months old I was sooo tired. I figured the nursing spurts were wearing me down. When I went to a dr appt with her and mentioned how tiring the whole nursing thing was the dr looked at me and said it shouldn't be that bad. I sort of shrugged him off, but he thought we should do bloodwork. I was not very good at not taking orders from authority yet so I meekly obeyed. 10 minutes later I got the news that I was pregnant again! I didn't believe it. I was so tired that all I could think was,"We haven't even been together. Maybe once, but really?!? I was told I couldn't have kids at all, and now I am having two in one year?!?" My due date was Trinity's first birthday. The dr told me my body was working too hard and that I had to wean. Again, I meekly obeyed even though I was deeply saddened. I fell into bottle life and tried to make it fun with all kinds of pretty colors and lots of cuddling. I didn't ever want her to hold her own bottle. That seemed an insult, not a milestone.
Christian's pregnancy was difficult. I was working full time, opposite shifts from Brian so Trinity was only with us. My seizures were out of control and they experimented with 4 different medications, 3 of which I had severe reactions to. I was in and out of the hospital from seizures and falls. I spent my whole 8th month in the hospital, missing my baby girl. Christian was born 3 weeks early. I nursed him for two weeks exclusively, nursing in the bathtub when the afterpains put me out of my mind with pain. I had postpartum depression. I went back to work and struggled to pump even an ounce. WIC recomended I switch to formula. At 4 months he was completely weaned, and we had him on soy formula. I felt like a huge failure, but I was in love with my two babies and felt like motherhood was that thing which I had always wanted but didn't know about. Brian and I bought our first house and during the move we found out that we would be having baby number 3.Christian was 7 months, Trinity was 18 months.
Once again my seizures were out of control. Gavin was born 6 weeks premature. He didn't cry, didn't make a sound for the first 4 months of his life. I nursed him every time he moved, afraid I would miss a cue because he wouldn't cry out of hunger. He grew beautifully. When he was 9 months old I took him to a new dr. She chastised me for exclusively nursing him. He was ahead on his charts, he was thriving...but she explained that it was not good to have a baby dependant only on his mom for food. He needed rice cereal. He needed jarred baby food. Wasn't I on WIC? I was, I just didn't agree. I had started to research these things, form my own opinion. WIth head held high I thanked her for her baseless opinion and marched out. I never went back. To her, or any other ped. I ended well child visits that day. I took a step of faith that I could do what God had created me for.
After Gavin's birth I had reluctantly accepted a shot of birth control...just until I could get my saeizures under control.The day I got the shot I seized 15 times. I ran a fever of 105 for 4 days. I decided that I was not going to ever put hormonal birth control in my body again(that was the one and only time). However...the damage was done. I had my first miscarriage after the birth control wore off. Then another one. I grew desperate. I bought a saliva tester and checked my cervix and drank green tea. I contemplated weaning Gavin. After a couple months I became pregnant with Logan! Then Gavin did something shocking and refused to nurse anymore! I do not think it was because my milk changed, I think it was more due to the appetizing sippy cups laying around from Trinity and Christian. Whatever the cause, at 14 months we were done. My first baby to reach a year, my first baby to never be vaxed, my first baby to be worn. I learned so much that year. And we were a happy family! So I had a 24 month old, a 3 year old, and a 4 year old when Logan was born. He nursed so strongly that I bled. I pumped exclusively for a month to try to heal...usually pumping three full 8 ounce bottles per session. At 1 month he went back to nursing and we nursed for 19 months without a hitch(well, 3 bouts of mastitis, but anyway).I weaned him when I was 2 months pregnant.When I was 3 months I lost that baby. That was a much harder loss for me. It came on the 1 year anniversary of my mom's death. I had been due on my mom's birthday. I was devastated.
I concieved Griffon on the very next cycle after my miscarriage. I actually didn't know it was a cycle...I was bleeding, it stopped for a day and started again the next. Then 4 weeks later I had a positive test. I was so confused I thought maybe I didn't miscarry at all...then I had an u/s that dated the pregnancy and figured it out. Ileft Dr based care and had my first homebirth. Griffon nursed like a champ from day 1. At 20 months I found out I was pregnant and weaned him 2 months later.Jubilee was born at home, nursed beautifully. I never resumed cycles, she nursed alot! I felt that maybe I was done having cycles and all had to mean something. I prayed, alot. I felt stupid and needy for wanting another baby when I was already so completely blessed. I know people who struggle so hard to have one, and they were hateful about all my children. It didn't do to yearn for more. Yet I did. I loved my life with lots of littles and know even some that were bigger. I kept nursing Jubilee and just reached out to God for peace if I wasn't to have more. One day while taking care of the donkeys I was praying, telling God how I wanted another baby but it wasn't even a chance seeing as how I didn't have any signs of ovulation and Jubilee was such a heavy nursling.I heard an audible voice say," But I can do all things!" I literally fell down I was so freaked out. A week later I poas(as I do every month lol) and got quite a shock when it turned blaringly positive.I stumbled out to the garden and showed Brian. He laughed at my dumbstruck expression and at the fact that I have always tried to manage things that are outside my control. Jubilee nursed for a few months longer and self weaned at 24 months. Epiphany was born at home and has nursed like a champ from the get go. She still nurses like a fiend. She is 20 months. I have just resumed cycles. I have learned to quit trying to manage, control, or even guess at His wisdom and grace. I adore my children, I adore nursing them, I adore being a mom. I will be beyond thrilled to have another if I should be so blessed, and I will be okay with being done if that is how it goes.My home is filled with beautiful beings who make the world a better place.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Hospice is finally involved with my dad's care. He is semi comatose at this point, and is vomiting blood. The news continues to get worse and worse. I suppose that cancer is like that, but it is no easy thing to see in action. I continue to pray that his pain be eased and that he be at peace...whether that would mean passing on or being healed is not my decision.
Brian and I went bowling to celebrate Rev's birthday last night. We stopped at Barnes and Noble to get a couple books as a gift first...I love walking around the bookstore! I drooled at the Settlers of Catan game...someday soon. Bowling was fun but my mind was elsewhere. Trinity texted me to let me know Jubilee was complaining of a tummyache. Sure enough the next call was that she threw up. I came home to three vomit puddles to clean up and a miserable baby girl. She has not been able to keep anything down for almost 24 hrs now. Her eyes are getting very weak looking and she staggers when she tries to walk. I am on high alert and thinking of taking her to the hospital if she can't drink soon. It doesn't help that I am home alone with 7 kids and will have to call Brian home from work to go.
In other news:the neighbors burned 5 acres of our land. They set a "controlled" burn on a windy day and it got away from them. Fire department came and set it out quickly. The very next day, also very windy and dry, they reset it! Unfortunately the fire department didn't get here fast enough and it took mere minutes to sweep the back half. The kids and I went back and collected bones the following day. We found a few skulls and even some of Opal's bones. It is amazing the perspective we have now that the brush is gone, and we are working hard to clear some paths before it grows back. We are also going to lay some alfalfa seed. It has made more work, but will be worthwhile. Such is life!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Black beans are cooking in the crockpot. We are eating alot of beans and rice, and it is surprisingly good! I was afraid it would be yuck, but I really enjoy it.
I spent some time looking at solar ovens on youtube today. I am going to try to build one this weekend, and then the goal will be to use it at least once a week. That will lower our electric usage and will be a good life skill for the kids in case we have need.Or if we go camping ;) .
I went and looked at the Dividing Bread building today. It needs some major TLC but it is actually perfect! I am really excited to see this project happen. I still can't believe in two months I should be running a thrift store/food pantry! My space designer is going to put in a school room for me too, that will be really helpful! I am thinking that being in a space specifically for school and with the incentive of being able to go to the park across the street if they get done will help keep them focused.
The neighbor boys came over today and told me their dog killed one of our hens. :( Then they asked if we had extra gas so their dad could go to town. I am all about helping people, but this is the 3rd time this week and the 20th time or so in a year. I am not made of money any more than they are. Plus it was 30 degrees and both boys had no coats on. So sad. I took them a gallon of milk and a gallon of apple juice because I know they don't eat enough.They should eat their dumb dog!
I ordered the McMurray chickens. 61 birds due in February 14th. Yay! I am contemplating making a lightweight chicken tractor for the fryers to be out on the back 5 acres to improve the land a bit, but the critters are worse there...I am not sure I trust chicken wire to keep a hungry coyote out. I have been watching videos and reading about the most efficient way to harvest the birds without a chicken plucker and even though I like the benefit of full skin chicken I think I am going to just skin them instead of scalding and plucking.We will have the pigs by then so we can just thow the skins to them...
My cycle seems to be getting on a 35 day rythem. Yay...except I hate having a cycle because that means I am not pregnant. Hopefully soon.
I am going to try to do 20 minutes of the Gazelle and a pilates workout. I am so tired, but I don't want to skip it. I really want to look better by my birthday!

Monday, January 10, 2011

I am making a big change this week. I started brushing my dreads out on Saturday. After a year and a half they are taking a LOT of work to remove, but willpower and conditioner are making it happen. I have about half my head done so far and the hair is very healthy. I am a little regretful and a little relieved. I think it is a good time to do it, but I did love having them.
We got snow yesterday! We took the kids to the giant hill in town and Brian and them had a blast sledding for an hour. Brian wants to go out again in the morning lol!
I am very ready for Spring. I am making plans and every time I go outside I am assessing what can be done in that corner, and what can I plant there? I am looking forward to a productive year in so many ways.
We have reduced our debt from $10,000 credit card to $5,300 since starting the Dave Ramsey FPU. It is such an amazing thought that we can eliminate these payments from our lives forever and we can do it this year!!!Early next year we will have both vehicles payed off as well, and then it will only be a few years to pay off the house. I really can't wrap my head around having disposable income...that the money we bring in will not be going straight to bills. That I could go to a store and buy something beautiful with no guilt. That we can send our children off to their adult lives with a little starter savings. That we could travel!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The boys doing Math U See

God's Design for Science: joints.
Read Aloud:Detective Zach

Trinity reading in her comfy bed.

Frescoes in the tin to go with Story of the World Medieval India.
Monster pictures colored during the read aloud.

The younger set enjoying juice and crackers. Griffon, Jubilee, Epiphany, and Riley.

It was a productive day. I wrote my goals on the dry erase board and checked them off as we got done. The kids responded really well to that, and I felt like I had a visual motivation. We had homemade pizza with homemade sauce, spinach, cheese, and bacon(Trinity had her own vegetarian version) for lunch. Breakfast was pancakes and oranges. I am still thinking about dinner. It is time to go do the outside night chores. I spent too much time looking at Murray McMurray chickens, but Brian and I agreed on numbers and breeds and will order tomorrow to hopefully receive the birds in Feb. We are changing it up this year and getting meat birds as well...we have butchered in the past and honestly aren't looking forward to it, but I won't eat commercial meat anymore and I do like chicken! 3 hogs are in the plans, and we are probably going to order a half cow sometime soon. That is Brian's idea...I think we have more than enough meat to last until the next pigs are done. Almost, anyhow. Steaks on the grill sound good too. Heh, you can tell it is dinnertime, I am obsessing about food.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Brian trying out his new longboard in the kitchen with Pip in arms and Jubilee along for the ride.

I thought about using this for our cards this year but we ended up not sending any!
Trinity 12,Christian 11, Gavin 10, Logan 8, Griffon 6, Jubilee 3, and Epiphany 1

1 of the 8 deer that visits every day.

Doing a final check on the bees. They are set for winter.

Our first day back to school in 2011 is a great success. We got science and a cooking lesson before lunch, read a 102 page book during lunch that got a 5 from 4 of the kids, and are gearing up for history. The house is fairly clean, the kids are receptive, and the sun is shining.
The "Seven Silly Eaters" cake was very tasty and the kidlets loved making and baking it. It is going into my breakfast recipes.
We set a live trap outside the chicken coop yesterday as there is a Huge rat living under the coop. It has destroyed our Christmas decorations, chewed clothesline, and eats our garden. I put a huge chunk of bread in the trap and this morning...the bread was gone but the trap wasn't sprung! Not happy.I am going to try again in a few hours...I have to make more bread first lol!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

My father has several brain tumors now. There is little to is a bleak outlook and he is afraid and hurting. I can barely speak of it without crying and tend to come off as callous for being quiet about it. I want to be there physically for him, but there is no financial way for me to do so.
I swallowed my blackstrap molasses with less of a grimace as I thought of the fact that it helps keep a hostile environment for cancer. I am not over the top, but I do not want to go through this, nor do I want my kids to experience this.
Today was a major book score at the thrift store. I found the book . It immediately warmed my heart. Seven picky eaters bring their quirks together to bond and nourish...oh my. The children loved it, and we are making the cake tomorrow! The pictures were almost better than the story.
I also got 3 Charlie Brown science books that match my dictionary set, a Justice League book, a Pokemon book, and a read aloud prospect called Franny K Stein about a mad scientist. There was a stick horse that I picked up for Jubilee's birthday but the squirmy girl found it before I could hide it and has been loving it ever since. I can not believe she will be 4 in 3 weeks.
I have made several Pioneer Woman recipes since Christmas and I Love them! They are real food, hearty food, and they are scrumptious.
Tomorrow starts our new school session. I am really looking forward to it. We took all of December to do only Bible and copywork and it was balm for the soul. Now we are ready to integrate history ,science, and math back in.
I am getting ready to go to Bible Study. There is a possibility that I will be opening a food pantry/thrift store as a second branch of one of the other women. Tonight we will share with our other ladies for prayer. I am very very excited about this.
Brian got Nanny McPhee 2 from the library and he and the wee ones will watch while I am gone. The I will watch it tomorrow with them lol. It really doesn't look as good as the 1st, but I may be surprised.