Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Holiday Snow

We had our early snow in October, and now again, we have snow. It's the day before Thanksgiving, but it looks more like Christmas outside to me.  We're expecting another 10 inches or so.  My heart is so happy to sit inside my little cottage all snug and warm when it's snowing and blowing outside. The fire is burning in the wood stove. My coffee is steaming in my mug. Silas is chattering away on the floor beside me and the Littles and Middles are playing upstairs together and their voices flow together over the balcony to my very happy ears. The Builder is working, but left with promises of an early return. And our oldest son is sleeping soundly in his own bed upstairs. We're missing Kate, Allie and John, but this Mama is very content this snowy morning.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

October Snow

The recent, unseasonal snowfall (10 inches!!) has been met with joy, confusion and dread of things to come in our little home. Zach and Maddie danced with glee when they heard that the expected inch or so that wouldn't stick had turned into a Winter Storm Warning. Gather the boots! Get the sleds! They gathered and waited.

And waited. And waited. Until finally they woke up early Sunday morning to see the yard covered and more snow falling.  

Last year, Emma was very much afraid of the snow. It was far too cold for her little self, so she was usually content to stay inside with her little sister while the big kids went out to play.  Of course, she'd decide to stay in only after insisting that she wanted to go out and I'd spend a full 15 minutes getting snowsuit, hat, socks, boots, mittens all fastened up just right. But not this year. This year she got all the appropriate snow attire on (with much help and after realizing that she doesn't have any boots that fit and she stubbornly declared that last year's boots were just perfect, thank you), and went out to slide down the backyard hill and play with the big kids.

Sophie watched the snow falling from the sky and had us all come to the window to see the "bubbles". We dressed her in her outside snow gear so she could go play, but she decided those bubbles falling from the sky were a bit too cold for her taste and she promptly came inside to help Mama mix up some homemade hot cocoa mix.

The Builder dreaded the snow. Not just because of the white stuff, but any time there is a weather event of any significance, it is accompanied by power outages and many work-related phone calls, alarms and emails. Once he had all that under control, he was able to enjoy plowing our driveway, starting up the tractor instead of the snow blower and getting the job done in less than a quarter of the usual time.

Personally, I enjoyed the added hush the snow brings. I honestly thought it would be completely melted by now - 2 days later. But even as I type this, the big kids are outside building snowmen, and Sophie says she wants to go outside now. "I like it", she says.
Taken after they started melting, but you can still see the antennae an the front snow"man" and the back two are in the middle of a snowball fight.

I'm off to go find the stash of post-holiday-50%-off-sale chocolate my husband brought home and hid from me. Good thing we don't have too many hiding places. This girl loves a good sale!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Two Months

It's pretty amazing how time works. You know, how when you're counting down the days until something exciting happens, it seems like time just drags on. You can almost count the seconds, and they drag on endlessly. But when you're looking back at something, it seems like time has flown by. And you wonder where it all went and how is it possible that it went by so fast.

Today, Silas is two months old. Two months since that whirlwind of a labor. Two months since I first saw that face that I fell oh-so-completely-in-love with. Two months since I looked into newborn eyes that held so much wisdom -is it because he still remembered being in heaven? And I wonder, where did the time go?

I'm still waiting for some down time to just sit and hold my newborn. But my newborn isn't newly born any more. I'm still waiting for the few days of slowness with my husband to just sit together and enjoy the moments of welcoming this precious life into our family. But we haven't had any moments to just sit together.

I've only had postpartum depression once in all my seven babies. I don't have it this time. I don't have time for that. But I have mourned the busy-ness of our lives this last season. So busy sending a child off to school. So busy working on our little bit of home and the land we have been blessed with. So busy enjoying a far-too-brief visit with our oldest and our granddaughter. So busy trying to get started and be diligent about school work. So busy trying to maintain a semblance of sanity in this almost insanely busy but blessed life we have. So busy that I don't know where the last two months have gone.

My little Silas. Still a baby, but so much changed from when he took his first oh-so-calm breath. I've had a few brief moments of just BEing with him. I'm hoping to find more. He has definitely carved out his place in our family. None of us can remember what life was like before he came. Happy two months to you, my little man-cub.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Making Supper

The family has been fighting a bit of a cold - the first of the season for us.

Wouldn't it be very nice if it were also the last cold of the season?  

So, for dinner I wanted to make something warm and healthy. Restorative Roasted Garlic Soup is exactly what we needed. I used this recipe, given to me by a dear friend and wonderful cook. She made a few changes to the recipe, and I only changed the broth base from vegetable broth to chicken because that's what was in my freezer. So the modified recipe is:

3 heads of roasted garlic ( i used 2 large heads)
8 cups of broth (I used chicken, but vegetable is very good)

1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
juice from 1 or 2 limes added at the end
and then served up with slices of avocado and toasted corn tortilla strips - because that's what I had

But just soup didn't look quite substantial enough for tonight. So I added some meatballs (I love this recipe!) that I had in the freezer to enjoy along with some Butternut Squash Fries.  My house smells very fall-ish.

And, I even had a chance to sort through the little girls' clothes and switch out warm weather wear for cool weather wear this afternoon. I'm feeling quite smug with my accomplishments for the day.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

You Can't Have It All

I've been pondering life's direction a lot lately.
     Maybe it's because I just gave birth to my seventh child.
          Maybe it's because my second child just left our nest, maybe for a year, maybe forever.
               Maybe it's because of the uncertainty of the economy and The Builder's job.
                    Maybe it's because I spend a large part of my day nursing Silas and thinking about life.

I remember a writing assignment in a college class I took long ago. The assignment was "Your View of Life's Choices - Is There Only One Right Way". Or something like that. I don't remember all the details, but I do remember comparing life to water flowing. You see water flowing in a brook, and that water can flow along many different paths of the brook, or it might come to a "dead end" and go under ground for a while, but it will resurface. The brook might only flow as a trickle, barely visible unless you're looking for it. Or it might join with a larger stream and then a river and flow along in a fast current. No matter which path the water takes, it still all ends up in the ocean. (Work with me here.) Is the fast current on a better path than the slow trickling brook?

Is there only One Right Way? God's One Perfect Plan for our lives and anything else is second best? I don't think so. I think He teaches us what we need to know wherever we are. Oh, sure, we can definitely make choices that are plainly wrong, but if there are two or more paths to choose that appear equally right, does it really matter which one we pick? I think we can apply that to the big things (career choices) and to the little things (where to spend Saturday afternoon).  We need to realize that saying yes to one path means saying no to others. You simply can't have it all.  The important thing is to live your life with joy, faith, love, kindness, honesty, integrity, patience and humility. That's the hard part.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Time Flies When You're Busy

Such a busy summer we've had. 
Trying to get some projects done around the house. 
Trying to enjoy the summer. 
Trying to enjoy the last few months before Josh left for school. 
Trying to prepare for the newest little one to join us.  

And now, here we are. At the end of summer. Fall is coming in quickly, although we did have a bit of a reprieve with a return to summer temperatures for a couple of days. And as proof of how quickly time is flying by, my brand new baby is One Month Old. I don't quite know where the days went.

Silas, the day he was born

Silas, One Month Old

 He's growing up far to fast for my taste.

Birthdays are hard work

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Why We Won't Turn on the Hose Today

Yesterday was hot. Well, as hot as things get in June in our part of the world, certainly not as hot as things get in other parts, but hot as we define it here. Anyway, I thought I'd get the outside work done early, and then maybe do something fun and water-y with the kids. So we headed out to the garden to finish removing the rocks that grew over the winter. The middles brought their summer school books (Math and Reading), we packed up water and headed down to the garden. We brought the goats, too. They like to graze in the field while we work down there. The kids all hang out in the shade house while I get some gardening done.
Emma thought the goats should be allowed in the shade house, too.
So while I worked on raking and pulling weeds and throwing rocks, the goats grazed nearby.

Why do I put up a gate?
Sometimes they were a lot nearer than I wanted, but they did help with the weeding.   Emma thought she'd take them for a walk, Talking with them the whole way.

Emma, Goat Whisperer

Sophie kept a close watch on everything.

Sadly, we were only down there for about an hour and a half before the heat made me realized that the garden, which has already waited this long, could wait a couple more days. Cooler weather is on the way.  Even Abby was glad when we decided to head back to the house to take a break.

And that was our morning. So in the afternoon I thought I'd let the kids have some fun and turn on the hose and I'd take a break for the afternoon. I took Emma and Sophie out to play with Zach and Maddie in the water, and I realized that, well, since the water was on anyway, I should scrub the 5 area rugs that have been sitting outside for far too long waiting for me to stop being so lazy have time to scrub them down before storing them until next winter.

When I was done with the rugs, since the water was on anyway, I thought I'd water the strawberries I recently planted.  While I was watering the strawberries, I realized that the grapes needed to be weeded. So I did that. When I was done weeding the grapes, I looked over at the blueberries and realized that they needed some weeding as well. So I did that. And the kids had fun playing in the water. And that was my afternoon break. So we won't turn on the hose today, because I'm too tired to take a break.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Turkey Ark

 I wanted to show you the shelter my amazing husband built for the turkeys.

He mostly used materials he had on hand, because we're really tired of spending more on animal housing than we do on maintaining our own, so "cheap" was the operative word. He screened the sides with 1" poultry wire, built roosts for the turkeys, put in two doors - one for the turkeys to get in and out and one for us to access their food and water. It's gorgeous! When he finished building it, we thought it looked ark-like, hence the name - the Turkey Ark.  We The Builder and the middles dragged it out to the field, came back for the turkeys and put them in their new home, safe and secure. That was Saturday.

Perhaps we should have called it the Turkey Titanic. Because sometime between Monday night and Tuesday morning a weasel found our Ark. Unfortunately, the weasel also found our turkeys. When I went to check on them Tuesday morning we were down by two. So The Builder stopped by the hardware store for reinforcements. (So much for keeping it cheap!) He picked up hardware cloth to reinforce the sides and the bottom of the Ark and ended up spending the whole evening working on it with Josh's assistance. He basically ended up re-framing the whole thing, placing the hardware cloth (which is supposed to be weasel proof) over top of the poultry wire, then lifting the whole thing and covering the bottom as well. The hardware cloth wasn't large enough to reach all the way around the bottom, so he overlapped it and anchored it in place with some pretty large rocks until he can "stitch" the opening closed. 

I think the remodel was successful, because this morning all 9 turkeys were still there, alive and well. While I did some work in the garden I let them out to free-range. They were hesitant at first (do you blame them?), but they seemed to enjoy the freedom.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

This Week

So much happening, it must be posted in bullets, or it will never be posted.

  • Transcript for 4 years of high school compiled for Josh to graduate.
    • This was a tough one because most of our records were online, and we've had multiple computer and printer problems this year. 
    • This required digging through boxes in the cellar to find school work from 9th and 10th grades.
    • This also required some serious crunch time on Josh's part, which resulted in serious crunch time for grading the work on my part.
    • We're done. He graduates tomorrow!
  • The Builder made a shelter for the 11 turkeys that have been living in our garage for a month. The Turkey Ark was finished today, and the turkeys were relocated to their new home.
  • The 20 21 23 22 many chickens that have been living in the garage for a month have been moved to the coop, affectionately referred to as the Taj-Ma-coop. We'll see how they do.
  • The 9 ducks that have been living in our garage for a month have been relocated to temporary quarters until permanent shelter is built found.
  • We went to our last day at the middles' homeschool co-op. Lots of fun was had by all. We ended the day with very tired middles and littles, and a Mama who is grateful for time off for the summer but is wondering what she'll do without weekly sanity checks.
  • We ALL (even Josh and The Builder) went on a field trip to Children's Day at a small living history museum. It was a wonderful way to end the official school year.
  • The garden was planted prepared for planting. We're a little behind, but it seems that rocks grew very well over the winter and they needed to be removed. We got half of it done. We're a little late for planting here, but we're still going to put everything in and see what comes up. Because you never know.
  • Zach learned how to drive the tractor and tilled half of our field for planting. He's walking much taller now, with a little man-swagger.
  • Zach and Maddie each got to back a vehicle down the driveway to clear the way to clean out the garage. They both have a little bit of man-swagger.
  • The 100 strawberry plants I planted last week are doing very well, even though some of our chickens think the new strawberry bed is a custom built dust-bath just for them. I still need to mulch them. Maybe next week.
  • Bingley the baby boy goat is a little "less" boy. We had him neutered (which is a much better alternative than the meat market). I was amazed at how fast and easy the process was. Much better than disbudding.
  • Maddie finished up all her reading books for the year and is looking for more. 
  • Maddie and Zach finished science for the year.
  • I'm looking forward to our first summer "off" in several years. Other than some reading and math (which are year-round subjects), we're done with school!
Sorry, no pictures. With all those things going on, did you really expect me to take and download pictures? Impossible!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

20 years

7,300 days
 And every new day is a blessing.

 1,040 weeks
Filled with far too much time apart, but loving the moments when we're together. 

240 months
Births and birthdays, new homes, new jobs, new states, teaching children, graduations, weddings, grandchildren, growing together.
20 years
Remembering beautiful times together, enjoying the moments we are given, planning and looking forward to many more.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Saving Money: Ground Beef

We go through quite a bit of ground beef here at our cottage so it's something I buy on a regular basis when it's on sale, but I recently needed some and we were all out. Ideally, I'd love to buy grass fed beef on a regular basis, but I can buy it cheaper if we get a quarter or half from a local farm and I just haven't done it for a while. It's on my list of things to do before the baby's born. (Yes, it's a very long list.)

So, here I am, needing ground beef, and not having any in the freezer which means I was at the mercy of whatever price the grocery store was charging. (Yes, I could have changed my menu, but that would ruin the story.)  The ground beef was $3.49 a pound for 85% ground beef. OUCH! I needed 10 pounds. I certainly didn't want to spend $35 just for the meat! But wait! There is a better way. Walk over to the beef section of the store and price the boneless chuck roasts. The day I was at the store, they were $2.99 a pound. So we took 10 pounds of chuck roasts over to the butcher's counter and asked him to grind it for us. We saved $5.00. Not bad. But we could do better. Boneless chuck roasts go on sale pretty frequently (about once a month or so) and the sale price is about $1.99 a pound. So if we plan our purchases around the sales, we can save a whole lot more.  I'm pretty sure all stores will offer this service, as long as they have an in store butcher, so it's worth it to ask. And the best part is that it's free. And we get to see what's REALLY going into our ground beef.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Busy, Busy, Busy

Bingley when he was 15 minutes old.

Turkey poult reading the news.

Little baby ducks.
It's spring here in New England. Which means there are LOTS of things calling for attention. Baby chicks, baby ducks, baby turkeys. Preparing garden beds, mulching garden beds, planting, weeding, cleaning. And then there's the end of the school year push. Every year in May I can see the end of the year coming and completely lose my schooling focus. This year it happened at the end of April. So we entered May mode in April, but now I'm ready for summer mode and it's still May. It's pretty difficult keeping children on track when I'm not!

Plus this year we have to pull together final grades for Josh, who is graduating in just over 2 weeks! And we don't have only final grades to pull together, but grades for 9th and 10th grades which were stored oh-so-safely (NOT!) on a computer that decided to have several hiccups along the way. I still have all his work, but it's stored in the basement under all the things we haven't needed to access in the last 2 years. So in order to get to all his old work, I need to go through the stuff on top. And it makes sense to sort what I'm going through while I'm going through it, right? So let's just say that I have a few things on my things to do list.

And on top of it all is the oh-my-goodness-the-baby's-coming-in-as-little-as-9 weeks! I still haven't gotten through my pre-Sophie project list, and she's 20 months old! I think my spring and summer are pretty well spoken for.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother's Day Blessings

Reminiscing. Thinking of all the mothers in my family. My great-grandmothers, most of whom I never met, but still are such a big part of who I am. The one who had to leave one of her children in another country for years because they didn't have the money to bring her home. The ones who left home for new lands and new opportunities. The one who lost a son in WWII. Strong women, all of them.

My Great-Grandmother, Amelia, is the second on the left. My grandfather is the handsome blond sailor in the back on the right.

My grandmothers. I love them dearly. One who told me on her 83rd (or 84th?) birthday that her biggest regret in life was not having more children. One who never talked about children until after my third child was born and just mentioned that she always wanted more but had many miscarriages. No one ever knew. One leaving home and family to marry the man of her dreams, the other marrying after a brief 6-week courtship and then sending her husband off to war, not seeing him again for 2-3 years. Strong women, both of them.

My still beautiful grandmother.

My mother. Raising two children as a single mom. Warm and creative. Working to provide the best she could. A strong woman.

My grandmother, my mom, my oldest daughter, and me.

I'm next on the family mother tree. I am a blessed woman. Abundantly blessed. I think about each child of mine. Each one so precious.

The oldest, Kate, a mama herself now and living too far away, preparing to move to an even greater distance in a week. Born when I was so young, and didn't know the first thing about being a good mother, but wanting to giver her the best of me that I possibly could. She is the fierce protector of her baby I always knew she'd be. Graceful, passionate, beautiful.

The next one, Josh, now a man preparing to leave our nest. He spends less and less time here. I miss him already, but I'm so honored to be his mother and I look forward to watching the next few years. Gifted, humble, a quiet and strong leader.

And then my quirky, particular, and oh-so-funny Zach, the boy who is quickly growing out of boyhood, loving books and dragons and legos and swords, still giving me swift hugs when he passes me in the kitchen. 

Sweet Maddie, so tender hearted and kind. Probably the one most like me in likes, but so much like her Papa in personality. Dress wearing, tractor driving, loving to knit and bake and sew and run barefoot and splash in the creek and care for the animals.

Little Emma, a princess. Blond-haired beauty with a quick smile. Dumping toys from boxes so she can stand taller next to me to play with my hair - her habit when she's tired. So wanting to be in charge, but just barely 3 years old and the 5th child makes it hard to be the boss.

Sophia Rosebud, the current littlest, but not for much longer. Dark, curly hair and a deep belly laugh. Such a petite little body, but such a big personality, a fearless monkey imitating everyone around. Curious, climbing, busy.

And the soon to come littlest. A boy? A girl? Blond or dark? Serious or fun-loving?

Each one is such a gift, a treasure. I did nothing to deserve them. So much love in this little cottage of a home. Oh, yes. I am a very blessed woman. And I'm so grateful to be the descendant of so many strong women. I hope I am able to honor them in the way I live my life.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

A Better Rhythm

Such a long day today. Homeschooling middles, chasing littles, cooking, cleaning, laundering, cleaning again, budgeting, planning, talking, washing, praying. Ending up around the dinner table with frozen pizzas and a very tired Mama.

And then, everything changed. 

He came home. 

It's amazing to me how the atmosphere in our home changes when The Builder is here. Everyone seems to work a little harder, moving together in a better rhythm. He doesn't complain about the frozen pizza. He's just grateful to be able to eat with his family. And, of course, as soon as he walked in the door he opened his arms to me for a long embrace, taking away all the frustrations of the day. God has blessed me with the most wonderful man I've ever met.

And now, after dinner, he took the littles and the middles outside for a bit to give me a moment of quiet. But the birds are chirping, and my children are laughing, and the goats are calling for their supper, and my husband is out there while I am in here. So I'm going to go out to join them. Because that's where I belong.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Recipe: Homemade Corn Chowder

I made corn chowder for dinner. Everyone loved it. I mean they LOVED it. I didn't really follow a recipe, just looked at a few different ones, combined what sounded good, and started with a lot of butter. Everything is better when you start with butter, right?

So, here's the 'recipe' so I'll be able to make it again someday. Because if I don't post it, I'll never remember what I put in it. Oh, and you can try it, too.

  • Start with a lot of butter in a dutch oven. No, really, put in more. Okay, now a bit more. There, that looks good. Actually I used about a cup of butter. 
  • Then add some onions. Not a lot, because Zach doesn't like them. Just a little for flavor. Or more if you're not feeding Zach. (Really, this is how I cook.)  Cook the onion in the butter until it's transparent. Or until Zach comes in and looks in the pot and wrinkles his nose when he sees the onions.
  • Now look in the fridge for some ham. Yep, found some. Deli sliced ham. Slice it into little squares. Add it to the onions and butter. I think I used about 10 slices. Bacon (already cooked) would work well instead.
  • Now add about a cup or so of chicken stock. Homemade is best. Store bought works just as well.
  • Add 3 cans of creamed corn. Yes, 3 cans. I know you don't like creamed corn, but it will taste fine. Trust me. 
  • Peel and dice some potatoes. I dice them small, like a half-inch square. They cook faster that way and they're cute little bite size pieces. It looks pretty. I used maybe 7 small potatoes. Maybe more. Maybe less. It's whatever I had left in the bag.
  • Cook all this together stirring pretty frequently because everything really wants to stick to the bottom of the pan. It will if you answer the phone or wash the dishes. So don't be tempted. Pay attention. Cook until the potatoes are soft. Taste one to see.
  • Then add about 1 1/2 (yes, one AND one-half) cups of half and half. Whole milk won't cut it. Just do it. You'll thank me. Simmer gently until it's all heated through. Don't boil.
  • Make some quick homemade baking powder biscuits to go with it. You could do this while the potatoes are cooking. Just don't forget to stir the chowder. Enjoy.

Friday, April 1, 2011

April - in like a Lion?

Once again, I lack regular posting. Let me tell you, this has been and eventful winter. We've had so many viruses visiting us, we've reserved them space in the guest room. I wish they'd go away. The most recent attacks have been a coughing fit that lasted about 2 weeks, ending with a sinus infection for me. Then we had a very sexist stomach virus visit. It only attacked the females of the house. Funny thing is, even the dog was sick. And that one hit while The Builder was away on business. The good news is that he was able to avoid it, but then again, all the other males in the house avoided it as well.  I think we're finally done. After all, spring is here! We can tell when we look out the window and see..... over a foot of snow. Oh yes, God definitely has a sense of humor. He's celebrating April Fools' Day here in the northeast. My crocuses are weeping.

Yesterday was a much springier day. It was almost 50 degrees out, so we all partook of the warmth and sunlight. I did some light yard work, just picking up some of the branches that had fallen in the yard over the winter and tossing them into a pile in the woods. Emma was doing it, too. I asked her if she was helping me clean up the yard. She said, "No. Emma throw stuff." Forget the cleaning up, the joy of throwing stuff won. Good thing she kept throwing it into the same pile in the woods.  Sophie spent her time realizing that she could walk around the yard on her own. She diligently avoided the remaining snow piles, and the dog mines, thank you Abby.

I'm starting to get some of my old energy back. Unfortunately, the project list is huge from not doing any inside the house projects over the winter, and now that spring is (supposedly) here, there's a huge outside the house project list to be added. It will be interesting to see what gets done (and what doesn't) over the next few months.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Simple Things

The simplest things bring such pleasure:

Playing 500 Rummy with the whole family last night
Waking up with my husband this morning and seeing our two littles sprawled across the bed between us
Enjoying a quiet cup of coffee with my husband before the rest of the house awoke
Getting to make my husband breakfast before he left for work
Seeing the sun shining through my windows
Actually having my checkbook balance
Boiling off sap on my living room wood stove to make maple syrup
Dreaming and planning with my husband

Watching the littles share secrets under the desk

Sunday, March 13, 2011


I'm home from church again. My two littles are with me. Between Sophie's still runny nose (though she is getting better and is fever free. Thank you, Jesus!) and Emma's German Shepherd barking cough, and my too tight to really breathe well without coughing and coughing even if I try to take little breaths, we decided it was best for the three of us to stay home. I'll tell you, it has been a Very Long Time since the whole family has been able to worship together. But what a blessing to be home today - the sun is shining beautifully outside (melt that snow!), the little girls are playing nicely together, I'm enjoying another cup of coffee, and I'm spending some much needed time with God. 

I have a confession to make:  I've been a grump lately. Not just a little. I've turned into the type of person I don't like to be around. Grumpy, negative, persnickety, crabby, bad-tempered, testy... Well, you get the picture. In short, I've been focusing entirely too much on me. But this morning I've had a chance to count my blessings.

Yes, it has been a Very Long Winter with A Lot of Sickness. 
BUT, our sickness is temporary. We'll get over it. It isn't terminal, so what am I complaining about? 

Yes, I've been pretty tired and still nauseous from this pregnancy.
BUT, I'm carrying a treasure. What a gift! And every time I feel this little one move I'm reminded of how blessed I am to be given this gift.
My oldest son will be leaving in a few months to grow his musical gift. We need to come up with money for tuition, housing, food, etc.  I don't know where the money will come from. 
BUT, my God owns the cattle on a thousand hills. He gave Josh this gift, He will provide. 
My husband has been working A Lot, and told me this week that he has two business trips coming up soon that will take him away for a few nights. 
BUT, my husband has a job, and he gets paid on a regular basis. And he provides very well for us.

My list can go on and on. We have a home. We have food. We have children. We have a sweet granddaughter. We have Jesus. See? I just needed to look beyond me. (And I think the sunshine helped just a little.)

So now that my attitude has been adjusted, please forgive me for my very whiny last post.

And now that I'm feeling much more like myself, I think I'll go clean something, bake something, organize something and sew something. Oh yes, that's more like it.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

From my corner of the world

I've lost count. Sophie isn't feeling well. Again. She has a fever. She's sneezing. She's coughing. She's teething. She's very snuggly (I like that part).  I'm so glad I didn't wean her completely in January. She's so miserable, but nursing seems to help. I am a little tired of sitting so much, but it is for a good reason - I get to snuggle Sophie. Poor baby, even when she's napping I can't put her down - she wakes up crying as soon as I do. So yesterday, last night, and today I sat up holding my baby. So she could sleep. Sitting can make a body tired. I don't know how and I don't know why, but I know that it does.

And we've had a lame goat. One of our girls was limping the other night. She was the same the next morning. Worse the morning after that. We thought maybe it was hoof rot. We checked and it wasn't. Then we thought maybe she slipped on the ice. Now she seems to be better. She's walking slowly, but she's walking. I'm not sure that I like having goats right now. Especially sick goats. Not when I have sick little ones to take care of too.

And I'm going into my 19th week of pregnancy. I'd love to be able to tell you that I'm feeling great, but I'm still nauseous and very tired. Other than that, all is well.

The rest of the family seems to be doing well. Spring still hasn't quite arrived here yet. We even had more snow today. We had lots of snow/sleet/rain the other day which made driving very slippery, but the next morning was sunny and the trees were coated with ice and sparkled and I took pictures for you but my son stole my camera again so I can't download them for you to see. But I want you to know I thought about it. And spring is coming. I have it on good authority.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Recipe: Spicy (or not) Potato Soup

Our supper last night was a family favorite. A dear friend made the soup for our family when Emma was born, and we loved it so much we asked for the recipe. And can I say, on a side note, that bringing a meal to a family is one of the biggest ways to bless them. It really is. So here's our quick, easy, budget friendly, and yummy recipe with my notes and changes. I posted this recipe on Pennywise Platter at The Nourishing Gourmet. It isn't a very gourmet recipe, but it sure is pennywise!

Spicy Potato Soup

1 pound ground beef
1 small onion, diced
4 large diced, peeled potatoes    (I usually add more potatoes)
3 (8 oz.) cans tomato sauce     (I use 2 15 oz. cans because that's what I keep on hand)
4 cups water      (I add 5 because I add extra tomato sauce)
2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. pepper      (I reduce it to only 1/2 tsp. if I'm making it for people who don't like spicy food)
1 (4 oz.) can green chiles      (I leave these out most of the time because I rarely have them on hand. You could add 1-2 tsp. Tabasco sauce, or Frank's Hot Sauce, or leave this out entirely and add your hot sauce of choice to individual bowls when serving)

Directions: In a large dutch oven, brown the ground beef. Drain off fat if needed. Return beef to pot and add onion, cooking until onion is soft and translucent. Add diced potatoes and tomato sauce. Stir in water, salt, pepper, and green chiles (if using). Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for one hour or until the potatoes are tender and the soup has thickened. 

Optional:  Serve with grated Cheddar cheese and sour cream. Garnish with cilantro.

Servings:  I don't know. There are 7 of us with pretty healthy appetites, and we have enough for lunch the next day.

Kitchen Tip: Cleaning up Dough

We're all still feeling a bit under the weather. Some are getting better, others are not. Last night I was pinned between two littles who weren't feeling very well, so Josh and Maddie made supper for us with a little assistance from Zach. Maddie was in charge of the soup (Spicy Potato Soup), Josh was in charge of the biscuits. It all turned out very well. (Sorry, no pictures.) I hadn't realized how little recipe cooking Josh had done. Oops! I have a lot to teach him before he leaves this fall!

I do have one tip to share that I thought was common kitchen knowledge, but apparently isn't. When you're cleaning up after you make any kind of dough - bread, biscuit, pizza, etc. - clean your bowl and utensils with cold water first. Hot water makes the dough sticky and glue-y. Cold water makes it easier to scrape off without having glued on dough stick to everything. After you scrape off as much as you can under cold water, then wash as normal in hot water. Easy cleanup!

Monday, February 28, 2011

Fighting the Battle

Thought I'd share a few interesting things I've been learning lately.
  • The cold and flu viruses die at about 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • These viruses survive best and are transmitted fastest in low humidity and cool or cold temperatures.
  • A cough or sneeze can spread germs up to 8 feet.
  • People with a cold are contagious for the first 3 days and up to 10 days after the start of cold symptoms - for most cold viruses. There are exceptions. People with the flu are contagious for even longer. 
  • Most colds go away 7 - 10 days after the start of symptoms, but the symptoms may last longer.
  • There are over 200 different viruses that cause colds. That's why the same person can catch a different cold frequently.
  • Once sick, you can do things to relieve symptoms, you can do things to help rebuild your immune system, but the cold still needs to run its course.
  • Cold and flu germs can live on some surfaces up to 48 hours. 
Why have I done all this research you ask? Because our family has, once again, been stricken with yet another version of the wonderful cold. This is round 5 for us this winter. That's the most we've ever been sick.  I'm tired. Really tired. Adding joy to the wonderful cold, is the very unpleasant and lingering morning (well, mostly evening these days) sickness that I'm still battling. Every time I cough, by stomach does flip flops. I won't tell you any more than that. It isn't very pretty and doesn't need to be blogged about, but it's the worst weight-loss plan I've ever been on. We missed church (again) on Sunday. We're missing our homeschool co-op day (again) tomorrow. We're staying in and containing our germs. You're welcome.

So here's my advice for everyone else. If you or your child are coughing, stay home. If you or your child are sneezing, stay home. If you or your child has a fever, stay home. (And by the way, reducing the fever with medication does NOT mean "fever-free". The fever needs to be gone on its own for 24 hours.) A low grade fever does not need to be medicated. It is your body's nature way of killing germs. 

Why is it so important that you stay home? Because your germs spread. A cough or sneeze (see above) spreads germs up to 8 feet. The germs can live (see above) for up to 48 hours. So think about it. If you go anywhere when you're sick, you just gave anyone who, for the next 2 days, touches anything within 8 feet of where you or your child coughed your wonderful cold. This may not mean much to you. But to a family of 7, it can mean a very long time of feeling very unwell. To my 9 year old, it means several doses on the nebulizer, and frequently a trip to the emergency room because she's struggling to breathe. To a 91-year-old great, great grandfather, it can mean hospitalization (my grandpa's in the hospital because someone didn't stay home). To a person, like my granddaughter, who has a suppressed immune system, it can mean hospitalization, or rejection of her heart, or worse.

So really, is that trip out of the house worth it? Do you really need milk that badly? Can a neighbor or a friend pick it up for you? Do you really need to send your children to school or church or to co-op?  It may not seem like it, but to some people a cold really is a life or death battle.

Thursday, February 10, 2011


I took an unplanned blogging break. There were so many things happening around here, that I simply didn't have time to catch my breath and write any of it down, let alone try to process any of it.  I spent some absolutely amazing time with my oldest son. Six whole days. Just us. And another mama and her daughter. We headed to sunny and warm Florida to look at a school for Josh's next step. We flew from the cold snowy tundra and landed in sunny warmth. We sat by the pool, drove in TRAFFIC, saw some scary people, met some very nice people, walked around the school, ate, sat in on classes, auditioned (well, Josh auditioned, and the daughter of the other mama auditioned. The mama's sat and prayed during the auditions), sat by the pool, napped (I napped), went to church at a HUGE church, went to the beach, and flew back from the sunny warmth into the VERY cold (3 degrees) snowy tundra. It was good to get home.

Let me just tell you. If you ever have the chance to spend time with my son, you should do it. He is a blast to be around!

And we found out we're going to have some changes around here. The Builder and I discovered that we're expecting a new little one. In August. We think. Well, we know we're expecting, but we THINK it'll be arriving in August. Surprise!!

And then Josh got a phone call. From the school we visited and where he auditioned. They want him to come there next year. So he'll be leaving in August. More changes. I'm so excited to see what God has planned for him. And I'm so sad to see him leave. Having one child 2,000 miles away is hard enough. Having another one leave isn't fair. This Mama's heart doesn't want to let go. But it is right. And this is life.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Christmas Tree Recycling

Mulching our Christmas tree is so "old-school" recycling. We have a new method. 

Meet one of our methods. 

Yes, we fed our tree to our goats. It makes a great treat for them. They're happy. We're happy. And it keeps one more tree out of the landfill.

And for our entertainment, they dance, too.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Making Resolutions

I don't make New Year's Resolutions. Once in a while I will, but for the most part I don't need to. I've made a habit of evaluating what I'm doing and how I'm doing it on a pretty regular basis, so I don't need to go for the big ones on one day. 

One of the things I evaluate on a pretty regular basis is how we're doing with our schooling.  And I'm not thrilled with our current results. So out go the things that aren't working, and back in come the proven things that do work. And our schedule gets a bit of modification here and there. And we're back in business. Just a little more tweaking. Like how to keep two very busy little girls quietly busy when I'm needed by my middles.  See. Just a little tweaking.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Emma Likes to Help Me Sew

It might mean that my project takes a little longer to finish, but her help is precious.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Thankful for the Oxen

Where no oxen are, the trough is clean; But much increase comes by the strength of an ox.

Proverbs 14:4

 This verse was going through my mind as I was cleaning my house today.  I used to clean model homes part time. You know, those showcase homes that builders build for people to walk through and actually believe that they too could live like that if they bought that model from the builder.  I learned something very important when I was cleaning those houses - no one really lives like that!  We used to clean them twice a week, at night when everyone was gone. We WERE the cleaning fairies. And let me tell you, those houses could get dirty. And no one lived there. (Get it? There were no oxen, and we STILL needed to clean the "trough".) So it is impossible and completely unrealistic to try to maintain the home you live in to look like a model house.  Be thankful for the oxen - your husband, your children, your pets. Because they are blessings.  And keep that in mind when you're cleaning the trough.

Monday, January 3, 2011

A Soft White Blanket

A beautiful site to awake to this morning. Every little branch was covered. It was just enough to freshly coat everything, but not so much that we needed to spend hours shoveling out.  Just right.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

New Year Birthday Supper

Our New Year's Day started out a little slow. We didn't stay up till midnight, but because the littles were up way past their bedtime, it made for a very wake-filled night. And one of the middles slept over Grammy's house for the first time. All by herself. Without her closest brother with whom she does everything. And she didn't sleep well. So Grammy didn't sleep well. When Grammy brought her home early (because she missed her Mama and Papa so much, poor thing), we were all pretty much in the same place - wishing for a few more hours of sleep. So we partook. All of us. And then we felt better.

And since New Year's Day also happens to be my mom's birthday, I made dinner and dessert. Simple but yummy!

  • Chicken Breasts Stuffed with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Pesto
  • Roasted Red Pepper and Olive Oil Rice
  • Ginormous Green Salad

And a very good and simple Madeira cake for dessert. I added a cup of wild blueberries to the batter. Because I had them and it sounded good.


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