Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

What a weekend!! Here are the kids in their costumes:

Evelyn is a Hula Girl; Gretchen as a Renaissance Princess;

Sylvia is Super Girl; Peter as Frankenstein.

I got lucky when Sylvia said she wanted to wear Gretchen's Super Girl costume I made last year. One less costume to make. It was cold here, so she wore a red sweatshirt underneath when we went out.

I've had this costume for awhile-- got it for Evelyn when she was 4 and I had to hem about 6 inches then. I'm so glad I didn't cut it and only sewed it up. They play dress-up with this a lot, along with some of the other play clothes we have.

I scored some vintage crowns at a yard sale, and she was going to wear this one with her hair pulled up, but at the last minute, she decided she didn't like her hair up and wanted it down, so she switched to a heart crown.

They are great crowns-- made from metal with rhinestones, unlike the cheapo plastic ones they sell now. I found 3 of them and got them all for $1!

Evelyn as a Hula Girl. She made the lei herself from cut out construction paper flowers and beads. She worked one night on this and then said it was going to be her costume for Halloween. I had no idea she wanted to be a Hula Girl. Originally, I was going to make a "grass" skirt out of strips of fabric, but then I saw this dress in the rag pile. It's a size 4, way too small for Evelyn and it had some stains on it, which was why it was in the rag pile. I cannibalized it, cut off the top part, added elastic in the back and fleece all around for fringe (also for covering up her boobies as the top barely covered anything). The dress part was a faux wrap-around dress, so that was easy to take apart and sew the sides up, add elastic to the waist and ta-da! a skirt!

Then I took some fleece and made a little fringe anklet for her, since that's what Hula Girls wear!

My sewing machine decided to crap out on me in the middle of sewing the fleece on the top, so a lot of this was done by hand-cranking the needle. The grabber part of the sewing machine isn't working anymore, so I had to manually pull the fabric through. An easy costume to make, but made difficult with the stupid sewing machine.

Peter's Renaissance Faire costume I made last month, when I thought we would go to the Faire. It's a Robin Hood costume, and I was going to make the hat to go with it, but never got around to it. I used a pair of his pants and a shirt for the basic pattern and pretty much winged the v-neck opening. Pretty good, if I may say so.

I spotted this Frankenstein mask in the dollar bin at Target, and it was too cute to resist. I knew it would go great with the Robin Hood outfit. It was hard enough trying to get a picture of Peter in this, and he barely wore it when we went trick-or-treating. Oh well. It'll go in the dress-up pile for the kids to play with.

The mall was a madhouse! I couldn't believe how many people were there this year! Holy cow! 2 years ago was fun with the girls and Peter in the stroller, and lines moved fairly quickly and e completed the circuit in about 45 minutes. This year, ugh. Andrew and I are not big fans of crowds and though I have a bit more patience than Andrew, this was definitely trying. It doesn't help when people keep cutting in front of you and it took more than 45 minutes in line just to get 8 stores. By then, Peter was an angry squirmy thing trying to get out of our arms and we don't dare let him go because surely he'll get lost among all the costumed kids. I'm sorry, but I walked off with Peter in my arms and Andrew and the kids followed.

After a quick talk with Andrew, we explained to the kids that the mall was just too crowded for us to handle and if they were alright with it, we'd just buy them some candy instead. They seemed fine about it so we went out to eat then stopped at the store for candy. When we got home, we had a little trick-or-treating at home, with Grandma, Daddy and I in separate rooms and they got to knock and yell "Trick or Treat!".

Saturday morning, we went to the Library for pumpkin painting and I found out a church not too far from us was hosting a Trunk-or-Treat. We decided to take the kids there to make up for the mall and what fun that was! It was small-- maybe 15 cars there, but it was so nice. They decorated their cars, and dressed up in costumes and some of the treats weren't just candy-- they got boxes of crayons, christian-themed coloring books, pencils, stickers and tattoos, those popular rubber band bracelets and to top it off, hot chocolate with whipped cream! After we got home, we let the kids have another round of in-house trick-or-treating to wrap up the Halloween festivities.

On the way home was the most gorgeous sunset I've seen in awhile. Pretty pinks and purples. I wanted to stop and take a picture, and by the time we stopped, it started to fade a little, but still pretty nonetheless. Of course we stopped at the cemetery just down the road from us for this! A fitting location for ending the day!

Happy Halloween!


Friday, October 29, 2010

That Was Quick

Well, that was fast. Gretchen went from single tooth gap to...
taken 10/14/10
...double tooth gap in less than 2 weeks!

taken 10/26/10
We have Peter to thank for that. They were scuffling over who gets to sit in the recliner and Peter's foot somehow ended up in her mouth and bumped her tooth loose. Blood everywhere, which made me think it was something horrible-- like a split lip. After cleaning off the blood, there was her tooth, hanging by a little piece of skin. Plucked it off and ta-daa!!
Bad tooth fairy forgot to put money under the pillow (again!) and after a quick call to 1-800-Tooth-Fairy, she found $2 under her pillow after breakfast.

We're going trick or treating at the mall tonight. I thought it was on Saturday and planned to work on their costumes today, then I checked online and found out it was tonight! Ack! After a quick scramble, I made Evelyn's costume last night. Sylvia is wearing Gretchen's super girl costume from last year, Peter is wearing the costume I made for the renaissance festival that we never did go to, and Gretchen is wearing a renaissance princess costume that I bought for Evelyn when she was 4. Thank goodness for not buying cheap-o costumes that rip the first time they get used. I had to hem the princess costume 4 years ago, when Evelyn wore it, and now, 4 years later, after I let down the hem, it fits 6-almost-7-Gretchen perfectly!
(pictures coming next post!)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Kid's Workshop

Did you know that Lowe's hosts workshops for kids? Home Depot does, too. I knew about it, but never had the chance to go-- always something coming up to prevent us from going, you know, the usual family of 6 happenings. I happened to read somewhere that Lowe's was having a bat workshop for the kids and since we are big lovers of all things Halloween and a bat would fit right in, I signed the girls up. Andrew had to work that day, but I was determined to go anyway, making sure my Mom would come along and help with Peter.

They had a great time!! They got free aprons and protective eye gear, and a patch after they were done building their bats to sew on the aprons. It was difficult at first when Peter was between my legs and grabbing stuff from the kits, and then Mom buckled Peter into a cart and wheeled him away screaming. Once out of sight of me, he calmed down and Mom cleverly took him to the halloween/christmas displays to make him happy. Meanwhile, I was able to better focus on helping the girls and I realized I had "helped" them hammer on all the bat wings backwards! Oops! So I had to undo my mistake and then correct them. Would have been done sooner if not for that, but we were there about an hour.

We'll definitely go again, the next workshop is periscopes!! I loved those as a kid!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Fall Fun

What is it about piles of leaves that kids find so irresistible?

Flinging leaves in the air and burrowing underneath?

I like walking on leaves, feeling the crunch-crunch and I love the smell of leaves.
Oh! Those lovely smells of Fall-- leaves and fireplaces!

But I never cared for rolling around in the leaves. If I did, it was at the encouragement of others and it was forced enthusiasm. I hated the little bits of leaves getting into my clothes and hair, and who knows what kind of bugs are lurking around in there.

And our leaves? With cats, dogs and chickens?
Oh, it's bath night for sure after this!!

But they're happy, and that's what matters.

Monday, October 25, 2010

About Time!

Gretchen has been nursing this loose tooth for weeks. She would show everyone how loose it is, wiggle it with her tongue, but then the minute I try to get close and pull it, she backs away and clamps her mouth down tight. It was practically hanging by a thread by the time I pulled it out!

We tried to bribe her with tooth fairy money, or put a little scare into her by saying she might swallow it while she ate, but she was stubborn about her tooth. She'll decide to let me pull it and then just as I get my fingers on it and get ready to pull, she'll grab my hands and keep me from pulling it.
Then finally-- she let me pull it and it popped out easily. Little bit of blood and a whole lot of cheer! A phone call to the tooth fairy that night and in the morning she got $2 for her front tooth! The two front teeth have higher tooth fairy rates than the other ones that only get $1.
Grandma and Grandaddy came over to visit the next day and what do ya know-- the tooth fairy left $5 for her over there!! Apparently, the tooth fairy got her routes mixed up. So $7 total for her front tooth-- not bad! Gretchen cleaned up! All on her own, she put $6 in her piggy bank and kept out $1 for herself, "for the yard sales," she said.
The other front tooth is wiggly now, and I'm pretty sure I could pull it out, but she probably won't let me until mid-November or something. In the meantime, she'll let me wiggle it and run off before I grab it! I love that girl! :o)

Friday, October 22, 2010

To Clean, Or Not To Clean

I am not the neatest person in the world. Four children make it harder to keep things clean as it seems like stuff is constantly shifting, like sand grains blowing away from sand dunes, rising and lowering with the wind. I have a counter by the stove that can never be cleared away, try as I might, and is always piled with incoming mail/newspapers/library books. When I need to use three burners on the stove, I have to reorganize the pile on the counter and more than once, paper has gotten singed (thank goodness it's an electric stove and not a gas stove or else it would be 'whoosh!' and not singe)

I do my best at keeping the house clutter free. I beat back the rising tide of laundry only to be drowned again in a couple of days. The dishes pile up quickly and I hate doing dishes, especially ones I only just washed 10 minutes ago. Sweeping is a constant as is wiping up spills, drips and messes. Books are always being pulled out to be read and not always put back right away. I feel like I am always picking something up-- spilled puzzle pieces, dumped game pieces (thanks, Peter), over-turned apple box scattering apples in the sunroom, tipped over clothespins... And this was just in the morning.

For sure, a white-gloved finger would be very dusty after swiping along the door frame and window trim. For sure, I wouldn't want to eat off the living room floor, knowing who and what has been traipsing all around, leaving behind goodness knows what, but the dishes and forks are clean. Beds are not always made, though Mama's is. Towels are not always hung neatly, but they are clean. There's finger prints of paint under the light switch in the bathroom, but the fingers are now clean. For sure, it's a lived in house.

I don't want to be constantly cleaning in order to maintain a spotless house. Yes, I envy those perfect-looking rooms you see in the pages of magazines, but I know it's a lie. They've been cleaned and buffed and spit-shined by a multitude of people then photographed in perfect lighting to bring out the best features of the couch/floor/rug. Even bloggers cheat when they photograph rooms for show and tell and messes get cropped out or the one room is kept clean while the rest of the house is messy. Then there are the exceptions to the rule, whose homes really are neat and tidy and nary a wrinkle in the bedspread. They probably have no kids and no pets, or maybe they're OCD, or maybe, and I say this with a little pang of jealousy, they're one of those people that clean when they're nervous or anxious or excited. When I'm nervous or anxious or excited, I eat.

I've tried it once, to be always on top of messes, put things in their place, sort mail before it piles up, clean spills before they get dried and sticky, wash dishes as soon as they hit the sink, do laundry before someone runs out of underwear, take out the trash before it smells, sweep up paper scraps before they slip under the hutch, wipe up paint before they dry onto the tablecloth... It was exhausting and I wasn't happy. I had no time to enjoy life because I followed it around with with a broom and dustpan, focused only on the messes it left behind. I missed out on enjoying my meal because I fretted about the dirty dishes. I paid no mind to the lovely pictures my children made because I only saw the paint spills and paper scraps. That's no way to live.

I accept the messes in my life. I beat back the clutter and every now and then, clutter wins. I accept that 4 children can be messy, really really messy, like poop running down their legs messy, but I love them, messes and all. As long as I can still reach in the middle of the pile on the counter by the stove and pull out the exact paper I'm looking for, then the clutter is under control. If I can see that my floor is clean, maybe not eat-off-the-floor-clean (who does that anyway??), and I can lay down on the floor and wrestle with the kids without getting up looking like I've been tarred and feathered, I'm good. Life is messy. I can embrace the messy.

Does it mean I never get frustrated? Do I resign myself and my house to pig-pen status? No, I still get hissy fits about the messes. I yell at the kids for making a mess of the just-folded pile of clothes on my bed, waiting to be put away. I get upset when the floor I just mopped now has chicken poop tracks from someone who forgot to take their shoes off before coming in the house. I growl in exasperation when I pick up yet another book or movie off the floor. I yowl in pain when I step on another jack/lego block/barbie shoe and holler for the kids to come and pick up their toys.

But I pick my battles. As long as the kitchen, bathrooms and living room are clean, and the doors to the bedrooms can be shut, I'm happy. When company comes over and it takes me less than 30 minutes to give the house a quick clean-up before they get here, I'm happy. When we go out for the day and I come back in the house, I sniff the air, and if it smells good and not like the litter box/dog/poopy diapers, I'm happy.

Someday, when I can put something on the table and it's still there an hour later; when I can buy yogurt and it's not gone within 5 minutes of putting it in the fridge; when I can leave the toothpaste on the counter and not find it squeezed out in the sink; when I can wash the windows and not find nose smudges immediately after; when a clean piece of paper doesn't get scribbled on and stays in the printer paper tray; when I can fold clothes, walk away and they stay folded; when I can leave a glass half full of tea, it will still be there 10 minutes later, I'll know the kids have gone and moved away. I'll miss them, won't miss the messes.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Good Day for All

It's been a real pleasant day for all of us. I needed to run into the big town for some banking, and since Mom needed to do some banking, too, we took the kids along. Andrew was at work this morning, so it was just us.

Usually, in the van, Peter starts to fuss and protest at being in the car seat, but today, he went right to sleep. The girls all brought little activities to do in the van, so it was quiet from them, too. After stops at the banks, I needed to stop into the drugstore. This particular chain gives me trouble in my hometown when I break out the coupons and do my extreme coupon shopping. I shop there in spurts, inspired by a good sale, then swear off going back after a failed trip, only to repeat a couple months later. They almost never have what I need, the store is messy with stock in bins along the aisles that need to be shelved, the diagonal arrangement of their shelves is confusing even years later, staff argue with me about my coupons and the total I need to pay never matches what I figured beforehand. Andrew has even asked me why I keep going there when I leave so frustrated and pissed. I can only think that when I have read from other websites that people love shopping there and when they tell their success stories, I get a little frustrated-- why can't I figure this place out?? I have CVS figured out, why not here??

I decided to give the drugstore (yet) another chance only because they had certain cold medicines on sale and 3 out of 4 kids are sick. This time, I'd try the one in big town, hoping for better results. Just walking in the door of the drugstore and I could already see the difference! Their store was so neat and the shelves were not arranged in that weird diagonal way like the one I usually go to. Sale items were clearly marked and not sold out (gasp!) and I was able to find everything on my list without any trouble. Even the cashier was ready for me, spotting the coupons I had in my hand and asking if I was doing separate transactions (I was). Clearly, this was a cashier used to coupons. Finally, a pleasant transaction without one hiccup and I walked out feeling pretty good and not one ounce of frustration.

I bought $73 worth of stuff and paid only $1.98. Keep in mind, drugstores are overpriced to begin with, and I would normally never shop there unless there was a sale, and every single item I bought was on sale. Combined with coupons, it all makes for a really good deal. I bought mostly pharmacy items-- several cold and cough medicines for children and adults, cough drops, lip balms, and excedrin. Non-pharmacy was 4 bottles of body washes. My medicine cabinet is good to go for the next few months, barring any major health issues. ~knock on wood~ Anyway, I'll definitely go back to this drugstore and stay away from the one that gives me a headache.

After that, we had lunch at taco bell. I had coupons for free drinks, so lunch was pretty cheap for 6 people. There was a nice old guy with his wife handing out tootsie pops to the kids, and they gave mine 2 each. The kids were pretty happy about the lollipops. Then while getting the food, the guys in the cook area gave each of the kids free cinnamon twists! What a day for them! They ate quietly and even Peter seemed to be on his best behavior, instead of climbing over the partition between booths. He must not be feeling 100%.

It doesn't take much to make me happy, and it certainly is nice when things go smoothly and unexpected surprises pop up. I was in such a good mood that even when the 'check engine' light came on in the van on the way home, it didn't dampen my spirits. Hopefully it's just the sensor, it's given us problems before.

Andrew had a good day, too. He got a card at his regular spot at the mall. The boss recently let a co-worker go, so he'll be getting more hours until a replacement is hired. He got a little raise, and with the extra hours, it'll add up.

I'll end the day with 'Good Night' and hopefully I'll have some sweet dreams. :o)

Monday, October 18, 2010


Let me tell you something about my boy, Peter. He is the cutest, sweetest, most lovable little boy! He is also the most hard-headed, stubborn, and mischievous little guy! Of all my children, he is the one that keeps me on my toes. If he had been first, I'm pretty sure he'd be an only child! Then again, he was the sweetest baby and I got pregnant with #2 before #1 turned a year old, so maybe not.

~in the display tub andrew uses for his work~

He can give the most wonderful hugs, his little arms stretch around my neck and he squeezes as hard as he can. When he wants to give a kiss, he puckers like a little fish with his cheeks sunk in. He'll grab my hand and put it on his back when he wants me to pat him and he'll hold onto my legs when he isn't too sure of the chickens outside. On the other hand, when he wants something and knows he isn't going to get it, he screams and falls to the floor "dead", his version of a tantrum (I much prefer this over one of those screaming and hitting the floor tantrums). As soon as I put him down at the store, he takes off like a rocket and I must drop what I am doing to chase him down. I've tried to stay and see if he'll come back, but he does not, and my heart cannot take the stress of where he would end up if I didn't get him. He won't stay in the cart and I end up having to carry him because it's far easier to do that than drag him by his hand, since he decides he doesn't want to stay close and if he cannot run, he lets himself get as heavy as a sack of potatoes and I must drag him. I really like going to the grocery store when I can leave Peter at home with Andrew.

Even at home, we must constantly keep an eye on him. Our backyard is plenty big for running free, with swings in the trees, chickens to chase, the pole barn for playing house, but his idea of fun is to run down the driveway to the road down below. The minute he gets out of sight, the first place we check is the driveway and sure enough, there he is, his little legs carrying him as fast as he can go. Good thing Andrew and I can run faster than he can and we have been lucky to grab him before he even gets close to the road. He is the most amazing climber for a two-year old. I suspect it has a lot to do with his lack of fear and the consequences of falling.

He will scamper up the cars whenever he gets the chance, proud as can be when he gets to the top and stands, and I'm pretty sure if he had a flag, it would be staked to the roof of the van! I am grateful for the carseat, it is the one place I know he cannot escape and I can let out a breath of relief when he is buckled in and safe. The kid cart at Target is wonderful, since he cannot get out of that one, but he certainly knows how to express his displeasure at being stuck in there while his sisters get to walk free. I get a lot of sympathy looks from other customers when he screams and kicks in protest and I'm sure more than a few wonder what kind of mother am I that he screams so. If he doesn't calm down in a reasonable amount of time, I carry him, but usually, he quiets and is content to sit and watch the scenery go by.

He has broken the most dishes of all the kids, spilled the most liquids, gets into the biggest messes and then when scolded, gets the saddest little blue eyes, and he signs 'sorry' and gives a hug. Then he turns around and scampers off. I can relax a little bit when we are at home, I know which room he can usually be found in and I am not so uptight or the house is not so spotless than I don't mind when he gets into some things-- like when he gets into the pots and pans or when he dumps the toy box onto the floor. When we go to someone else's house, I can never fully relax, always keeping an eye on him: where'd he go? what is he getting into?

He is on the verge of talking, he can say a few words quite clearly-- book, cat, dog, egg, off, on, eat, shoe. Frankly, I can't wait for him to talk. He may end up being a chatterbox and that's just fine with me! It would be better than the screech of happiness or the exact same screech for anger, the same screech for frustration and the screech for delight. It especially grates on me when we are in the car and he is seated right behind my hearing aid and it amplifies his screeching and I think the girls are teasing him making him screech with anger, but when I look back, he's laughing. I don't turn off my hearing aid, though I am tempted, because I cannot bear to think there was an emergency and I purposely ignored it. Yes, talking would most definitely be better than the screeching.

Peter is a character, one that surprises me and delights me and drives me nutty. He gives me chase when he has something he isn't supposed to have, like a knife or the printer ink, takes a bite from an apple, puts it back and takes a bite from another apple until at least 10 apples have little bites taken from them. When I unlock the pantry, the first thing he points to is the candy jar, when I unlock the utility closet, the first thing he grabs is the big broom and off he goes, until he gets caught in the doorway by the handle of the broom, just like one of those old Tom & Jerry cartoons.

I never imagined I would have a son, and now that I have him, I love him dearly, but excuse me while I go and rescue Percy the kitten from his loving but choking arms as if he is saying: "I wanna hug 'im and squeeze 'im and eat 'im all up!" I know what you mean kid, I want to do the same thing to you: I wanna hug ya and squeeze ya and eat ya all up!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Rocky and The Girls

I must admit, I never imagined I would enjoy chickens as much as I do. Except in books and on TV, I've never seen a chicken and my only encounter with real chickens has been on my plate. After reading multiple accounts of fellow bloggers having chickens, I started having chicken envy. I had the land and the space, I live in the country and in an area with no restrictions on chickens, so why not? Andrew has made it clear that the chickens are strictly my "project", but he does help me out with them and shuts the coop door at night when he is home.
I have been a chicken owner for a year and a half now, and there's no looking back. I thoroughly enjoy the chickens. I like watching them scratch through the yard, laugh at the way they run and flap their wings, enjoy the egg hunts when there are not as many eggs as there should be in the nest boxes, and this year, I got to see one of my hens raise her own chicks! I dream of having other breeds for a rainbow of chickens, but for now, I'm happy with what I have: Rhode Island Reds, Buff Orpingtons, Speckled Sussex, and New Hampshire Reds (though I have a hard time telling the Reds apart).

The lucky rooster: Rocky. He's man enough to do his job with his women, but nice enough he doesn't peck the humans. He's the one that's been a favorite with me and I intend on keeping him around for a good long time.
It's been so nice to see the Buffs and the Speckled Sussexs out of the coop again. They rarely came out when there were all those roosters, as they got jumped and gang-banged almost as soon as they took a step out of the coop, poor girls. I know animal life is different, but obviously they didn't like it if they cooped themselves up in the coop! They roam freely now, boss around the younger Red hens and come running when I call. Their life has definitely improved now that my freezer is full of chicken!

The good mama and her brood. I recently gave her and her babies freedom out of the pen and watched them closely. I worried Mama might take her babies back to her nest and I had no idea where it was. I needn't have worried. She took her babies on a tour all around the house and then stayed around the pen for most of the day, before retiring back into the cage at dark. Yesterday, I saw all the chicks hanging out in the coop, Mama was nowhere to be seen. I wondered if she tucked them in there and slipped away for a Mama-break? I wondered if I could get them to return to the coop at night and dismantle the pen? I took a chance and placed the cage inside the coop while the babies were in there. Mama came back for her babies later and they roamed the yard, and at night, to my delight, they nested in one of the nest boxes in the coop! I'll wait a couple of days before I dismantle the pen, but I think it's good to go.

The babies, right before their release from the pen. They are one month old now, and just about lost all their fluff, only a little left on their heads. I'm hopeful that they'll survive the winter and when the temps drop, I'll turn on the heat lamp in the coop. Come Spring, I'll cull the young roosters so I don't get a repeat of what happened this summer-- cocky roosters, in more ways than one!

Since Mama is a Red, and all the roosters were Reds, the babies are all Reds, too. Don't ask me which-- Rhode Island or New Hampshire. The differences between the two reds are small, and I probably would be able to tell better if I had two hens, one of each breed. As it is, all the Red hens look exactly alike and all the roosters looked exactly alike. Since I know for a fact that Rocky is a Rhode Island Red, I assume all the roosters were Rhodes, too. As for the hens, they could all be Rhodes or all New Hampshires. I don't really care either way, they are beautiful chickens and I wanted a different breed from the Buffs and the Sussexs so I could tell the younger hens from the older ones. I'm thinking of leg bands for the babies, so I can tell them apart from the older Red hens.

If I order more hens next year (doubtful) or in later years, I plan to get a different breed, partly to diversify, also to be able to tell apart the older hens from the younger hens. I've seen some beautiful black hens, the name escapes me at the moment, and I'd like to try the traditional white hens, the kind my mom and dad grew up around.


Thursday, October 14, 2010

Walking in the Woods

We've been spending a lot of time outdoors lately. We're loving the cooler weather that brings us out of the house and doing more activities outside. I managed to get out with just Peter a couple of days ago, while the girls were busy inside doing something else, and the two of us went for a walk on the other side of our property. I'll leave you with some images of our walk.

Happy Fall!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Recent Finds

I don't live in an area with a lot of thrift stores, which for someone like me, could be a good thing. In our first apartment, we lived in an area with thrift stores nearly every mile or so. We'd spend our days off scouring the shops looking for whatever struck our fancies. Here, yard sales rule! While we haven't been hitting them heavily this year, the few we have gone to, we've done well. Here's a few of my favorite finds:

I picked up this Fire King dish in the Summerfield pattern for free. Yes, free. They had fishing lures in it for 25 cents apiece and I just wanted the dish. When asked how much for the dish, she let me have it. Ooooo-kay! I'm not gonna argue! Sadly, a couple of days later, the dish got knocked off the shelf and a chunk of the handle chipped off, but it's still usable. I won't be able to turn around and sell it, but I'll probably use it for holding craft supplies or something.

A recent sale had loads of boy clothes in Peter's size and I had fun rummaging through clearly-marked bins for warmer winter clothes. Usually, clothes are piled up and you have to check each tag for sizes, and I dread going through those-- I have limited time and if Peter is with me, he's usually running off or struggling in my arms to get down. This sale had them neatly folded and sorted and I really appreciate that. I scored a bunch of tops, bottoms, long sleeve pajama sets, and some shoes for Peter. When I got home, I found that two of the pajama pants had bad elastic waists. The rubber rotted and no longer had any stretch. An easy fix and I had elastic on hand, so a quick sit-down at the sewing machine and they're good as new again!

I have a thing for vampires. No idea why, just always have. Not that I want to be a vampire or get bitten by one, but I guess it's just the mystery of the unknown. I devoured Ann Rice's Vampire series when I was a teen, then I dove right into the Twilight books (but I don't care for the movies), and right before we canceled our satellite, I watched an episode of True Blood on HBO and was just a teeny bit disappointed I wouldn't be able to see what happened next. I always meant to check out the books, but never remembered the author's name or the original title of the series. Lo and behold-- the entire Sookie Stackhouse series for 70 cents! That's 10 cents per book! And I don't have to wait to read the next one either! I've already read 3 and they are so enjoyable, something I can really sink my teeth into! (har har) I'll have to see if I can find the True Blood series on dvd.. hmm.

I saw something similar to these in a magazine ad: skeleton salad servers at one of those pricey home goods stores for $20 a set. They were so cool! Andrew and I love Halloween and we're getting ready to start pulling out the decorations and get into the spooky spirit. The only thing I didn't like was the price tag, so I knew I'd never go to the store (which is far away) or even bothered to check online for one of those. Then we went to Target the other day and found these at half the price. Pretty similar to the ones I saw in the ad, though I don't have the magazine anymore and I'm too lazy to check online. I don't need them, but they're so cool and our salad tongs did break over the summer, so technically, we do need them. But really, I was just excited to spot them! They were the very last pair left, except for some cheap-o plastic ones, but I wanted the metal ones; they're sure to last longer. I'm looking forward to the next time I make salad for dinner so I can use them!
Any good finds for you lately?

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Still No Pictures

My new camera arrived. I waited alllllll day for the UPS guy to deliver it after I checked the tracking number and figured out it would be delivered on Tuesday. Every time Maisie barked, I ran to the window, hoping to see the familiar brown van pulling into the driveway and I was disappointed every time. Dang it! After 4 pm, I gave up, knowing it was too late for the UPS to be making any deliveries in my area.

Wouldn't you know, the lazy bum put it in the mailbox?!? The mailbox?!?!? When Andrew came home around 6, he had it in his hands along with the rest of the mail. If one can be happy and pissed at the same time, that was me.

The downside to ordering online is you cannot see the actual product; hold it in your hands and decide if it's the right one for you. Looking at the online info doesn't exactly help form the image in your head and a picture just doesn't do it justice. The camera is tiny! Good grief! I'm afraid I'll crush it! I've taken a couple pictures with it and it's nice and the pictures seem alright, though I've yet to download any. It's just so... small! For the first time ever, I put the wrist strap on it just to give it more substance. I'll put it in my pocket and it'll disappear in there! The diaper bag will eat it up! It'll slip into the cracks and I'll never see it again! People will think I'm a spy except for the fact that it's ruby red! I think in the future, I'll buy cameras in person so I know exactly what I'm getting.

My uncle came down on Thursday and we butchered the last 3 roosters! He lopped the heads off for me and I was happy to let him do it. It does get easier and this time, I hardly paused when it came time to pluck feathers and cut into the bird to gut and pull out the innards. The big old mean one got his last hurrah even after he was dead-- his spur stuck me in the hand when I picked him up by the feet to pluck feathers. I'll get the last word when I eat him: "yum!"

It sure is quiet around here without the chorus of roosters crowing! For the first time in ages, some of the older hens were out in the yard, taking dust baths and drinking from the outdoor water pan. It was nice to see the yellow Buffs out of the coop and I'm sure all 4 of them will soon take over the yard. The kids are out playing more freely now, too, instead of hiding behind me or wielding sticks in terror of pecking roosters. The one rooster left is too busy keeping track of his women to pay any attention to the kids. 1 rooster, 11 hens, and 9 chicks-- much better.

We should be getting our first frost soon. We had two nights with temps as low as 32. I've harvested most of the peppers and plucked all the red tomatoes. I haven't dug up any potatoes yet, plan to do that soon. We've had some nice days lately, so I may still get some more tomatoes, but I won't be canning them. I have enough canned tomatoes for the winter and we will eat what is left.

Andrew is working this weekend at another local town festival and I just might take the kids and check it out after he gives me a report on how it looks out there. I took the kids to the apple harvest festival he worked at last week and the kids were very good-- we parked about a mile away from the event and it was nerve-wracking to walk alone with 4 kids, making sure they stayed off the road and on the shoulder. Peter likes to take off the minute you put him down, so I was almost constantly carrying him and my shoulder paid for it the next day. It was a huge event, almost like a big flea market with a band playing, different foods, and exhibits, and not a single apple in sight! I wanted to go back the next day, but it was too much for the kids and they were such good sports to do all that walking and then have to walk the last mile back to the van. I was amazed at how packed it was, since it was the kind of town where if you blink, you miss it. There's nothing there, just homes, a school and a fire station, but boy, people really came out for this event!

I have several posts planned for next week with pictures! I miss posting with pictures. Have a great weekend! :o)

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Going Back

When one lives in a certain area for some time then moves away, I think it's expected that one will miss the area that they lived in. Maybe even harbor some regrets for moving away. I felt like that after we moved here. I love where I live, but there were some times I thought maybe it wasn't the right decision and if we had stayed, we wouldn't be in the situation we're in.

For a long time, we made nearly weekly treks back to the old place, either to shop in familiar grounds or visit friends or eat at our favorite place. As time went on, the visits lessened, but when we did go, it all felt so much like "home".

Fast forward 5 years to present time: We went back yesterday. It's been a few months since our last visit and I think, I am officially over it. The town has changed much since we moved away, grown and expanded, more stores, old shops replaced with new shops, old haunts gone completely. It just didn't feel the same anymore. Now it feels like we are tourists in a strange town. I actually saw people I used to know and it felt awkward and uncomfortable standing there, trying to make conversation with someone you really have nothing to say to.

We didn't go back and see the old house. I went there last time and it's all different now. It has lost it's glow for us. The kindly old guy that lived in the 200-year old house is dead and his brother sold off the land in parcels; the beer-loving plumber that lived in the house in front of us crashed the company truck one too many times and ended up foreclosing on the house, landing his family and himself in an apartment in town; the brother of the plumber that lived in the house between his and ours is still there, quiet as ever. And the people that bought our house? Well, they have interesting ways of keeping house and we cannot fathom their ways, so we'd rather not look. It's their house now, and I remind myself that we out-grew that house and moving here was the best thing we could have done.

We only went back to shop at the kid's consignment store. I never did manage to go through the kids' clothes to consign over there, but I knew I'd want to shop there. The kids needed shoes for the cooler months and we found 3 pairs for each girl, 2 for Peter. Even the store felt weird and we didn't even stay to chat with Boss Lady.

Our favorite place to eat is in trouble. There used to be a thrift shop by them that recently closed. Because people no longer go to the thrift shop, they've lost the walk-in business. We went in to eat at prime lunch hour and the cook was not even cooking. We had the whole place to ourselves. I feel bad for them. I'm glad we were there yesterday, but I fear that it may be the last time we will ever eat there. I hope they overcome this big bump in the road.

Coming home yesterday truly felt like we were coming home. There was no more looking back at the old place, wishing we could have brought parts of it with us. The ties we still had are severed and I'm okay with it. Home is here, with my husband and my children. I'm happy.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Posting Without Pictures

My camera is on the fritz. Might have taken one too many drops and finally called it quits on me. I've borrowed Andrew's camera a few times, which is really nice, but he gets this funny look on his face when I use it, especially when I don't put it back in its' case and leave it out on the desk or somewhere where it isn't supposed to be. (sorry, honey) So I've been keeping an eye out for a new camera, spotted a good deal and ordered one last week. Should get here any day now, maybe today, I hope. I'll have to get a new memory card, too, since mine has over 1000 pictures and takes forever to download to the computer. I don't delete the pictures anymore after my computer crashed and I lost all of Peter's baby pictures. Anyway, posts are boring without pictures, so pretend there are [pictures] inserted here and there.

Andrew has been doing well at work. He's been getting a little more than part-time hours lately, and his job is to get cards from people that are interested in hearing more about the product. If his card generates a sale, he gets a commission from that card. He's been working at different events outside of the mall: apple festivals, senior wisdom conventions, county fairs, etc. The more cards he can get, the more chances he has of earning a commission; the more hours he works, the more chances he has to get a card. Working outside events always increases his chances for cards and he enjoys getting out of the mall and discovering new locations that we have not been to before. He works at Burlington Apple Festival today and if it isn't too muddy, he'll call and let us know, the kids and I will go and check it out later on. [insert picture of smiling husband here]

My uncle and I butchered 2 roosters on Wednesday morning. We planned on doing 4, but my knives and hatchet were not very sharp and the 2 we did, did not have quick deaths. My uncle and I felt terrible about it, and decided to let the other 2 roosters go. He'll come back another day and with sharper tools to do the job better so they do not suffer. On the brighter side of things, I have 2 chickens in the freezer and 2 less roosters sexually accosting the hens. 4 roosters are still too many, and 3 more need to go. [insert picture of chickens in freezer here]

Once the chicken is dead, I have no problem with pulling off the feathers, gutting and cutting up into pieces. It's the actual lopping-off of the head that I struggle with. If I could, I'd hire someone to lop off the heads for me, and I'd do the rest, but that's not realistic. I admit, though, it didn't take me as long to get over this butchering as it did the first time I did it solo. I was numb the first time and useless most of the day. This time around, I was still able to do everything else that needed to be done and only when I went to bed, did the image of the days' events come back to give me a little tossing and turning. [insert picture of lopped off chicken head here] (bet you're glad my camera doesn't work now)

The chicks are doing more than surviving, they are thriving. Losing their baby fluff and getting their teen feathers. They are now 2-1/2 weeks old and already, some of the chicks are starting to duel like the older roosters. So I know I have at least 2 baby roosters. I hope more females than males. At least I won't feel the need to order any more chicks in the Spring. [insert cute picture of chicks sitting on Mama's back here]

My uncle said that the two baby chicks that were killed by the older roosters were likely males. He says that they were killed to eliminate future competition. Much like the Head Lion would kill another Lion's cubs so that only his own bloodline remains. I find that interesting and wonder if there is any truth to that? The dead chicks have already been buried and I don't know if their bodies were developed enough to reveal what their sex was, but even if I could tell, I wouldn't dig up their bodies now. Could the older roosters really differentiate between the sexes of day-old chicks?? I wonder... [insert picture of chicks here]

I'm turning into a lush. I made plum liquor last year and it's so yummy! Tastes especially good when you mix it with cranberry juice. It can hold it's own, though, if you drank it straight up. I don't have much left, maybe half a quart, and I'll be sad to drink the last drop. I didn't make a whole lot to begin with, only a little more than a pint made with gin and less than a quart with vodka. I wish I had made some more this year. The orchard I bought the plums from last year never advertised plums this year, so I wonder if their crop didn't do well with the lack of rain here. Most definitely will make some more next year and I'll try making blackberry liquor, too![insert picture of empty glass here and picture of me zonked on the couch with a smile on my face]

Woke up shivering this morning. Time to switch out the summer blankets to the warmer winter blankets. The days have been hovering in the 60s lately and nights dropping to the low 50s. Good sleeping weather, but I don't like waking up cold. Peter and Sylvia joined me in the bed this morning and their cold feet was a jolt to the senses! I'm up! Time to get busy and work the wood pile! [insert picture of pitiful wood pile here]

Bye! [insert picture of me waving]