Thursday, January 28, 2010
She made the girl and cat one first, then the next day, she did the boy and dog one. Both were finished in a couple of hours. I told her we'd get frames and hang them up and she couldn't wait for me to frame them, reminding me several times. They'll get hung up in her room. I love them!
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
I used to dream of having a house near a creek, to be able to walk barefooted in the cool waters, feeling the rocks beneath my toes. It seems like when I was a kid, I was always drawn to the creeks and spent hours there, sometimes reading a book on a fallen log across the water, sometimes walking the creek beds searching for tadpoles, sometimes imagining myself as a pirate searching for treasure.
Our home now is nowhere near a creek, but when there is heavy rain, the water flows from somewhere inside the mountain we live on and pops out in a spring on the other side of our property. We walk the kids over there and watch and try to figure out where the water comes from. It streams down, making it's way under the secondary driveway all the way over to the main drive and finally down to the street. When conditions are right, meaning when I am in a permissive mood and it's not too cold, the kids are allowed to run and slip and slide in the rushing stream by the main drive. It's all grass there and they can get themselves soaked and laugh and play until they are tired and pooped.
I had a rough day today. I had my own meltdown and I snapped at the kids for little things. I had a headache above my right eye and every scream from the kids made it throb. Peter wouldn't nap today, so there was no 4-hour "break" from constantly keeping an eye on Peter and getting him out of the dog food, the litterbox, the markers, the box of papers in the office, the newspaper, the dog food again... I had to make meals with him underfoot and he likes to get between me and the counter and push me away to get my attention onto him. If I ignore him, he takes a chomp out of my inner thigh- yow!
The girls were constantly bickering over the play kitchen and I was almost sorry I made it for them. Sylvia comes crying because Gretchen snatched away a pot; Gretchen comes crying because Evelyn called her a name; Evelyn comes crying because Gretchen is singing too loud; Gretchen comes crying because Evelyn told her to "shut up"; Sylvia comes crying because Evelyn and Gretchen won't play with her; and on and on it goes. It's days like these that make me wish I put them into public school.
I got snippy with Andrew for getting snippy with the kids which made him snippy with me and that makes me get snippier. I even started feeling jealous of the dog with all the attention he was giving her and not to me!! ugh! I think it's safe to say we need to get out of the house and do something different for a day, to recharge our batteries and change our environment. Too much of being home all the time without a change of scenery. Maybe we'll try to go somewhere in a couple of days, I'll pack a lunch and we can take a drive with the kids.
Tomorrow is a new day.
Monday, January 25, 2010
It's an old dry sink, not an antique. I could never cut up a perfectly good antique, but this is maybe 70's or 80's, made from pine, and has a cheap, fiber-board back. Nothing to cry over if I cut into it. After getting the go-ahead from Andrew, I spent the day yesterday transforming it into a kitchen for the kids.
Down below, I added thumbtacks on the back of one door for their utensils, and 2 screw hooks on the other door. I'll replace the thumbtacks with screw hooks later, we're afraid the kids may pull it out and Peter might put it in his mouth or someone steps on it. For now, it's pretty secure, so I'll just keep my eye on it.
The kids have played with this non-stop since I finished it and I am so glad for the inspiration from a fellow blogger. How nice to re-purpose something that would have otherwise been taking up space. It's also the kind of toy that I don't mind people seeing, it looks like a piece of furniture and it doesn't stand out like a purple, plastic kitchen would have.
Grandma gave Sylvia and Gretchen some kitchen play things for their birthdays: A wooden and fabric cupcake making set, and a stainless steel pots, pans and utensils set (all from Target). The girls got a Christmas tin tea set from Santa that includes the tray, 4 tea cups, saucers, plates and a tea pot. I saw one on clearance from Walmart exactly like the one we have from Target, but with a circus design instead, and I would have gotten it if we didn't already have this one.
I don't want any more plastic food or plastic dishes. They're cheap and the dog thinks they're chew toys for her. I'll be making felt foods to add to their cupboard. There are lots of food patterns on the internet, so I'll be getting ideas from there. A few ideas: eggs made with white felt and a yellow felt circle in the middle; light tan felt bread slices; red circles for tomatoes; yellow squares for cheese; pink squares or circles for ham and bologna.... oh! the possibilities are endless!!
Maybe this post could inspire you! :o)
Thursday, January 21, 2010
You'd think, if someone asked you that, you'd come up with things that if you didn't have, you'd die. Would you know, the majority of people said "coffee"? Please. Like you'd really diiiiiiiiiiiiiieeee if you didn't have your coffee. I guess I'm just on a different wavelength than some of the people that answered that question. I don't have lots of money, or a cushy job or live in an environment where I push a button and things magically appear. I am almost painfully aware of how delicate life can be, how one wrong move can bring things crashing down upon my head. How the wrong thing done in the garden can ruin rows and rows of corn, thus ruining months of planning and back-breaking work of tilling and planting. How not planning ahead and preserving food from the garden can leave us with empty bellies in the middle of winter. How not having proper working chainsaws can leave us shorthanded with firewood on a cold, blustery day.
If you asked me what I cannot live without, my answer would most certainly not be "coffee". First thing off the top of my head, was my glasses and my hearing aid. When I wake in the morning, my vision is all blurry until I pop my "eyes" on, and the kid that tries to talk with me before I have my hearing aid on will get a "wait a minute" until I get my "ears" in. Second thing would be food and water. That's a no brainer. Third would be shelter, fourth would be wood for either heat or cooking.
Maybe it was supposed to be a silly question, to see what people just have to have, but for me, we don't live that way. We have long lived without the lifestyle of being able to buy what we want when we want; we fix before we replace; re-purpose before discard; live without if we cannot afford it. Do we suffer? No. We have a good life. A good life. One I would not trade for anything. And definitely not for a cup of coffee.
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
She is about to lose her first tooth, it's all loose and wiggly, and a permanent tooth is already emerging and pushing it out, but she won't let me pull the loose tooth. Trying to even get my fingers on her tooth is a struggle with her giggling and trying to be brave about it. I managed to grab it once, but with her squirming, I didn't get a good grip, and it was enough for her. Maybe tomorrow...
This is a kid that doesn't adapt to changes well, and losing a tooth is a big change for her. She gets upset when she outgrows a shirt or a skirt and throws a hissy fit when I pass it on to Sylvia. She likes to sit in the same chair at the table and when guests come for dinner and 'mess' up the seating order, she pouts and glares at the person sitting in her chair. When I worked at the consignment store and our home routine went all kablooey, she started to pull her hair out in clumps and I would find hair all over the car, the bed, the couch. It took a long time for her hair to look nice again, and I try to give her a lot of notice when we do something new or different. She is a great hostess, though, and loves to set the table with napkins and help me carry drinks and condiments to the table.
She likes to do things her way and will let me know when she is ready for something. It's hard to get her to do her school lessons sometimes and she will act silly and talk goofy instead of focusing on her reading or writing. I have to remind myself to be patient with her when she gets in her moods and I take full advantage of the moments when she is willing to cooperate with me. I don't know who she takes after more, me or Andrew. She is just her own individual and we love her for it.
Happy Birthday my lovely Gretchen.
May we celebrate many many more!
Saturday, January 16, 2010
Heading out today to the Library, I was pleased to see that the snow is finally starting to melt. I'm not tired of the cold, but I am tired of looking at the same, dirty snow from before Christmas. The snow by the road is yucky and brown and the snow in the yard is dotted with chicken, dog and cat droppings. No wonder the kids don't want to play in the snow!
The weather has warmed up slightly and I had the windows open to air out the house! It got up to the 50s the other day and my mom thought I was nuts! I thought it was nice out there and it was so lovely to smell the fresh air coursing through the house. It's funny how after several weeks of 20-degree weather, 50 can seem so warm!
One of my hens is going broody. I don't like to interrupt their laying process so I wait until after they get out of the coop to gather eggs, but every time I check, the same hen is still sitting on her and the others' eggs. After awhile, I reach under and collect the eggs. It's too soon to let her sit and try to hatch eggs, but maybe sometime in February, I'll let her sit on them. I figure by March, any chicks hatched will be alright with mama if it gets chilly, but it shouldn't get as cold as it has been by then-- knock on wood. If she is successful, she'll save me money on buying more chicks.
Garden dreaming is on the brain these days. Andrew and I are determined to do better in the garden this year, so we are planning and thinking and talking. I'll be making a small greenhouse for my seeds to start in, and we are coming up with ideas on how to build it and where to put it. Meant to get it in before the snow but.... oh well. It'll get started when the snow is completely melted.
Tax-time is coming. ugh. 2009 is the first year in a while where Andrew has worked the whole year at one job. It won't be the biggest, but it should be something, better than last years refund, I hope. The first thing we'll get, if possible, will be a new chainsaw for Andrew. He really needs a new one, as the old one keeps crapping out and parts keep getting replaced. I watch him get so frustrated with the old one and because of all the trouble it gives him, and we really didn't prepare enough wood for the winter. We are being stingy with the wood stove and if it's possible to be warm by adding a sweater instead of starting a fire, that's what we do. There's a local chainsaw shop that gives credit for trade-ins so maybe that will cut down on the price a little bit.
I'm dreaming of cherries. I know it's way too soon for cherries, but I am down to my very last jar of cherry almond jam and I am savoring every bit. On a whim, I added almond extract to my last batch of cherry jam and it has turned into something the whole family cannot get enough of! I only had 4 pints of it so we tried our hardest to make it last. This coming cherry season, I'll be sure to make several batches of cherry almond jam!
Evelyn got a sewing kit from an auntie for Christmas and she has just blown us away at the stuff she is creating! I think she has my knack for coming up with things without a pattern. The kit came with several pre-cut felt pieces to sew together and stuff to make a cat, dog and elephant and some fabric to sew into a pouch to hold it all. She made the stuffed cat and the pouch, then raided my fabric scraps and started making her own designs-- a purse with a latch and a pocket on the front; a little stuffed flashlight with a button for the on/off switch; little purses for her sisters.... She now talks about making a basket and after telling me how she is going to do it, I am impressed with her thought processes. If she keeps this up, I'll give her my old sewing machine whenever I get myself a new one. Hmmm... a chainsaw for Andrew and a sewing machine for me??? Oh please let this be a nice tax year for us!
Sylvia has mastered the computer and now begs to play computer games every time I get on here. She is pestering me now, and I need to get off anyway, so til next time!
Thursday, January 14, 2010
I used what fabric I had on hand. This was from a bolt of fabric my mom had that was in her house when it caught on fire, so there is discoloration on the fabric that will not wash out, probably from the smoke and soot. Ok for little personal projects and the kids didn't notice the stain. Knowing my kids, it'll get dirty on the outside, so I'm fine with it.
...open the side flaps and ta-da!! A felt board with felt shapes to make whatever scene you wish to make!
I already see where I can make improvements-- I sewed two pockets on the bottom flap to hold extra felt pieces and the girls kind of struggle to get pieces out. Next time, I'll make it a folding flap that folds up and then when you flip it over to close, the pieces won't fall out. I know I'll make another one for someone else, and Evelyn and Gretchen are each asking for one of their own.
It's way better than that one I saw.. that one was just a felt-covered board and the felt shapes were in a zippy bag. This version is nice that they can save the picture, if they wanted, by closing the flaps and not worrying about losing the felt pieces. I also thought that I would add a handle to make it portable, but this is not something I want my kids to take along in the car, or else I'd find felt pieces here and there. I feel better about it being a home toy and I can keep an eye on it when they play with it and put it safely away out of reach of Peter's grasp.
Monday, January 11, 2010
The color of the Gin batch is lovely, like a nice, deep, dark wine color. It filled up this bottle and a little overflow into a small canning jar. Nice flavor, reminds me of blackberry liquor. Any ideas on how I can use the plums?? I know I can still eat them, but do I just eat them right out of the jar or can I cook with them?? I'd love some ideas. Maybe I can make some sort of cake and chop the plums for a plum/gin version of rum cake??
Andrew and I aren't big drinkers-- we did the whole drinking and getting drunk scene when he was in the Navy and I was in college, and we have had enough of that. We do, however, like to have wine now and then, or a recipe calls for beer or wine, or when we are feeling sick, there's nothing like a shot of rum or vodka to knock you out and kill the germy germs. My dad used to let me have a shot of blackberry liquor when I wasn't feeling good and that will be next on my alcoholic ventures this Spring, when the blackberries are in season. I keep thinking that this would also make some nice gifts, bottled up in some nice glass bottles.
Strawberry wine, Peach wine, and Damson liquor-- all excellent results! Well, a 50/50 success rate with the Strawberry wine-- half of it went to vinegar. I learned from that and stayed on top of the Peach wine and that turned out to be just right, with a bit of sweetness to it. The strawberry is stronger with a bit of tartness. Looking forward to making mulberry wine and blackberry liquor!
Sunday, January 10, 2010
Thank you for all the lovely comments on my 'Introductions' posts. I enjoyed writing them and it reminded me of all the good things about my kids. It's a good way to remember them since they change and grow so quickly and stuff they used to do only a year ago, they no longer do anymore.
I sent out Christmas 'thank you' cards using the photo above. I still have a few more to send out, I ran out of ink in the printer and need to get some more, but I have improved from last year. I think by the time I sent out 'thank yous' it was already February! I'm trying to do better with little things like that.
We have been busy cleaning house. Andrew has not been working very many hours lately-- his boss has cut back every one's hours and hired new people, so this past week, Andrew only worked 9 hours. Hardly worth the gas it takes to work 9 hours, but what is he to do? He has stepped up the job hunt and hopefully something comes our way.
With him home, we are getting some organizing done around here, as part of our resolution to get things cleaned up and de-cluttered. The living room got moved around and everything came off the shelves, then we eliminated about half of the stuff and put stuff back on the shelves. It looks so much better in there now and while no furniture was taken out, it also feels roomier. Amazing what a shift in furniture can do.
The office is currently getting worked on now. We took out more than 10 boxes of stuff, mostly items that I had up for sale on ebay and etsy that went unsold but never got moved back to the basement. The office became a place for things that Peter was getting into and there were precarious towers of papers and stuff teeter-tottering, one bump away from falling over. I had enough! A shelf got taken out, another shelf got moved, lots of papers destined for the burn pile, and I think we are a couple days away from completion. Looking good so far. We only clean after Peter goes down for his nap, otherwise he'd get into things and we'd holler and shriek at the poor kid.
It is bitterly cold up here. All that snow we got before Christmas has yet to melt away, and while it doesn't look like this anymore, there is still several inches of snow on the coop and everywhere else. Not a patch of grass showing except for where we shoveled out and where the chickens scratch.
With 6 hens, we average out to about 4 eggs daily. Today was 6 eggs but the other day was only 2. We have a heat lamp out there, and I think it helps keep the egg production going. Even the cats like to hang out in the coop at night, all snuggled in the straw. I plan to get more chicks in the Spring, I'm thinking 10 more, pullets only, no mixed males or females this time and I'll sell the surplus eggs for a little extra feed money. There is a neighbor down the road that sells farm eggs, so I hope she won't mind the competition.
I have 7 dozen eggs in the fridge now, and I gave away 3 dozen as Christmas gifts. Any tried and true quiche or egg recipes you want to share with me? I see recipes on the internet, but I'd like one from someone I know. Please share! :o) I'll be making eggs salad sandwiches for lunch tomorrow, which I don't think Gretchen will care for, but I think the other 3 kids will gobble up. That'll be about a dozen eggs there. Potato salad will also be on the menu pretty soon, and deviled eggs, yum!
Friday, January 8, 2010
Funny thing, when it came time to pick a name for the baby, all we could think of was names for boys and we drew blanks for girl names. So imagine our surprise when we had a sonogram and found out it was a boy! huh. Following our tendency for old-fashioned names, we came up with Angus; which got shot down when more than one person asked why we were naming him after a bull. Then we came up with Griffith/Griffin (couldn't decide which) and several people waned to know why we were naming him after a mystical creature and we must be Harry Potter fans. pfft! Then we liked the name Jack until we found out it was on the most popular boys' name list. Nix that.
All of the girls have middle names after one of their grandmothers, so we wanted to keep that going for Baby. Lucky for my Dad, his middle name is our last name, so all of our kids carry his middle name. Then Andrew made a suggestion that we just thought was perfect! His granddaddy's nickname was Pete even though it is nothing like his real name. When someone called Pete by his real name, Grandma Helen had no clue who they were talking about-- though it was her own husband! I asked, but no one really knows why he was called Pete, but in Grandma Helen's personal effects, is an old black and white photo of Grandaddy and written on the front is "Handsome Pete". So we named him...
Peter! He can be quite the little monster!
After having 3 girls, it is absolutely amazing to see the difference in raising a boy! He has way more toughness than the girls did and he is much more rough than the girls are. He has head-butted me and dang, it hurt, too! I am pining for the all the safety equipment that we got rid of before Peter was born. I refuse to spend more money on buying door latches and gates all over again, which is partly why I am constantly on my toes keeping after Peter! I figured out how to loop a dishtowel through the handles on the cupboards in the kitchen to keep Peter out, but then he just goes after the dog food and water bowl. He gravitates towards any room with lights on, so we have to remember not to leave lights on or else he wreaks havoc in that room. He climbs the table and looks like he has conquered the tallest mountain! The boy simply does not sit still!
I think we all breathe a small sigh of relief when he goes down for his 4-hour nap. The girls can break out their crafty projects, I can relax a little bit and even Grandma comes out of hiding in her apartment to join us for the afternoon activities.
He is such a happy boy. He is definitely a mama's boy, preferring me over Daddy, but that's just cause I baby him a little bit. We aren't planning on any more kids, so I know he'll be my last baby and I am cherishing every moment I can get. He hugs back now and I love when he puts his arms around my neck and squeezes hard. *melt melt melt!*
He's a tosser! He likes to pick things up, throw it, pick it up and throw it again! Not so bad when it's something soft like a teddy bear, but when it's a hard toy that could break or break something, it becomes an issue. We have really narrowed down the toys available for him to play with because of that, which makes it much easier to keep the house clean, so no complaints from me. :o) At 18 months old, he doesn't really talk yet, but we have heard him say a few words: mama, woof-woof, daddy, to name a few. He signs more words, so he knows how to make himself understood. He signs words like: more, milk, hungry, bath, full, all done...
He is a really good baby, easy to please and when he isn't being a little monster, fun to be around. If you point at the dog, he'll woof-woof. If he sees the cat, he'll make a bee-line for it. When I take him with me to the chicken coop, he delights in seeing the chickens up close. When I pass in front of a mirror with him in my arms, he laughs at our image and claps his hands. He has all of Daddy's ticklish spots and I love to hear his laugh. When he is quiet and rests his head on my chest, I love to smell his soft hair and hold him close.
I never imagined having a boy after 3 girls, and now I cannot imagine a life without him. Evelyn, Gretchen, Sylvia and Peter make our family complete.
Thursday, January 7, 2010
As with the first two, we wanted another old-fashioned name. Once again, we had no idea what the sex of the baby was, but we still couldn't settle on a boy name. We had several girl names we liked, so we thought maybe it would be a girl. After 3 pushes, the baby was out-- a girl! Meet...
...Sylvia! Today, the birthday girl turns 4!! Happy Birthday Sylvia!
She is such a sweetie, a tender-hearted little girl, who plays well by herself as long as she is within sight of me. A girly-girl, she loves pink, pink, and did I say pink? If she could, she would wear dresses every single day, just like the one she is wearing here. I have to make her put pants on or put on a long-sleeve under it because it's 27 degrees outside!
Here's her birthday menu requests: Pancakes for breakfast; Hot dogs and macaroni and cheese for lunch; sandwiches and potato salad for dinner; strawberry cake with chocolate frosting.
Andrew calls her my shadow. Where I go, she goes. She is always near me and when I go outside, she'll come with me. Even if it's just a quick in-and-out, she wants to come with me. When it's time to pick tomatoes or grapes or something from the garden, she'll always be my helper. Though when it comes to the chickens, she tends to stay in the house-- She doesn't like the rooster because he pecked her before and tried to keep her in line like he does the hens. I tell her she is bigger than he is, but in her eyes, he is the big one. Maybe come Spring, her fear of him will loosen and she'll help me gather eggs.
Her older sisters tend to play together and leave her out sometimes, though we try to stay on top of that and encourage games and other activities that include everyone. When it does happen, she'll play with Baby and if he's napping, she'll play by herself. She imitates her sisters, always trying to sing what Gretchen is singing, or using Evelyn's language or copying her attitude. Evelyn was always starting a sentence with: "The problem is..." even if it had nothing to do with the topic. So little Sylvia was saying that: "Mama, the problem is...I love you!" Always a pause after saying "The problem is..." I would be busy feeding Baby and she is impatiently tapping my arm, which is kind of annoying to a deaf person, and then when I snap "what?!", and this is what I'll see-- Sylvia signing "I love you" to me and then I feel bad for snapping at her.
Such a sweetheart, always giving me hugs and kisses and only wants me to put her to bed at night and always sneaking her way onto my lap when I'm at the computer or when we are watching a movie together. She sits next to me at the table and will not have it any other way.
We love you Sylvia, very, very much! Happy Birthday little one, and may you have many, many more!
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
Meet Gretchen. She is the singer/ dancer/ ham of the family. Master of funny faces and jokes and cheesy smiles. It's hard to get a photo of her without her squinting her eyes and giving me the biggest smile she can muster, but oh, what a pretty smile it is.
She is going to be 6 in two weeks and she can't wait! She has already put in her order for the menu that day:: pancakes for breakfast; hotdogs and macaroni and cheese for lunch; meatloaf, peas, and mashed potatoes for dinner; and a chocolate cake with strawberry frosting. She is a girl that knows what she likes! She has a very definite sense of style and never fails to surprise me with an outfit she has put together. For awhile there, she never wore matching shoes and rolled her socks down just like Olive Oyl. She likes to wear this shirt with that pants or those pants with that shirt.
Gretchen is a very lively girl that likes familiarity. She doesn't like disruptions to our routine and hates when I leave to go grocery shopping without them. She cries big tears and wails and pleads for me to stay or to take her. I can resist, but Daddy on the other hand... He says it was the tremor in her voice and the tears in her eyes that makes him feel so bad for her and lets her come along. Maybe she just has Daddy wrapped around her finger? ;o)
She recognizes music from the radio on some of the movies we watch and will often take a tune and add new words. It confuses me sometimes, when I recognize the tune but the words are different and I realize she has made the song her own. She is never without music, whether she is singing, humming, or listening to it on the TV or radio. This makes Andrew happy because he loves music just as much.
Sweet Gretchen, our little star.
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
Monday, January 4, 2010
BC the cat is making sure he doesn't miss the cat food coupons
I love that he'll sit at the table with me and help me cut out coupons.
We can laugh and joke and never run out of topics to talk about.
He supports all (well, almost all) of my harebrained ideas and gets as excited as I do about some of them. He didn't moan and groan when I wanted to get chickens, when I wanted to collect pallets for the chicken coop or when I wanted him to go and get them. He hooks up the tractor for me when it's time to till the garden, and he takes out the trash when I ask him to. He laughs at my silly voices and jokes and never tells me to "hush up".
He tells me he loves me 1,000 times a day and it never fails to make my heart beat faster. He tells me I'm beautiful when I wake up and before I close my eyes at night.
I love that he is the father of my children.
Andrew & Jennifer sittin' in a tree,