Wednesday, December 30, 2009


I've never seen this before-- antlers for your car. I wasn't too impressed, and as a matter of fact, the first thought that popped into my head was: oh, more crap for people to buy.

Then Youngest spotted it and said: "Look! A deer-car!!!"

Which then prompted a whole conversation with Daddy about who was driving the car (an old man and an old lady as a passenger), where they were going, why they had a deer-car and so on.

So now I think it's cute.


A deer-car. :o)

Monday, December 28, 2009

The End Is Near!!

I hope everyone had a nice holiday. We had a lovely time. We got icy rain on top of our 21 inches of snow on Christmas day, so my husband's parents and my aunt and uncle did not come that day. I expected the kids to wake me up early on Christmas morning, since the night before, I spent most of the evening, after they went to bed, wrapping presents and putting them under the tree.

Surprisingly, they let me sleep until I woke up around 8 am. I thought for sure they would have jumped on the bed, screaming in delight at the sight of presents under the tree, but they patiently waited. Wow. Middle noted that there were more presents than last year, and she is right. Thanks to Leslie and Tracey, 2 Mountain Mama readers, they each got new jammies, new fleece hoodies, baby dolls for each girl, a train for Baby, and various stocking stuffers. I can't thank you enough for all you've done for my children this Christmas. Thank you, thank you, thank you. They had a good Christmas and more presents than there would have been if not for Tracey and Leslie.

Saturday, the weather cleared and we headed over to my husband's parent's house in Virginia. The grandparents got to have all 7 of their grandchildren together that day. It was a nice day, spent with family, food, laughter and love.

I didn't get into my usual holiday baking frenzy.. something to do with 4 kids constantly vying for my attention. We did make sugar cookies together on Christmas eve, and I made 2 kinds of fudge, peppermint bark, and caramel popcorn for gift-giving, along with jams and farm-fresh eggs. I wish I could have done more, but I can't keep stressing over it, so I'll just let it go. Next year I'll have to remind myself to get started on things earlier.

Any New Year's resolutions?? I won't bother with the usual ones-- dieting, cleaning house, exercising, etc.. I'm always trying to clean house and watch what I eat and chasing 4 kids is enough exercise for me (huff puff). My resolution this year is to be a better person-- to be kinder and try to give back to people. We have been blessed with some wonderful people coming into our lives this year and I want to be able to pass along that kindness. I want my kids to see us doing good things for other people and maybe they'll take away something from that.

Being behind the camera most of the time, and having 4 little ones, it's rare that we get a decent picture of the Husband and I, so I am thrilled to have this lovely photo of us, thanks to my Mother-in-Law. I want to make that another resolution for 2010-- to get more family photos that include me!

Here's another 2010 resolution: Get back into blogging more often. I won't say daily because then I'll feel bad that I didn't blog that day, but at least 4 times a week--- and with the holidays winding down, it'll happen. I'll be making introductions in January, too, so stay tuned to meet the whole gang.

Have a Happy New Year, from all of us here at Mountain Mama.


Monday, December 21, 2009

O Christmas Tree!

It seems like every other year, in my family at least, we have a toddler in the house. Rather than defending the Christmas tree from curious little fingers and sweeping up broken ornaments, we break out the little tree. It's perched high on an old cupboard we have, safe from the grabby hands of Baby.

Its about 3 feet tall, and I wanted to try something different this year, especially since my girls are older now. Instead of going up into the attic and bringing down the ornaments, I challenged the girls to make all the ornaments on the tree this year. They have met that challenge and I am so proud of them and the little tree is just so pretty to look at.

We never had official stockings for the kids, usually just some cheap ones from the dollar store, but they always got misplaced and lost. I decided to make some this year from fleece and instead of doing their whole names, I just cut out the first letter of their names in contrasting colors in fleece and sewed them on. I like how they turned out and the latest line of questioning is where they are going to be hanged.

Along with those button flowers we made, some of the ornaments are made from perler beads-- those plastic beads that you iron to melt together. They have made stars, trees, hearts, snowflakes, peace signs.... This is the snowflake.

Here's the heart.

When I do my sewing, the girls go through my scraps and with a little help from me, make assorted ornaments-- small pouches, houses, snowmen...

Here's a wreath made from little squares of fleece. I've seen this with felted wool scraps and I figured fleece would work just as well. Kept the kids busy for the longest time threading the squares! I was able to get some sewing done while they did this! :o)

I also broke out my fimo clay and let the kids have at it. The Husband worked with the girls on this one and they made wreaths, candy canes, ball ornaments, snowmen, lollipops... For some, I had to stick a paper clip into them for a hanging loop before baking.

I still have a few more ornament ideas to try for the kids to make, and with only a few more days to Christmas, I need to find things they can do with little guidance from me, so I can get some more baking done. I've only made fudge so far, and still have quite a bit left to make.


How can I leave without saying anything about the big snow we got?? 21 inches total for us! Whoa! That's the most we've had since moving here almost 5 years ago. It's absolutely gorgeous up here! The photo up top was taken by the Husband and it's our secondary driveway. Isn't it lovely?

We are snowed in, no way of getting out right now, though the neighbor came and plowed part of our driveway this afternoon. His tractor couldn't make it up the hill, so he left and never came back! Maybe tomorrow he'll come back with chains on the tires and finish plowing the rest of the driveway for us. But we're snug as a bug in a rug up here. The girls are happy to play outside, we have the woodstove going to keep us warm, several days of soup meals to fill our bellies... we are quite happy.

Happy kids!

Baby's first taste of snow! :o)

Hot Chocolate with candy canes to warm up frozen kids- yum!

Stay warm!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Buried Treasure!

Buried treasure: old glass bottles, 1951-62 (based on outline lettering from the Clorox bottle)

The thing that's really nice about old glass is that it can survive. It can be a fickle thing, shattering on impact, but sometimes, if it's lucky, it can be tossed into a pile of trash, covered with dirt and then some years later, be discovered and dug up to be used for something else.

After a good soak and washing, these old bottles are as good as new again! They are four-fifth of a liter so I am assuming they were once used for some sort of alcohol. Beer? Liquor?

They are now a vessel for my peach wine, which is quite tasty by the way. I have gone through every single cap in the house to see if any fits, and wouldn't you know? The only one that fits is from another alcoholic beverage bottle! I am using a water bottle cap, which almost fits, and then plastic wrap over it, secured with a rubber band. I have 4 of these filled right now and another 2 gallons of peach wine to divide into smaller bottles.

It's snowing now, and this is just the thing to keep me warm while we play in the snow! :o)

By the way, I still have 2 fleece puzzles left and if mailed priority by Monday, they should arrive in time for Christmas, so if you want one, send me an email with "Puzzle" in the header. Check a couple posts down for more info.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Gingerbread Houses

Our local Library has great activities for kids every month and this month was no exception-- Gingerbread Houses!! Last Saturday, they provided all the candies and frosting and pre-made gingerbread houses (actually graham crackers) for the kiddos to decorate. How I wish I was a kid so I could have decorated one, too!

The girls hard at work on their houses. The place was packed and I consider us lucky we were able to find 3 seats at the same table. They had so much fun and their only disappointment is that they cannot eat their houses. I have them up on a shelf, safely away from sneaky hands and a forever-hungry dog.

Youngest with her house. She had very, very little help from me and I am amazed at how well she put it all together. I gotta give her more credit for her creativity!

Middle and her house. She said the gummy bears are playing 'ring around the rosie' all around the house.

Oldest and her house. She had several lollipop chimneys which were eaten before I could put the house away. Sneaky thing!

All in all, a very fun project for them to do. I'd love to make my own one day, but I can't get past the fact that it's such a waste of food! For now, I'll just admire the ones I see out there.


Sunday, December 13, 2009

Fleece Puzzle for Toddlers

**Edited to add:: Only 2 left!!!**

Need a hand-made gift for a toddler?? I whipped up these great little fleece puzzles as gifts for some children in my family and made extra to sell... They are reversible puzzles, a truck on one side, a fish on the other side, and have 6 pieces total. Easy enough for a toddler to do. The puzzle measures approximately 8 x 12 inches.

The fish turned out a little dark here, it's a bit of a brighter orange than what you see above. I have 4 available and they are all slightly different, no two are alike, so what you see in the picture may vary slightly from what you get.

If you buy a puzzle this week, they can be mailed priority and be under your tree by Christmas(for those living in the U.S.)!! Each puzzle is $15(U.S.) and shipping is included. If there is anyone overseas that is interested, shipping will be slightly higher, so that needs to be considered. Send me an email if you are interested: please put "Puzzle" in the header so I know it's not spam.

Happy Holidays!! :o)


Wednesday, December 9, 2009


Dear Mr. Man That Helped My Husband Last Night,

On a very cold night, with heavy sleet coming down, my husband was trying to make his way home safely to his wife and children. He had told me around 8:45 that night that he was on his way home, which meant, allowing for slow driving, he'd be home around 9:45 or so. The roads were slick, thick with snow and ice and not yet salted or plowed by the state road workers, so that meant my husband had to drive precarious twists and turns with no 4x4 or chains on his tires. He managed to drive 20 miles without incident and then on a curve, the truck ended up skidding on ice and landed in a ditch. Not too long after, you came along with a nice, big 4x4 pick-up truck and asked if he was ok. Then asked if he had $50 bucks. Lucky for you, my husband had just cashed his meager paycheck on Monday and had not been to the food store or to the other store to buy a few presents for the kids yet. After handing over $50, you hooked up a chain to my husband's truck and pulled him out of the ditch and up the hill to a gas station. After asking where my husband was headed (another 10 miles through more twists, hills and turns) you gave him your business card and asked him if he had another $50 in case he got stuck in a ditch again. My husband said no more cash and you shook your head. You told my husband that you were going to be at this all night long, "helping" people get unstuck.

Once upon a time, I rode along with a friend's brother, doing the very same thing you were doing last night. We pulled people out of stuck positions for 50 bucks a pop and at the end of the day, made somewhere around $600. Easy money! I suppose it is Karma, that it happened to us and we had to pay $50 to get unstuck. But now that I am on the other side of the game, it hurts to hand over that money, so that my husband could get home safely to his wife and children.

Thank you for your help. I hope that one day, when you are stuck, you get some help and whoever helps you does not charge you $50 to get unstuck. Have a Merry Christmas, sir.


Worried Wife of Stuck Husband


Dear Mr. Man That Gave Husband a Ride Home,

Not long after my husband left the gas station, he made it another 5 miles without incident. In the opposite direction, my Husband could see another vehicle coming fast, too fast in sleet conditions and on roads that still have not been plowed. By then it was 10:30 at night and the poor Wife was worried sick, unable to get through to his cell phone because the mountains block all cell service. As the vehicle came closer, the husband realized that it was in his lane and he had to take action or get involved in a terrible accident. He edged his truck as close as he could to the shoulder of the road but it was not enough and he ended up going into a ditch. Did the other driver stop? No, he sped on by, never stopping to see if my husband was alright.

You came along and stopped to check. You asked if my husband was ok and he was shaken, but fine. Both of you had no chains to pull his truck out, but soon a state snow plow came along and had chains. After pulling my husband's truck out of the ditch, he plowed a little parking lot where many commuters park for carpooling, so that my husband could park his truck there for the night. The last 5 miles to home are the curviest, and the hilliest and he knew, just knew that his truck would not make it that far. You offered my husband a ride, since you were headed that way and so you brought him home safely to me.

Thank you for your kindness, for not being an axe murderer, and for thinking of the welfare of others. You even turned down my husband's offer for gas money. You made a very worried wife happy and I hugged my husband tight when he finally came through the door, around 11:30 last night. May you have a wonderful Christmas with your family. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

With warmest regards,

Relieved Wife


Thursday, December 3, 2009


I love old buttons. Whenever I see a button-filled jar at the flea markets or yard sales, I make a beeline for it. I finger them and mentally pick out the best ones. I have lots of buttons. Pretty ones, glass ones, metal ones, utilitarian ones. I blame my high school sewing teacher for my love of buttons. Never cared or noticed them before, unless I had to button up a shirt.

I was a star sewer in her class. I would finish our appointed projects ahead of schedule, so she let me have individual projects on my own. I picked out a vest pattern I wanted to make, and she let me pick out these beautiful satin-y fabrics for the back and lining, and a lovely rose pattern in rayon for the outside. I wanted something different for the fasteners on the vest, but scanning the racks at the fabric store yielded nothing. Then my sewing teacher broke out her special buttons. It was a lovely tin full of them. She explained the history of a few and I was surprised to learn that some were from civil war uniforms and some had human hair woven into the centers! I never knew that buttons could tell so much about a time period until she showed me her collection.

After I admired her buttons and picked out the ones I liked, you know, you pull aside the pretty or unusual ones and pass by the ones that you don't really care for, she did the unexpected. She let me have them. I picked out 5 I thought were special and put them on my vest. She also had vintage buckles and she let me have one for the buckle in the back of the vest. It was perfect! Just the look I was going for. Sadly, I no longer have the vest, it disappeared when I was traveling and I've not seen it since. I do, however, still have my love of buttons.

So when I saw this idea a while back on someones' blog, I knew I would try it myself. She used hers as pins and I think she even suggested adding magnets for the fridge, but I thought they'd make lovely ornaments for the tree.

Button Flowers!!
Pick out your buttons, arrange them, then glue with Aleene's Glass and Bead glue (I found mine at the craft store).

Middle made that big one from metal buttons.

The kids did the arrangements, I did the gluing. Crack a window or turn on the ceiling fan when you use the glue, it's pretty smelly.

You could use new buttons, they sell bagged ones at the craft store, or use what you have. I admit, I had a teensy bit of an inner struggle with myself when the girls picked out a particularly nice button for their flowers, but I refrained from saying anything. In the end, it makes a pretty flower, right? We used a mix of old and new buttons. When some of my Mom's clothes got ruined in the fire, I snipped off the buttons! Many of these were from Mom's clothing.
After the glue dried (I let it sit overnight), I strung embroidery thread through the button holes to hang on the tree. Some flowers had no exposed holes, so I glued a fuzzy wire twisted into a circle on the back. You could also use a paperclip twisted into a hook, or use an extra ornament hook. I'd like to make more and use them as fridge magnets. These would make such cute gifts! The girls had fun and I have a little more room in my button jars now!! :o)

Monday, November 30, 2009

Finding Myself- Part 2

**This is taking me longer to finish than I thought it would. Next time I do something like this, I'll make sure I have all the photos I'll need first. I still haven't found that one photo album I'm looking for-- the years between high school and marriage. I did manage to find other albums I forgot about, so I'll go ahead and continue where I left off. **
After high school, I stayed home a year.
I didn't have a clue what I wanted to do and if I were to be honest,
I think I was depressed.
I spent a lot of time in my Mom's apartment watching TV, reading books, smoking cigarettes and just living a basic existence. After a while, my sister kicked my ass and told me to fill out an application for college. I did with her help and I got in the following fall of '92.
I'm missing pictures for this part, but college? Wow! I had some serious fun!
I still didn't know what I wanted to major in, but jewelry design sparked an interest in me. My financial support vetoed that, saying it wasn't a financially supportive career and to look for another major. But they didn't tell me that until after they dropped my funding for the 2nd trimester and I got a bill from the college. That was the end of that.
I left school in the Spring of '93 and spent the summer working at the beach. Again, missing pictures here, but it was the greatest time of my life. Of all the jobs I've ever held, working at the little gift/jewelry shop for $5/hour was the best job!
After that summer, I kind of bummed around. I stayed in the dorm room of my best friend while she was enrolled in another college in DC. Whoo! You wanna talk about parties? We Par-Tayed! We went to all the coolest dance clubs and never paid the entrance fee. It was just like in the movies, where there was a line and the bouncer just waved us in! We got to know the bartenders on a first name basis and I don't recall ever paying for a drink. Oh the stories I could tell!
That following summer, '94, found me in Maine. A close friend of mine lived there and invited me up for the summer. It was supposed to be just for a little bit, but I ended up falling in love with the place and when fall came and it was time for her to go back to college, I stayed behind at her Mom's house. Her Mom took me everywhere. We were kindred spirits and had much in common. We went places on weekends, exploring the state and she let me play with her 35mm camera and I discovered I loved photography. Pictures missing- argh!
I got my own apartment and started making friends, but come Spring, it was time to move on. I hated to leave, but I knew I had to.
Summer of '95 found me and 2 of my best friends back at the beach again. I was turning 21 in the fall and I still had no idea what I wanted to do with my life.

There was a possibility of working at a group home not too far from the beach, but the girl that was supposed to be our roommate kept flaking out on us, so I ended up going back home to Mom's at the end of the summer.


I went to my best friend's Maw-Maw's house for a weekend and she put us to work helping out in the garden. I fell in love with canning tomatoes. I loved getting my hands dirty, picking tomatoes and then learning how to skin them, can them and seeing all the pretty rows of tomato-filled quart jars on the table. I was happy that day.

At the encouragement of my Mom, I applied for a job in the Post Office. I took the test, was hired, and began work on 11-11-95. Little did I know, a fellow co-worker that began on the same day would be my future husband.


I think this is the very first picture of the two of us together. This was either the first or second time I went to his parent's house and this was about a month after we started dating in November of '96.

I have never brought a boy I dated home before, and by the time my Dad met him, we were already engaged. He proposed to me on Jan 2, 1997 and we moved into an apartment together shortly after. We went to my Dad and his wife's house to gather some things for my apartment and I only introduced him as a friend who was helping me move. I wanted to tell them in a formal way, so we invited them for dinner and when I told Dad and his Wife that we were engaged, my Dad's exact words were, "I didn't even know you had a boyfriend!"


I still didn't know what I wanted to do with myself. I knew I wanted to marry my fiancee, but the Post Office was not where I wanted to be. I hated that place. Good money, good benefits, I met my husband there, but the job was hell. It was a physically taxing job with supervisors that ignored me unless they wanted me to work elsewhere.


We got married in '98, moved to a bigger apartment, moved to a house in the country, and then, I finally discovered what I wanted to do:

Have babies with my Husband!


to be continued next Monday...

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Gobble Gobble!

Happy Thanksgiving


my Family

to Yours!
Taking a little break, be back on Monday with more on 'Finding Myself'.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

It's coming!!

Eeek! I can't find my 2nd photo album to continue the "Finding Myself" post!! I am hunting it down, it's gotta be somewhere around here! I just hope it isn't in the basement *gulp!* After we made room for my Mom's boxes down there, we sort of shoved our stuff to the other side, and haven't gotten around to reorganizing down there. Might be time to do that now... sigh. The kids swear up and down that they don't know where it is, and I believe them. They like to look through our photos, but don't usually put them back where they got them, so it might have gotten misplaced in one of our 'hurry-people-are-coming-over-let's-clean-up-quick!' cleaning sprees!

As soon as I find the album, and I cannot rest until I do, I'll continue where I left off. Thank you for all your positive comments. I enjoyed reading them and look forward to reading what you'll say on the next installment.

On a funny side note: I bought the Husband a bag of chocolate-covered raisins. It's sitting on the pantry shelf in plain view of the kids. Oldest asked me if she could have some, and I told her to ask her dad, they're his. So she bounds out of the room to find daddy. Hubby came out laughing, he said she asked him if she could have his "chocolate grapes"!!! He had to think about that one a bit before he realized what she meant! Don't you just love kids and how their minds work?? :o)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Finding Myself

Every kid goes through that period where they are searching for who they are-- their style, their signature, that thing that tells the world they are who they are. At 13, when I went into high school, I wasn't too sure of who I was, except that I was a deaf girl about to enter a school for the deaf, and for the first time, I would be equal to my peers. I hoped that I would no longer have to endure taunts from hearing classmates or be picked on for my K-mart clothes or be teased for not saying a word correctly.
This, was how 14 year olds dressed back in 1988.
Please note that the jeans and the jean jacket are K-mart issue.
How are today's 14 year old girls so gorgeous??? None of the girls I knew back then look like the girls do today!
The buttons on my jacket ranged from:
"SSDD- Same Shit, Different Day"
"I'm not Deaf, I'm ignoring you!" (ha-ha!)
A picture of Spuds McKenzie
I remember how I felt most of the time that year.. like I was a fat kid with braces. I had an aunt and uncle that always told me that if I wore make-up I'd be so pretty and to dress better, which only made me more painfully aware of myself and I figured I must not be very pretty for them to say that to me. I remember pulling my already big shirt out to be sure that you couldn't see my tummy when I sat down and my long bangs would obscure half of my face.
I did manage to get my first kiss at 14. Some of us girls and boys would go behind the dorms and have make-out sessions. I don't know about anyone else, but I never went beyond kissing.
This is me at 15, the summer between sophomore and junior years. We were dressed up for a Sadie Hawkins party and this was my version of country bumpkin. It was fun that day, but then I was caught in that anxiety of trying to "catch" a guy and hoping he would have fun with me and not be all depressed that it was me that got him. I never did figure out if he was cool with me-- after our "marriage" we went our separate ways.

At just-turned-17, I was still searching for my style. I was wearing a shirt from a guy I liked. It was Homecoming weekend at the university and he was a freshman and I was a high school senior. I stayed overnight in his room. Nothing happened- I slept on the floor, but the next day, I needed a shirt, so I swiped his. I wore that shirt out. How many times have I thought I was the coolest chick wearing a boys' shirt??? I figured out here that I liked silver jewelry, so I had the big hoops and silver rings and necklaces. I was all about the silver!
I went stag to my senior prom. No one asked me. I wanted to go, it was on a cruise ship, so me and 2 other girls decided we'd go together and have fun anyway. I was starting to discover my style-- hippie chick. This was my prom outfit. I felt so daring, wearing a see-thru blouse, belly showing, mini-skort. I went to Georgetown to buy this outfit at all the hip shops. I had on dangle-y daisy earrings, a peace necklace, my hair parted down the middle... I felt like I was in my element. I was also kind of nervous, what would people think? How would they react?

Looking at this picture of me, about to head onto the boat, I looked so sexy! Look at those legs! I wish I had more confidence in myself back then. I wish I knew how beautiful I was, instead of worrying about what other people thought of me. I wish that when I worked up the courage to ask a guy out, only to get told that he just wanted to be friends, that I said to him, "your loss", instead of feeling crushed and that girl inside of me just wanted to wither away and disappear.
No one danced with me that night. I spent a lot of time topside, smoking my cigarettes (yes, I smoked then) and watched the sun go down over Potomac River. I took pictures for other people, posed for a few, but I didn't dance a single dance.
After graduation, my sister and I participated in a 'Bike Across Virginia' ride. My sister was an avid biker, and I wanted to be like her. I wanted to be athletic like she was, so I tried out for the basketball and volleyball teams because she played, but I never made the teams. I could ride a bike though, so we signed up and spent 5 days riding the Shenandoah Valley with hundreds of other riders. It was a great trip, I learned I didn't have the stamina my sister had, but we had so much fun together.

I didn't know what I wanted to do after high school. I found my style, but now what was I going to do??

--to be continued

Thursday, November 12, 2009

What Are They Saying?

**Edited to add::

I went ahead and watched my copy of the dvd movie UP and it IS captioned AND has English subtitles!! It has no [CC] symbols on the back and no subtitles info, but it IS captioned!! I have heard from various people that the rental versions aren't captioned, dunno what the deal with that is. So my apologies, the plain dvd version of UP is ok for us Deaf people to watch!! Yay!!

A friend on Facebook posted that the UP dvd movie did not have captions or subtitles. My heart skipped a beat as I ran to go check my copy and sure enough-- no captions or subtitles. There is French and Spanish subtitles, but not English. I went online to the Disney website and did some searching and I found they released 3 versions of the UP movie-- Blu-Ray, Digital, and regular DVD. ONLY the Blu-Ray version has English subtitles for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing viewers.

Why??? First, the Blu-Ray version costs more, and you need the Blu-Ray player. Secondly, why would Disney choose to leave out the captions or subtitles on any version of their movies?? I like watching movies, too! My kids could still watch it, but I won't be able to understand anything. Have you ever tried to lip-read a cartoon??? I'm a good lip-reader, but not that good!

I'm upset about it. I already opened the movie to clip out the proof-of-purchase tabs to redeem a rebate on the movie. I don't know if I'll be able to return it. I did get it for free after the coupons, but it's the principal of the thing-- had I known there were no captions or subtitles on it, I wouldn't have bought it. I hardly ever check for captions or subtitles anymore.. almost all the popular movies released on dvd have captions or subtitles.. it's usually the older copies or lesser-known movies that are hit-or-miss with captions.

I'm going to try and take back the movie, but I think the chances will be slim that they refund my $10 CVS bucks.


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Shopping Frugally

Money is still an issue for us. Hubby is still working at his part-time job, and we are ever so grateful for it, knowing that there are many others without work. We have been doing alright, we have our moments when we have only $17 in the bank and we are left holding our breath until the next paycheck comes in, and sometimes, almost as soon as it gets deposited, it's spent already.

It helps that we don't keep up with all the newest toys and fashions, we are a low-tech family, which means we don't have any video games or ipods or any such electronica. We only have a computer, a TV with a DVD/Video player, and a plain and simple cell phone for Hubby. Oh, and an old handheld nintendo game player that gets used only in the bathroom. We are happy this way, with a simple lifestyle and less distractions that take away our time as a family.

It also helps that we raised maybe 30% of our own food-- hopefully more next year. I am still figuring out the balance and how much to plant to feed our growing family; for example: I planted 45 potato halves which gave us about 150 pounds of potatoes, and that lasted about 2 1/2 months. Definitely need to plant more next season.

That said, since my Dad's wife taught me some coupons tricks last August, I have been learning how to shop all over again. I've always used coupons before, but it never saved me much, maybe $10 at the most here and there, but still, it helped. I always wondered how those "coupon ladies" got $150 worth of groceries and only paid like $5 bucks! How did they do that??? I am slowly learning how!

I found out last week that Target was having a sale on a children's game-- connect 4x4. It was on sale for $14.99. There was a coupon out for $5 off, plus Target has a store coupon for $5 off. That makes it $5 after coupons. Then, I also had a $5 giftcard from buying something at Target, which made the game free and all I had to pay was the tax, which was 49 cents! Now, I have a game for all of us to play and I can put it under the tree this Christmas, and it didn't break the bank. Heck! It didn't even crack the wallet!

Do any of you shop at CVS? I never did. I thought it was an expensive store and I only shopped there if I needed something real quick, like cough medicine or a soda and a candy bar. Turns out, there is a trick to shopping at CVS... Get the membership card, cut out coupons in the Sunday papers, shop wisely and CVS will pay you to shop there! No, really! I'll show you-- this week, CVS is offering a nice selection of candies on sale.. buy $15 worth, and they'll give you $5 back on your receipt, which you can use to shop next time you go in. So here's the scenario:: Get 4 bags of chocolate kisses for a total of $12, 2 XL hershey bars for $3 which equals $15; use 2 $1 coupons for the kisses and a CVS coupon for $3 off $15. Ok, that sounds confusing, here...

4 kisses -- $12
2 XL bars-- $3
equals $15
2-$1 coupon -$2
CVS 3 off 15 -$3
total is $10 and CVS gives you $5 to use next time you shop!

So say next week, they offer the candy deal again, you now have $5 CVS cash along with whatever coupons you have and they give you more CVS cash for next time! It's a great little trick to keep you coming back, but when you use your own coupons, you actually kind of trick them a little bit. I don't know how they can afford to do it, but it works for me, so I'm not complaining. By using this way of shopping at CVS, I was able to get the newest Pixar UP movie on DVD for free! There goes another present under the tree this year! I also now have candies to use for my holiday baking-- the kisses go into cookies and the XL chocolate bars will be turned into fudge.

Last year, we could only afford one present for each child and then one present for all of them to share. On the one hand, we didn't mind, we wanted to teach them to appreciate their things and not get materialistic; on the other hand, we really wanted to be able to give them more, but just couldn't afford to. This year, we'd like to give each child 2 presents-- a new pair of jammies and one item, maybe a book or a toy, and then the game and the movie for them to share. With the money I am saving with my new way of shopping, I can see it happening.

I'm not super coupon lady yet, but I am getting there. It's a lot of work on my part, to search out online coupons and match up the coupons with the sales to make a good deal. I try to limit my computer time to a couple hours during the day and then a couple of hours after the kids go to bed. I am grateful that Hubby helps out and doesn't mind using coupons, too. He was the one that picked up the free game at Target for me last week and came home pretty pleased about it. We now have a little game we do with each other after I get home from the store and I point out something I got for free. I'll hold it up and we say "fuh-ree!" then laugh like crazy! Wait til he gets home tonight and I hold up the new UP movie... "fuh-ree!" then we'll cackle like a couple of crazy old loons!


Monday, November 9, 2009

Busy, busy, and busy!

We've had a great weekend! The temperatures were just fantastic, it got as high as 80 yesterday, so we spent most of the weekend working the wood and raking leaves. We gathered both cured and green logs from our woods and sorted out the green wood for next year; the seasoned wood got split. At least until the log splitter sputtered out. Hubby thinks it needs new spark plugs.

Anyway, we stacked freshly-split wood by the basement, and while it is nowhere near the amount we need to last the winter, it felt good to get something out there! Gotta start somewhere!

While Hubby puttered away on the log-splitter engine, I started raking. And raking. AND raking!! Whew! Being surrounded by trees makes for a lot of leaves to rake! I raked only the back yard where we spend most of our time-- around the swing tree, the chicken coop, the wood pile. Then I raked them onto a tarp and dragged the leaves to the garden area. I made 6 trips and I AM SORE! I got a blister that popped between my finger and thumb, my ribcage aches and my lower back is killing me, then add sore arms and picking up a heavy baby.. oof! But it's a good kind of sore.. the kind where you know you did good, honest work to benefit the garden.

Oooohhh!! I am SO SO SO looking forward to the garden next year! we have big plans and hopes and good intentions. I hope we follow through this time! :o) I don't know about you, but there have been plenty of times where I have said I was going to do something, and then didn't. Hopefully Garden 2010 will be the year for doing what we said we will do!

We went to the memorial service for my husband's cousin today. We took the kids with us. He was cremated, so his ashes were in a nice wooden box, parked on a table next to his picture. The kids did alright, I had the foresight to bring notebooks and colored pencils for the girls to draw, and Baby got a little antsy there, but settled down after a bit. I had planned to sit in the back, but apparently, family gets ushered into the front pews and then on our way up, the Baby's snacks spilled out of it's container onto the floor, so I held up the line a little bit and I got flustered there, but whatcha gonna do? I picked up what I could and hurried on. I didn't expect to sit in the very first pew, and I swear I felt eyes on me when Baby started getting loud, but he's a baby, and I thought he did pretty good.

It was a nice service, what I caught of it. I was the only Deaf person there, so they didn't arrange for interpreters, and I didn't expect them to. I knew I would be kept busy with the kids and I mainly went to support my husband. I didn't know his cousin well, he never came to family gatherings, despite repeated invitations. I think I've only met him maybe 10 times in the nearly 13 years I've been with my husband, and even then, it was a polite 'hi-how-ya-doin' kind of thing. He'll be missed, and I hope he's in a better place now.

My jams have been slowly selling! I'm excited, I just sold another sampler set (it's on its way tomorrow! ) and they make nice Christmas gifts to a foodie. They bake well in desserts, too, so don't forget your Christmas baking!

I'm heading out of town again tomorrow, have to take my Mom to meet Auntie and Uncle so they can take her to her doctor appts this week. I'm hoping this week I can squeeze in some time to post some more things to sell in my etsy shop. I have some vintage Christmas items that I need to part with to make room for others... I'll let you know when I update the shop!

Here's to another busy week!

Friday, November 6, 2009


I like watching Glee on It's a musical comedy show and I've always had a thing for musicals, never mind that I can't hear!

Anyway, on one of their recent episodes, one of the characters sang a shortened version of Neil Diamonds' 'Sweet Caroline'. I remember that song from when I was a kid and since watching that episode last week, I have Sweet Caroline stuck on the broken record player I have in my head, only I can't remember the words, so it's "Sweet Caroline, ba-ba-ba, dah dah dah da da da dah, sweet caroline, ba-ba-ba..." over and over.

I was humming it while making breakfast this morning and Hubby interjected his version of the song, saying I wasn't singing it right and it went "ba-da-da" (or something like that) and we got into this whole debate over who was singing it right. Let's see, deaf girl versus die-hard music lover hearing man? Guess who was right?

I played the clip from Glee because it was captioned and after it was done, Hubby told me to youtube it, so I did and guess what? I was still right! Hah!

We were laughing about it, so it wasn't a fight or anything, just one of those laughing-can't-believe-we're-arguing-about-this kind of debate. Still, though, it felt good to be right. Then, Mom and I were talking about how Neil Diamond was jewish and all, and the Hubby interupted with, "wait, what? He's jewish?" Ah-hahahahaha!! TWO deaf ladies know more about a singer than he did!!

I LOVE LOVE LOVE my husband. It's SO much fun being married to him and I love that we can laugh over stuff like this. That I can hum and sing a song, even though I know I'm not in tune and probably not singing the right words half the time, and you know what? Hubby will sing right along with me! Wrong words and all!

Now, go youtube it and sing Sweet Caroline! :o)

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Costumes and Catch up

Can you believe it's November 5th already?!? Cripes! Seriously, where does time go?

Here's that picture I promised of the girls in their costumes: Oldest as a vampire, dressed in black with crimped hair and pointy teeth; Youngest as a purple witch with black-painted fingernails and pointy hat; Middle as supergirl. I found the groovy blue polyester pant suit at a yard sale a while back and bought it to wear for Halloween one day. I don't know how people did it back then, but polyester is freakin' hot!! I was sweating buckets wearing that and ended up taking the jacket off and just wearing the pants with a t-shirt. So much for dressing up!

We had a great time! (Thanks sweetie, for having us up!) The girls got plenty of candy to last, at least, until Christmas and I got to see the brand-new baby, and catch up on the news with my best friend. We really ought to get up there more often, since we always have such a good time, both kids and adults.

Mom is officially retired now. She met us for Halloween and then rode home with me while Hubby drove her car. No more scheduled work hours, no more pissy supervisors, no more dragging herself to work when she feels like crap. I'm so proud of her and I hope she'll be happy living with us. We love having her here and the girls love their grandma!

We have had some mild days lately, so we are working the firewood. Hubby is frustrated with his chainsaw-- it's over 20 years old and it seems like there is always some reason to take it apart and fiddle with it before it will run, and even then, it struggles with cutting. Hubby hints for a new chainsaw, and I would love to get one for him, but as usual, money doesn't permit that. So he does what he can with what he has, even if he's a little grumpy about it.

It's gotten cold today, and I'm tempted to start up the wood stove, but we'll see. Maybe we can get away with not starting it up for another day. I'll just bundle the kids up in warmer clothes, do some baking to help warm up the house and see how it goes. I won't turn everyone into popsicles just so I can put off another day with starting the wood stove.

I've sort of lost my blogging groove. I need to get back into it. Bear with me... it's been busy here and I sit at the computer thinking I'd rather do something else, so I do.

My husband's cousin died on Monday. He was only 40. I feel bad for his Aunt, she found him, and I'm sure she is devastated. No parent should ever have to bury their own child. Services will be next Monday, so we are making arrangements for going up for the day.

Time to put Baby down for his nap, then go out and help Hubby with the wood. Later, dudes.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

It's a Bird, It's a Plane...

It's Super Girl!!!

I couldn't be more pleased with this costume I made for Middle!
And more importantly.. She loves it!
Such a picky child, she likes things a certain way; like her pancakes being cut but still touching, or me pouring her juice and not Daddy, or this shirt with those pants...
I worried she wouldn't like the costume and then I was gonna have to figure something else out and let Youngest be Super Girl, but she loves it. LOVES it!
I cannibalized a damaged shirt that had burned sleeves from my Mom's house fire back in Jan., and I saved the shirt because I thought the fabric was nice. I cut along the sides and around the front of the collar, then hemmed the rough edges to make the cape. I planned to save the button and button-hole from the collar, but it was too big, so I overlapped the pointy parts of the collar and put snaps in. The front panels of the shirt had the sleeves trimmed off then sewn together to make a matching skirt. If someone looked closely at the skirt, they would see button holes on the bottom hem! As it is, she zooms around the room whenever she puts it on, so I doubt she would sit still long enough for anyone to notice!
I had the old blue t-shirt-- it had a logo on the front for a zoo and I made the superman logo from fleece I had lying around and made sure it was big enough to cover the old logo, then sewed it on. Middle was literally breathing down my neck while I was sewing it on the sewing machine and the minute I snipped the last thread, it was whipped out of my hands and on her body! Just look at her smile in the picture above!
The other costumes are done, with no sewing from me. We pulled together clothing to make a witch outfit for Youngest and already had a witch hat from an old costume that had been ruined; and for a vampire costume for Oldest, I only needed to get the fangs and make-up. When I was going through clothes, I found a lion costume for Baby from my sister, so he'll use that, since the french painter outfit is too big for him.
Can't wait to get pictures of the whole gang!
Happy Halloween!!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Getting into the Spirit!

I started out writing a very different post because I was feeling really weirded out lately, but I don't want to make you guys all depressed so I won't be posting it. On the brighter side of things, I am feeling much better, I have a spring in my step again and I am so excited for Halloween, which is just around the corner!

The girls have finally decided on what they want to be for Halloween, so I am busy trying to gather materials to make their costumes. Oldest is going to be a vampire; Middle is intent on being SuperGirl, and that's a fairly easy costume to put together, so I am not complaining; Youngest will be a witch. Baby will be the french painter, and if the outfit is too big for him, then I'll whip up an easy mummy costume.

Hubby is going back and forth, unable to decide what he wants to be. First it was cyclops with a horn, then it's Uncle Fester, then it's two horns and an eye in the back of his head... he's worse than the kids!! :o)

I have an outfit that I can't wait to wear! I picked it up at a yard sale a couple years ago, and I'm so excited about it! We're going to my closest friends' house for Halloween and she is going to LAUGH when she sees it! (Can't wait to get your reaction, girl!)

Things are getting festive around here. The decorations went up last night and I picked up a few make-up things along with black nail polish and all the girls wanted their nails done. Then Hubby came home and he wanted his nails done in black, too, so I painted his. This morning, Oldest asked me in a quiet voice, "Why does Daddy have his nails painted, too?" hahaha!

I gotta go, gotta get those costumes made! Here's a pic I took of Charlie the cat:

Happy Halloween!!

Friday, October 23, 2009

This and That

It went from feeling like winter was here early back to lovely fall days this week. We took advantage of the warmer days and gathered fallen logs in our woods. How nice it has been not to start up the wood stove just yet. Maybe we can push not using the wood stove to November? Wait and see, it was overcast today, then rain, and all the windows are shut again, so who knows what the weather may bring this weekend.

I am trying to get the girls to come up with ideas for Halloween costumes. I don't want to buy over-priced, cheaply-made costumes that rip and tear on the first day. When I told the girls to make suggestions, they all immediately wanted to be disney princesses. *sigh* Let's see if I can get them to come up with other ideas. Oldest wants to use a renaissance princess costume we have that is surprisingly well-made and we've had for a few years now. I hemmed it when she was 4 and it was too long for her and will probably need to let it down for her to wear. I'll need to make her a crown of some sort as the one that went with it is long gone.

Last year, when we went trick-or-treating at the mall, there was an adorable little toddler who was made up as a french artist, with the black and white striped shirt, black pants, black beanie and carrying an paint board and brush. I'm hoping to get Youngest to dress up like that, as she already has the clothing, I'll just make a beanie and a cardboard paint board. She got upset when I told her we'd "paint" a mustache on her and she didn't want that. I think she just doesn't understand that it will wash off and I need to explain better to her what I meant.

The power company sent out their tree trimming people to trim any branches or cut down trees that pose hazards to the power lines. Several months back, a rep from the company went door-to-door, letting homeowners know and to get permission for them to come up on your property. They came up yesterday and spent most of the day trimming our trees. I know they are doing a good thing, preventing possible disruptions to the power, but I still can't help feel bad for all the trees they are cutting down.

The previous owners planted a great line of evergreens and they are nearly 3 stories tall. Each tree had the tops lopped off and we can now see the neighbors lights across the road. I know they'll grow back, but still... On the bright side of things, the tree-trimming guys asked us if we wanted the wood chips. Yes!! So after they were done for the day, they dumped the whole truck-full of wood chips exactly where we wanted them. They'll return on Monday to finish the job. They also left the logs from the trees they cut down which we will save for next year's wood pile.

My van is fixed, after nearly a month of being in the shop. Only one time, out of that whole month, I was able to "escape" for a couple of hours, when my Mom was here and Hubby took me to the food store. The rest of the time, I was "stuck" at home and feeling a bit stir-crazy. I am used to getting my kid-free time at the food store at least once a week, when I can leave the kids at home and get a few hours all to myself, without constantly being at the beck and call of 4 little ones. It was hard not having that time to myself and I appreciate the freedom the van gives me. Hopefully, the van will not give us any more trouble for a good while and now we can focus on getting the truck checked out. Always something to fix or work on around here!

Have a good weekend!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

It's Definitely Fall!

I love the cooler weather we are having now. There have been a few days where we came close to starting a fire in the wood stove, but we held out. On nights where the temperatures dip into the low 40s, we have a little space heater we use in the hall, aimed towards the bedroom doorways and it wards off the night-time chill. Pretty soon, the wood stove will be fired up, I'm sure, but the longer we can put it off, the longer our wood will last.

It's been an extra busy week here. I took the remaining green tomatoes off the vine and turned it into green tomato salsa. Oh my! How tasty that was! I made a small batch first, to see if we would like it, and it was so good, that I made a bigger batch the next time, after buying what I needed to make more. I ended up canning 12 pints of green tomato salsa to enjoy during these cold winter months.

My Aunt and Uncle also brought us 150 pounds of russet potatoes! I took about 25 pounds and turned them into potato skins, loaded with bacon and cheese and froze them for later snacks/meals. All the potato that was scooped out has been turned into potato soup and mashed potatoes. Yum! We are a family of potato lovers and we definitely eat our fair share of potatoes around here.

Oldest was playing around with the bungee cords that we are using to keep the chairs with the table, to prevent Baby from climbing them (read previous post for more info). We tell the kids all the time not to play with them, they are like big rubber bands and they'll snap back and might poke your eye out or hurt you. Sure enough, Oldest hooked one end to the door knob, the other end to the sliding door handle and it popped off and clipped her in the eye.

*The day after*
It gave her a deep little cut in her eyebrow and left a shiner the next day. I am SO relieved that it missed her eye. She had a very swollen eye for a day, and now she is left with what looks like a bad make-up job on her eyelid. I hope she has learned her lesson (a painful one at that!) and will not play with the bungee cords anymore.

There will be one more preserving of food for me before I can finally put away all my tools for the year-- pumpkin! I have no pumpkin left from last year and am looking forward to making pumpkin pies, breads, cookies, and more! Hope to get a pumpkin this week and believe it or not, I'm actually tempted to get another bushel of apples. Wait and see how busy it gets this week, before I decide to get more apples. I feel like I turned all the apples into sauce before we really got to eat any out of hand, so I am craving the crunch-crunch of apples and the juice dripping down my chin. Plus, I've never made caramel apples for the kids before, and I think the kids would love to try them!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Let's Hear It For The Boy

Sorry for the disappearance.. Baby has really been keeping us hopping! Of the 4 kids, he has the most curiosity and is more determined to get into things that he is not supposed to get into!

On Saturday, the Husband had to take my Mom to the halfway point so my Uncle could take her back to their place, then he went to work afterwards, which meant I was home with the kids, alone, from 9 in the morning until their bedtime at 9 at night. I was B.U.S.H.E.D! At one point, I think I cried in frustration, which prompted Oldest to include me in her dinner-time blessings and she asked God to help me feel better. Yeah, it was that tough!

If I forget to lash the cabinet doors, Baby opens and climbs in or pulls out all my pots and pans. Not so bad this cabinet, but the other one, he has broken my vintage melamine bowl (karma- I broke my mom's when I was little), pulled out the very sharp and very dangerous mandolin slicer and used it as a banging toy (ack!) and pulls out all the mixing bowls and piles them high in wobbly towers.

He broke a vintage christmas glass I had, and being deaf, I didn't hear the tinkling of broken glass, so I didn't know until I saw him with a bloody cut on his nose and leg. When I investigated, I found the broken glass.

He has discovered the cat's litter box and I have found him no less than 5 times with his hands in the litter so that we now keep the door to the room, where the litter box is, shut. Poor cat gets locked in there, too, but he has his food in there also, so not so bad for the cat really.

We have started to bungee cord the chairs to the table because he has learned to climb the chair, then climb the table where he proceeds to table dance, grab stuff and toss it off and just grins from ear to ear!

I had a moment where I didn't see him and the girls found him behind the couch with a fistful of markers, coloring the floor, the couch cushions, his mouth and hands.

He has gotten into the puzzle cabinet and there are at least 6 puzzles now mixed together and in the other half of the cabinet is where I keep my balls of fabric strips that I've sewn together and, like a cat, has rolled them all around the room, unraveling them as they roll.

**Deep breath**

**Let it out slowly**

I don't know if it's because he is a boy or if this is just his nature, but at this rate, all the doors to all the rooms will be kept shut, the cabinet doors will be glued, and the shelves and tabletops cleared! I cannot steal away time to myself because he gets into things and he is so quick about it, too! I used to be able to lure him into the living room then dash down the hall and he would take a few minutes to catch up to me, but now? I tried that today, and when I turned around, I nearly fell over him, he was right there behind me!

When the Husband leaves for work, he always tells me to, "Call me if you need me." And my response is now: "Where's the phone?!" I'm only half joking. I look forward to Baby's afternoon nap time, that's when I can relax a little and not worry about where he is or what he might be getting into. At least he hasn't figured out how to climb out of the crib...yet.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

::Mountain Mama Wares Shop Update::

I finally have all my homemade jams and jellies for sale in my
Mountain Mama Wares shop on Etsy!
Please click on the link in the right sidebar to go and visit.

I have 3 flavors in 1/2 pint sizes available:
*Wild Grape*

I also have a Sampler set in 4 oz sizes,
but I have only 5 sets,
so if you want some, order fast!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Chickens and Turtles

I still have the Box Turtle. I was told to soak the turtle in warm water, as it was likely dehydrated, and when they are dehydrated, I've learned, that their eyes swell shut. I suppose that is a body mechanism to keep their eyes from drying out. Since soaking the turtle in water for a couple of days, it's eyes are starting to open!

The right eye is still not all the way open, but the left eye seems to be fine. He can definitely see my hand come down and he flinches and moves away. His color seems brighter, too, so it gives me hope that the little guy (or girl?) will be alright.
I'm still waiting to hear from a turtle rehabber, to find out what I can do to help it. Since it's soon winter here, the turtle should be getting ready for the long sleep.. so it's likely that they'll take him over the winter, and if he gets better, they'll return him here, back to his home area.

From all accounts I've read.. online, bloggers, books; I was under the impression that 6 hens will give me, on average, 5 to 6 eggs daily. If I was lucky, I was getting 2 or 3 per day, sometimes, nothing. I worried that maybe they were laying in the woods and I'd have to put up a fence to pen them in.

Then one day, Youngest came running with an egg in her hand. She said she found it in the pole barn. I asked her to show me exactly where, and turns out, they are laying eggs under the tarp that covers the log splitter. Ah-ha! That first day we found them, there were 5 eggs there! Since then, we are averaging 4 eggs daily. That's more like it! Some days we get 5, but usually it's 4 and I'm happy with that.

After I wrote my last post about making pants for Baby from an old sweat jacket, my sister sent me a box of clothes from her baby boy! What an unexpected surprise in the mail today. Thanks Sis!! :o) Lots of nice warm clothes for Baby to wear in there!
(Thanks for all the wonderful comments and compliments on the recycled baby pants, by the way! The idea did come from Amanda Soule's book, I borrowed it from the Library when it first came out and she used the bottom of a t-shirt to make shorts for the kiddies. My version is using the sleeves for pants. These will work as pants for baby legs, but probably not for kids 2 years and up.)