Thursday, March 31, 2011


A major, major milestone for Miss Sylvia-- her First Tooth!

Such a practical kid. When I asked her to open her mouth, she opens it. No struggle, no clamping shut of the mouth, just: "ahh!"

So easy, this one!

As soon as she was done gargling with the salt water, she put her tooth under her pillow and didn't even listen to Daddy phone the Tooth Fairy. I told him he was wasting his breath.


On the other side of the spectrum:

Miss Gretchen was upset after I pulled out Sylvia's tooth. I thought maybe she didn't like the sight of the blood-- I pulled it in the dining room, just to see if it was ready and it came out easily. Gretchen holed up in her room and when I checked on her, she was crying, but didn't want to talk. I finally got it out of her. Wanna know why she was upset? In between sobs, she asked, "How come it was easier for Sylvia?"


I'll tell you why it was easier! With Gretchen, everything comes with a little bit of drama. A loose tooth? As soon as my hand comes even close to her mouth, she clamps it shut and whimpers and whines and cries that it's going to hurt. After much pleading and bargaining and cajoling, I might get my hand on her tooth only to have her pull my hand away. Going out? She'll complain she has nothing to wear and takes f.o.r.e.v.e.r. to pick something out. New clothing? If it isn't the right color or even a little bit too big, she won't take it. Meal times? The pickiest eater ever! Chores? Let's not go there.


Hopefully, when Gretchen saw how quick it was for me to pluck Sylvia's tooth today, the next time she has a loose tooth, she will just open wide and let me get my hands on it, without clamping shut her mouth or whining or pulling my hand away at the last minute. I'll remind her how easy it was for Sylvia and it could be easy for her, too.

Wish me luck! :o)


Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Eye See You

My eye appointment went well. The eye doc was very thorough with the examination, checking and double-checking and I was getting dizzy with all the bright lights being shined into my eyes to check for glaucoma or other such eye issues. But I got my new prescription and got my new glasses, too!


They were having a two-for-one sale, so I got one with glass lenses and one with plastic lenses. It'll be nice to have a back-up pair and I also wanted to compare lenses-- see which one lasts longer and has less scratches. I already see a big difference in prescription, everything is so clear now. No more slight blurriness from wearing glasses more than 8 years old. I got the plastic lens glasses in an hour, the glass lens one will arrive in 10 days. We'll be in Florida then, so it will be nearly 3 weeks before I get those.


I remember the very first time I got glasses. I complained that I couldn't read the chalkboard at school and so I got my first pair of glasses in the 8th grade. When we came home, I remember getting out of the car and looking up. I was amazed that I could see, with clarity, every single green leaf on the trees that rose around the apartment complex we lived in. When the wind rustled the leaves, I could see them quiver and wave. I ended up sitting on the curb and just watched the leaves.


My bedroom window opened into the woods behind our building and I would sit on my bed, prop my chin on the windowsill, and just look. I had a tree guidebook and I'd try and identify all the different trees outside my window and my favorite became the tulip tree. I loved the shape of the leaves and the orange and creamy white color of the "tulips" at the ends of the branches. None of those trees around here.


Today, leaving the place with my new glasses, I wasn't really looking for anything. I had those drops put into my eyes to dilate them, so my vision was still a little blurry, plus my eyes were exhausted from all the tests and lights. All I wanted to do when I came home, was to take a nap, to close my eyes and let them rest. As soon as I got home, Andrew had errands to run, too, so off he went. As of now, my left eye still seems blurry, I'm thinking it's because I haven't rested yet, and I hope, in the morning, it'll will be clear. I'll look out my bedroom window, look up at the bare branches, and hope I can see every bud on the tips of each branch.




Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Sticker Shock

Our budget is tight. That means we hardly eat out, if at all. I make almost every meal, and sometimes I cheat and buy frozen pizzas or quickie foods, but it's cheaper than eating out. We got our tax refund and along with buying some long-desired, needed things around the house, I must admit, we have been eating out quite a bit. And feeling pretty sick about it, too. Not only are there 6 members in our family, but it looks like prices have gone up, not to mention the restuarant tax added onto the regular tax.


The kids loooooooove Chick-Fil-a. I think more for the play area than the actual food, but still, it's always a big hit when we go there and there's never any food left to take home. I remember it used to cost us just around $20 to eat there some time last year and two recent excursions there cost us nearly $40 both times!! A trip into town last night and a quick drive-thru pick-up at Wendy's yielded us 4 kiddie meals and 2 adult combo meals that cost $32!


I had to rescue Andrew from a locked-out truck at work when my sister and her family were here and I ran out just as it was time to make dinner after working outdoors most of the day on the swingset. After I gave Andrew the spare key, we decided to treat ourselves to dinner without the kids after he got off work. We love steak and cheese subs, and there was a Jerry's Subs in the mall, so we went there. The last time I ate there was before we moved up here nearly 6 years ago and even then, it was pricey, but not this much: $22 dollars for 2 meals and that's with the employee discount.


We went to Subway the night we picked up the swingset and for 4 footlongs, chips and drinks, it cost us a little over $23. By far the best deal for the most food and the most filling. I can split two footlongs between 4 kids and they will eat every last bit of it, and be full for several hours afterwards.


Andrew and I talked last night about the high cost of eating out and we both agreed it's just not

worth it. Needless to say, we will not be eating out anymore, except for our upcoming trip down to Florida and even then, we'll stick to Subway. At those prices, our tax refund won't last very long! We'll be packing our snacks like we always do on long trips, and maybe a picnic lunch as well, just to save on eating out at least one meal on the way down.


Fast food isn't really fast if it takes us more than 30 minutes to get there in the first place. I could have made our meal in that time and enjoyed it much more, use zero gas to get there, and hardly any trash compared to all those wrappers and bags and cheap-o kiddie meal toys that end up scattered on the floor, waiting to be stepped on.


We used to miss eating out at some of those places, liking the convience of it and hey-- I don't have to cook! But after so long of not going anywhere, we have come to find that we prefer to eat at home, whether it's home-cooked or quickie frozen pizza, it's still a home meal. Cheaper in cost maybe, but richer in every other way. -

Monday, March 28, 2011

Monkey Boy Goes Aerial

Not that we condone jumping off the furniture or anything like that, but here we were, Andrew and I, having a conversation in Peter and Sylvia's room and Peter is playing around, then suddenly starts leaping off the dresser and landing on Sylvia's bed. He was having such fun and we were right there watching. I love the following photos. He truly is fearless!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Walk-ins Welcome??

So very frustrating. I am trying to get new glasses. The ones I got last year were off in the prescription and ended up giving me headaches and blurred my vision even more. I ended up going back to my crooked old, old ones. The ones I wore when pregnant with Evelyn, like 8 years ago! It was too late to return the new glasses by the time I realized that no, it wasn't me but the glasses. And funny thing, the frame that I just loved, I have come to realize that they don't look good on me after all. Or maybe it's because I hate them because they caused me such problems.

Anyway, living where we do, there aren't very many places for getting glasses. I've already decided not to go back to where I went last year, so that's one out. Another needs membership, which I do not have, so that's two out. Leaves me with 3 choices. When checking their websites, they all say, "Walk-ins Welcome". So I did just that: walked in. Guess what? I wasn't welcome.

Grrrr... I guess with such a few choices, all the places are busy, not like in the city with plenty of alternatives to go to. But still... I managed to slip away, leaving the kids at home with Daddy, hoping to get new glasses, and come home with the same old crooked ones.

I'm particular about the lenses. I like glass. They don't scratch like the plastic ones, even the scratch-resistant plastic ones. I know you're supposed to use those special lens cloths, but sometimes, when I'm wrangling a kicking and screaming 2-year old, trying to change a poopy diaper and I get a smear of god-knows-what on my glasses, I can't exactly drop everything and use the fancy-schmancy lens cloth. I just grab the bottom of my shirt and clean. These old ones I'm using, more than 8 years old, and not a single scratch on them. I have several pairs with plastic lenses and they look like a road map with all the scratches in them.

Did you know that there is only one lab in the whole area that makes glass lenses for glasses?? They can do plastic lenses on the spot, in-store, in under an hour, but glass lenses have to be sent away and takes 10 days or more. So frustrating. Am I really part of such a small group of people that prefer glass lenses that in-store labs have done away with the equipment needed to cut glass lenses? Really?

I have an appointment now, for Wednesday, since walk-ins are apparently not welcome anymore.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


Things are quiet here again. I say again because my sister and her family came for a visit and with them, all the lovely excitement of 6 little cousins playing together. We had such a good time, that we hardly took out the cameras! D'oh! I have very little evidence, picture-wise, that they were here at all, save for a couple of pictures taken at the very end. I could kick myself, but we had a good time and that's all that matters.
Before they got here, Mom wanted to get the kids a swingset to play on. We had been watching sales and tracking prices and a few days before my sister and her family were due to come, the one swingset I had my eye on went on sale. So we picked that up, and I sort of hoped it would be set up before they got here, but who am I kidding? I needed help. With Andrew's crazy working schedule, 4 kids to chase and everything else I gotta do, there was no way that swingset would be up in 2 days!
Luckily for us- my sister was up for the challenge! They got here on a Wednesday; Thursday, we cracked the box open and worked a few hours; Friday was a lovely day and we worked all morning before a cousin popped up with 4 kids of her own to make it 10 little ones running around. No way we could have worked with all the kids around, and we had a good time catching up with each other. Saturday, we picked up where we left off and worked all day until our tummies growled for dinner; too cold to work on Sunday (they're from Florida, 40 degrees is freezing to them!); and we finished Monday!
Teena and I did the majority of the work-- we always were a good team! Her husband helped out a little here and there, but mostly he kept an eye on the kids. Teena and I were pretty determined to finish it ourselves. The kids scampered all over the place, climbing partly finished clubhouse, ladders, and monkey bars and I'm sure we would have finished much sooner if not for the kids, but... it's done! I'm proud of the work we did and the kids are really loving it! Thanks to Mom for getting it and Thanks to Teena for helping set it up!
The instructions for the swingset said it would take two people 10-12 hours to set up. It took us about 20 hours, but we had diapers to change, meals to make, children to chase, tools to take out of naughty little hands, children to rescue from ladders, power tools to wrangle from kids, drinks and snacks to pass out, boo-boos to kiss, children to scold... I'd like to see a pro do what we did in 20 hours! :o)
I miss my sister and her family already. The house is so quiet-- even with my four kids. She took Mom home with her, so I miss Mom, too. But!!!! But, but, but now I have an excuse to go visit HER! Someone has to bring Mom back home! Yay!! We'll be going down next month to visit for a few days, our first vacation in quite some time. Can't wait! See ya soon Sis! xoxo :o)

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Good weekend!

Saturday was a beeyootiful day! Andrew had to work, so we didn't go anywhere, but man, oh, man! Did we spend the day outside! I took advantage of it and cleaned out the stinky, smelly, dusty, dirty, stinky, did I say smelly? sunroom! We keep the litter box in there and after a time, things get dusty. Add to that the constant build-up of dirt and chicken poo that comes in from our shoes. Add in also the muddy days we've had. And don't forget the pile of winter coats, boots, snow pants, gloves, hats, scarves, drying rack, and scattered clothes pins to hold clothes to drying rack. And the shoes! Good Lord the shoes! They're fornicating in there! I swear, shoes multiply in that sunroom! It smelled like cat pee in there, too. Phew.. what with the litter box and Percy the cat peeing in places he isn't supposed to be.

Needless to say, the sunroom needed a BIG clean up/out. While the kids played outside, I cleaned. Cleaned and cleaned and cleaned! High chair? Out! Box of too-small shoes Percy peed on? Trash! Empty plastic bags? Gathered together and recycled! One by one, things got sorted, cleaned, put away, trashed, lost and found or moved to the pole barn. It no longer smells in there now. One can walk in there without tripping over something. And best of all? I finished in the nick of time-- the kids were starting to come in and out, in and out, looking for excuses to come in and plop somewhere, tired from all the outdoor play.

Before and after pictures? Are you crazy? I'm too embarrassed to show any before pictures of the sunroom (yet I can tell you how filthy it was!?!) and after pictures are nothing to toot my horn over. It's not a pretty room-- gray fake-wood paneling, faded tan linoleum floors cracked and ripped and worn through in some spots, drop ceiling panels and florescent lights, and black fake-wood plastic trim. I have plans for that room! Oh! Can you just imagine ripping out the drop ceiling and finding exposed beams, staining the wood in warm rich color and adding lights and replacing the cheap-o windows with new triple-paned windows, adding real bead-board wood to the walls and wood, maybe tile flooring. Losing a couple of windows and putting in cabinetry in it's place for better storage and turning it into a fancy-schmancy mud-room slash laundry room. ~sigh~

Who knows what that drop-ceiling is hiding, probably lots of spider webs and nothing but nails poking through the roof. I bet we'll find the walls are not insulated and we might find termite damage in the framing. There's even an old 80's speaker-phone speaker on one wall. We've already ripped out the main radio/speaker-phone thingy and other speakers from the rest of the house and patched the holes in the drywall. The sunroom is the only one left because of the fake-wood paneling and hanging a picture over the resulting hole just won't do, it's too close to the door frame. Ah well... one can dream. At least the sunroom is clean now.

I don't know about you, but this time change thing really knocks me for a loop! I wish I could be like Archie the cat up there and just flop on top of the truck and go to sleep. Ok, maybe not on the roof of the truck, but flopping on the bed sounds good to me.

I'm already tired and sore from all that cleaning from Saturday and it sure doesn't help that at 8 am this morning, my Aunt and Uncle came over to visit. That's early! It's really 7 am if it wasn't for that time change! Why?! Who gets up at 7 am?? Oh well, I slap a smile on my face, hug the relatives, nosh on the doughnut holes they brought and enjoy the company.

And we did have a good day, too. I took my Aunt with me to the stores for my Sunday morning shopping. She's a coupon queen, too, and we've never coupon-shopped together before. I told her to bring her coupons and we could go together while most people are in church and we can have the stores all to ourselves. She comes from the city where everything on sale gets sold out the first day and she couldn't believe it when we pulled into the empty parking lot and nobody else was there but us.

It's so funny to watch her after we got in the car from making our purchases and see her scan the receipt and cackle at her success and her lucky day when the cashier gave her a better price on the coupon and she made a little bit of a profit when I gave her a higher-value coupon to use instead. I could tell she was watching me shop, too, and my mom told me later that she was impressed with my shopping skills and that I knew what I was doing. I'm not looking for validation, but it does make me feel good to hear that.

The kids have so much fun when my Aunt and Uncle are here.. Great-Aunt and Great-Uncle to them. Aunt brought over a tube with 10 different colors of nail polish in it. Do you know what nail polish does to little girls?? It makes them squeal with delight and beg to get their fingers and toes painted! It's even more fun when Auntie has her digits painted in different colors, too!

I get to pick Uncle's brain about farming and gardening and chickens and he takes the kids outside and pushes them on the swings and walks in the woods with them. It's good fun and the kids are sad to see them go at the end of the day. On the bright side of their early arrival, the kids are tired and hardly any protest at going to bed.

Speaking of bed... I'm headed there right now. ~snore, snore~


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Endless Possibilities

A friend of Andrew's told us that there was a place not too far from us that sold used metal barrels in good condition for cheap. When he told us how much, I thought he was kidding. Turns out, he wasn't.

We knew of the place, in fact, we'd been there before. It's a digger's heaven! They sell everything from marked-down food, yard sale items, those cheap-o tools you find at flea markets, furniture from salvation army with the sale tags still on-- the price crossed off and an even cheaper price written in, and boxes of stuff outside, under a roof that you are free to dig into and get your hands dirty. Beware, though, we found out the hard way, there is only a port-o-potty and no place to wash your hands, so better bring wipes with you!

Anyway, he told us they sold barrels for $7.50 each. Really? No, really??? I envisioned rusty, dirty barrels with films of grease or oil, all dented and banged up. I imagined I'd be half inside scraping out stuck-on bits of black tar and trying to figure out where to dump the chemicals. These barrels were nothing like that. They were clean, in good shape with minimal dings, and once contained fruit juice concentrates. Labels still on them ranged from lemon, lime and apple concentrates. Food grade metal barrels with lids and bands for $7.50? And clean?? What a bargain! We paid and then walked across the street and picked out 4.

We are giddy with excitement at all the possibilities these barrels give us. There's so much we can do with them! We picked these green ones because they are creamy white inside and easier to see if they are dirty and if we decide to use these for food storage, we can see better if there are bugs or rodents in them. The lady we bought them from said she uses them for rain barrels, but I'm kind of hesitant to use metal barrels as rain barrels. We do have a plastic barrel that we plan to use as a rain barrel and sure would be nice to have a 2nd rain barrel but not metal.

I want to go to the local grain mill and see if they will make a custom chicken feed for me and usually to do that, most mills need to make it in batches of 500 pounds or higher. These barrels would be perfect to store all the chicken feed in and that would mean no more almost weekly trips to the farm store for chicken feed.

They would also make good dry food storage barrels for surplus bags of flour, sugar, or rice. Keeping them in the basement in a dry, cool area and we'd have plenty of food to last awhile if the sh!t ever hits the fan.

With some of the less-than-perfect barrels, they could be used in the pole barn for holding farm tools or as garbage cans. They're better than those cheap-o plastic garbage bins. Bigger and sturdier and no worries about cats or other animals getting into them. You could even cut into one and turn it into an outdoor wood stove.

We're already planning to go and get a few more-- we want to replace our cheap-o plastic trash cans and I'm thinking I can take one of the sturdier plastic ones and use that for a rain barrel. No sense in tossing a still good trash can, even if it is cheap-o! The trash can-turned-rain barrel can be the one we use for garden water and I can cut out part of the lid and replace it with a screen to keep out debris and mosquito larvae. I'll use the other plastic barrel by the house for watering the herbs and rhubarb patch, also for refilling the water bowls for the cats and chickens.

My mind is just going crazy with all the possibilities of these barrels!! They had 2 colors-- the green with the white interiors or all blue inside and out. To keep them from mixing, I think we'll get blue for trash and pole barn/farm use and save the green ones for food/grain/storage use. The lady at the store said they go fast in the summer and hard to keep in stock, so we'd best go back soon while there were still plenty to choose from and we can afford to be picky.

Any other suggestions on what we can do with these barrels??

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Battle for Spring Begins

We had some lovely days, which can easily lull one into thinking winter is over.
We spent hours outdoors, playing and working.
Quite enjoying the break from the cold.
We knew better, we knew winter wasn't done with us yet.
It began as rain then turned into snow.
We woke up to a lovely winter wonderland.

Three inches of snow covered everything.
So, so pretty to look at.

Even the fences were made beautiful.
Then as quickly as it came, it went just as fast.
Within a few hours after taking these photos, most of the snow has melted.
The mud has returned.
Meanwhile, back at the coop...

Mama Buff is still sitting on her eggs/chicks. I checked and she now has 3 chicks.

I suspect there's 4-- I counted only 5 eggs, but I think #4 is hiding.
I like this picture, taken yesterday, with papa Roo peeking in up there in the corner.
Taken this morning, chick #3 and #4(?) are still hiding.
No more progress made on the add-on for mama hen and her babies.
I've been hampered first by the rain, and then the snow.
Mama is still quite comfortable in the cage I have her in and I can see that both her and the chicks are eating and drinking. Hopefully, I can finish the add-on this week, but I won't be able to let the chicks roam free until it sufficiently warms up first. They'll be fine in the cage for another week or so.
Thank goodness Spring is on her way in!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

I'm a Grandma!!

Ok, not really, but I am proud of my Buff Orpington hen for sitting on her eggs all the way to hatching time! She had plenty of starts but poor follow-through last year, usually abandoning her eggs after a couple of days. But this year, she sat and sat and I was hopeful!

I check her eggs daily, since other hens squeeze in with her and lay eggs and she collects them underneath her. So I marked her original eggs and pull out the unmarked ones. Yesterday, one of the marked eggs I pulled out had cracked and upon closer inspection-- a beak came out!

I ran for the camera and you can see there's a baby in there! I checked the other eggs but no movement on them. By nightfall, still no baby out of the shell.

Early this morning, this is what greeted me!! I checked underneath mama hen and there's another one just hatched, the feathers still wet! By the end of today, 2 baby chicks. Even though mama hen is a yellow Buff, papa is a Rhode Island Red, so the coloring seems to favor the papa.
I separated mama and her eggs and chicks into a large animal carrier. I don't want a repeat of last fall, when some of the babies were attacked by the bigger roosters and died. If I could re-do the chicken coop, I would make it twice as large, with a section dedicated to the 'nursery'. A safe place for hens to nest and sit and babies to hatch and roam without interference from the other chickens. I don't have the materials to double the coop, but I do have enough scrap lumber to build an in-law suite of sorts.
I've been busy most of the day working on it. A little apartment attached to the outside of the coop with a slanted roof that will be hinged for me to lift and inspect/clean; a fenced-in area to separate chicks from other chickens; a door that opens the full length of the box to make cleaning easier and stays shut with a latch. After initial frustrations with the wrong type of wood screws, I went out to get chick feed and proper screws. The project went along much more smoothly with the right screws and I have the floor and sides completed. I need to measure and cut the roof and door, then attach hinges and latches. Once that is done, I'll set up the fencing and transfer mama and her chicks to their new digs.
There were 9 eggs minus 2 hatched equals 7 eggs to go. I wonder how many more chicks we'll get?? I'm so proud! :o)

Friday, March 4, 2011

Why Kids Are Fun

I love finding things like this around the house. The things they come up with!

Sylvia said the horse stole the mailman's shoes!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Walking in the Woods

We had a lovely weekend. It was a bit chilly-- jacket weather for sure-- but it was clear and even better, Andrew had both days off! He went and cut more logs, then brought them over to the pole barn to cut down to wood stove size and split them.

Maisie is showing off her mad climbing skillz. The pile of firewood, standing over 5 feet high, is now twice this size and still more to go! We still have a fire going just about every other day, but usually doesn't get started until evening, when the temperature drops. Our goal for next winter is to fill up a quarter of the pole barn with wood, which should be plenty. We're planning to clean out the pole barn and stack the wood nicer in the back and keep going until 1/4 of the area is filled and then some. As of now, stuff is piled in there all willy-nilly and we're not making good use of the space. Too many unfinished projects in there that need to be weeded out or completed.

While Andrew was busy splitting and tossing logs, the kids and I stayed out of his way and went for a walk in the woods on the other side of our driveway. We have 15 acres, split in half by a driveway and we live on the right side, the other is all wooded. Makes for great hiking when all the poison ivy is dormant and no mosquitoes to swat away. There's an old dirt road that goes up and circles but we veered off when we saw fresh woodpecker holes. I showed the kids how the birds can tell when a tree is hollow and filled with bugs to eat, so then they peck away at the trunk to the bug-filled center and eat. The kids stuck their fingers in the holes and could feel the hollow inside the trunk. Then they looked around for more woodpecker holes, old and fresh.

There are huge trees on this half of the property. Love this triple-trunked one! Of course each of the kids had a turn standing in the center for a picture. It was too high for me to climb in and the trunks were too big around to grip, so no picture of me.

Evelyn, monkey that she is, climbed up again after we were done with the pictures and getting ready to walk on. "Peek a boo!"

I love, love, love this picture of the kids! One of those rare moments when all 4 are looking at me and smiling all at the same time! Definitely frame-worthy!