Sunday, May 29, 2011

Brush Hogging

Our friend came over with his brush cutter to help us clear away brambles and brush around our property. Priority was the space behind the chicken coop where we plan to fence the chickens in.

It's amazing how powerful that cutter is and how quickly it mowed everything down. Andrew pulled out fallen logs and big branches on the ground and also pulled down vines creeping up tree trunks while Jim brush hogged away.

Here it is, all cleared. They continued to brush hog around the corner to the right of this photo, until the engine back-fired and then sputtered to a stop. Oh dear. They got a good section cleared, but still much to do. He'll come back after the holiday after he looks at the engine and gets it up and running again.

Haven't done any fencing yet. My back has been bothering me for some time now, then Tuesday evening I was in excruciating pain. My hip quivered in pain at every step and by the time I put the kids to bed, it was screaming. I went downstairs to put a load in the wash and couldn't make it back up the steps. Lucky for me, Andrew arrived home and heard me on the stairs and helped me up the last few steps.

Looking up back/hip pain leaves too many possibilities, but I suspect a pinched nerve. I rested as much as I could on Wednesday and felt somewhat better on Thursday, so I ran errands-- grocery store and picked up Percy at the Vet's. Big mistake, the position of my leg in the car did not help and by the time I returned home, my hip was quivering in pain again. Another day tied to the heating pad and resting as much as four children allow me to has helped immensely. I find it helps to keep moderately mobile, as keeping still only stiffens the joint and I need to warm up all over again. Warming up hurts. Getting out of the bed in the morning is almost comical and then hobbling over to the toilet and back is something else entirely.

As of now, I am operating on 50% power. I want so much to DO stuff, but I know I'll pay the price if I do. The garden needs weeding, the fence needs fencing, the house needs housing and the kids need parenting. I don't know what I'd do without Andrew, he's such a big help. I'm hoping tomorrow brings me another lift in power. I'd like to at least get some weeding done. I'll take it slowly and see how it goes.

Enjoy the long weekend!


Saturday, May 28, 2011

Another Tooth!

Goodness Gracious! This girl has got to stop spitting out teeth!! Evelyn's going to be nine next week and I can hardly believe it! She's growing up so fast. We love you girlie! xoxo

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Always Something To Do Around Here

The desk top computer has been giving us trouble lately. I'm no computer expert, but I know enough to get by. The router/DSL modem crapped out last month, so I got a new one. The problem with the new router though, was we had to turn off the security to get on the internet! That ain't right. No matter what I did, I couldn't get the security system to view the new router as a non-threatening program. Then the power went out once and we lost internet connection. I finally figured out it was the new router. After much fiddling around with it, I re-installed the program disc and it worked, but we still had to turn off security to use it. Yesterday, the power went off and once again, the router/DSL modem no longer worked. This time, however, I couldn't get it to work again. Time for a new router. And a new security system.

Amazing how a day without internet services can sort of put a damper on things. We aren't online all day, but there are quite a lot of things we do on the computer and not having internet service really stunts us. We're too far from anywhere with wi-fi access and more than 20 miles to the nearest Library, so packing up the laptop is not ideal for us. Making a trip into the big town was necessary.

The other day, the riding mower sputtered and back-fired, then shut off on Andrew just as he finished the majority of the mowing. Lucky for us, he knows enough about engines that he knew what it needed and a trip to the hardware store for parts should do the trick. The hardest part about that was finding a hardware store that carried what he needed! At one store, the filters were all bent. At another, nothing matched what he needed. Third time was the charm indeed when he found all he needed at store number three.

While at the hardware store, we picked up fencing. We're going to fence in the chickens! After much talk, we've decided it would be best to build a pen around the chickens. I love the idea of free-range chickens, but in the case of my chickens, that means free-ranging all over the back stoop! Nothing like stepping on cold, mushy chicken poop in bare feet! I used to be Miss Barefoot until the chickens came along, then I became best friends with my flip-flops.

We bought 150 feet worth of fencing, which I think will give the chickens plenty of room to roam. I'm still thinking on a way to make a gate without resorting to buying one. I have plenty of scrap wood, so I'm leaning to making a frame then stapling chicken wire to it and voila! a door. I get lots of ideas in my head, just a matter of translating to paper to actual materials.

The kids are pretty happy about fencing in the chickens. The big rooster chases them and I constantly have to provide distraction to the rooster so the kids can make their escape to the swing set. It's getting irritating. Warmer weather equals kids playing outside equals mama dropping everything and distracting the rooster 10-plus times a day.

Anyway, after we got home from the computer store and the hardware store, I tried to get the new router working. I had quite the time trying to get it all to obey me. I get frustrated to tears when it comes to the computer because visions of it freezing and floating bits of money flying out the window do not a pleasant picture make. After about 4 hours of installing, un-installing, deleting, more installing, updating, down-loading, re-starting and one final updating, the desk top works! It works, it works, it works! Happy dance!

I worked right through dinner and sweet Evelyn made dinner without any prompting. She came to me and asked me to check and see if the macaroni was tender. "Macaroni?" I asked.

"Yes. I'm making dinner because I can see you are too stressed out from the computer, so I wanted to help you." Evelyn replied.

Well, melt my heart! We ate a mighty fine dinner of macaroni and cheese last night, paired with a glass of juice. It makes me proud when one of the kids can step up to the plate and pitch in when Andrew and I are both busy doing something.

Andrew's friend is supposed to come over tomorrow and let Andrew use his brush hog. I'm so excited! All the weeds and brambles and small brush are slowly overtaking the yard and I cannot put up the new fencing for the chickens until we clear away the brush. Using the brush hog will make the job go so much faster and easier, then we can just maintain afterwards. Fingers crossed it all goes well!

Percy the cat is quite the TOM cat. He is getting rambunctious and jumps BC, the older cat, a lot. He's starting to pee on clothing or towels that get left on the floor and I try to keep after the kids to pick up their clothes, but I don't catch every one. We could smell pee somewhere and sniffed around for it, but couldn't pinpoint where it was coming from. Andrew says here, I say there. Finally I moved a bed over and there was a pair of pants, soaked with cat pee.

Peter let Charlie the cat in the house a couple days ago, and he made a beeline to the bowl of cat food on the floor. I let him chow down when this happens, then put him back outside when he's done. This time, however, I got distracted and forgot about Charlie being in the house. I got a quick reminder when Percy spotted Charlie and a swirling, angry, hissing and yowling ball of black rolled around the kitchen floor, tufts of black fur flying! I'm not stupid enough to stick my hand in there and separate them, but something needed to be done! It all happened so fast, I somehow got them apart, swatting at them with a towel or something, then just as I was about to pick up Charlie, Percy came charging again, and the crazy ball of two black cats fighting rolled into the sun room, leaving a trail of fur. Andrew came in and managed to pull Percy off Charlie, then Charlie hid under the table in the sun room. After I finally coaxed him out and let him back outdoors, we knew something had to be done about Percy.

No way are we letting him out, free to impregnate every fertile female cat within spitting distance. He has an appointment on Thursday to get neutered. After he comes back, if he continues to pee in the house, he'll go outside with the other cats. Hopefully he stops that, cause I really like having him in the house. All the other outdoor cats are there because they peed in the house at one time or another.

Andrew works from 1-9 today, so I'm hoping for an uneventful day. At this rate, I'll be happy to distract the rooster to let the kids outside than face another computer issue.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Bad Chicken!

We have some naughty chickens! A few days after transplanting all the broccoli and cabbage plants, we had to run into town one evening. When we came back and I checked on the garden, this is what I found:

A few tentative nibbles on the cabbage plants.

But a full-on feast on the poor broccoli plants!

Look at this poor little guy.

We really gotta put up some better fencing. The fencing that is there now is rusted through in some spots and not very high. I've seen the chickens take flying leaps over the fence or they go through the holes and gaps. I have an idea to take down the old fencing and the rotted posts, purchase some t-bars and new fencing and then move the fence closer to the garden area. It'll open up space behind the pole barn and shed area and make it easier to cut the grass back there with the mower. Now to stop talking and start doing!

The kids have been playing with sidewalk chalk lately. After my discovery of chickens eating the poor broccoli pants, I drew this. Made me laugh anyway.

Monday, May 16, 2011


If I could do it all over again, I'd probably get married outside in a park somewhere, completely laid back and relaxed. Just family and a few close friends and we'd all chow down at a cook-out and a bonfire. I'd be in a simple dress, my hair down, a flower picked from nearby. He'd be himself: pants, a nice shirt. Definitely no bridesmaids or groomsmen.

We got married in a lovely church and had about 60 guests, but the reception part will always be disappointing to me. We held it in the basement of the church, which was fine, really. I wanted it to be simple and so we had ordered platters of sandwich fixins' and a sweet store-bought wedding cake. Unbeknownst to me, the night before, at the rehearsal, also held in the church basement, my soon-to-be-in laws ordered identical platters of sandwich fixin's for the rehearsal dinner.

I had labored on making a music mix tape and it never got played beyond the first song of "We Are Family" and we never had our first dance. The pastor left immediately after the ceremony, too sick to stay and join the celebration and the janitor rushed us along, anxious to clean, lock up and go home.

I always felt we got home too early, sometime around 4 and as Andrew and I sat in our apartment living room, surrounded by gifts, we didn't know what to do. It felt too soon to be alone, where was everybody? We went to the nearby mall to eat dinner at the food court. I didn't want to cook--I got married today!-- and I was in the mood for a pizza turnover and he wanted something else, so to the food court we went. To this day I still think it's funny to see our car in the mall parking lot with 'Just Married' written on the back window.

Looking back, I got caught up in the traditional wedding arrangements. I was determined to not spend money we didn't have, but I wanted the wedding I thought I was supposed to have. We paid for everything up front-- there was no debt after the wedding was over, and I am proud of that, but I look at those pictures and I'm not sure who I'm looking at. My hair was all curled and fixed up and my face painted. Andrew was all gussied up in a rented tuxedo. Bridesmaids in lime green dresses and groomsmen in more rented tuxes. We look like a nice couple, but it isn't who we really are.

Part of me thought that it would be a once in a lifetime chance to dress up and get my hair fixed and get married to a man in a tux. But now? Who cares about the clothes! I have a dress hanging in my closet that I'll never wear again-- thank goodness I only paid $75 for it. I have shoes and make-up I bought just for the wedding that never got used again. The wedding didn't really reflect who we were and I really think that we were being who we thought we were supposed to be that day.

I don't regret that day, we did get married after all. These 13 years together have been wonderful and I wouldn't change a thing. All of the happy moments, the rough spots, the time spent together, the children we created, the home we have made for each other-- all of it was meant to be. I couldn't imagine being married to anyone else. He loves me exactly the way I am, never asks me to be who I'm not. I never have to pretend around Andrew. He never has to be anyone else but himself around me.

I love who we are, the family we have become together and what we stand for. Thank you for asking me to marry you and for being my husband these 13 years. Happy Anniversary Andrew! May we have many, many more! I love you!


Friday, May 13, 2011

Recycled: Market Bag and Laptop Cover

I confess that I don't bring my own bags to the store and use the plastic bags they offer. I've always felt guilty about that but never really did anything about it. I don't like the cheap bags you can buy-- I find they tear easily ( my MIL passed some on to me ) and I don't want to spend money on something that I know will not last, even if it's only $1 (usually). I have the sewing skills to make some, but I'm either too busy or if I have the time, I don't want to spend it making a bag. In my defense, we DO bring the plastic bags back to recycle and we re-use plastic bags around the house as little trash bags for our smaller trash cans and for litter box waste.

I saw a post quite some time ago.. probably 2 or 3 years ago and it's never left my head. I looked for it but couldn't find it so I'm unable to share the link. Anyway, the person used a plastic bag as a pattern and the resulting bag ended up just like a cloth version. I really like the plastic bags that Target uses, so I used one as my pattern. I used a vintage pillow case which eliminated some sewing and reduced a little bit of my pillow case stash and I really like the final result:


I used bias tape around the handle and the opening of the bag and folded in the sides just like a plastic shopping bag. I like it, but I can see where I could use more improvements. Like the top of the handles are a little thick with the folded ends and then covered in bias tape. It makes the top pretty stiff and doesn't feel very flexible. I also used an unfamiliar sewing machine for the first time when I sewed the bottom and it totally messed up the stitches. grrr! I was too lazy to pick out the stitches so after I switched back to my usual machine I just folded over the ugly stitching, then sewed over it. It made the bottom a little stiff, too, but it works.

It holds 4 boxes of cereal easily with a little room to spare. I could probably fit 5 boxes in there, but I know if I were to take this in to the store, they wouldn't pack it tightly either.

I have since used another pillow case to make another bag, a few tweaks here and there, and it's better and worse at the same time. I improved on the top of the handle and it's not stiff, but I made the side opening of the handle a little too small. I also made the bottom of the bag boxy instead of folded in like a plastic bag is. I like it, it'll do, I think I can improve on it. It also holds 4 boxes easily and I have already used it at the store. There will be another bag in the works with more tweaks as soon as I can bring myself to give up another vintage pillow case.

I had a little bit of pillow case left over, the hemmed open part of it. I got to looking at it and thought it would make a nice cover for the laptop. I measured the length, cut, sewed up the side and length of the pillow case and it fits! Our laptop is not the traveling kind, it stays at home for use on the table or in the living room, so I just wanted a little slip cover to keep the screen clean when it's shut and put away. Since it's a vintage pillowcase and has been washed who knows how many times, it's nice and soft and lint-free.

I like it! Two useful items from one vintage pillowcase!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Garden Progress

Beautiful Spring days equals lots of work in the garden-- finally!

Lucky for me, even though we live out in the country, one of the neighbors only a mile down the road has a little greenhouse business. She sells flowers and vegetables out of her two hoop houses for very reasonable prices and everything looks so good! It was hard to choose, but I ended up getting a flat of 6 different types of tomatoes which amounted to 36 tomato plants.

After we set up the fence panels, I dug holes and the girls transplanted all the tomato plants for me. There's room for 12 more tomato plants, so I'll be going back to the neighbor's place and buy some more tomatoes. I'll also get green peppers and a few other vegetables, too.

Andrew and Evelyn took the little tiller and tilled up a section for planting the potatoes. Evelyn was happy to help work the tiller. We have always encouraged the kids to help in the garden, and I am pleased to see how much more helpful they are this year. They used to give up so easily-- dig a hole then walk away; plant a few seeds then hand the bag over and say, "I'm bored"; or just go off in a corner of the garden and dig a hole to play in. This year they have planted all the potatoes and nearly all the tomatoes and they were a big help when we planted the onions.

Speaking of onions.... they are doing very well so far. We had lots of rain and a few washed out, but the majority of them are doing well. Now if we can just keep Peter from trampling them every time we go out to the garden...

I'm looking forward to the progress of the 2011 garden. Fingers crossed that the weather cooperates, that we stay on top of the weeds, squash any hungry bugs that threaten to eat up all my vegetables, keep the chickens out, and everything planted grows and grows and grows.



Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Day Something Exciting Happened In The Morning And Made The Rest Of The Day Boring

Ever have one of those days? Something unusual and unexpected and exciting happens and then the rest of the day just putters along, nothing compares and you sink into a dark, depressing hole that just swallows you whole. Ok, a little dramatic maybe, but what do you expect from a woman that's PMS'ing??? Seriously, after this morning, the most exciting thing that happened was Gretchen spitting down the front of her shirt! (??? I haven't a clue why.)

Morning routine happened as usual: Andrew wakes, lets the dog out and feeds the cats and dog. The kids wake and play and/or watch a movie. I wake and make breakfast for myself and anyone else that hasn't eaten yet. Sylvia comes running and tells me there's a spider in the sink. I go and get a paper towel to squash the little thing and then I spot it-- the biggest mofo spider I've ever seen outside of a zoo in. my. house. I froze.

"Go get daddy!" I scream as I stare in horror at the freakishly huge King Kong of spiders, ever so casually perched on the edge of a coffee mug in the sink. I swear the thing grew bigger with every sip of water.

Daddy happened to be in the shower, his head covered in shaving cream as he was in the middle of shaving when all hell broke loose and two little girls burst into the bathroom screaming for daddy to "Come and see! There's a big spider in the kitchen! Come and see!" He ignores them, thinking, it was just the exaggeration of children when they say 'big spider', and mama can handle it just fine.

Mama, in fact, was still frozen in the kitchen, watching Godzilla the spider grow another inch, imagining it jumping on my face if I even moved a step closer. I wielded a fly swatter and gripped it tight, but even that seemed puny in my white-fisted hands. I knew that if I even tried to swat at it, it would grab the fly swatter out of my hands and proceed to beat me senseless with it. Please God, tell me this is the only one inside my house and there aren't hundreds of baby Godzilla spiders getting ready to hatch from an egg that's been safely tucked away somewhere inside my house!

I commanded my kid to watch the spider while I ran to Andrew, who was STILL in the bathroom oblivious to the fact that his kitchen housed the biggest damn spider outside of a zoo, and was STILL shaving his head. I stuck my head inside the shower and told him to hurry up and kill the thing before it runs off and makes more babies!

Finally, the man comes sauntering into the kitchen, asking ever so casually, "Alright, what's all the hub-bub? Where's the little spider?"

"There! There!" we all scream, pointing to the sink.

He looks and looks at me and looks back at Godzilla the spider. Meanwhile, I have since scurried into the hallway, knowing, just knowing, that as soon as Andrew gets close to that spider, it'll jump onto his face and just like in the movie Aliens, proceed to wrap it's eight million legs around his head and lay some Godzilla-sized eggs inside his mouth. He tried to scoop it into a cup and take it outside, but it wasn't co-operating with him, so in the end, he squished it.

"Make sure you clean up the sink," I call to Andrew, from my safe location in the hallway. I do not want to even see a leg next to a fork or cup in the sink. I'd have to burn whatever that leg touched!

He's never going to let me live this down, but I don't care. Call me a pansy, a wuss, a fraidy-cat, but Godzilla sized spiders do not belong in my sink, much less my house! I'm going to be looking around all the time now, just waiting for a foot-long spider leg attached to an even bigger spider to creep around the corner, wanting to exact revenge on me for the death of it's loved one. It's torture, I tell ya! How am I supposed to go about my day always worrying there's going to be an even bigger spider than Godzilla the spider??!!

See what I mean? After this, the rest of the day is turning out to be so dull. Hanging laundry on the line-- yawn! Fish sticks and fries for lunch-- double yawn! Sorting through clothes for the kids-- super mega yawn!!

It's Cinco De Mayo-- maybe a spicy mexican dinner will liven things up tonight! Heck, I may even make margaritas, with double the tequila in mine! Goodness knows I'll need it if I'm ever going to fall asleep tonight! Just imagine the nightmare waiting for me once I turn out the light and my eyes close.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Stir Crazy

The weather outside is frightful and we have been pretty much staying indoors. Lots of rain and overcast days. It's just too cold to plant any garden items, and I pray the onions we put in fare alright. Never did get those potatoes in the ground, with all the rain we've been having. They're calling for temps to drop into the 30's tonight!

We have been amusing ourselves in many ways:

Posing Barbie and Ken and making them dance in front of the screen while mama's on the computer, then insisting that mama take a picture...

Playing with playdoh, creating all sorts of funny little characters to play with, then sobbing when Peter takes it and smushes it into a blob...

Taking said playdoh, that has been mixed into dull gray colors no one wants to play with anymore, and turning it into a science project and making a volcano complete with lava...

Making silly faces...

Helping papa put together new dining chairs so we can retire the poor, falling apart old ones.

The few warmish days we've had, the kids run straight to the swing set. That set has been so nice, I'm grateful we have it. It gives this mama some quiet time indoors when I can sit at the table where I can see them and catch up on things. Local people here say May 15th is the "safe date" to plant warm weather crops outdoors. I sure hope so! I'm getting antsy to get started.

Hope the weather has been nice where you are! :o)


Monday, May 2, 2011

Yard Sale Finds

I'm not going to complain, but dang! The weather sure has been uncooperative for gardening! Constant raining and chilly temps make it very frustrating. I'm appreciative of the rain, though, grateful that our well should be nice and filled by now, and everything around here is looking green and lush. We drive slow over the bridges to see how high the rivers and creeks are and whether or not they have flooded their banks.

Yard sale season is getting off to a wet start with the rain, and lucky for us, our favorite church holds their yearly yard sale inside the gym. This sale is huge, with rows and rows of tables and organized, too! They give us a head start with the sale starting on Friday. I always find something there-- clothes for the kids, books, toys (not that we need anymore of those!), kitchen stuff... Last year I scored a couple boxes of canning jars.

We did alright this time, not so much kid clothes this time around. Seemed like there were more older kid clothes than the younger set, but as we were going in, there were several ladies who had arms full of bagged clothes walking out the door, so maybe they beat me to it. I picked up some vintage sewing notions, a school dictionary, 3 vintage drinking glasses, a few clothes, cloth napkins, books, and my favorite find: a vintage chinese checkers game.

Still in the original shipping box which was sent from Sears, but no date. I'm guessing 60's? I haven't had the chance to do my homework on this yet.

Regular checkers on one side...

Chinese checkers on the other! Great graphics on this set! I love chinese checkers. I had a set when I was a kid and I wonder if that's what set me off on my love of marbles, too? But my favorite game with marbles? Oh yeah! A winning combination! This is a nice set, there are two inner drawers on the side sandwiched between the games, one side holds marbles, the other holds checker pieces. Some of the pieces are missing, but I can find game pieces to complete the set easily.

I had other vintage chinese checkers game boards up on the wall in the dining room, but then the blue corner hutch took over that space and they came down. I haven't found a new home for them yet... maybe the living room? *eyeing wall appreciatively*

I also found this: an Oil Paint by numbers of Van Gogh's Sunflowers. I've always loved that painting and, if I could afford it, I'd buy the real thing and hang it on my bedroom wall. Guess this is the next best thing and, at $1, it's in my price range! Now if I can find some time to actually paint it... Evelyn has a paint-by-numbers kit, maybe we can paint together while the other little ones are playing outside?

It rained the rest of the weekend, so no more yard sales to go to. It's chilly here, the temps never got above 60 and I actually asked Andrew to start a fire for me. I don't think we've ever had a fire in May! It's looking like another overcast day, but at least it's not raining. I have errands to run in town, so I better skedaddle!