Friday, August 28, 2009

More Random Tidbits

Yesterday we got our first green egg! It was a pleasant little surprise (and little egg, too!). I had a feeling it was an "araucana day" yesterday and when I only found three eggs in the nesting box, I thought my feeling was wrong. And then I peeked into the chicken run to change out the water and there it was. Sitting in the dirt. A mini green egg.

After a little research recently, I was worried that my five araucanas were under stress from the other hens. I think they are the lowest in pecking order. They are picked on mercilessly by the other girls. I had read that soft eggs could be from stressed araucanas and I didn't know how we'd remedy that with only one coop and one chicken run. I guess the soft eggs were just some early eggs. We'll see.

The kids are so excited about the green egg.

The brown egg to the bottom right of the green egg is the size of an extra-large store-bought egg.

Yesterday I was without internet for most of the day. Which was really fine with me. I had tomatoes to can, given to my for free from my uncle's garden. I canned twelve quarts and one pint. I might go back next week for more.

Today (at the bus stop) a bird pooped on my head and back. Nice. Unfortunately I had to take Mason for his pre-op appointment, so I had to run back in the house, re-wash my hair and change my shirt. I have to admit that I laughed about it. It's just my luck. If it weren't for bad luck, I wouldn't have any luck at all.

The other day Sawyer found a pair of tighty-whities in his underwear drawer. I suppose he was not happy to see them. I was standing at the kitchen sink and he came in babbling about something. As I turned around, he had one hand on his hip, the other hand holding the underwear. Then he very clearly stated, "I. don't. like. them." He proceeded to drop them on the floor and walk out. I lost it. Completely and utterly lost it.

Mason used up his $5 Amazon MP3 credit. The songs? ha ha ha I Love Rock 'n' Roll by Joan Jett, Hotel California by the Eagles, Eye of the Tiger by Survivor, Black Horse and the Cherry Tree by KT Tunstall, and YMCA by no one else but the Village People. What a mix! (Some of the songs he's heard on Guitar Hero. I do not, I repeat I. do. not. listen to Survivor.)

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Seven is Heaven

I have a brand-new, seven-year-old boy in my house.

My Mason.

He has the largest blue eyes that make me melt. And two missing top teeth.

He couldn't wait to open his present this morning. I had forgotten to wrap it until late last night. And I could only find Christmas wrapping paper at that hour. It made him smile even more. And then, when he opened the larger box, he found a smaller, wrapped box which held the beloved gift he wanted so much ...


A blue iPod Shuffle. He was so full of giggles. It was adorable. And I'm sorry that Joe is out of town and missed it. I have a $5 Amazon credit for music downloads, so after dinner and soccer practice, I'm going to let him pick out a few songs.

A few days ago I tried to remember when and how I went into labor with Mason, and I couldn't remember. After freaking out for a few minutes, I started to remember.

It was a Monday morning and Joe's parents had just arrived the day before (I think) to help with the kids when I had the baby. We were stationed in Columbus, Ohio, at the time. Mason was (and still is) our only baby born in a different state and different hospital. He is our "Ohio baby," as we affectionately call him.

I started having mild contractions in the morning every five minutes. I've never had contractions further apart than five minutes. Ever. I lounged around and called my friend and then I think I called Joe. And after I was sure it was the real deal, I just casually mentioned it to my in-laws. Joe came home around lunchtime and we headed to the hospital around 1 p.m. I was barely 2 cm when I got there and they wouldn't admit me until I reached 4 cm.

When I finally reached 4 cm around 3:50 p.m., they admitted me. They asked me to walk down the hall to the labor and delivery room, but I could barely walk. I had to stop every few steps. When I reached the room (and had sufficiently annoyed all the nurses), they started with all the admittance questions. The easy questions that are no-brainers, like my religion, etc. I could barely answer her. I looked at Joe in desperation, hoping he would just answer them for me.

The nurse seemed agitated and said she'd check me. Then she exclaimed, "You're 8 cm. NO! You're 9!!! Call the doctor!" And Mason was born a few minutes later. From the time I left the triage room at 3:50 (and only 4 cm dilated) to the time Mason was in my arms, only 48 minutes had elapsed. It was 4:38 p.m. It was a wild ride, let me tell you.

After he was born, the nurse (who was much kinder at that point) finished the admittance questions, which were so much easier to answer. And I got my hospital bracelet.

Happy birthday, Mason. I will love you forever and ever and throughout all eternity.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Last Day of Summer Break

Yesterday was the last day of summer break for the boys. We decided to end the summer with a day trip to the lake. (And a quick stop at the big slide on the way home.)

They swam. Built sandcastles together. Bickered. Threw sand at each other. Laughed. Cried. A typical day.

It was a good day to spend together. Followed by a very busy night of meeting the last teacher, soccer practice for two, and a town meeting for me. And dinner for me at 9:30 p.m.

This morning Taylor left for his first official day of 7th grade. I like the photo, despite the shirt. Of all the new school clothes this boy has, he chose this old one.

And Carter (5th grade), Mason (2nd), and Jackson (3rd). Check out Carter's new orange Chucks. He was dying to wear them today.

I offered to make the boys scrambled eggs for breakfast (as was my traditional, first-day-of-school breakfast all through high school, which was the only time I ate breakfast all year long), but none of them wanted eggs today.

As the bus pulled away, I realized that I didn't hug or kiss or say a prayer with the three younger boys. Taylor left earlier and he got the package deal, but these three poor boys were neglected in the rush. And, sitting here now, I realized I'm not sure if Taylor ever knew which classroom he was supposed to go to this morning. I know I told him a week or so ago, but I forgot to remind him. Dang! And I thought I was on the ball today, too!

As the new school year approaches, there is one very important thing I must do. Set the "trips to the school nurse" back to zero. We had quite a year last year. Mason came in first place with 21 22* visits. Carter was our second place winner with 15. Taylor came in third with 5. And Jackson had only 2. Last year, as you may or may not recall, Taylor visited the school nurse on the first day of school. Let's see if we can break that record and save the first visit to the second day of school ...

*edited to add: I just now found Mason's old backpack from last year. Apparently Mason visited the nurse on the last day of school (only a half day of school). Geesh. He's up to 22 visits for last school year.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Bakers Dozen

Thirteen eggs. There would have been more, but I dropped one. And two were laid with thin shells and were broken (but not eaten) when I found them. One broken one was laid in the nesting box. The other on the floor of the coop. (Maybe the hen didn't know what was happening and it just came out ?)

Here are the eggs compared to a store-bought, extra large white egg and a penny. The egg right below the white egg was laid yesterday by our first layer. Her eggs are definitely increasing in size in the nearly two weeks she's been laying.

And remember the very first egg? The long and skinny one? When I cracked it open last night, the freaky thing had two and a half yolks. Two and a half! I was quite a surprise to see a yolk growing off another one. The kids enjoyed looking at it.

And see that little spot on the half yolk? I freaked out a bit, but learned that the spot is perfectly normal on fresh eggs. It's a blood spot and does not indicate the egg has been fertilized. There is a spot in all eggs, but it gets diluted as the egg gets older. Which is probably why I never noticed it in my store-bought eggs.

And the quiche that I made for dinner. Bacon-cheese cheese. Yum.

And waste not, want not. I had read that you can bake the egg shells, crush them and feed them to the chickens for a little extra calcium. (We have been giving them crushed oyster shells as well to prevent more thin shells.)

There's controversy over whether or not to feed egg shells to chickens because the chickens may develop a taste for it and crack their own. We'll see what happens. I'm not sure if chickens are smart enough to know that the stuff I feed them comes from them.

[All six kids spent the night at my mother's house last night. This morning Joe and I went on a 10-mile bike ride before he went to work. Then after he left, I went for a short run. It was my first run in nearly two weeks (knees again and always -- 35 years worth of knee problems). It was hot, humid and a little slower than I normally run that distance. (It also felt slower compared to biking because I can cover twice the distance on bike than I can by foot.) I'm not sure if it was because I didn't rest enough between the bike ride and the running or if the biking wore me out more than I expected it to or if it's been too long since I ran or if it just felt like I was moving slower because I was slower than the bike. Either way, it was good to be out.] And now I need to go pick up the kids ... It was good while it lasted.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Big Slide


Yesterday I took the children to The Big Slide. It is a giant wooden slide not too far from our house. I never remember about this slide, except we passed it last week on our way home from a day trip to the lake.

It is owned by a church and it is free. And fast. It must have been fun because, as you can see, even Taylor is smiling coming down the slide!

Mason did some fancy monkey work on the monkey bars. (I have never been able to do those things.) He was spinning around between every rung. I was very impressed by this almost-seven-year-old.

And we can't forget this crazy merry-go-round. My kids love that thing. I could actually sit on the rocks and watch them yesterday. Usually after a minute or so I am too dizzy from watching them that I have to walk away.

But yesterday was just the perfect day for hanging out.

We had also planned to visit the covered bridge park and creek yesterday, but the road was closed due to flooding. (It hadn't even rained to my knowledge prior to that.)

And other great news. Remember mean, old, grumpy geezer (a.k.a. most-annoying neighbor)? Well, yesterday his car was ticketed for being parked in front of my house (without my permission) for more than the town ordinance allows. It was considered a "junk vehicle." This morning we awoke to all four of his cars parked elsewhere. I can now, once again, park in front of my house!

And as I turned around, I noticed a shiny penny on my sidewalk.

Heads up.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Big Push


I am experiencing "The Big Push" right now. School starts on Tuesday and I am trying to cram everything into our last week at home together.

Good-bye, Summer's Remorse! You aren't hanging around here this week.

We had a great summer. We did more than I expected. I had less on our to-do list and just did what felt right at that time.


Last night we released our butterflies. Last summer I bought a butterfly habitat and then never ordered the caterpillars. (It was a total scheduling thing with vacation and school starting, etc.) This year I ordered ahead and had them arrive the week following our vacation, knowing in advance the metamorphosis would happen before school starts so no one would miss anything.


Just this week all five hatched. The habitat had been hanging from the light in our dining room and we would eat dinner with the fluttering above our heads. We had a lot of fun watching them this week during dinner. Last night as part of our family night, we set them free.

(I'm feeling good today. I got up early to go for a bike ride, but it was too dark. When I walked into the kitchen I realized my cherry butter from yesterday was ready to be canned, so I quickly took care of that while the sun came up. And then I biked ten miles ... and it's just 8:00 a.m. now.)

Ooh, also, yesterday we got THREE eggs! Woo-hoo!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Before & After


We received a box of hand-me-downs from Joe's sister. Inside was this brand-new, boys (size 16 !), purple dress shirt. Immediately I knew that none of my boys would ever wear it, and it was placed in the donate pile.

While adding to our large donate pile on Friday (our monthly Purple Heart donation day), I saw it again and remembered this tutorial. I wasn't sure if it would work, being that it is a boys size 16 and well, I'm an almost-forty mother of six. I placed it back in the donate pile and immediately pulled it back out.

This time, I wasn't so much thinking about the peasant blouse. I was thinking about all those potentially size 16 boys that this shirt could harm. Some mother, some where, would see the shirt, still in its package, and think that it was a great deal for her son. With that in mind, I knew that I had to take this shirt out of circulation. It could not go to a thrift store to be bought by a well-meaning mother. It would not be fair to the boy. (I'm a mother of boys. I know these things.)

I decided to make a shirt and if I couldn't fit into it, I would give it to one of the 12- or 13-year-old girls that I teach in church.

Turns out ...

it fits.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Around the Yard and In the Garden


I know. I know. We had pumpkins in July. They were volunteers from our Christmas card photo props (that we actually didn't use) but they rotted and seeded themselves right there in our herb garden next to our barn.

Why is it that we can only grow pumpkins accidentally?


This year in our herb garden I planted four heirloom tomato plants: Giant Oxheart, Mr. Stripey, Aunt Ruby's Green, and Brandywine Black.

I thought I'd be smart and plant a jalapeno plant right there, too, so I could have salsa makings at my fingertips. But some little critter chomped it to the ground. And same with my basil (except I just noticed that it grew back and is hiding under the pumpkin plant, which was pruned for the photo). There is also a volunteer cherry tomato plant creeping up the side of the barn.

These, I believe, are the Giant Oxheart. I just picked a bunch. I couldn't tell if they were ripe because they never turned red, like normal tomatoes. As I was weeding, one fell off the vine and it was soft to the touch. Then I noticed a bunch more that were soft, so off they came, too. (Oh, the chickens seem to like them. I tossed two over for them that had a few fresh holes in them, either from a critter or the rose bush. Since I couldn't be sure, I didn't want to eat them.)

These are Brandywine Black tomatoes. They are pretty. Again, I had to squeeze them to see if they were ripe.

I'm guessing that these are the Aunt Ruby's Green tomatoes. Although they are turning yellow. They were not soft yet, so I left them alone.

And because we are rednecks, we have pumpkins growing in our front yard. Again. (Well, this might be the "again-again-again." I think this is year #3 or 4 for that.)

And these are the ones that I either picked or ones that fell from the vine as I was weeding. Too bad it happened in between lunch and dinner. I had to wait. (Actually, I'm still waiting. Tomatoes didn't go with my dinner last night. Maybe lunch? Or breakfast??)

We have a "real" garden in our backyard, too. This is just my "private" garden.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Bits of Random

Carter and I gathered locust shells last night. (I think he said 22 in all. There were two on the chicken coop that we couldn't reach. I even tried to stand on a chair. Until it started to tip. Suddenly the other two didn't see so important to us.)

They are pretty ugly close up. They are uglier when alive though.

Our hen, Poachy, laid two more eggs. Both very teeny tiny. I was there when one literally dropped out of her (she was standing up when it came out of her, which totally surprised me). I had just closed the door on the coop when I heard a thud on the nesting box bottom. I opened the door to peek in and there was an egg between her feet. Then, I assume to let the other chickens know, she began to cluck as loud as she could. I have never, ever heard such a sound. She continued for a minute or two and then hopped down and walked down the ramp into the chicken run. Then she stood there and clucked again for a half minute more and then went about her business. The other chickens just ignored her. Once she was distracted enough, I went back in to get the egg. It was slightly wet and still warm. It was completely amazing. I shall never forget witnessing it.

At a town meeting on Monday (a public planning meeting, not a council meeting) my most-annoying neighbor yelled at me. He's an ignorant, old man who has no friends. (I'm quite surprised he has a wife.) I am happy to say that, even though our mayor was not at the meeting, our council president squashed the issue and ended the meeting. Afterwards I went into the bathroom. When I came out, I was ambushed by the most-annoying neighbor. I held my own and did not back down. I was right and I knew it. And everyone in the meeting knew it. And even the most-annoying neighbor knew it. I think he was angry because I called him on his lie. Again, as I was being ambushed in the dark hallway, our council president came out and made him leave. Our mayor was not at our meeting, but I have learned that if he had been there, the most-annoying neighbor would have been asked to leave immediately. (And had our town resident been present, he would have had an official escort by the police.) Sweet!

And since most-annoying neighbor's only skill is to annoy the neighbors, he is messing with me now. He has two pieces of his junky cars in front of my house. He owns four pieces of junk and never drives them (actually owns five, but he only parks four of them on the street). Joe had nowhere to park when he came home from work last night. So Joe parked in front of most-annoying neighbor's house. It's a silly little feud that he wants to play. And that is fine. I stopped in at the town office today and most-annoying has six days to move his two pieces of junk (officially documented by the office, pavement markings and photos) from the front of my house.

We have our town council meeting in two weeks and I know he'll be there (and Joe will be out of town). I am prepared and ready. And now I'm relieved to know that I have the backing of not just my neighbors, but town council as well. And that our mayor will have him police-escorted out the door if he yells at me anymore.

And, if you've read this far, thank you. You should also know that Mason has to have surgery now. He has been experiencing a hearing loss that was officially detected at his last well checkup. I knew he wasn't listening to me, but I didn't realize it wasn't selective. The doctor tried some meds, but they didn't help, so he wants to remove his adenoids and put tubes in his ears to alleviate the extra fluid in his ears. And he wants to thin out his nasal tissues/passages (or something like that). Didn't we just go through this recently?!? Deja vu.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Look!

No. Not at that fun, vintage skirt I'm wearing.

Come a little closer ...


We got our first egg on Saturday!

It's long and thin. Carter thinks Poachy laid it. It's a month or two earlier than we expected. No more eggs since, which is both fine and disappointing at the same time. It's just the beginning of good things to come.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

T-Shirt + Tulle Skirt

We were packing up Taylor for a week of vacation and a consecutive week of summer camp (where he and Carter are currently) and ran across an old T-shirt that Taylor no longer wanted and the boys said they wouldn't wear (Taylor's friends had signed the back of his shirt on play day). Joe was about to ditch the shirt when I told him I could reuse it.

If I cut right below the large red dot, it might be long enough to make a skirt for Spenser. And it was already conveniently hemmed.

Then I remembered Miss Chris's tulle skirt and knew the time had come for Spenser to get hers.

It goes perfectly with her $3.50 ruffly Garanimals shirt from Wal-Mart (which was bought the same day as the other white tee and the day of the splashing).

And her reaction?

Well, she loves it.


Just as I knew she would.

(She wants me to make a matching one for myself. Hmmm ... an almost-forty-year-old woman wearing a tulle skirt? It just might work.)

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Splash!

Nasty things that have splashed on my forehead this week:

  • Toilet water from the automatic flushing toilets at Wal-Mart. I was helping Sawyer when the toilet suddenly flushed and splashed my forehead. Now, had it gone in my mouth, I would have just drowned myself right then and there in the toilet.

  • Raw chicken juice. In almost the same exact spot as the public toilet water.

You don't need photos, right? Just use your imagination. And the toilet water was as bad as you can imagine. Three showers later (and countless face washings) and I think I'm just about clean now.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

School Stuff

I seriously cannot believe it's August and the kids will be back to school by the end of the month. Where did this summer go?

Anyway, I had to run into town yesterday to buy the basics (milk, bread, etc.) since our return from vacation. I stopped in the kids' section at Wal-Mart to buy the kids new socks and underwear for school (and spent over $70 in just that stuff alone!). I noticed a plain white tee for Spenser. I've been trying to find a plain white tee for ages. And nothing was plain. Or it wasn't the right style. For $4, it's perfect.

I embellished it with three rows of purple ruffles. As soon as I finished, I realized she might not have anything to wear with this new shirt.

So I whipped up a skirt, too. The skirt itself is made from some old Amy Butler fabric I bought ages ago and was too afraid to cut. The ruffled hem is just some purple polka dot fabric (leftover from our Easter outfits a year ago).

I'm saving it for Spenser for pre-school. She's excited about her new outfit. And, apparently, so is Sawyer. When I held it up to check the hem, he jumped up and down, while clapping his hands, and squealed in a girly, high-pitched voice, "Is it for me??"

Something tells me he needs to hang out with his older brothers a little more.

(And thanks for all your votes on yesterday's post. It seems that photo #3, the one from the falls, is the winner. As soon as I stop being dumb, which may be awhile, I will change the banner. It seems that it's been so long since I've changed it, I've forgotten how to do it. And how I "remember" is not correct.)

Monday, August 03, 2009

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

I am indecisive. Annoyingly so. About most things. Unless I have a strong opinion about something. And I do have strong opinions. Letmetellyou.

Anyway, I need a new header for my blog and I can't decide which photo I like best of the kids. It's so difficult to get them all looking in the right direction. Smiling at all. Eyes open (as opposed to squinting in the sun). Non-goofy looks. (Yes, there were some minor threats being tossed about.) And there is always at least one child who is not looking at the camera, not smiling, eyes shut, or has a goofy way about them, and it's hard to decide which kid to "sacrifice."

Here are the three best photos from our week:

Photo #1: This photo was taken at the same rocks as last year. Sawyer is not looking at the camera and Taylor looks unhappy. Everyone else looks good, though.

Photo #2: Same shot as above, but Sawyer is just about to yawn. It's kind of cute, but kind of weird.

Photo #3: This photo was taken at Swallow Falls. Everyone looks pretty good, except Spenser is unintentionally winking in the photo. Sawyer is sticking out his tongue, but that doesn't even bother me.

So, friends, which picture do you like best? Which should I use as my new banner?

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Playing

We had two rainy days this week on vacation. Joe took the older boys to see the new Harry Potter movie one rainy afternoon, while I stayed at the cabin with the two younger ones. (We watched Toy Story and Toy Story 2 and ate lots of popcorn.)

During yesterday's rain, we played games. Scrabble Apple. Bananagrams. Boggle. (We found Scrabble Apple and Bananagrams at our local Target and Boggle was a freebie from the Swap Shop.)

And after playing games, we started this 1,000-piece puzzle that I bought on clearance after Christmas last year. It's almost finished.

(And last night, after the rain stopped, we took the boys to the Mountain Coaster.)