Sunday, December 23, 2007

Remember Me

You may have seen this already, but if not, take some time (about 5 minutes I think) and watch it. This is a video made by a 15 yr old girl and is really worth your time.

I was warned to have my kleenex ready and didn't pay attention. Maybe it's just because I'm pregnant and emotional. Maybe it's because I'm now a mother to a soldier. But tearjerker stuff doesn't usually make me cry and this one really did. So be ready.

Remember Me

Friday, December 21, 2007

We got our baby back!


He's not really a baby at all. He's a man now. But Stephen is home to visit. I hate those last two words, "to visit." But it sure is nice to see him! The kids are all so excited to see him and they are all laughing and playing and oohing and aahing over him. I can't seem to get them to get any work done today, but that's okay.

They are learning to do push ups and such so that Stephen can give them a day of "Basic Training." That might be really useful for me in the future. Think of the disciplinary possibilities . . .

Oh, and I finally finished his quilt (for which I am very proud of myself) and he said it was very warm.

Melissa

Thursday, December 20, 2007

A New Blog

Our son, Mitchell, has a new blog. Mitchell will be 16 a month from today at which time he'll be driving and probably getting a job. We'll see if he continues to keep up his new blog, but as much as he enjoys writing, I imagine he will.

Check it out here. Maybe if we pester him, he'll share a blurb from the novel he's working on . . .

Melissa

Monday, December 17, 2007

Sibling Fun

Mitchell had been tickling Gloria for several minutes before we decided to video tape it. Our video camera is not currently charged and ready so this was taken with my digital camera. It did a decent job. Until Gloria saw the camera and wanted to get away . . .

Afterward, Faith took the camera and got some even better video where Gloria kept signing "more" to get him to tickle her again. I'd have posted that one, but it was 3 minutes long and I don't know how to edit it yet. This is only 30 seconds.

video

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

People, People Who Meet People

One of the neat things about Stephen’s graduation weekend – for me – was visiting with old friends and making new ones. I’m not trying to sound like Barney here, but it was a cool trip because of the people.

Melissa had put out a call to her e-mail buddies in the MOMYS group (Mothers Of Many Young Siblings – I think) to see if anyone lived in the Columbia, SC area and we got hooked up with U. S. Army Captain Jonathan Fowler, his wife Jackie and their kids Joy, Josiah, Joel, JoAnna and Julia. Jonathan is an Army Chaplin. They opened their home to me and, for about two hours, Stephen. Jackie was particularly interested in the bees we have. They are considering the potential of one day doing what we are doing and moving out to the country. They drink raw milk and Jackie makes their bread. It was neat to meet a MOMYS family. Melissa is the one on the list, but I hear about it all the time and feel like I am a part of it in some small way. I found myself wishing that Stephen’s graduation started later because I was enjoying talking to them and playing with their kids. It wasn’t like I had been away from home for very long, just a day or so, but the kid fix was so nice.

At about 8:00 a.m. I left for Stephen’s 9:00 a.m. graduation. It was cold and there was a concession stand where I could get coffee. I sat in the stands and waited. At about 8:45 a family sat next to me. I got there early, so I had pretty good seats. The father sat down next to me and I thanked him for breaking the wind for me. Turns out he was retired military and this was his fourth time to attend a basic training graduation for one of his sons. He is also a plumber and I got to ask him a couple of questions about the new house’s venting. The ceremony started at 10:00, an hour later than expected. While we waited, Stan told me what the little slashes and ropes and ribbons and all meant on the uniforms. He told me about Iraq, his two tours over there and the differences we are making – for the better. He was just a friendly guy, or perhaps very bored, but it was a blessing to sit next to him.

Finally, with the ceremonies over and the shopping done for my soldier/son we arrived at the home of Ric and Frances Kuhlbars. Ric was my youth minister in high school and is a retired Army Chaplin. They fed us and bought Stephen and me an ice cream cone. Stephen had to be back to the base by 0600 (Army time, dude) and Ric took us there as his car has the pass we’d need to get through without a hitch. I bought him breakfast at a Cracker Barrel and we went to see the lake lot he has been planning to build a house on since about 1985. I enjoyed meeting Stan and the Fowlers, but getting to hang out with Ric and Frances was almost as good as getting to hang out with Stephen. We looked at old pictures and tried to remember the names of the people in the pictures. We laughed at old junk that I forgotten all about in the years between graduating from high school and now. Someday I will find another reason to get back there with my entire family so that they can all meet each other; two of the most important people during my teen years and ten of the 10 most important people in my current life.

Well, I gotta go play a game with four of my favorite people. I love them, but I also plan to whip them.

Roger

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Basic Graduation

Melissa wrote a while back about Stephen’s graduation and all of the things that God just dropped in our lap to make it happen that I could attend. Well, I am back from the graduation service and I must tell you that this trip was more of a blessing that we ever thought or imagined it might be before I went. Today I am going to write about Stephen, I will tell you later about the people I met that blessed me and the old friends I got to visit after too long of a time away from each other.

Stephen stands straight and tall and he has a swagger to him that I have only seen on occasion in the first 17 years of his life. It was clear that he was very proud of what he had accomplished during boot camp. He showed me the tower he’d rappelled down, the grenade training field, the marching trails and the rest of the sites where he’d been tested and had passed. Those of us that know him had no doubt that he would do well and pass the challenges he would face and now that he has done them and passed them I think he is now a young man that knows he will be able to take on any and all future challenges and overcome them. Hmm, sounds like the reason for boot camp.

He had to wear standard issue Army glasses throughout boot camp and he looked like a skinny, young, Mr. Magoo. I really wanted to get a picture of him in the glasses but he did not want that and, since he can now kill sixteen different ways with his thumbs, I relented. It also seemed to be disrespectful to a young man so deserving of respect.

We spent most of Thursday and Friday together. Thursday we went over every nook and cranny of the base as he was still not allowed to leave. He did get to have some Burger King a couple of times and that was a pure reward to him. Friday he graduated and for the first time in 9 weeks he was allowed to leave Ft. Jackson. We tried to get him a mobile phone, but didn’t. It is a boring story, so I won’t bore you with it. We ate some food and spent the night at the home of some old friends of mine.

Stephen already has a host of stories he loves to tell about his life in the Army. He has stories about his new friends. No, he has stories about his comrades in arms, men and women to whom he is willing to trust his life to. He may be a tad cynical about some of them, but he also knows the common experiences they share have bonded them and they are all willing to give all for their country.

I watched 1200 of these young men and women graduate on Friday. We hear so much about the “youth of today” and how they are spoiled and soft. That may be true for some of them the same it has always been true for some of them. I will remind you that prior to the United States entry into World War II it was the opinion of the German officers that we were a soft nation and would be unable to meet their forces as equals. We all know how that turned out for them.

We should all be encouraged by the people that serve our nation’s armed forces. They are well trained, well intentioned and capable. They care about each other and they care about our nation and her safety. To paraphrase George Orwell, we can all sleep peacefully tonight because these rough men and women stand ready to do violence on our behalf. I am very proud to say that my son is one of these men.

Roger

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Hanukkah gift exchange

We just finished with our first night of gifts for Hanukkah. The kids exchanged the gifts they made each other. I think they all loved them! I thought I'd share because I'm proud of them and the ideas they came up with.

Mitchell made Sam (3) a Spiderman book. He just got pics off the internet and put them together with a simple story. Then he spiral bound it and Sam LOVES it.

Faith made a board game for Clark (7). It has an army theme. She taped and glued some scrapbooking things on a file folder and wrote out rules with two different ways to play. She even used modeling clay and made little markers--like a soldier and a flag--and a die. They were all just in there playing and laughing a lot.

Grace made Joy (5) some beautiful paper dolls and then had them laminated. She gave them to her along with 24 hours worth of coupons to play together.

Claire made a set of stationery for Faith (13). She chose the perfect design. It has a large "F" at the top (Faith writes F's everywhere she can get away with it--and over the years a few places she shouldn't have like on the kitchen table!) and horses running across the bottom. Complete with printed envelopes.

Clark made Claire (9) a "fashion design sketchbook" by tracing a body shape. Then we scanned it and printed 50 copies of it. We added a cover, spiral bound it and added a set of colored pencils. She loves it.

Joy gave Gloria (1) her old kitchen.

Sam and I chose some books from Project Gutenberg and printed and spiral bound them for Grace (11). ( I have a spiral binder by the way.)

Gloria cheated. She didn't make anything. She even broke the $5 spending limit (which was okay since most of the kids spent nothing). She gave Mitchell (15) a leather journal just like one Stephen got as a graduation gift and Mitchell's been coveting ever since. ;-) But we figure she's okay not making anything since she's only 18 mos old.

They were all excited both to give and to receive. I'm proud of all the hard work they did! And the big surprise was that they even made a gift for me! They made me a pillow that says "We love you Mom" and then they all signed it. I'm thinking it might help make me more comfortable as I enter this 3rd trimester of pregnancy. But I may not want to actually use it and mess it up. I'll have to check if they used permanent markers or water based markers before I use it. ;-)

Melissa

Monday, December 03, 2007

God's Protection Again

Today I was helping Joy clean up her old toy kitchen to give to Gloria. Hanukkah begins at sunset tomorrow and each of the children are giving each other a gift. They've been working on it for a couple weeks. They drew names and they are all making something, or in this case, sharing an old, beloved thing. It's really cool to see them pouring out gifts of love to each other. I'd share the cool things they are giving, but sometimes the kids read our blog and that would give it away.

Gloria absolutely loves this little Kitchen and plays with it all the time. So she's not really getting something new, but she is getting ownership of something she loves and that means even if Joy is mad at her she can't be told, "you can't play with my kitchen now!" And to a kid, that's a big deal! To an adult that's a big deal too, isn't it? We like to own things for ourselves.

So anyway, we're cleaning it up and trying to make it look new when I see the bottom of it. The bottom was covered with spider webs and empty spider egg sacs. There must have been at least 20 egg sacs. I grabbed my trusty vacuum and began to clean it up. There seemed to not be any living spiders around until I saw the big black widow. Yep. These were black widow egg sacs. My babies were playing DAILY around a toy that was a black widow nursery!!

I was struck by the grace God has bestowed on us. He has been protecting my children for who knows how long. We've found black widows in that room and thought we'd thoroughly cleaned it. We've tried to keep them away from where we live as best we could. And all this time, they were living and breeding right at Gloria's feet--literally!

And not one spider bite that we know of. If any of the children were bit, they never had a problem from it.

God is Grrrrrreat! (Imagine Tony the Tiger here to know how to say that.)

Melissa

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Laundry Detergent

I just finished making a big batch of laundry detergent. I don't yet know how well it will work, but I'm optimistic after reading the comments on the site where I got the recipe.

I found it here at The Simple Dollar.

I've actually seen the recipe all over the place, but this was the latest one and the one I used. I added some essential oils because I didn't like the smell of the Fels Naptha soap and wanted to cover it as much as possible. I used Orange oil, Tea Tree Oil, Lavender Oil, and Peppermint Oil. Yes, I realize that sounds like a strange combination, but it smelled good to me. As a matter of fact, at one point, before adding the Peppermint, I thought about how weird I am that I actually thought it smelled like it "needed" some mint. But all of those oils, perhaps with the exception of the peppermint which I just don't know about, have antiseptic qualities to them so they should actually help to clean our clothes while helping it smell a little better, too.

Then I used an old All container to pour some of it in. I had one load worth of detergent left in there. That used to be my favorite detergent, but today it just smelled awful compared to what I'd just made. It cleaned relatively well and no one broke out if I used it. Then I tried Melaleuca detergent and liked it better than the All, but it was really expensive and we just can't do that. Then I heard about Charlie's Soap. I really like this stuff! If the homemade stuff doesn't work out, we'll go back to Charlie's Soap. I would highly recommend it to those who don't want to try making their own or are just looking for a really good laundry detergent! It works great! It has no scent at all and got our clothes--even the dirty filthy nasty and sometimes mildewy stuff that a large family on a farm can generate--really clean. From what I've heard, this homemade stuff is as good as Charlie's Soap, yet even cheaper. So we'll see.

There are recipes out there for powdered detergent, but I prefer liquid. So I chose that recipe. It makes 3 1/2 gallons. You're supposed to use anywhere from 1/2 cup to 1 cup per load. We'll be trying that out to see what works. But if you figure it takes a full cup of detergent, there are 52 loads worth in the batch I made today. And I only used about $2-$3 worth of stuff to make this. That's less than some of the cheaper laundry detergents you can buy today, but it is said to work better than Tide. We'll see about that. But certainly it will work at least as well as the cheap stuff. If it isn't better, it's not worth the trouble. But if it really is as good as the Charlie's Soap, it works out to be a LOT cheaper and therefore was very worth my time and effort.

I'll let you know after I wash a few loads.

Melissa

Monday, November 26, 2007

Soups and Teas

I've been amazed lately at what I can do with a pot of boiling water.

This isn't exactly new to me, but it's something I'm doing more and more often and it's having amazing results on our health. Although listening to the chorus of coughing in the other room it might not seem like it.

The last couple of weeks the children have all been sick. We thought it was just a cold and nothing to worry about. They have been active and playful and well, normal, except that their noses are runny and they cough a lot. Then yesterday Sam got bad and we realized that it's probably the flu we're dealing with (which explains why this cold was lasting SO long) and we've just been in really good shape considering!

Well, when funds were tighter than usual in October I started making soup more often. It's really a rather cheap way to stretch food dollars. I could take a frozen chicken and plunk it in a big pot of water. While it was coming to a boil I could chop up a bunch of fresh veggies like carrots and potatoes, throw in some frozen veggies from the freezer that I'd stocked up on while they were on sale, add some salt, pepper, thyme, garlic and onion, maybe throw in some brown rice (white rice gets mushy too fast and you have to add it later. Plus it's not as good for you.) or barley, then let it all simmer for an hour or so. Pull a loaf of homemade bread out of the cabinet, remove the bones and add the meat back in, and voila! An inexpensive, tasty meal. And to top it off, it usually lasts us two nights. It is really good for you. It turns out that boiling all that stuff in a pot of water doesn't just feed you, it nourishes you. It draws out all those vitamins and minerals and then we eat it up (or sop it up in the bread). So for probably less than $10, I was feeding my family a good meal for 2 nights! I started making soup once a week--which means we eat it twice a week-- and no one is tired of it yet.

So then I started making tea. I've got a cabinet full of herbs that I bought at bulkherbstore.com over the last couple of years. When the sniffles hit and didn't seem to be going away, I decided to brew up a big batch of tea. I just put on a pot of water to boil and started adding handfuls of this and that. I included a handful of stevia leaves to sweeten it so there is no sugar needed and no honey even! Plus the stevia is kind of good for you (helps fight cavities?)! Then I strained it over ice into a 5 gallon cooler, added some cold water and we have iced tea. It's great! Everyone loves the taste of it and it is so good for you! All those great vitamins and minerals in those leaves get drawn out by the boiling water and then we drink them down. We don't drink juice or tea or soda around here. It's usually just milk at meals and water any other time. This has been a very welcome addition and it's so easy to do! But we ran out Saturday and I didn't make more soon enough. Saturday night several of the kids got worse than having sniffles. They developed fevers and worse sore throats and Sam got croup and had trouble breathing. I made a new batch of tea, plus a special batch of good, strong licorice tea to add separately to the sick ones cups (not safe for pregnant or nursing moms)and they started to feel better right away. I was amazed!

All that by just boiling water.

I'm really impressed with the taste of the stevia. I'm wanting to see what else I can do with that. I was thinking we should be able to make some tea with just the stevia leaves and use that in place of water and sugar in some recipes (maybe start with oatmeal?) to avoid using sugar. Then it occurred to me that that is so obvious someone else must have thought of such a thing. So I turned to the internet to search for recipes. What I found was that since the FDA won't approve stevia as a sweetener (but aspartame is okay?!? I guess the stevia growers need more lobbyists, huh?) you can't sell cookbooks telling how to use it as a sweetener. Isn't this a violation of freedom of speech or something? But now I'm confused because I finally found stevia.com where they have recipes and sell it as a sweetener. Anyway, I'll be doing some experimenting in my own kitchen. I'd like to figure out how to use it starting with the leaves rather than buying the refined extract. It seems to me that part of the problem with sugar being bad for you is from refining it--you take out what little nutrients were there in the first place. But maybe I can boil it down and try using it very concentrated. We'll see. If I have any successes, I'll share. For now, I do know that it works great added to our tea!

Melissa

Saturday, November 24, 2007

The Paint Colors

I said I would post pictures of the rooms I painted. I am finally getting around to that.

This is Clark and Sam's room. Notice the cover plates over the switch and outlet? Roger taught me how to do that and while it is an easy job, I was proud of myself. This room will get a green trim and then we'll paint things like bugs and frogs and snakes on the wall. But there's no hurry on that big job.


This is Faith and Grace's room.


Claire, Joy and Gloria's room. This will have flowers painted on the wall, and probably a few butterflies.


The boys' bathroom. This room will have a bright blue trim. I'm not sure yet what else we'll do with it. Notice the light switches down low and at normal height? That is so the little ones can turn on the light by themselves and the bigger people don't have to stoop down. Both of the kids' bathrooms have this feature.


The girls' bathroom will have a bright yellow trim. Yes, we like bright colors.


The baby's room will also be a guest room and an office if we ever get done needing a nursery (I'm almost 40 so that day should come within 10 years, right?) so we went with a tamer color in there. It's called Hazelnut cream. The trim and window seats will be white.


The Master bedroom will have white trim and window seats also. If you can see out the door of the bedroom, right across the entry way is the baby's room. I haven't enjoyed having Gloria in our room for so long (she'll be 18 mos on Monday), but I don't like having my baby's too far away either!


And I already showed the color in the Master bath in my last post. The laundry room and pantry are white. I'm sure you can picture that, but here's a pic anyway although the pantry isn't finished yet in this picture. I had to prime that brick wall first. It's amazing how cool that room stays. It will be great for food storage, but I may have to wear a jacket if I have to spend any time in there.


Mitchell's room isn't painted yet, neither is the kids' Common Area (which will be the bright blue and bright yellow being used as trim in the bathrooms). Mitchell initially wanted white, but having seen all the colors he is now re-thinking that. We're letting him take his time. He's getting his own room since he's worked so hard on building the house. Most likely he'll only live with us about 3 more years before he goes off to college. By then, we'll need to move them all around anyway to move the baby out of the nursery and Gloria out of the Toddler bed she'll be in (unless we switch her to a trundle). But hopefully I won't have to re-paint it all. We'll have 2 girly rooms and two for boys. Hopefully that will keep working, but who knows? (Any guesses on what baby #10 will be?)

Melissa

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Painting, tiling, cleaning, etc

First things first: we'll start with the etc. I took pictures of the house today, but when I went to upload them to the computer I found that I had taken the cutest couple of pictures! Gloria got the markers this morning that Joy and Claire had left on the floor. I tried to take a picture of her and she said, "cheese!" with the sweetest smile. Then Sam had to have a picture taken too, of course, and made a "scary face."


Okay, on to the house stuff. I've spent a lot of time painting and cleaning up construction mess over the last week and a half. Nothing like the time Roger has spent making the mess of course. He and Mitchell are doing an incredible job building that house and I just can't wait until I can spend more time in it.

I took a bunch of pictures today, but either blogger is acting weird or it's my computer or internet provider or something. I'm having a hard time uploading pictures. So I'll upload some today and more tomorrow. Today, I'll show you the kitchen and the bathroom that has tile started in it.

Above is the kitchen looking toward where the stove/oven will go. I was standing toward the end of the bar, but a bit closer to the middle of the kitchen. To the right you see the window that looks out to the East.

Below is the kitchen to the left of the above picture. You can see the windows up high that face North. The cabinets are painted white (I didn't do that painting, Roger did I believe) and Mitchell has stained the cabinet doors. You can see the stain on the lower corner cabinet. But the doors all still need polyurethane before they get put back on. The big tall cabinet is where we'll keep all the milk stuff--the bucket and filter and such that currently have to just sit out or hang on a hook in the middle of the kitchen. This is so exciting to me. I get to have things put away! Plus, the cabinet is right next to where the refrigerator and freezer will go. We currently have to go to another room, which is down a couple of stairs, to put away the milk after filtering it. We're looking forward to the convenience of having a whole kitchen in one room!


This next picture is the master bath/guest bath. Roger has started the tiling in there. I've painted the wall and it's a beautiful color. The picture just really doesn't do it justice. If you ever want to look it up to see the true color of it, it's called Magic Spell by Behr. It's a lot bluer in real life than it looks here, but it is kind of a cross between purple and blue--Roger's and my favorite colors. Great compromise that we both love. It might work in the kitchen above the cabinets, but we'll see.


The cleaning I've been doing is to clean up the dry wall dust and mud from taping and texturing. It's a hard job. We discovered that Joy does a better job than I do because she isn't afraid to let it get really wet. So I took a cue from her today. I mopped without squeezing out the mop so the floor got really wet. Then I used the wet/dry vac and a squeegee attachment and vacuumed up all that water. It worked pretty well.

Mister Clean Magic Erasers (which won't really burn your skin or your child's contrary to the popular email floating around) do a pretty good job removing spilled paint from the floor. Unfortunately, they also remove the paint/stain that is supposed to be on the floor. But we will be touching up all that and putting polyurethane over that.

Check back tomorrow to see pictures of all the bedrooms I've painted--with Mitchell's, Faith's, and Grace's help.

I'll leave you with one final picture. This is how Claire, Clark, and Joy occupy their time while we're out there. You know how a fan comes in a box with lots of styrofoam packaging? Well, they put it to good use building houses!


Melissa

Friday, November 16, 2007

A Graduation Gift

God is so good. I know, you all know that already, but here's another example of how He helps to work things out.

Stephen, our oldest son, is currently in Army Basic Training. We had hoped to make a family trip and go to his graduation. I've heard over and over that Basic makes a man out of you and that it is something special to soldiers. I felt it was really important that we be there for Stephen. But there was just no way. Our finances wouldn't allow it. I prayed and it looked like the answer was to be no. My mother had offered to let us use her air miles and even watch our children if I went or if we could work it out for Roger and I to both go, but that just didn't seem right to me. You know how sometimes you have no reason to say no to something but have no peace about saying yes? That's how I felt. I have enough experience with ignoring those feelings and having bad consequences that I was not going to ignore it this time. But I just felt heartsick that no one would be there to cheer for Stephen when he graduated.

So I asked for a substitute family. I prayed about it a lot and then wrote to the MOMYS list and asked if someone who lives in that area would attend the graduation for us. I know, it's weird, but that would have helped me feel better.

The responses I got at first were heartbreaking. I was being told how very important it is that someone from our family go. It would mean so much to our son, etc. etc. So again, I cried out to God and asked Him to help. Then I read one response that said we should try to somehow send Roger. That felt so perfectly right to me! So I asked the kids if they would mind doing extra chores and extra milking while Dad was gone. They agreed they thought it was a good idea and would be glad to help out. I called my mother and the offer for air miles was still good. Roger tried to tell me I should go, but agreed he would be glad to go when I insisted it should be him.

All that was left was to find lodging. The MOMYS came through for me here. There is a family who will let him stay with them on base the night before graduation. Then Roger gets to stay with his old youth pastor (who is now an army chaplain) right near the airport the second night.

This is all working out so well! It's all set! Roger even gets to have a mini-vacation which he soooo deserves! And all we have to do is rent a car.

See, didn't I tell you God is good? He gave us all a graduation gift for Stephen's graduation!

Melissa

Update - Roger's old youth minister is a retired Army Chaplin Corps Colonel.

Additional Blessing - Roger's dad, Leland, called this evening and said he'd take care of the rental car. So, Roger gets to go see Stephen graduate and we don't even have to rent a car. Thanks, Dad. Rock Chalk!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

A Lesson in Tires

Thursday morning Roger woke up and seemed almost panicked. He said he was going to follow us to Brownwood, where the kids and I were about to go for a Homeschool Co-op we attend, and take the van in to get the tires changed. I didn't understand the sudden urgency and argued that I thought it could wait until the next day and I would take it in and save him the hassle. I thought I was being a good wife. But it seems that God must have put that urgency in his mind and I should have been a submissive wife and just said okay.

He wanted to be sure, if we were going to wait until Friday, that I knew what to do if I had a blowout and about the rattle that might happen before it. It was all new to me, so I did listen to him on that one.

We were almost to Brownwood, which is about a 30 minute drive, when I noticed the van was starting to shake funny. It did seem to be coming from the front left tire, but I thought I might be just paranoid because he'd just told me to watch for that. I slowed down though, like Roger said, and went the rest of the way to where our co-op meets which was less than 5 more minutes. Keep in mind, other than Roger waking up with this in his head, we had no reason to think they were that bad. We knew they were getting bad, but no where near that bad.

When we got there, I got out and looked at the tire. There was a section showing right on top where it was totally bald and little wires were showing! I'd never seen such a bald tire before!

We went straight to get our tires changed as soon as the co-op was over. It messed up my plans for the rest of the day--which included a prenatal appointment. I always look forward to those little "glimpses" of our baby when we hear his/her heartbeat. Of course, that wouldn't have happened if I'd listened to Roger and let him follow us and take the van in to get the tires changed. One of the guys working there glanced down at our tire and said, "You're about to have a blowout." And the bald spot wasn't even showing. Of course, that guy knows tires way better than I do.

To top it all off, since Roger didn't spend the day getting new tires on the van, he spent the day working on the hole where our new septic tank will go. He measured the already dug hole and thought it was a foot and a half too deep, so he filled it with a couple of big huge rocks and lots of dirt. Then he re-measured and discovered he messed up earlier and didn't need to fill it in at all. So he spent the rest of the day, and much of Friday along with Mitchell, Faith, and Grace, getting the big huge rocks and dirt back out. I can't help but wonder if he would have made that mistake later in the day.

So I got to learn a lot from our tires that day. I learned what to do if we have a blowout (steer into it) and to pay attention to the shaking and slow down. I even learned that if there's steel wires sticking out of your tires don't touch them or they will cut your finger. Probably the biggest lesson I learned is that God speaks to my husband even when Roger doesn't know it and I should listen when he is trying to protect me.

Melissa

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Colors

I've been having a lot of fun choosing colors for our new house. We're not quite ready to paint yet, but getting closer all the time. But that's not really what this blog is about.

The children and I are participating in a homeschool co-op in Brownwood. One of the classes I teach is Hands-On Literature to 4-8 yr olds. Tomorrow's theme is "color" and we will read books about color and then play with colors. I'm bringing food coloring so we can mix colors that way and modeling clay that they can mix colors with. Anyway, I was searching the internet for color activities and came across a Color Quiz. It's not really appropriate for children, but I enjoyed it and thought I'd share the link.

From their site: "ColorQuiz is a free five minute personality test based on decades of research by color psychologists around the world. There are no complicated questions to answer, you simply choose colors with a click of the mouse!"

So if you're interested in trying it out, take the Color Quiz!

Melissa

Friday, October 19, 2007

Itsy Bitsy Spiders

We've been overrun by little baby spiders here lately. About a month ago I was covered with them when I pulled a pair of shoes out of my closet and had the babies crawl all over me before I realized they were there. I can't stand the things.

We've mentioned before that we pray each night for safety from spiders, snakes, scorpions, etc. We have quite a list and God has been faithful. We're living with fire ants in our house, and yes, we get lots of bites or stings from them. But we're doing okay anyway. Interestingly we seem to be building up an immunity to their venom. It's rare anymore for one of us to get one of those white blisters you usually get from them. Most of the time it barely even leaves a mark now.

But we have recently discovered a different little friend we've been living with. Did you know that Black Widows aren't black with a red hour glass when they are immature? And there are some varieties that get two little black hearts on their back and may or may not get the hour glass on their tummy. It seems that we have them all. As a matter of fact, I keep glancing over at the window near my computer where there is a Black Widow with her catch right now. I just finished killing one at my feet about 15 minutes ago. This has been a regular occurrence for a while, we just didn't realize they were Black Widows.

So I am guessing that God has been protecting us better than we realized for longer than we realized. There are so many hidden dangers in our lives. Most of them we never know about. And I don't just mean us living here in the country. I'm talking about every one of us. How many times have you driven down the highway and passed a recent accident and thought, "that could have been me?" Who knows if it really could have or not. And maybe those itsy bitsy spiders that are all over inside my house would never bite us anyway. But I'm one who believes that God is watching over me and my family and I am so grateful.

I'd still like to figure out how to get to the spider in my window so I could kill it. But for now, I will trust in God and keep using my trusty vacuum to get the ones I can!

Melissa

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

My Crazy Rants About a Government I Love

I don't follow the news very often. Every so often I will try because I know I should be more informed about what is going on. Especially now that I have a son training to defend our country I want to know what the country is up to.

Okay, so today I read a story about how Social Security is running out of money and the Baby Boomers are beginning to apply for their benefits. I know this already because my dear mother is one of them and will soon be eligible for benefits. But then the article went on to discuss how the money is running out. Well, DUH!! We knew that back when I was a teen. If I have been aware of this for over 20 years, and I don't keep up with what's going on and never have, then surely the powers that be should have been aware and working on a solution all this time, right? But no. The Democrats can't let the Republicans fix it because heaven forbid the Republicans get any credit for it. And the Republicans can't let the Democrats fix it because Heaven forbid the Democrats get any credit for it. So the problem continues. I just read that back in 1945 there were 47 workers for every retiree drawing benefits. Today there are only 3 workers per retiree and they estimate that will soon drop to only 2 workers per retiree. So what do we do about it? Raise the taxes of those of us still paying into it? You've got to be kidding? How can we support ourselves, support the System, AND save for our own retirement? We've always known we wouldn't be able to count on benefits, but still have to pay. Is that fair?

Anyway, I have all these crazy thoughts that really probably only make sense to me. But if I don't share them I will blow up from all the frustration I feel. I know this isn't a political blog and I really don't intend to make it one. But just bear with me, or stop reading right now.

*If SS is going to run out of money, why not let it run out sooner rather than later. Let those of us who will NEVER see a dime of it stop paying. Then we can at least be responsible with our own money. Someone is going to be starved sometime anyway, right?

*Okay, that seems too harsh? Let’s phase it out. Let the poor stop paying the rich. If the lower income people stopped paying, maybe they could start saving to support themselves someday. Meanwhile, those who don’t NEED the SS to survive could be cut off. I KNOW that’s not fair to them, but we’re not talking about fair when you have generations of people paying into a system knowing they will never see a dime from what is promised to them. So extend the dying benefits to the needy, but don’t keep forcing the poor to pay the rich.

*I think Medicaid would run out of money slower if we would take all the harmful food additives off the market. I mean really, do we need to add things like MSG to our food to make it taste better? True, the older you get the less you can taste your food so you want the msg even more. But do we really need to put unhealthy people MORE at risk for health problems by adding what is known to be virtually poison to their food? Then their alzheimer’s gets worse or their heart problems get worse and Medicaid has to pay for that. Why would the same government both allow poison to be fed to its people AND pay to fix the problems the poison creates?

*If Social Security and Medicaid are going broke, why not restrict benefits to people who refuse to eat right? Too intrusive? How about insisting we pay for health insurance? Isn’t that the same problem?

Ok, please keep in mind that I don't know what I'm talking about. I am one of those people who know just enough to be dangerous. I love my country and would still rather have the freedoms I have than to live in a communistic country. I just worry that so many things I hear are leading us closer and closer to communism. We're like the frog in the hot water. They keep turning up the heat and we don't notice the difference and jump out. If we keep throwing tax dollars at every problem we will soon have nothing left for ourselves. But then we can fix our lack of food and clothing with more government programs, right? It has to stop somewhere.

There are a lot of intelligent people working for us in congress. Really. If they could just put aside their silly politics for a while I bet they could find some good solutions. Maybe if they were required to find a solution to problems before they were allowed to retire and draw benefits . . .

I'll just shut up now since I don't know what I'm talking about anyway.

Melissa

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Evil has a name....

One of the things that is fun about kids is all of the crap they do and get into. Joy is an instigator of the highest order. I knew she was hard to catch at starting trouble, but I have only recently realized how very good she is at being bad.

American sign language is one the things that Melissa has tried to get the kids to learn. We have a bunch of “Signing Time” DVDs and the younger kids love to watch these as they are full of bright colors and songs and audience participation. Joy has been an avid watcher of these since she was very young.

One of the other things that Joy loves is getting under Clark’s skin to the point that he hits her, which allows her to go tell a parent that Clark hit her and he gets in trouble. Her sure-fire way of getting him to react is to call him stupid or a girl. Clark will call her something in return and she’ll laugh it off and then call him stupid or a girl, again. Eventually, Clark gets frustrated and hits her.

Well, we’re on to her trick and she no longer succeeds in getting Clark in trouble like she used to. Last Tuesday Mitchell and I drove to Home Depot to get some drywall and on the way back Mitchell revealed to me Joy’s latest ploy to get Clark in trouble. She’ll look over at him and wait until he looks at her. As soon as they make eye contact she’ll sign “girl” at him. She’ll do this repeatedly until he hits her. To everyone else sitting in the room it seems like Clark got up and hit her for no reason. So, all his siblings are yelling at him for being a jerk and Joy is crying and Mom and Dad are all involved and poor little Joy is still crying. This is just flat out genius for a four-year-old to figure out.

I’m not sure if I am proud or worried.

Roger

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Art Show

Every Thursday for the last couple of months, some of our children have been painting with a woman from our church, Kathy Andrews. Kathy says she isn't teaching them. They just paint together. I know my kids love Kathy and love painting so it's something they look forward to every week. Well, Kathy is a member of the Fine Arts League of Coleman County and they had an art show that ended today. Kathy encouraged the children to enter their paintings in the show, so they did. Here are the results:

Faith got a second place ribbon in the Jr High division for her painting "Brown Horse"


Clark received an Honorable Mention ribbon (although he at first was offended because he thought it said "Horrible Mention") in the Elementary division for his painting "Lion Won"


Joy got a first place ribbon in the Elementary division for "Loyo the Frog"


Claire received Honorable Mention ribbons in the elementary division for her paintings "Deer" and "Blue". She also won the drawing for a $20 Walmart gift card!


Claire received a third place ribbon in the elementary division for her painting "Horse"


Grace received Honorable Mention ribbons in the Jr High division for her paintings "Puddle" and "Sunset"


Faith received Honorable Mention ribbons in the Jr High division for her paintings "Blue Flower" and "Yellow Sunflower"


News about the house: We have some walls. I tried to take pictures, but all you see is sheetrocked walls that are not yet taped and bedded. Not very interesting pictures, so I won't bother to post them. Instead, enjoy the artwork above.

Melissa

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Something to Consider

I was sitting with Gloria this evening. We were just playing and she stuck her hand into my mouth and I tried to get it out without just pulling it out. Kinda like when you're in middle school and someone covers your mouth with their hand and you lick their hand to get them to take it off your mouth. Well, I realized something this evening -

YOU CANNOT GROSS OUT A TODDLER.

Think about it.

Roger

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Eeewww!

The mice are back! I sent the girls to go clean out their closet because it smelled like a mouse was nesting in there. I was close. There was a nest, but it wasn't just one mouse. There were LOTS of little babies in there.

I noticed they were smaller than the big wolf spiders I've been vacuuming up so I used the vacuum and got the nest and all the babies. Most of them died in the process and we threw them all in the outside trash can. I really love my Dyson vacuum cleaner. I'm so glad I got that back when we could afford good stuff.

The question still remained though. Where's the mom? And dad? I set the girls back to work cleaning figuring all the noise scared the parents away anyway. It didn't take long before I heard a scream. They found a larger mouse. We went and got Stephen's airsoft guns since they'd worked last time we had mice. We found the mouse again, but it ran. I can't hit a tiny moving target, and apparently neither can Grace or Clark. (These guns were an obsession for Stephen so we were all well armed.) The mouse got away. We figured it went under one of the beds. Brave Grace actually crawled under the bed and moved stuff around to try to find it! I was in awe of that girl! Here I was uncomfortable with even standing bare footed on a floor that the mice are on and she is under a bed searching for it!

We never found it so the guns are in a convenient (to me, not the kids) location. I don't think the vacuum will work for the bigger mice.

And now the girls understand WHY they should keep their room clean. Okay, I should qualify that. The older girls already knew. Now the younger girls understand, too.

Melissa

Note from Grace:
I was very surprised to see what looked liked a ant hill made out of plastic bags under faiths violin case. We were getting ready to play castle Claire had to clean the closet first but here we are Joy has red face paint on, Clark has "side burns" and a "curled mustache." Then Claire half yells: "someone go get mom and get Stephens
bb guns too" so I go get mom and the vacuum we vacuum them up. and the rest mom already told.

Grace

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Ceiling Pictures

Roger, Mitchell and Faith have been working long hours on the house. The most recent project was the ceiling on one side of the house. The other side is being saved for after we move in as we plan to use the metal roof on the house we're living in as the ceiling on the new house. Feeling lost with that explanation? Most people are. We're planning to have a metal ceiling in our kitchen, dining and living rooms. It's unusual, but why not? Noise might be an issue, but in our house the noise level is already deafening so who will know the difference? Plus the walls will be covered with shelves that will be filled with books and they will absorb some sound.

Anyway, I finally got to get out there and see the house this afternoon and I am excited. It's a mess, but that is to be expected when you are drywalling ceilings, right? So here are the pics:

This is the boys' areas in the kids' suite--and Sam trying to figure out where Spiderman will go.



This is the "common area" in the kids' suite as we are beginning to call it. Claire and Clark are standing where the sink and counter and mirrors will go. Behind them along the wall we will install lockers.



This is one of the girls' areas in the kids' suite of rooms. Beyond that is the master bedroom (where the wet/dry vac is sitting).



From the living room looking toward the front entry and guest room/nursery.



Master Bedroom



Pantry--with lights!



Laundry room--with lights!



This one I was standing at the end of the bar looking into the kitchen. Those are cabinets you see all over the place. Obviously not installed yet.



Here I took a step further into the kitchen so I could look toward the bar.



Now this one is taken standing near the bar and looking at the living and dining room. Toward the right of the picture you see the front door. To the left you see the side door. The dining area is closer. We've got different ceiling fans over the two areas.



This is Grace in the guest room/nursery looking at the drywall lift. For some reason the pic isn't showing up in the preview, but the html code is here so I'm including the caption in case it shows up in the post. Sorry if it doesn't. You're missing out on seeing a beautiful girl. ;-)



This is from the front door looking toward the living, dining and kitchen.




This is just a big huge bucket of screws that I found interesting. I've never seen such a huge bucket of screws. It just amazed me that we'll need so many and that so many are already gone.



Melissa

Friday, September 28, 2007

Over Hill Over Dale . . .

Well we finally know where our son is going. That just seemed so weird to me to be sending him off to who knows where. After all these years of keeping tabs on where he is going and who he is going with and when he will be back, etc., we sent him off to who knows where to be with who knows who and no specifics on when he might be back.

He called from MEPS today after swearing in. He was about to leave for the airport. It was a relief to know where he's going, but we still have the rest of the questions unanswered.

I keep feeling like crying, but I just don't have time. I have all these other children to tend to and things to do. I feel like Scarlet O'Hara. "I can't think about that now. . ." So I try to fill my mind with other things or remember things that will be better now. We can eat rice again (Stephen was allergic). We can get the kids to bed and then have a little time to ourselves without staying up until midnight (Stephen had the latest bedtime). I have one less student to deal with.

I've been sitting with the kids doing school this morning and as I check their work, I check it off in my lesson planner. Today was the day Stephen was originally supposed to complete his schoolwork. He got everything done early so there are all these things in there checking off his work. I keep getting a lump in my throat and repeat, "I can't think about that now."

Clark started talking about how he's really going to miss Stephen. I said, "yeah, but he has to go off and seek his fortune like the first little pig." We then had a kind of neat conversation as Clark was making comparisons between Stephen leaving and the story of the Three Little Pigs. We talked about how we hope he won't build his "house" out of straw, but out of bricks and that those bricks should be the Rock--Jesus Christ. Not bad for a 7 1/2 year old to figure that out, huh? Meanwhile, Grace was writing a letter to Stephen. We don't know where to mail it yet, but she'll be ready. That's Gracie--always trying to get her work done early.

So we're sad here today, but still happy. We are excited for Stephen because we know this is a good thing for him. I would never really want any of my children to stay at home forever. I just never realized how hard it must have been for the Mama Pig to let her little pigs go off to seek their fortune.

If you'd like to pray for Stephen, we have a specific prayer request for now. He has to get immunizations within the first few days of Basic. He reacted to them as a little guy. His immune system is much stronger now, but I still worry about him. And he is nervous about them just because he hates needles. We'd appreciate prayer this week that he stay strong and healthy in spite of all the junk they are about to inject into him.

Melissa

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Catching up, a synopsis of September

Sorry, once again, for such a long absence. There has been a bunch of things going on and we will be telling more about them in the days ahead. In about 30 minutes we will leave to take Stephen to Abilene. He will then board a van, drive to Dallas, hang out some more and, finally, report to basic training. It has been such a blur in the last two days that he does not know where he is going to go for basic, yet. We will get a letter from him some time next week and that may be the first time we hear. I am sure Melissa will blog about this topic soon.

The house is moving along. Tomorrow Mitchell and I will begin installing drywall. The plumbing is almost completely done and today will be about getting the loose ends secured. Electrical is all done and where it is not a completed circuit it is simply waiting on an appliance to get attached. The cabinets have been purchased and are waiting to be installed. This will wait until we are done with the drywall.

On a sad note, our roofer died a couple of weeks ago. The roof is on and the problems are minor, but Johnny was a good guy and I enjoyed visiting with him. He was just getting going with a welding business and I was going to be able to help him get going with my regular job. He left a wife and some adult kids and grandkids behind and will be missed by all who knew him.

Joy, Clark and Claire are playing soccer. I am coaching Joy’s team. This was a horrible idea 12 years ago when I coached Stephen’s team. Different kid and older, wiser dad should make a difference this time.

More to come,

Roger

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Big Party, Ants in My Pots

The last week has been a blur of preparation and execution as Stephen’s graduation has take precedence over most of the activities of the household. For eight days Faith, Mitchell and Grace, pretty much on their own, took care of mowing our yard. You’re thinking this is no big deal, but it is seeing as how our grass was between three and five feet tall. Two weeks ago I took our riding mower in to get fixed. The engine would run, but the wheels would not turn. This was no big deal to fix and on Friday I got it home and started it up and the engine blew to pieces, literally. There were pieces of aluminum on the ground and mower decking. The best that we can figure, with help from our mower repair man, is that the mower is old and it did not react well to the hoppy, bumpy ride on the trailer.

Friday night Faith and I went to Abilene and we bought a new mower. Not a rider, but a string mower. This is a weed-eater with a big lawnmower engine and very thick string. Saturday morning Faith began mowing and over the next seven days the lawn was reclaimed. Last night the kids at the party for Stephen played kickball in the yard, a yard that only a week before was only good for a game of hide and seek.

The mowing, which was good for the party, had some unintended consequences. For example, the ants that lived in the yard 10 days ago are now taking up residence in the house. Lots and lots of ants and not just from one colony, either. There are little red ants, little black ants, big red ants, medium sized red and black ants and fire ants. I always wanted an ant farm. They crawl around the kitchen, the dining room and the bathrooms. Worst of all they crawled into Gloria’s crib and feasted on her. Boric acid seems to be getting the little buggers out, but not quickly.

The party was last night. We fed 55 people a combination of brisket, smoked pork, cole slaw, potato salad, beans, pasta salad, cake, tea, water and kool-aide. The watermelons went untouched and we are all thankful as this will allow us to feast on them after a summer without. The cookies also went untouched. Everyone seemed to have a good time and we got to visit with old friends from the Metroplex as well as new friends from out here. The highlight was the potato cannon Stephen’s graduation ceremony. It lasted about three minutes and ended with Weird Al Yankovick’s “White and Nerdy”, which is Stephen’s favorite song. Stephen knows I hate Weird Al, so I think it was a big surprise for him when the song blared out for the recessional for the ceremony.

One of our friends from the Metroplex brought a potato cannon and has left it with us for the next little while so that I can get the proper dimensions. This is exciting for a couple of reasons as I have wanted a potato cannon for a while and it means our friends will be coming back out to visit, if for no other reason than to get the cannon back.

If you were here last night, thanks for coming out. We’re looking forward to the next party we throw when we move into the new house. Not sure when that will be.

Roger

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Snake and House Update

Mitchell and I have been busting it on the house the last couple of weeks. The trenches for plumbing and earth tubes are dug, the conduit for the electrical is in place, big holes for the septic tanks are dug, about half of the interior doors are hung. Mitchell has run the wire for all of the electrical circuits he can get to and has most of the outlet circuits wired with plugs. One circuit is live at this time and two more will be tomorrow. Tomorrow we are supposed to get rain so we will work inside with more wiring and the placement of lines for the lights/ceiling fans. Slowly the house is taking shape.

This afternoon I ran across a rattler on my way to bring in the calf. It was coiled up and waiting in the path by the stanchion. I went back to the house to get the shotgun and when I returned it was gone. Not knowing the location of the snake is much worse than seeing it in the path, so I took another route to the calf and got her put up. As I came out of the stanchion I was planning to go get the eggs, but without knowing where the snake was I said a quick prayer for protection, looked down and saw the snake all coiled up and about a foot from my feet. The snake was looking the other way. The old saying "if it was a snake it would have bit me" can be reworked in this case to "if it was looking my way it would have bit me" particularly since it was already coiled. Thankfully, blessedly, it was looking the other way and I had the shot gun. The snake is dead and Joy now has a rattle to play with. 11 rattles in case you're interested and it was almost four feet long. Its kinda funny how a 12 gauge fired right into the ground will leave a divot in sun baked clay.

No, Dad, I did not even consider reaching down, grabbing it and snapping its head off with a whip crack motion like Granddad Nelson used to do.

Roger

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Top Ten List

Top ten reasons why the Nelson’s should have a tenth child:

10. More cake at more weddings
9. We haven’t had an ugly or stupid one yet
8. Group discounts
7. They don’t all act like Clark
6. We still have baby clothes
5. The number nine is odd, and we aren’t
4. We haven’t used every name yet
3. Our town is too small
2. We’re scared to death of an empty nest
1. It’s too late not to

Baby TEN is due very near my 40th birthday at the end of February. We're hopeful for a leap year baby.

Melissa

Friday, August 03, 2007

My Handyman is Handy

If you've been reading our blog, you know I'm making a quilt. I had finished quilting 2 out of 24 squares when the wing nut on my quilt hoop disappeared. I believe it was Gloria. There was evidence of her mischief all around the room. For those of you who don't quilt or embroider, I'll explain as best I can (which isn't good). You want the quilt to fit in this hoop so all the pieces get held together tightly and not fall out. There are two pieces of hoop, one underneath and one on top. The quilt gets held in place between these two hoops. The piece on top has a bolt that runs through two sides of the hoop and gets held in place by a wing nut. This way you can tighten it or loosen it as needed. Without the wing nut, the whole thing is useless.

We have a small store called Alco in town. I went and looked and they didn't have anything useful for this project. Quilt hoops are quite a bit larger than most embroidery hoops and they only had the teeny tiny ones. The nearest Walmart is a half hour drive and the nearest craft store is an hour. So until we needed to go to one of those places, my work was on hold. So I wandered to the internet to see what I could find. Of course, this wasn't in the budget, but I found a couple of things that intrigued me. One was at Joanns.com and the other was at ebay. They were the same price once you included shipping. But the one at ebay looked like maybe Roger could make it for me for less. So I asked him. He said sure he could do that for less. There was nothing more I could do for now, so I took a nap.

When I woke up, and it wasn't long, trust me. Thirty minutes at the most and that includes the time I spent tickling the little people that woke me up. I turned around and there's this big frame sitting by my bed. Roger had found stuff just laying around and built this for me while I napped! It didn't cost a thing. To top it off, he also went to Coopers, a store in town where he goes to buy everything he ever needs almost, and got me not just one, but two new wingnuts for my quilt hoop!

Not only was it way less than the cost of the stuff on the internet, but there was NO shipping time. What a great deal! What a great husband!

quilt on frame
Shown above is the quilt on the frame. Nothing fancy, but it works great!

Melissa

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Floor Fiasco

I think the last I mentioned about the floor we were mopping it to prepare to stain it. We then used the primer just like the directions said on the Behr floor stain. What we didn't know is that Behr doesn't make a very good stain. We love their paint so we thought the stain would be good too, but it's more like paint than stain. After priming, Roger and Mitchell very carefully followed directions and sprayed the stain on and backrolled to smooth it out. Every roller mark showed. This was not the look we wanted.



I remembered we knew some people in the metroplex who stain floors professionally and they'd told us to call if we ever had questions. So I called with questions. He assured me that we didn't do anything wrong. It was indeed the product we were using and there was nothing we could do to remove it. That was what Roger figured, but I had to ask. He did, however, suggest going over it with a lighter color with a light spray and not backrolling it to give it a mottled look. Maybe this would at least make it tolerable. So we tried this first with the color we already had. It did seem to help a bit.



So another coat of spray was added. Then we decided it would still look even better if we added another color or two. We went to buy a second color, but when it was added, you didn't really see it. So we just quit there.



Roger added another coat because it seemed to cover the roller marks better each time.



I guess we learned a few things.
1. Ask questions of professionals BEFORE you begin.
2. A company that makes one good product does not necessarily do everything well.
3. Most mistakes are fixable in some way.
4. It's good to be flexible.
5. Don't use the sealer. It will be worse than the stain.

Thankfully we learned that last one before it was too late.

I think overall we'll be happy with our floor. We'll put furniture and rugs in different places so that will help. It's not the look we originally wanted, but at least we can live with it. And I still think it was wise to choose a color that is about the same as the local mud.

Melissa

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Dead Cow

We took a heifer in to the processing place this morning. This was the black baldy we called Sarah. While Grace and I milked Bella Stephen and Mitchell went out to get Sarah. Those two are much smarter than me. I had tried to get Sarah last night with a lasso. No luck. This morning the boys walked up to her with a bucket full of grain and beef cubes and she followed with much enthusiasm.

Dumb dad got involved again as the cow came near the pasture where the trailer was. I had Mitchell go further ahead with the bucket and I pulled on the rope around her neck. With the bucket so far away she was not interested in going anywhere. When a 900 pound cow decides to go with you, you either let go of the rope or go with her. I went with her for a while and decided, as she was pulling me over, I’d better let go of the rope. She kept running and then the loop around my ankle, the loop I was not aware of, kicked in and I went with her for another five feet or so. I know that I do not want to be dragged by a cow ever again. Every scene in every western I’d ever seen with a cowboy getting dragged through a stampede rushed through my mind in the second or two it took to go five feet. Luckily, I was not wearing my church t-shirt and jeans.

The next move was to put another rope on the cow so Stephen and I could both hold on to her. This worked a lot better. This time, when she ran I was able to let go of the rope a full foot and a half shy of the fence post she was dragging me towards. As Stephen and I brushed off he and Mitchell came up with a new plan – they would take a bucket of grain and beef cubes and I would get the heck out of the way. This worked even better than the rope or the two ropes plan. Within a couple of minutes Sarah was in the trailer and we were off to her death. In 14 days I will pick up about 500 pounds of beef and we will eat this cow for the next ten months or so. I will laugh to myself every meal.

By the way, we borrowed a different trailer this time from a different neighbor. I just took it back to them and they gave me about 10 pounds of tomatoes.

Roger

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

T-shirt Quilt

Back when Stephen and Mitchell were little guys, they both needed a blankie to go to sleep. I knew they would one day outgrow it and always figured I'd have to find some way to preserve their blankies in a quilt. That was my original inspiration. Somewhere along the line I must have heard something about t-shirt quilts because it's such a huge thing I can't believe I never heard of it. Then again, I tend to be very unaware of my surroundings and what is going on in the world that isn't part of my own little world. (Anyone ever try to wave at me when I drive by? I just didn't see you. I'm too busy looking at the other cars, not the drivers.) But anyway, over time I started to think some of their shirts and jeans would be good additions to their blankie quilts. I had these blankies as central parts of the quilts in my mind.

So when we realized Stephen could graduate early and I only had a few months left before he not only graduates, but LEAVES for boot camp, I decided I'd better get going. So in my "spare time" (meaning time that I just absolutely have to do something creative or I'll go nuts if I wash another dish or change another diaper) I've been working on this quilt. I've only got the top done, but that was a feat in itself. I wanted to shout it from the mountain tops, but out here in west Texas there are not many mountain tops (thankfully, they might block our beautiful sunsets) to choose from. There's the Santa Anna Mountain, but I'm not sure that really counts as a mountain. So the blog will have to do. (of course, then I log on to post this and have a note saying I have to wait two days while someone checks to see if our blog is a spam blog. Oh well.)

So here's a picture of the quilt top. I've used his old t-shirts and hockey jerseys, his blankie is the square second from the top on the left. It's totally faded and just looks white, but that square is all I could salvage from the whole blankie. It was very worn out. I also used his old jeans. Then I bought the camouflage fabric for the border. You know, hand-me-downs are a part of life in a large family. But when it comes to choosing things for a t-shirt quilt like this, some of the old favorites are gone because younger siblings wore them. But those hockey jerseys were prized possessions so they were kept in tip-top shape. Well, most of them anyway. And because I keep getting asked, I'll tell you. The four corners are solid blue because for a LONG time, the only shirts Stephen would wear were his solid blue t-shirts. He had many of them because it made no sense to buy him anything else. Kind of like jeans and slacks. No one wears slacks around here so they don't even own them anymore.

t-shirt quilt

Melissa

Monday, July 23, 2007

Bella's got an abscess

For some reason the title of this post reminds me of songs by the many Motown girl groups from the late 50’s or early 60’s. Close your eyes and sing along, “Bella’s got an abscess….” I don’t write songs, just haiku’s.

Anyway, Bella’s face had this huge lump and it just kept getting bigger and uglier. I took her to the vet Friday morning and he lanced it. Bella’s abscess was from eating spear grass. Seems she ate some spear grass and one of the spears poked into her gum. As a kid I loved spear grass. We’d chase other kids around the block with the spears and they’d chase us and sooner or later one of the kids would get speared – usually Kevin or, ironically in the case of this post, Lance – and start crying. The fun would immediately end and we’d scatter with our handfuls of spears in anticipation of another afternoon of spear grass war. I enjoyed spear grass 35 years ago, today I want to find out who is responsible for it and get reimbursed for the vet bill.

Back in high school one of my friends had a tooth that was abscessed. The doctor or dentist lanced the abscess from the inside of Val Joe’s mouth and packed it with cotton. The vet went after Bella’s abscess from the outside of her mouth. First he just poked a needle from a syringe in her big lump and pus went shooting out. Then he tied her down tight in the head gate and began cutting away. Bella now has a hole in the side of her face that is wide enough and deep enough to hide a golf ball and the swollen part of her face is way bigger than when I took her in on Friday. I am not going to post a picture. You’re welcome.

When Bella was attacked by dogs last summer I had to give her a shot of antibiotics three days in a row. It was a huge pain for her and me and the boys. We’d tie her up to the fence and secure her tightly. Still she fought the needle. Last winter we bought a used head gate and it worked like a charm this past week. She’d walk right into it and she didn’t fight to get out of it, even while I was injecting her. The vet gave me a larger bore needle this time as well and that also helped. It was a subcutaneous shot which meant I had to pull out a flap of skin in her neck and insert the needle. The vet told me to inject in two places to spread the load around as each shot was 18cc of the antibiotic. On Sunday morning one of the injections went in and right back out the other side, so I wasted about 2cc on her neck rather than in it.

I had to borrow a stock trailer from a friend as the one we bought off a neighbor still has not been rehabbed – hey, it has only been a week and a I am trying to build a house. (See previous post.) So, I borrowed my friend’s trailer and he and his wife gave us about 10 pounds of fresh, large, juicy peaches (I have eaten three so far today as they cannot be allowed to go bad), some squash, zucchini, green beans and a bunch of tomatoes. It’s kinda funny to me. I borrowed their stuff and they gave me stuff. Now I am inspired to plant a garden next spring when we are done with the house so that I can also give people stuff when I am being nice to them. I guess this place just kinda grows on you.

Roger