Monday, December 22, 2008

And the Winner Is . . .

We actually had a tie. There were two pictures with captions that got the same number of votes.

Everyone chose their favorite caption for each photo and then chose their favorite over all caption. There were two photos that were each given 4 votes as best caption for that photo and both were also chosen twice as best overall so that didn't break the tie. Since all contestants entered a caption for all 3 photos, we broke the tie by choosing the one of those two who had the most votes for all their captions together.

So the winner is Midwifemama
"Where are my stretchy pants?"

We'll be contacting you about your Little Clay Person!

Second place goes to Lloyd Christmas
What?!?! Can you lick your butt?

There is no prize for second place. You're just Loser #1.

Thanks to all who entered! It was fun and a lot harder to choose a favorite than I expected it to be. The real winner is anyone who laughed at the captions and/or the pictures!!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

It's a BOY!

No no no, we didn't have another baby. But our new cow Flo did! Bruno was born sometime this morning between checks (and Roger was checking frequently so it must have been a quick, easy birth for her). All the other cows were there with her for support. I thought it was kinda cool. Flo was in a small fenced in area and the other "girls" were all hanging out just on the other side of the fence. Everyone wanted to come see the new baby, just like in Bambi. LOL

Here are some pics of Bruno:


Thursday, December 18, 2008

New Cow


This is our new milk cow. She got here this morning and we think that she is going to be dropping a calf tonight. Big thanks to Dale Wilkins and David Godfrey for the cow acquisition work.

Flo is a Jersey and she has a Jersey or Jersey/Ayrshire calf inside her. We are praying for a heifer.

We were going to name her Buttercup, second place was Gertrude (Yo, Gertrude!). But she doesn't look like a Buttercup. So, we were looking at this picture of her and realized that the spot on her forehead looks like an arrow. Thisway, Thatway and Imwithstupid fell out of contention early. So it was time to Google and it turns out that Flo is a Native American girl's name that means arrow. Since she is a milk cow we are also interested in her having a flow of milk, so our new cow is now Flo.

Moo!

Roger

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Caption Contest

We thought it would be fun to have a contest. We've got a few silly pictures below. Write the best caption in the comments section and you win. The prize will be one FREE Little Clay Person compliments of Faith. (You can order more to make it a set if you'd like. This would give you free shipping and $5 off your order!) Winner will be chosen by vote of the Nelson family (those who can talk anyway).

Picture #1


Picture #2


Picture #3


Entering is easy. Click the link below to comment. In the box, type the letter(s) of the picture(s) you want to write a caption for, then type your caption. Enter as many times as you wish. Entrees are due by midnight December 20. We will review the entrees, vote, and post the results sometime December 22. If we have your email, we will contact you, otherwise you will need to check back to see if you won.

Happy Writing!

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Edible "Weeds" and Things We Try to Grow

Occasionally one of the kids will bring something in that they found outside and we'll look it up.

Today it was cattail. Clark wanted to know if something he found was part of a cattail. We're still not sure about it, but we looked up cattail and found it is very edible and very nutritious. But the best time to harvest different parts is in the spring. So IF we remember we'll have to try some.

We'd also learned that mesquite pods can be ground into a flour. The kids tasted some and said it's sweet. They called it mesquite candy. They don't get to eat much candy so their idea of sweet may not be the same as someone else's. I haven't tasted it yet. They collected some for me to grind and use as flour, but I didn't get to it before the bugs did. Maybe next year. It seems like I'm always saying "maybe next year if we don't have another baby" and that day never comes. But we now have some children who are old enough to take on these projects if they desire.

We tried making some juice from prickly pear fruit. We didn't like it. I think we might if we added sugar, but I thought that would ruin any benefit to it. But again, maybe it was an excuse because I had a teething baby who doesn't sleep and I just didn't want that big job. It is supposed to make a good jelly and would probably be better for us than all the cheap grape jelly we buy.

Then the prickly pear cactus leaves are also good for you. Some of the kids tried it and liked it. Aren't you supposed to cook it though? They just ate it outside where they found it. I think they wore gloves and skinned it first. They love their pocket knives.

These are all things we have discovered in plenty on our property. They are all nutritious. We just haven't yet tasted any of them. I'm thinking maybe this next school year I'll make it part of our studies and we can see what God has provided for us right here on our own property. Things that are plentiful and considered in the way, i.e. weeds. I wish I had someone to teach me about all these things.

We have finally gotten around to planting some lettuce and garlic chive seeds in a couple of pots in the house. We haven't had any house plants for a long time. If we're going to start now, they ought to at least be useful. We also have 3 old buckets in south windows now with clippings from a friend's tomato plants (thanks Tracy!) that were rooted in water. We'll see if these do any good. Wouldn't it be great if we can get a salad from our houseplants? We do need to find a way to decorate the buckets. They're pretty ugly right now. I'll probably give that project to the kids.

And the chickens are still working on tilling a garden for us for the spring. They're doing a good job tearing up the plants and maybe the top inch of soil, but I think I may need to buy a tiller or something. I'm not sure what I need, but the ground is pretty hard out here. I know I have a LOT to learn still.

My dream is once we get the porch on the house I want to grow herbs all around the house instead of a useless flower garden. There are plenty of flowers on plants I would use. Herbs I buy and would love to grow myself if I can include peppermint, spearmint, stevia, red clover, hawthorne, lavender, mullein, lemon balm, echinacea, nettle, horsetail, licorice, thyme, and I think there are more, but Claire and I can't think of them right now. So I need to look these all up and see what I can grow and harvest and use without paying someone else to do it for me. Again, so much to learn, but I think it will be fun. I just have to be sure at least one kid is interested in each project so they can help me keep it going IF God decides to bless us with another baby and I need time off from projects.

Just thinking out loud here.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Lockers

Years ago we bought lockers for our kids. We were going to paint them, but never got around to it. We had plans to paint them before they got moved to this house so the kids have waited very patiently. The big excitement this week is that Roger painted and moved the lockers. Now the kids get to re-load them with junk.

Gloria in front of lockers

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Like Father, Like Son


Ezra and Roger have similar boo boos on the same finger, just opposite hands. Note this is the same hand Roger had some trouble with earlier. He figures the next one will get hurt in 2 1/2 years. Let's hope not. And I hope Ezra enjoys life every bit as much as his Daddy, but with fewer accidents along the way. He's not off to a good start though if this is any indication.

Homemade Kites

The kids have become pretty creative with finding things to do around here. One of Faith's new hobbies has been to try to figure out how to fly. But this time, I'm not sure what they were attempting. Being as skinny as she is (she's trying to gain weight so don't pick on her) combined with the strong winds we had made for quite a combination. She did NOT fly.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Linguist D. Nelson

Dad had a way with language. He would alter the meaning of words in ways that were suited to his needs or just make up new ones. Ronda and I shot several back and forth with each other last week and I shared some of these at the funeral. Some I forgot about until it was too late for the eulogy. It is hard to remember words you use all the time as something special and I still use all of these. My kids know these words and as well as others that we have made up and made a part of our daily lives. It is just a part of being in Leland's family.

urine - belonging to another person - "Is that jacket urine?"
mayan - belonging to oneself - "That jacket is mayan."
Holy Land - Kansas - specifically Lawrence
red eye - state of preparedness - "Are you red eye to go?"
The Golden Rule - the driver controls the radio, period, no discussion.
shiite - an exclamation - Dad loved the hostage crisis at the end of the Carter administration. Every night as Ted Koppel would recap the events of the day he would invariably mention Shiites and Dad would grin. He was a precursor of Beavis and Butthead.
good groceries - a declaration that a meal was good, typically said as one pushed away from the table "Those were good groceries!" When we were first married Melissa wasn't sure what this meant and it took a while for her to get used to it.
powodin - an undetermined body part that could be fallen on and/or broken - "It was slick and I almost fell and broke my powodin." Funny, but blogger's spell check is not underlining this word.
caddywampus - askew - "I tried to put it back together, but it was all caddywampus so I just threw it away." Hmm, another word not underlined by spell check.
rectum - a statement of acknowledgment - "I rectum that leg is broken." - "I rectum so."- when I was about 10 or 12 I learned that rectum has an alternate meaning associated with a body part and this has been my favorite Dad word ever since.

There are others out there, I just can't remember them all.

Roger

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Leland Delos Nelson, 1925-2008

Last February I shared how one afternoon I picked up the phone and there was my birth mother. A new mom I had given up ever hearing from or meeting was on the other end of the line. I am so grateful to have been given the chance to begin to get to know her. Last Monday I picked up the phone and found out I no longer had a living dad. I am sill having a hard time with this. We all knew my adopted mom was in bad shape toward the end as Alzheimer's is hard to hide. Her death was a blessing for her. Dad's death was a shock for all and a blessing for no one.

What appears to have happened is that he was watching TV on Thursday, October 30th and eating breakfast. The heart blockage he'd had repaired five years ago came back and took him. Since he was planning to go to Branson and meet up with his brother, Meyer, his friends at the Edgemere just figured they weren't seeing him around because he was gone on vacation. Obviously, Dad did not show up in Branson on Sunday. On Monday my uncle called Edgemere and they did a well being check. There, on floor in the den, was Dad.

He was my father and he was my oldest friend. He never took himself too seriously and he taught me about the things that he thought were important. He shaped me into the man I am today and I can only repay him by honoring and remembering him. In the next few days I will try to share some happy memories and give everyone some feel for what he was like to be around.

Over the past few years we ended all of our conversations by telling each other other we loved each other. I do not have to go forward in my life wondering how he felt about me or if he knew how I felt about him and for that I am grateful.

I just wish could call him and hear his laugh one more time. That laugh is the one thing I will miss the most. It was unique to him, an audible fingerprint. A sign that all was well.

Roger

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Ready To Eat

Two posts in one day. Amazing, huh? Ezra is taking a nap and though I should be also, I'm not. I'm blogging.

We processed all our chicken last week and have the freezers above both of our refrigerators FULL of chicken. This should be enough to make us soup once a week for a year.

A couple weeks before that we took two cows in to be processed. We did this last year and the meat lasted us a year. These cows were half jersey and just looked much smaller. So we thought we should take them both in so we could have a year's supply of beef. Turns out we were wrong. We ended up with twice as much meat this year and had to run out and buy a new freezer. The new freezer is now full

and the older one is close to full.

We still have room for other things like veggies, butter, and ice cream though. We just don't have them yet. I'm watching for sales though. We're really hoping to get a garden going next year. Our chickens are working on preparing a patch for us and they have all winter to complete that job.

With all these refrigerators and freezers we had to do some rearranging. We can fit 3 in our kitchen. The fourth one is in the back of the pantry. We had to take everything out of the pantry and move the freezer in. Of course, it was too heavy to lift it over the threshold of the pantry door (it's an exterior door since the pantry is not insulated due to the fact it will someday be semi-underground) so we had to unpack it, move the freezer, then re-pack it. And here's our pantry now.
See all the empty spaces on the pantry shelves? I would love to trade some of that beef for canned or frozen fruits and veggies. Wouldn't that be great? We have more meat than we can eat in a year and we'd hate for that to all go bad. We're not allowed to sell it for human consumption because it wasn't USDA inspected or something like that. But can we trade? Or does anybody need to feed their pets? Hey Betsy, if you're reading, could we trade for services if we need them again? ;-) (No, not yet anyway.)

Now, about gardening. We have an empty chicken tractor that is going to just sit there for a while. I'm thinking we could remove the tarp and cover it with clear plastic sheeting and use it as a greenhouse. We could then try to grow some veggies in there right now. Does this sound like it could work? Anyone have any clue? Maybe it wouldn't stay warm enough for tomatoes, but maybe lettuce? I'd love to hear from a gardener who might know if this sounds just crazy or what.

Melissa

A Picture Update

I've had some computer trouble lately. I had to get a new computer, so I was spending time backing everything up. I didn't want to load new pics on my old computer so they just kept piling up on the card. I took several pics with blog posts in mind. Here they all are at once.

This is a picture of my old pincushion that I mentioned a while back. And if you look closely you can see lots of needles laying on the floor beside the trash bag. Pretty exciting, huh? Hey, at least it's not a picture of Claire kissing one of the chickens she'd just plucked. And yes, I did find a picture of that on my camera card. I didn't ask.

Preparing for the winter. The trailer was full of wood and it was taking Roger a long time to get it unloaded. I grabbed the camera and said, "I'm going to go take a picture of everyone working hard and post it on our blog." Within seconds all the kids were out the door and helping their dad. This picture doesn't really show Grace, Joy, Sam, or Gloria. I have another picture which does, but didn't show Mitchell. It's kind of hard to get a picture of Mitchell so I went with that one for the blog. Ezra was helping me take pictures. The stacking job got done pretty quickly with all the extra hands. We frequently use the old saying, "Many hands make light work." We wonder how smaller families manage to get everything done.

We're getting a wind tower for our energy use. This is a very exciting thing for us and I imagine Roger will have to write a post devoted to that. But for now, here's a picture of him building a shed to house the um, something or other that is needed for this whole thing to work.
Our daughter, Gloria, has the most beautiful, long, blonde curls. They're kind of angelic looking and I just love them. It appears that her hair is going straight though as the curls are just on the ends. But it's still beautiful. Since she was a newborn I've been amazed at the beauty of her hair. It sparkles. The picture doesn't really do it justice, but it's the best I could find on my computer right now.
Anyway, I walked into the room the other day to see Gloria sitting in the rocker recliner with a pair of scissors in one hand and a long lock of blonde curl in the other hand.
I asked her how much she had cut and she said, "Two." I only saw the one lock in her hand and none anywhere else so I thought it would be okay. Then I started brushing her hair to check out the damage and more hair came out. She cut it just below her ear. I'm not evening anything out though. It was the under layer so it doesn't really show. I just commented to her sisters, "no ponytails for a while and we'll be fine." Gloria started crying, "I want ponytails!" Hmm. I guess she should have thought of that before climbing up and getting the scissors. A nameless sibling saw her climbing to get the scissors and said he/she just didn't think about stopping her. Maybe next time? Live and learn I guess.

Melissa

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Homemade Chicken Soup part 3

We processed our chickens a few days ago--Friday actually. We took pictures and video, but they aren't going to be added to this post. When Roger gets a chance he'll edit it and try to get it put together and uploaded so that you can see how we do it. We'll load it as a video so that you have to play it if you want to see it. That way if you aren't interested in seeing the pictures, you won't accidentally see them. And it will all be posted as a separate post from this one anyway so it's safe to keep reading.

The chickens were almost 7 weeks old. As soon as they hit 6 weeks, they started dieing one by one. They'd just be dead in the morning as if their little hearts just couldn't handle beating anymore. "Autopsies" of the ones that we processed showed them to not be terribly healthy. If we didn't process them when we did I'm sure we'd have had many more die on us. The trouble is, they only dressed out at 2 lbs each. It was hardly worth all the time I put into raising the little pigs and certainly not worth all the grain they ate. I could have bought chicken at the store for less.

Ok, but home grown chicken should be healthier because of all the grass and bugs they eat. And tastier, too, right? Not this breed (Cornish Rocks). We've raised several different breeds now and they all ate the grass and the bugs. They scratched at the ground. These things just sort of sat around all the time. They walked around some, but never really scratched like chickens are supposed to do. As a matter of fact, if their food fell out of the feeder, they didn't eat it. It's not that they like things clean though because they would sit in the feeder and poop in it and then eat their feed anyway. It's just that they had none of the normal chicken instincts to forage for their food. I was very disgusted by these birds that don't deserve the name bird. I called them our pigs. But I imagine that's somehow insulting to pigs, too. I don't know since I haven't ever raised pigs. And taste? They didn't taste any different than what we bought at the store. Kind of blah tasting chicken. Well, call them pasture fed all you want. Just because they live in the pasture doesn't change the fact that all they eat is feed. I don't see how these are really any different than what we buy at the store. I believe it is this breed that is used on the factory farms. They've been bred to have lots of white meat. Well, they do have that.

We've raised other breeds as meat birds before and if we ever do this again it will be one of those breeds. Right now I'm thinking we'll just wait until our layers are too old to lay anymore, then we can put them in our soup.

We still have a bunch of chickens out there that are the same age as the ones we just butchered. They are delightful to watch. They seem to run around and play. They scratch the ground and forage for their food. I put their feed in the feeder and they ignore it while they try to catch whatever insect is nearby. They act like chickens. These are Buff Orpingtons which are my favorite breed. Hopefully we'll have lots of eggs in the Spring.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Shhh! The Baby's Sleeping

I've always heard that you should continue on with all the normal noise of the household so that your baby will learn to sleep through anything. I've heard lots of people say that they did this and it worked.

I have another theory. I think that some people will sleep through anything and others will not. We're just born that way. Those who would sleep through anything end up with parents who say they never reduced the noise and thus it taught their baby to sleep through anything. Those with babies who wake at every little sound end up being quieter so that their baby will sleep.

If it were possible to actually learn to sleep through noise, I would have learned that by now. Maybe I didn't start out that way as a baby, I have no idea. But I've been told my older brother was really noisy so that makes me think that I should have started out my life sleeping through noise. But I can remember lots of naps as a little kid where I couldn't sleep because some little noise woke me up. And nowadays, as exhausted as I am most of the time, I should definitely be able to learn to sleep through noise, but nope. I wake at every little sound.

So I refuse to believe that it's through poor training that Ezra needs quiet to sleep. It's just who he is. And I believe that someday when he wakes up with babies at night, his wife will appreciate this trait that is just a natural part of who he is regardless of how hard his siblings have tried to train it out of him.

And no, it can't possibly just be that my house is exceptionally noisy. Sometimes it is and sometimes it isn't and he still can't sleep through ANY little sound.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Sukkot aka Feast of Tabernacles

In Leviticus 23 there is a list of feasts God told His people to keep. Most Christians today refer to these as Jewish Holidays. But we believe that as followers of Christ we are adopted as God's children and so we try to keep these as best we can. This is a very simple explanation anyway. If you want more detail, that's a whole other post. I'm sure some of our readers will say we're wrong to do this. But it's between us and God. We don't for a minute judge you if you don't keep these feasts. My point is not to tell you what to do, just preface the rest of the post so you'll have a clue what I'm talking about.

Toward the end of chapter 23 God tells the Israelites to dwell in booths for 7 days to remember how they had to dwell in booths when God brought the Israelites out of Egypt. The way we read this, God said to spend a week camping every fall. He even set it up to start with the full moon so we'll have a nice bright sky.

My kids say this is their favorite feast of the year. The weather is usually beautiful. They set up tents outside the house and they get to sleep in the tents every night--if they want to. We all ate dinner outside one night, but Roger and I chose not to sleep in tents until the rain passes at least.

A lot of people think we gave up a lot when we stopped celebrating Christmas and Easter. But many Christians believe that perhaps Jesus was born in Autumn. There's actually a lot of reason to believe that it was Sukkot at the time. So this is sort of our Christmas. We remember His birth at this time of year and even plan to make it a family tradition to have a big camping trip each year for Sukkot. And instead of Easter we celebrate Passover, the feast of Unleavened Bread and the feast of Firstfruits which is when He was resurrected. We have longer feasts, more of them, and they are spiritually more meaningful to us than the days we no longer observe. You can ask any of my kids, they don't feel like they are missing out on anything.

I was going to post a picture of their campsite, but I keep forgetting to take the camera out before dark. They've taken scrap lumber and created sidewalks from the house to the tents and between tents. It really worked great to keep their feet cleaner and the mud out of the tents.

Cowboy Sam is getting to finally fulfill his dream of being a real cowboy. As this little 4 yr old will matter-of-factly tell me every night when I tuck him into his bed, "Mom, I have to sleep in a tent because cowboys always sleep in tents." For this week, he gets to do that. And he is the only kid in the family to not come in at all once he gets out there. In fact, today I couldn't find him for a while. I finally found him taking a little nap in the tent. I didn't have the heart to tell him that cowboys probably don't suck their thumbs and need their blankies. He'll figure that part out when the time comes.

Melissa

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

My New Pincushion

For quite some time now I have been saying I am going to get myself a new pincushion. For those of you who know nothing about sewing, that's a little pillow looking thing that you stick your pins in so they don't get stepped on. Anyway, I never do buy one because it seems silly to buy one when I have a perfectly good pincushion already. I've had the same one since junior high when I had to get supplies for home ec class.

My mom taught me early on to always leave thread in a needle when you put it in your pincushion. That way if the needle gets pushed in too far you won't lose it because you can pull it back out by the thread. So I listened to my mother, but my children don't really get it. At least they don't get it when they are little. I've had 9 toddlers so far (Ezra is still too small, but he will eventually I'll bet) pull the thread out and push the needle in. For some reason, they are all fascinated by the little red tomato lookin' thing with pins and needles pokin' out of it. It's gotten to where I don't think I have any needles left except for one really huge one that is too fat to poke through. And it's so long that if you did push it into the pincushion, it would come out the other side. So I've never lost it. It was my last lonely needle.

Last week I was cleaning up over at The Cross and there was a brand new pincushion just laying there on the floor. I asked my friend Maureen if I could have it. I almost never ask for stuff and was amazed and embarrassed that I did that. But she said yes. Who wouldn't? It's a cheap little item. How could you say no? But it made my day. And not just once.

Yesterday I finally got around to doing what I really wanted to do. I moved all the pins from my old pincushion to my new one. Then I cut open the old pincushion and searched through the sawdust (I never knew that was what they were stuffed with) for needles. I found 39 needles in my old pincushion. They are all different sizes. I haven't been able to finish yet, but I am going to thread and KNOT the thread on all of these before I put them in the new pincushion.

Plus I threw out all the old pins that were so bent I couldn't use them anymore. I even grouped like pins together, but that won't last, nor does it matter. But it sure looks pretty for now.

So it made my day last week to get the pincushion and made my day again yesterday to find all these needles. I know, you're all thinking, "get a life."

Thanks Mo! I love the pincushion!

Melissa

Friday, October 10, 2008

Home Made Chicken Soup, Part Two

Today we finally moved the meat birds out of the brooder and into the chicken tractor. They were ready for this about a week or two ago, but the tractor had some repair work we had to do and Roger had other things to get done. He was finally able to get to it and they got moved today. They will live in this contraption for the next few weeks. We'll move it everyday so they get fresh ground to forage on, hopefully tilling a new garden for us in the process. But if they don't get it fully tilled, there will still be a couple of tractors of egg laying birds coming along behind them.

For now the new egg layers are still in the brooder. Roger finished the other tractor for me today, but not until later in the day and I prefer to move them in the morning. It gives them the day to settle into their new place. So we'll move them Monday morning. But now they have room to spread out. We still have 23 of them out of the 25 I ordered. Two died in transit and none died in the brooder yet. I think I'm about to lose one, but we'll see. Of the 75 meat birds, we still have 67.


Sam, our 4 yr old, likes to go out and help me take care of the chicks. They have been growing so fast lately that he would look and say, "we have more chickens!" I'd point out that we still have the same number, but they are all bigger now, but he didn't believe me. Then he'd want to know where his favorite one is. They all look alike to me!

Melissa

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Something else to scream about

Plan on watching the VP debates this Thursday? Gwen Ifill from PBS is the moderator. Check out this link for her new book - The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama. Note the release date - January 20th. Just watch to see how fair old Gwen is to the Governor of Alaska.

By the way, the Obama henchmen in Missouri are now backing away from their truth squad plans and saying they were misinterpreted. Load of ___ bunch of dingleberries.

10/2/8 - 9:13 a.m. UPDATE:

A partial list of Gwen Ifill's questions for the VP debate

gwen_ifill.jpgMayor Palin, Barack Obama is a handsome, charismatic demigod. How many boxes of Kleenex will you need after your crushing loss?

Senator Biden, what is your favorite color? And if you have time for a follow-up question: Why?

Mayor, you talk funny and you own a tanning bed. Why haven't you released Trig's birth certificate?

Senator, have you seen those pictures of Obama in his swim trunks? If not, I have them right here.

Mayor, what are the names, ages, and blood types of all 71 members of the Belgian Senate? And why are you unwilling to admit that your inability to instantly produce any and every fact I demand makes you unfit to stand in the way of history?

Senator, you've spoken at length. Could you please continue?

Mayor, which is your preferred method of stifling dissent, banning books or burning them? Since it's both, please explain how you can deny the accusation that you're a fascist, which I am making now.

Senator, could you please sign my book?

These are from Jim Treacher's blog.

Roger

Friday, September 26, 2008

A call to action

I haven't blogged in a long while as the farm, my job, my foot and other stuff and junk have gotten in the way. When we began blogging we had no real agenda and we still do not. However, I am deeply troubled by something and believe that I have to do whatever I can to tell whomever will listen. We did not start this blog to get into the political discussion of the day, but today we must. For tyranny to succeed all that has to happen is for decent people to sit by and do nothing. Do not do nothing!

Here are links, this one is to a St. Louis new station report about Obama truth squads of prosecutors and sheriffs that will be out there using their positions to threaten those who run ads counter to the Obama line. This link will take you the St. Louis Chamber of Commerce blog addressing the issue.

This link is to an NRA ad that Obama wants off the air and this link is to the letter they have sent out to that end.

It looks to me like the post-partisan, post-race candidate is the post-constitution candidate as well. DO SOMETHING! DO NOT LET THIS CANDIDATE OFF THE HOOK! The press is giving him a pass. His PR firm is making up its own grass-roots efforts, he is not a force of nature, only a Chicago hack politician - and we are seeing it now, in the thick of the battle.

Speak your mind or forever hold your peace.

Come and get me, Barry O.

Roger

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Great New Song

I just added a link to our sidebar. Our kids are in a band called Adopted. No, the kids are not adopted. They get the name from the idea that we are adopted by God. Well, here, the Bible says it better than I could:

Romans 8:15
For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, "Abba, Father."

Anyway, Mitchell writes the music and plays guitar, Faith sings and plays guitar, and Grace plays bass and keyboard. Then there's a drummer named Billy who is not my child, but he's a good kid anyway. ;-)

They just today uploaded the second song they've recorded. It is Christian Rock. They have a bunch more they play, just not recorded yet. If you go to this link you can hear the two songs they've got recorded.

You can hear them play in the park this Saturday if you want to. There will be 3 bands, I believe, and they will be the second to play. The concert starts at 5pm at Coleman City Park on Saturday, September 27. It's FREE!! You can't beat that price!!

Melissa

Monday, September 22, 2008

Ezra is more than half

Time just flies by. I've been meaning to update everyone on our newest Nelson, but haven't gotten around to it yet.

He hit 6 mos while we were in Kansas. He's now 6 1/2 months old and growing in so many ways. He has 2 teeth. He's been crawling since 5 mos and started pulling up to stand holding on to furniture at 5 1/2 mos. If you recall, we have concrete floors. I'd thought I would have a braided rug done by now, but don't. We had to buy him some foam floor mats to protect him from falls. This stuff won't last long around here so I still need to get going on the rug. If Ezra would sleep at night I could work on it then, but that is such a big if . . .

He's really a happy baby. Well, Gloria says he's a big boy now (he weighs 19 lbs) and calls him her "little big brother." He went through a stage where he would scream at me when he was hungry, but we're past that thankfully. I'm not talking about crying. I mean a scream that sounded like it hurt his throat!

We'd wondered about his eye color. They are now brown eyes although he went through several beautiful shades of green on his way there.

One of my favorite things about Ezra is how his face completely lights up when he sees me. I caught it on film today. It was easy. All I had to do was say his name.

Without a doubt, Ezra has multiplied the love in our house. We all love him and he loves us, I think.

Melissa

Monday, September 15, 2008

Homemade Chicken Soup--Step 1

We haven't raised any chickens in a while. Well, we have some chickens that we've had for a while that are still laying eggs for us. But I'm just so tired of store-bought chicken and want some "real chicken". It was time to order some new chicks. The kids aren't thrilled with the upcoming job of processing the chickens, but they love the soup! Nearly everyone's favorite meal around here is when I make chicken soup and homemade bread and butter. It's delicious!

So I thought maybe I would try to capture all the steps of making the soup from the very beginning. But we didn't hatch the eggs ourselves. We ordered from Ideal Poultry. They shipped day old chicks on Sept 10 so I guess that means they hatched on the 9th. They should be a week old tomorrow.

When they arrived, we weren't ready. We'd had a lot of rain and I didn't want to work outside in the mud. It usually takes 2 days for the chicks to arrive so I figured I could get everything ready before the chicks arrived. But they arrived in ONE day this time and had to wait in the box while I prepared a place for them. Our mail carrier called at 6:30 am to let us know they were in. I had to quickly clean out our brooder truck (an old pick up truck that we converted into a brooder) and get it ready for them. We'd ordered 25 buff orpington pullets (females) to be new layers. We also ordered 75 cornish rocks (straight run which means a mix of male and female) as meat birds. We've already lost 2 of each. That's just part of raising animals I guess.

Here are some pictures of some of them. Now before you go thinking we're cruel to kill such cute little chicks, wait until you see them later. They don't stay cute for long! And we're not going to kill some of them until they quit laying eggs a few years from now.


Notice in the last picture that one chick seems to be eyeing me suspiciously. Don't be fooled. They're too stupid to think anything other than, "Is this all the food you're giving us?" These little things are pigs in disguise. It's the first time we've ordered the cornish rocks and I'm amazed already at how much they eat!!

Melissa

Thursday, September 11, 2008

WooHoo!!

I'm boiling noodles on my new gas stove!

Gotta go before they BOIL OVER!

Melissa

Monday, September 08, 2008

Our Trip To Kansas

I feel like I should let Roger write this post, but it's been a while since he blogged I think. If he wants to, he'll add his thoughts later.

Kansas is beautiful. Growing up in Missouri we always thought Kansas was flat and boring. I like the flat just fine. I loved the green, too. I enjoyed seeing all the crops growing and cows grazing. Not a lot different than here, but that's because Texas is beautiful, too.

Roger and I both grew up with families that we love. I love his family and he loves mine. And now we are getting to know a new family together. We went to meet the family of his biological mom. And what a neat bunch of people they are!! We all felt so welcome and loved right away. I'm not sure how much I should share, how private this should be, so I'll just say that I had a really fun weekend and am really excited about a whole new bunch of people that I get to know and call family.

I want to share my reaction to my husband having a new mom in case anyone is interested. At first I felt a bit jealous that this brand new woman was in my husband's life and he was so interested in getting to know her. I'm not proud of that reaction, but that's what it was. Then I got to know her. I just can't get over what a wonderful person she is. I guess I could have expected that. I mean, she carried this baby inside of her for 9 months. She had to have loved him. And then she did the most selfless thing I could imagine. She let someone else raise him. She didn't even get to meet him first. She gave the gift of life to a couple who was unable to have another child. Abortion wasn't legal then, but to hear the pro-choice people tell it, it happened all the time anyway. I have no idea if she considered it or not, but it didn't happen obviously. So my husband received life. He got to grow up and be the wonderful man he is today because of the gift his birth mother gave to him and his adopted family. It was a gift to me, too. And my children. And I want to thank her from the bottom of my heart for doing what must have been an incredibly hard thing. Thank you, Katie. (And of course, thank you to Leland and Margaret for raising him. Knowing Roger, I would guess that he kept you on your toes.)

Happy Birthday, Roger!

Melissa

PS I was going to post a picture Faith took of the hills in Kansas, but for some reason blogger isn't letting me do anything but type right now.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Bugs and Packing Peanuts

The only thing these two things really have in common is that I wanted to write about them both today and didn't want to do two separate posts. On the rare occasion that I've blogged twice in one day, I'll talk to someone later who missed the first one because they didn't scroll down after reading the second post which appears at the top. So you get a twofer today. (And why isn't the word "twofer" showing up as a spelling error? Is that a real word?)

Probably about 12 or so years ago I ordered some stuff and it came with really fun packing peanuts. If they get wet, they stick together. Ever since then, when we get something with packing peanuts I hope they are that same kind, but it's never happened again. Until yesterday. We got a package and I opened it and was more excited about the packing peanuts than what was in the package. (Well, it was just oats in the package anyway. Not real exciting.) The kids loved them, too. I knew they would. Claire was quite proud of her creations and took a picture:

And here's a picture of Clark with his creation. Later he found a couple of sunglass lenses in the bottom of the dress up stuff basket and added them. They were pretty cool. ;-)


Now on to bugs. Since we've moved out here, occasionally I'll see bugs that I've never seen before. Maybe they are common, but I've not noticed them before. There's one that's really alien looking (as if all other bugs aren't) but I've never taken a picture of it. It moves really fast. But this one didn't move all day. I don't know if it's dead or what. It's about 5/8" long. Anyone want to tell me what it is? I haven't tried looking it up yet.

Melissa

Monday, August 18, 2008

Adopted

Mitchell, Faith and Grace are three-fourths of a band called Adopted. They now have a song on their My Space page so if you want to hear them, check it out! Mitchell wrote this.

Proud parents,
Roger and Melissa

Friday, August 15, 2008

Hot is relative

When we first moved to Texas almost 14 years ago, it was November. We moved from Missouri where it was already getting pretty chilly. In Texas, it was only getting down to the 50's which seemed warm to me. We dressed in long sleeves, but skipped jackets. My children were all small then: almost 5, almost 3, and 5 mos. I didn't think they needed coats either and we would go out and do stuff without coats. I remember it didn't really occur to me that we should wear coats because it seemed warm to me. But boy did I get some dirty looks! I was amazed at all the people wearing coats, and apparently they were amazed that I would take my children out in that temp without a jacket.

Well, things have changed. This morning it got down in the 70's and my silly kids wanted their jackets! I had to clean jackets up off the floor today! In August!

Melissa

Spider Pics

I got out of bed late this morning, but I was ready to work. I knew I still had some spiders to clean up. As I headed toward the kitchen I heard Roger say something like, "Well, look at that!" and he was staring into a rather boring kitchen cabinet.


In the pic, do you see the spot toward the top on the left? Here's a close up of it.
I think it's either a male or an immature Western Black Widow. But then, I never was any good at identifying things in biology class. It's one of the larger specimens of what we've found inside the house.

My trusty vacuum (mine is also a Dyson, Mary) has been working hard. I make sure to suck up a little Diatomaceous Earth after cleaning it out. My reason for that is that I want to be sure the little buggers are dead in there before I empty it out again.

Anyway, yesterday I thought I was almost done with the main part of the house when I realized I hadn't done the dining room chairs. Then last night Ezra was playing on the floor in the living room when I realized I never did the train table. And sure enough, there were spiders in both of those places.

Thankfully they are not an aggressive type of spider. I read a bunch about them last night and found that most of what we've observed fits with what we were reading. They stay in their web. The web is very messy looking, one webpage compared it to cotton candy. I was pleased to read that the egg sacs start out round and white and then turn tan and oval as the spiders inside them grow. One spider may lay 5 sacs at a time. That all made me feel better because we were finding groupings of 5 round white sacs. They looked empty and I thought that meant we had lots of babies all over, too. But after reading that, I inspected them closer (with the help of my camera's zoom feature and the zoom on the computer--I'm not getting that close if I can help it!) and could see that there are indeed little things in there. So the fact that they are still round and white tells me it was fairly early in the gestation of them and I didn't miss my chance.

So we bought this poison. I noticed on the package it says it's effective against spiders except for brown recluse and black widow. And now I'm reading that the best way to get rid of them is to do exactly what I'm doing--only I should be wearing gloves. I'll finish this job one of these days. It's rather slow going because even in places where there are no spiders, I don't know that until I check them. Once I'm done with the vacuuming, I will probably still spray the insecticide just to keep away the black widows' dinner.

Anyway, I just wanted to share my beautiful pictures. Funny, this may be a scary spider, but it's not the scariest looking.

Melissa

Thursday, August 14, 2008

War in our house

We can't help it. It's in our blood. Isn't that a valid excuse?

Throughout history there are stories of conquerors who take territory away from the innocent, killing to create a new home for themselves. It happened in Bible times. It happened all through Asia and Europe. It happened in Australia and Africa. It happened in the Americas. Maybe only Antarctica is safe. It's happening today in several parts of the world.

And it's happening right here in my house. We wanted a new place to live so we came here to this section of our pasture and built a house. The critters who lived here before us had to go. Some of them just quietly left and found a new place to live. Others resisted and the battle is continuing.

They keep trying to reclaim this space, but I am not giving up.

I've spent the week cleaning all those little nooks and crannies you never really think about. Being an unfinished house, we have lots of them. I normally would do this every 3-4 months, but that would have come during my post-partum healing phase. Then for some reason we didn't take as many school breaks as usual so I didn't really get a chance to do my big cleaning last time. The little spiders and bugs thought that they could move back in to this space. But I'm not giving up so easily. I called for reinforcements.

I had Roger pick up some insecticide. We haven't used insecticide since we fumigated the last house. It had sat vacant for 3 years or so and lots of critters had moved in. It's not that bad in this house--not nearly as bad as that house was/is.

We're not seeing a lot of bugs other than the flying kind (moths and such) when we turn the lights on and open the windows at night (we have screens, but they still get in when we open doors or whatever). We've had a couple of occasions where the ants get in, but we clean up whatever it was they found and they go away. It really hasn't seemed to be that big of a problem. But I wanted to clean up the dust that had accumulated. There were a few cobwebs, too. I went to vacuum them up and they wouldn't come off the table I was cleaning. It was just a small end table, so I flipped it over to get to the source of the cobwebs better.

Underneath this small table were several black widows. I vacuumed them up and moved on to the next piece of furniture. Almost all of our furniture was covered with spiderwebs and spiders and egg sacs underneath! I can't figure out how they were all surviving! We really don't have that many bugs for them to eat!

Thankfully they weren't feasting on us because I'm pretty sure most of these spiders were black widows. Many of them were too small to see what they were, but there were several large ones that were identifiable and the small ones had the same shape.

So the house is getting thoroughly cleaned and then I will spray it. I don't like to spray, but this is war and I will win. We will also continue our nightly prayer asking God to keep us safe from spiders, snakes, scorpions, ticks, ants, bees, wasps, . . .

Melissa

Monday, August 11, 2008

Fun Time Waster

My sister sent me a link to How Many Of Me. We had a lot of fun with it. We all have fairly common names. We were checking everyone in the family. We got to Ezra and found there are only 17 Ezra Nelsons in the US. But then someone pointed out his first name is actually Thomas. Boy did that make a difference! There are over 3000 Thomas Nelsons!!

We checked lots of other names, too. Thank God there is only 1 Barack Obama. It says there are 1,307 George Washingtons. Mitchell pointed out that means there are 2,614 cruel parents.

I've always known my mother is one of a kind and this confirmed it. She's better than 1 in a million. According to this webpage she's 1 in 304,838,315!! I love you, Mom.

Got some time to kill? Go check it out. Just be careful not to waste too much time there. I did. ;-)

Melissa, one of 704,177
or one of 1,141 in the US with the same last name

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Our New Ducks

June 19th we got our ducklings. They'd hatched the 17th I believe.


Now they're all grown up, well the survivors are. There are 8 of them.


This is my favorite part of our farm right now. Ducklings and chicks are all cute when babies, but ducks are still so beautiful when grown.

Melissa

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Baby Bottles

I've been blessed to be able to nurse all my babies. I've tried occasionally to pump and let someone give them a bottle when I couldn't be home, but they've all hated the bottle.

This summer, with temps in the 100s fairly regularly, I decided Ezra should get the option of having water. As thirsty as we all get, there's no way I could keep up with nursing just for thirst. I didn't know if Ezra would like having a bottle since none of his siblings ever did. But just to prove that we are all unique, Ezra loves his bottle.

Grace was holding him and standing at the bar with the bottle right in front of them. She couldn't see his face and had no idea how badly he wanted that bottle. I laughed for a little while, then went to get the camera and was still able to get the shot. He was quite focused on his desire. :-)

Friday, August 08, 2008

I love Home Depot

Today I called Home Depot about my range. I explained that I'd try to call them a month ago and no one called back as I was promised. I'd then tried to go through GE and got no where. I explained the whole thing about needing new pans and not wanting to get new pans because I love my stainless steel.

Lucinda at the Abilene Home Depot is wonderful. She understood my problem. She has a smooth cooktop and stainless steel pans and said she has her water boil over all the time. And she would not be happy if she had to give up her pans either. She talked to the manager and explained my situation. They agreed to let me exchange my electric stove for a gas stove without paying the re-stocking fee. Hallelujah!

This means more work for Roger as he'll have to get propane to the house. He knows what to do though. And then we'll hire a plumber to help out, too. Or at least he'll check up on Roger's work. I think that's the plan anyway.

Roger's foot has been hurting him for the last month. Please pray that this work doesn't do more damage to it. We believe it is a stress fracture and needs time to heal. (City folks that move to the country have to learn things the hard way--like never use your foot as a tool when working on the tractor.) That healing time didn't start until we figured it out and he began to really let it rest. I had to threaten him that if he wouldn't stay off it, I'd pray that God would keep him off his feet. The last time I had to do this he was cleaning the yard with a temp of 101. I prayed. He woke up the next day with a sore foot and couldn't walk until 3 weeks later when he was all better.

Anyway, the gas stove is ordered and when it comes in we can return the electric one that requires certain pans. Hurray!!

Melissa

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Yep, It's the Pans

Our appliance repair guy came by today with a couple of pots he'd just bought to test our stove. Mine were stainless steel which was recommended in the book that came with our stove. The stove is a GE Profile smooth top stove. It's not a cooktop, it's the whole range and it was highly rated everywhere we looked it up.

After trying all the pots, it seems that GE didn't know what to recommend. For example, they said heavyweight aluminum pans were recommended. But the lightweight aluminum pan that Elmer brought over worked and the heavyweight pan didn't. So his theory was that the shininess of my pots was reflecting the heat back down to the burners causing it to cycle off to avoid overheating.

It was seeming as if only aluminum would work. I won't use aluminum pans. And I will absolutely never spend money on nonstick stuff again. I love my pots and pans. I am feeling really frustrated that they won't work. They are good pans.

We have one small enamel pot that worked. I only have it for if someone wants a cup of tea. It's tiny. We never cook on tiny things.

The enamel pots I'm finding in a quick search on the net are nonstick. I don't want that. I have kids that cook and clean and those pots won't hold up to that. So I have to decide now if I go to pots I hate and pay money for them, or TRY to take the stove back and pay a restocking fee. We're talking almost $400 here!

What really gets me is that I KNEW the make of the pots and pans mattered. I saw that in all our research before buying. It said that stainless steel was recommended. I thought our pots would be okay and they aren't. They lied, but will I ever get anywhere with that fight? Doubtful.

To top it all off, we wanted gas, but didn't want to wait for Roger to be able to get gas hooked up at our house. I bet he'd have gotten that done by now and I'd have gotten to keep my good pots and pans. Too late now, but maybe someone can learn from our loss.

Oh, and several people commented either here or in person that maybe it is the electrical connection or something since we had refrigerator and freezer problems, too. That was the first thing checked. It was checked more than once. It's not the problem.

Melissa

I might need new pans?!

The repairman came out after I called to see if he'd gotten the part for our stove yet. He replaced the control panel and still it's the same. We can get it up to 207*F when on High. That almost looks like a boil, but we put a handful of macaroni in it and the noodles just got mushy after about 1/2 an hour.

So he said he'd come back and talk to GE while he was here and see what they wanted him to do. Before he had a chance to come back though, he talked to GE about another issue for another customer and asked about my problem while he was on the phone. They told him I need new pans.

In the manual that came with the stove it said that stainless steel pans are recommended. I have stainless steel pans. But supposedly sometimes the pan absorbs the heat and it doesn't get to the stuff inside the pan.

Does this make sense to anyone? Not me!! If the pan is getting hot, shouldn't the stuff inside it also get hot?

Anyway, our repair man is going to bring over some of his pans and see if they work. If they do, it is then my responsibility to go buy new pans. Nevermind that I already have the kind they recommend. If his pans don't work, I don't know what we do next.

I also got to deal with an issue with our cell phones today. Our bill was about twice what it should be. Thankfully not all big companies are as difficult to deal with as GE. AT&T has been wonderful to me for 8 years now. Every time we've had a problem, they take care of it. They were even willing to credit some overage charges that they didn't need to credit! I was honest and said, no, we need to pay that. I'm just tellin' ya this so you don't think I'm just always complaining. Not all companies are awful, just GE so far. But I have a teensy bit of hope left that they will do the right thing and eventually I'll have a stove that works.

And thank you to Kim, my friend who brought me a crock pot cookbook. I'm learning to love my crock pot. Without it we might never get to eat around here!

Melissa

Friday, August 01, 2008

Still No Stove!

We bought a new range over a month ago. It didn't work right. We called GE and they sent a repair man who said it was good enough for him. I then spent a couple days on the phone arguing with GE about this. They sent a second repair man who agreed with me. A stove should get hot enough to cook on it. He ordered parts.

We're still waiting.

I need ideas for meals I can feed my family. I can cook on the stove, but nothing that requires a lot of heat. I can't boil noodles. Anything that requires a boil ends up mush. It's too hot to turn on the oven. I made beans in the crockpot yesterday and today I'm cooking some pork chops in the crockpot. We can do baked potatoes in the electric roaster. I can brown meat, but forget spaghetti or anything that requires noodles with it. I really like one dish meals because it serves onto plates a lot faster. We can't spend a lot and we don't use a lot of packaged items--usually if it comes in a box it's too processed for us and/or has ingredients we can't eat.

So give me some ideas? I'm kind of stuck mentally. I keep thinking of things like soup, spaghetti, pasta salad, and other pasta favorites. I can't even steam our veggies, just sort of slow cook them until they're mushy enough to call them done.

I'd love to just order out until it's fixed and then send GE the bill. Too bad they wouldn't pay it, huh? And then I could send them the doctor bill from all the unhealthiness that would result int he family from that. I wish I knew when this will end! It's hard enough to plan meals for a large family. Now I have to throw in the added complication of only low-medium heat on the stove!

I understand that things are built to last anymore. But a stove that isn't built to cook? It didn't work in the first place and they don't even care. Whatever happened to pride in your workmanship?

Melissa

Friday, July 25, 2008

Don't cross your eyes or they might stay that way!

I'm not sure if I noticed before or after Ezra was born, but it was somewhere near there. The kids were all making funny faces and crossing their eyes and Sam joined in the fun. He was even able to cross just one eye! He kept doing it all week and we kept laughing. Then I noticed he did it when he wasn't trying.

So I took him to an eye doctor to get it checked. They didn't test his vision at all "because he's too little to know his letters." I assured them he does, but wondered why they wouldn't use pictures like EVERY other eye doctor I've ever encountered. Still, no vision check. The eye doctor then looked in his eyes--didn't dilate them or anything--and said they tilt in. We needed to wait 6 mos, see him again, and Sam might be ready for surgery by then. Huh? I'd done some research on this and it seemed to me there was hope that he wouldn't need surgery. So we didn't really know what to do. Roger did some searching and found a therapy method that might work that we could try at home. What else could we do? We really didn't want to sit around and wait for surgery to be needed!!



One of the girls took the above picture of Clark and Sam and caught Sam with his eyes crossed. Other than the crossed eyes, it was a good picture so I sent it to family members. My sis-in-law, Claudia, stepped in to help. My niece, Maya, had just gone through this. Claudia gave me lots of info about the condition and even had Maya's doctor call me. He recommended a doctor in Abilene. The doctor in Abilene was even willing to do the first appointment for free. That finally happened this past Saturday.

Sam's left eye is lazy probably due to astigmatism in that eye. The right eye sees better and so it's doing all the work. (I explained it to Sam by comparing it to when he and Clark have to clean their room and Sam makes Clark do all the work.) So Sam is to either wear a patch over the right eye for 2 hours a day or we put drops in his right eye that dilate it so he can't see as well. They call it a chemical patch. He's also supposed to get bifocal glasses to wear. He probably will NOT need surgery.

Up until today we've been doing the patch because Sam loves it and pretends he's a pirate. But it is quite annoying to him and he peaks with his good eye pretty often. Today he kept taking the patch off completely so we had to do drops. He screamed until it was in. Then he screamed because I wouldn't do the other eye, too. Silly boy. I guess that's partly my fault. When he wouldn't be still so I could put the drop in, I pointed out the red cap on the bottle and explained it would help him have spider vision (he loves spiderman and thus anything red). So now he wanted to have that spider vision in BOTH eyes. Anyway, it didn't seem like it was working, but after a while, one eye was definitely dilated.

Here's a couple of pics of him. In the first one, obviously he's wearing the eye patch. In the second one, he's got the drop in one eye. Look at his pupils. He's focusing just above the camera with his left eye. His right eye is "taking a break from doing all the work". Kind of weird looking!



We're still waiting for his glasses to be in, but I'm thinking they aren't going to fit right. We'll see. He's just so little! And while we've had good luck ordering from Zenni Optical in the past, they couldn't do what Sam needs. Too bad. I was hoping to get an inexpensive pair as a back up for when he loses or breaks the first pair.

Melissa

Why We Haven't Blogged In Awhile

We've been sort of busy. Well, we're always busy, but we've been busier than usual lately.

Our son, Stephen was home for a visit. That didn't really take up much of my time because honestly, how many 18 yr olds just want to hang out with Mom and Dad? Ours is exceptional in that he still likes us a little bit, or at least acts like it, but he also has his own agenda. What kept me from blogging was my sadness over the fact that he's going to Iraq and this was his last visit before he goes and I just had to keep trying not to think about it or I'd cry. Plus I couldn't help but realize that Mitchell's growing up and will be leaving in too short of a time. He graduates in mid-January and is looking forward to the rest of his life. I learned to cope by reminding myself that Mitchell is still here and Stephen isn't in Iraq yet. And when he left, he was only going back to Colorado, not to Iraq. One step at a time. It's much easier that way. Otherwise I could be worrying about Ezra's grandkids if I'm not careful!!

We've been busy buying new appliances and dealing with customer service and such. We had to get a new range. We bought a good one that had been highly rated. We had to order it because the store didn't carry that exact model. So, while we were waiting for it to arrive at the store, one of our two refrigerators died on us. When Roger was at the store picking up the range, he also got a new refrigerator. On his way home from Abilene, I noticed (still at home) that our other refrigerator wasn't working. We just got another new refrigerator this week as it required another trip to Abilene.

Meanwhile, the new range doesn't work right. I've spent LOTS of time of the phone with GE trying to explain that while the repairman they sent over says it's good enough to cook ramen noodles (all you need is hot water from the tap for that!), I can't make spaghetti or any other kind of pasta until I have a rolling boil. The dingbat repairman says a boil is a boil and that's the way they make the stove. Yeah, right. Just because a lot of people don't cook anymore doesn't mean they make appliances just to look pretty in your kitchen. So after lots of arguing with GE, they finally agreed to send a second repairman. They had to do something because I was demanding a new stove and they won't do that either.

Repair Man #2 likes to make candy. Hallelujah!! He tested my stove and said, "I could never make peanut brittle on this thing!" I shouted "Praise God!" and then had to explain my outburst. We're still waiting on parts though. I'm glad I didn't get any of the other major brands because THIS repairman says he won't even deal with them anymore. Not only are things not made to last anymore, they aren't even made to work in the first place.

But our appliance nightmares weren't over yet. I guess God was trying to warn me because there was one day last week that I kept thinking I was supposed to go get everything out of the freezer in the barn and bring it to the house where we have another freezer. But this couldn't be right because the freezer in the house is supposed to be frost free, but it keeps creating huge sheets of ice that lock everything in place in the freezer. I wanted to move everything out of that one and quit using it. So why would I put everything IN it from the other freezer? Fast forward a few days. Roger had been out in the barn and let me know that the freezer had died--probably several days ago--and we lost everything in it. A turkey, some briskets, a bunch of steaks and roasts. At least I'd moved the ground beef to the house. Why didn't I listen to God? Interestingly, I was working on a lesson for the youth at church about how God speaks to us and sometimes it doesn't make sense. I guess the lesson was more for me.

Another thing keeping us busy was the Celebration at the Cross. Mitchell, Faith and Grace are in a band along with a guy named Billy. The band is called Adopted and they played 6 original songs (meaning they wrote them themselves in case you didn't catch that) at this 3 day event on the 3rd night. We were very proud. The pictures aren't posted yet, but when they are, you can view them here.

Along with all this, we've been dealing with Sam's eyes. But I'll tell about that in it's own post.

Melissa

Monday, July 07, 2008

Out Of Bed Monster

There are things about parenting that can be really difficult. Like not laughing at your child who just did something bad.

Last night Sam, who will be 4 in a few days, kept getting out of bed. He does this often. He'll have questions that just can't wait until morning.

He got up and told me he was hungry. I reminded him that he chose not to eat dinner so he had to wait until breakfast, then sent him back to bed.

He got up to ask me, "How do people make cookies?" I told him we'll make some sometime and he can see, then sent him back to bed.

He got up again to say, "There's nothing to drink in my room." I turned to look at him and saw crumbs all over his face. They aren't supposed to take food in their bedrooms, but Stephen had some snacks in his room the other day. I asked Sam if he'd gone in Stephen's room and taken some crackers. He looked me in the eye and said no. So I rephrased the question and asked if he'd found food in Stephen's room and ate it. Again he said no. Sure that he was lying, I told him I could see crumbs on his face and he needed to tell me what he had eaten.

"Well, Mom, I don't really want to tell you."

"Well, Sam, you really have to tell me."

Clark had a little baggie of cookies from Sunday School that he got for memorizing a Bible verse. Amazingly, he hadn't eaten them yet. Sam said, "Well, I didn't want the Out of Bed Monster to eat Clark's cookies so . . ."

It turns out Sam needed some milk to go with those cookies.

This was one of those times I had to make Roger take over because I couldn't stop laughing!

Melissa

Saturday, July 05, 2008

All Ten Together!

Last night for the first time ever, we had all ten of our children together under one roof.

Stephen is home on leave one more time before he goes to Iraq. He got home Monday, but just before picking him up we dropped off three of the kids for camp. But Stephen got to meet Ezra (who thinks it's great that he has another person to smile at) and play with his biggest admirers for a few days before the older kids came home. He also went to visit the older kids at camp one evening and they all said it was a fantastic service.

So today we all piled into the van to go to Grammy's house and see aunts, uncles, cousins, and of course Grammy and Grampy. I wanted to get a picture of all my children together and figured it would be perfect to take it in the van. They'd all be stuck there, all buckled in. But Ezra sits rear-facing. I could only get the back of his seat. I went to the back of the van figuring they could turn around, but Gloria's seat is way bigger than her and I couldn't get her in the picture. So I finally went from an angle where I could get Ezra and Gloria, but then I couldn't fit everyone in. I finally gave up so we could leave.

While at my mom's house, my sister took a picture of the whole bunch of us.


We're kind of a mess after swimming all afternoon, but we're all together!
Melissa

Friday, June 20, 2008

Welcome Summer!

Today is officially the first day of summer, but here in Texas we've been living with near 100 degree temperatures (That includes several days above 100) for quite some time now. And at our house, we're braving this heat without air conditioning most of the time. We do have a little portable unit we bought when everyone had high fevers from the mysterious rash, but we don't run it often because it doesn't seem to help enough.

Here are some of the ways you too can try to beat the heat:

10. Ice Maker--currently one of our favorite appliances


9. Spray bottles


8. Wet paper towel wrist bands


7. Lying down on the floor--cold concrete cools quite quickly


6. Cook outside--added bonus, when Roger does the grilling, Melissa gets a break. We also cook roast, bake potatoes, or whatever else we can in the roaster plugged in outside.


5. "Slow cones"--known as snow cones in most places, just not our house. We crush ice in the food processor and flavor it with a mixture of Invisible Kool-aid and sugar or thawed lemonade frozen concentrate. Orange Julius for lunch is good too!

4. Munching ice--you start with a cup of ice, stick your hand in to grab it, put the ice in your mouth, then splash the water on your hand all over who ever is near you. Well, that's Grace's way. She does this while enjoying another great summer pastime--getting lost in a book. The rest of us just munch on the ice.

3. Nap during the heat of the day, then play outside later when it's cool.


2. COLD showers/baths--No one would volunteer for this picture.

And the number one way to keep cool in the summer:
1. Shave your head bald


Melissa

Monday, June 16, 2008

Potty Training Recipe

1 sugar loving little girl
1 carpet free house
1 grandmother who includes panties in the birthday gift
2 weeks stuck at home with a mysterious rash
3 bags of candy (Yummy Earth Organic Lollipops are the best!)

Mix together with potty chair and toilet paper in the living room (no one's coming over anyway when the kids look like they have measles). Throw in lots of patience, towels, and diapers at night.

Let simmer for 1-2 weeks.

Yield: a potty trained girl and a proud mother

Notes from the cook and a Disclaimer: This probably wouldn't work so well on all kids. I've found that with the 9 kids I've potty trained it hasn't worked the same way twice. One thing that definitely helps though is for MOM to be ready. Gloria seemed ready several months ago--back before Ezra was born--and I wasn't. And I have to say that the carpet free house has been a HUGE help!! It created a relatively stress free experience for both of us. (I was much less patient when she had an accident while standing on her pillow!) And there was something special about the panties being a gift from someone else I guess because we've tried the new panties trick many times before. It never worked until now. Staying home was also a tremendous help.

Melissa

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Garden Envy and Growing Up

It seems like everywhere I turn I'm hearing about gardens.

Just today, two of the blogs I read had beautiful pictures of their gardens and my neighbor brought over some of his abundance. I'm not complaining! I really appreciate it because I have no garden yet. And if I did, I'm not so sure anything but weeds would grow in it.

My children were telling me the other day that we really need a garden because food is getting so expensive. I told them to go for it. That lasted a few minutes, but it's hard work and the weather is very hot. If only they'd felt this way in the early spring. They ended up playing Capture the Flag or something instead.

I'm hopeful though. This is the first time that they've been interested long enough to actually go outside. Maybe next year when the house is further along and we try to start a garden, they'll help me a lot. We'll see.



Yesterday Sam asked me what I think I want to be when I grow up. Aside from laughing, my answer was, "Maybe a mom."

His reply was, "No, maybe you could be a grandma."

Wow. An almost 4 yr old doesn't think his 40 yr old mother is grown up yet? I don't know if I should be flattered or worried.

Melissa

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Kitten Update

If you are a sensitive person, an animal lover, or whatever other type of person it would take to be upset when you hear an animal has died, stop reading right now. Just find something else to read for now.

Okay, if you are still reading, don't say I didn't warn you.

Several weeks ago I was talking to the friend from whom we got Red (the mother cat). She was telling me that she was surprised that Red had survived long enough to have her own kittens because every litter Red's mother has had since then, all the kittens have died by crawling up under car hoods, drivers unaware.

About a week ago I was on my way home from taking Gloria to the doctor and saw one of our kittens lying dead in the road. I was sure I had done it. Red, the mama cat, had been walking away from the van when I left and I was sure the kitten had been up under the hood and fell out as I left. It turned out it hadn't been the van, but the truck and Roger was very aware that it had happened.

Then today as we left for church we saw a kitten walking away from the van. I thought maybe, but probably not. But then Roger noticed a kitten in the road when he looked in the rear view mirror. It hadn't been there before we went by!

As we headed home I was hoping that the kitten would be gone so the kids wouldn't have to see it. (Ok, I realize we should have dealt with it when it happened, but we were on our way to church and the kids were all with us! They hadn't seen the kitten and we didn't really want them to find out right before church.) As we came around the corner I was relieved to see the road empty. Then, from the side of the road a big turkey vulture took off. I watched it fly away and saw our kitten in the bird's grasp. I couldn't help but laugh. This may not be a normal reaction, but it was funny to me.

Just this morning at church we'd sung one of my favorite hymns--one that I hope will be sung at my funeral some day. I'll Fly Away.

Mitchell commented on how storks bring us into the world and turkey vultures bring us out. What a great and mighty bird it must be.

And no, none of the little ones were upset. They all missed the great flight.

Melissa

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Birthday Bubbles


The kids have a new grandmother. Grandma Katie sent Gloria a birthday present that everyone loved--a bubble machine! There were also clothes in the box which Gloria was impressed with (she was in the middle of trying them on when the bubbles got to going). What thrilled her the most was a package of new socks. She had to try on every pair last night. I thought she just loved shoes, but I guess socks go with that.

Melissa