Thursday, December 31, 2009

Zoo Day

We went to the Abilene zoo today and while it was disappointing in many ways (the giraffes weren't out yet so we didn't get to feed them and the monkeys were blocked off so we couldn't see them) it was a visit we will never forget.

One of the benefits of going to the zoo on a chilly day is that the animals are more active. The last couple visits, the lions just slept and that's kind of boring to see. Today they were awake. As we walked up, they just stared at us. There was kind of a grumpy look to the male, but I just figured he always looks like that when he's awake.

So the kids were talking and laughing and trying to get them to eat crackers. The lions were completely uninterested in the crackers. All of a sudden there was a roar and the male lion pounced. He seemed to be after Joy, our 7 year old. If it weren't for the fence between them, she'd have been a mid-morning snack today. It was very scary for her and she wants everyone to stop talking about it. But I think in time she'll be okay and realize what a cool story she has to tell! It was scary for me to see and he wasn't looking at me!

We hope to go back in a few days if it warms up a little. We really wanted to see those giraffes. The Abilene Zoo is small, but what an awesome experience it is to feed the giraffes! They have this walkway that goes up over the giraffes. You can purchase crackers at the gate when you arrive and you can feed most of the animals in the park. They warned us the first time to save some for the giraffes. We were sure glad we did. They come up to the walkway and stick out those long tongues and wrap them around the cracker you hand them. Yes, you get licked by a giraffe! We certainly appreciate the hand sanitizer stations at either end of the walkway!!! Here's a picture from our visit back in October. I didn't bring the camera today or I would be sharing a picture of the lion sulking after he couldn't have his "snack."

Monday, November 02, 2009

Haircut Day


Today I gave 8 children a haircut. No, I'm not a hair stylist and no, I didn't get paid. However, I DID save a LOT of money by not having to pay for any of the haircuts.

Actually, two of the kids got a trim just so they wouldn't feel left out-- Gloria, in particular. She keeps cutting her own hair and so I trimmed hers a bit to straighten it out a bit more. Then Claire got a trim just so she could be in the picture with all the kids who got a haircut today. She just got a haircut 5 or 6 weeks ago and didn't really need anything done with it yet.

And now, just for your viewing pleasure: my children with new haircuts. Faith, Grace, Claire, Clark, Joy, Sam, Gloria and Ezra

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Changing Taste

I've been studying nutrition as a part of my study on herbs. Our family is learning and discovering we had a long way to go to truly follow a healthy diet. So we're making little changes here and there. For some of us it's hard and others find it easy.

I'm having a hard time because I can't figure out what to fix for dinner! The main change we are making is to add more veggies to our diet. You would think that would be easy, but I don't like most veggies. So I'm having to sneak them in on myself. How do you do that?

We had smoothies for breakfast a few times and added spinach. No one notices a difference. I'm thinking we should add some other veggies and see how that goes. But it's gotten kinda cold and a smoothie isn't the greatest thing on a cold morning.

I discovered a while back that if I put all the veggies for soup through the food processor and just mush them all up before I put it in the soup, it cooks down to just a broth and we all love it. So this last time I made soup I added some extra veggies and no one could tell the difference. I think I just added cauliflower this time, but also there were carrots, celery, onion, and garlic as usual. It used to be the kids would eat the broth, noodles or rice, and chicken, but skip over the carrots and celery. Now they get it all without really noticing and they love it! I don't lie to them. They know it's there. But they don't mind because there are no "chunks."

I'm trying to serve raw veggies as often as possible. It seems to be popular. It helps that we no longer buy any crackers, or other "white flour" products. We've been avoiding msg for quite some time. And we're back to home-made whole wheat bread.

There has been a little resistance from some of the kids. Mostly one in particular who had been getting candy outside the house for a while. She knew better, but figured she was trying to gain weight so it was okay. She missed the little bit of junk she used to eat. But I've shared things I've learned and fed her good healthy food and apparently she's coming around. She told me today that she doesn't even want the Skittles she used to love. I agreed. I recently ate one of my old favorite candies and was very disappointed. It has a processed taste.

Yesterday and today we were out all morning and on the way home stopped at Dollar General for lunch. I got some plastic spoons, applesauce, nuts, crackers, dry cereal, dried fruit, and cookies. That was yesterday. The applesauce, nuts, and dried fruit were the most popular. Today when I stopped for more I was told NO dry cereal since we never even ate the cookies yesterday. And please get lots of fruit and applesauce. So I did. Again, the healthier stuff was scarfed down, the crackers were tolerated and then we moved on to the cookies. We actually threw some away!! I heard comments from my children such as "These aren't as good as I remembered them." and "Anyone want the rest of my cookies?" Same thing with the processed cheese dip with crackers yesterday. We all used to love that and now it's just gross.

Roger made some salsa last week from all raw ingredients. There is some tweaking he wants to do to the recipe, but it was good. He ran out though and hadn't made more yet so he went back to the store bought brand of stuff he loves. He called me to say it went bad. I said no way, it was new. So we checked it again last night and it was fine. But his taste has changed to where the fresh stuff was just so much better he didn't care for the old favorite anymore.

So now my family is mad at me because they are ruined. They no longer like the junk they used to love. All they want is real food that tastes good. Not the fake flavored stuff or overly processed stuff that we used to think was great.

The real shocker to me is that we're spending less. I'm buying a LOT of fresh produce and we're chowing down on that. And it's kind of expensive. But apparently when you fill your body with nutrients, it gets satisfied and you don't feel hungry as often. You actually start to eat less food. You know how you can eat chips or ice cream, or how there's always room for J-E-L-L-O and you just hardly ever feel full from those things? I've learned that our tummies have sensors in them that send messages to the brain alerting the brain to feel full only when we've received a good amount of nutrients and/or fiber. So if you eat something that is useless to your body, that message doesn't get sent. Your tummy just stretches to make room for more food while waiting for those nutrients that it needs to keep your body running right. The calories will add up and register all over you, but the body needs nutrients. You'll feel a lot more satisfied after eating healthy stuff. So while I'm spending more on produce, I don't spend anything on "fillers". We don't even really snack anymore. If someone needs something mid-day I offer carrots or fruit and it works.

Think about it. Which costs more? An apple, or a candy bar? You can buy an apple for 25 cents or so. Need two? That's okay. You can eat as much as you want of fruits and vegetables without feeling guilty. So for the price of a single candy bar (I'm guessing at 75 cents here because I haven't bought a candy bar in a long time. Hope this is close.) you could eat 3 apples!! You would skip the empty calories, fat and caffeine from the sugar and chocolate and instead nourish your body with fiber, vitamins, and minerals--plus all those things in fruit that science hasn't even figured out we need yet. And who wouldn't get full from 3 apples? Most people would stop at 1 or 2 which saves you money. And I'm guessing if you need 3 or more, you'd have bought more than 1 candy bar--or at least the jumbo size.

So beware. If you start to eat healthy food, you'll become a food snob. Your taste buds will wake up to the flavors that God created and you'll only want Real Fruit instead of "real fruit flavor." You'll find that the healthy stuff isn't boring at all and actually your tongue was just numbed by all the chemicals it had been taught to eat as food. And the worst thing of all is that you'll gain energy, health, and actually save money on your grocery bill!!

Now if only I could grow some produce myself. I'm trying again with a grow light this time, but that's another post for another day.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

I love Jesus with all my heart

We all had the flu over the summer. Swine flu? Avian flu? Regular flu? Who knows? I just know we were sick and it wasn't fun. About 2 days later we were fine, but coughed for a couple weeks off and on. Just weird little coughing fits that were awful, then it was gone. No more symptoms--except for one. I found myself breathless all the time and tired--more so than usual. There was a tightness in my chest pretty often. I blew it all off as pregnancy stuff.

A couple weeks ago it occurred to me that it wasn't normal to have been feeling this way so early in pregnancy. It dawned on me that something was wrong and getting worse.

I'm not trying to encourage anyone to avoid doctors the way I do, but I do. I've had more health problems get worse due to doctors than better and just really try to fix things on my own before I go to the doctor. Usually there is a natural solution that works for me better than the drugs and surgery the doctors want to push. Not saying that's always the best way to handle things, just saying. I want you to understand where I'm coming from so you'll get over that part of it and get the rest of the story. If nothing else had helped, I'd have eventually gone to the doctor. I think.

Meanwhile Roger has been praying over me every day. I've been getting instructions from my Physician (God) such as herbs to take and to go to bed earlier. Nothing major. I was beginning to do better, but it was still happening.

Sunday morning I was praying before church and felt that God was telling me to go forward and ask for prayer for my heart. I really didn't want to do that. Then when we were at church, the pastor announced that anyone who was interested could come take the Lord's Supper and that there was prayer opportunity on the sides of the room. I stood there wondering if I should really go and not wanting to. I didn't know anyone. Then Roger prompted me to go ask a certain couple we know to pray for my heart. I went. As they prayed, I felt a burning sensation in my heart. It lasted all through the morning. Then it was gone.

All my symptoms are gone now. No more tightness or shortness of breath. I can carry Ezra up the stairs and not need a long break when I get to the top. And the big test came this morning. I was up late last night, had to get up early this morning. Lately when my alarm goes off and I walk across the room to turn it off my heart pounds hard and I have to lay back down to settle it before I can start my day. This morning it should have been awful because of the short night's sleep. But I was fine. I am sleepy now, but I've been awake for 12 hours on a busy day with no nap and I am 25 weeks pregnant. So sleepy is justifiable. But I was able to get up and do laundry and get going on my day as if nothing had ever been wrong.

I just wanted to share this. Again, I'm not advocating avoiding doctors. I just want to point out that Jesus still heals and He healed me and I am so grateful and feel so great I just wanted to share it. (That run-on sentence would be spoken quickly and excitedly if you could hear me.)

I'm guessing He has big plans for this new little baby and has to keep me around a bit longer to accomplish them.

Have a blessed day!
Melissa

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Our Clyde House Garage

I haven't blogged in almost 2 months and what's the first thing I want to tell you about? My new garage. And no, this isn't Roger, it's Melissa writing.

See, we have a large family and drive large vehicles. So parking in the garage is not an option. But this house has a 2 car attached garage. And it's well insulated--even the garage door. So I decided to use it as house space. I made this decision while we were looking at the house. In my opinion, it was the only way to make the house work for us. We have used a "family closet" system for over 7 years, with a slight interruption at the first house in Coleman, and it wasn't something I wanted to give up. I love it. But this house has a tiny laundry room. Actually, every house we looked at in Clyde has a tiny laundry room. So I noticed the garage was right next to the laundry room and decided to make use of it.

We bought lots of shelves. We had shelves already, but Roger wants them for the workshop out back. I used this as a chance to get "prettier" shelves. He's getting the ugly plastic ones. They were great as they were cheap and strong. But if I'm going to have a room FULL of shelves and spend a lot of time in there, I want nicer shelves if possible. We found ours at Sams Club. I think we ended up buying the entire inventory at our local store. And my brilliant husband pointed out that we could put several sets of shelves together and stretch 2 sets into 3. This is because we needed vertical space in between shelves to fit our boxes of clothes so we wouldn't use all the shelves from each set. But we didn't need to buy a whole new set for the legs because we could use the legs from 2 sets and put the extra shelves in between. Maybe the pictures will help that make sense.

I was going to wait until I had it all cleaned up and organized to write this post, but then I discovered during my "break" today that the MOMYS list has been discussing laundry so I figured I'd share here now rather than wait. Besides, we're still moving so you'll all be forgiving about a little mess, right? And frankly, considering we're in the midst of moving 10 people plus much of the stuff of 2 boys who've moved out, it doesn't look that bad. Might just get worse later. We'll see.

So this first pic is taken from the doorway from the house into the garage. I tried to get as much of the room in the pic as possible. All the way to the left is food, appliances, and paper goods. The middle is toys. To the right is clothing. We just finished assembling the last set of shelves yesterday so they are still fairly empty. But we still have more stuff to put on them so it will be filled eventually I'm sure.
Here's a shot of our clothing shelves. Each member of the family (except me because I have a big closet with shelves and prefer to keep my clothes there.) has a shelf with 2 boxes and a basket--or 3 baskets or some sort of mix of boxes and baskets depending on how many boxes were broken. There is one box for everyday clothes, one for socks, underclothes, and pjs, and one for shoes. They still leave shoes everywhere, but it makes it easier to put them away when they all go in one place. Extra clothes and shoes that don't currently fit anyone go on the other shelves and there are more shelves across from here that can be used for clothes, swimsuits, coats, etc.
This next pic shows the toy area. To the right is the extra shelves I just mentioned for clothes. They can also hold toys and games. We used the playmats on the floor that I bought a while back when Ezra was learning to walk. This gave it a cheerier look and a softer, warmer floor to play on. The left border is where we keep food, appliances and paper goods, along with extra toys.
Next is the food storage area. The shelves on the right in this picture are the same shelves on the left of the play area. Then to the left is more food shelves. The bottom shelves are high enough off the ground that we can put our buckets of grain and stuff under them. Looking at this pic I see that many of the buckets are out in the middle of the aisle. I can't figure out why. I know the kids have been expanding their play area and creating cities and houses all over the place. I told them they had to leave the food alone, but I'm not so sure they did.
I took this pic just to share something I didn't plan but am soooo excited about. I have the food right next to the garage door. So I left enough space that we can open the door and stand in the garage to unload groceries. If it's raining, we're mostly out of the rain this way. Since I normally shop in bulk, we have a lot of stuff to carry in. It won't be much of a walk this way! Then when I need to replace something in the kitchen, I just walk out to the garage and shop from my pantry. I thought that was pretty awesome! Especially great for my kids who are the ones who do all the unloading most of the time. I like little things like this that make life easier.
Here you see the end of the food shelves on the right of the picture. To the left, amid our mess, is our extra refrigerator. Only one fridge fits in the kitchen so the extra stuff goes out here. Not bad since again, this is where we unload our groceries now.
This is currently my staging area where I sort through boxes and baskets of stuff and pile empty boxes and things I still need to sort through. Eventually we'll move the extra refrigerator over to that "empty" wall and put our big freezer where the refrigerator is. The only things I have left to figure out are where to put the rod for hanging clothes and when to find the time to get all this done. We took a month off school to move, but our month is almost up. School starts back up on Monday.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Preparing to Move--Selling the house and acreage

We have found a new house in Clyde and are looking forward to the new adventure God has in store for us there. Meanwhile, there are some things we have to finish up here in Coleman County.

We have been working for the last, um, I don't even know how long--two and a half years?--on building a house. Now we need to sell it. We haven't finished it yet and will need to come back each weekend and work on the house so that we can finish it and sell it.

I'll be honest. I'm mentioning this here in the hopes that there is someone who would love to come here and finish the work we started. If you are interested in buying our fenced property with 60+ acres (great for hunting as we know we have deer and turkey and dove and quail and have never even had to try to attract them), a pond, a 2200-ish sq ft house that isn't finished, but is certainly fine for living in, a 30x40 ft barn/workshop with electricity and concrete floor--adjacent to a large concrete pad, another barn on the property, a storage building off the driveway, solar panels that help offset the electric bill, and I'm not sure what else to tell you, please contact us. You can comment here or email Roger at mgrbik [at] gmail.com. We would offer a good deal if we don't have to finish the house. Once it's done, all bargains are over. We'll lose our motivation to be generous.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Our Chickens

I lost interest in our chickens about the time morning sickness set in. I've been more miserable with this pregnancy than any of the others. It didn't help that we all got some stomach virus right in the middle of it. But I'm just having a hard time with getting going each day and getting anything done. Smells bother me a lot. And chickens smell. Some people will try to tell you they don't, but they do. My nose knows.

We free range our chickens. We would lock them up at night, then release them mid-day. This allows them to forage for all the bugs and such that they want, while still allowing us to collect eggs. However, lately I hadn't been doing that. They were just putting themselves up at night and then getting up at dawn, or earlier, and coming up to the house to hang out in the coolness of our porch. I had several excuses. The heat was pretty harsh and this allowed them to find a cooler spot early in the day. And I hated all the spider webs I had to walk through each night to lock them up. But the reality is that I just didn't want to be around them anymore. The smell was too hard to deal with for me and I'm just a lazy slug with this nausea. Plus they had quit laying anyway with the heat. Well, we still were getting some eggs, but not a lot considering how many chickens we had. Overall though, I just didn't want to keep raising chickens.

We were also getting close to the point where it was time to start new chicks and butcher the ones we had for soup and such for the winter. I was dreading that. I have learned living here that I can do whatever I need to do no matter how gross it is. But that doesn't mean I like it. I know it's healthier meat and eggs, but it's also more expensive to raise them ourselves and more work. I've heard from some people that they save money. I don't know how. Maybe they have other feed options? Maybe God is just blessing them more in that area? Whatever it is, we were spending more and working more and I'm ready for a break.

So we gave our chickens away. We have a family renting our blue house--the one we lived in when we first moved here. As a benefit of renting from us, you get free chickens. Roger, Clark and our renter packed them up in a dog kennel, loaded the chicken tractor on the trailer and took them over there. It was so nice to not be woken at 5am by the crowing of the rooster. I didn't have to feel guilty when I didn't walk through spider webs to put them up last night. I didn't have to go collect eggs or feed the chickens when what I really wanted to do was take a nap. Just quiet. And no new chicken crap on our porch!! We always saved our table scraps for the chickens and they would sit on the counter attracting flies each day. No more. I threw away the nasty container we collected them in. I could have washed it and that was a bit wasteful, but it felt so good.

Chickens aren't really that bad to keep. They are easy and fun and a good healthy way to grow your own food. But I was ready to be done. We could have kept them and moved them to our new place probably. We had chickens in Grapevine. But I was ready to be done. I'd been thinking I wanted to quit raising chickens for a while, but it seemed sort of a have to thing living here. As soon as I heard Roger got the job, I decided to quit raising chickens. We'll see if I take it up again some day on a smaller scale. I don't know. But for now, I'm loving that they are gone.

Melissa's Random Thoughts on Moving Again

I guess I must be part gypsy. Actually, I don't know anything about gypsies. Are they real or some mythical creature? What I've always heard is that they like bright colors, steal/collect children, and move around a lot. Many times I've selected colors and been told, "hmm, that seems a bit gypsy-like". I've never stolen a child, but I do have an awesome collection of them. And there have been times we almost stole one accidentally when some random child just starts following the crowd of kids. It's usually as we're leaving a place and they try to wander out the door with us. Gets me some dirty looks sometimes, but hey, it's really not my fault. I am watching to be sure I have my kids with me. Can't they watch to be sure their ONE kid stays with them? Anyway, by some people's standards, I move a lot too. I don't think so. I love to move though. I love the adventure of finding a new home, meeting new people, and just change in general can be so exciting. I don't mean this when it comes to some of the political changes here lately, but that's another subject altogether which I do not feel like blogging about today. In the last few months I've had several moments of panicky feelings at the idea that we were settled forever here. I can't explain it, but it just didn't sit well with me. When I'm not moving, I'm rearranging furniture or making some other change in our home. It seems to keep me going.

Before we left Grapevine there were some signs that it may be time for us to go but we didn't pick up on them until after God said go. Then we could see that God had really prepared us for the move long before it was time. We were still sad to leave our friends and family, but there was an adventure ahead and we knew we were following God.

This time, I've been seeing we had several things that seemed to be in transition all at once, but I didn't connect that perhaps God would move us again. There were also several issues I was concerned and praying about but didn't know how God would answer these prayers. I believe He was preparing us to move again. Looking back, I can see the signs. And again we'll be sad to leave friends we've made, but there is adventure ahead and we believe we are following God.

I am personally so excited about this that I am losing sleep. The loss of sleep isn't so good, but I love to be this excited about something. I wake up at night and my mind just starts going fast with all the thoughts about a new house, and how to move from 68 acres to, well, we're hoping for 3 right now. So many unknowns and new possibilities and I just can't shut my brain down.

As time allows I will try to blog about some of the steps involved. I wondered aloud on Facebook if we should keep blogging and it seems there is interest still. Several people suggested changing our title and continuing to blog but at least one of my friends pointed out that we're weird enough that pretty much anything we do will cause people to say, "You're doing what?" So we'll keep the title.

Hopefully we'll have news today about what house we're moving to. Just waiting for a phone call. . .

Sunday, July 26, 2009

A post in which Roger explains why the family is moving from Coleman to Clyde

So, here is how our move came about. On July 13th I was in a conference call and one of the folks mentioned that the Mayor of Clyde, Texas was the acting City Administrator and their application process was going poorly. She mentioned to me that I ought to call him to see if any of my contacts in the city management profession might want the job.

Having never been to Clyde I drove up to take a look and it was a nice looking town. I figured I'd just go ahead and apply – the deadline was looming in two days, July 15th. I talked to Melissa and she just looked at me and said “Go for it.”

I found an old resume and updated it, wrote a cover letter and drove up on the afternoon of the 15th. On the morning of the 16th they called and asked me to come to an interview at 8:45 p.m. on Monday, July 20th.

On the 20th I interviewed and drove home. As I was talking to Mitchell and Faith my phone rang and it was the Mayor asking me to come come back the next night at 6 p.m.

On the 21st I went back for a second interview and it turned out I was the only one left in the candidate pool. I met with the Council for about two hours. I drove away from the meeting and about 30 minutes later the Mayor called and offered me the job. I took it. We are moving.

Four years ago I wanted a change. I wanted to know my kids, to break from the rat race in the metroplex and to not have to worry about the daily grind of city management. Now, I still want to be close to my kids and I believe that I will be able to even thought I have a five day a week job. Clyde is a city of about 3500, that is way less than the 45,000 in Grapevine. Clyde is not in the DFW metro area and we are trying to get a house where we can keep our cow. A big difference from being in the metroplex. I will still get stressed out, but I will also get to milk a cow every morning and that seems to be a good way to cut through the stress before it ever gets started.

So, we will need to change some of the blog description, but it will still be a running log of the weirdness that is the Nelson family.

Roger

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

CNN = slanted load of crap

This morning I was cruising through some news sites and there in CNN's feed it said "Commentary: Health Care Can't Wait" Turns out it was Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services. I read it, I disagreed and I commented. My comment was that I would trust government health care when my congressman, senator and president all had the same plan they wanted me to have. By the way, congress is exempted from having to follow this law. This is very typical as they are exempt from the almost all the laws they draft, other than raises.

So after I posted I noticed that CNN moderates the posts it allows. I went back three hours later and there were 25 comments under the Sebelius commentary. Mine did not make the cut. Most comments were like this one: "Need to get it done, sooner the better for this country. Only people still resisting are the ones profiting the most from the current system and those that are manipulated by the profiteers' misinformation." This is the comment from Geodin on CNN. At 7:30 p.m. there were about 40 comments, 15 or so more than when I checked at around noon.

At noon the "Commentary" tag on CNN had changed to note it was Sebelius and there was another one right under it "Boustany: Democrats' plans are a prescription for pain" Rep. Charles Boustany is a congressman from Louisiana. At noon there were 75 or so comments to his column. Most were like this one from Rob "Yeah, this guy thinks everyone should be able to pick "quality" healthcare. That is, unless you cant afford it. Then you deserve to die in the streets, right? It's about time the health system was overhauled."

I have yet to see a scientific poll that shows support for health care reform outstripping opposition among the population. Yet it seems there is overwhelming support on CNN. Maybe not, maybe they are so in the tank for BO that they even slant the reader opinion sections on the web page.

No MAYBE about it.

Roger

PS - just wanted to let this be known so that next time you hear about voter outrage on CNN you will know that they can't be trusted to play it straight.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Offend or Be Offended?

Not a pleasant title, huh? But that's kind of how it seems to have turned out with our latest pregnancy announcement.

I am sorry to those of you who are truly happy for us and would have reacted with excitement, that I did not take the time to call you personally and tell you. I'm sorry you had to learn about our great news through Facebook or our blog. Please understand it is not that you didn't matter to us, but that we have learned we have to protect ourselves.

Have you ever had something really exciting come up in your life and then you tell someone only to be met with negativity? Imagine that nearly everyone you tell is negative about it. Wouldn't that make you not want to share? Yet the news is so happy and exciting you can't imagine anyone would be negative! Well, that's what it's like when a large family announces a new pregnancy. Sadly, we began experiencing it with our 3rd child.

The comments kept getting worse as we added to our family. The 5th was the worst. I guess we'd crossed some sort of line. But then it got a little better after that. I think part of the improvement was we quit telling people in person. We gave them a chance to react on their own before showing us their displeasure. Most people, if given time to think about it, still follow the old rule, "if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all."

Things that people don't seem to realize are not nice:

"Don't you know what causes that?" Duh. You learn that in grade school these days whether you want to or not. It wasn't funny the first time we heard it and it isn't funny the millionth time either. I don't know a single mother or father who has heard that comment and thought it was funny. You are implying that this pregnancy is something we don't want. That's not nice. Not funny. Shouldn't be said. I am telling you this so that if you ever feel tempted to let those words come out of your mouth, you can know that it will not be well received EVEN if the recipient pretends to laugh. They are just being polite. Trust me.

"How will you ever have the energy for one more?" Let me ask you. Do you think this comment is helpful? Let's say the mother responds with something along the lines of I don't know. Do you have something helpful to say in response? This comments seems to suggest that you think this person is already not handling what she has and won't be able to handle more. If you think this is the case, either offer some practical help, or keep your mouth shut. No one needs discouragement to help them through a pregnancy. I have not yet had a single pregnancy where I didn't wonder, "How am I gonna handle this? Can I really do a good job raising this child? This is such a huge responsibility!" With my first couple of pregnancies, I could talk to friends or family and be encouraged and get back to feeling okay. I can't do that anymore. Everyone seems to think that while I've done a good job so far, this time I will fail.

"Aren't you getting a little old for this?" Um, when is a comment that implies someone is old EVER a polite thing to say?

There are more, but my point is really just please, please think before you speak. It's too late with us. We won't tell you in person because we've been offended far too many times by people we never would have expected to react that way. But I'm sure you know people who will have a third child or more. Please don't be part of the reason that they someday share their news in writing so they don't have to hear rude comments. We have to hear it at the grocery store from total strangers. We shouldn't have to hear it from people we love.

The reality is that if we'd have trusted our own reason, we'd have quit long ago. I think we'd have stopped at four children. But I know without a doubt that we'd have missed out on HUGE blessings. God challenged us to trust Him and we had no reason not to. We still have no reason not to trust Him. Our children are nothing but a blessing. Roger and I often marvel at how stupid we nearly were to try to stop the blessings. The joys we had no idea we would miss out on are too numerous to count. Yes, we've had to make some sacrifices and will continue to do so. But the blessings outweigh the sacrifices.

A new baby is good news to us. We will continue to rejoice in our blessings.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Why don't we celebrate Christmas?

I get asked this question mostly in December. In 2007, I wrote up a little essay to answer the question. I considered posting it here, but I really didn't want to mess up anyone's holiday. And then I don't really think about it much unless someone asks. Well, today someone asked. I figured why not write about Christmas in July?

So here is the essay I wrote almost 2 years ago. We've learned more since then and realized I left out a few things, but I really don't have the time at this moment to edit this and it gives the basics at least. Feel free to ask questions if you'd like. If you aren't being rude or argumentative, but sincerely curious, we'll be happy to answer them.

I want to make it clear that I am not posting this to try to convince anyone or debate with anyone what YOU should do or not do. I am simply sharing why we made our decision. This is not posted here to persuade anyone, just to answer the question of why. What you celebrate or don't celebrate is between you and our Creator, not you and me.

Why don’t we celebrate Christmas?

I guess it started a long time ago. First we gave up Halloween. Many Christians can easily see that one. It’s pagan in origin and we could find nothing that glorified God in the celebration of it. And we’d stopped celebrating Easter pretty much completely. We had done away with anything about it that we knew was pagan—egg hunts, the Easter bunny, etc. We still celebrated the Resurrection of Christ on Easter Sunday though.

Over the years we kept minimizing the materialistic side of Christmas. We phased out Santa when our oldest child learned the truth about him and wanted to know, “why did you lie to me?” I’d never thought of it as a lie, but what else can you call it? We weren’t telling the truth.

As with Easter, we tried to get rid of the pagan aspects of Christmas. We were still doing stockings, but then we tried calling them camel packs—as in the wise men bearing gifts while traveling on a camel. We gave each child one gift plus the “camel pack” stuffers. Then the children drew names and gave each other a gift. That’s not too bad. We were trying to get the focus on Christ, not ourselves or the gifts.

One year we did a birthday cake for Jesus. But it seemed so trivial. Here it was Jesus’ birthday and we were getting presents and eating His cake.

Even our decorations got reviewed. If we couldn’t find some spiritual symbolism to the decoration, it didn’t go up.

Then we noticed that in our daily Bible reading we kept coming across the same idea over and over. We read about how the Israelites kept turning toward pagan ways and mixing worship of God with pagan worship methods. God stated clearly that that was wrong. Exodus 23:24 says, "You shall not bow down to their gods, nor serve them, nor do according to their works; but you shall utterly overthrow them and completely break down their sacred pillars.” Deuteronomy 6:13-15 "You shall fear the LORD your God and serve Him, and shall take oaths in His name. You shall not go after other gods, the gods of the peoples who are all around you (for the LORD your God is a jealous God among you), lest the anger of the LORD your God be aroused against you and destroy you from the face of the earth.” Again in Joshua 23:7-8 "and lest you go among these nations, these who remain among you. You shall not make mention of the name of their gods, nor cause anyone to swear by them; you shall not serve them nor bow down to them, but you shall hold fast to the LORD your God, as you have done to this day.”

We were reading this and we knew the origins of Christmas include taking a pagan festival and trying to make it Christian. This was to make it easier for the pagans to convert to Christianity. They wouldn’t have to give up their festivals. That had always seemed perfectly legitimate to me before, but I was starting to question that.

Then we learned that Ishtar (pronounced easter) supposedly laid an egg on Easter Sunday. This egg hatched bringing forth her son—Nimrod resurrected—her dead husband whom she had pronounced to be the Sun god. And when do they celebrate the birth of the Sun god? December 25th. How convenient that was for Constantine. All I had previously learned about him was that he was the one that stopped persecuting Christians. But now I was learning that while he did accept Christ, it was only as one of the many gods he worshiped. His favorite god was the Sun god. So he was able to set it up so that he could worship his favorite god along with Christ and everyone would be happy. The Christians were okay with this. Wouldn’t anyone be? They got to stay alive.

About the same time that we were learning all this, we were also wondering why we don’t celebrate the Biblical feasts anymore. Jesus did. God said to keep the feasts forever. Did “forever” mean to quit when Jesus was resurrected? Paul continued to keep the feasts after the resurrection. Why don’t we still keep them? We couldn’t find an answer. So we started to try to figure out how to keep the feasts.

We then decided, as a family, that we just didn’t feel right celebrating Christmas anymore. We just can’t do it. We can’t see how it pleases God.

But do we feel like we are sacrificing something? Yes and no. We no longer celebrate a holiday that we celebrated all our lives. But God gave us many celebrations to keep. Hanukkah is not a commanded feast, but Jesus kept it (see John 10:22) and what a cool story that is! And most of the feasts that God gave us (what a great God! He “commands” us to celebrate and have fun!) are long—7 days for Passover, 8 days of Hanukkah, and the weekly Sabbath. We actually gained much more than we gave up.

We are learning so much about God through the keeping of these feasts. Much more than we ever learned singing Christmas carols, eating cookies, or giving and receiving gifts.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Weird Garden or Ignorant Gardener?

Today was homeschool park day. The topic of gardening often comes up. So today I was sharing about how my garden has nothing growing on one side. I commented that even the potato plants that had gotten so big had completely died. My friend Tracy just smiled. I appreciate that she didn't outwardly laugh at me. Then she explained that that is how you know when it's time to harvest your potatoes. Okay, I knew that, but I expected it to be Fall. I had no idea it would be so soon. So I feel stupid.

So I checked the dirt under those very dead potato plants and I found a potato for everyone still living at home. Sorry, Stephen, none for you! And this is just from a couple of potatoes that had sprouted in the house. I'd never really intended to plant potatoes. I just figured I'd see what happens. I didn't even cut them up like I guess I was supposed to do. I just took the sprouted potatoes and planted them in the ground. I was experimenting. I guess I never really expected anything to come of it.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

My Weird Garden

I've mentioned my garden a time or two I believe. I've had trouble with gardening ever since we moved to Texas in 1994. There is some obstacle every time. There have been normal things like droughts and floods that have wiped out my garden attempts. But there have also been unusual things like getting a new puppy who decides to dig, eat or pee in the garden until there is nothing left of it. This year it was, I thought, the roly polies. Every year I fight it until I decide it just isn't worth it and then I give up. This year pregnancy nausea (it's not right to call it morning sickness when it lasts 24 hours--yes, I have it when I am up at night with kids) convinced me that the garden is not worth the trouble.

So tonight, after something like 4 inches of rain, I went out to take care of the chickens and my "garden tractor" is right there. I figured I should just take the door off it and let the chickens get in there and maybe eat some of the really tall weeds that grew in there. That's when it struck me how odd it is.

I've attempted the square foot garden method this year. So I purchased compost, vermiculite, and peat moss and mixed it together in the garden. I spread it out across the area and made a grid with string. Then I planted. The stuff I planted to the left of the door (my garden was in an old chicken tractor that we weren't using for chickens) grew, but we had a late freeze and most of it died. Then when I replanted, it was spring stuff--carrots, brocolli--and herbs. The herbs are still growing. To the right of the door, everything I planted either didn't grow or died right away. Seeds didn't sprout. Or if they did, they disappeared by the next day. It was strange. Then I discovered roly polies covering the plants and figured that was the problem. But we had them on the other side, too, and they did get a few of the plants over there.

But tonight I noticed that I had tall weeds growing all around the outside of the garden and all through the middle where I had a walkway. To the left I had lots of mint growing everywhere. To the right, nothing. Not even weeds. Not one thing is growing over there. Well, wait, I planted some fennel seeds which sprouted and one little plant is still there but it hasn't progressed beyond seedling in over a month.
What you see when you walk up to the "garden".

The left side of the garden with mint, an empty space where I pulled out the carrots, and tall weeds leaning over it.
The right side of the garden. The cups were traps to try to catch roly polies and I caught plenty. Interestingly, the spiders figured out that was a good place to hang out. But look, nothing growing.
Here you can see the weeds are tall inside and outside the tractor and even in front and behind it. Tall weeds are surrounding the garden, but nothing growing in my supposedly really great dirt.

So what's the deal? Did I buy bad compost or something? I mixed bags of stuff separately for the two sides. I've just never seen anything like this. Anyone have any thoughts?

Friday, June 26, 2009

An Announcement

We learned on Father's Day that we are now expecting our 11th child. We think the due date is probably mid-February.

Our New Porch

I've been putting off blogging about the new porch because I wanted to post pictures after it's all done. Well, I wanted to update what's going on and that's been a HUGE project around here.

I believe I posted some pics a while back of the porch. The big project has been putting a roof on that porch. It's not done yet, so I'm not going to go take pics yet. But trust me, it's lookin' good.

This roof allows us to eat breakfast without the sun blinding us in the morning.

It gives us shade to sit in outside where there's nearly always a nice breeze, even though the temps have been over 100 every day for too long now.

It adds to our "living space" by quite a bit.

When it rains, we won't have to close out the cooler air to keep the water out of the house.

It makes the house look a lot more like a house and less like a big box.

Roger's going to have a place to hang fans outside giving us even more of a breeze. And his sister, Ronda, makes these really cool pulls to hang on the end of the chain and she gave us a bunch of them for our fans. I'll be sure to share pics of those once the project is complete. She is very creative and artistic and these are just fantastic looking. I can't wait to hang them up.

Laundry Update

We've been a little busy lately. I caught up with all that laundry. Bought a new washer and that helped a lot. I think front loaders are just not made for people who do 3 large loads a day of really dirty laundry including diapers. I got one of the last two regular top loaders in Abilene. I wanted one that uses real water and rinses away the dirt. Apparently before long you won't be able to buy one anymore. For most families that may not be an issue. They say these new high efficiency things will save you up to 54% of the energy and up to 46% of the water. So I did the math.

I figured since I do each load 3 times to get it almost clean, then I need to multiply my energy and water use by 3. If I am saving 54%, then I am using 46%. If I am saving 46%, then I am using 54%.

46% x 3 = 138%
54% x 3 = 162%

Since both of those numbers add up to more than 100%, my savings have become actually HIGHER costs, not savings. Plus, our clothes were wearing out faster and still not clean after those 3 washings. So we had added expenses there. With my new "low efficiency" washer, I can even wash diapers without any trouble.

And get this, I got the same size tub as my front loader, but now I have the big post thingy in the middle so it should hold less. But it holds more. Turns out they use different standards of measurement for high efficiency machines. I don't get it enough to explain it, but it's sort of like they get extra credit for size because they are more efficient. Seems like just a lie to convince us all it's a good thing to me. Anyway, what I do know is that I am using the same laundry bags with my new washer as I did for my front loader and when I put a "load" into the new washer, there's still room for me to run around the house and gather up some of the stragglers I find laying around. Pretty cool.

So the rest of you enjoy your high efficiency machines. I'll enjoy my "old-fashioned" top loader that uses water and be glad I didn't have to revert so far back in technology that I'm using that washboard we once bought at an antique store. (I was getting a little worried there.)

Friday, June 05, 2009

Vacation Aftermath

I was going to blog some details about our vacation. We've just returned from a fantastic trip across country and back again. But the details will have to wait. I'm kinda busy. More laundry was added after this picture was taken. :-(

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Our First Farm Baby is Three


For those of you who have followed our blog long enough, you'll probably be amazed that it's already been three years since Gloria was born. If you'd like to see the story, just click here.

So here it is three years later and she's still such a beautiful girl. It's funny how she thinks the world belongs to her and can get very possessive about things, but today, as she was getting presents, she mostly shared without fussing. I was amazed. For you David Crowder fans out there, you know the song, "Everything Glorious"? Well, she thinks it's "Everything Gloria's" and figures God made everything for her. Maybe now that she's older and wiser she is learning that isn't true. Or maybe it's just that since she had an earache she didn't want to fight. Poor kid was miserable today, but still happy that she got a cake with a horse on it. She's asked for one for almost a year.

Thanks go to Grace for making the cake and ice cream and Flo the cow for providing the cream for the ice cream and the whipped cream.

And now, just because it's a good video and an awesome song, go listen to this: Everything Glorious by the David Crowder Band.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

On Growing Up

I bet you think this is going to be about the kids, right? Nope. It's about me and my realization that I am growing up. I can't call this a mid-life crisis because I'm ONLY 41. I'm not half way yet.

I don't know about the rest of you, but Roger and I have talked about how we have a mental age that doesn't really necessarily match our actual age. When someone asks how old you are, you can give the right answer, but in your mind when you think about yourself, you think about yourself as a different age. When I was around 34 I realized I wasn't 22 anymore and had to make this leap in my mind. Now I'm 41 and my body is letting me know it. I am having to readjust that mental age again so it's been on my mind a lot lately.

I spent some time staring at myself in the mirror. I had to let myself know that it's okay that I am getting a few wrinkles and things are sagging now. I spend my days with young people. I've got a 13 year old and a 15 year old (okay, 31 days still of being 14, but she's close) in the house which seems to make this a little harder for me. There's this constant reminder that I used to wear that size and have that smooth skin, etc. Now there are spots and blotches bumps and rolls and things. It's kind of hard to adjust to.

I'm determined to not feel all the aches and pains that are considered normal as we age. I keep hearing that I have no choice, but I don't believe it. I've had a couple of episodes of arthritic pains in my joints, but I take my grapefruit seed extract or garlic or cut back on my sugar. It amazes me how well the body can heal itself.

I've been asked to share some of what I've learned and am learning about herbs and natural healing. I'll do that as I have time and think of something I want to share. There's actually tons of stuff I'd like to teach everyone about being healthy, but I don't want to sound like I know it all because I don't. But I'm usually willing to experiment with herbs more than I'd be willing to let doctors experiment on me or my children with their drugs. There are fewer side effects.

But back to aging. I got an email yesterday aimed at helping me feel better by showing me all these pictures of the beautiful Hollywood stars and how they are aging too. It didn't help because I realized that if they started out looking better than me and now they look that bad, it's just hopeless for me! But what is helping is realizing that I am 41 and I shouldn't expect to look 15 or 25 or even 35. And it's okay to grow up. And while I still want to take care of myself, I don't have to look like a Hollywood star. Even an old, saggy star. I just have to be healthy enough to continue to do what I need to do and enjoy my children and maybe someday some grandchildren.

I am enjoying the wisdom that comes with age. The reduced stress in realizing that not all of life is drama. The love and joy and memories that come with having lived a life and made lots of friends along the way. And this is a great time to also realize I have so much ahead of me. More memories and love and joy and things to do and people to meet . . .

I imagine this will just keep getting harder every time I have to readjust my mental age, but I thought I'd share in case there's anyone else out there who is feeling old. Maybe there is comfort in knowing you are not alone.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Better Butter

When we first got a cow, we started making our own butter. We put the cream in jars, about 1/3 full, and shook and shook and shook until we had butter. It takes about 20 minutes per jar. Then I would rinse it, salt it, press the water out, and we'd enjoy it. But no one liked all that work and I noticed our butter consumption dropped drastically. Soon, we were all tired of all the work and I started buying butter again. It just isn't that expensive compared to all that work.

Well, last week the "How to of the day" on my iGoogle page was "How to make butter with your electric mixer" or something like that. I'd tried that and it was just a mess. But I looked at the how to page and there was even a video. PLUS they had directions for how to rinse the butter in your blender.

So we tried it today. We're getting about a quart of cream per day and I need to do something with it. I've made sour cream, cream cheese, ice cream and still there's more cream than we know what to do with. So I figured I'd better try this.

It was great. Following are pictures of "batch 2" from today.

cream in jarStart with a quart of very cold cream. More than that and you end up with a big mess splashing out of the mixer. So less is more.


pouring cream
mixer with lid on
Next you dump the cream into the mixer. Notice our cream is very thick and not dumping. I had to use a spatula at first to get the thick cream off the top. Then put the lid on the mixer and turn it on on its highest setting.

whipped cream Within a couple of minutes I had whipped cream. Now I've tried this before when I wanted whipped cream and couldn't get it to whip this well. I think the fact that we had the cream very well chilled made the difference today.
lumpy whipped cream
After a couple more minutes the whipped cream gets kind of lumpy looking. Keep mixing.

It keeps getting lumpier and will begin to splash again as the buttermilk separates out from the butter. Don't quit too soon.
lumpier done
The top picture shows it getting lumpier, the one on the bottom is done. There are big lumps of butter rather than little blobs of it.

Now it's time to rinse the butter. I took the blobs of butter and put them in the blender while Claire prepared some ice water in a pitcher for me. I poured the buttermilk back into the jar I'd had cream in. Between the 2 quarts of cream that we made into butter, I had almost 1 quart of buttermilk. I added a couple spoons of sour cream that I'd made last week (this won't work with store bought sour cream), shook it up, and set it aside on the counter. Tomorrow I should have cultured buttermilk. It takes about 24 hours. This can be used for starter for sour cream or cream cheese, or it can be used in recipes requiring buttermilk. If you like buttermilk, you can drink it straight. I don't care for it though.

blending ice water and butter This is the butter in the blender on low speed with ice water added. The purpose of this is that the milk will cause the butter to spoil faster. So you wash the milk out of the butter. I did this by hand before and it was exhausting.
draining off the liquid You pour off the "dirty water" and add fresh water. Repeat this process until you drain off clear water.
adding more ice water

Then we dumped our clean butter onto a cutting board. You have to press that water out now and add salt while you're at it. I had a flat, wooden tool that I used, but today it broke and cut my hand. Grace took over and used a wooden spoon.

salt adding salt

And here's the finished butter.

But like I always tell the kids, no job is done in the kitchen until you wash all those dishes. Another thing we were doing by hand when we first made butter.

Thankfully we have a dishwasher now! Those are some greasy dishes! Claire washed the dishes. Faith took the pictures. Thanks for the help, girls! To me, this is the bestest part of making butter nowadays--helpers!!!

Disappointment

Two disappointing things this week.

1. There's almost nothing left of my garden. I still have potato plants that are growing from potatoes that sprouted in our house. They look great above ground, but no idea down below. Same thing with the carrots. Our broccoli has bolted from the heat now. And the mint is doing fine. Everything else has been devoured by those cute little roly poly bugs. I searched the net and found mostly that they don't eat live plants. That's a lie. If you have garden soil that is about 1/4 roly polies, they will eat your plants. I tried diatomaceous earth and it did nothing. I tried little traps. I caught a lot of them, but it was just a drop in the bucket.

I'm not giving up yet. I also read that they are at the largest numbers in the spring. Maybe I can get something to grow this summer while it's too hot for the roly polies? We'll see. But meanwhile, if there is anyone who can grow good garden fresh veggies and would like to trade for fresh cream or eggs, I'd love to hear from you.

2. Gloria got a hold of a pair of scissors and chopped her hair off. It was bad, but we could hide it a bit with a headband. But then she got a hold of scissors again. So we had to give her a haircut. I cried as I cut off the sparkly blond ringlets that were so beautiful. It was sort of a laugh/cry because I also knew I should just get over it. We saved them. I'm not kidding about sparkly. When the light hit her hair just right it looked like glitter. But no more. Now she is a light brown headed kid. Still beautiful. Just different.

As I finished the hair cut and realized she looked good, I said to her, "your mom is a good haircutter!" She didn't miss a beat and replied, "And I'm not!" We laughed and she promised she'll never cut her own hair again. We shall see.

Hmm. This is the best pic we managed to get of the new haircut. The older girls took pictures for me, but they took this one and then put her hair in pigtails so it's not quite the same. You can see though that she really chopped the side pretty short. I tapered it along the sides to try to make it look better, but in pigtails, you see that some of it is just too short to go back in the ponytail. Oh well. It will grow.


Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mother's Day and the lie of it's the thought that counts

I thought that this Mother's Day might be good to share with you the story of perhaps the worst Mother's Day gift ever. I was around eight or nine years old and Mother's Day was coming up. I got my money and rode my bike to Greenberg's Drug Store and started looking for something for Mom. I didn't have much money, I was eight or nine years old and my allowance was 25¢ a week. So, fancy boxes of chocolate candies were out of the picture. Expensive perfumes and jewelry were also out of my price range. There was a cheap perfume that I could afford and there were some pantie hose that came in an egg. My Mom was kind of skinny and tall and I had no idea what size she was, but I knew enough to not get here hose that were for fat women and get her all upset on Mother's Day because I thought she was fat. I also knew hose that were too small would get her all upset over how she wasn't smaller, so the egg got put back on the shelf and I bought the cheap perfume.

The perfume was wrapped with great care and Sunday came and it was time to give Mom her gifts. I remember my Mom's Mom was there, so Ronda, Dad, Mom, Grandma and me all gathered in the den and gifts were exchanged. Ronda made Mom some art thing since that was her deal and Mom was all gushy over it. It was just some dang rock or painting or some such thing. It was now time for Mom to open my gift and I knew it would be a hit. I knew it because I had to buy it and I didn't just make it. Mom opened it up, quickly shoved it under the cushion she was sitting on, mumbled thank you and started talking about other stuff. I was shocked at the lack of appreciation. The perfume was feminine enough, the can said it was feminine. It was a perfume, isn't deodorant a synonym for perfume? Isn't spraying on perfume the fancy way to put on perfume? Years later I would understand why a can of FDS was not the best of all Mother's Day gifts. But it was that day when I realized that it never really is the thought that counts.

Happy Mother's Day

Roger

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

20 Pie Crusts for the Freezer

I can't find this on the net, but it was there once. I've found some recipes that are very close though. Mine uses my Bosch which is way easier than the recipe using the exact same ingredients, but you cut the flour into the shortening by hand. That's fine for a crust or two, but 20? Yikes!

20 Pie Crusts in the Bosch

3 lbs Crisco (I've been using the butter flavor)
5 lbs all purpose flour
2 T salt
3 cups ice water (I fill a 4 cup measuring cup with ice, add water, then when I'm ready for it I scoop out the ice and adjust to get 3 cups)

Put the Crisco in the Bosch and mix on speed 1. Add the salt, then slowly begin adding the flour (too fast and you'll have a mess!). Pour in water as needed to keep it mixing well and alternate water and flour.

When all is mixed, begin dividing it into balls. If you have a scale, you want each ball to be between 7 and 8 ounces. Flatten slightly like a hamburger patty and place on waxed paper on a cookie sheet. Put in freezer. When they are frozen, like several hours later or the next day, move them to a couple of gallon ziploc bags.

When you are ready to use them, take out what you need and allow about 20-30 minutes to thaw. Roll out as usual and enjoy!

Not the healthiest ingredients, but at least there are no dyes!

Pie, Pie and More Pie

A couple of years ago I searched for and found a recipe to make pie crusts in bulk. Google can find anything. It's great. You can make 20 pie crusts with little more effort than one, put them in the freezer and pie becomes easier the next few times. I was going to post a link, but can't find one now. I'll post it soon.

So for Claire's birthday last week she wanted Chicken Pot Pie for dinner and Peanut Butter Pie for dessert. I figured it was time to make a new supply of pie crusts. It takes 2 to feed our family which still left me 16 crusts for the freezer (2 crusts for each pie--top and bottom. The peanut butter pie uses a graham cracker crust.).




This turned out better than any I've ever made before. I think it was the coconut oil with that very subtle coconut flavor. I used to use cream of chicken soup, but no more. I am putting my recipe here in case I can't remember next time. This makes 2 pies.

Chicken Pot Pie Filling (all measurements are approximate)

8 T coconut oil (butter is what I used to use)
8 T flour (theoretically--I needed quite a bit more to form the paste)
2 c milk
2 c water
4 tsp chicken base or bouillon
3 cans mixed veggies, drained
2 chicken breasts, cut up

Melt oil in a 2 or 3 qt pot. Mix in flour until you have a paste. Over medium heat, stir in milk, water, and chicken base. Cook and stir until thick and bubbly. Mix in veggies and chicken. Pour into two pie crusts, cover and cut slits. Bake at 350 for about an hour.

Well, after I made this, I still had 2 chicken breasts left. I'm sure I could have found something else to do with it, but we love chicken pot pie. So I made more only 5 days later. No one complained! Perhaps it was the power of positive thinking?


And then tonight, yet another pie for dinner: Quiche! The exciting thing about this is that we got the eggs from our farm and the broccoli from our garden! Apparently rolie polies don't like broccoli. It was delicious!

Sunday, May 03, 2009

The Porch


This is a bit late in being posted, but then again, who gave me a deadline? If I had a deadline, I'd have gotten it done on time. No deadline means do it whenever. In this case, a month after the fact.

In early April the concrete was poured for our porch. We had talked about a wood porch, but this is termite country and the cost of concrete went down enough it was worth it. There are several benefits to concrete and we're happy with it. The porch roof will come later. You can see there are places to add the supports for it, but one step at a time. One thing is for sure, when you build a house as you live in it, you learn patience and appreciation for each detail.

When we first chose the paint colors we chose colors from nature. The house was going to be the color of a wheat field, the trim was to be a green that we found on a rock in the lake, and the door was going to be burgundy because we like bright colors and had to have something brightish in there. Well, we started painting and realized we really like bright colors, so we're working on choosing new colors. Anyway, that's most of the reason we never finished painting. It's hard to motivate yourself to do a big job that isn't turning out satisfactorily.


For over a year we used some boards and rocks to create make-shift steps to get up into the house. This wasn't the safest set up but it worked better than the huge step down to the ground from the door. Ezra was never allowed to walk in and out the door although he often tried. He has loved being able to go in and out the door all by himself. The screen just swings, without a latch, so he can just push it open from inside and pull it open from outside. It's pretty much a childproofing nightmare. But we have a hook and eye that we use to lock it and it works to hold him in the house as long as no one wants to come in from outside. We're all learning to just use the other door which is so easy to do when you just walk around the house on a porch instead of around a ditch for earth tubes!!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Accomplishments



Roger's been busy doing big things. This project isn't done yet, but when it is, I get to start organizing things. And for the first time in nearly 4 years, we'll get to see things we put in storage before we moved. I'm drooling over the chance to organize our stuff--especially getting our books back!



I just did a little thing I never thought I would do. I pierced my daughter's ears. Claire got her ears pierced last year at a jewelry store for her bday and it was horribly done. One of the holes was so low that the earring pointed down at the floor. We took them out and let it grow back with the promise I would let her try again. So today we went to Walmart to see if they pierce ears still. They do, but their gun is broken. We could either buy a DIY kit or wait a week or so. Claire had waited so long I finally agreed and we bought it. I knew I had to do it right away before I lost the nerve. And it's done. I don't recommend it though. It was easy except the backs didn't come out of the cartridge properly. The first one left the gun stuck to her ear and the second one just didn't come out of the cartridge. I had to pull it out and attach it to the back of the earring myself. But this was a better problem than earrings that are in the wrong place.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Licorice Mint

Mitchell and I spent the day together as we were in Abilene at an auto auction. Mitchell is now the proud owner of a 1998 Oldsmobile Intrigue with 134,000 miles. The car is in good shape and will certainly last him for the next few years. It cost all of $500! We have some minor things to do to make it better, but it was a pretty good purchase for a first car.

But the big deal for the day was that we finally tried out the new taste we knew would sweep the nation - licorice-mint. To get this unique taste you chew up a mint Lifesaver with a piece of licorice twist and you get licorice-mint. In theory, you get licorice-mint. In reality the two tastes are so strong they cancel each other out. We tried different sequencing and different amounts of one and the other, but the elusive and highly anticipated taste just wasn't to be. Instead, we went through a bunch of licorice and mint and never really got to enjoy the licorice or the mint. Perhaps Altoids and licorice twist is the answer.

At least we got a car.

Roger

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Garden Pictures and More

I went and checked on the garden today to see how much it worse it would look in daylight. I was pleasantly surprised. We had little seedlings sprouting up still in spite of the chickens bathing in the dirt. Looks like we may get some carrots and lettuce and beans. Strawberries were completely torn out of the ground, but they didn't look like they were gonna grow anyway. Since this isn't really where I want to have a strawberry patch, I only bought a package of strawberry "bulbs" and tried to plant those. They were just the roots. Nothing seems to be happening with them. And since the chickens tore them out of the ground, I could see that I was right. Nothing was growing at all. But I stuck them back in the ground to try again. We'll see.

Anyway, I took some pictures. And when I went to load them I found some others we never shared.
This first ones are from February. See the ditch along side the house? We've had that for over a year. But in late February, Roger finished the part of the project that needed the ditch to be there. He has filled it in. It went around 3 sides of the house and there were several along the 4th side. It has to do with the earth tube project which is going to be our heating/cooling system. And someday we'll get that blogged about. Anyway, the bridge to get in and out of the house is no longer needed. The pipes have been laid and covered with dirt. And sometime soon we should be getting a porch. This is all very exciting!!
Next is the sugar cube/donut castle. This was a school project with assistance from the preschoolers and toddlers.Here's a pic of the garden tractor.This is a close up of the raspberry bush. Roger's got this cool watering system set up. There's a bucket beside each plant with a tube and some sort of a drip spout so that the plant gets watered.


And finally some pictures of our orchard. I couldn't get all the trees in one picture because even though they are still small, they had to be planted far apart, right? But there's another row that looks much like this one. Then I also wanted to share the peach blossoms and a pic from under the apple tree.