Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Our grocery shopping day in pictures

First a big Grrrrrr to Blogger.  I had one more picture to upload and my computer froze.  The computer freezing isn't Blogger's fault, but because of how the pictures get uploaded I had to re-upload all my pictures.  This time I did them one at a time.  Which takes way too much time!  Ugh!  Oh well, it's not like I was going to do much else as I am totally zonked!

These are not exciting pictures....at all.  But it's what it looked like today around these parts.  We started by getting some gas.  Always a good thing, nothing worse than being stranded on the road side with 6 kids in 97 degree heat.  Ran to the post office.  We then went to the bank.  After that I headed to Aldi's.  It's been a long time since we've been there and I thought we would take another look see to see if we were missing out on any savings.  Um, nope.  At least not worth it for the extra drive and the amount I would be saving.  Then we went to BJ's.  This is when I whipped out the camera. 

Jed and Jonah wanted to ride in the car cart.  No problem, that works for me.  I brought in the stroller just in case.  It held the diaper bag, Isa's bag and a few things that didn't fit in the cart.  Here the boys are munching on grapes.

Isabella and Flannery munching on grapes as well.  The grapes come in a 3 pound box.  A grape funny:  Isabella was helping me at the check out.  She was scanning and I was loading the cart back up (we went through self check out).  However she scanned the grapes, which were now empty, and put them on the belt.  However the detector realized that the weight wasn't matching up!  So it sent them back.  Someone came over to help, and Isabella didn't see this person behind her.  So I told Isa to tell the lady "what happened to the grapes."  The lady says, "Oh, what happened to the grapes?"  I told her that Isa scanned them, but the container was now empty so the system wouldn't process them.  She look bewildered so I told her that we ate all the grapes.  At this point I had sent three of the girls to sit at a table and Jonah was in the stroller out of site from the lady.  She says, "You at ALL of the grapes?!?"  She was truly surprised, until I told her I had six children who ate them up!  Ha, ha! 

Here is our loot from BJ's.  A cart filled to the top.  It doesn't seem to look like as much in the picture as it did in real life. 
After BJ's we headed to Walmart.  But first stop was the Blimpie right inside Walmart.  We shared three subs and two drinks.  Yeah, no wonder when we get sick we *all* get sick :-)  But I'm cheap and there is no way that I'm spending that much money on drinks.  Actually we usually run to get some juice and share that (in separate cups) as that is even cheaper.  But by this point I was already getting weary and I didn't want any unnecessary trips.

Flannery very excited to dig in.  Jed looking on.

This is not a great picture of all our loot from Walmart.  But it's the only one I got.  We had three carts.  Not because we needed three, but because the girls begged me to split the grocery list up so that they could pair off.  I usually don't do that, but I took the time to split the list up.  It really did make things go faster.  However at the end Isabella told me she couldnt' find a few things so we had this huge caravan waltzing through the isles trying to find the 'missing' items.

Isabella the power house.  She's the one that does all the heavy lifting for me (when Jeremiah is not around). Seriously if she wasn't with me I would not have gotten the dog food or the goat and chicken feed either. 

This is what my passenger seat looked like.  There were about six bags between the seats.

Here we are waiting in the van for Isabella to come back with the animal feed.  Saoirse's look says it all!  Jed and Jonah passed out.  It was SO hot in the van, we all felt like we were melting.  The seat next to Jonah is filled, behind Saoirse is our new fan and a completely filled cooler.  On the floor at Saoirse's feet are another five or so bags.

                                          Here is what the side of the van (by the doors) looked like.  Packed full.  Looking at these photos doesn't really give the cramped feeling like we were experiencing in real life :-)

Flannery asked to take a picture of me.  This is me *totally* exhausted.  After this we went home.  And of course, that just meant more work as we needed to unload ALL of that stuff!!!  This time I pulled the van up to the back of the house.  I can get as far as the dog fence.  This saves us from going up the steps with all of those bags.  Someone unbuckled Jonah which made things more difficult.  It's so much easier to unload with both boys strapped in their seats.  Oh well.  I put him in the house and Jed went to the trampoline.  It took a while to unload the van, and then to put everything away.  We left at 10 AM and by the time we were finally done putting all the groceries away it was almost 5 PM.  Long, long day.  And by golly those boys wanted to go outside a little while later!! No way, no how!!  Sorry but I am totally beat.  They will be going to bed on time or early as Jonah is a basketcase. 

For dinner I picked out a quick and oh so healthy dinner.....polish sausage and tater tots.  Yeah, really healthy :-)  Our fridge is full, and our tummies will be soon.  I have to somehow find the energy to make up lunch ahead of time for Jeremiah to take to work tomorrow.  Either that or he will have to fend for himself tomorrow.  That's the only down side to the cupboards getting bare at the end of the month.  It takes all my energy to restock them and then I can't do much of anything for food that night.  Oh well.  Maybe one of these days I'll be ahead of the game.

Monday, August 30, 2010

menu for the next two weeks

So I decided to share my menu.  This accomplishes two things.  It gives other people some meal ideas and it safeguards my hard work in computer memory should anything happen to my paper copy. That has happened more than a few times and it pretty much drives me to tears.  The first meal is lunch, the second is dinner.  The meal in parenthesis is what will be the meal for the following week night.  Only a few meals are different so that way I won't write everything out twice.  I've linked to the recipes that will be new for us this time around in case anyone else is interested.  Breakfasts are not set in stone, as I we usually on have a few things we make for breakfast and I rotate as I see fit.  So if we are having a slow morning and need to get a move on we will be having granola and saving the time consuming pancake making for another day :-)

Tuesday:  bread (for sandwiches)/ beef stroganoff (shepherd's pie)
Wednesday: pizza burritos/ baked beans, cornbread and salad
Thursday: gyros/ baked potatoes
Friday: potato broccoli soup/ pizza
Saturday: smoothies and turkey-veggie wraps/ tacos
Sunday: ravioli/ soup-chicken or beef
Monday: bread (for sandwiches)/ chicken salad (chicken quesedillas)

For snacks we usually do fruit, smoothies, popcorn or other odds and ends.  Soccer starts this month and with is will come the dreaded snack time after the game (cookies, cracker, chips and kool-aid type drinks).  I've already talked to the girls about the fact that they may not eat any of the snacks that they dole out after the game.  I found a recipe for granola bars that I plan on trying along with sending them some homemade lemonade or other healthy drink.

Some things I plan on bulk cooking to help with daily meal prep are:
granola bars
pizza roll ups
chop onions in bulk to put in fridge

There you have it.  Oh, and with meals I don't plan out our side dishes as that will depend on what we have on hand that is fresh, or if it's at the end of the week and we have a frozen veggie.  Just depends on how long our fresh produce lasts. 

I have in the works to transform some of my maternity jeans into skirts.  I also plan on trying to copy a pair of pants I have and make them maternity wear.  I'm pretty excited about it!  I will just have to see how much my sewing machine will cost to get fixed.  If it's gonna be a biggie expense then I will have to ask around to borrow someones machine.  I do have a serger, but I'm not too familiar with it and I don't think it can do all the sewing I will need for it to do.  I'm sure it will all work out.

Off to eat some dinner :-)

Saturday, August 28, 2010

An answer to pray and other things

It's been a slow day around here.  Jeremiah and the older two girls went to prepare the soccer fields for the season.  They were gone until lunch.  Around here I managed to clean the girls bathroom.  No small task.  I've been having them clean it.  And although they do a decent job, it needs a mommy's touch after a couple of months.  Seriously Moira and Isabella really do a good job in there cleaning it.  It's all the little things that go undone in there that add up.  I had Jonah's help :-) With the older girls gone Flannery had asked to milk the goats.  She can't do that unsupervised yet so I took the boys out with me as I watched/helped Flannery with the milking.  Since it was nice out we played outside for a little bit.  I was able to come in and exercise to a video.  Afterwards I attacked some of our windows with a bleach solution.  Not sure if I mentioned our fly woes, but this was my attempt to see if it would help.  I wish I could have gotten more things done, but I seemed to be moving rather slowly today.  As I was eating lunch I was browsing some crafty blogs.  Then it was on to more cleaning.  I put in dinner and decided to take a break by writing up this post.  Mostly I have the odds and ends left to do.  I think it is time to take pictures of what a clean room is supposed to look like (for the girls).  It seems they have a keen eye when it comes to things like a sparkly gem in a parking lot.  Or a penny in the rough.  But they can't see the three colored pencils lying next to the couch.  Hmmmm isn't that amazing? 

So to my answered prayer.  This may seem rather odd as a prayer request.  As you may know we are trying to become more self sufficient.  And also to find thriftier ways to do the things we want to or need to do.  So after reading a bunch on the homesteading post site I was really wanting to find a source for beef at a good price.  We know some people who farm, and sell their eggs, milk, beef and chicken, but their prices are rather high.  Today while Jeremiah was at the soccer fields he met a man who sells organic (though not certified) beef.  If we buy half a cow we would only be spending a little over two dollars a pound for ALL the meat.  That includes ground beef, and steaks!!!  This is simply wonderful!!!  This also means we will need a place to store the beef!!  I really need to learn how to can beef, quick :-)  I know the meat comes packaged, I just don't know if it will be frozen already.  If so then we will probably just get a big freezer.  But if it doesn't come frozen, then I would still want to freeze some, but I would like to try my hand at canning some as well.  This will cost us a bunch up front, since a half of a cow weighs a lot!  But over the long run we will save.  Especially since I really wanted to get away from the non organic meat.  We bought some organic ground beef for the first time this past month and there was a big difference in taste!  I have to say I've never noticed a difference in taste with organic chickens, but definitely with the beef!  Yum! 

I am thinking of making a prayer list in my side bar.  Not to put God to the test, but just to see that He does indeed answer prayer.  I have quite a few odd prayers (or they may seem odd to most people).  A lot of it has to do with what I mentioned above, becoming more self sufficient.  There are things that I would really like to see happen around here and I really have no idea of how we are going to pull it off.  For example something I have wanted for a LONG time are fruit trees.  See, I told you I have odd requests :-)  I lament the fact that had we started some espalier trees or dwarf trees when we first moved here we would have been gathering fruit this year.  But fruit trees are not cheap.  And therein lies the need to pray for them!  And there are logistics of how to use our land.  We have 2.5 acres, but the majority is wooded.  It would seem silly to try to move, something I do NOT want to do, nor could I even see that being possible right now.  And in all honesty we need to be making good use of the land that is cleared before we think of clearing anymore of it.  And you guessed it, clearing land takes money.  Hmmm do you see a common thread?  :-)  So to become self sufficient so that we can save money, we first need money to put us in the position of being self sufficient.  Oy.  And then there are the little things, needed, but not quite so much.  For example clothing.  Clothing is a need.  But I would really like to be able to make some things.  Even if it is using used items.  And then there are things I would like, not really need, for our home to make it homey.  I am not a knick knack person at all, so I'm not looking for things like that. I am the type of person that would appreciate jewelry for my birthday, but I would be totally excited/happy with glee if I got a mixer instead.  I'm practical.  But I would really like some beauty in my practicalness.  That has sorely been missing.  For example I see a garden as a need, at least for our large family and how  much produce we go through!  But that garden can look nice as well.  Not all fancy smancy, but nice.  Again, the idea is to be frugal.  But I am hoping to find beauty in my frugality. 

Well I hope I didn't put you all to sleep!  I have on my list of things to do to make up a list of things I feel would be useful in our goal to become self sufficient.  Plus those little extras.  When I get that finished I'll post it.  But first, seeing as how our big shopping day is fast approaching, I need to make up the grocery list.  Thankfully I accomplished making up our menu for the first two weeks of the month, so making the actually grocery list shouldn't be too much work.  The thing that takes the longest for me is making the menu.  After that my grocery list comes right off of the menu.  This month however we seem to have run out of a lot of staple items.  I always hate coming home from a big shopping day and as we are putting things away I realize that we forgot this spice, or that oil, or some other staple item. So after making my list I'll take it over to my pantry to see what's missing.

This coming month I am looking forward to getting some more kefir grains.  I really feel that the kefir and kombucha helped with my ability to digest food.  I will also be happy to get more animal feed.  For the past few days I've been making our own, out of necessity.  Someone left our food storage room open.....and the goats got in.  I bought bins to keep the food in, but the handles broke, so they don't lock.  So no more food for the animals, and no more money to get any, and only days before payday.  What to do?  Ah, well make something up!  Yeah, how ingenious!  We had some popping corn that I ground up in my grinder, added oats, flax seeds, a small bit of super green food powder and black strap molasses.  The animals go nuts over it!  Not sure how nutritious it is for them, but it will do for the next couple of days.  And see, my list is getting longer.  On my things we NEED to buy are food grade pails and some gamma seals.  The gamma seals make it much easier to get into the pails for the humans.  We tried the paint pails with the pry off lids, and those were too hard for the girls to handle.  I've had to deal with them these past seven years, since we've been buying wheat in bulk, and it is a pain.  I am looking forward to just twisting off the lid and not breaking my nails over trying to pry off a lid.  And of course, these things all cost money.  Sigh.  So I will need to pray for discernment over which things need priority, and which can wait.  But with at least five bags of grains (all 50# bags) in our house we are asking for trouble if we don't get the food into sealed containers.  We've only lost a couple of bags to pests in the past, so it's not been a big concern. But this past year, the bug population seems to have tripled.  It seems to be prudent to spend the extra money on some good food grade containers to keep our food safe.  Plus it is essential for the animal feed as we have had a LOT of wasted animal feed due to multiple reasons.  We will just have to make sure the girls actually screw the lids back on!! 

Ok, I need to get off and take the boys outside.  Dinner will be ready soon but they have been asking to go outside.  So a little outside time, then dinner, then clean up then baths and prep for church tomorrow.

Friday, August 27, 2010

My appointment with the midwife

We had our appointment with the midwife today.  I say 'we' because the whole family went.  All is well.  We did not listen to the baby's heartbeat with the doppler as I was a bit nervous over what happened the last time.  The baby had a certain level of movement and *immediately* when the doppler touched my tummy the baby was 'freaking' out (movement wise).  That poor thing was wigged out for 48 hours!  But then I didn't feel the baby move for three days.  I was getting very worried and was going to call the midwife the following morning if I didn't feel the baby move on the third evening.  I then felt a wee little movement.  It took another two days before the baby's activity resumed to normal.  I pretty much determined we would not be using the doppler again for this pregnancy.  Clearly it has an effect on this little one. So for today she tried to get the heartbeat by the fetoscope.  She caught a faint glint of it, but the baby was moving around at the time, he even kicked the fetoscope. Too funny!  I was measuring right on target for 20 weeks.  After this my measurements pretty much, in the past at least, seem to give notice as to what size baby we are expecting.  All my 7 pounders I measured 2 cm below normal, and for my 8 pounders I measure right on par.  I asked our midwife to check my iron level as well.  It has only been  three weeks since it was last taken, but I wanted to see if there was any improvement or not.  And thankfully it went from a 10.8 to an 11.5!!  Not bad for only three weeks!  I have to just remember to take my vitamins three times a day, I've only been taking them twice a day. (the recommended dosage is three times a day)

After our appointment it was too soon to arrive at the girls book club meeting, but not long enough away to drive back home.  So we stopped in at the library.  The boys enjoyed looking at all the books.  There was one little girl there (4 maybe) who asked me to read her some books.  She turned right to Jonah and offered him a silly band.  Really, really cute.  Jonah didn't want it though, which perplexed the little girl. Later on her mother overheard Jeremiah discussing with Isabella why we didn't want her to get out a certain book.  Isabella really enjoys fantasy books with dragons in them.  But there is a lot of junk out there!  So this mom piped in about some authors that her daughters (13 and 16) really enjoy.  That was a blessing.  The daughters took Isabella over to the books to look over.  I was able to write down their suggestions for future reading.  I got out a few crochet/knitting books.  I've been feeling crafty lately and needed some inspiration.  I found these adorable knitted felted bowls.  And they had these awesome knitted felted clogs, but not the pattern.  I was able to find it online, for a small fee.  And now I think I've been bitten by the crafting bug!  I need to get my hands on some yarn!  :-) 

After the library we went to take the girls to their book study.  We hung out in the backyard chatting with two other moms.  It was a fun and relaxing time.  We got home a bit after three.  We all just wanted to sit and look at our 'new' books.  And I do believe we got carried away, because it was dinner time by the time we all realized that we were hungry and someone needed to make dinner.  Hmmm.  And seeing as how we don't have any convenience foods I had whip up some tortillas to make dinner happen.  Not surprisingly we ate really late!  But it was yummy, so it all worked out.  The boys crashed come bed time, which was a bit on the late side.

Yawn!  Now it's time to go bed for me.  Our weekend will be semi busy.  When I did my major decluttering a week ago I have found some more things to add to my to-do list.  Some are bigger projects though that will need to be planned ahead of time.  I'll have to update my side bar when I get the chance. 

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Our week

So we finished our first week of homeschool. Yes, I know it is only Thursday, and no we are not running on a four day school schedule.  It's just that I have an appointment with my midwife tomorrow and the girls have their last summer book club meeting which means that our school day will not happen.  Fear not, I thought ahead and we got everything done in the four days so that we didn't have to fall behind in our first week of school.  So far things have still been going smoothly.  We most certainly did not follow the schedule one day but we still followed the flow of the day and got everything in, just got it done much later in the day.  No biggie.  The younger girls are still wiggly during reading time.  Our reading time is not long at all, they are just out of practice in sitting still.  I can tell they found our Shakespeare reading interesting, but they tried not to let it show :-)  I happen to be in the same room with the older girls while I was reading Shakespeare to the younger girls and the older ones wanted to know right away what I was reading.  They stopped what they were doing to listen!  Too funny.  It was one of Shakespeare's comedies.  They thought it was quite outlandish, all the drama! We are still waiting for the girls math DVD's to come in.  Thankfully we usually just skim the first dozen or more chapters as they are review. 

Jeremiah had one of his wisdom teeth pulled today.  Not a pleasant experience to be sure.  He was in pretty rough shape an hour or so afterwards.  Four Advil did nothing to relieve the pain, swelling and discomfort.  And on top of that there was a lot of bleeding. A lot.  Not profuse, but constant.  So hours later with still no relief from the pain I decided to try two homeopathic remedies.  The first I gave was arnica for swelling, bruising and pain. Minutes later he was asleep.  Now that is not anything odd as he was already drowsy and headed for snooze land. But he did sleep soundly for a couple of hours.  One of the things that intrigues me about taking a remedy during an acute event is that the person will fall in a deep sleep when given the correct remedy. Now clearly this sleeping could have been coincidence.  However when he woke up I gave him the second remedy, hypericum.  That is supposed to help with deep puncture wounds.  Well fifteen minutes later the eight hours of non stop bleeding came to an end.  Coincidence?  I think not.  Homeopathy really does work that fast.  (There was still some bleeding, but very, very noticeably reduced.)  Not only that but when I told him to take his next round of remedies he said he didn't need it.  He wasn't in any pain or discomfort!  That is pretty amazing. We'll see how he fairs later tonight. 

Jed's speech therapist called and we have days and times for his speech for the school  year.  The good news is that they are all at the same time!  Phew!  The bad news is that is in the middle of the day.  Oh well.  I have to say I am not looking forward to three days a week being out mid day.  But it's for the best and we will make it work.  I am excited to see what his therapist thinks of Jed's progress. If you remember I was a bit nervous for the long break and wondered how he would fair. I really didn't want to see any regression. Not only was there no regression but Jed has made improvements!  He can now say some sentences!  Things like:  "I want more ice cream."  "Mom, I play computer, please?"  This is pretty huge seeing as how when we left off of therapy our goal was to work on him putting two words together!  Don't get me wrong, he still talks a lot using single words.  But with some prompting he is putting two or more words together on a daily basis.  And all of his sentences are from Jed alone, no prompting. 

There is more I would love to write, but I am getting sleepy.  We have a long day tomorrow so I need to get to bed so I can be ready for it.

Monday, August 23, 2010

The start of the new school year

So today was the big day.  We started the 'official' schooling around here.  I say official, because I am trying to teach my children that we are learning all the time, and there shouldn't be a time to shut off our brains :-)  But as far as actually pulling out the math books, or purposely teaching reading, well that started today.  I had written everything that needed to be done down on paper.  I had each child either working with me, working on their own or watching the boys.  It happened to have time slots, but I had no intention of trying to keep to a schedule.  I just needed to see, if on paper, we were supposed to get done within a reasonable time frame.  And by golly we did!  In real life that is!  My schedules never seem to work out like they are supposed to on paper.  But this one was pretty close.  Everything got done, with no rushing.  We had outside time as well.  The late afternoon there is nothing scheduled.  This way we can catch up on things if need be.  Plus starting this week the girls start soccer practice.  Although that is not until the evenings I wanted to make sure we were not packing our days so that we were going non stop.  Jed hasn't started speech yet, so I am not sure how much adjustment we will need to make.  I am assuming he will still be in speech three times a week, and quite possibly all at different times, like last year. 

It was an adjustment for the girls to have to be "working" so much.  Ha, ha!  Nothing was hard to do, they just didn't want to have to keep thinking, using those brain muscles hurt!  The younger girls were happy to be watching the boys.  I'm not sure how happy the boys were though :-)  I told them that they only needed to make sure that the boys didn't get into trouble.  Play with them if they wanted to, but nothing fancy needed to happen.  Well they got it in them that they would be the teachers and the boys the students.  Um, yeah, that didn't quite work out.  The boys just wanted to play with the cards, not have to play an organized game with them.  Jonah was pretty ok with it, but Jed was starting to freak out.  I am sure they will all get used to the new set up, we'll just have to work out the bumps. 

We were able to get outside in the afternoon. It's been a while since I've been outside with the boys for a long stretch of time.  I've not been able to deal with the heat this summer. Today I felt up to taking them out and even brought my camera out to take some pictures.  So I compose my first shot with Jonah, hit my shutter button half way down for it to focus and instead of focusing it got more blurry.  That's odd I thought.  So I let go of the button, redid the set up and pressed the button half way down again, only to get a totally blurry view from the view window.  I take a look at my camera to see that the front half of the lens popped off onto the gravel driveway!!!  Sigh.  A big Sigh!  I picked it up, dusted it off, then tried to put it together again.  Wasn't happenin'.  Sigh.  Jeremiah took a look at it tonight only to find the reason it wouldn't reattach was because one of the tabs was broken inside.  So we will take it to a camera shop (sometime in the future) to see if it can be fixed.  I do have another lens, but it's not great on close range shots.  So I asked Isabella to get me the family camera. It only had two batteries in it, it needs four.  I got a couple more, but they were not charged.  Oh well, no picture taking for me today. 

I was pleasantly surprised at how well everything went today. I had put together some food prep items Sunday and was a bit nervous to see if I would get to it all today.  And behold, I did! I was able to cook up two pots of beans, strain the chicken stock that was percolating all night, and dehydrate the soaking oats.  I am really trying hard to make sure we have all our grains soaked as I see a difference in my ability to think and talk straight when I do.  So hopefully tomorrow we will have the oats made into granola, and the beans will be used for bean burritos for lunch and baked beans with corn bread for dinner.  Speaking of tomorrow I need to get to bed to make sure I have the sleep I need to make this all run smoothly.  Sleep helps. A lot :-)

Friday, August 20, 2010

Because Mom doesn't have enough to worry about

Here is how to make your mother worry:

First spend years on a feeding tube.

Next, after many long months and mixing remedies start to eat on your own.

After that make sure to throw a wrench into the mix when it comes to "Tube Pull Out Day" and make sure your weight falls a wee bit from your already low growth curve.

After you get said tube removed make sure to eat sparingly at one meal, and maybe even the next (remember your mother has nothing else in her life to worry about, you have to see fit to fill that void) and then to make sure she doesn't drop dead of stress eat your fill at the third meal.

But above all else do make sure that one week past tube removal you get a tummy bug. After all any ole sickness will not do!

I am sure this recipe will vary for each child, and for some reason they are really keen to adapt this recipe to their liking.

I spent the morning on the couch with Jed who didn't look too well this morning.  I was hoping he would answer, "Yes" to my question of, "Are you tired?"  But of course not, he said, "No."  I then asked him if anything hurt, which he said, "Yesh." (that's Jed speak for 'yes').  Heart sinks.  I then asked where it hurt, and my heart sank further when he pointed to his tummy.  Soon thereafter he plopped himself on the couch and fell asleep.  I woke him *two hours* later to see if he wanted to eat.  We were having eggs, not a good choice for him on many accounts, but it's what I had to make for breakfast.  He looked very grateful for some food.  After about three bites he promptly threw up.  Yes, of course.  Sigh.  There is good news though (and some bad).  The good news is that he only threw up that one time.  I spent a lot of time with him on the couch in which he complained of his tummy hurting for much of that time :-(  I decided to pull out a remedy and see if that would help.  Not sure if that is what helped or not, but he felt well enough to keep eating.  He polished off FIVE eggs!!  With ketchup I might add!!  The bad news is he ate five eggs.  Oh, yeah, I know that seemed like the good news, except that we can expect a whole LOT of screaming fits to start in approximately 6 or so hours.  I am going to try to see if I can find a way to give him some chlorela, which is supposed to bind with the mercury, in hopes it might lessen his reaction.

And then to throw a wrench into the situation (but of course) he started with holding one of his ears and saying it hurt.  A while later it was both is ears.  Really?  Why can't he just have a tummy bug. I mean who gets a tummy ache and painful ears?  Anyone?  Sigh.

Despite all of the commotion this morning I was able to manage to do the dishes, put together our dough for tortillas tonight, mix and start cooking a new cereal recipe, and put together some cinnamon rolls for lunch (which are rising as we speak).  Thankfully I was very insistent with the girls that the house get cleaned up way in advance of Isa's party this weekend.  That meant I was able to sit on the couch with Jed without thinking about all that needed doing, since it was already done :-)  Little bits here and there, but that should be done soon.  I have to reorganize the school book shelf, and put together some sort of routine for this Monday.  I will need to pair up two girls with the two boys so that I can do reading with the other two girls, and then have them switch.  Easier said than done, especially since I have to schedule three girls to do math.  Two of the girls could do it at the same time.  All three older girls will be doing math via DVD's this year.  Moira and Flannery are pretty excited about that.  Isabella actually prefers to take her math book in her room and get it done.  The only problem is accountability.  I'm really bad at checking their work on a daily basis.  And when I do get to it, it takes a while to figure out what she needs to redo.  The DVD will help with that....hopefully :-)

Ok, off to do some more cooking and organizing.  And I should not fail to exclaim:


Thursday, August 19, 2010


So my baby girl turned the big ONE THREE (13) yesterday.  We weren't able to make up the traditionally birthday sign.  Maybe we will do so for her party day, which is this weekend.  We did make her a cake and the requested birthday dinner.  She asked for chicken broccoli alfredo.  It was very yummy!  For her cake I used my sour dough starter for the first time, yes in a cake.  The gnowfglins site has a video and recipe for a spice cake and chocolate cake using a sour dough starter.  They turned out very well.  I could detect the coconut oil in the chocolate cake, but not in the spice cake.  The frosting in the given recipe was made with coconut, which I knew I wouldn't like, so I just used our thickened yogurt, butter, milk and powdered sugar.  I am not sure if the sugar negates all the benefits of the cake :-)  Oh well, it was yummy non the least!

In preparation for her birthday party this weekend, and the fact that we start school two days later, we've been doing some big time cleaning.  Isabella and Moira started on the outside yesterday.  Moira decided to tackle the barn.  I'm not sure why.  Half way through the job became a bit too much, a few unexpected things came up she wasn't prepared for.  So I went out there to help her.  With all this cleaning I have been coming aware of some things that we need to make things run smoother with each room/area I come to.  We definitely need some things in the barn to make things more manageable.  Like a shelf, some hooks and to make sure to keep a bunch of straw on hand.  We are also going to need to make it a project to paint the inside with glossy paint to make cleaning easier.  Inside we need some food grade pails for my grains with a few gamma seals to make getting into the buckets easier.  Some shelving in the laundry room.  Hmmmm, I know there are a few other things that I can't think of right now.  

Tomorrow Isabella and I will tackle making the pizza crusts for her party.  We ran out of printer ink, so we got her invitations out late.  We are only now hearing back from some of the invited guests.  She invited quite a few people so we will have to  make a bunch of pizzas to make sure we have enough food, should everyone show up.  She ordered an ice cream cake, so that part has been taken care of.  This year we let her plan her party.  We gave her a budget and she did a great job of planning on everything she was going to need.  Isabella loves to plan.  She has notebooks filled with all sorts of plans for all sorts of things! 

Here are a couple of pictures from last night:

The cakes.

The birthday girl.  She said she felt 13 today!

Jonah waiting for a piece of cake.  He was getting inpatient. 

Jed waiting as well.  He is a mess since he partook of licking out the frosting bowl.

Monday, August 16, 2010

How our week in food went

Well it went fine, except for the lack of pictures I thought I would be able to post ;-)  So since things got a bit busy and we had a few little surprise messes this week I thought I would just give a recap on how our menu went.

The food prep was pretty minimal during the week.  Although I really need to get a handle on getting it done earlier in the evening and not at 11 PM at night!  I made beef stew for the first time ever.  It went over well for about half of us.  The other half picked out the meat and potatoes to eat and left some of the best parts (the broth).  Wednesday's meals were not as listed due to a few factors.  For one, I tried to bring a snack with me to the doctors appointment to hold the boys and I off till we got home.  However snacks are no good to you if they are left at home on the piano.....So I had to stop by and grab some lunch.  I would have just run to the store to grab something healthy, but I had two sleeping boys in the van and my blood sugar was crashing.  There would have been no way to accomplish that without becoming very, very sick or passing out.  So I went to Chik-fil-a.  A friend of mine offered to watch the girls.   I thought I would bring pizza over for lunch for them all. However they all ate by the time I got there.  So we celebrated Jed's tube removal with a pizza dinner and cake.  Totally not on the menu :-)  By the weekend I was worn out from a few happenings and didn't get around to making out my menu for this week.  So we had unsoaked granola this morning.  I really need to sit down later today and make up a menu so that we can get back on track with NT eating. 

Poor Jed had a bad morning.  Screaming, and LOTS of it.  Not even at anyone!  He just kept breaking down over any little thing.  He dropped one of his toy trucks as he was walking along and he lost it.  Small things like that just set him off.  It was looking like it was going to be a long day, but he seemed to have calmed down some.  I gave the boys some spray bottles filled with (very) diluted window spray.  I gave them some paper towels and told them to wash the windows.  I am pretty sure every window and then some have been hit by the boys.  It kept them busy for quite a while. 

This is our last week of 'summer vacation' before we start up with school.  I hate for it to be spent cleaning and organizing, but that is what happens when the children refuse to take care of their things.  So to make it easier on everyone I am taking trash bags (only because we are lacking boxes) and putting pretty much everything in it that are on the floors.  With the exception of books and school items they were using in their playtime.  I figured if it is on the floor they must not care about it.  They have been told repeatedly to pick it up, so this is not a surprise to them.  I also went through the boys room and cleared out a lot of stuff.  Any toys that have a lot of pieces I put up high in the closet so that they can't dump all the boxes out at once.  This has made a big difference in clean up!!  Jed really enjoys sorting things, so at clean up time he can pick up all the toys himself.  I have to say I am bummed that we didn't do more or accomplish more over our summer break.  It hit me hard the other day.  We really need a lot of things to change around here.  One being that the girls really need to become more self motivated and self directed than they are.  Having to stand over them while they are cleaning to make sure it gets done leave me without any time to do the things I have to do.  Not to mention that they are sorely lacking in effort.  A clean room to them is that the very middle of the floor is visible.  Never mind all the things on top of the bookshelves, or the end tables, or around the outskirts of the room.  Sigh. 

I am hoping a new routine will get things to go more smoothly.  I have been relying a bit too much on cartoons of late to keep them from all tearing down the house.  I will most certainly be getting rid of those, plus getting rid of the 'twaddle' books.  The books they have been reading have been better than in the past, but they are still going to find it hard to switch over to "living" books with the book diet they have been ingesting.  One step at a time.  I just need to keep remembering to persevere and keep working towards our goal. 

Ok, enough rambling for the day!  Off to clean, organize and prepare for next week!

Friday, August 13, 2010

A connection?

So yesterday I signed up for two email groups that are set up to help people on the GAPS diet. One of the moderators sent me a little welcome, and in her sign off she had her family's blog address. The blog details, day by day of their experience on the GAPS diet.  I decided I would read from the beginning.  Granted there are other things that I could or maybe even should be doing, but I felt very compelled to start to read, just a few posts at a time, here and there.  She wrote about the link between sulfuric foods and mercury.  Specifically that sulfuric foods will bring out mercury symptoms due to a certain compound in these types of foods.  Very, very interesting to say the least.  I read it, didn't really think any more on it until I realized that it is now one in the afternoon and Jedidiah has not had ONE screaming fit.  The past week Jed has had a lot of screaming fits.  These are not the typical, he's just being a 'bad' boy, kind of fits.  These are the something is bothering his brain types of fits.  Right now as I speak Jed and Jonah are sitting within two feet of each other looking at books.  They are both silently reading.  Two days ago Jed would not be able to tolerate Jonah within two feet of him, nor could he tolerate sharing thirty books between the two of them.  So I started thinking about what I read earlier today.  One of the foods that are sulfuric is eggs.  Due to the change in our diet we have been eating eggs every day this week, with the exception of yesterday and today.  Every day this week Jed has had screaming fits.  But not today!  It was getting so bad I had to put Jed in their bedroom and lock the door so that Jonah could not get in.  Jed can get out as the door is not locked on his side, but this kept Jonah from getting anywhere near him, and kept his sisters from getting any where near him.  That way we had at least fifteen minutes of quiet, until Jed decided to come out (he was not being forced to stay in the room, he could come out any time he wished).  But then the screaming would start up immediately all over again.  Seriously it gets very tiring, and again, this isn't a normal discipline issue, it's one of Jed's mercury issues.  I have to find the line between teaching him that that behavior is wrong, at the same time understanding that it is very much like someone on a drug that has no control over what they are doing.  I am going to keep him egg free for another two days and see if his fit free days continue.  Then I will add some eggs in and observe his reaction.  This is good and bad.  Good, because I can then avoid one of the foods that are causing him issues, bad because the eggs are a big part of the GAPS diet and are supposed to be very healing (except when one has bad reactions).  This will just alter what foods I give him on the full GAPS diet.  I am realizing that although the initial GAPS diet never had an intro diet, that at least for Jed the intro diet may indeed be something we have to work towards to see a more complete healing. 

I am so very thankful for the people and families who have gone before me in this journey.  It has seriously been a much more easier day without the constant screaming.  Had I not read what I read this morning I would have never put two and two together.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

A TUBE FREE boy!!!!!

Just writing that title brings tears to my eyes!  Literally!!  Today was *the* GI appointment.  I would be lying if I didn't admit I was very nervous.  And things were looking a bit on the gloomy side for a few minutes there.  It would be Jed style to NOT throw in a monkey wrench to everything he does!!  Yes siree, that child did indeed fall a wee bit from the growth curve he was on.  Not exciting news to be sure.  However, his GI doctor still felt that he was doing well and left it to us if we felt comfortable enough to remove Jed's tube.  We have been waiting, not so patiently at times, for this day to come.  With the information that the doctor gave us, and knowing Jed, we did decide to take his tube out.  We feel that although the tube was sustaining him we could NEVER get ahead with Jed in the weight gain area.  Right now Jed has been eating very well, so his appetite is there, and he loves a very wide range of foods (much more than any of our kids!).  So the problem now isn't if he will eat, which was indeed one major problem Jed had.  That has resolved itself.  Right now we feel we are facing absorption problems.  He eats just as much as Jonah does and he is a stick and Jonah, um definitely not a stick :-)  So we are now entering new territory in a way.  Even though we have wanted this tube out for so long, I have to say it has a bit of a safety net feeling.  But Jed has had a tube in him for feedings since he's been 7  months old.  He really does not know life with out a tube in his side.  Here are a few pictures of his tube progression.

Jed with the ng-tube.  Here he is at his first birthday.  He only played with the cake, he never actually ate any of it!  Here is the ironic thing....I had Jed pick out a cake today for us to celebrate his freedom from the tube, and he picked out the same cake he had for this birthday above!!!!  The first cake he wouldn't even taste...the second, yum, yum :-)

Not sure why this picture uploaded in the wrong orientation.  But you can see the first tube he had.  This one was designed to clamp his stomach to his abdominal wall.  A very painful experience for him :-( 

This is the tube he has been living with since November of 2007.  Well, not that *exact* one, we needed to change it every three months.  It has served us well, but no longer needed soooooooo loooooong tube!!!!

Here he is, our big boy, without a tube!!!  Don't worry I wasn't going to share what the tube site actually looks like, not a pleasant picture to be sure.  Jed was a bit thoughtfull over it.  He kept walking funny, stopping, touching the site.  I'm sure he wasn't sure what to make of it.  When it came time to take it out I called him over and he said, "no".  He knows it hurts to get it out.  I asked him if he wanted the tube out and he said, "tube, bye-bye?".  Smart kid!  I let him throw the tube out.

Jed's cake from last night, the same design he had for his first birthday.  He dug right in!

Licking off the frosting on the tractor.  He was pretty happy about having a new tractor. 

When it came down to taking out the tube I got pretty nervous.  All the 'what ifs' came flooding in.  But I realized that unless Jed was nice and filled out like his siblings I would be nervous to take it out.  Again it's a safety net.  One we can utilize in the future if needed, but we really want to see how Jed does living without it.  We will be finding some ways to get some extra calories in to him without adding bulk.  Of course the GAPS full diet alone would probably give him more calorie dense nutrients since there are no startches or grains.  Lots of meats, fats, veggies and fruits. 

Off to feed the crew!

Monday, August 09, 2010

No photos! and Dynavox is here!

See, the first day, and I mess up!  I kept forgetting I was supposed to be taking pictures of my food until after we were done eating and it was put away!  I will try again tomorrow. 

Jedidiah's Dynavox made it here by 6:30 PM.  Nothing like waiting all day!  We had just sat down to eat when I heard the truck pull up.  Jed had asked me at least twice today about his computer being here :-)  Finally it made it.  And boy I was not prepared for how large the box was going to be!  I mean the device isn't that big, just how much room does it need.  I opened the box to find a lot more than just the device.  It also came with a keyboard and mouse, some card thingie to put in the side, a carrying case, and a whole lot of books.  You have to love a "Quick Start Guide" that has to be at least 100 pages long!!!!  Quick?!?!  There were way too many hands wanting to touch, feel, and press.  So I put it back in the box and we went back to our dinner.  Once everyone seemed to be occupied I brought it back out.  Only Jonah hung around.  He was quite enamoured with this little computer.  When I finally finished the set up and called Jed over to try the demos out mister Jonah couldn't keep his hands off!  That led to a lot of crying.  So I put it away.  It looks like Jeremiah and I will spend our evenings (after the boys go to bed) reading the manual, and watching the instructional DVD's.  I was pretty sure that the machine came with boardmaker, or similar, but now I'm not too sure.  We were assured that there were tons of icons to choose from, but when Jeremiah was tinkering with it he couldn't find them. 

Now the boys are in bed, and I think I will take a few minutes to look over some of the tutorials. 

Tomorrow *should* be Jed's last day as Borg-Boy!!!  I am hesitant to tell him that it is his last day with his tube though. 

Aside from all of that I have a few blogs I would like to share coming up soon.  Just some neat sites with some neat ideas.  But too tired to do so right now!  Good night all!

A week in food

I thought I would post our menu for the week today and then each day take pictures of our meals and the prep work.  Maybe not very exciting, but it might help someone see how doable eating NT is.  Or how not doable that it may be!  Ha!  Either way I hope it helps someone.  I will have a few other posts as well due to Jed's new communication device coming in and his GI appointment, but I am hoping to keep up with the food posts.  There are so many great blogs out there for inspiration for eating NT, and some great informative sites to explain why this way of eating is so healthy.  So I will leave it to those blogs to do that work :-)  I might give brief explanations here and there, but otherwise you will probably get more information by checking out some more specific blogs.  Right now we are eating NT style, which is Nourishing Traditions.  I have been talking a lot about GAPS recently, but we are not eating that way....yet.

My menu for this week:

Sunday:  Tonight I am doing the following prep work:  Drying out the oats that I had soaked the night before to make into granola for tomorrow's breakfast.  I will also soak my flour for corn bread, and finish up cooking a pot of beans for tomorrow's chili.  The beans were soaked the night before.

B: granola with yogurt and fruit [start roast cooking in crock pot for tomorrow's beef stew]
L: smoothies
D: chili, cornbread and salad
Prep: soak pancake batter and dough for rolls

B: pancakes with fruit topping
L: tortillas with beans and salad (I made a large batch of soaked tortillas this weekend)
D: beef stew and rolls
Prep: soak biscuit dough and soak noodle dough

B: eggs and biscuits
L: tortillas with beans and salad
D: chicken broccoli alfredo
Prep: none

B: granola with  yogurt and fruit
L; alfredo leftovers
D: baked potatoes with chili topping
Prep:  soak pizza dough

B: pancakes with fruit topping
L: beef stew and rolls
D: pizza
Prep: soak tortilla dough

B: smoothies
L: beef stew or chili leftovers with salad
D: tacos

As you can see I am utilizing a lot of leftovers for lunches. This just cuts down on my work load.  With our breakfast there will be some days that we will have fresh juice. I finally used my wheat grass grinder.  Much more effective than our juicer.  Plus the wheat grass juice should help with my iron levels.  My children snack between meals.  Snacks are usually just fruit or pop corn.  Sometimes they will whip up some eggs for themselves.  Or I might make a smoothie to tie people over till dinner.  Just depends on how much time/energy I have to put towards snacks.  I recently won an e-cook book dedicated to snacks, NT style.  I will have to bring that up and try a few things out.  For now I am just trying to keep things as simple as I possibly can.  What I don't have down for prep work is when I need to make yogurt, kombucha and water kefir.  Plus I have Emily, our beloved sough dough starter.  Yes, we named our starter :-)  I plan on using it for the first time to make a pizza crust this Friday.  From some of the yogurt I also plan on making some cream cheese/sour cream for dips.  That way the kids can also have veggies and dip for snacks.  Some of those extras will be talked about in each daily post. 

Now I'm not promising that I'll be able to follow through with all of this, but I am going to try.  Things can get busy quick around here! 

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Prayer request

I've brought this up a few times in the past but now is the time to be praying for it.  Jed's GI appointment is this coming Wednesday (9AM).  This is the BIG one!  This will *hopefully* be Jed's tube free day.  I am going to give a call to our family PhD to make sure they sent our GI doc Jed's records from his well visit which document that Jed has been tube free since Feb.  I am hoping that they will accept that.  Jed has to be eating on his own for six months before they will take out the tube, which he has been.  The only problem is that GI hasn't seen Jed for a whole year!  I hope they are going to accept our word for it.  The prayers are needed for several reasons.  One, the appointment is early.  Getting there without traffic takes 45 to 55 minutes.  But it may take much longer on Wed. morning.  Second, because this appointment was made a year ago I couldn't remember the exact date, so it is too late notice for Jeremiah to get off of work to come with us.  That means six antsy children in the doctors office.  And may I note that we usually have longer waits which makes it harder to keep everyone quiet.  Third, for everything to go fine with the actual removal.  From the decision that it will be taken out, to the actual life without the tube in the immediate days that follow.  The actual removal will not be a big deal, because it is nothing more than what we would be doing if we were changing out Jed's tube.  So for Jed it will be easier in the sense that he will only be having half of the 'normal' ordeal that he is accustomed to (it being taken out, but a new one not being put in).  However once they take out his tube they just cover it up with some gauze pads, which we will need to change multiple times a day.  Well, hopefully only that first or second day as I am hoping that his hole will close up quickly.  Yes, Jed will be walking around with a hole in his abdomen that goes from his stomach to the outside world with just a piece of gauze covering it!  That's just a bit freaky for Jeremiah and I to think about, but supposedly it's supposed to be able to close up within an hour or two.  I asked what happens if it doesn't.  Basically they said they have only had two people in the past ten years that theirs didn't close up and needed to come in to get a stitch or two put in.  I asked what's going to happen when he eats.  Well, that's where having to change the dressing multiple times a day comes in. Because if it does take a few days to close up then when he eats he will indeed leak out his food from the hole!  Pleasant thought to be sure.  So do pray that Jed will not be the third person needing stitches :-)  And fourthly, this is obviously something we have looked forward to for a very long time.  It is almost too much to think about that it's finally coming to an end (in a good way!).  But I am a bit nervous.....the what if's.  I guess worse case scenario would be he would have to have surgery again to put another tube back in.  I know it is crazy to be even letting my thoughts go there, but they do go there, and so I need some prayer to calm this mommy's heart of mine.  We have always said that we will throw a big party once his tube is out, and we don't plan to go back on our word!!!  So family and friends, near and far will be invited to celebrate this event at a time yet to be decided.  There will be LOTS of food to be sure!!!  And no, it will not be all GAPS food!!! ha, ha!!!  Sorry but this is just tooooooooo big to not have one major cake to celebrate.  We'll just pick up on our regularly scheduled diet the following day :-) 

And as a total side note, but related to food.....I have been eating eggs daily this past week and realized that I had not had any stomach pain!!!! I have to take some apple cider in some juice to make sure not to get really sick to my stomach, but I haven't done so all week. That is totally amazing.  I am sure it has to due with all the probiotic foods we are eating/drinking.  And on the subject of food and Jed, there will be a time in the next handful of months or at least within a year that we will be doing the GAPS intro diet.  I am pretty convinced that we *will* see improvements with Jed (and the rest of us).  But that means only eating certain foods.  And I do worry that it will freak out Jed and make him not want to eat again.  Now that being said, one of the many reasons we are taking this diet very slowly (I'm known for just jumping in with both feet) is because of Jed.  We are getting him used to the foods we will be eating in real life once the diet is over.  Then we will work our way backwards, slowly taking out certain foods (grains first, milk next, etc.) until we reach the intro diet.  So far things have gone very well.  We overcame a couple of biggies, concentrated juices, white bread, frozen chicken nuggets.  For juice we make him fresh juice, or as a compromise we use bottled lemon juice and honey.  Again, taking things slowly.  I made up my first batch (in a long while) of water kefir and flavored it with fresh squeezed orange juice and some vanilla.  He loves it!  Plus he's drank some milk as well, just a little.  As far as bread and chicken, well I just offer him other foods.  He's not too pleased, but he gets over it.  Plus so far he has been eating all of the other foods I've made.  It's hard for me because I just want to dive in and get it all over with, but I know that would be detrimental.  By going slow we will still be doing our bodies good.  They might not be totally healing, but at least we can keep some symptoms at bay (like my egg 'allergy').  That way when we dive in deeper we keep any toxin die off to a minimum. 

Ok, enough about food.  Just one more thing.  A praise.  We got a call today from UPS to let us know that Jed's Dynavox will arrive *tomorrow*!!!!  Wooo HOooo!!  I am sooooooo excited.  Of course I am sure it will come when Jeremiah is at work, and I won't know how to even turn it on.  I am hoping it comes with an instructional DVD.  This machine has SO MANY capabilities!!  It's amazing and all overwhelming.  You get to choose the layout of the screen, what icons will be displayed, making up folders for larger topics and then putting in the content on what you want in that folder.  For example you can have a folder for "food" and inside it you put which foods you want available for him to choose from.  But there are also these other options for a whole screen shot of a scene.  A scene of the inside of a vehicle for example.  I pick that one because that was the one we were shown in the demonstration.  So Jed can click on something in the vehicle to talk about, or even click on the window to talk about what he sees outside the window.  It's really amazing, and I am most certain that I am making no sense what so ever!  Once we have it programmed for him I'll have to take a video to show you what I mean.  But it;s coming, it's coming, it's coming tomorrow!!!!!  No, I'm not excited at all :-)

Chocolate milk

Yes, you are about to see a few posts from me in one day.  Only because the topics seem to be totally non related (not that that has stopped me from posting multiple topics in one post), but also because I wanted the most important post to be separate (the prayer request).

Anyways on to this topic:  chocolate milk.  Now some might not think that chocolate milk and healthy eating can go hand in hand.  But it just depends on how you make it! This is NOT my idea, I got it off of the gnowfglins site (or her personal site).  I tried once before and it didn't turn out too great with the amount of ingredients that I used.  I decided to try my hand at it again.  I am taking a prenatal vitamin now (six per day---which is the dosage) and I thought it might be easier to swallow them with something that goes down smooth (milk) and that had a bit more taste to it (chocolate).  You have to understand (no laughing Jeremiah and Tracy!) that I have a wee bit of a problem swallowing pills.  And that is putting it mildly!  So in my effort to make sure I take my pills I gave the chocolate milk another try.  These are only approximate amounts, but should give you a start if you so choose to try this yourself.

1 cup raw milk
1 tsp cocoa powder (or carob)
2 drops of liquid stevia

Put it all into a blender (I tried just shaking it up and the chocolate wouldn't dissolve) for a few seconds and drink up!  My girls have not had chocolate milk in years!  We've had chocolate smoothies for some time now, but I didn't think there was another way to make chocolate milk without Hershey's syrup or Olvatine.  You can adjust the ingredients to taste.  I thought it was yummy, Jeremiah thought it needed more sweetener. 

Some visitors to the homestead

There's nothing quite like having some visitors over to your home.  It's always nice to engage in edifying dialogue.  It's nice to share a meal together.  I always like finding new recipes to try or getting to ask our visitors for the recipe for the dish they brought over.  I have to say that our most recent visitors we a bit on the weird side.  I know, how horrible to speak poorly of your visitors.  But I think you'll agree that both of our visitors were not exactly good conversationalists.  Not only that but the meal that one of them brought with them....um, you couldn't pay me to eat!  Before you think I am being entirely rude do check out the photos of our guests to see what I mean :-)

Guest number one.  Very, very quiet, never says a word. 

And this little guy brought his meal with him, literally hanging out of his mouth.  What was he eating?  Thankfully he is too little to be eating any of our chicken eggs.  Instead he was feasting on eye of newt.  Well very close to it!  Moira had bent down to grab a little lizard.  They are plentiful around here.  She was quite surprised that this little snake beat her to it!  When Jeremiah brought him up on the porch the lizard was about a one fourth of the way swallowed.  We had the 'privilage' of watching the snake swallow the other three fourths.  Not to mention how weird it is to see the large lump in the snake's body moving down!  So we might not have had the best of visitors, but it most certainly could be considered science class for the day!

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Farm Happenings

Our younger chickens started laying their eggs a few weeks ago.  We could tell because the first few batches of eggs from a new chicken are small.  But there were two chickens that were not laying.  We have three kinds of chickens, Rhode Island reds, Buff Orrpingtons and Americanas.  We only have two Americanas, and about three or four reds.  We knew that the Americanas were not laying yet, but one finally gave us an egg!!  Can you see how we could tell?  :-)

We finally planted some things in our garden. Thankfully it stays warm here for many months. We put up some chicken wire above the fencing to keep the chickens out. The only problem was we didn't have enough to complete the job. So a few chickens have found their way to the garden and made quick work of scratching up the seeds! We just got some more chicken wire to finish and hopefully we can try replanting what was eaten up. Silly chickens. They have been venturing farther from home lately. We think it is because they have exhausted the bugs around the immediate area. Too bad they can't cut down on the flying bug population! We were having problems with the chickens laying eggs where they are supposed to. It was pretty much an egg hunt each day, but even then we were only getting about six eggs a day. A far cry from the twelve to fifteen we should be getting each day. So we were prepared to lock them in the hen house for a few days to help 'remember' where they are supposed to be laying their eggs. Jeremiah locked up the hens a few nights ago. However right before I went to be I decided to check the weather. It was forcasted to be 100 degrees the following day. Not exactly good weather to be locking up chickens in a small barn. When we let the hens out later the next morning there were six eggs in the nests. I had them go back and check a few hours later because Jed and Jonah were requesting more eggs for lunch and I had used up the ones we had. I sent Moira out to see if perhaps there were one or two eggs out there. Imagine my surprise when she came back with TEN! wow! We will have to make it a habit to lock the chickens up each night and keep them there till mid morning. We go through a LOT of eggs in this household.

The goats have continued to give us 2 to 2 1/4 quarts of milk each day. In the beginning of the milking season I figured we would have enough to freeze some for the winter. I can assure you if you look in my freezer you will find *zero* bags of frozen milk. We go through a lot of milk around here too. It's hard not to when we can make our own yogurt, cream cheese, dips, and use the milk in our smoothies and other recipes. I'm thinking we may just very well need to get us another goat or two so that we can save up milk for the winter time. Either that or get ourselves a cow. Yes, I said a cow. We do have the land, we just don't have the 'right' land. A cow needs pasture and we have woods. Hmmmm, we'll have to see what we can do. A cow though would give us the cream necessary for butter. I just got done reading that brown jersey cows have the same type of milk protein that goats have, making their milk more easy to digest.

My sister sent me this great link to some homesteading DVD's. They also have a blog that tells some of what they do on their farm. I was so inspired. We really are not taking full advantage of the land that we have. Granted we are just coming out of time that there was no way we could do anything with the land (Jed's issues). But now that Jed is coming around health wise I think it may be time to invest in the outside. In the DVD;s they show you how to butcher animals and canning the meat. I had never heard of canning your own meat! We thought about raising chickens for meat. Between this diet we will be doing (meat intensive-well sorta) we might just have to rethink it. We wouldn't need to get a freezer, just more glass canning jars. One of the reasons I have not been fond of canning is the loss of nutrients that occurs from the canning process. But their web site claims that meat is one food that does not lose it's nutrients in the canning process. That would be really cool! Jeremiah just went to the health food store to buy some free range chickens and some soup bones. The bones were cheap, the chicken, not so much. Maybe, just maybe, if we can learn the whole process for ourselves we could give it a whirl. Start small with a dozen or so chickens and see how it goes.
I think that's all that's going on on the 'farm'. Our goal is to become more and more self sufficient. We still have a long ways to go, but it's nice to know we've taken some steps.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

WE GOT IT!!!!!

Today, today, today......as some of you know things seem to just not be going right around here.  It's a lot of little things, but those little things add up. It just seems that every time I turn around something is not right, or broken, or hurt, or failed, or......you get the idea.  So today I was getting ready to exercise, had just put on the video when the phone rang.  Caller ID said it was from Dynavox.  Oh boy, I thought, more bad news.  We had just submitted the correct paper work a few weeks ago for one of Dynavox's doctors to represent us in our appeal of BCBS's denial of our request to get an augmentative communication device.  I was very hesitant to pick up the phone.  And it certainly didn't seem to be going well when the gentleman started by saying how BCBS had denied our last claim, and how they put in the appeal.......and then, and THEN he said it, "But we just got a letter in today from BCBS saying that they are now going to APPROVE a device."  My response?  I cried!  Yeah, right there on the phone.  I'm sure the poor guy didn't know what to do about that.  We needed to make arrangements to handle our co-pay/max out of pocket stuff before they could send in the request for the device.  I had Jeremiah call to discuss those matters.  I figured we might still be looking at weeks before even thinking about seeing Jed's new device.  I was very pleasantly surprised when Jeremiah told me this evening that we are supposed to have it in 3 to 4 days!!!!!! 

This all seems almost surreal!  Finally, after almost seven months of paper work, waiting, more papers, more waiting, having to have our doctor sign things, more waiting, lather/rinse/repeat!  And now, just like that it should be here on our door step in a matter of a few days.  I am so excited for Jedidiah!  There will most certainly be a learning process to figure out how this will work in our lives.  His private speech therapist will probably be showing us the ropes and helping Jed learn how to appropriately use the device.  But our frustrating van rides may be a thing of the past soon enough!!!  I can't wait.  I really hope this will open up a 'new' world for Jed.  He really has been communicating so much better this last month.  But that is only when you compare how he was communicating a few months ago with himself.  If you were to compare him to even some two year olds....yeah, he has a lot of work to do.  But it has been great to see him making grounds, even without speech therapy these past seven weeks. 

Well I just had to share our very good news.  I was just bursting at the seems today to tell the whole world :-) 

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Pregnancy update

So we had our interview with the new midwife.  Jeremiah and I really liked her.  We love her beliefs, and philosophy on homebirth/midwifery.  She is a direct entry midwife and has chosen to specifically not get her certification.  And we couldn't agree with her more as to her reasons.  The homebirth community at large in NC has been pushing for legalization of homebirth.  Having a homebirth itself is legal, the complications come in to who 'attends' your birth.  There is a move to pass legislation to legalize certified midwives.  That move will then lead to regulating what those certified midwives can/can not do.  And she does not want to be told who she can and can not attend for births. 

After we talked for a while about her training, and my previous pregnancies/births she did a prenatal. Jonah was VERY intrigued by everything that came our of her bag!  He stuck right there by my side to see what she was going to do next.  And wouldn't ya know something had to be different with this pregnancy!  Not that that hasn't been an issue these past few months, but seriously I was really hoping for a smooth ride from here on out.  In all of my six pregnancies I have always had high iron levels.  Always.  To the point that it amazes some of my midwives.  Yeah.......this time, not so!  It was a 'whopping' 10.8.  Nothing to be proud of to be sure.  So I need to go out and grab some prenatals, along with continuing to make our dietary changes which should contribute to helping my iron uptake.  But this could explain why I've been feeling a bit tired lately.  This past week I had assumed that it was the extra work of our new diet that was wearing me out.  Not that stirring together some flour, water and whey should wear anyone out!  I think what I really need to do is really be praying about this pregnancy.  Its not that I haven't been praying, but certainly there definitely has been a distance between God and me, and I know it's ME who is 'off' and I need to get back on track with communicating with my Lord. 

There was another funny 'off' thing about my visit.  This is really truly nothing at all, but just another thing to make this pregnancy different.  The baby's heart rate.  Granted I am going to be 18 weeks in a few days, so the baby's heart rate should still be high, and I just may not be remembering correctly back to my other pregnancies, but for some reason I was pretty sure that by this point we always had the clear distinction of high or low heart rate.  High, meaning it's a higher likely hood of a girl, low, a higher likelyhood of it being a boy.  The 140's would be boy, the 160's girl.  Yeah, this little booger was 156.  All my girls were in the 160's from the get go and stayed there, and my boys were in the 140's, although they may have been in the 150 range early on and I am just not remembering. Plus the little guy was moving all over the place and kept getting out of range of the doppler.  So maybe his heart rate would have been a lower 150 without all that movement.  Hmmmmm......time will tell I suppose :-)  I drive my husband batty by mulling over the old wives tales to try to figure out if we're having a boy or a girl :-)  That's ok, I am still convinced we are having a boy. I suppose we need to start looking at names pretty soon, which might give us more of a clue.  EXCEPT that so far, everything with this pregnancy has been totally not normal. 

When we called out that we would be listening to the baby's heart beat all the girls came running (they were in the other room). So there we were, all of us, listening in.....and then Isabella says, "Oh, poor Jed, he's crying!"  Poor guy was freaked out by the whole doppler on my tummy!  So sad.  We tried to comfort him, but he wasn't ok until she put the doppler away.  I held him and told him I was fine, that we were just checking to see how the baby was doing.....He said, "ok" and got off my lap ASAP and ran off.  I suppose we'll have to let him hold the doppler and see that it isn't anything scary. 

It was a great visit.  I am looking forward to my next visit a month from now. 

I finally had success with my grain soaking!  I made some yummy biscuits this morning and some tortillas this afternoon.  I had made up some bean dip and a salad to put inside of our tortillas.  Oh, YUM!  It really hit the spot.  This evening, for the first time ever, I made homemade pasta noodles.  It was easy and they turned out very well.  I used them in my beef stroganoff recipe.  Tomorrow I am going to try my 'luck' at making the soaked pancakes for the second time. Soaking grains is not at all hard, it just requires me to really know what we are having the following day for meals as I need to prepare the grains the night before.  A lot of the preparations are easy and quick, but they take a long time to soak or 'mature' (yogurt comes to mind).  Tomorrow I need to test my water kefir to see if it is still alive, and my kombucha.  We need to get those probiotics in us in large doses :-) 

I'm tired, and so off to bed I go.  Right now the baby is moving around like crazy!  He'a an active little guy! 
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