Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Finally, some pictures

Hey, I like pictures :-).  They make a post a lot more fun!  I've got some odds and ends ones.  After a busy few days I thought I would catch up with pictures. 

 Jedidiah was quite pleased with himself that he earned his reward for passing a long awaited milestone.  Potty training.  Yes, he's much older than most children who are potty trained at the tender age of 2 or 3.  I've shared here before that I was quite sure we would not be among the group of parents with an apraxic child who doesn't potty train until the age of 6.  Yes, six.  This is a very common thing among children with apraxia.  No one knows particularly why.  Sensory issues?  Miss wiring?  Not sure.  I'm happy that he beat the age six dealy, but not by much!  Not to mention he still has to tackle nights.  But, hey, I'm just glad he is day trained!  We had a much coveted reward waiting for him when he tackled the day time potty challenge.  Pet Shops.  Yes, the small, cooky looking animal thingies that are a craze?  Definitely not on my list of 'keepers'.  But hey, desperate times, call for desperate measures :-). 

He thinks the mailman gave them to him!  Ha, ha!  He was very excited to open up this box.

He takes them everywhere!  I try to limit where he can bring them, more for fear of him losing them, and a meltdown ensuing.

While the boys were on Plymouth Rock with the new Pet Shops, I was making a list, or lists as was the case.  Getting ready for our Boot Camp 2012.  Things are falling into place.  And lest anyone thinks this may be a bad thing, I can assure you I have a lot of FUN planned.  We have a hard time staying on target when we try to do some child training.  So I thought by adding some fun, good family time, and some fancy 'team' shirts, we would be on our way to a splendid Boot Camp.  I am looking forward to this challenge.  It won't be easy, but I think we will come out the victors, with some well behaved children, a renewed love for each other, and some fond memories to boot.

This is the pile of composted dirt we had dropped of the other day.  Not as impressive as I thought it would be.  It will still come in handy, we were just expecting there to be more of it!  Thankfully we found a free source of composted mulch.  We have plans to use the mulch pretty much all over our land.  No, really.  We considered renting a dump truck for the stuff.  No, I'm not joking.  Most certainly not after our fiasco tonight.  Currently, as I write this, Jeremiah's pick up truck is stuck.  Really, really stuck, right in our back yard.  It's under belly is in the mud!!  It's not going anywhere any time soon, especially when it's supposed to rain tomorrow.  We are seeing if we can get a hold of a chain to pull it out with our van.  Fun times people, fun times.

Speaking of fun times, we all had fun at a recent birthday party we went to over the weekend.  I still have not gotten Flannery's official birthday picture up (her birthday was on the 20th of this month)!!  But this wasn't Flannery's b-day party, her's is this coming weekend.  The party we attended was for a friend, who turned 5.  It was held at a local park.  This was good and bad.  Good, lots of room to run around, bad because there was lots of room to run around :-)  Trying to keep track of the boys was very hard to do.  Jed was obsessed about running around this fence.  Jonah...

 ...he was obsessed with finding all the balloons he could get a hold of.  Aubrey?

He was obsessed about trying to climb the stone stairs.  Stone.  Baby.  Not a good combination.

At one point as I was grabbing the baby away from said stone stairs I caught Jed chasing his balloon.  He was just running out of sight when I called out to him.  I really try not to think about what could have happened, but that can be hard to do.  After I called him back, we went together to get his balloon.  Had he ran after it himself he would have gone all the way out by the road.  And I can assure you he would not have found his way back!  Scary.  This is why these types of events stress me out big time.  It only takes a moment for a child to get lost, in a big, big park.  Thankfully all ended well.  We had fun, Jed got his balloon back, and I'm still sane....sort of.

Saoirse peeking out of one of the old buildings on the park's premises.

We seem to have a new problem here at my house.  A problem between Flannery and I.  You see Flannery has fallen in love....with bokeh.  Oh, yes!  Don't know what bokeh is?  It's the blurriness you get in the background, or sometimes foreground in photos.  Like the picture above, you can see the flowers, but the background is a blur of color.  I have to practically wrestle my camera away from Flannery to get a turn with it!  And this has gotten worse, *after* we just bought her her own camera!  When I brought up the fact that she has a camera of her own now, she responded with...yeah, but it doesn't do photography.  Ha, ha!  She's talking about the bokeh people!  Too funny.  But I will say that she's getting pretty darn good at this photography thing.

For the record, I love bokeh too :-)  I also like this picture I was able to capture as we were leaving the park...ya know, after I wrestled my camera away.  I like it in color and b&w.

A beautiful sight!  Our front herbal garden is complete.  Well, except for the actual herbs.  That will be the easy part!  See all that dark goodness on top?  That would be the free composted tree mulch.  Black gold!

A Flannery picture.  We went out in the back yard to start on the corner garden area.  It's filled with weeds, vines, brambles and such.  Flannery decided to take pictures.  That wasn't helping to get the weeds up.  But after all the work we did I was hoping she did have a picture of "before".  Unfortunately this is the only before picture she took of the area.  Trust me, it's a lot worse in real life.  This looks tame to what we had to deal with.  I may have to bring my camera out the next time we work on the area.  It was kind of discouraging to work, work, work and stand back to see that we didn't get too far!!  Some before pictures may help boost the moral of our crew :-)

Another Flannery picture.  Warning, bokeh not only in the background, but the foreground as well.  She loves when that happens.  I only have about 1500 pictures of her trying to get the best angle and bokeh from a shot.  And NO I am NOT kidding.  My memory card can only hold about 500 pictures at a time (I lost my bigger mem. card), and I've had to delete the card multiple time in the last two weeks.  Multiple times.  I have enough goat pictures to last me a life time!!  But hey, that's how we learn...by doing :-)

Because when you keep practicing, and keep 'doing', you end up with something cool like the above picture.  This is a picture that Flannery took today.  Maybe not amazing (although I think so), but for a ten year old?  Hello!  I was taking a picture of my sister making bunny ears over my brother's head at ten years old.  Wait...I don't think I used a camera till I was in my teens.  Keep up the good work Flannery!  (yes, she reads my blog :-))

Monday, February 27, 2012

Some Answers to Prayer

In my last post, on the happenings around here, there were still some things that needed to be bought or found.  We were disappointed in how much dirt actually got dumped in our yard.  We have been looking on Craigslist for free composted trees/yard stuff.  So far the pickings were slim, and very small in quantity.  But yesterday we hit the jackpot!!  Jeremiah didn't even want to contact the person as he was tired of finding out that each place he called/emailed only had a small quantity of compost (maybe a garbage can full at most).  I urged him to at least email this one guy, I mean, you never know unless you ask, right?  Come to find out this gentleman is in the tree clipping business and has aged composted trees/brush.  LOTS OF IT!!!  Jeremiah estimates he has about a third of an acre of huge 8 foot hills of aged composted tree material.  He picked up two truck loads of it last night.  The stuff is WONDERFUL.  It's exactly what we were looking for.  We need a LOT of it to cover all the garden areas that we plan on having.  Not to mention I wanted to put some down in front of our goat barn to help absorb the wetness that always accumulates, causing issues for us and the goats.  Right now it's raining, so I can't get out to take a picture of our 'gold mine'.  It will take many, many more trips to get the amount we need, but we are just so thankful that we found what we were looking (and praying) for, for FREE!!

My other answer to prayer came after talking with someone from church who has taken over the veggie co-op I used to be apart of.  I am grateful for all the healing we have seen on the GAPS diet.  I know we could have been having more success if we could obtain 'real' meat... the natural, grass fed kind.  There are still various health issues that more than one of us are still dealing with.  And although we've gone from these issues causing us to have to use antibiotics, to them just being a daily annoyance, the fact is we are still dealing with them!  But we can not afford to buy such meat, not unless we could cut costs elsewhere.  In the meantime I wanted to put us on a juice feast to help jump start our bodies healing from these health issues.  But that led to a dead end as well since we can't afford for all of to juice.  I felt trapped.  I gave this issue over to the Lord.  I wish I did this more often, as He seems to be able to take care of things so much better than I can :-)  I asked the woman who is doing the veggie co-op if I could come with her one day to see about buying some bulk produce.  I knew it would be cheaper, I just wasn't expecting it to be THIS cheap!!  Apples, 45 cents a pound, 50 pounds of carrots for 12$, etc.  I mean, WOW!  The kick is you have to buy a bushel of apples, or the whole 50 pounds of carrots, or 50 pounds of potatoes, etc.  With the large quantities we will need for juicing this will work out just fine.  And for future purchasing, this will save us money to put towards the grass fed meat we need to be buying.  I can buy in bulk and *dehydrate* the leftovers, and use them for the weeks we don't go to the farmers market. 

We haven't started our boot camp yet.  I came down with the tummy bug last night, making any kind of work impossible.  I can work through pain, but NOT nausea.  Yuck.  Call me a wimp, but I can't handle nausea :-P

Friday, February 24, 2012

Missing in Action

We got our truck load of composted dirt!  It is wonderful to see things coming together!!  Just wanted to pop in and say I may go missing in action in the coming weeks.  It all depends on how things around here go.  I plan on having, what I am going to call, "Boot Camp 2012".  Exciting stuff to be sure ;-)  Some how my children do not think so.  How odd :-)  We have made so much wonderful progress, and we don't want it to stop.  There are many bad habits that we all have here at our house.  So my focus over the coming month is to start some good habits.  With 7 children, that is going to take a lot of effort.  A lot.  I plan on shutting down the computers during the day time.  I will be turning one back on after the children go to bed as Jeremiah and I have a LOT of dvd's to watch in the parenting dvd series.  If I am not falling on my face after that, I may try to keep track of our progress.  But if not, just know we are working hard over here :-)

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Additions to the homestead

If any of  you have read my "Big Changes" series then you know that we are taking our family vision seriously.  With the illnesses we have been experiencing we have had some relapse into old habits (more from the adults!). But we are determined that we are not going to fall off the wagon.  Maybe our wagon was stalling, be we haven't fallen off.  During the past few months Jeremiah and I have been discussing how we were going to use our tax money when it came in.  I am sure there will be many who may not agree with how we decided to spend that money.  I can assure you it was with prayer and thoughtfulness that we made our decisions.  Like many people, we have debt.  I am glad to say that the debt we do have is about 90% or more medical debt.  Not that I am happy that we had such things come up medically that it got us into debt, but at least it wasn't from reasons that got us into debt in the past.  We made a promise to pay off some of our debt with this tax return, so we can chip away at it.  However the rest of it was needed to further our family goals.  One of our goals is to be debt free, but our priority is in capturing the hearts of our children, something that we had lost.  Seeing the results that we have gotten so far from the changes we've made all the more cemented our resolve to do what we could to further the relationships within our family.  Although I hate the idea of owing people money, it is much more woeful to have lost your children.  We can continue to work on paying off our debts as we are able.  I am sure we will make greater strides once we are all working together, here at home.

Alright!  So all that to say....we made some purchases to further our wee homestead.  There are still a few more purchases that need to happen, some will come in the next few weeks, and others will have to wait for a few months.  We tried to stick with the idea, 'what God gave us in the here and now' to work on, and some of the 'things we would really like to try.  With all of our purchases there has been a renewed excitement to work on our homestead.  Here are a few of the things we have obtained so far:

Meet Red Beard, or Buddy.  Not sure how Buddy can be the nickname of this goat that they decided to call Red Beard, but hey, I leave the animal naming up to the girls, and this is what we got :-)  This is our new Nigerian Dwarf billy goat.  We recently bought a Nubian billy this past fall.  Now we will be able to have our means to securing milk :-)  This will not enable us to expand our herd, as we would need more males, but this will give us the milk we need in the coming years.  Maybe in the future we can work on herd diversity and expansion.  But for now we are happy with our current herd size.  Along with drinking the milk we plan on using some to make cheese.  The cheese supplies are something that is on the "buy in the next few months" catagory.  We also plan on making soap with the milk.  You can see below that we bought the supplies for that venture, now we just need some milk :-)  I do have a few gallons in the freezer that we plan on using to try our hand at soap making.

 Next up, supplies for our gardening venture. Above you can see our new shop light, that we hung from the bottom of one of the shelves that we have in our laundry room.  The trays you see below will not be orientated that way.  The girls were just trying to figure out how many trays they could fit underneath.  After hanging the light we realize that we will probably need two lights.  But for now, this set up will do.  Tomorrow we have a truck load of dirt/compost being dropped off so that we can make up our garden beds.  I envision lots of outdoor work in our future :-)  In the next few weeks we will be purchasing some fruit trees and possibly some more heirloom seeds.  A friend of mine offered us some blueberry bushes!  I am so excited about that.  We have plans to put them in our backyard, along the back of the house.  I think those are all the near future plans we have for our garden.

 We took the plunge and purchased an Excalibur food dehydrator.  After pondering all the ways one can store food, we realized that for our size family, dehydrating would be the best way to do so.  The number of canning jars we would need to store food for our family?  Oh my.  I have been buying 3 five gallon pails from Walmart each pay period.    In the next few months we will be purchasing a food vacuum saver along with some oxygen absorbers and vacuum bags. 

   These are our soap making supplies.  These will also be used to make some hair conditioner and cleaning spray. I purchased most of my oils from the Soap Dish.  The prices were reasonable and they were quick to deliver.  If I had more money I would have bought a lot more as the shipping was pretty high, but mostly a flat rate, so in the long run I would have saved  more money,  but I can only do what I can do :-)  The essential oils and the castile soap were purchased from Vitacost.  They are always quick to deliver and so far have always had the best prices of what they carry.  The crock pot you see will actually be used for our cooking.  I bought it for soap making, but it is a nicer model than the one we have for our food making! So I will trade my intended purposes for each crockpot.  This crock I picked up at the Goodwill.  I forgot to take a picture of our stick blender.  Oh well.  If you are not sure what a stick blender is I am sure you can do a google search.  My camera is currently in use :-)

There you have it!  Lots to look forward to.  Along with the above we have a major outside 'spring cleaning' that we need to do.  Thankfully it has been a mild winter and we should not have any problem with getting out there to do so.  We have some fencing to put up so that we can make another area for the goats to live in.  Goats are very, very prone to worms.  In order to keep them healthy you need to have separate areas for them to rotate living in so as to cut down the worm population.  In the mean time we will focus on what we can do, which is to make one extra living area (they need more, but that will definitely be a future project), put down some diatomacious earth, and supplementing their diet with herbs and greens.

I tried to add a new button to the top menu of my blog.  Let me just say, for the record, I computers are like a second language for me...foreign! Ha, ha!  I want to be able to record our homestead's production.  I want to be able to know what has worked for us, and what we need to try differently.  It is hard to do that just on memory.  The girls started notebooks for this purpose, but I would like a back up to make sure we don't loose our information.  

Monday, February 20, 2012

Stick blenders

Sorry if you are all tired of any giveaway posts that I have.  BUT in the past three weeks I have won Tropical Traditions Gold coconut oil, a book and a handcrafted honey dipper and rolling pin!  The girls and I are almost set to start making some homemade soap.  We are just waiting on some of our supplies to be shipped to us.  I was able to locate a used crock pot at the Goodwill that will be used to make soap.  I was hoping to find a used stick blender. So far no luck.  Imagine my surprise to see a giveaway for a new stick blender.  Well, seeing as how I can't start making my soap just yet, I thought I would enter.  Jeremiah bought me a new stick blender, but I haven't opened it yet.  Plus, after reading the Real Food Forager's wonderful ways of using her stick blender....I might just have to have two.  As a side note, there are tools that should be set aside exclusively for soap making, and a stick blender is one of them.  So if you want to know all the wonderful ways a stick blender can improve your life just hop on over to the Real Food Forager's blog to enter her giveaway :-)  BTW, there is only ONE thing that can truly improve your life...Jesus :-)

On the road to recovery

The Full Hands house is finally in recovery mode from the horrid Norovirus.  Let's just leave it at:  it wasn't pretty...the end.  Yup, pretty much sums it up.  We have some pretty exciting things starting to shape up around here as far as our family vision is concerned.  I'll share those things in another post.  For now, I thought I would just share a bunch of pictures that go back all the way to the beginning of this month. 

I'm happy to know that a healthy amount of dirt is good for you!  Helps with that immune system.  Flannery and Saoirse were making cupcakes, or buns, or bread, or something :-)

Don't worry, I make them wash their hands when they come inside!

So this is where Flannery gets some of her practice at becoming a good cook.

Aubrey was checking in on the baked goods cooking.

Nope, not done.

Flannery decided that she outgrew her previous oven, and set up a new one.  Here she is moving over her backed (I guess it should be 'baking') goods.

This oven didn't have a door, but that didn't seem to hinder the baking process.

This was Saoirse's baking area.  You can see where my missing dishes end up.

Creek time.

Jonah is getting brave enough to venture on to the tree limb.  He doesn't get far.

Lots of exploring.

Hanging out on the 'sand bar'.

Aubrey decided to get into the action this time around.  He will usually wail if you try to dip his feet into the water.

He lasted about 10 minutes :-)  He then wanted to get out and get his cold, wet shoes off.

Jonah found some greenage.


where did it go?

Jed was insistent that I take his picture of him swirling the water.

Jonah decided it was time to pour out the water from his boots.

I like the effect of focusing on something up close, but your subject is really the blurr in the background.  Obviously I don't want all my pictures like that :-)  Ha, ha. 

I had my big cleaning spree a couple of months ago.  Now I am trying to find better ways to keep things organized.  As I am working around the house I will get ideas of ways to keep things in their places.  I'm trying to use what we have here at home.  I've had the squared glass jars hanging out for a while.  Their tops are just about impossible to get on, making daily use impractical.  Filling them with our math manipulatives works much better.

Well, it works as long as little boys don't dump out the contents!!

Our magnetic wall is turning into a word wall.

Aubrey is starting to eat on his own.  He loves to have a utensil. 

Using the utensil seems to be an option though.

Isabella made this cute scarf.  I am very excited that they are able to make 'real' things with their new skills.  It can be discouraging to be stuck in practice mode with no actual product at the end.

All smiles.

We bought a new fan for our family room.  Our old fan hung down too low, which has been problematic.

How many children does it take to put a fan together?  :-)

We found a new way to curl the girls' hair.  This is by far the quickest way to curl their hair.  I'm not sure if you can see the head band in the picture (up at her forehead).  Their hair gets wrapped around the head band, left over night and in the morning...


Moira was quite pleased with her curls.  They went to church like this and everyone was asking if they had gotten perms.

Aubrey LOVES bath time.  A lot.  A whole lot.  He gets giddy if you start getting him undressed in the bathroom.  He tries to climb into the tub on his own, which he is unable to do.

See, all smiles.  Although he wasn't smiling much when he got a face full of water the other day.  Poor guy.  But that didn't stop him from turning back into all smiles a minute later.  Quick recovery :-)

For Valentines day the kiddos got a few small things.  These coloring/painting pages were one fun thing.

I hung up these beaded necklaces for decoration for Valentines.  I put some up in the door way of both the girls' and boys' bedrooms.

These remind me of the plastic necklaces I used to play with when we went to my grandparents house.  My aunt had bag fulls of them.

While the boys were sick, Saoirse happened to be healthy.  She made a sweet display for them to cheer them up.

Flannery...sick :-(  At one point eight of the nine of us were sick at the same time.  Not fun, not fun.

I knew we were on the mend when I heard hammers and laughter and shouting.  Moira up to something.

Hmmm, there seems to be a lot of swing building that goes on around here.

Aubrey found it fascinating that he could pull off the bark of this tree.

I found it fascinating that a large tree had this for a trunk!  The whole bottom is hollow, with this hole one side.

Aubrey won't be able to do this for long.  None of us will be able to hang out in the woods in another two weeks.  Why?  Ticks.  They come out in the thousands around the second week of March.  And until our chickens can bring down the population (about two to four weeks) we need to stay out of our beloved woodland.

Flannery and Aubrey trying out Moira's swing.

Aubrey loves to swing.After this I took him out back to swing in the real swing.  I think he could swing all day.

What does one do when they don't get snow for the winter, so you can't go sledding?  Why you sail down a dirt bare hill on a plastic rocking horse.  Actually, he wasn't sailing.  He could only 'sled' a few inches before giving another push to 'sled' another few inches.  But I have to give him credit for thinking this up on his own and trying it out.

He didn't get too far before Jonah distracted him.

Jed decided to give the swing a try too.

I guess this picture doesn't show it too well, but there is a stick on the left hand side of the rocking horse.  It really looked like the horse was tied to a pole, like in the old west.  Except there isn't any rope.  I guess you will have to use your imagination :-)

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