Thursday, November 29, 2012

Oh no, not again!!!!!!

I'm not 100% sure if we are dealing with 'buggies' again, but something is very, very fishy.  Aubrey spent a few nights not sleeping ALL.  Lots and lots of lost sleep.  He then popped up with a rash on his tummy.  Chalked it up to a virus.  Goodness my kids are known for viral rashes.  Isabella popped up with an itchy rash on her tummy.  She had the same small rash last year during the fall.  Could be an eczema type of thing.  Could be.  Saoirse has been complaining of an itchy rash on her legs.  I've looked her over and there is no noticeable rash.  This morning she says the itching has spread.  Oh wonder of wonders.  The problem with Aubrey's rash?  It's gotten worse over the past week, not better.  It is small raised pink bumps.  But now I am seeing the old bumps (smaller and no longer pink) and a bunch more newer ones.  This is looking all too familiar.  Very much like the rash the DREADED scabies leaves behind.  I'm really trying to pretend this isn't happening.  I had the dreaded scabies last Sept.-Oct.  Now, a year later, we may be dealing with it again.  Really? 

On top of that poor Saoirse has one of her super sinus infections.  This happened last year as well.  It started last year and was going on for months (she wasn't having what one would call a normal sinus infection that would lead a person to go to the doctors).  Then, we started GAPS, and it got a LOT worse very quickly.  Which is very odd seeing as how there is not wheat, sugar (except honey) and hardly any dairy in the beginning.  Any dairy at all is all fermented.  Our alternative practitioner had seen her last year when things got out of hand. She told me that it was probably hard to believe, but that Saoirse was 'very clean'.  She's one out of 2 people she's ever seen so 'clean'.  By clean, she meant that down deep she was very healthy.  Our practitioner is very, VERY confident that her remedies and suggestions work.  But last year she cautioned me that her stuff and the natural remedy suggestions may not be enough and we may have to take her into see our family doctor!  That was almost scary! 

Thankfully with a lot of attention and being very strict with following all the natural remedy suggestions Saoirse was able to overcome the sinus infection without antibiotics.  Now we are seeing an almost repeat.  Almost.  Saoirse started to come down with her 'not normal' sinus infection symptoms.  I really didn't catch them in the beginning.  We started GAPS and within a week....BOOM!!! Sinus infection overload.  She started crying over e.v.e.r.y. t.h.i.n.g.  I mean every. single. thing.  That was my clue.  Not to mention the red/purple circles under her eyes, and finally she started complaining of sinus pain.  She's very much like me, I can have a raging sinus infection with absolutely no pain.  My doctor was incredulous that that could be true until he saw it for himself.  He was pressing on my sinus area and I was just sitting there.  He was waiting for me to jump off the table.  He kept asking me again and again, "Are you sure you can't feel any, ANY pain?"  Um, nope.  Saoirse, a girl after my own heart  er...sinuses. 

I've started Saoirse on Oil of Oregano, and an ACV 'coctail'.  The ACV (apple cider vinegar) cocktail contains: 1 tsp ACV, a pinch of baking soda, honey, 5 drops of grapefruit seed extract, and 5 drops of an ecinachea tincture.  I had her breathing in the steam of thieves oil plus lavender essential oil.  She wasn't handling that well, so I persuaded her to do a sinus rinse.  To my surprise she accepted the 'challenge' and did very well with it!  This should speed things up to recovery.  As it was, when she awoke today, after 48 hours of the natural supplements she said she can stand up without pain and pressure in her head.  So we are making progress!  Slow as it may be.  The very, VERY important thing about doing natural remedies is that you really, REALLY have to keep on top of them.  If you forget a dose or two, you can literally undo all the work you have done, making any future efforts more difficult. 

I may start everyone on the anti-scabies protocol.  Which, if you had read that post I made about it a few months ago, you know is quite involved.  I may try the sulfur method this time around, as it is supposed to give much faster results.  I just need to talk to the pharmacist about the ratio of sulfur to coconut oil.  And then the fun begins!!  Lots, lots, LOTS, L.O.T.S., and lots of laundry.  Everybody's bedding washed every day.  Fun times, fun times.  (Please read that last sentence with lots of sarcasm dripping off of it.)

Today is a cleaning day.  With tomorrow being shopping day we need to clean out the fridges, take stoke of needed items, clean out the van and keep up with schooling.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

The day after Thanksgiving

We were supposed to have more company today, but with some of us still feeling sick, they played it safe and stuck to home.  I'm glad they did, because three days later and I am still feeling yucky.  Nothing that is making life stop in its tracks, but enough to slow things down. 

We spent the day catching up on some schooling.  I had to switch around some of our vacation days since we 'ate' into some of them with all the horse stuff that was going on a couple of weeks ago.  After that we headed outside into the sunny warm air.  The temps were in the high 60's!  It was beautiful.  So glad we got out as today is on the cold side and windy.  I think the high for today is only supposed to be 49*.  I am trying to put into practice some things that are going to benefit our little homestead.  One of those things is hanging laundry outside to dry.  I only put one or two loads out there as they really do not get completely dry.  But instead of 1 hours and 45 minutes in the drier, it only took 30 minutes.  This is helping to get more laundry washed, as we got behind, and save a wee little (little, little) bit on energy usage.  We'll have to rethink our line setup, but for now by keeping the goats in the goat area, it is working. 

After our time outside, and schooling under our belt, it was time to put up the Christmas tree.  We traditionally put it up the day after Thanksgiving, along with a cup of hot cocoa (which seems odd when it is almost 70* outside!).  Last year I had not been able to make up a hot cocoa recipe that the kids really enjoyed (GAPS legal that is).  This year, I hit the nail on the head!  There were many requests for more, more, more :-)  I used a blend of my improved almond milk recipe and a can of coconut milk.  By making up a mixture of cocoa powder and honey first, all the chocolate gets incorporated thoroughly.  I put a dab of our leftover coconut 'whipped' cream, and OH MY!  Yum! 

Oh my goodness, something sooooo cute just happened!  We have a whole bunch of Christmas lights that do not work.  We haven't gotten around to putting them up yet.  Aubrey just took of two of the lights (on different points of the string) and put them in his ears and kept saying, "hello!".  Too funny.  I wish I had a video of that!

Here are some photos from our day.

Saoirse found a feather that she wanted to show off.
 Hanging out on the trampoline.  The kids asked me to join them.  NO WAY!  Upset tummy and a trampoline, I don't think so :-)

 Our laundry all hung up.  I forgot to mention a very important detail about our laundry.  I did NOT hang up this laundry.  One of my very eager helpers did it for me.  As a matter of fact he *insisted* that I did not help.

 Here is my big helper.  Except for the bed sheet he did everything!
 I asked him to pose with his work.  This is what I got.

 After the laundry it was time to do a bunch of boy type things, like look for big rocks...

 ...or chase chickens around.
 Time to hang the ornaments.  I'm telling ya, having older children is pretty amazing.  This year not only did we not put the tree together, but they also hung the lights.  Moira is posing with one of the first ornaments that she received as a baby.
 Everyone wanted to show off the ornaments.
Someone really enjoyed that hot cocoa ;-)
A shot of the whole group.  Everyone helping to put the ornaments on.  Speaking of which I only put ONE on the tree this year!  I think we were done in record time!

Friday, November 23, 2012

A different Thanksgiving

I have to say I wish I had taken some pictures of our Thanksgiving day.  But I was a bit busy.  I had the usual Thanksgiving business of cooking, cleaning, cooking, getting kiddos ready, cooking, etc.  But this year we had a wee bit more work thrown into the mix...two boys...with the tummy bug.  How horrid to have the tummy bug on a feasting day!  Our guests, who were bringing the turkey, decided to play it safe and stay home.  Thankfully it was early enough to thaw out a couple of chicken roasters before dinner time. 

There was some question if Jed was going to be able to keep anything at all down that day.  But by around 3 o'clock he was finally able to keep stuff down.  He over did it a bit at dinner as he had tummy pain after eating, but he didn't get sick again.  Phew.  I was a bit concerned about who may awake in the middle of the night.  I prepared myself mentally before going to bed.  Imagine my surprise when *I* woke up sick.  For some reason that possibility didn't enter my head!  Ha! 

This Thanksgiving meal was a cross between traditional and GAPS.  I made the decision to keep any meal plans in place that we had before we started GAPS.  All food plans after that were made GAPS legal.  This meant we had roasted chicken, mashed potatoes (some had hashbrowns!), peas, jellied cranberry sauce, we used the cooking juices as the 'gravy' (didn't have the desire to make it more gravy like), gaps legal apple crisp and gaps legal pumpkin pie.  Jedidiah loved, loved, LOVED the pumpkin pie mix (before we cooked it), but when it came to eating the actual pie, he ate one bite!  Maybe he was all pumpkin'd out?  I think the apple crisp won out over the pumpkin pie.  I loved the pumpkin pie's consistancy, but it did need a little something else. That something else may have been the cloves, that I purchased in bulk during out last shopping trip, but couldn't find come baking day. 

After dinner, dessert and dishes we went outside for a small bonfire.  Jeremiah reads George Washington's Thanksgiving Proclamation each Thanksgiving.  This year he read it off of his laptop while sitting around the fire.  It was a nice way to end the evening.  We were able to keep up with the dishes and cleaning, so I was able to awake to a clean house.  This is a good thing since I'm still not feeling 100%.  We have company coming today...maybe, as I still need to call them to say we have the tummy bug making it's way around.  The older two girls have to help out at the stables for an hour this morning.  And then, I may try to get them to do a little school work.  We are behind and I've given them two weeks to catch up. They only have one week left to catch up of things.  After that they will have to forgo any 'extras' until they are caught up.  Those being: participating in the upcoming art contest, horse riding lessons, choir or computer time.  I'm such a mean mom :-)

Hoping everyone else had a wonderful day!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

A little about nothing

Just had a few pictures to share that I snapped the other day when we were hanging outside.  November weather can be so fickle.  One day it's 48* the next it's 65*.  One day we are sporting our heavy sweatshirts or jackets, and the next we are in short sleeves and shorts.  This day happened to be on the cool side.  We were thinking of putting on an impromptu bonfire.  I would really like to make it a more regular feature here during the fall/winter months, having a weekly or bi-monthly bonfire.  Bring out the cast iron pot and put on some dinner as we all sit around the fire.  Maybe we will read, or tell stories.  Sounds good in theory :-)  This particular day the bonfire idea was put on hold.  I can't remember why at the moment, but sometimes life just gets busy with the every day things.

We took a little walk to grab the mail.  Hopping up into the back of Daddy's truck to look over the sales :-)

Wow, Mom, check out these awesome sales.  Ok, maybe he wasn't saying or even thinking that.  I do know that he and Jonah hung out in the truck for some time, looking at all the pictures in the adds.

This was our possible bonfire making day.  See, in the above pictures they are in sweatshirts, and in this one, short sleeves and shorts.  I think this was only one or two days after the above photos.  The girls and boys were collecting rocks to make a boundary for the fire.

This is as far as we got in the fire making.  Jonah was making his own little fire pit off to the side (not shown).  It was only about a foot or so wide, made with wee rocks.

While I was watching them gather rocks from the front I snapped this picture of our garlic sprouting.  This is our first attempt at growing garlic.  So far so good, the chickens didn't dig it up!

One of my high fashion photos :-)  These would be one of my favorite pair of pyjama pants.  I got these for my birthday last year.  My mom bought them for me when she came down to help out after I broke my knee.  So these pants have mixed memories.  Fond memories of the time spent with my mom, not so fond memories of the pain of a broken knee.  Regardless, these are some very comfy pants.  Don't worry, I don't wear them out in public, just outside my house.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Finally!! Some words for my inward feelings

These words, of course were not penned by me! Ha, ha.  I came across a new to me blog, that I found through the Barnyard Blog Hop (over at New Life on a Homestead).  There was an article there that really, really put the words to the feelings I've had over the past year.  Seeing the state of our country has let us to become more determined to provide for ourselves.  I read a small snippet of what someone wrote about how this lifestyle was the same lifestyle that was considered "NORMAL" not even 100 years ago.  This new to me website has a similar article.  But I just LOVE the terminology she uses to describe the 'self sufficient life', or what many are calling the prepper or survivalist movement:  self-contained household economies. 

 I encourage you to read her article HERE.  This has been my goal.  Seeing that our great economy, our massive, though frail, infrastructure and all our modern conveniences in danger of being able to continue on as we have always known them, I set out to find a way (the old or *normal* way as it would be) to provide for my family.  To be, as the Granny Miller would say, the (then) common American housewife.  To learn the forgotten skills.  To make connections with those who have the skills I lack.  To me, I'm in this for the long haul, as a way of life, whether our economy fairs well or not. 

I would like to write more, but little boys need to get outside :-)  I've only read one article on that blog site, but I'm pretty excited to dive in and read about her experiences of being the (then) typical American housewife! 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Almond milk....improved!

Not sure if I mentioned that we went back on GAPS.  Being that we are still in the beginning stages my brain is a bit foggy. 

The kids were put on full GAPS from the beginning (except Moira who joined us for intro, and Isabella who is a vegetarian).  Since I just received my kefir grains last week they are not big enough to culture more than just 1/2 to 1 cup of milk at a time. This means that I needed to find another ingredient to make their smoothies with.  I've used homemade almond milk in the past many, many times, but it does not get rave reviews here at home :-)  Too watery.  I can't bring myself to use any more nuts to make it thicker, because that adds up to some serious money.  Then I had an ah-ha moment.

I suppose the moment was brought on by a conversation I recently had with Flannery.  We were not sure if we had enough eggs for a recipe.  I told her that we could always use some flax seeds in water to substitute.  Flax seeds become gelatinous after a short soak in water.  Here I was pouring in the almonds to make my regular almond milk, all the while knowing it was going to be met with grumblings.  Well, if flax seeds can thicken, maybe I could throw some in there and see what happens.  I don't have exact measurements because I just don't measure this kind of recipe.  But here is what I did:

I poured into my blender enough almonds to cover the blade.
I added a small handful of flax seeds.
I poured about 4 cups of water in the blender (I wanted to add ice cubes afterwards to cool it quickly)
I processed for about 2 or 3 minutes.
Strained the milk in a bowl.
Added a bit of vanilla and honey to taste.

For the first time ever NO ONE complained!  They all went back for more.  We were using the milk on gaps legal granola, and in the past they would either forgo the granola or eat it plain, without milk.  I would say that going back for seconds, for the granola and milk, is a success.

This milk has a very nice consistency, definitely thicker than water.  I suppose you can control the thickness depending on how much flax you add.  So play around with it until you get it right for your family.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

These will have to do...

Finally getting the pictures off the cameras.  Today seems to be a bad computer day as I've been having one issue after another dealing with the camera and computer.  Oy.

These are the pictures from the Open Barn event that the girls had spent the week helping out with.  And all their hard work paid off.  It was a great event, and they did very well.

Most of the pictures that we have of our girls riding turned out very poorly.  The angle of the sun was hard to get around.  But I think you get the idea :-)  I'm sure we'll have more to come in the future.

BTW, Isabella had her first day of driving on the road!!  I have to say I really don't like that it has to be some other adult teaching her, as if we are incompetent.  But, state laws are state laws.  She only has to do the driving with the teacher for 3 days.  After that I am still unsure how we are to exactly go about getting her permit.  Does she get a temporary one since she finished the whole course, or does she need to wait till we get all the needed paper work before she can drive again?  I am non too pleased that it was nearly impossible to find the information I needed to get this ball rolling.  If it hadn't been for a "chance" meeting with someone who just happened to finish a driving class I think I may still be trying to find the needed info.  And, this was *months* ago. 

 Flannery waiting for the demo to begin.  We had a little wait, which was a wee bit hard for these guys....

 Those bleachers were a little boy magnet!  Not a fun thing to try to keep them off of.  Between the bleachers, the cars that would drive right behind us, the two fire ant hills 3 feet away from us, and the boys trying to climb up on the ring's fence to get a better look, my nerves were undone.

 Not sure what he had found while he was under the bleachers.  I think he was mostly looking for flowers and leaves.  He had found this one skinny little leaf that he was pretty obsessed about.

 Isabella waiting her turn.  There were more riders than horses, so each horse had 5 riders assigned to it.  The first round would go in and demonstrate their skills, then the next round of kids would come in, help the others get off their horse, if needed, and readjust the stirrups for their turn.

 Moira, probably feeling nervous.  She was very excited for this day to come, in spite of what her expression says :-)  Isabella and Moira were in the last group for the demo.

 Isabella readjusting the stirrups before her turn.

 Moira waiting for all the riders to be ready to start.

 Isabella is off!

 Moira, just passing us.

 The girls had to do a turn.  I'm not sure if I could do that myself, let alone they were doing this turn (360*) at a trot.  I definitely know I couldn't even get in a trot, let alone do a 360 on the horse while it was trotting!  Ha!

Isabella coming towards us.  I wish we had more pictures, specifically of the girls riding, but the camera batteries died.  Ugh.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Open Barn Day

They did it!  The girls had their first experience of 'performing' in front of others.  It has been a long two weeks.  The first week the girls were feeding the horses twice a day while the owner of the stables had gone north to help with the hurricane relief.  We were still able to get our schooling done. 

Then this past week they were asked if they would be willing to do some extra work to help get the barn ready for the Open Barn that was held today.  I have to say this is one of the biggest benefit of homeschooling...rearranging our schedule to accommodate some extra learning.  I believe that the ABC's and 123's are only a part of an education.  One of the things (among many) that are sorely lacking in the upcoming generations, is a strong work ethic.  This was an opportunity for the girls to practice denying themselves to do work for others.  They fed the horses in the morning, did some extra work, sometimes came home for lunch, and then back again to do more work, and finish the day with feeding the horses.  They got done with the nightly feeding around 6 or 6:30 each night.  They came home....tired :-)  That's a good thing.

Not much ABC and 123 learning went on this week. But that's ok, we get to pick that back up tomorrow.  The owner of the stables came back last night, much to the surprise of the girls, who came home late from a horse show and didn't know he had called.  I fell asleep before they came home.  They woke up (later than they have in the past couple of weeks) and were a bit freaked out, thinking they were late to feed the horses! 

After church I dropped them off at the stables to finish up those last minute chores that could only be done right before the big event.  All their hard work (and that of everyone else that helped out) paid off.  They had a large crowd show up.  There was a ton of food, and a bunch of free prizes.  The girls did great in their demonstration.  Moira was sooooo nervous.  Wow, talk about having flash backs to my days of running cross county/track/rowing!!  All the butterflies, fears, excitement, etc.  Moira said that once she got in the ring, and had to start thinking of all the things that she needed to do, she kind of forgot there were all these people watching her and just had fun riding the horse. 

We were getting ready to go and one of the adult riders there asked/begged Jeremiah for the older two girls to stay later, and that she would drive them home.  She wanted them to be able to just have some fun riding (on her horse), after all the work they had done.  And another woman told them that the next time she does a trail ride that she was taking them with her.  The girls are really starting to see the impact of doing good work produces.  Other people took notice and are willing to give them a hand in learning and experiencing more about horses.

This, of course, left two younger girls very, very jealous!  VERY.  I tried explaining that when they got older that they would have opportunities like this, but that they had to wait.  After all, Isabella and Moira have wanted to ride for years and it's taken years until they were able.  That didn't seem to go over too well.  I think Saoirse took it much better.  With Flannery being almost 3 years younger than Moira, well....she can almost taste her time coming, and can't stand the thought of having to wait yearS.  Poor thing. 

Oh, another thing I remembered about the day.  The past couple of days have had their share of emotional upsets with the girls for one reason or another.  Moira is very much like me...quiet.  She's shy, quiet, and sweet as honey.  You would think she would have girls lining up to be her friend.  I mean, any girl that is a friend of Moira's is blessed.  Isabella.  Ah, Isabella.  She's, um, how shall I say....on the louder side :-)  She kind of just steps in and starts talking.  She kind of steals the show.  With the two of them working in close quarters I think it was wearing on Moira that all the girls seemed to flock to Isabella.  The other day Moira told me that only the little girls would come up to her and talk with her.  I told her that I thought God had a special plan for her, and that He was training her, by using these circumstances.

So as we were leaving the stables, Moira was in the show ring giving the little girls rides on a horse.  I think there were 3 or 4 little girls (5-8 year olds).  Oh, if you would have seen the beaming faces of these little girls!!  The idea that a *BIG* girl was spending time with them, giving them was priceless.  They followed her all the way back to the barn, talking, talking, talking.  I pray that God does indeed send Moira some friends her age, but what a blessing for these younger girls to have someone like Moira to look up to! 

Isabella also has a following of little girls, I just happened to see Moira interacting with the young girls today.  

I will have to get picture up later.  The camera's batteries died and I can't upload the pics without camera power.  Although I'm not sure how many we got of the girls themselves!

Monday, November 05, 2012

Some changes

Tomorrow *should* be the big day.  The day that Jed starts his hormone therapy.  I say, 'should', because from the information that I was given, it seemed that he was to use this special pen devise for his injections.  However, when we received his medicine on Saturday, along with the medicine came a huge bag of syringes.  No pen.  Obviously we can give him the injection with those, but if he was supposed to get the pen, and the nurse coming is supposed to train us how to use it, it seems a mute point for her to come here (train us with the syringes) then to come out again when/if we get the special pen. 

Either way I plan on measuring Jed, and getting pictures today just in case.  Not like he's going to sprout up Wed. morning, but knowing me I'll forget until he does indeed sprout!  I also want to weigh him, not like I don't know how much he weighs, he's only been at this same weight at least the last 6 or more months!  But I thought I would take a picture of the actual number on the scale.  Which will prove difficult as the battery just went out on it. Silly digital scales :-) At least I am hoping it's only the batteries.  Hopefully it isn't taking the same course as a lot of our things have in the past month.  Still no working oven.  Turns out it wasn't the heating element, but the wiring that goes to the heating element.  Back to the drawing board.

To commemorate this new phase of life (Jed growing!) I plan to change things up on here.  Ok, so it doesn't all have to do with Jed's new phase of life.  We found ourselves back into a rut, going no where.  Not a fun place to be.  There are things that have been 'waiting' for us to get to them.  And there are things that are really not working for us, that need changing.  So I plan to make it a project, of sorts, to document these changes.  Granted I talk about all sorts of things of here, but like our life, there really hasn't been much direction.  Not sure when I can pull it together.  I have a BIG project I am working on right now (making ornaments to sell), on top of that we just jumped in with GAPS intro today.  I've been meaning to put us back on it for at least two months now.  There really is never a 'good' time to start, so I just jumped in.  Of course having overall body pain almost daily, and sometimes most of the day was a tipping point.  I had a bunch of carbs/sugar the past two days and all yesterday from lunch on I was in pain. 

My biggest hurdle is really wanting to pull this project together so that I keep myself motivated to keep on keeping on.  I am hoping that even though we've started down the path to being more self sufficient there is still SO much we are not doing, or that we are doing poorly with, I can share our journey.  I want others to see that, yes, this may be hard, but it is doable.  And yes, you will make mistakes.  Yes, it's a lot of work.  And, YES, it is worth it :-) 

Off to tackle my very long list of food related prep work.
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