Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year!!!

Just stopping in to wish everyone a happy new year.  We decided to spend the day at a park that we haven't been to in a couple of years.  I had totally forgotten about this park!  Moira brought it up while we were thinking out loud as to where we should head for the day. 

It was so much fun to see the older two boys running ALL over the park.  The last time we went Jonah was a baby, and Jed was still on a feeding tube.  Wow!  They were both big enough to really, REALLY have fun.  They plain tuckered themselves out with all the running they did today. 

Aubrey walked around with a big smile plastered on his face the whole time.  Although he had to take things much more slowly (the park has a *massive* wooden play structure that has a ton of steps and platforms), he had no less fun then the big boys.

The girls, as big as they are getting, had a ton of fun as well.  Jeremiah remarked how wonderful it was that our 13 and 10 year olds still loved being pushed on the tire swing by Dad.  When I related this statement to Moira (13 yro), she said, "Well, yeah!!!  Of course it's fun when you have DAD pushing you!!"  When Jeremiah pushes them on the tire swing it is more like being on an amusement park ride than just a plain ol' tire swing.  I'm pretty sure there are many parents there that get a bit freaked out when they see Jeremiah pushing our kids on the tire swing.  I'm not kidding.  I'm also pretty sure no other children there scream like mine do while on the tire swing.  Come to think of it, I've never heard any other children *screaming* while on the tire swing....unless of course they got on the tire swing with my children :-)

We ate some bagels and cream cheese for lunch at the park.  Totally GAPS legal.  JOKING!  Hmmmm, let's say an intro stage re-do is in order!  That's ok, because I have NO regrets of our little sneaks here and there.  But it is time to get serious. The sugar, as infrequent as it's been around here, is indeed wreaking havoc with some of us.  A new year, a new day, a fresh start.  Looking forward to it.

After some more playing we headed down to the small pond to see the three ducks, that we saw from afar, up close.  From far away we could see that one duck was sporting a red head!  I've never seen this type of duck before, not in person, nor in any of the many nature books we have had come through our home.  The ducks were not interested in the left over bagels that we had, but the small little minnows and polliwogs were!  Our children were totally enthralled with watching the little fish nibble on the pieces of bread. ALL of the children.  Even the big, teenage ones :-)  I say this with thankfulness after we had just witnessed the ill behavior of a few teen boys at the park just minutes before.  Can we say......Hmmm, trying to search for a decent word to use.....nope, can't find a suitable, all ages approved word..... These boys were using inappropriate words, to the point that Jeremiah asked them to stop using such language.  He told them that they were an influence on the younger children at the park.  At that point the boys jumped up on the back of one of the park benches and jumped up on TOP of the picnic shelter's roof.  Oh, why yes, that is totally appropriate behavior at a public park.  Let's get 4 or 5 teen boys on top of thin metal roofing and see what happens.  Insert rolling eyes. 

We drove home, but had to stop at a few stores along the way.  We arrived home all tuckered out!  Poor Aubrey wailed all the way home from our last stop.  That's 15 minutes of non stop wailing.  ugh.  I promptly put him to bed. He was begging to go to bed.  He couldn't get his shoes off fast enough to get into bed!  Seriously, I don't ever remember him being so eager to go to bed.  That was one seriously tired little boy.  Bless his heart.

Dinner was ice cream.  Well, yes and no.  We put chicken on to cook, but that takes one and half hours to cook.  So everyone decided to eat their dessert first.  Funny thing...we had a bunch of left over chicken :-)

This year we made sure to get the live stream of the NYC new year's celebration up and running way in advanced.  Last year we actually 'missed' new years by 5 or 10 minutes due to a delayed stream time issue on our computer!  We shook our coins, clinked our glasses of sparkling grape juice and then ran outside with our pots and pans.  On the count of three we shouted as loud as we could and banged as hard as we could on our pots.  Lot's of fun.  This year Jedidiah joined us.  He was a little bewildered by all this wacky celebrating :-)

Each new year brings the sound of guns going off by our neighbors.  I have to seriously say I've never, NEVER heard soooooo many guns going off before in the six years we've lived here.  It almost sounded like the grand finale of a fire works show.  But it wasn't.  Just our whole 'neighborhood' celebrating loudly! 

Tomorrow, er,, we will put our Christmas decorations and tree back in the attic.  We will also sit down to write our goals for 2013.  We will help Saoirse with her list.  Then we will share our lists, encourage each other in their goals by lending any ideas we may have to help them reach their goals. We'll help them prioritize their lists, letting them know which items may need to wait (until proper funding is available).  Everyone is looking forward to this exercise.  I started mine today while driving to the park.  I figured I needed a head start, since I will likely be helping others to make their lists. 

We took some pictures at the park, but I will have to share those later.  They are on Isabella's camera, and I currently do not know where her camera is. Isabella promptly went to bed after our pot banging, so pictures will have to wait until later today :-)  I'll try to share some of our goals for the new year as well.

Praying for a blessed new year for each of you!

Friday, December 28, 2012

a little crazy

Every once in a while it seems the balance of my emotions gets out of hand.  No, I'm not talking pregnancy, although they certainly run waaaaaayyyyyy off balance then :-)  I suppose this time around it had to do with diet changes, getting the flu and my cycle all in one.  Lovely combination to be sure.

This evening a run to the library was in order.  Jeremiah was just going to take the children with him, leaving me home, all by myself.  Ooohh, that did sound wonderful, BUT so did getting out.  We haven't been out in a very long while since we were sick.  I figured that a trip to the library sounded pretty safe.  I was caught unaware that my emotions were still finicky.  The details?

I was sitting in one of the wee baby chairs at a wee baby table, reading Aubrey a book.  After the first one, a very safe book, about tractors he handed me his second choice, Puff the Magic Dragon. It was a new board book. A board book people.  It had some very nice illustrations, and I managed to see that it was a celebration of the 50th year anniversary of Puff.  Ahhh, how nice I thought....totally unaware as to what was about to take place.

Besides the very cute illustrations are the lyrics to the Puff the Magic Dragon song.  I only remembered the course, which is why I found myself...almost in a puddle.  Do you know how utterly sad that song is?  It tells of the wonderful adventures of Puff and little Jackie Paper, only at the end Jackie grows up and no longer comes to visit Puff.  Puff is so broken hearted that he can no longer fight in adventures, and his scales drop off.  In the book it shows poor Puff laying in cave as Jackie's back is turned towards him, climbing out of Honalee.  It talks of Jackie finding other things to do.  In other words his childhood is over.  I cried.  Oh. Yes. I. Did.  Right there in the library.  Thankfully at this point Jonah came up to me and wanted to show me a book he had picked out.  I was able to take a break from the Puff book.  But Aubrey wasn't so easily distracted and wanted me to finish the book.  So I hastily read a few words here and there.  I was actually cheering up when in one of the last few scenes you see a little girl come on the scene to befriend Puff.  But I lost it all over again, when on the last page, you see the girl playing with Puff, and from behind a tree you see a grown man watching.  I realized that the grown man was the grown Jackie, and the little girl was his daughter.  Commence crying. 

Now, I've known for some time that my oldest two are indeed past childhood.  But every once in a while that reality, and all the mistakes I've made along the way, just come crashing down on me.  And I wish with all my might I can go back and re-do things.  But there is no going back, and I need to make sure to live now with no regrets.  But it seems after a few years pass, I look back and by golly I have regrets.  Ugh.  Keep pressing on, one foot in front of the other.

Thursday, December 27, 2012


We all managed to be healthy by Christmas.  I am thankful for that.  There was much to be thankful for, unfortunately it's been a challenge to focus on those good things and not the bad.  This by far was a most difficult Christmas for myself.  Everyone else had a wonderful time. 

Christmas Eve is what my family (growing up) made a deal about.  That was when everyone got together and we had a big dinner with all the usual Christmas foods.  Christmas day was a time for just our family to hang out.  Over the years I've tried to keep a bit of Christmas Eve going for my own family.  It has been many years since we've gone North to be with family.  This year things were looking like a flop in trying to so *something*, anything, on Christmas Eve.  We managed to make some cut out cookies to decorate and munch on.  That was a lot of fun.

Christmas day turned out a bit different.  Since we had been sick we were not able to celebrate Christmas with Jeremiah's mom.  So it was just us this Christmas day, a first in many, many years.

One of the gifts the kids received from my Dad and Mom was pre-baked gingerbread cookies that needed decorating.  So we broke that open last night and had some fun with decorating cookies once again.  Last night we also had our Christmas dinner, a day late.  On Christmas itself we had eggs, and then around 10 PM we had apple pie. Like I said, nothing quite went like I had imagined it would :-)

I leave you with some pictures of our cookie times.

Cut outs decorated by Flannery.  I only doubled the recipe as I didn't want 50 gazillion cookies left over hanging out...needing to be eaten :-)

The boys had a blast decorating cookies, and eating them.  Clothing is optional it seems :-)

Jonah showing off his cookies.

It also looks like chairs were optional as well.  Nothing quite like getting up on the work surface to be closer to your cookies!  I spy Moira sampling the frosting.

This year the boys actually helped me make the cookie batter and cut them out.  Let's say that computers will be banned from future holidays.  The frosting though, was strong enough to pull the girls away from the computer.  Flannery, as always, really enjoyed decorating her cookies.

This ended up sideways.  Here is Isabella decking the tree.

Despite his look, Jed was very much excited about seeing what was in the box (from my Dad and Mom).

Aubrey really loved his new clothing.  No, really, he did.  He was all excited about trying some out.  He chose to wear the shirt with the dog on it.  Really cute!

This was the night we decorated the gingerbread cookies.  Jed asked for some sunglasses on his (they had some samples on the box, one which had sunglasses on it).  He was very patient about waiting his turn for me to cut out the fondant. 

 I just realized how involved Jonah gets with crafts.  He really takes his time with them! 

 Moira started eating hers before I could get a picture of it.  She couldn't stop laughing about it.

 Flannery, in her element again.  It wouldn't surprise me if she grew up to be a chef.

 Still decorating.  Aubrey just kept tasting everything.  We would help him put some decorations on and he promptly ate them off :-)  So his cookie ended with two white marks, left over from the frosting.  That was it.  Ha, ha!

 Flannery's creation.

 Isabealla and Saoirse working on their cookies.  The kit only came with one frosting bag, so I made another out of a ziplock baggy.  I think I should have made a few more!  That was one item we didn't have enough of to go around in quick enough fashion (as per children's perception that is!).

 This was the cookie that I decorated.  For some reason Jonah wanted to eat my cookie, and gave me  his cookie to eat.

 Aubrey thought this fondant stuff was pretty cool.  He enjoyed eating the scraps that were left behind after we cut something out.

 Saoirse with her finished cookie.  She did a great job!

 Isabella's finished cookie.  Hers by far was the most intricately designed.

 Flannery's cookie was in the process of being eaten, when she had a change of design...

Flannery's cookie, on the right, transformed into Santa.  They were just messing around with the left over frosting.  You know you can't have left over frosting, that would be a sin :-) So she put it to good use.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

New finds

We're hanging in here.  Although the boys are still feeling under the weather, they're over the worst of it.  Though they generally come down with a fever come evening time.  Jeremiah headed back to work.  The doctor told him that he could go back when he was fever free.  He's fever free now, but not pain free.  Still has all over body aches.  For the most part I'm able to be up and about, but I've been trying to rest as much as I can.  My biggest concern are my sinuses.  Very painful.  I know that the flu is an upper respiratory infection, so I expected lots of swelling and gunk.  I wasn't expecting very painful sinuses 24 hours into the flu.  I am praying that my sinuses don't get a secondary infection on top of the flu.  I've changed homeopathic remedies to see if I can address the sinus issue.  Time will tell.

When everyone was coming down with the flu I ran to the herbal store to get a bunch more elderberries to make some elderberry syrup.  I had a few plastic medicine cups that I was using to give the kids the syrup.  I only had 4 of the cups, but there are 9 of us in all.  That meant washing them, dosing the next few, washing again and dosing up the last one.  At the time some of them were a day or so away from coming down with it, but not knowing that, I certainly didn't want to infect anyone 'knowingly'.  The multiple washings, well it was getting old fast.  Take into account when you actually are sick, or you know you've been exposed to something you are supposed to take the elderberry syrup every hour. 

I was at Walmart, can't remember why, but decided to look for any little cup I could use for our medicinal syrup purposes.  I remember seeing plastic 'shot glasses' in the past.  I figured that they might be a bit too breakable.  I didn't find them, but found a much better option.  They are condiment containers.  They are metal (way better than breakable plastic!), and 2 ounces (1/4 cup), just perfect for little hands.  A four pack sold for $0.97.  Silly me only bought 2 packages.  After using them for days now I will make sure to pick up a couple more packages for any future needs.

I gave the cups their own photo shoot.  Um, yeah....what that means was I had 1 minute without a little boy trying to 'help' me to take a picture of our new found loves.  Oh, and I also picked up a measuring spoon that goes from 1/2 teaspoon all the way up to a tablespoon.  Ah, wonderful.  The boys only needed 1 tsp of the syrup.  The younger girls needed 2 tsp, and the oldest girls and adults needed a TBS.  One spoon to fit us all :-)  I'm telling you, it's the small things in life.

All lined up.  Four of these darling little cups.

The markings are already starting to smear, I'm sure constant use has something to do with it.

 Forgot to make a plug for these little bottles.  I was in desperate need of some new remedy bottles for use with our homeopathic remedies.  These are the same size as my brown bottles.  I was able to get these at Whole Foods for around $1.50 each.  The bottles I get from the homeopath are $2 each, and that was the cheapest that I found in the past.  These bottles do not have the glass dropper, those bottles were more expensive.  I figured we would be mostly doing olfactory doses (smelling the remedy) and if a need arose that we needed an oral dose I could just 'pour' some in :-)

Off for some more resting. 

Monday, December 17, 2012

The flu....officially

So, it's official....we have the flu.  By we, I mean 7 of us.  Moira was number 8, but she just got over it.  And me?  Hmmm, let's just say I have a funny tickle in my throat, a bit of the sniffles, and some sneezing.  I've been downing our elderberry syrup, and guzzling (alright, sipping, really) the immune-tea.  I plan on taking a hot bath and wrapping up head to toe and getting under the covers to hopefully get a head start in kicking the dreaded flu. 

Flannery and Saoirse are over the worst of it.  They are still feeling ill, weak and coughing, but they are able to get up and get around.  All three boys came down with it with in a few hours of each other.  Leaving Isabella the most current sufferer, coming down with it this morning. 

For those who know, Isabella always does things to the max.  Even when sick.  I mean if everyone else has a 101* fever, she has a 104.  If others have a bit of a cough, she's hacking a lung up.  So it didn't come as a surprise that if I had taken a picture of her a few hours ago that you wouldn't have even recognized her.  I'm totally serious.  Her eyes were so red and swollen they were almost swollen shut.  They were just tearing water non stop.  Non. Stop.  Most of her face was all red from the non stop water.

Jeremiah thought he was heading down the pneumonia path, and I took him into the urgent care.  That's how we learned that he has the flu.  And since he has what the rest of everyone else has....flu all around.  He started Tamaflu in hopes of getting back into work in a timely manner.

I always try natural means first when we are ill, if possible.  This time around was no different.  But, I also do not hesitate to resort to modern meds when the natural remedies are not strong enough.  With Moira, I was pretty sure she needed Belladonna (a homeopathic remedy).  I was correct.  However, I failed to take into account that she is very sensitive to remedies.  Not to mention that I failed to remember that our wireless was on.  This means that the Belladonna didn't do what I needed it to do.  She was getting worse by the minute.  This was probably due to the fact that the Belladonna was aggravating her condition since I gave her the remedy by mouth, instead of having her sniff it.  She had a bursting headache and was getting very weak.  So I brought out the Motrin.  After two hours she still had a bursting headache AND her temp was holding at 103!  This is when I called our homeopath.  We were able to get her heading in the right direction after a few tries. 

Everyone else has been able to tolerate the symptoms.  I try to let their fevers run for as long as they can stand it.  Actually it's not the fever that bothers them, it's the horrid headache.  So between our elderberry syrup, and immune-tea, I also give Motrin or Tylenol when needed.

Jeremiah and I will be interviewed on a survivalist radio show coming up.  This has me thinking about what we do, how we do it, and what our plans for the future are.  One of the things we are trying to do is to incorporate the 'old ways' into our everyday life.  That means getting back to real, whole foods.  That means learning to do more on less energy.  That also means using natural means to overcome illness.  Thankfully though, we are able to fall back on modern meds when needed.  Of course I pray that a day will never come when we don't have that option, case it does I want to know how to use these natural methods in a time of need.  Each year I try to find a couple of more remedies that I can dabble with, and see how they work for us. 

Alrighty, I need to get off and get a few things done before I try to artificially simulate a fever :-)  I think tomorrow, if I'm in good shape, I will show you a neat little 'gadget' that I found to help us with our natural remedy taking :-)

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Giving a rain check

We've got some kind of yuck....flu maybe?  Four kiddos down with it.  Moira is on day 4, two are on day 2 and one just started today.  The baby is starting a runny nose, so maybe he is next.  This has been a hard hitter.  We used homeopathy for Moira, she was really struggling with this illness.  It got her over the hump.  I believe she needs another remedy, but with it being the weekend, and the fact that she is holding her own, I may just wait to call the homeopath back on Monday.

This means that I don't have time to type up a thought provoking post.  Someone is always needing me.  Currently I have some elderberries and other stuff brewing to make some elderberry syrup.  I didn't have any on hand for when they first started coming down with the yuck.  But I read it should still help them to get over it a bit faster. 

We were on a great roll around here, and like usual, we are sideswiped by sickness.  Always, always happens.  Every. Single. Time.

Off to cuddle with sick kiddos, or get them food, or drink, or do their chores (like feed animals, which is important!), etc.  Be back when I am able.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Things going on....

Looks like my blog has been a bit quiet :-)  All is well, mostly.  We've just been trying to catch up on schooling that we got behind on weeks ago.  We will be ready to go into our second semester as planned, which is after the new year.

We participated in our annual tradition of Christmas light viewing.  I have to remember to prepare a bit ahead of time.  Our little trip wouldn't be complete without hot chocolate, and this year I made two versions.  One GAPS legal, the other, not so much.  No worries, I plan on getting strict with GAPS after the new year.  Making the cocoa took a bit longer than anticipated, and we got a late start.  The baby only saw two places before he conked out for the night.  We know of a few neighborhoods that have a bunch of houses that really deck the halls!  Ha, ha!  Everywhere that we drove and saw any lights at all the kids would yell out, "X-MAS!!!"  We determined that saying X-Mas was even more accurate than, "Christmas".  I am sure you would like to hear why :-)  You see the word for Christ in the ancient Greek is, Xristos (pronounced 'hree-stos'), thus X-mas is OK!  Ahem...

We all had a wonderful time.  The girls were singing Christmas hymns all along the way (you know, when they were not yelling, "X-MAS!!!")  We were looking forward to seeing one house in particular, but by the time we got there they had turned their lights off.  Boo hoo.  But it was made up for in another house who had the entire front of their house outlined along every edge.  All of the lights blinked along to Christmas music that they had playing. 

We arrived home with all the boys sleeping. 

Our tradition of doing the Jesse tree continues as well.  I originally made the ornaments with small snaps on the back, to be fastened onto a large felt piece that had the other half of the snap on it.  Six years later and quite a few of the snaps have broken.  I am sure a large part of that is due to the extremes in temperature that the disks reside in (up in the attic) for most of the year.  I'm rethinking of how best to remedy the situation.  I really love the felt disks that I made, so I don't want to remake the whole lot.  I may take off the snaps and add little hooks on them.  The kind you may find on delicate clothing.

We've had some round of sickness going around in the house.  Some viral upper respiratory gunk.  For the most part it's been a non issue.  Poor Moira though, her throat is severely swollen, and it makes it feel as if she can not breathe.  Motirn has helped with that.  In the mean time I am giving her all the herbals I can think of.  I would much prefer homeopathy, but there isn't enough for me to go on to pick the right remedy.  I've been telling them this was all due to the sugar they indulged in last week :-)  Yes, I am evil.  (Insert evil laugh)

On top of that two amazing things have come about here on the homestead.  One far superior than the other, but amazing non the less.  I'll share the not so superior one now, the other deserves a post of it's own.

Ready for it? 

Whipped topping.

I can hear most of you say, "But Kerri, whipped topping is NOT gaps legal."  You would be correct.  But this type of whipped topping is gaps legal, and I believe I wrote briefly about it when I talked about Thanksgiving.  This is whipped coconut cream.  And it is divine.  I made it for our gaps legal apple crisp on Thanksgiving.  The consensus went something like this: "Mom, WHAT is this? (not said in a giddy, happy, pleasant voice) "This is NOT whipped topping!"  "Yuck!"  "Why did you make this?"  It seems that I was the only one who liked the coconut whipped topping. That was fine by me, as that would leave all the left overs (and there were lots) for me :-) But you see, something mysterious happened.  Leaving the whipped coconut cream in the fridge overnight made it taste even better the following day!  Since it is our custom to put up our Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving, and it is also our custom to do so with a cup of hot cocoa at our side....well that gave me a good reason to pull the cream back out. I put some in my hot cocoa.  Oh. My. Goodness. It was super duper yummy.  The children, seeing that I was thoroughly enjoying my cocoa, asked to try some.  Well, wouldn't you know, before I could have known what had happened, my 'stockpile' of leftover whipped coconut cream was reduced to a spoonful!  Apparently they thought it tasted much better the day after as well.

With one spoonful left I wanted to put it to good use.  So I decided to make up some chocolate yogurt and top it with the cream.  Super duper yummo!!!!

There were two obstacles facing me when I was trying to jump back into gaps.  The first was the amount of cooking and planning that goes into it.  The other was the idea of being on such a limited diet.  Due to limited time and funds, we kept eating the same few handful of meals, day after day, week after week.  Let's just say it was getting old.  Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of recipes out there.  But we don't have the means for exotic type ingredients, or the time to cook something "fancy".  So I made it my mission to try to find some small, easy, extras that would enhance our gaps experience.  I have to say that this whipped coconut cream fit the bill.  This time around I also found some suitable bacon that we use very sparingly in our salad or scrambled eggs.  Those two things, though on the expensive side, when used sparingly give that extra 'something' to our food.

The next amazing thing is much more serious, in a good way!  I'll share that next time.
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