Friday, May 31, 2013

A menu...finally!

I finally made up a menu!  It has been months since I last wrote a menu.  It was too depressing to make one up since we were just eating the same foods again and again.  I couldn't take it anymore!  On top of just going bonkers eating the same things again and again, I wanted to have some mock recipes, knowing that when my pregnancy cravings kicked in I will need to have more options.  Granted I won't know what I will be craving in particular, but at least I may have a few more recipes under my belt. 

I've said before that there are PLENTY of GAPS recipes out there.  The problem with a lot of them is that they are too time consuming. I already spend the majority of my day in the kitchen between cooking and cleaning up, I don't have any more time to put towards food prep than what I am already giving.  The past few days I've spent searching for something new, but familiar.  And I found some yummy looking options.  I actually wrote out a menu.  Along with that, I wrote up a prep list that I shared with the girls.  I told them that we would be spending Friday evening and whatever time it took on Saturday to do some prep work, which will help immensely come dinner time in the middle of the week. 

This time around I did not assign a meal to a particular day.  Instead I chose 7 dinners and 7 lunches for the week, which will then be repeated the following week.  I am also trying something a bit new to us, having multiple foods with each meal.  I used to do this years ago when I only had a few children.  But lately for lunch we might just have leftovers from dinner, let's say chili for example.  But that is *all* we ate at lunch, just chili.  This pay cycle will be tight and I thought by adding in side dishes with our lunches and dinners we may see (HOPING TO SEE) a decrease in the never ending munchies.  I'll let you know how it goes.  So here is my menu.  I will try to link to the  recipes when I have the time.  Right now I have a couple of these recipes bookmarked on one computer, another couple of recipes on a different computer, and still a few more on the third.  My head is spinning just thinking about finding them :-)

(these are not scheduled, just a list of choices to have on hand)
eggs and their variations (ex. omelets)
yogurt and fruit
granola, fruit with coconut milk
banana with toppings

Snack options:
kefir smoothie (will try to make this daily)
veggies with dip
fruit (banana with toppings, or with yogurt dip, or with peanut butter)

mini pizzas with salad
"mac and cheese" with baked beans, and veggies with ranch dip
chicken nuggets with squash fries, and cut fruit
squash chips with guacamole dip, cut fruit, and trail mix
soup with broccoli salad
cheeseburger broccoli with fruit, and yogurt dip
'potato' salad, baked bean, and veggies and dip

hamburgers (on lettuce 'buns'), potato salad, and squash fries
soup and salad
'pasta' with meat sauce, veggies and dip (pasta is made of spaghetti squash)
chicken enchiladas, either over cauliflower rice or wrapped in coconut flour tortillas
soup with cilantro lime beans
roast chicken with veggies (peas or garlic beans)
BLT's with soup (blt's will be on lettuce, with homemade mayo, and a slice of avocado)
taco's with toppings in coconut flour tortillas, side to be determined :-)

This looks like a promising menu.  It's success will be determined by how much prep work we get done.  My prep list is as follows:

make pickle brine (before shopping day)
start soaking beans (staggering batches-this will take multiple days from start to finish)
   -after soaking start the sprouting process
   -cook beans
   -dehydrate beans
dehydrate summer squash for the squash chips
mix up ground beef for hamburger patties and freeze
cook some plain ground beef, to be used in the cheeseburger broc. and tacos
make and freeze pasta sauce
cook a few chickens
   -start broth
   -use some chicken to make chicken nuggets, freeze
   -freeze the rest as cubes
make granola

That is what I hope to accomplish over the weekend.  After that I plan on making some of the veggie dips and mayo.  The mayo will be used plain and in the ranch dressing dip.  I plan on making a guacamole, dahl, and possibly a white bean hummus.  The girls will be in charge of cutting up our dipping veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, cucumbers and bell peppers).

If all goes well, some of these dishes will lend well to freezing for future meals.  I may be only 6 weeks pregnant, but a big concern of mine already is what will I be able to make for freezer meals for when the baby comes.  I am anticipating still being on GAPS, and having foods that I can freeze for easy meals will be essential.  With my last three babies, I had made a bunch of freezer meals.  With Aubrey (my last one), I literally had enough meals frozen for an entire month.  Our freezer was stocked to the limit!  This makes a HUGE difference in how peaceful the postpartum period is. 

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

8 is great....pregnancy tea

Welcome to my pregnancy series.  I suppose if I was a more organized person I would have topics in an organized manner.  But, you are out of luck, because organized I am not.  Instead, the topics will be on issues I may be encountering at the moment, or moments that I may soon encounter, or they may just be on things I've learned from past pregnancies.  When dealing with any type of "health" issue, please be responsible and consult your health care provider to find what is right for *you*.  In this series I will be sharing what I have done, or will be doing, and the results.  I am not an expert, even with seven children and an eighth on the way.  It seems the more I learn, the more I realize I do not know!  But I hope you will find some things useful in this series.  And, please, share what has worked for you.  Let's get started!

A Super Duper Pregancy Tea

Tea is a wonderful way of getting essential nutrients that are easily absorbed/digested.  The base of any pregancy tea I have come across is red raspberry leaf.  Usually alfalfa and nettle are added, along with peppermint for flavoring.  Above you will see what I put into my pregancy tea: red raspberry leaf, alfalfa, dandilion root, dandilion leaf, nettle, oat straw and red clover.  I do not add bulk peppermint to my mix as I had read that peppermint should not be consumed on a daily basis.  I don't remember the exact reasons, but I think it may be that it inhibits the absorption of some nutrients if drunk on a daily basis.  I thought I would play it safe and I only put peppermint in my tea on occasion.

Until I came accross this wonderful "Pregnancy Notes" series, I had been just mixing up the bulk herbs as needed, with varying amounts.  A bit of this, a little of that, maybe more of this one over here.  It was nice to come across a 'recipe' to work with.  I found other recipes online, but none used the same herbs as I did, except for the above site that I am linking to.  Like I said in my previous post, why reinvent the wheel?  I do not have a good herbal book on hand to list all the qualities of each herb listed above, but found all that information in the pregancy tea post at "Just Making Noise".  I hope you enjoy the information she has provided!

There is conflicting advice on how much of the tea you should drink.  The usual guidelines are to drink one cup daily during the first trimester, two cups daily during the second trimester, and three cups daily during the third. 

My dreaded all day sickness has taken hold...already.  Ugh.  I felt a small bit of it coming on yesterday.  We went to a Memorial Day picnic where I ate a GAPS no-no.  That evening I felt horrid!  However, I found myself feeling really yucky all day.  Just like that, no building up, just two feet jumping in.  I am hoping this will be short lived as I can not deal with being sick to my stomach.  Broken knee?  No problem.  Slipped disk (after some healing time), no problem.  The flu?  Besides the two extremely fall on my face exhausted days, no problem.  Not fun to be sure, but I can work around those types of issues.  But an upset tummy?  My. World. Stops.  Yeah, seems silly.  Soooooo, I think I may try adding some ginger root to my tea to see if I notice any difference in my tummy.  Fingers crossed :-)

Here are the herbs all layed out.  Let me just say that my boys were having a wee bit too much fun trying to 'help' me.  In the past I have bought the pre-mixed pregnancy tea from the Bulk Herb Store.  Their products are very fresh, and I've always enjoyed anything I've ordered from them.

I ran out out of my the pre-mixed tea, and had most of the herbs from my local herbal store, so I just went and purchased the red raspberry leaf to make up my own.  I also recently purchased a few herbs from  The prices are half of those I've seen elsewhere online.  Their service is quick and, from the couple of items I've purchased, seem very fresh.  I think I may try to buy a few bulk herbs from there again when my current stash of pregancy tea herbs runs out.

This is the 'recipe' I used to make my current batch, taken from "Just Making Noise":

4 parts Red Raspberry Leaf
4 parts Nettle Leaf
3 parts Red Clover Blossoms
3 parts Alfalfa
2-3 parts Peppermint
1 part Dandelion Leaf (optional)
1 part Dandelion Root (optional)
1 part Oatstraw (optional)

If you plan on making an order for herbs may I suggest that you do so through "Just Making Noise's" affiliate link?  They are a missionary family and I am sure they would welcome your purchase.

And as a side note, can I just say that I am drooling over her "Making Ice Cream" e-book?  Oh. My. Goodness. 

Do any of you have a favorite pregnancy tea?  Do share in the comments below!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Lunch Help to the Rescue!

I HAD to share this site with anyone who may be stuggling with lunch ideas for their kiddos.  Around here, breakfast is easy-peasy.  Dinner, although more work, and usually monotonous, is taken care of.  But....LUNCH?  What does one eat for lunch while on the GAPS diet.  I really wanted to get away from all the meat we were consuming.  Lunches were usually put off until the kiddos, one by one, would come to me saying they were "starving!".  Hmmm, something needed to change.

Don't get me wrong, I thought hard about lunch options.  But I am one of those people who would have never, ever, in a million years, invented the wheel.  Inventor I am NOT.  I was just having a conversation with my sister over the dread of meal planning and prepping that has been going on over here.  I haven't had any real menu planned for a few months now.  We just keep eating the same staples.  Over, and over, and over again.  Not fun. 

So imagine my utter delight in finding a site that has some 200 lunch meals posted.  I am assuming there are repeats, but with just the first 5 lunches I looked at, I am doing a happy dance (ok, mentally at least, physically....not so much).  This is the inspiration that I have been looking for.  The site is dedicated to paleo, but paleo and gaps are very similar.  Now, I need to somehow come up with the energy to put together said lunches.  I have a feeling, though, that if I showed my girls these ideas that I would be able to get each one to make a lunch one day of the week at least.  I think we need to not only reinstate family fun night here at our home, but we need to make a family food prep night.  This would be a great time to wash and chop the coming week's veggies, hard boiling eggs, or cooking up any needed meats.

I hope you can find some new inspiration for lunch time as well!

Primal Kitchen

Up coming pregnancy updates and information

It seems that life happens faster than I can write about it! I'll give a bit of a summary in a bit. First I want to say that I plan on trying to make pregnancy updates, along with pregnancy and post partum information. Each Wednesday I turn a new week, so I thought I would take the opportunity then to share what I've learned, or am continuing to learn during this pregnancy. I will probably have links to other people's posts as well.

A case in point, my first post is going to be on making your own pregnancy tea. I had all my herbs out on my table ready to make into a tea. I had planned on photographing things as well. However, two things, we were trying to get things done so we could have a family outing and I didn't have time for photos; and as I went online to see if maybe there is a better tea, or some other herbs to add or subtract, there was a lovely blog that had the exact tea I was going to post! The amazing part? Her blog is so much nicer than mine :-) So, I will write about my tea, but link to her blog, where she has all the health benefits of each herb used in the tea.

I guess I would like to see if a whole foods diet will make a difference with this pregnancy. This may be my 8th pregnancy, but there is always something new to learn with each one! Not to mention that our diet has changed from past pregnancies. And, I am hoping to give a little bit a reassurance for those who are pregnant and may not be spring chickens anymore :-) When this baby is born I will be forty-two years old. In the medical books that would mean I am ancient! A few years ago when I had an ultrasound, while pregnant with Jonah, I was only 37 at the time. I was about to strangle the doctor if he brought up my "advanced maternal" age one more time during my appointment! I can only imagine how much worse it would be now, after 40.

As for life being busy? Well, I have a host of pictures I took at the park and arboretum last week. Two days trekking into the city has worn me out. I tried to make the most of it, so we took advantage of going to the park and flower gardens. In between we had the normal things and the girls going off to horse stuff. This coming week is proving busy as well. We plan on spending Memorial Day at a community picnic that a past church of ours puts on. It always proves to be a wonderful day. Then the oldest two girls have the informational meeting for the runners camp that they volunteer for that takes place in the summer.

On top of that I had a very disheartening phone call from a friend. After introducing me to the Charlotte Mason method, and being a mentor of sorts these past 4 years, she told me she was putting her eldest in public school next year. Her oldest is the same age as our oldest. It really shook me up. I started writing a post on it, but never got to finishing it. I may or may not at some point.
And on top of all that...I find myself sick. Sick? Really? I already alluded to the fact that I know my gut is still way off. This was evident before getting pregnant, but now, with those raging hormones even MORE so!! Pregnancy hormones tend to make any yeast related issues worse. An increase in my probiotic has seen a noticeable difference, but I have a long ways to go. I'm trying to put together an action plan and will let you know what I come up with. I can not re-do intro, as it is not suggested while pregnant.

At first I thought this illness was a result of an increase in my allergies. If my sinuses get "wet", from crying or a runny nose from allergies, you can be sure to find me with an "infection" just a day or so later. Of course, this is really not an infection (though I've had some that eventually do turn into a true infection), but a fungal attack (aka: yeast). However, I feel yucky all over. Very tired, sick eye feeling (anyone else get that?), etc. For now I am trying a homeopathic remedy and drinking a bunch of immune boosting tea.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Riddle answered

I had a few brave souls answer my riddle below :-)  All those who answered were correct!  We are expecting blessing number 8 come January.  With some of our hottish days we've had here January seems light years away.  This baby will break our ongoing seasonal pattern.  We've had babies in the following order:  summer, summer, winter, spring, summer, summer, winter.  But no spring this time :-)  Hmmm, I am wondering what other patterns this one will break?  Four girls in a row, will this make four boys in a row?  All my girly babes were born on even days, and my boy babes were all born on odd numbered days.  Let's just hope that this one will NOT break any weight records!  (Neither too small, nor too big.  By golly all my 8 pounders--all at 8 pounds even, were very difficult deliveries.) 

This was very exciting news here at home!  The girls are all rooting for a girl, and the boys, well....they just kind of look at me funny when I talk about it :-)  Actually, Jonah is most interested in how big the baby is at the given moment.  And he has some opinions on what the baby's name should be.  So far he's suggested: Spiderman and Fire Truck.  I think we'll leave the baby naming up to Dad and Mom :-) 

I'm still very early along.  I've been applying magnesium oil daily in hopes of avoiding the dreaded day and night nausea that I've had with all 7 pregnancies.  You are supposed to start taking the magnesium before you become pregnant to be effective, and I only started about a week ago.  Well, I am hoping some will be better than none! 

We've had a few very busy days over here.  I have a lot to catch up on. I am hoping to get the dishes back under control and really make an effort at having meals prepped in advanced.  I have to say the most difficult part of GAPS is the food prep.  Without having things thawed out in advance, or a clear plan, things get a wee bit crazy come meal time!  Hopefully it will only take a day or two this long weekend to catch up.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Thursday, May 16, 2013

My horrifying bug saga

Ok, so I suppose the use of "horrifying" may be a bit overboard, BUT non the less....I'm using it :-) A few things before I start my story.  One, I'm afraid of bugs.  I've gotten better over the years, but they still totally creep me out.  Second, we live in the South.  Bugs in the South are bigger, and yuckier, and meaner, and...well you get the idea.  We have these horrid bugs, called....(trying to drum up the drama here)....roaches.  Yes, I realize those things live pretty much every where, but they are gross, gross, gross. 

So we had a situation one day when we were outside and saw a slew of ants climbing up the outside foundation of the house, in the direction of our living quarters.  Suspicious of fire ants, Jeremiah decided to spray them.  He figured he should just spray the whole foundation, all around the house.  This poses a problem if you are not using an odorless spray....the bugs want to get away from the toxin, but can't get out, so they come IN.  This is bad, very bad.  We haven't seen a roach in months and months, and then we have 3 in 3 days.  Too many.  When my "too many" stands at Zero, anything above that is bad :-) 

One night I was hanging out, chatting with Isabella when I spot that familiar shape of the dreaded roach beastie across the way in the kitchen.  It is crawling above the cupboards.  I have Isabella go wake Jeremiah (we were up late, chatting) to kill the horrid critter.  If it was in an easier space to access I would have vacuumed it up.  But alas it was not so.  Jeremiah comes out, but by then the critter moved behind some stuff we have hanging out on top of the cupboards. Jeremiah couldn't find it.  So to make sure we would 'get' him, he sprayed some odorless lethal toxic spray on each side of the wall where the disgusting beastie would have to crawl.  I waited for some time to see if he would come out of hiding.  I waited, and waited.  But it was late, and I was tired.  I went to brush my teeth, came back, looked around...nothing.  I went to bed.  However, I realized I forgot to take my allergy pill. I was almost going to ask Jeremiah get up to get me one.  That creepy crawly was still out there, somewhere.  But he had already gotten up to try to kill it, and I'm the one who forgot to take my pill, not him.  So I crawled out of bed.  I slowly walk up to the kitchen, looking up down and all around.  I was more afraid of it being on the ceiling or on the floor at this point.  No sign of him.  I go to unlock the medicine cabinet, and as I was doing so gave a quick glance down since I am standing in an area where a creepy crawly could come out and I wouldn't have too many places to go to.  But then, THEN, ***SOMETHING***hit my arm.  MY ARM.  The horrid, creepy crawly, all too big, roach dude had been on the medicine cabinet door, and fell on MY arm.  It TOUCHED me.  Not only that, but the creepy dude was in a state of neuro death, so he could move but wasn't too with it.  So in it's stupor, instead of scooting away from me and taking to the safety of the lower cupboard, it starts running TOWARDS ME!  I almost fell over backwards trying to get away.  Yeah, go ahead, laugh.  After a few feet of coming "after" me, it gets a clue and turns around and runs the other way. 

Of course I was screaming, and jumping up and down by now.  I managed to wake up half the household.  No joke.  Isabella and Jeremiah said they knew what had happened when they heard me screaming :-)  Not the specifics, but they knew it was the bug.  Hmmm, imagine that!

So there you have it.  My creepy crawly story.  Now, to see if I can find that spider the kids were talking about spotting in my closet this afternoon.  I don't exactly treasure the idea of cozying up to a spider come bed time.  No thank you, I'll pass.  Though I think it is funny that I would take a spider over a roach any day!  And to think, when I was growing up, I used to look under my bed, in my closet, behind my drawers, etc. for spiders before going to bed.  Every. Single. Night.  I was terrified of spiders when I was young.  Oh, to wish that spiders were all I had to worry about!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Teacher Work Day

The day before Mother's Day, and I am finally getting around to a much needed "teacher work day".  I envy those who take the unschooling approach and feel that their children will learn what they need to, when they need to.  Although I am laid back, it's only in the area of organization!  Ha, ha.  There has been much reflection of late.  Our children are first generation homeschoolers (in our families).  This means that we are winging it as we go :-)  Ok, not really.  With all the available resources, conventions, online groups, local homeschool groups, no one really needs to wing it.  But, it is still uncharted territory, as far as how I grew up.  

We've taken a longer than anticipated spring break.  We started falling behind on doing everything we really need to be doing on a regular basis (as far as the Charlotte Mason method goes).  So, it was time for me to sit down and evaluate where we are, and who needs to be doing what, and how are we going to make this all happen.  I was able to get a lot done, but more time will still be needed to really make this all come together as smoothly as possible.

I had some time to contemplate where we've been and where all the kiddos need to be.  This year found Saoirse needing to take the extra (3.5) year with Ambleside.  I was trying to have two children in the same year.  One child behind a year, the other advanced a year.  This has worked fine for Isabella and Moira so far, but has failed to work for Flannery and Saoirse.  The 3.5 year in AO is kind of thrown together, the premise is you are waiting for your child to mature enough to handle year 4's advanced reading list.  I've had time to re-evaluate Higher Up and Further In's (HUFI) schedules.  There are a few books we've read on AO that do not show up on HUFI that I wouldn't want the kids to miss out on.  It has been a time consuming process of figuring out where the 'missing' books would fit in on the HUFI schedules.  The one thing I really like about HUFI is that they start with ancient history and work up, BUT they also do American history at the same time, working chronologically.  Jeremiah wasn't a fan of carrying two lines of history throughout their schooling.  But I realized that AO takes the same approach, but it isn't as noticeable until year 3 or 4.  However AO does not cover ancient history (not that I have seen, yet).  So what does this mean? 

I will keep Isabella, Moira and Flannery on the AO schedules.  I will also be separating Isabella and Moira by years as well.  With graduation closing in on Isabella in the next 2.5 years she will need to skip year 8 and move into year 9.  I have not seen how this will work for her, as I am only going on recommendations at this time.  I may keep her in year 8 if there are things in there that I don't want her to miss out on.  I was going to switch Flannery over to HUFI, but I think there would be too much history that would get lost if I did so.  So she will continue on in her current level with AO.  I've decided to start Saoirse in year 3, term 1 with HUFI.  She will be a bit behind, but will eventually catch up in the coming  years.  This still leaves Flannery and Saoirse with a gap, missing out on ancient history.  My solution is for them to get those readings in by reading it to their brothers.  Jedidiah should have, age wise, started in year 1 this past September.  There was just no way that he was ready for that kind of structure.  I may start him on year 1 when the girls move on to their 3rd term for the year.  This way he won't have to wait till next September and therefore will only be half a year behind.  For his ancient history readings I will have Flannery read it to him, killing two birds with one stone.  When it comes time for Jonah to start year 1 I will have Saoirse do his ancient history readings.  This way both girls will get what they missed out on.

It certainly isn't perfect.  I have to stop myself form wishing, wishing, wishing, that I had started CM at the get go.  But I am where I am and I can't turn back the hands of time.  It helps that one of our goals is to convey to our children that learning is a life long endeavor.  There shouldn't be a time when their education is "done".  If we manage to convey that, then I think we should be fine :-) 

Right now, as I write this, my bed is a mess of scattered papers, binders, books and such.  I have made a book list for what Saoirse will need to get started with year 3.  Now I need to figure out what notebooks are needed.  The girls really, REALLY need to be doing the small everyday things in CM.  The wonderful thing with CM is that the lessons are short.  You really do build little by little.  But if you are not doing the "little" shows!  Not at first, since these skills build on each other, but give it a couple of years and oh, my!  That is where I find myself.  When we first started CM over two years ago it seemed so overwhelming.  So I just stuck with the "basics".  I left out what I thought were all the 'extras'.  Come to find out that those little extras are pretty darn important.  It is time to just put one foot in front of the other.  Just pick up where we are and GO. 

Now to try to convince my family how important diligence and consistency are going to be, now more than ever.  I don't think any of us in our family has even a lick of a consistency bone in our body :-)  Or diligence, for that matter.  Between our mess of a 'school' and our mess of a house (lack of structure, good habits, etc.), well....things are pretty chaotic.  I get one area cleaned up and the rest of the place is a disaster.  I have a plan for that as well.  I won't write out what it is yet, but will share when we actually put it into place.  All I can say is that it is going to take MAJOR discipline on my part to see through with the plan.  I don't see how I can continue on with the chaos that I live in now, so I don't have much of a choice, should I wish to stay out of the insane asylum ;-)

It is getting late and I need to get kiddos off to bed. 

Friday, May 10, 2013

Jedidiah's Endo appointment

Today we had a follow up endocrinology appointment for Jedidiah.  When the doctor asked me how things were going I told her that I was rather disappointed in Jed's progress.  Ready to hear the 'great' stats?  In six months Jedidiah has gained 2.4 pounds, and grew a whopping 1 inch.  ONE inch.  That would be *bad*.  We had a great afternoon visiting a park and eating a yummy snack, so I was in a really good mood at that moment, but had I not been?  I am sure I would have started to cry.  I then asked, thank the LORD I asked, one of my silly/nagging questions.  I told her that the home nurse seemed to have a wee bit of trouble figuring out what Jed's dosage should be.  The instructions for how much medicine is given is in milligrams, but the units on the syringe are in milliliters.  Or something like that!  As it was his doctor had him on a smaller dosage due to his past history of increased cranial pressure.  Well, come to find out that on top of the already reduced amount, I was told to give was even HALF of that smaller dosage!!  No wonder the poor boy hasn't grown any faster than pre-meds!!!  What the meds have done is stop his sugar crashes. I do believe that all the medicine he was getting was going to his pancreas!  Or wherever it is needed to help control his sugar. 

So the plan is to start him on the original smaller dosage and keep him there for two weeks, and then increase it to where she had told me to in today's appointment.  As it was it has taken us literally years to figure out Jed's lack of growth and weight gain, and to top it off, once we do figure it out I feel like we've wasted another 6 months.  Six months!  Thankfully she replied to my email question about my fears (of being totally behind) and explained that as long as we have 5 years to work with that he will be ok.  And seeing as how he is almost 7, but should still be growing until 17, we have ten years to work with.  Phew!

That was how our later afternoon went.  But, before that, we had spent time at a park I used to take the older girls to.  There is a rose garden in the city and we went there to check it out.  I think there may have been a total of 12 roses in bloom.  Ok, there was more, but seriously, we clearly did not come at the right time.  But that is ok, fun was still had.  In the rose garden is an outdoor theater, with built in stone benches on the side of a hill.  Very neat.  The kids had a blast, except for the two kiddos who took their shoes off and found out the hard way that the grassy areas between the benches harbored some horrid stinging plant.  I've seen plenty of pictures of nettles, but this did NOT look anything at all like it.  This was a totally, totally different plant.  The good news is that the plantain that was growing everywhere took care of the stinging.  And the cool part?  Isabella was the one to spot the plantain and suggest we use it!  I totally wasn't even thinking about that!  That took care of the stinging in a minute or two.

Next to the park is a new playground.  Well, I'm not sure how new as the last time I was at the rose garden was some 10 years ago!  All I can say is that it wasn't there when I was last there.  It was small, but the kids had a lot of fun.  My main goal was to get in some 'nature study' and get the wiggles out before our appointment.  I only took a few pictures while we were there, but here they are:

The rose garden has some lovely stone trails and stone work all around.  It is such a serene place....well when WE are not there it is.  Ahem.  I can only hope that the few people that were there were not there to relax in the quietness of the beautiful surroundings.  My children are not perfect but I usually get compliments from others at how well they behave (clearly those same people have never visited my house!).  But today?  Oh, my!  They were like little monkeys on a sugar high!  All over the place.  A few reprimands and threats of having to sit in the van while the rest of us enjoyed ourselves did help to settle them.  Phew.

The stone benches in the theater.  The kids ran up and down and all around this area.

The stage area.  You can see Jonah in full running mode off to the side there.  The stage is slanted at an angle, with the back being higher up. 

Ok, so there were more than 12 roses, but these were the small ones, and all the larger roses were not in bloom, save twelve.

There was this gorgeous tree, as seen above, that had these 5 or 6 large trunks coming out of one base.  Here Saoirse is standing in the middle of them.

Jonah was insisting on me taking his picture and every time I would go to snap it he would get all serious looking.  Apparently that was the look he was going for!  I kept saying I'm trying to take your picture, look at me and smile.  He would say, I know, take my picture (all while smiling).  Then I would hold up my camera and he would get all serious looking.  He did this multiple times throughout our visit.  Pretty funny.

The bug net and bug guides go everywhere with Jed.  Every.  Where.  (Yes, I know that is supposed to be one word, I'm going for the dramatic effect, so work with me :-))  Jed insisted I take pictures of him catching bugs.  I only got this one since every time he would "pose" for his bug finding picture one of his brothers thought he had actually caught a bug and got in the way.  Oh well, I have a feeling there will be plenty of other opportunities.

Moira in the majestic tree.

I had called all the kiddos over in an attempt (silly mommy) to get a group shot.  I have yet this year to take a decent group shot of all the kiddos together.   These guys were waiting for the slow pokes to get there ;-)  I think the other two were taking pictures of their own, you know, of the 12 roses that were in bloom.  Anyways, in order for these guys not to run off I had to start taking pictures.  Aubrey was in some funky mood.  Not bad, but really odd.  He was clearly, clearly enjoying himself and the new surroundings, but anytime I had to make him stand still I got the above serious/deep thought look.  This morning I noticed his nose was all stuffy, and he feels ever, ever so slightly warm.  So maybe when he had to stand and he wasn't in the 'middle' of exploring or climbing he was just feeling yucky?  Poor little guy.

This was the best picture out of the handful I took.  Jonah wanted to be dramatic and serious, and Jed couldn't stand still to save his life.  The girls kept trying to get someone next to them to look at the camera, all the while not looking themselves.  I do believe I understand why professional photo shoots cost so much!

Lots of rose bushes....not in bloom.  Still very beautiful.

Now we are at the playground.  There were two diggers there, and three boys.  Um, you do the math :-)

I finally convinced Jonah to smile.  I should do a collage of all the dramatic/serious pictures I got!

Aubrey had a blast in the sand pit.  There was a dump truck left behind, and once he figured out he was too small to work the diggers he spent most of his time playing with it.

The slide was perfect.  Fast, but not too fast.  No one went flying off the end.  And all the boys could climb up on their own. 

I wanted to get portraits of each child individually.  I had the cooperation of only a few :-)  Isabella was up for it.  She just recently got this hat and has been wearing it ever since.  She took it off for a little bit in the van to get cooled off.  But then...then we 'hit' some speed bumps.  She was driving, we are all telling her to go slow, and she's there saying, "Where's my hat when I need it?! Yee-haw!"  Disclaimer:  No one was driving dangerously, and no one got their brains rattled.  End disclaimer.

We were discussing that Isabella was born in the wrong time period, or at least in the wrong part of the country.  I think one of her favorite quotes from a movie is of a little boy who wears a cowboy hat all the time and is being asked by a little girl why he always wears a cowboy hat.  The boy's response:  'Cause it fits my head.  But you MUST imagine that being said with a southern twang.  Otherwise it just doesn't have the same effect.

You have to love the safer sew-saw alternatives.  I must say that although I miss the more thrilling stomach butterflies, I do NOT miss the slammed jaws from someone dismounting before you are ready.  But, anyways, these girls had a blast, pretending they were on bucking broncos.
We must not neglect to get pictures of children on the swing.  Not that Flannery would let me forget :-)

Saoirse's turn.

There was a climbing rock there.  Surprise, surprise, Flannery was the first one up there! 

Some kiddos taking a break in the shade of the climbing rock.  This was the challenging side of the rock.  Isabella scaled this side and made it to the top.

After some climbing time it was time to take off to our appointment.  Everyone is excited to go back to the garden and playground in the future.  I was thinking it may be really fun for our homeschool co-op to practice a play and preform it on the outside stage.  Afterwards we can have our nature study and a picnic.  Must get some plans going!
I have a lot of other pictures from our two week break that I will upload as either just a photo post, or in a slideshow.  I also must share my hair raising bug experience.  Shiver.  Stay tuned.

Thursday, May 09, 2013

My sister's interview with the NRA

Today I am sharing the below video.  This is the interview that the NRA did with my sister.  MY sister!  To say that I am proud of the wondeful job she and her family did in explaining their journey to bearing arms, is an understatement.  PLEASE, I am sharing this with many people, AND this is MY whether you believe in gun rights or not, be kind in the comments.

And for those that are viewing this from the Simple Lives Thursday blog hop, and may be wondering what this has to do with that topic...let me say two words...Raw Milk.  Ha, ha.  My daughter who was looking over my shoulder said, "What?!?"  What does raw milk have to do with gun control?  Simple.  Their status, with most states of being illegal or dangerous, interfers with what most of us believe, that it is our right, per the constittion, that we have access to these helpful items.  Day by day our freedom to protect our families and our freedom to feed our families the way we see fit are being taken from us.

Please take 5 minutes to watch this video, and thank you for watching!

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Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Replacing the Grocery Store Challenge

This is a must share!!!  I came across this blog that is having a challenge with the above title.  I have just read the introductory post for the challenge and I am already beyond excited.  Please go here to see what this challenge is about:

Our Simple Farm

This is an answer to prayer.  Over the last few weeks I have been a bit dismayed at my lack of diligence in the area of self sufficiency and prepping.  It seems like there are just too many things vying for my attention, and I lose sight of which ones should be a priority.  It's easy to let gardening, and food preservation get pushed to the bottom of my list.  After all, right now, at this moment, if I really need something I can just run out to the store. 

One of our goals for our family is to become self sufficient.  Which is why the site of those baby chicks was so exciting (the surprise ones we had the other day).  Again, it's easy to run out to TSC, when they have their chick days and pick up a bunch.  Should that not be possible, then we would eventually run out of eggs.   Chickens are good egg producers only in their first two years, after that their production drastically decreases. 

I had just sat down this afternoon and wrote out a few things that I needed to do this week.  I also started my grocery list.  That got me thinking...when was the last time I canned any meat?  All of my lovely jars of home preserved meat has been used up.  I have dehydrated a few things over the last couple of months, but not nearly what I *COULD* be doing.  So I wrote out a little goal for myself in this area.  I would like to can one package of each meat type we buy on pay day.  I also want to dehydrate something each week.  Even if it's only one bag of veggies.  Like a lot of things in life, it's the little baby steps that we take that add up over time.

So imagine my delight to come across this blog with this challenge!  It sounds like there will be a lot of planning/work to be done, but sitting here *wishing* or *dreaming* about having food layed aside won't make it happen!  Not to mention that after we had our planting day a couple of weeks ago, not much else has been done.  That really needs to change.  I'm not sure how it will change, but it needs to.  The biggest obstacle is....boys.  Three young boys running around, that need supervision.  Somehow we will need a way to keep them safe :-) 

I suppose more prayer will be needed to figure out a way to make this work.  Let me know if you visit the blog, and if you're joining in the challenge as well.

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Knee Rehab

Yes, I know I said I would get pictures up, but alas, they need to wait.  I love having my laptop to hop on, that way all the kids don't pool around the computer :-)  The only draw back to the laptop is that our pictures are not on it.  Hmm.  Oh well.  I still need to work out a good time to get on the main computer so that it doesn't interfere with what everyone else needs to do.

In the meantime I thought I would quickly write a post about my knee rehab.  Knee rehab?  Um, yes.  You see, after I broke my knee, 18 months ago, I never finished my physical therapy.  There are multiple reasons why, that I will not get into. So, I've spent the past year with aches and pains in my left knee.  Going up stairs was the worst.  For the longest time I would just go up the stairs right leg first!  I tried to add in a few stairs at a time.  I tried walking as well.  I even got out my step bench to try to help.  Granted I didn't use the step bench as much as I should have, but it seemed that I was destined to have a 'bad knee'. 

This past January I decided to start up with T-Tapp.  I've had the DVD's (or at least some of them) for a while, and have done it on and off over the past few years.  It was hard work, especially on my knee the first time around.  But after a few days I realized that, after carrying up a van full of groceries, d my knee was not in pain, or fatigued!!! Then we all got sick, really sick, and that put the DVD's on the back burner.  To say that the past few months has been hard would be an understatement.  Most of the difficulty being in managing what seemed to be depression.  Not sure if it was the real thing, but after a few weeks turned into a few months of feeling horrid...I'm guessing that was it.  Anyways, the girls and I have started the T-Tapping back up last week.  I am so pleased that these past few months I have not had any knee pain, even though I had stopped with the T-Tapp.  My results stuck with me.  I don't have any aches on rainy days either, like I had for the past year. 

I'm pretty impressed to say the least.  Moira has her own success story as well.  After horse lessons  she would have severe calf muscle cramping for the rest of the evening if she made any type of pointing movement with her foot.  We started T-Tapping last week and she was very, very excited that after her horse lesson a few days ago, there was NO cramping! 

We are hoping to continue with our 14 day boot camp (we just finished day 6), and then add in other aerobic exercises and walking.  Our goal is to work our way up to being able to jog 3 miles.  We'll get there, I'm sure of it.  One step at a time.

Monday, May 06, 2013

Back to normal life...

Ha, ha, ha!!!  Some joke, eh?  The break was great!  I am sure I will do one again in the near future.  I set high goals (with the idea we would aim high, and if we missed, at least we would have gotten a lot accomplished).  Not all of my goals were met.  Surprise :-)  I really need to get back into schooling, which will be hard since I still have a lot of work to do in that area.  But, for now, we must press forward, making do with what we did get done.  I am going to try to keep up a reduced computer time and put that time into the things that were left undone.

I made sure to add some fun things in our 'schedule' these past two weeks.  We had a birthday and a mock camping weekend.  We still need to do some major improvements of work habits.  Oy.  Not sure how to address that issue right now.  I suppose a lot of prayer and thought will need to take place to work that out. 

I suppose I will make a list of all that still needs doing and spread the work out over a week, instead of a day or two.  Sometimes it just seems like there is a never ending list of all that needs doing.

We had a cute little surprise yesterday.  Saoirse was going out to collect the eggs when she heard this cheeping from under the house.  She peeked her head into the open air vent (some of our grated ventilation spots do not have their grates anymore), and lo and behold one of our chickens had been laying eggs under the house and she hatched out 6 chicks!!!  Unfortunately one of them died this morning.  This chicken is a first time mom :-)  She's doing a great job, but sometimes I've seen one or two chicks go running off in the opposite direction.  These little guys are REALLY little...only a few days old, all yellow down.  The one that died got stepped on by a larger animal (a goat I suppose).  Poor little thing. 

I will try to get some pictures up to show you all some of what went on during our 2 week break.

PS: I am working on my blog design, so I apologize beforehand if things don't work, or if things look wonky.  I am having a hard time getting my side bars to not interfere with my posts.  Not to mention that I can not customize all of my text colors.  I am not digging the blue :-) 
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