Thursday, October 30, 2014

A tad bit of our day

Today was a 'slow' day.  Slow as in, sleep in a bit, wander around aimlessly a bit, just slow.  Yesterday I met my sister in northern VA to pick up Moira.  Moira's two month visit turned into a two week visit.  Unfortunately for my sister, their family's plan to move fell through.  I know someday they WILL indeed make that move.  And when they do?  It will be glorious indeed.  In the meantime they  try to figure out a new plan.

Moira really enjoyed spending time with her cousins.  There are plans for a cousin get together (of sorts) for this summer.  I know she will be looking forward to it.

I took Aubrey and Merida with me on the trip North.  Merida did amazing, seeing as how we left here at 11:30 in the morning and did not return until 12:30 AM.  She only did a wee bit of crying.  Aubrey was a great big brother, helping to keep Merida happy, and helping me when we needed to make a few stops along the way.

Needless to say, I wasn't feeling very motivated to do much of anything today.  I took the boys out this morning.  The temps are supposed to go from spring like (mid 70's) to chilly fall (low 50's).  Today was one of our last warm days for a spell.  The baby went down for a nap, and I found myself with free hands!  A novelty for me :-)  I figured it had been long enough in the 'no picture taking' department for myself, and ran inside to grab my camera.  I still had two boys in particular who kept asking to go here, or there, taking my attention away from what I was hoping to do. But, to have two hands to actually take a picture?  Pure bliss I tell you.

Below are some of the pictures I took outside, and a couple of what caught my eye inside.

 A lone rock on top of one of our fence/gate posts.  It seems that maybe one of the girls put it up there to keep out of the reach of the boys.

 The view from our driveway, into the goat area.  I love the fall golden sunshine.  All of the shadows are long, despite being close to noon.

 Jonah and Aubrey taking their bikes up the hill to ride down.  It is cute to hear Jonah coming down the hill.  He repeats a little mantra, "Peddle, peddle, peddle, brake....peddle, peddle, peddle, break..."  He is afraid of going too fast down the hill ( a very reasonable fear I might add!) so he keeps himself on track by following that pattern.

 Our peach tree has really taken off!  We have one apple tree that is doing very well, like the above peach tree.  The other trees, however, are much smaller.  Not sure if it is due to the type of trees they are, or if we have some sort of deficiency in our soil.

 Jonah, our newest training wheel-less bike rider.  A very happy boy.

Our rabbits!  I think I wrote about them already.  If not, meet our newest members to the homestead....meat rabbits.  They are American Chinchillas.  We have added a book on rabbits to our 'everybody together' schooling.  We are clueless as to how to properly care for them.  We better figure it out sooner rather than later!

 The boys enjoy helping to feed the animals.  I am sure that they will be able to take over some of the animal feeding soon enough.

 This may be an odd picture.  A bunch of acorns...and other stuff.  This is a wonderful sight to my eyes.  Last  year we had NO acorns.  None.  Neither did the whole Eastern USA.  It is usual for either the Red Oak, or the White Oak to not give acorns in different years, but last year neither of them did.  On top of that there were a few other trees (hickory, walnut) that did not give nuts.  No one could figure it out.  It was quite disturbing to hear.  So, it was music to our ears to hear the acorns 'raining' down around us.  They make a particularly loud bang on the metal roof of the 'shed'.

 I don't remember if we have the White, or Red oak, but we have the one where you have to do more processing to the nuts if you want to use them for cooking.  You can tell by their caps.  All of our acorns are found without their caps on.  If you have those, you have the harder to process acorns.  The acorns with their caps on are easier to process.

While I was on the road yesterday the two older boys had a project to do to keep them busy.  I bought them at the Dollar Tree for $1.  They came in a package with the shapes cut out, and instructions on how to glue them together to make the above helicopter, or in Jed's case, an airplane.  Jonah was SO excited to put this together.  He kept asking me every 15 minutes if I was leaving!  Ha, ha!

 Showing off his helicopter.  Aubrey showing off a leaf?  Aubrey kept photo bombing our pictures.  The little ham.

 It is hard to see here, but this is our fast growing apple tree.  Behind, off to the left, you can see a glimpse of the white painted trunks of two other apple trees.  Notice the huge difference between them and the large apple tree.  Sigh.

 Our pathetic garden.  Leftover tomato plants.  At least they produced tomatoes this year!  We are always so late in pulling things up.

The mess of an herb garden.  All of our nicely placed rocks have been overturned by boys looking for bugs.   We have some serious garden work to do around here this fall/winter.

This is a 'wall' that our neighbor built on the side of our road.  He knocked down a ton of trees, and there has been some wash out on the road due to that.  This is a wall to keep the dirt and rocks on the road, and not in the gullies on his land.

 Looking up at the sky.

 We don't have a lot of red this fall.  Lots of yellow, no orange, and a teeny tiny bit of red here and there.

 The land across the street from  us.  This used to be ALL woods.  They cleared the front few acres worth this past spring.  The brush really grew over the summer.  It is probably a good 6 feet high.

 A little more red.  I got an email this afternoon from a friend who asked if they could come over for some play time.  Totally last minute, which agrees with how we do things around here.  The kids had a blast.  She is from Michigan and was saying how she really misses the vibrant fall leaves that the North has.

 Some lemon rinds soaking in vinegar, to become a cleaning solution.  I dehydrated the lemons.  I love to have fresh lemon in my Immune-T, and I can never keep them on hand when I need them.  Dehydrating solves that problem!

Our kombucha, which really needs to be strained and fed new tea.  It always seems to be the last thing I get to on my to-do list.

We have a busy weekend ahead of us.  Hoping it goes as 'planned'.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Thoughts on Ebola

Ebola.  Just the word itself sounds scary.  There has been a lot of stuff written on it.  It is hard to figure out what is 'real', what is 'sensational', and what is 'unfounded'.  Needless to say, I will not be writing about ebola itself.  You'll have to do your own research and figure out what you think the truth to be.  But, whatever the truth, however it got here, regardless of what I believe, or you believe our government should be doing to contain such a disease, the simple fact remains....ebola is here.

A wee bit of a wake up call.  I've said it before, but I feel that we as Americans are very much like teenagers....we feel nothing bad can happen to us.

So if I am not going to be writing about ebola itself, then what am I going to write about?  To share my heart.  To tell others that if it's not ebola, it will be T40Z-3Y (I'm making things up here, but just go along with it), or Goozy-bola, or some other infection on the horizon.  We've already seen some doozies, and I have a feeling this won't be the last of them.

We have lived sheltered lives here in America.  But, it would take but a talk with our great-grandparents (if they were still living) to know that our easy lifestyles were not the norm, not 100 years ago. Nor are they the norm for most of the world.  It is sobering to think that we fall into the top 3 or 5% of the world as far as wealth goes.  Our grandparents and parents worked hard to give us a life of ease.  It was out of love for us that they did that.  However, it may very well be our downfall.

This is where my heart comes in.  I know I am not alone in this, but more people need to jump on the bandwagon...the bandwagon to self sufficiency.  If you found out that ebola was in your city, what is your plan?  Can you get out?  Can you hunker down and stay indoors until the threat has passed?  Again, even if we were able eradicate ebola from the US, it will be another disease next year.

And if it isn't disease, it could be a natural disaster, a job loss, an injury that keeps you out of work.  The list is long.  These are not (ok, some of them have been featured on Doomsday Preppers) the material of the tin hat crowd. These are things that we all have the potential to face in our future.  Every state has their own weaknesses, each family does as well.  We most certainly can not prepare for every possible scenario that may come our way.  But we should, indeed, start with things that have a high likelihood, or possibility.

We have bad weather forecast for tomorrow morning, with chances of tornadoes.  We have been told to expect an even colder winter than last years, in our state.  There are new, or not so new, diseases coming across our boarders.  The fact of the matter is that we all have the responsibility to prepare., to provide for our families, to involve our neighbors and community.  There are countries who have gone before us, coming to ruin.  And though the situations were very, very hard, they pulled through.  But those that have come to the other side all feel that if we (the USA) were to go through the same thing, that they feel we would not make it.  We do not have the mentality to band together, to support each other. I do hope they are wrong. I want to believe that if the going got tough the the strong would help the weak.

I've been mulling over some ideas of how to share how to do this.  On the one hand, it isn't rocket science, but on the other, it can be very overwhelming.  Just take a moment to think about how prepared you would be if you had to stay put in your house for 3 months without being able to leave.  No grocery runs.  No going out to a movie.  No going to the gym.  Diapers?  Toilet paper?  Water?  Food?  Entertainment?

Now, we've been doing a wee bit of prepping here and there. We have some animals.  We are attempting to learn new skills.  But when I honestly took stock of what it would look like to have to stay put, here in our house, for three months?  Hmmm, there are holes, and lots of them.  As my husband is fond of saying, "Well, at least we are better off than most people."  That is true.  But do I just want to be better off?  Or do I want to actually be prepared?  Fully prepared?

I'm thinking of making a youtube channel just to share what we are learning, and what we are doing here to be prepared...for the everyday things.  This will most certainly NOT be Doomsday Preppers!  My hope is to encourage others to take a step.  My hope is that others will be inspired to just do the next thing, as small as that may be.  Hey, I remember how I felt when all I could afford was one bag of rice and two bag of beans to put towards my food storage. And I am *not* talking about the 50 pound bags either!  I'm talking the one pound bags.  I put it on my shelf and I wasn't sure if I should be proud for taking that first step, or to cry to see a 'measly' 3 pounds of food meant for future food storage.  But we ALL have to start *somewhere*.

I am not an expert on any of this.  Not at all.  Personally, I like to see 'real' people, and how they make things work. And trust me, this will be 'real'.  As in, I will show you how we started, and ALL of the lovely mistakes we've made, what we need to change and the plans that I still have to see our preparedness go to the next level.  We are sooooo far from being able to live off grid, it's not even funny.  I really can't see us ever being there...on purpose anyways :-)  But come on now, we've only lived with electricity but for a 'blink of an eye' compared to all of known humanity.  I know we could do it again, if we had to.  I myself, like a nice cool, air conditioned house when it is 100 degrees outside.  I don't have plans to give that up at the moment.  But there are things, no matter where you live, you can do to be a bit better off if hardship comes your way.

Now, before I go, I do want to slip a little something in here about ebola.  You know I love homeopathy.  Homeopathy has a wonderful record of helping during times of epidemics.  It won't hurt to have some remedies on hand that some homeopaths believe may address this particular ebola threat.  I plan on adding more to this list when I learn more.  For now, if you go HERE, you can find one of the protocols are for this outbreak.  I am awaiting word from our homeopath to see what he recommends.

a wonderful opportunity for Moira

It is finally Moira's turn.  A turn to 'try out' her future calling.  I've written a lot about Isabella's experience of working for her dream, horse riding.  Moira has been waiting for her turn.  Sometimes patiently, sometimes not so patiently.  It was recently, in the past month that we had a discussion that if her plans for her future are the Lord's plans then they will come to pass in His timing.  I know it is easy to agree to that in theory :-)  She was receptive to what I said, but it is hard when you are 15 and having to wait your turn.

So, Moira's dreams....what are they?  She has gotten the travel bug gene from my sister.  Thankfully it sounds like maybe some of her children got the artist gene from I say it's all even :-)  Back to Moira.  She wants to see the world, experience different cultures, foods, land and all that travel entails.  She thought about ways to make that happen.  After all one would have to pay for such a thing.  Becoming a nanny overseas was an idea.  There have been other ideas as well.  But how does one prepare for such a thing?  She tried getting babysitting jobs.  The odd thing is she is SOOOO good with kids, yet she never got a bite from  She just started volunteering in the church nursery once a month.  We are hoping that will give her more experience.  Even though she is second oldest of 8 children, I do believe that people are looking for experience outside of taking care of her siblings.  Which is unfortunate as Moira does indeed have a LOT of experience behind her.

And then God moved.  Not just for Moira.  Some of you may have read about my sister and her family waiting for the Lord to make a way for them to move to their land.  They have been waiting for 3 years.  On top of the wait, has been the immense struggle for my sister's health.  She has suffered greatly with topical steroid withdraw.  It has been very hard on she and her whole family. But finally, finally, the long wait appears to be over.  Although they are not moving directly to their land, they will be very, very close to it.  This is the next best thing, and something they feel the Lord has a plan for.

I have been overjoyed for my sister!  I told her if I could, I would have done a happy dance, but I was afraid I would hurt myself!  Ha, ha!  So after a few things that fell through it appears all the pieces are coming together for their move next month.  But there was a wee catch to all of this.  They need money to move.  Moving is NOT cheap!  Oy.  That means she has to go back to work. That means she could fall ill again.  So to help safegaurd her health (a small token anyways of help), she was looking for someone to help with her children so she could rest when she needed.

You can see where this is going right?  Moira had already told me she was interested in helping her aunt if there was a need.  So in a conversation the other day, as my sister was telling me of their inability to find the right situation to help with their kids, I offered Moira's services. Both parties benefiting, both fulfilling their dreams!

But here is the thing.  My sister has to come to NC for business week!  This would be the most cost effective way to get Moira up there to my sister who is in NY.  I was worried, as Moira had two major (for a teen anyways ;-)) events that she would have to miss out on, along with numerous smaller ones.  You see, my sister needs to work for 6 weeks.  After that they will make the move to their land in another state, taking Moira with them for the unpacking phase.

When I brought this up to Moira, the girl didn't skip a beat!  She said she *knew* this was her answer to her prayers just weeks ago.  Although she is bummed that she has to miss out on those two big events, she also knows that this is a HUGE opportunity to make her future dreams come true.  Just the fact that she will be traveling (her first goal is to travel the USA, so she will have a couple of states down!) was amazing to her.  Then on top of that she can say she had experience as a live in nanny.  Hey, it won't be her one has to know they were her cousins.  The girl needs to break into the nanny business somehow!

Needless to say I am overjoyed for both my sister and Moira.  But this is quite sudden (for Moira to be leaving), and I find myself realizing that there are a ton of things I have neglected to do with my children.  Or neglected to teach them.  I know, I know, she'll be coming 8 weeks!  Gulp.  But this gets me to thinking about Isabella, who will be 18 this summer.  Double gulp!  I really think we can get into this groove of the everyday-ness of stuff, and we neglect to see the bigger picture.  We focus on the dishes, the school work, the illnesses, the laundry, the dishes, the playdates/sleepovers, the dishes....anyways, it left me feeling that I have not fully embraced what was truly important, and let me tell's NOT the dishes!  I have failed to tell my children how much I love them each and every day.  I have failed to tell them about all the wonderful things that the Lord is working on in their lives.  I haven't apologized all the gazillion times that I should have.  I haven't been patient when I needed to.  I focus too much on the negative, and what they are messing up on, instead of all that they are doing right. (and I might add that we joke about Aubrey's 'only' good thing is that he is cute :-))  I know this will give me the opportunity to change things.  I need to be praying that the Lord would redeem what the locusts have eaten.

Oy!  Enough!  This is about Moira's amazing opportunity, not about me missing her.  Oh, who am I kidding, it's both!  I will miss her terribly. Boo hoo!

Ok, I'd write more, but I have a crying 3 year old, and a young goat that needs a dewormer shot.  Please pray that everything goes well with my sister working, and their move, and for Moira to not get terribly home sick.  (She better get homesick!  Ha, ha!  I'm teasing)  She will be in good hands, for that I do not worry.  Pray that all their travels would be safe.

Friday, October 10, 2014

A "lost" post that I found...from July

I found this post sitting in my line up as a draft.  Not sure why I never got around to sharing it!  It is not finished, but I wanted to get it up, if for nothing more than the pictures, and memories.

Birthday party one was a success :-)  Jedidiah loved his cakes and gift.  Here are a couple of pictures....

Ladybug.  The girls were going to make it fancy, but after a day at camp I think they changed their minds.  Still yummy either way!

A bee.  Not sure why they went with that, but it turned out cute.

Jonah is tackling those big boy milestones

Sniff, sniff (that's me tearing up), they don't stay little for long, do they?  It truly never grows old for me to watch my children master life.  Whether they are one years old, or seventeen.  This past summer (another boo-hoo, I can't believe summer is over!) Jonah mastered the fine art of swinging himself on the swing sets (at our local parks).  This is usually one milestone that helps me out, since that is one less child that needs to be pushed on the swings.  At the start of summer I had 4 kiddos that needed pushing (Jed, Jonah, Aubrey and Merida). Usually I always have at least one in the 'needs pushing mode', if not two.  It's been this way since Isabella had her first go in a swing some 17 years ago!

With that great big feat of tackling the coordination needed for swinging Jonah totally blew me away yesterday when he tackled another of life's big achievements (for the wee crowd that is).  One of the favorite activities of the boys, when we are outside, is to walk their bikes up our road.  The road is uphill from our house.  They then ride down the hill at top speed, adding much grey hair to my head!  Yesterday after a couple of runs down the hill Jonah asks if I can fix his bike.  He points out that one of his training wheels is up too high, causing him to swerve all over the place.  Just for the heck of it, I say, "Hey, buddy, why don't we just take those training wheels off and see if you can ride your bike without them?"  To my surprise he was all for it!  He went in and got the needed tool, and took them off himself!  I was trying to give him instructions for learning to balance on two wheels.  We have helped 4 children so far master the fine art of bike riding.  Each has needed their 'own way' of doing it.  (Believe it or not, Flannery, our most physical and agile child, took almost a YEAR to learn to ride her the age of 8 no less!)  One way that seems to help them all to at least learn the balancing act is to push themselves along and then let their legs do the balancing out to the sides of the bike.  I attempt to give a visual for this, which proved difficult seeing as how I had no bike, and was holding a baby.  Flannery happened to come out at that moment and I asked her to show him.  BUT before she was even able to show him, Jonah got on his bike, and not only balanced on two wheels, BUT was pedaling!!!!!  As if he's been doing this all of his life. Ok, not quite, but we never had a child just start riding a bike from the first push!!!  He is still needing to learn how to use the breaks.  Can we say, 'more grey hairs'?  Oy.

Sniff, sniff.  Usually there is this processing time of seeing your child learning a new skill, watching them grow before you.  We seemed to skip that 'processing' time this time around!  That's ok, I still have three more that will need to learn how to swing, and ride a bike. As a matter of fact, Jedidiah made it abundantly clear that he does NOT want his training wheels taken off.....ever!  I tried explaining that big boy bikes don't come with training wheels, so eventually he was going to have to learn to ride without them.  He insisted that he wasn't going to learn. Ha, ha!  I do give him credit though for learning to swing himself. Although he does have the actions down, he doesn't have the strength to put behind it to get too far.  I know that will come with time.

Saturday, October 04, 2014

Dreadlocks....all the information you ever wanted to know!

So there is one particular person who wanted to know more about my hair.  She demands pictures as well.  I told her not much has changed (though the day after that things did change, isn't that how things work?).  She was surprised.  She thought my hair would have been covered in perfect dreads, and was surprised to find out that that will not be the case for the next year or so.  So here I am to spread some truth about dreadlocks.

::  Dreadlocks should be, and are encouraged to be washed. For some reason people think that they can not be washed, but this is not true.  That being said, there are a few rules to adhere to when washing.  For starters you need to wash with a residue free shampoo.  Otherwise residue will build up in the locks, and that will not be pretty.  Two, you can not use conditioner, for the reason that it leaves a residue, and that you do not want your hair to be that slippery.  The hair needs to be able to move around, but still be 'dry' enough that it will lock up.  Third, you have to wash your hair with plenty of time for it to dry before you go to bed.  You can not go to bed with wet hair.  Dreadlocks take much longer to dry than regular styles.

::  There are a few ways to start dreadlocks.  Some are encouraged more than others since there are some methods that are damaging to the hair.  Backcombing, twist and rip, and neglect are the most popular.  Some people use a crochet hook to tidy up their hair, which does a lot of damage.  Therefore, you will see that my hair looks very, very messy right now :-)  I may at some point try to tidy it up by wrapping the loose strands around a dread, or using a blunted needle to pull the hair into the dread.  But hair has a mind of its own, and I need to wait to see what it is planning on doing.  Some peoples' hair will tidy up in due time.

::  Baby dreads (the ones you start) are not true dreads, they are your attempt to start dreads.  Neglect dreads can take two years to form.  Those who use backcombing or TnR take about a year for dreads to form.  This definitely takes patience.  Especially when your head looks like a mop :-)  Mine definitely looks like a mop!

::  There are various ways to dress up your dreads.  In the beginning it is not recommended to do so as it can either hamper the locking process, or weaken the dread.  But leaving something (a bead or wrap) in for a day or two is usually fine.  Some people will leave rubber bands in their hair, in an attempt to get the hair to form properly, however the hair will 'eat' up the rubber band.

::  Salt water helps with the locking process, and I intend on trying some spritz sometime soon.  You spray your hair with salt water and leave it on for an hour or three.  It needs to be washed out or it will dry out your scalp and hair too much.  But the drying is what helps the hair lock up faster.

::  My hair in particular has a bunch of 'paint brush' ends.  My hair is short in the back, and as such some of it refuses to stay in a section.  My ends come unraveled a lot and sometimes I will do some TnR on them, but only time will take care of them.  I try not to do much with my hair, but it can be fun to fiddle with!

Those are just a few truths about dreads, I am sure there is a bunch more that I could write about, but those are the basics.  I took some more pictures the other day.  My dreads are now a month old.  I have a *ton* of loose hair, especially in the back.  Most of the lower 1/4 of my head is undreaded.  It is too short and keeps coming undone.  Oh well.  I'll just keep trying, and eventually it will stay dreaded.  Since I wrote the above information I tried the salt spray.  It definitely does the job.  I have loops and bumps all over now.  Without further ado, here are the photos:

 Ooooh, kitty cat...must have :-)  Merida LOVES the animals.

 See those lovely separated strands?  Lots of lovely paint brush tips going on.

 I really do not like how the back it taking shape.  I have these 'bald' spots.  Not sure if I should just let it do it's thing or try to undo them and redread them.

 Yes, I am wearing a mop on my head.  Why do you ask?  And yes, I go out just like this!  And yes, people look at me funny.

 Lots of loose hairs flying all over.

Since the dreads are on the small side I can pull them back into a pony tail of sorts.  It looks semi normal :-)

I can't really do a full pony tail since my hair is a bit too short.  It looks kind of funny, like a fluffy bunny tail. Ha, ha.
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