Saturday, December 25, 2021

Getting ready for the new year

  We had an amazing Christmas this year.  We celebrated early with my sister's family, though my sister was not able to be here, who drove from KY.  We had my niece, who I haven't seen since she was about 5 years old, drive down from NY with her boyfriend. And my dad came from VA (my mom was not able to make it).  It was a fun filled night!!!  I really wish I had taken more pictures.  

  Christmas morning started on the later side..around 9 AM or so.  The girls used to spend the night sleeping around the tree, but times are changing. Flannery said she was too old, her back was hurting! Moira, well, she's in her own place with her own tree. Bella and Liam came home late from visiting family.  So this year it was Saoirse, Merida (she lasted half the night), and the boys.  

   Everyone agrees that it just didn't feel like the Christmas season this year.  None of us can put our fingers on it.  I will say that this was one of the most calm Christmases we've had.  Usually I am beyond ready to jump back into our 'normal' after all the celebrating.  That is not the case this year.

   We've had a slew of kiddos being sick, or spending some time in the ER. No worries, all is fine.  Thankfully, nothing serious for anyone.  Last year at this time we were eating horribly! We changed up our diet back in April, so I guess I am a bit surprised by how often they have come down with stuff. Though this year the illnesses have been minor compared to last years. But still...can we have an illness free winter? 

   Going back to the fact that I don't feel like I need to jump back into 'normal'. Part of that is that I am usually waiting for the new year to start fresh. This year has most certainly been different.  I purposely did not wait until a certain time, or date, to start things.  And instead of just trying to start all fresh for January, I've been slowly, little by little, making changes.  Though the diet change was instant, we didn't wait until a certain time.  We will be making some smaller changes starting this week.  I've been getting in shape slowly over the past year and a half.  I've added in a new program just a few weeks ago.  Schooling, again, been making small changes through the year. Tweaking things to make them work for us.

   I plan on writing more about those small changes coming up. For now, I leave with a few pictures that I have of the past few days.

I will have to look for pictures that others took.  This is the only group shot I have. 

We had an amazing tablescape, along with snowflakes hanging from the ceiling.  Moira put it all together.  Trees, animals, and lights in the middle of the table.

A fun puzzle my friend gave us.  It was a QRC code that you scanned and could win money. We won a whopping 25 cents!!  Ha!

Kids waiting to open presents!!  We had Moira and Adam over for Christmas Eve, and exchanged gifts with them.

We start with stockings.

Flannery and Saoirse waiting their turn to open a gift. 

Minecraft is still all the rage!

My gifts, already broken in :-)  A half gallon water bottle and a mini trampoline.

Jed wanted a picture with his stocking goodies.

Thursday, December 16, 2021

My camera is finally fixed!

 It took a while, but I finally got my camera fixed!  Now I have to get used to using it!  Someone in one of the homeschool groups I follow on FB asked what others do for outside time for their kids.  She asked for pictures, if we had any. So I came here to this space to dig some up.  And as I did so I realized that a lot of the things I was recommending, we no longer had!  Oh my mommy heart!  My kids keep growing up!  We may not have some of the things that I recommended, but we have other things.  I went outside to just take a look around.

Our new back porch. We finished this this past summer.  We hung up some Bistro lights that unfortunately one of the dogs chewed through the cord.  Sigh.  Until we get a gate to put at the top of the stairs we won't be getting new ones, or putting furniture out there.  I was hoping to utilize this space during the cooler months to sit out there to eat, or do school. 

A new fort is being made!  We already have one, but the boys LOVE building forts.  I'm all for it.  What ever it takes for them to not be glued to the computers!  This is an old ladder for a bunk bed.  

They nailed a bunch of planks of wood between the limbs for seating.  I am waiting for the railings to be put up! I do not trust a certain child to be up there and be safe.  

They tried using the tire swing this summer, but we had some of the Asian hornets hanging out there for the sap that was running from the tree.  We had to get rid of them first.  Thankfully they are not quick to sting, but their sting is BAD when they do so.  

You can't see them in the picture, but Aubrey strung up some battery operated lights to decorate this space. 

Any walk around our property is not complete without an entourage of cats and chickens!  Here are a few of our brown tabbies. In the background you can just make out one of our newer cats, he's black and white.  We got two cats from a group that gives away free feral barn cats. They explained to us that the cats will never be really human friendly as they have been feral their whole lives. Well, they don't know the determination that Saoirse has for taming cats!  It didn't take her long, a week maybe, for them to be coming up to her. We had them live inside for about 2 months.  Then we slowly integrated them to the outside crew of cats.  And now, no one would know the difference. They both come running up to us like the other cats when we come outside. They curl up with the other cats. They will crawl up on your lap to get attention like our other cats. So much for being feral!

The old fort. Still being used. You can make out, in the foreground, what looks like a black rod with red caps. This is the end of the zip line. The beginning of the zip line is up by the fort where you see the ladder up front, and an orange strap from the tree.  They get up on the plank at the top of the ladder, hook themselves up, and zip to the end.  This is not just a park zipline. They have to wear a helmet, and have a harness to be able to ride this thing!  


I was trying to get a picture that shows how long the line is, but you really can't tell from the pictures. 

We have very silly chickens. The boys always ask me why the chickens come running up to me. In the above picture I was trying to take a picture of our cats, and I feel my toes being pecked!  They come running for two reasons...1. I don't chase them, like the boys do.  And 2. I bring them treats!  They will eat out of my hand, and will apparently try to eat my toes as well!

One of the chickies.  Even though we secured the barn, we still had predators knock off too many of our chickens. I think we bought about 45 chicks last year. We now only have like 26 chickens left. Thankfully after a few more adjustments we haven't lost any recently.  We will bring up our numbers with new chicks come spring.

Can't resist taking a picture of our road.  The pictures never do it justice. I love the long shadows in the fall/winter.  The streaks of light seem all the brighter.  Today and the next couple of days are supposed to be very mild temp wise...I think around 70 degrees.  We have family coming for a Christmas gathering, so we will be out there cleaning things up.  It is VERY evident we have lots of kids, and lots of animals! Ha!  It's too bad that we can't train chickens to use one area to do their business in!  Because let me tell you, it's a mine field out there!!  

Monday, July 19, 2021

Time to Catch Up's been a while. That seems to be a theme here on this blog.  Alas, I am making an attempt to get back on and track our days.  I've mentioned it before that the boys would really like to have their memories preserved.  We certainly have a few years that are 'missing'.  Jonah turns 13 today and last night he wanted to hear the story of his birth. So we read through it on here, and then he and Aubrey spent time looking over past memories.

My first order of business will be to get my camera fixed.  It needs a major cleaning or tune up. I haven't used it in a few years!  It's been sitting unused due to the need to get it fixed.  I just haven't made it a priority.   I'm just not sure how to go about it. Find a camera shop or send it in to Canon.  In the meantime I can make some catch up posts about what we are all up to, but the kids....they want pictures to go with the stories.

Life has been going pretty well. Definitely some snags, but also some progress as well.  I spent two months being down due to covid.  We've done a lot of work on the house!  Still more to be done.  One thing that I am in the beginning stages of planning is for a big overhaul of our spaces inside.  Too much clutter.  We have to make another attempt to tame the electronic devices as well.  Lots of work to be done in that area.  

So, stay tuned for our adventures in simplifying and renovations. 

Saturday, June 22, 2019

The Fit Journey gets a snag...

EDIT: I typed up this post in the very beginning of March, about 6 weeks ago.

So my last post lays out three steps I was going to take for us to get fit.  I tackled the third, which was to organize the kitchen. It's nice to be able to get something out easily without knocking things over.  We have gotten out to the park multiple times, started a garden.  Things were on a roll.  And then.....and.....then.....

The first shoe to drop was a call on the weekend from Jeremiah's job agency (his current job was a contract, temp to perm).  Um, that can not be a good sign.  Phone tag ensued, until Sunday when they got to talk in person....oh, hey, don't worry about coming in tomorrow for your job, your contract was cut short.  Sigh.

The second shoe to drop happened while I was washing down the walls to prep for painting.  Moira decided it was time to fly the nest, leaving a room open.  We were moving some of the boys over to her old room, and their current room was in desperate need of attention.  Having moved here almost 13 years ago, with all our walls just primed, and not actually painted, I can assure you that it is not a good idea to leave such walls to be left unpainted for over a decade.  Anyways, I'm cleaning the walls when my cloth dips between the wood laminate flooring and the baseboard (the trim was never put back on when the floors were put in).

To my surprise a black spider jumps out and attacks my cloth.  The spider looked very  much like a black widow, which we've had a few in our house over the years, so not out of the realm of possibility.  The creepy crawly scooted back under the baseboard. Jeremiah decided to pull up the first board to get access to the spider, only to accidentally pull off about 4 boards to reveal, to our horror, black mold.

Well, that explains a LOT.  It explains why after a year of just one cold, we had a winter full of back to back illnesses.  It explains the inability to lose weight despite eating a whole foods, no sugar diet.  It explains Jed's increase speech difficulties.  It explained a lot.  What's more, is when we went into the master bathroom to finally tackle finishing the shower, in preparation of dealing with the mold in the boys room and the bathroom on the other side of their wall.....only to find MORE mold.  What was bad about that was the shower has not been used in 8 it's not like we had a leak.  Come to find out that the moisture from under the house, coming through the hole in the floor was enough to spark the 'fire'.

Needless to say that's put a snag in things.  The painting has been put on hold, so we can now deal with the mold.  BUT.....that means once the mold is killed off at their original sites, we have do the whole 'WASH DOWN' of every. single. thing. we. own.  To say that I seriously thought it would be easier, and faster, to burn our house down, not only crossed my mind, but I entertained it.  Yeah.

The pictures today are going to be a mix of what we all *want* to see.  Having fun, doing things, etc.  But, today I also show a few of the very, very nitty gritty reality.  It's not all fun and games.  It's no secret I don't always keep it together.  But here it is in pictures.

 Our spring baby turned 15 this year!  This is a cake based on Saoirse's favorite band's animated characters.  Not sure what they are called.....but it's from BTS.

 Going furniture shopping with Moira.  This was the table and chairs she decided to go with.  Even
though she moved in 2 weeks ago, she still has another 13 days till it arrives!


Chalk warriors running around the house!

First you tap the chalk on the board to make a powdery mess.  Dip fingers in the chalk powder and apply to face!  Repeat with different colors.

Make sure to involve your baby nephew.

If you give a girl the keys to her first apartment, she may want to run to Target to get the needed items for her apartment.  If she needs to run to Target for new stuff for her apartment, her sisters and friend may want to come along.  

Checking out the new dig!

Throw in Prom night to the mix.  We had our oldest's last prom, and Saoirse's first prom.  Too bad Merida is too young to go, but the four oldest girls all at the prom this year!

New kittens on the homestead!  Only two.  A boy and a girl. Names being debated.  Very interesting names to be sure.

And there you have it...the wonderful, though not quite Pinterest quality, photos.  Here we have the reality of behind the scenes.  You can see some furniture in the middle of the room, awaiting to be moved to another room.  The leftover items from my kitchen organizing, about 6 water bottles brought in from the van, and dishes.....they multiply like rabbits around here.  Sigh.

You thought I was exaggerating when I said the boys room was in need of serious attention.  No, no I wasn't.  Never mind the other walls....sigh.

The mold we found in the boys room, that was coming in from the bathroom that is on the other side of that wall.  Though devastating, I am very glad we found it and can now kill it, and stop the cycle of ongoing sickness.

The mold in the  master bathroom.  Joy, joy, joy.  Lots to look forward to.  As a matter of fact the food grade H2O2 just came in while typing this up.  That will be used to kill the mold, then once dried we need to seal it.  THEN we can finally finish off the master bathroom, finish the boys' room, and redo the main bathroom.

In the midst of the yuck, we still have to get outside.  This was an amazing beautiful day temp wise!  It was on the chilly side.

But this is reality too.  When small things finally add up and I snap.  Just two days before, Moira took the kids out of the house for 6 hours.  I was able to get a lot of work done.  That picture up there of the mess in the dining room and family room?  Yup, all cleaned up.  The living room, tidied, vacuumed. ALL the dishes done, counters cleared.  It was a breath of fresh air.  And two days later we have this.  Just before I took this picture Jonah was going to take out a large vase we were getting rid of.  Just the day before I had cleaned it out, as someone had dumped a bunch of odds and ends in there.  Not only were those items *back* in there, but another container of odds and ends I cleared out of the boys' room had been dumped in there as well.  My reality is that I take one step forward and am pushed 5 steps back.  And sometimes, sometimes, I am not sure I can take that happening one more time.

I know we will get past this.  I know we won't always have little kid toys in the house.  I know I won't always be feeling puffy all over from the mold, and feeling like I can't move.  In the mean time the little things can get to me.  The big things can get to me.  These are the days when I look around and realize this was NOT what I had expected or hoped for.  And so, I need to dust off and try to make my dream in my head a reality.

Friday, April 26, 2019

The Krew Gets Fit!

We have been busy, busy bees over here!!  Soooooo much going on.  As you know I can be long winded about one thing going on in my life :-)  I shall try to break things up so I don't dump a novel on you all!

After a long winter filled with one sickness after another, too much computer time, and too much nutrient poor foods, it is time to pull up the boot straps!  I talked it over with everyone and everyone is on board with making some big changes.  We are all struggling with our fitness levels, energy levels, overall health, and for some of us....our weight.  I hit a number on the scale that I don't even think I hit when I was 9 months pregnant....and for some pregnancies I had gained 50 to 60 pounds!  I am having a hard time going up and down the stairs, and forget about trying to get off the floor without wondering if I need backup.

I got away to the library to make some plans.  Things are pretty crazy in the house right now, and I wasn't even sure where to start.  So I made a list of ideas.  I had to go back another evening to iron some things out and mark out our first steps.  So far this is what we've been doing:

1. Getting outside more!  Right  now there is a lot to do on our property, so I am starting there for a good reason to get out and active.  We've cleaned up most of the 'yards'.  We have various fenced off 'yards'.  There's the dog area, the horse area, the middle area (where the swing and trampoline are), then we have two front areas (one with the fruit trees, the other just a yard), then there's the rock garden, and two more fenced in goat areas.  On top of that we have the bike trail, and creek area.  We only have 2.5 acres, but these are the areas that we've 'named', if you can call it that.  The boys, Merida and I got out and pick up the middle area, horse area, rock garden, and the two front yards.  So we still have some places left to clean up.

We also tackled the baby trees and brambles growing along side our dirt road. They've been increasingly creeping closer to the road each year.  So some gloves, clippers, and a saw and we have that area free of those intruders.  I think I should plant some shade loving plants/shrubs in that area to hopefully fill it in so the other things don't grow. 

Jeremiah and the boys did a lot of work on the shed/barn.  We needed to switch original plans since the pony kept getting out.  This will help when we get goats in the future.  There is still quite a bit of work to do for the chicken barn.  Moira took a day to knock off the walls.  The barn had some mold damage, and a rotting floor.  We've made some plans to change that area as well. 

On top of all that work, Jeremiah and the boys are starting to make 3 or 4 raised garden beds for the front.  So lots of outside time!

2.  Organize the kitchen.  I know, seems odd.  How does that play into getting fit?  Well, I have like no energy.  I need to go back to eating all plant based.  The problem the past 9 months or so has been I want to eat plant based, but no one else does.  So I have been making multiple dishes for meals.  I. Am. Burnt. Out.  We have resorted to eating junky foods (box mac and cheese, pb and j's, Ramen....ugh).  It has to stop!  So I told everyone I am only making ONE meal for each mealtime.  And it will be plant based.  I HAVE to, for my sanity, and for my energy and health.

The problem is that my kitchen was a mess, and cooking is hard enough when things go right.  But when you have no energy to begin with, and you have to search for the foods you need to prepare...well, for me it is too much.  So the past few days have been pulling everything out of each space and organizing it.  Jonah has been my right hand man.  He loves doing projects.  He was watching the youtube inspiration videos with me! 

3.  Making an investment.  We already have a Y membership, though we haven't been good about using it.  So we have plans to make certain days Y days.  Then I went online and bought some jump ropes and bouncy balls (the ones they sit on and bounce around on).  Last week I bought two playground balls and a huge box of chalk.  Next week I plan on buying a few more playground balls.  I have plans on trying to put together a gym day for them to play group games. 

We are also pretty excited to have a Greenway Challenge.  We will print out the greenways around our area and we will walk/run, bike, skip the trails. The challenge will be to color in all the trails! 

There is more to my plan, but this is where we are starting.  I am excited to share this adventure!  There are other things going on, some big changes, others not as big.  I'll write about those another time!

Jonah working on the side of our dirt road.  I tried looking for a before picture, but couldn't find a good one.  Maybe I'll take a picture of the pile of stuff they cut down!

Aubrey working hard.  There were  many battles over who got the cutters!  They were afraid they wouldn't each get a turn cutting down the small trees and brambles.  Not to worry, there was plenty to go around!!!

Merida was there for moral support.  Ha, ha!  She did help to transfer the cuttings to the other side of the road.  

Monday, January 28, 2019

First of the year birthdays!

After a wonderful New Years celebration, it is time to get ready for a couple of birthdays! Aubrey's is up first, and he turned 8 years old. I feel bad, as I can never seem to be on top of things to have a big birthday ready for him.  Being that it is after the holidays it seems to always catch me by surprise.  Aubrey wanted to make his own cake this year.  Over the past few years the girls have been in charge of making the cakes.  Now that the littles are not so little, they want to make their own cakes!  So that's what he did.

Turning 8 kind of went to his head....quite literally.  He was thinking that he could handle stopping the hay bale rolling off the pick up truck...all by himself.  There were four of us lined up to stop the hay bale as it rolled off the back of the truck.  It's just how we deal with huge hay bales around here.  Anyways, Aubrey lunged...LUNGED...for the hay bale, and before any of us could react he found himself, face down with the hay bale rolling up on his head! 

He had a nice sized scrape.  I watched him closely to see if he had a head injury.  All seemed fine, until about 36 hours later when I realized he had bruising under his eyes!  Yikes!  His forehead was all swollen up, which I expected, but I was not expecting bruising to show up under his eyes!  A trip to the ER showed that all was well.  Phew!

A handful of days later it was little misses birthday.  Merida turned 5!  I can't believe my youngest is 5.  For many, many years, the youngest was no older than 3.  Merida wanted an ice cream cake, but wait, no a Barbie cake, no,no...a Paw Patrol cake....well, when we went to the store she ended up picking a premade Shopkins cake! 

Merida also happens to be our youngest child to loose a first tooth.  It was a few days before she turned 5 when she was screaming...SCREAMING...that her tooth fell out.  There was blood, but all her teeth were there.  She kept insisting it fell out.  Nope, all teeth accounted for!  She wouldn't let me feel for a loose tooth till later that night.  And, sure enough, she had a tooth hanging by a thread.  Like how did that happen?  When?  All my kids notice a loose tooth way before they are hanging by a thread.  She was terrified she was going to swallow it during the night.  Thankfully that did not happen, and the tooth came out the following morning. 

Flannery made some comments on the amount of drama that went on for the loose tooth (by Merida).  I laughed, a lot, and reminded her that she was the last to be able to speak on that!!!  Flannery would FREAK out whenever she got a loose tooth. She freaked out until it fell out, which unfortunately was always a couple of weeks after she noticed it was loose.  I mean, crying, and screaming!  I started to get anxiety thinking we were going to have to go through that again with Merida. Though that was before she let me feel for a loose tooth, and I thought she was going to follow the same timing as my other children....taking two weeks for a tooth to come out...or even longer!

Homemade cakes by Aubrey!  He had a little help from Merida. There was much weeping and gnashing of teeth over sharing cake decorating duty!  Aubrey wanted to do it ALL himself. 

With the kids getting older some of our traditions are mutating.  The birthday sign is supposed to be done the night before, and hung up for the birthday child to see on their actual birthday, as a surprise. The surprise being the design of the sign.  However, Aubrey and Merdia, wanted to be in on the design and coloring of their own birthday signs.  The older girls protested much, as this is NOT how birthday signs are to be done!!!  Change is hard people....hard.

You can barely see the bruising under his eyes.  I assure you it was very noticeable in person!  But you can see his whole forehead is swollen.  And to think that he didn't even have a headache after all of this, just the first night!  No more hay bale tackling for you!

Merida is a total ham when she knows the camera is out.  She insists on posing in at least 30 or more poses, which you must capture each one, AND show her them all!  Taking her picture takes a very, very long time!


Pose 17.  Ha, ha!

Merida asked for the 'cup game', which took quite a while to figure out what she was talking about.  Then I realized it was the punch game that Jed had for his birthday party last year.  Jed's was in the shape and color of a Pokeball.  For Merida we made a cupcake.

She could hardly wait until we could take off the little plastic purse.  Once we got it off she forgot all about it! Oy.  Now she has some little trinkets and paper stored in it.

Although she didn't make her own cake, she did insist of putting on her own candles! 

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